A People’s History of Transformers Cartoons

Hasbro has a lot of enduring intellectual property (G.I. Joe, My Little Pony) but nothing holds a candle to its long-running Transformers franchise. Its origins are borderline cynical: After acquiring several different lines of toys, Hasbro hired Marvel Comics to come up with a storyline uniting them into a single framework, their only instructions being that the whole line should be called Transformers, the good guys should be the Autobots, and the bad guys should be the Decepticons. Marvel’s then-editor-in-chief, Jim Shooter (also a high-profile comics writer) and comics greats Bob Budiansky and Dennis O’Neill dreamed up a treatment that informed both the comics and the TV show, and away they went. What started off as a bit of a corporate rush job has become one of the most enduring mythologies on kids’ TV, and some of its iterations are flat-out terrific.