We recently had the opportunity to speak to writer Mairghread Scott. Mairghread is not only a scribe for episodes of the Transformers Prime TV series, but she recently co-wrote IDW Publishing’s Rage Of The Dinobots mini-series and their upcoming Beast Hunters comic. Not to mention, she’s the first woman to write a Transformers comic book. Mairghread was nice enough to answer our questions about working on Transformers Prime, writing the Transformer comic books, and touches upon the villain Ser-ket.
The Beast Hunters comic will be on shelves May 22nd, 2013.
Many thanks to TFW staff for help with the interview and Mairghread for taking the time out to chat with us! You can check out the full Beast Hunters comic book press release HERE. Click the title bar to read the full interview! 1. Hi Mairghread! First off, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us here at TFW2005.com. Can you tell our members a little bit about yourself and how you landed the gig of working with the Transformers?
Sure, I’m a freelance animation writer and my day job is working for production on Transformers Prime the TV Show. It’s where I got my first script and it has been my home base ever since. As far as the comic is concerned, Mike Johnson invited me to join him on Rage of the Dinobots. He’s a fantastic writer who worked with us on Prime before and knew how badly I wanted to get into comics. Since he had the comic book chops and I was already immersed in the Aligned continuity we were a natural pairing to work on Rage. After that… well we made no secret about wanting to continue the stories we were telling and, thankfully, our editors at IDW and the good folks at Hasbro agreed to let us keep going.2. What do you do when you’re not writing stories about giant robots punching eachother? Are there elements of your real life that you draw influence upon for your stories?
Mostly I read comics and cross-stitch, but I am always trying to do new crazy things that I think might be useful later on (much to the chagrin of my husband, who insists I’m going to get myself killed). I’ve done everything from flying trapeze to pole dancing, kung fu to parkour and it’s all helped with my work. Writing the Ser-ket/Grimlock fight in issue 3 of Rage involved a lot of thinking back to my armored sword fighting lessons with the SCA (they’re medieval reenactors). I wanted Ser-ket to be a two-weapon fighter, but in real life they rarely beat sword and shield fighters like Grimlock, so I tweaked her weapons to be a sword and electric scourge instead of two swords. It made it a lot more believable that she would get Grimlock to drop his guard and giving her that goal in battle made the fight a lot more interesting than just having them randomly hack at each other.3. You’re the first woman to write a Transformers comic. How does that make you feel and what do you think you bring differently to the table of other comic book writers?
Well, you definitely feel like there are more eyes on you, but I’ve got a really great writing partner in Mike Johnson and that’s reassuring. The only thing I think I do deliberately as a female writer that might be different is to include women in my stories in a very ‘normal’ way. Female comic book readers (i.e. me when I read comics) are looking for female characters to be there, be well written and not be treated like a big deal. In a lot of ways Transformers is the perfect brand for that. Female Transformers characters don’t dress provocatively, they aren’t just love interests and no one questions if they’re fit to lead/defeat because of their gender. Ser-ket lost because she was a villain. Arcee is on Team Prime because earned her spot. End of story. The more I can do to build on that for all comic fans, the better.4. What can you tell us about the upcoming Beast Hunters comic from IDW Publishing?
The new comic features the same great Dinobots we had in Rage, but we’ve jumped forward in time and the Dinobots’ mission to protect those still left on Cybertron has turned them into accidental leaders for the largest Autobot settlement still on the planet. The only problem is that being great commando fighters and being great civic leaders are two very different things. We’re hoping to expand the Prime universe and explore that tension as the Dinobots protect their followers from threats both external and internal. Grimlock’s always claimed that he could do a better job than Optimus and Mike and I are determined to test that theory.5. On top of writing the upcoming Transformers Beast Hunters comic, you’ve also wrote a few of the television episodes of Transformers Prime including “Hurt”, “Orion Pax part 2” and more. How does writing the cartoon differ from writing a comic book?
It’s a very different set of muscles. We pack a lot of story into an episode of the TV Show, but you have to trim and tighten even more in the comic. At the same time, you can go a lot deeper into the mindset of your characters. You’d never tolerate that much voice over in a TV show, but in a comic, with so few images to communicate emotions, it because a crucial window into our character’s thinking.6. Is the Beast Hunters comic meant to tie in directly with the show or does it exist on it’s own yet in the same continuity? For example, does it take place before/during, or after the show?
