Mairghread Scott grew up loving comics like 1990’s X-Men. In college, when she was too broke to splurge on other entertainment, weekly trips to the comics shop were what got her through. Cut to today where she and her husband, Jason Enright, have founded their own comics company called WE Comics, which seeks to provide the titles lacking elsewhere; like comics for children, or comics created by and prominently featuring women. She’s also currently a writer on the Transformers Prime comic at IDW, which she’s qualified to do, since she’s an animation writer by trade, and currently a writer on the Transformers Prime animated series on The Hub. AND she’s recently released her own creator-owned title, Triage, a superhero book written by Scott and drawn by Candace Ellis of Womanthology.
Now, that’s what I call living the dream!
When I spoke with Scott about her new comic and her desire to get into the comics industry, she said that her love of comics and her love of animation stem from the same basic need. “I started writing animation because I really needed to watch people in spandex punch each other!” she says, laughing. “I apparently can’t solve any problem without some G-rated violence. Or, rather, some Y-7 violence…” In all seriousness, her love of animation and comics has to do with the fact that anything can happen. Want an episode set in space? No problem. Underwater? Sure, why not? Scott also loves the way that the history of animated and comic book characters makes her industry a unified one.
“There’s something so wonderful about the fact that the characters live in so many mediums, especially in action,” she says. “You’re carrying on a tradition. A lot of these characters have been around since the 80s, and in comics there are characters that have been around since the 30s. And you grew up with them, and then you get to write them, and that’s so amazing. It’s so unifying. It’s not just ‘our show.’ It’s not just the writer’s show. It’s not all about any one person. It’s all about the show, so animation tends to be very all for one and one for all.”
Triage tells the story of Cassie Jurich, an EMT worker who, after getting hit by a car, realizes that she cannot be killed easily, apparently having a rapid-healing superpower. The story of Triage came out of the long conversations Scott and her husband would have about the psychologies of superheroes. Curious as to why someone would choose becoming a masked vigilante, Scott decided to try things one might do to train for such a thing such as parkour and acrobatics in real life to try and figure out its appeal. What she figured out is that the stuff that goes into training to be a masked vigilante is insanely hard!
“The idea that someone would actively choose [being a masked vigilante] was so mind-boggling to me that I wanted to find out who was the person that made this choice,” Scott explains. “So, who is this woman who starts off like me – just a regular, everyday person – and then at the end of this series of events decides You know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna become a masked vigilante. Clearly, that’s the solution to my problem? [laughs] And the story kind of evolved from there.”
Tired of the “energy-shooting” “ranged fighting with stuff like archery” brand of female superhero, and much preferring the likes of Wonder Woman who, as Scott puts it, gets “right up there,” Scott wanted to create a female character whose sole power is being able to take a punch.
All of the super-powered characters in Triage have “action hero-level powers,” because even as she’s creating super-powered people, she still wants them to feel real. She loves the fact that, “Cassie’s only real power is that she can take a punch more than other people. Because it’s not really a great offensive power. Like, she’s never going to throw a car at someone. She can just survive maybe a little bit longer than other people and maybe think of a way to win the fight before she gives out.” Also, Scott figured she could get away with writing a story about a woman taking hard punches, because “I’m a girl, so they’ll let me get away with writing a comic where you beat up girls.”
It was that desire to keep it real that drew her to her artist, Candace Ellis. Scott was impressed by Ellis’ style in Womanthology, and loved the way she created women with normal bodies as well as her way with facial expressions. “Because her work has a bit of a manga slant, she gets a lot of great expressions out of that,” Scott says. “Our characters, I think, look good to Western audiences, but there’s something about the fact that their eyes are a little bit bigger than a usual Western design; the expressions are a little bit bigger than something you might see in standard animation, that is able to convey feeling more. This is a comic that’s about getting you to feel for these people.”
And those people aren’t perfect. Not even her heroine, Cassie. “There’s nothing worse than someone who’s perfect. Those are always the hardest characters to write for, and if I was going to spend all this time living with this character, I needed [Cassie] to at least have my sarcastic sense of humor.” Scott also needed Cassie to be the kind of character that wouldn’t necessarily do what she was told on the job, as much of what she does in Triage Issue #1 is try and get to the bottom of things by going against the rules and regs.
Her advice to aspiring comics creators and writers in animation is to find “someone that doesn’t like your writing. Not someone who flat-out hates your writing…but find someone who doesn’t think you’re quite good enough. Get them to tell you why they don’t think you’re quite good enough, then harass them until they want to see more.”
Scott also has advice for women who aren’t into Transformers! Check out IDW’s digital comic, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, which is the prequel to the awesome new video game of the same name! She says it’s the perfect jumping on point for new fans, and that all you need to know is that the Transformers are “robots who turn into other things.”
Candace Ellis, IDW, Jason Enright, Mairghread Scott, The Hub, Transformers Prime, Triage, WE Comics, interview