Scott & Stone Talk IDW’s Windblade: The First Transformers Comic Created by Women [Interview]
Windblade, a recent addition to Transformers universe, is not like all the other bots that came before her. She's the first Transformer created entirely by fans, through a series of polls on toy manufactuer Hasbro's website.
The Windblade toy debuts later this year, but to learn more about the character fans should pick up the new Transformers: Windblade four-issue series from IDW Publishing, debuting later this month from writer Mairghread Scott and artist Sarah Stone. The comic is also a little different from those that came before it, in that it's the first Transformers comic by a female writer/artist team.
ComicsAlliance: Tell me about Windblade. What sort of story are you and Sarah telling?
Mairghread Scott: Transformers: Windblade is a four-issue miniseries designed to introduce longtime fans to a brand new character and new readers to the current Transformers world. So we really wanted to tell an honestly hopeful, fun story that showcased how human Transformers really are.
We also wanted to really show off the unique things we love most about Transformers as a brand. We have fight sequences that are not even possible in other stories. We have a dazzling array of character designs and relationships, and the world itself is just too lush not to explore. Our characters reside in a living city. They can turn into jets and they fight with axes. They live for thousands of years and have only recently stopped a civil war that almost killed them all. There are some amazing stories to be had in a place like this, and Sarah and I intend to exploit every angle we can to bring fans something that will really take their breath away.
CA: How did each of you come to this book?
MS: Like most comics work that I've been part of, it involved a unique dance of asking/begging, worrying, pitching, worrying and then actually doing it. I first heard about Windblade's creation as a character and toy at a convention with my editor John Barber and I immediately asked to be involved if she got a comic. Of course it took a few months to get the timing right, but John did let me pitch on Windblade -- which meant explaining who I thought she was, her backstory and what a miniseries would like like -- and he liked it. The rest, as they say, is history.
Sarah Stone: I have Mairghread to thank for the opportunity. She found me through some of my fan art online, and then we started talking more once we met at a comic con. She was kind enough to involve me in a personal comic project she wanted to create a pitch for, and thats when she asked if I would be interested in having my name thrown in as an artist for a Transformers project. I couldn't say "YES" fast enough!
CA: You're the first female writer/artist team on a Transformers book. In an ideal world that might go without comment, but I'm curious to know if you've encountered much resistance, especially from those who might see Transformers as a "boys" franchise.
MS: IDW and Hasbro have been nothing but supportive of us and, although it's not possible for the Internet to be happy about pretty much anything, the negative comments we've gotten have been far outweighed by the positive responses. Change in a brand -- and its creators -- is never easy, but it's absolutely vital and most fans realize that. I hear far more people who see Windblade as a great step toward opening the brand to new readers and new stories than I do fans who want everything to stay just as it was. I see far more fans being excited about the fact that Sarah's art is completely different from the other (still fabulous) books, than wishing she could just ape someone else's vision.
SS: I've been keeping my nose to the grindstone since the announcement to work on the books, so I haven't really been looking around much. What I have seen has been very supportive and I feel very humbled by that, but my main priority is just to have the books look as awesome as I'm physically capable of making them. Hopefully the art will speak for itself, and that I'm a girl will be just a footnote.
CA: You're also telling the story of a female Transformer, though not the first. As the Transformers are all robots, can you talk a little bit about what gender means in this fictional universe and how it's represented?
MS Yes. IDW's continuity has never had an "originally female" Transformer in it (the only female transformer in the line, Arcee, was made female against her will) so it was important to us that Windblade's comic present a positive view of Lady Bots without having the characters beat everyone over the head with their gender.
The beauty of Transformers is that, by their very nature, they're a very inclusive race. Some Bots turn into jets, or cars, or flying sharks. They can be as small as trash cans or as big as whole cities. So while Windblade and [fellow Transformer] Chromia's gender makes them "different" to other Cybertronians, it's a much bigger deal to our readers than it is to the characters in the book.
CA: What's the process for creating and designing new Transformers characters?
MS: Windblade is unique in the fact that she started with the fans, who were allowed to vote on a series of characteristics -- male/female, Autobot/Decepticon -- that Hasbro then compiled to make a truly "fan-built" character. That design was translated into a toy and given to IDW and myself to build a character from. From then on it's up to IDW and the writers -- John [Barber], James [Roberts] and I -- to build her out from there.
SS: As for the other bots, there were a few things that we knew we wanted when we started. We wanted to make sure it was really easy to tell them apart, even for new readers. This meant that I had to kind of analyze their palettes, silhouettes, and faces to make sure they were really distinct. I really wanted to push their differences -- particularly with Windblade and Chromia.
One of the things that I love about Transformers is that all of the bots can have such incredibly varied body types, even more so than human characters, so I wanted to take advantage of that, even for the femmes. So this meant various levels of adjustment for different bots. Some I just pushed and pulled their shapes a little bit and moved their colors around slightly (like Starscream), and for others it meant kind of drawing them with a completely different mindset.
I think Blurr got the most changes because he's supposed to be so fast, and he's a not-so-ex-celebrity, so we really wanted him to look aerodynamic and lithe. He should look like he could run circles around you in his sleep and look great while doing it. This was all comic-side and Hasbro gives us pretty free reign on that kind of thing, so it was awesome.
CA: Sarah, I'm fascinated by the different ways artists bring life to these mechanical characters. What do you think your art style brings to the Transformers universe?
SS: I am such a fan of the way the bots are handled with the comics, which is why I was so drawn to them in the first place. My style just brings another different voice for their world. I hope for it to be a voice of energy and motion, and hopefully emotion. If all the other artists styles are like ice cream, I am just a new flavor of ice cream.
CA: How would you pitch this book to readers who love Transformers comics, and to readers who have never read a Transformers comic?
MS: Transformers: Windblade starts after a real world-shifting event in the IDW 'verse, so it's a great place for new readers to get on board. In fact, we took great care to make sure Windblade would be a very easy entry point for new fans -- who could then jump onto [other IDW eries] Transfomrers: Robots In Disguise and Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye and belong to us completely....
But since we have such a clean slate, this is also a place to really throw established TF fans a few curveballs. Transformers: Windblade shows a new status quo for Cybertron and, by the end, we intend to open up whole new worlds to the fandom. More than anything, we wanted to really celebrate the humanity, the magic, and the sheer awesomeness that makes Transformers so unique.
SS: I actually think Mairghread has done an excellent job at making Windblade a great jumping on point for anyone who doesn't have experience with Transformers. Since Windblade is experiencing a lot of these characters and history for the first time, she serves as a great vehicle (pun entirely intended) for new readers. I hope it becomes a great springboard for new fans but also just a really fun, entertaining read for existing fans. I have had so much fun drawing the pages and seeing what Mairghread's doing with each issue, I hope it comes across.