A life transformed
How a Transformers fan met his hero – and followed his dream.
Transformers: Earth Wars
Fight with Optimus Prime!
We can all remember a special moment from our childhood when a lifelong passion was ignited. But Nathan Webb’s love for 1984’s Marvel comic series The Transformers goes much deeper than typical fandom.
“I am profoundly dyslexic, so when I was around 6 I hated reading,” Webb tells us. “It was such a struggle. But my parents worked out that I quite liked pictures, so they used comic books as a way to get me to engage with literature and read. Transformers was hugely influential in my life.”
It’s the reason he is now a comic book illustrator himself, in fact, creating Transformers fan art alongside his own comics.
So naturally, when game-maker Space Ape and publisher Backflip released Transformers: Earth Wars in 2016, Webb started playing straight away.
As Webb got more invested in the game’s base-building and battling, he started watching livestreams of the game. And it was there that he saw a familiar face: Simon Furman, the writer of Webb’s cherished Transformers comics and now writer of Earth Wars.
“Then they had an art competition,” continues Webb. “And I thought: ‘well, I’m an artist and I’ve drawn lots of Transformers in my life.’ So I entered.”
Indeed, Webb’s art was so good that the folks at Space Ape were worried that he’d pinched it off the internet and passed it off as his own.
So in the process of checking he was legit, Webb took the opportunity to offer to create artwork for Space Ape to promote new Earth Wars characters and storylines within the game’s community. Soon, Webb also started appearing on the livestreams himself.
Webb’s art was so good that the folks at Space Ape were worried that he’d pinched it off the internet and passed it off as his own.
And that’s when it happened: he met his hero, Simon Furman. This wasn’t a fleeting meet-and-greet, though: they’ve since collaborated on fan fiction together, and when Webb produces his own comic books, he asks Furman for advice.
“He’s become almost like a mentor,” says Webb of his hero. “Whenever I’ve got some artwork or a strip done I send it to Simon and say: ‘what do you think?’ He’s also introduced me to other writers that have helped me progress in my career.”
With Furman’s help, Webb continues to produce and fund his comics through Kickstarter before selling them on eBay – pursuing a dream that first crystallised in his 6-year-old self.
They continue to meet up for livestreams and at comicbook and Transformers fan gatherings. And even now, Webb says he still feels a little starstruck in his mentor’s presence.
“I have to be very careful not to fanboy out too much,” he adds. “He’s been so influential and helpful to me. I don’t think he realises just how grateful I am to him.”