Larry DiTillio, writer and co-story editor of “Beast Wars”, has died at the age of 79, according to his friend and colleague J. Michael Straczynski. According to Straczynski’s post on Facebook, he died after suffering a long illness. According to Internet sources, he was 79 and leaves behind a wife and family.
Larry had worked in television for decades. He was well known for his work on “He-Man” for Filmation and the updated 2002 series, and “Babylon 5”.
Now as you may or may not know, I am prone to hyperbole. I will exaggerate for the sake of humor or making a point.
But I am not exaggerating here, nor am I saying this lightly:
If it weren’t for Larry, the Transformers franchise would not be around today.
All of the success we’ve had as Transformers fans over the past two decades can be traced back, in part, to Larry.
In 1995, Transformers was near death. Hasbro didn’t know what to do, so they shifted it over to Kenner, who created the Beast Wars toyline. The first toys hit test markets in late 1995; I know this because Milwaukee, my home, was one of those markets. I wasn’t completely inpressed.
But Larry and co-story editor Bob Forward took those toys and created such a rich tapestry in “Beast Wars” the show. They added so much to the mythos by not beholding themselves to the past, and yet they were able to respect the past and build on it.
And in this world without Facebook or Twitter, Larry and Bob took it upon themselves to engage the fans on Usenet. They were constants on alt.toys.transformers, answering questions and asking their own. They were creators engaging fans before it became commonplace.
This isn’t to say that they did everything for the fans. No, they wanted to write their own story, build their own rules. Larry was a bit profane about it at times. Once, when asked how Vector Sigma or the Quintessons fit into their concept of Sparks, Larry replied “**** Vector Sigma!” Or maybe “**** the Quintessons!” It was one of the two, and the F-word was definitely involved.
But Larry and Bob did it. They made Transformers a hit. And we’ve been going strong ever since.
We wouldn’t have had the movies without Larry. We wouldn’t have G1 characters back on the shelf without Larry. We wouldn’t have concepts like Sparks or the Allspark in the movies or comics or shows without Larry.
And also — we wouldn’t have the fandom without Larry. If Transformers had died in 1995, the fandom wouldn’t be around. If Larry hadn’t engaged the fandom or created such a wonderful show in “Beast Wars”, the fandom wouldn’t be around.
And personally, I wouldn’t have the friends I do without Transformers and “Beast Wars”. Some of the people I consider close like brothers I met thanks to Transformers thriving during “Beast Wars” and beyond.
I never met him, although I wish I had. I owe him so much for what he gave us. The world is so much poorer for his passing, but it is so much richer for his contributions. My life is so much richer.
I extend my deepest condolences to his family and friends. Thank you, Larry. Rest in peace.