At the Gallery Nucleus art exhibit opening reception, celebrating the Saban and Boom! Studios Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers comic issue #0, the Tokusatsu Network spent a few minutes with writers, Kyle Higgins (Batman: Gates of Gotham) and Mairghread Scott (Transformers: Windblade, Toil and Trouble) about how they got to writing Power Rangers and what keeps them inspired.
The Tokusatsu Network: How did you get into writing Power Rangers for Boom! Studios?
Higgins: I was a big fan of the show when I was about 8 and it was the first time I could remember showing up to school on Monday and everyone had seen it and everyone was talking about it.
Looking back, I feel like I was a fan for a long time, but really it was only about a year when it was a popular thing. I was kinda at the tail end of the age range that gravitated toward it when it first came out. I followed the show throughout the middle of season 2 and from there, I always kept an eye on it.
So, I had a passing knowledge of what happened and the different Rangers who came in, what happened to Tommy after he became the White Ranger, and things like that. Then over the years when it transitioned into Zeo, then Turbo, then In Space, I kinda fell out of touch with it.
What’s cool though is when I started writing comics for a living six years ago and experienced going to conventions and meeting fans, I rediscovered Power Rangers. It was through the fans at conventions where I saw a lot of people’s passion for this property that’s been around now for–what, 23 years? and it re-sparked an interest for me.
I can remember several times in the past few years being in my office really late at night and trying to procrastinate on work and wondering, what ever happened to Cat you know? Then falling down an Internet rabbit hole of character chronologies, wiki pages, and watching interviews with past cast members checking out what’s going on with Austin St. John.
So, when the opportunity came up to pitch for the book, it just kinda felt like a perfect fit.
I’ve actually been talking to Bryce Carlson, the managing editor at Boom! Studios, like four years ago because he and I are good friends– we went to college together actually– and we were joking around about how Boom! should get Power Rangers because that would be a lot of fun. Then they went, “Oh no, it’s definitely on our radar. We talked about it.” Then Papercutz acquired the license, then the license was free again a few years later.
The next thing I knew Boom! announced they acquired it. They were going to do this new series, and here were these six covers they’re putting out as prints for [San Diego] Comic Con.
So, I sent [Carlson] an email immediately and said, “Who do I have to kill to write a pitch for this? Hopefully not you, because that would be really awkward.”
Luckily, he said, “No, your name has come up and we’re looking around for a writer if you have any interest.” Then, I said, “Yeah! I have a hole in my schedule now and I’d be happy to put together a pitch.”
So, I did. Then, we went through a few rounds on it and Saban loved it; and next thing I knew, I was writing Power Rangers.
TokuNet: What made you want to be part of the book?
Scott: I played Power Rangers as kid! I was totally obsessed with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and we’d play it around the playground all the time and it would be really awesome. So, when I heard about this, I was, “Yeah! let’s do this!”
TokuNet: I don’t know if you had the same experience. For me, I remember it was one of the first shows I watched where a girl was kicking ass and taking names.
Scott: Yeah, remember when you saw two girls on a team and you were like, “Oh my god! There’s two!”
TokuNet: Yes, exactly!
Scott: And for some reason it was really important to me as a little girl that Kimmy wears a skirt because she likes wearing skirts but Trini doesn’t like wearing skirts, so she doesn’t have to wear one and somehow that was a really big deal for me.
TokuNet: Did you refer back to any of the previous seasons of Power Rangers other than Mighty Morphin’?
Scott: Not for the issue that I wrote– not for #0 issue–because what was really important to me for the #0 issue was to pin down all the little details that I knew fans were going to get and want us to hit; and also really hit what you remember Power Rangers being as a child when you didn’t think about things like, production value. Because we’re comics, we don’t have to adhere to that, we can give you that.
I was binge watching Morphin’ the whole time I was writing because I really wanted to be completely and utterly in that world.
TokuNet: Has fan feedback influenced the book at all?
Higgins: I’m always interested in hearing from the fans, yes. At the end of the day, as a writer, you’re trying to write something that pleases you. You have to be careful that you’re not chasing your own tail trying to please everyone.
