In the wake of the “Dark Cybertron” crossover, the various Transformers are in disarray. And things are about to get even more interesting for the characters, as writer Mairghread Scott and artist Sarah Stone — the first all-female creative team to ever work on a Transformers series — will soon be hitting them with the imminent arrival of Windblade.
The first “fan-built bot” created through a number of polls on Hasbro’s website, Windblade’s design, features and abilities were all decided by the general public and brought to life by Hasbro designer Lenny Panzica. The sword-wielding, jet-powered female Transformer looks set to cause a whole load of trouble for the rest of Cyberton’s sons and daughters in her own four-issue, self-titled miniseries due to kick off in April. Scott spoke to CBR about her plans for the character — and just what her arrival means for IDW Publishing’s Transformers Universe as a whole.
CBR News: Windblade arrived in the IDW Transformers continuity during the recent “Dark Cybertron” crossover event. Following that story, what kind of state are the Autobots and Decepticons in as this miniseries kicks off? How are they recovering — or not — from the event?
Mairghread Scott: I don’t think it spoils anything to say that things get a little, well — dark by the end of “Dark Cybertron” and the whole event has very much demoralized the entire planet. Fighting an endless war is tiring, but there are only so many times you can rebuild your home-world before you start to feel like things just aren’t gonna get any better.
But, in a way, this is also the perfect time to introduce a new character like Windblade because she’s seeing so many things for the first time. There’s an old saying that “evil triumphs when good men do nothing,” and “Transformers Windblade” is just as much about the danger of staying on the sidelines as it is about evil itself.
In this aftermath of “Dark Cybertron,” what does Windblade’s arrival mean for the characters? How will they react to her appearance?
Our main antagonist, Starscream, isn’t very happy to meet her. He’s working very hard to make sure she isn’t a threat to his authority. But it was most important for me to make Windblade feel like a real person. She’s not a savior and is not seen that way. In fact, she’s utterly unprepared for the millennia-long mess that is Cybertron when she lands. Of course, just because Windblade starts behind the curve doesn’t mean that she’s easy prey.
My number one word for Windblade is “Trying.” It’s her tenacity and her hope that are her real assets on this world.
She was created after winning a fan-poll from Hasbro which asked fan to help create a new character. How exciting was it to have the chance to introduce and establish a character into continuity?
It was extremely exciting. The moment they announced Windblade, I told John Barber that I was calling dibs on her if she made it to the comics. It’s nice to see that still works. But, in all seriousness, it really is amazing to feel like Sarah and I are getting to make a little bit of Transformers history. We get to bring in a whole new character (and hopefully a new readership) to our favorite brand; we’re pulling out all the stops to make sure Windblade earns a spot in Transformers for a long time to come.
The character turns into a jet, and carries a sword — hence the name Windblade. How does her alternate form impact on the way you write her? Does it convey a sense of movement which transfers across to her autobot form, or anything similar?
One of the best things about the Michael Bay movies (and, hopefully the “Transformers Prime” TV show) was the fluidity Cybertronians have when changing modes. We want Windblade turning into and out of her jet form to feel as natural as breathing (which Transformers don’t technically do, but you get the idea).
Her sword fighting, the way she walks, everything reflects a level of grace that we think is unique to Windblade. Especially compared to Chromia (her bodyguard and best friend), who is a pretty graceless Autobot in every sense of the word.
There are other female Transformers, but the majority of them are identified as male. Are you interested in writing and exploring that in this series? Do the other characters treat her differently for being a female, or do they not even notice?
Obviously, Starscream’s gonna use any kind of wedge issue he can — because he’s Starscream.
But Cybertronians in general are less interested in that kind of thing, and that’s something I really love about the brand. Think about it: If you’re fighting another Transformer, it’s a lot more crucial to know what they turn into (tank, jet, flash drive) than what pronoun they use. Characters who don’t know Windblade are obviously curious about who she is, but who she is, is so much more than “female.”
How did you first come from television writing to comics? How has the transition to comics been for you?
I first made the jump when I co-wrote “Transformers: Rage of the Dinobots” and it was definitely a big leap. (It should also give you a sense of my writing style that I started with a book everyone just calls ‘Rage’ online.) Comics definitely have different pacing than television, which is why a great artist like Sarah is so critical. But they are also weirdly, awesomely interactive.
There is an overlap between when fans read what we made and us still making it that can’t happen in animation because of production concerns. It’s completely addictive and I can’t wait to leap back into the fray.
You’ll be working with artist Sarah Stone for the miniseries, making you the first all-female creative team in Transformers history. What does her art bring to the series, in your opinion?
Transformers, to me, is all about movement, and Sarah’s art expresses that perfectly. Her characters are fluid and expressive, using their whole bodies even when just talking. I tend to write very fast-paced comics, and I love that her art never seems to be standing still. She’s also willing to push the boundaries of standard comic book-style. We’re on an alien world, after all, and Sarah and I have ensured that you’ll see things in “Transformers Windblade” you can’t see anywhere else.
Where does the miniseries sit within the IDW Continuity? Will the events of this story reflect on the two ongoing Transformers books, or vice versa?
“Transformers Windblade” runs in the same continuity and timeframe as “Robots in Disguise” and “More Than Meets The Eye.” All three lines were written to function independently of each other, but if you want to buy them all we definitely encourage it.
What’s your personal history with the franchise? Were you a fan of Transformers before you started writing them?
I was, which is why it’s so important for me that my work bring Transformers to as wide an audience as possible. Like any fan girl, my #1 dream is to convince the rest of the world that my head canon should be their head canon. The only difference is that my head canon is actually canon, which is both totally awesome and a tiny bit stressful –as in, I have to keep up with John and James, who both do amazing work.
You wrote an essay last year about how people sometimes tend to overlook female creators working on for-hire projects at companies like IDW. How was the response to the essay? Do you feel that this remains a problem?
Yeah, I was actually shaking when I posted that essay, I was so nervous, but the response couldn’t have been better. 2013 was a very vocal year for women in comics, and I was happy that my essay helped get a little more exposure for the less well-known women creators in the industry, along with several other great forces in this world, like “Hire This Woman” and the “Gendercrunching” series.
But this is going to be a long process, one that comes down to one good product after another. The next step for me is to make a good comic and help others do the same. Then we work to make sure those get seen and repeat the process. It’s not glamorous, but real progress rarely is.
Do you have any plans yourself to publish any creator-owned work in future? What else do you have coming up?
I’m actually pitching a creator-owned line right now (any editors reading this, feel free to tweet me) as well as working on new lines with a couple of different companies, including a chance to write some comedy, which is very exciting! But as I don’t think they’ve been announced, we’ll have to hold off until the next interview to talk about them!