MISSING: Sir Richard Branson Vanishes From Pages Of Transformers: The Definitive G1 Collection

Twitter user @_wilsonjim_ noticed something interesting in a recent volume of Hatchette Books' Transformers: The Definitive G1 Collection reprint series - namely, that it does not contain Richard Branson. That's actually not unusual for most comics, so first let's back up and explain a bit.

The story Salvage!, published in issues #160 and 161 of the original Marvel UK Transformers comic, originally featured a brief cameo by Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson. Per the TFWiki, the story goes that after the story was drawn by artist Lee Sullivan with a dead-on likeness of Branson, editorial decided it would be best to ask the entrepreneur's permission to use his likeness. Branson agreed, a tie-in was included to a "Keep Britain Tidy" campaign he was promoting at the time, it made some UK newspapers, and everybody was happy.

Thirty years later, Salvage! is reprinted in the Hatchette compilation with a new character: Mister Johnson, who looks quite a lot like Sir Richard Branson deprived of hair.

Why the change? Well, per original writer Simon Furman, the original documentation of Branson's permission to use his likeness in the comic has gone missing. So rather than take anyone's word for it, Hatchette decided to err on the side of caution and have Sullivan himself recreate Branson as Johnson. Likeness rights are a very real thing, and along with things like music rights sometimes conspire to keep work out of print if nobody is willing to undergo the cost and effort of making changes. Kudos to all involved in this modification for making the effort of getting Lee Sullivan to do it himself!

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