It’s literally a 29-second YouTube video, but it’s packed with significance. In 2015, a fan was captured on video asking Bruce Springsteen to sign Transformers comic #14. The fan showed Springsteen that he’d been immortalized on the cover. Springsteen told the fan that he’d never seen the comic before and that he thought it was very funny. The fan told Springsteen that he thought Springsteen knew about the comic, but Springsteen said he’d never seen it before. The fan offered the comic for Springsteen to keep, but Springsteen said, “It’s alright.” The video ends just as Springsteen says, “You keep…,” which most would figure that Springsteen told his fan that he should keep it. The fan got Springsteen’s autograph and the comic.
Turns out, the cover for Transformers comic #14 was drawn by artist Bob Budiansky and Mike Esposito. Comic #14 was published on November 1985, right during the period when Bruce Springsteen was rising to the height of his popularity on his hit song “Born in the USA”. The comic’s title, “Rock and Roll-Out!” is a great little reference to the storyline. In the story drawn by Al Gordon and Don Perlin, a new group of Autobots were introduced to the Earth and it was Bumblebee’s job to make sure they acclimated properly. The new Autobots must thwart the Decepticons as they try to steal the sound energy emanating from a rock concert. Bumblebee leads the new Autobots on what is called a training mission. They’re tracking a source of sonic energy. Go figure. They learn about a concert and they head over to investigate it. They’ve already transformed into cars when they discover that parking isn’t free at the stadium. Rather than just sit in the parking lot, they discover that there’s a gap in the stadium wall and they see Brick Springstern (Springhorn on another page) and the Tenth Avenue Band singing their hit “Born in America” for the concert.
The story includes the discovery that Skids loves Brick Springstern’s music. He says, “This Springstern produces a most intriguing sound.” The Autobots attend the concert because they learn that Shockwave, the evil Decepticon commander is planning to gather the sound energy from Springstern’s concert that night and use it for evil. Shockwave siphons the sound energy from the concert and converts it into evil “energon cubes”. The concert goers aren’t thrilled with this development at all. That’s when Hoist disconnects Shockwave’s siphon. Unfortunately, the Decepticons attack. The audience thinks that all of the action is just part of the concert. While missiles explode over the concert arena, the band continues playing. Ultimately, the Autobots win, the Decepticons leave, and the concert finishes. Kids loved it.
The comic’s story is a fun parody of Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band. In the comic, the saxophone player is called “Big Man”, which is the actual nickname of Clarence Clemons, the real saxophonist in Springsteen’s band. In the comic, four songs by Springsteen are parodied. The issue targets Born in the U.S.A. with “Born in America”, Born to Run with “Born to Ride”, Dancing in the Dark with “Dancing in the Night”, and Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) with “Margarita (Jump a Little Lighter)”. In Transformers comic #14, Budiansky made certain that the Autobots saved the concert.
Transformer trivia fans know that Bob Budiansky wrote Transformer stories which almost always included a human guest star. He’s been known to say that he was most interested in seeing the Transformers and the humans interacting with each other on Earth. They were so vastly different, in Budiansky’s thinking, that having the Transformers get involved with humans and then seeing humans as odd was what kept his interest in his stories. That kind of thinking probably best explains why Springsteen was included, and for one glorious issue The Transformers teamed up with Bruce Springsteen and his band… well, sort of….
Budiansky wrote for more than 50 issues of The Transformers comics. He created Bumblebee and when interviewed years later, he said that it felt great to see the Transformer movies come out and see his personal creation, Bumblebee take an amazing role. Budiansky began at marvel and was given the 27 names of toys to come up with cartoon characters for the comic series. He did it in just one weekend. Over the years, he created other characters and other names for them.
He worked with Marvel for seven years before he left to work on his own character, Sleepwalker, which ran for 33 issues.In 2010, Budiansky was one of the first four humans honored as a Hasbro’s Transformers Hall of Fame inductee.