In honor of it being Women in Comics Week, I wanted to interview some of the many ladies in the industry. I asked each of them about how they got into comics, the projects that they’re working on, their thoughts on women in comics, and much more. Today’s interview is with Mairghread Scott writer of the TRANSFORMERS: PRIME animated series, the new comic book series Triage and the upcoming miniseries from IDW Rage of the Dinobots.
What got you into comics?
Mairghread: I’ve loved comics book characters since I saw Jean Grey become Phoenix in the 90’s X-Men cartoon, but I was too young to understand how comics worked (Why does this say Issue 490? Why doesn’t my comic come out every week?), so I turned to manga until college. By then my boyfriend (now husband) was able to get me up to speed and I’ve read comics voraciously ever since. There is something about the sort of “I can do anything” spirit of superhero comic books that I can’t get enough of, and the writing and art just get better and better.
What inspired you to become a writer and when did you begin writing?
Mairghread: My mother is a reporter and my father is a complete Shakespeare nut, so writing was everywhere in my house. Honestly, I started writing plays, movies and comics because “that’s how people talk” was my best defense for my poor grammar and spelling. Of course, I fell so in love with the fast-paced, get-to-the-point nature of dramatic writing (writing not meant to be read on its own) that I never went back to the novels I always planned to do. I actually tried to write a novel a few months ago and was so annoyed that I couldn’t just write EXT. FIELD – MORNING, I had to throw it out.
What advice can you give aspiring writers?
Mairghread: Don’t worry about being the best. Worry about doing your best. Being “the best” is something we all strive for, but in writing such an idea can only distract. In the end, “who’s the best” can only be answered in the individual preference of the reader, which you have no control over. All you can do is your best every time you write. Push yourself; make others push you. Someone who says your writing is perfect is just as useless as someone who can’t tell you why they hate your work. Find those readers who can offer constructive criticism. Who knows if you’ll end up at the top, but you will be moving forward.
You’re the writer of the TRANSFORMERS: PRIME animated series. What is it like to write for an animated series? And what can fans of the show look forward to in the upcoming season?
Mairghread: Animation writing is tons of fun. There are a few more layers of separation between you and the final product vs. a comic, but to see your story moving across the screen…it’s so cool. Prime has been a great show and an amazing experience.
I can’t say much about Season 3, but the next episode in the fall will be my second ep in Season 2 and it’s going to be a jaw-dropper. We ended our last run of episodes with Bulkhead being gravely injured and let’s just say that, in my episode, some people don’t take that well. 😉
Can you tell fans a little bit more about Triage(illustrated by WOMANTHOLOGY: HEROIC’S Candace Ellis) and what inspired you to create it?
Mairghread: I’ve always been fascinated with what it takes to actually be a superhero, and in my pursuit of this I’ve tried parkour, SCUBA, fly trapeze, cosplay, kung fu, armored sword-fighting, rock climbing and shot a gun (next on my list is diving with sharks and something with fire). I learned that being a superhero is terrifying. Being in a fight is terrifying. Jumping off a building is terrifying. Shooting a gun (let alone being shot) is terrifying and no one in their right mind would become a crime-fighting vigilante.
I found this very disappointing, so I wrote a story about a sane, mostly-average woman who does become a crime-fighting vigilante and the crazy set of circumstances it takes to get there. Now, people in Triage do have “super-powers”, but they’re all very minor. Cassie (our main character) has enough healing-factor to more than take a punch, but a bullet between the eyes? That would probably still kill her. Our speedster, Elena clocks in at 30 mph. That’s faster than any human, but still half as fast as a cheetah. So when I say Triage is a story of a normal woman driven to extreme ends, I want the audience to ask themselves: Could you do it?
What other projects are you working on?
Mairghread: Actually, it’s funny that you ask that as my latest project was just announced at Comic-Con this Thursday. My friend, Mike Johnson (Star Trek, Supergirl) and I will be writing the new IDW miniseries “Rage of the Dinobots.” It’s a fantastic little mini-series set right after the Exodus novel, for all you TF geeks. Or, in plain terms, it’s the story of the people left on Cybertron after the planet goes to hell. And I want to emphasize “people”. Our Dinobots are very different from the G1, “Grimlock smash” versions you’ve seen before. Instead, they are top-notch warriors trying to survive physically and spiritually in an increasingly zero-sum war. Plus, they turn into space-dinosaurs, and who doesn’t love that?
In your opinion, what things have changed for the better in comics for women? And what things still need to be worked on and what can be done about them?
Mairghread: As readers and creators this is a weird time for women in comics. We’ve seen a lot of good female characters get shoved to the back on both side of the superhero aisle, but we’ve had a fantastic crop of female writers and artists finally getting the recognition they deserve. Fortunately, no matter what the latest fad, companies will always make more of what sells.
This means we only have to do two things to change the face of comics however we like. 1. Female creators need to keep making and selling great comics (So all you super-talented ladies still hiding your sketch books need to Amazon-up and start getting paid). 2. Female readers (all readers really) need to buy good comics and ONLY good comics. I know this sounds silly, but you wouldn’t believe the number of friends I have who read badly written, even degrading, comics out of loyalty (to a character, to an artist, etc). But that means a bad book sells well, so more of it gets made. If a comic is bad or offensive, it’s your job not to buy it and tell your retailer you’re not buying it. If it’s good, you need to pre-order it and get others to pre-order it. Pre-orders drive the market a lot more than buying books off the shelf. It’s just that simple, and just that hard.
How can those of us who love comics encourage young girls and older ladies who want to draw, write, or just be involved in comics?
Mairghread: The answer is to give them comics. Comics can be a hard thing to jump into, with a jargon and culture all their own. The trick is to treat them like any other form of entertainment. If a co-worker loves Law & Order, give them Vol. 1 of Alias. If your sister likes the Hypno-Toad in Futurama, tell them about the Chogs in Chew. Introduce them to your store’s best sales clerk. Comics really are for everyone.
For writing and drawing, you need to get the best education possible. Self-teaching is super-noble, but often leads to bad habits and myopic creative vision. In this age, there’s no excuse for professional illiteracy. Take a class, ask questions, buy a book, watch a tutorial and never, ever think you know it all. I had to read Aristotle’s Poetics every semester for 4 years in college and still grapple with its lessons. The basics are easy to learn and hard to master.
Who is one woman in comics that you admire?
Mairghread: Now this isn’t fair. So I’m picking three:
- Kelly Sue DeConnick. Kelly’s razor-sharp character portrayals make me infinitely jealous. The woman can tell you who a character is, really is, in six words or less.
- Emma Rios: Incomparable style that is both truly emotive and utterly fluid. Rios is an artist who never tries to look like anyone else. I dream of owning a page from her Spider Island: Cloak and Dagger run.
- Renae De Liz: The fantastic artist behind Womanthology. A true pioneer who opened the door for so many talented women when everyone else was just sitting around complaining. Whenever I think I can’t do it, I think of Renae De Liz.