Friday, May 2, 2014

Dearborn native is first woman to write ‘Transformers’ comic

*Editor's note.  This was written April 20 for the Press & Guide Newspaper, and never placed online do to an oversight. Date references use that as a focal point.

There is “more than meets the eye” when it comes to the newest “Transformers” comic from IDW publishing.
The book, first in a four-issue miniseries called “Transformers Windblade,” is helping introduce the titular character into the canon that includes HASBRO toys, comics TV shows and movies. For local fans, though, there is more than just fandom or nostalgia to draw them to the book.
Writer Mairghread Scott is a Dearborn native.
“Windblade” was created in a recent fan vote to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the toy line.
In 2011, Scott co-wrote the miniseries “Transformers Prime: Rage of the Dinobots,” with Mike Johnson. She followed that up with another miniseries, “Transformers Prime: Beast Hunters,” which she wrote on her own. Both miniseries tied into the “Transformers Prime” TV series she wrote for before it went off the air.
Scott made “Transformers” history Wednesday when “Windblade” was released, becoming the first woman to pen a book in the main line of the “Transformers” universe.
In the latest miniseries, she writes the story and dialogue, with artist Sarah Stone doing the pencils, ink and coloring — making them the first female team to work on a book in the main continuity of the “Transformers” line.
 Stone is the first woman to ever draw a book in the line, making them both pioneers in their own right.
“There’s definitely a certain amount of pressure that comes with that,” Scott said. “She’s a character made by the fans, and you really want to do right by the fans. Sarah’s art is amazing, which helps to make it not a paralyzing anxiety.
“I wanted to do my best. I would try to raise the bar with writing, and then Sarah would raise the bar with her art. We spurred each other on. HASBRO has been nothing but supportive.”
It’s not just the creative team that is blazing new ground in the universe, though. The character, Windblade, also is unique. Windblade is only the second female character in the universe; the other is Arcee. Before Arcee’s introduction, the robots had no official gender, but were perceived by most readers as male.
Scott credits Russ Gibb and the video program he ran at Dearborn High School for her success in comics and TV today.
“He convinced my mother that I should try for New York University,” she said. “That’s where I really shaped my career, from a little kid just sort of writing student film to someone who could write a decent script.”
Her career lies mostly in TV these days, but she’s open to more comic work as opportunities present themselves.
“TV is definitely where I have the most formal training, largely because it’s really hard to get any formal
training to write comic books,” Scott said. “I love comics. I would never say no to a comic.
“Since I specialize in action cartoons, I write a lot of the same characters on both platforms.”
Writing for TV is completely different from writing for comics with still images, though.
“It’s especially difficult with ‘Transformers,’” she said. “Since I started writing them in television, I always think of them being primarily characters of movement. Trying to translate that to comics can be really difficult, but also rewarding.”
Scott grew up watching comic book characters in a bevy of animated series based on the comics, but didn’t actually start reading the books until high school when she wandered into Green Brain Comics.
“She was a great customer when she lived in the area,” said Dan Merritt, co-owner of the store. “She still has family in town. Her mom actually is still a customer here.”
Merritt said he is very happy to see a local person being successful in the industry.
“It’s another great talented name on the long list of quality creators that have come from Michigan,” he said. “I like that it brings up the profile of these local creators.
“We have a lot of great colleges, a lot of great art schools and a lot of great weather that keeps us indoors for eight months a year to obsess about our trades.”
Scott credits Merritt and his wife, Katie Merritt, with fostering her love of comics.
These days Scott is finishing the final issue of the miniseries and working on the newest animated series in the “Transformers” line, which doesn’t have an official name yet.
“They were super great to me,” she said. “They did a great job of introducing me to the whole range of what comic books could be. I haven’t stopped reading since.”
Book one in the “Windblade” series went on sale Wednesday. The remaining three will be sold monthly.

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