For “Transformers” fans, Mairghread Scott needs little introduction. The animation and comics writer has worked on both “Transformers: Prime” and “Robots in Disguise,” and has written two “Transformers: Prime” comic book series for IDW, “Rage of the Dinobots” and “Beast Hunters.” More recently she launched “Transformers: Windblade,” the first Transformers comic series produced by an all-female creative team. Windblade was created, quite literally, by the fans, who voted on what characteristics they wanted the character to possess. The series began as a miniseries in 2014 before returning as an ongoing earlier this year as part of the “Dark Cybertron” crossover event.
Scott visited the world famous CBR Yacht at Comic-Con International in San Diego to speak with CBR TV’s Kiel Phegley about her history with Robots in Disguise, the origin of Windblade, and what aspects of the character and the Transformers universe she feels are most important. She also discusses her all-new Archaia series “Toil and Trouble” (then called “The Third Witch”), which is based on William Shakespeare’s classic play “Macbeth,” and shines a spotlight on its trio of witches.
The conversation begins with an explanation of how Scott moved from working on the animated side of Hasbro’s Transformers stories to writing in-continuity comics for IDW Publishing. Scott also talks about how “Windblade” came together, what information and suggestions she was given and what she brought to the table to make the fan-favorite character resonate, and speaks specifically to telling stories in this world that are designed for a female audience.
On her journey from the animated “Transformers: Prime” writers’ room to the IDW “Transformers” comics:
I actually started as the writers’ assistant on “Transformers: Prime” and started writing episodes, then moved over to IDW when we wanted to connect some of the video games to the show via a comic. That’s how transmedia works. [Laughs] And I kept working with IDW on “Transformers: Prime: Beast Hunters,” they had a line, and then “Transformers: Windblade,” and I also kept writing on the show. So I’ve written on “Prime,” “Robots in Disguise,” “Rescue Bots,” as well as several of the IDW comics. So if it has Transformers, there’s like a decent shot I was part of it. [Laughs] I was definitely in charge of like the continuity and stuff, so I can actually draw you a little map and be like, “You know, if you were trying to get to Kaon, you really shouldn’t take that route because it’s just all backed up at 5 o’clock.”
On how much raw material she was given going into “Windblade” versus what she had to create from scratch:
Essentially what I get from Hasbro with Windblade — and we’re doing it again with Victorion — is I get the toy. What city are they associated with? What faction are they associated with? And like a keyword, like “independent” or “courageous,” and everything else is up to me. I’ve gotta figure everything else out. Windblade was really neat because I wanted to emphasize her idea of being heroic and strong, but in a really different way. So like Windblade is not a very good fighter — she’s a diplomat by trade — but I wanted to present a new kind of heroic to the Transformers line.
In part two of their conversation, the focus shifts from Scott’s work on “Transformers” to her new creator-owned series from Archaia, “Toil and Trouble.” Scott discusses bringing on twin artists Kelly and Nichole Matthews to the book, how they satisfy some very specific visual goals she set for the project and why she decided to tell a story that explored the enigmatic yet enduring from Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” With a nod to the Bard, Scott reveals that her story won’t be taking many happy turns, and contrasts the freedom of fleshing out her world using historical elements versus the often fantastic nature of “Transformers.”
On how artists Kelly and Nichole Matthews joined Scott on “Toil and Trouble” and what they bring to the series:
Kelly and Nichole Matthews are our artists, and my editor Whitney [Leopard] was able to connect us and they do fantastic work. It’s not just their character design that’s great; it’s not just their detail that’s great; it’s the fact that they bring an element of cinematography to our book that I really wanted to have. “The Third Witch” is a horror book. Things are going to get very dark, very fast and it’s got that great supernatural sort of spiral into madness that the play, “Macbeth,” has. So having artists that can control the pacing, where your eye goes, throw a little detail into the background that you might not necessarily notice the first time around is exactly what I was looking for.
“It’s not a happy book”:
It’s not a happy book, but it’s really exciting and it’s not a book about like people being crazy and evil. When I write “Third Witch,” I want you to be able to see the logic and be able to get behind what everyone is doing. Everyone has a legitimate argument. This is really a story of a lot of people who are trapped in the past in their pain who are trying to stay relevant and are just smashing into each other.
On how writing her creator-owned title compares to working on an established property like “Transformers”:
It actually was a fairly similar process, which I really enjoyed. We wanted everything that happened in the play to happen in the book, as much as we could. I wanted it to feel very real so we pulled tons of historical reference from, you know, the clothing, the landscape, the animals. I wanted the witches’ magic to function like Pictish supernatural belief; I wanted their belief system to function like what ancient Scots might have actually believed in, and so that gave us this really rich world, and a very intimate world that makes our book far more human than you might see in “Macbeth.” There’s nothing stagey or like watching a play when you read our book. You’re with these people.
Even the magic, everything we do is very visceral, very real, down to earth. The witches aren’t all-powerful but there’s just that — in a way it kind of makes them more vulnerable. Like if you get stabbed with a knife, you’re probably gonna die. It’s not like in “Transformers” where you can pretty much get ripped in half and, “Yeah, you’re okay.” In “The Third Witch” you will see the physical cost of sort of the gritty dirtiness of magic and of war.
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