Beast Hunters, the comic, takes place during the same time frame as the show, but in a very different locale. Since the show is so tight-knit we thought it best to build on our own cast of characters with the goal of bridging into the show rather than trying to insert another story line with the show’s main cast. But when our two trains collide, it’s going to be explosive.7. Will you be writing anything for the Beast Hunters show this upcoming season? Or will you be mainly focused on the comic?
With our animation schedule, the writing for this season of the TV show ended quite a while ago, but I did write an episode this season. I do still write for animation, which is why Mike’s tag teaming with me is so invaluable. By switching off every couple of issues, we’ve been able to focus on more projects while still giving the comic the consistency it deserves.8. Beast Hunters is said to be the last season of Transformers Prime. Will you be continuing the story of Transformers Prime through the comic after the show has ended?
We very much hope to do that, but only time and the popularity of the books can really tell. I think we can all agree though, there is a lot of story still left in the Prime continuity. I just hope we get the chance to explore it.9. Transformers Prime has a rich backstory that the cartoon sometimes only hints at. Will you be filling in any of the blanks, for example the history between Bulkhead and Breakdown?
While it’s always interesting to explore the past of TF Prime, there are so many stories we want to tell in the present, it would be a shame to do too much retrospection. But, that said, we’re gearing our stories to be readable no matter how much TF lore you know, so when characters have history together, you’ll bet we’ll talk about it.10. With Rage of the Dinobots you had four issues to tell the story, while Beast Hunters is an ongoing series. How does the writing process differ for an ongoing, and might we see more self-contained stories or short arcs?
Our goal is to write a series of short arcs (2 issues is our ideal), that build on each other without being too linked-in. We’re definitely still making a comic that’s going in a specific direction, but we were thrilled that Rage brought in new Transformers fans and we want to keep TF Beast Hunters as a comic that’s both a great Transformers story and a great gateway for those new to the Transformers world. Our motto is that all you need to know about Transformers to read Beast Hunters is that it has robots who turn into things. There are a lot of great easter eggs for readers who know more, but that’s our goal.11. How much freedom is Hasbro giving you with this series? Have you got carte blanche to use any characters you want, or have they advised that certain characters or plots are off limits as they have their own plans for them.
Other than being asked not to spoil any of the awesome plot twists in the TV show (which we totally agree with), we’ve been given a pretty free hand. There are definitely characters and concepts that Hasbro has encouraged us to explore, but we’re much more likely to be given something to play with than to be told something is off-limits. I’m sure if we proposed something off the wall there’d be an objection, but it’s been a pretty smooth ride so far.12. Rage of the Dinobots featured two new characters to the Transformers Prime universe. Ser-ket and Backbite. These two have more than a passing resemblance to two of the Beast Hunter predacon toys: Ripclaw and Skystalker, respectively. Were these two characters intended to be the toy characters initially? Or were you unable to use the names of them at the time?
It was definitely a conscious choice to model Ser-ket and Backbite after the toys you mentioned, but it didn’t make sense for us to use the actual toy characters. Ser-ket and Backbite are related to Ripclaw and Skystalker, but we can’t say how officially yet. Keep asking; one day all will be revealed.13. The Beast Hunters toyline comes with its own prequel story told on the instruction sheets. Canon-wise, does your Beast Hunters comic book series tie into it or is yours a unique prequel series of its own?
n/a It’s a good question, but I don’t have a good answer for it that doesn’t get too spoilery. Sorry guys.14. I’m a huge Dinobot fan. More specifically, Grimlock. I even have a tattoo of him. Which of the Dinobots are your favorite? And which one is the most fun to write?
You have to post that Grimlock tattoo. That’s something I’ve got to see. I’m a huge Slug fan. He’s so not a morning person, a people person or a particularly nice person but he is my favorite character – probably for those reasons. It’s always fun to write a curmudgeon.15. Will you be attending Botcon this year?
You know it. Right now I’m just trying to decide if I’ll cosplay or not. Of course, with my schedule, making an Arcee costume is a bit of a pipe dream, but hope springs eternal.16. Thanks for your time Mairghread! We appreciate you reaching out to the fandom like this!
No problem. I’m also available on Twitter at @MairghreadScott and tumblr at www.tumblr.com/blog/mscottwrites I hope we make it onto people’s pre-order list and fans can feel free to drop me a line if there’s anything else they want to know.