Every night, I fall asleep beneath the watchful eye of Optimus Prime and his Autobots on one side of my bed, and Megatron and his minions on the other. I grew up in the ‘80s, which makes me a Transformers: Generation One kind of girl, while writer Mairghread Scott and artist Sarah Stone grew up with Transformers: Beast Wars and moved on to Transformers Prime. Other than Michael Bay’s recent movies, I’ve been out of the Transformers loop, but, in chatting with these two fun and fascinating ladies, it becomes clear that it doesn’t matter what incarnation of the Transformers you know and love. Once the robots in disguise suck you in, you’re a fan for life, and Scott and Stone get to live every fan’s dream as the creative team behind the new Windblade 4-part mini-series from IDW Publishing.
In preparation for the Transformers 30th anniversary this year, Hasbro held a contest inviting fans to help create the newest addition to the G1 continuity. Various polls on Hasbro’s official site provided the physical traits of the first ever “fan-built bot,” and thus, Windblade was born.
Meanwhile, as a writer on Transformers Prime, Scott was collecting fanart for the series and discovered Stone’s work. Scott was determined to collaborate with her on a project, and at the Long Beach Comic Con, she approached Stone with an idea for an alternative horror version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth from the perspective of the three witches. The two were busy pitching their personal project to various companies, when the Windblade opportunity popped up. Together, they add another historic aspect to the Transformers lore, as the first all-female creative team.
Windblade first makes her appearance in the epic Dark Cybertron event, which has taken the Decepticons and Autobots down a very bleak road. With a sense of fatigue looming over the story, Windblade’s miniseries will inject some much needed “energy of youth and optimism,” says Scott. She describes Windblade as a character of principle and ideals, which are really going to be tested as she goes up against the inherently corrupt Starscream.
With the basics of Windblade’s character, a peek at the new toy, and some vague sketches from the Dark Cyberton storyline in hand, Scott and Stone eagerly accepted the responsibility of bringing her to life, and determining what kind of person she is. “It’s important to make her as whole as possible,” explains Scott. Scott believes that there should be reasons for everything about her, from how she moves, to the weapon she bears, to the markings on her face. All of these elements must be integrated in a way that makes the character real and relatable to readers, and resonates with the fans who created her.
Transformation is a major aspect of the Transformers mythos for both Scott and Stone. While Michael Bay’s Transformers could scan any vehicle and assume that disguise, Scott and Stone believe that the alternate mode for each Transformer is as much a part of their nature as everything else. “We want [the Transformers] to express their personality in every aspect of their design,” says Scott. Windblade’s alternate mode is a VTOL jet that is as sleek and graceful as her robot mode.
With the integration of her physical aspects and character design more or less complete, Scott scripted her story and handed it over to Stone. A huge fan of robots since childhood, Stone is still fangirling over this opportunity and couldn’t wait to get her hands on Starscream, one of her favourite characters, and to draw “awesome robot fight scenes.” Stone admits that she wasn’t initially keen on drawing Windblade, but Scott’s descriptions turned Stone’s opinion of the character right around.
“Windblade is better for the things she is not good at, than for the things she is good at,” laughs Scott. This is especially evident in her interactions with Starscream, who has spent three million years with no one trusting him – something that is common to every incarnation of the conniving Decepticon. Windblade’s idealism and fresh outlook makes her a “blank slate,” says Stone, “which is something Starscream has never had.”
Stone brings her own touches to the characters in the form of physical and personality quirks as she draws out “the little movie of how the script is running in [her] head.”
“My favourite part about the bots,” says Stone,” is how human and relatable they are,” and how a lot of that can be read through their body language. During the thumbnail part of the creative process, Stone really gets to infuse a lot of detail. This is where “characters gain their physical and personality quirks,” explains Scott. Stone considers things like posture and use of space to define the characters and what their poses communicate about them. Scott notes that “there is an element of a dancer’s grace in everything that Windblade does,” and she compares her to the actress Grace Kelly. Alternatively, Windblade’s best friend and guardian, Chromia, is modeled after Law & Order: SVU’s Elliot Stabler, and is designed to “take up as much space as possible.”
Meanwhile, Starscream is about movement and playing with space. His posture and mannerisms change based on his surroundings and whom he is dealing with. But Stone goes even deeper than that, and the ladies went on to describe a bar scene where they really got to have fun. From deciding what drinks each character might order, to who does the Riker sit, Scott and Stone are determined to give readers fully realized characters. Even Metroplex, the massive city bot that can only speak in light, has a well-defined personality, thanks to Stone’s input on the unique way he communicates with Windblade, the only bot able to understand him.
The end result of all their hard work is a new character and series that both Scott and Stone are proud and excited about. I fully expect that Windblade will earn her place in the Transformers community and endear herself to the fans who helped create her, those who will meet her for the first time, and even people who feel negatively about that whole gender thing.
Windblade #1 will hit the stands in April and pre-orders are available now for issues one and two. Just mention these codes at your local comic store:
TF Windblade #1: Casey Coller Cover FEB140337
TF Windblade #1 Sarah Stone Cover FEB140338
MAR14 0421 TRANSFORMERS WINDBLADE #2 (OF 4) DAWN O/T AUTOBOTS (Sarah Stone’s cover)
MAR14 0422 TRANSFORMERS WINDBLADE #2 (OF 4) SUBSCRIPTION VAR (Alex Milne’s cover)