To say that I loved Transformers as a kid would be a gross understatement. I adored those colourful robots and their endless battles. I would watch the cartoons each morning then go to the kitchen spice cupboard in which, for some strange reason, we kept a flyer of Transformer toys. I would stare at the toys and try to will them into existence in my house. I remember one time on an evening drive my parents said “Wish Upon a Star” so I did… I wished for all the Transformers Toys ever made would appear in my living room. When I raced into the house and they weren’t there I grew up a little. I stopped wishing on stars and started relying on myself to make things happen.
In my teens and early twenties I held my first jobs. I worked at Fast Food Restaurants and would justify working endless hours and doing repetitive tasks by saying to myself “Okay, if I do this this week I can afford Devastator.” Now you might laugh at this… But is it really much different than people working hard for a house? Or a car? Transformers motivated me. So I served unhealthy food to hungry people to buy them.
Realizing being a pawn in the Fast Food Industry would never make me wealthy, I moved to Toronto to work with my brother at a construction company. I was the helper. And I worked hard. I got a boost of income and so my Transformer collection grew… And I started experimenting with designing my own. But Canadian winters are a fact of life here and I had to get other work during the slow season. I found a job at a grocery store called Dominion. I served slightly more healthy food with a smile. Always willing to take Friday shifts.
It was because I was a Friday night regular that I got to know some of the local companies. They would come in for the hot foods. One particular group were extremely nice to me and I started hiding good juicy ribs under gross dry ribs for them. I was still hopeful of becoming an animation student at the time and when they mentioned “Character Sheets” I wondered if they worked at the near by Animation Studio. I asked them “Where do you work?”
The boss looked at me curiously then shrugged and said “We work for Hasbro. We design Transformers, Gi Joes and Star Wars Toys.” My mouth HIT THE FLOOR. I totally lost professional composure and started blabbering that I loved Transformers and was designing my own. He invited me to the studio.
After work I walked there, only a block away from my apartment building. It was a dream. Hip Hop was playing. There were huge cutouts of superheros. There were boxes of Transformers all over. It was life changing. I interned there for two years. I used Photoshop and Wacom Tablets for the first time there. I learned how to draw and colour flat comics. It was awesome.
I learned that being a positive, enthusiastic nerd and loving what you love without shame can lead to great success. I still love Transformers to this day, but it is a more meta appreciation. I appreciate that I had heroes and villains as a kid. I appreciate I had such a motivating force in my life for so long. I appreciate the hope they inspired in me. Transformers shaped my psyche and I think, on the whole, I’ve lived a better life because of it.
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