My approach is to stay respectful and aware of the thing that make the characters and series so beloved to millions of people. At the same time, I have to write something that please me, you know?
I do like hearing from people and this is a brand new fan base that I’m not as immersed in or aware of as, say, in the same way the DC comics stuff I’ve done in the last couple of years–and I’ll be the first to admit that. So, there has been a “feeling out” process as far that goes; but, at the end of the day, when i comes down to writing, I’m in it to tell the best story I can possibly tell and that’s kinda all I can do.
[SPOILER] TokuNet: When it came to the action of #0, we noticed there was less focus on ground fights and more on mecha battles. Was that intentional?
Higgins: The reason the focus is the way it is because the #0 issue is really designed to tee up issue #1 of the main series. So, the sequence during the Zord fights where Tommy loses control of the Dragon Zord and we’re not sure why is an event that will come back in the main series. The fact that lives were put at risk, Kim had to save the day, and luckily everyone was okay but the bridge is gone, these are all things that will come back.
From that standpoint, and the fact we only got 12 pages to tell an introduction story, I had to kind of hit the big things I wanted to hit and lay the groundwork I wanted the characters to lay and get into that stuff, because from a story standpoint, it’s important going forward.
You can say #0 follows the formula the [original television] show followed as far as: high school drama, morph, Zord fight, wrap up– the [comic] series itself doesn’t follow that formula.
The [comic] series, first and foremost—and also why I’m so excited to be doing it with Boom!– is a big character driven story. It’s a serialized story and something that really lends itself to the monthly comic format.
It’s about these six teenagers.
There’s definitely going to be Putty [Patrol] fights, hand-to-hand fights, and Zord sequences, but most of all, it’s about these six kids dealing with not only being a high school student in 2016, but also have this enormous responsibility. They figuratively have the weight of the world on their shoulders and how you do manage that?
TokuNet: Being that you’re both writers who work diverse titles and projects, how do you re-inspire yourselves and what advice would you give new writers?
Scott: You know, that hasn’t really been much of an issue so far–knock on wood. It’s been a really easy thing because I’ve worked on such a diverse range of titles that when I start to burn out on one, I can shift to another one.
So, I’m writing Toil and Trouble; it’s Shakespeare, it’s 11th century Scotland and all this historical stuff. While I’m writing it, I cut it with Power Rangers, which is a whole lot of fun and completely unapologetic. So, being able to bounce back and forth between those different kinds of projects helps to really keep me balanced as a creator.
As for advice, the beauty is this is a really good time to write genre fiction, if that’s what you’re into, and if you’re looking into getting into comics specifically, it’s very important at some point to actually make a comic. Even if it’s simply partnering with an artist, just get out 22 pages to prove you that you can actually do that.
You don’t even have to pay for the publishing. You can just keep it to a PDF that you can give to an editor either via email or on a business card. A lot of editors now, when they go to conventions, they don’t want to bring home a whole box of 50 issues. They want to bring home a business card where they can download a PDF.
Other than that, it really is you gotta put in your 10,000 hours. You gotta write and more importantly you gotta rewrite and keep rewriting. Honestly, my outline is 25% of what I write. My first draft is 25% of what I write and my revisions are 50% of what I write. It’s just getting it out there and rewriting.
Higgins: Deadlines are the best inspiration that exists. That and when my rent is due–I’m seriously kidding. Really!
There is an aspect to being a working writer, where you clock-in and you do the work and you get the books done. That’s what I love about making monthly comics. It’s going to the printer, whether you want it to or not.
You gotta get it done and you have to bring your A-game every single issue. I actually keep notebooks on every different project, which is a big pain to haul around in my bag, but it’s great for keeping all my ducks in order. If I take three or four days to do a creator-owned book, when I come back to do Power Rangers, I can go, “Okay. This is where I was and it helps me get back into that head space. I also read the past scripts I’ve written just to kind of get me back into a flow of what I’m writing and in the art, and how what I’m writing right now fits into the larger world that I’ve set up.
The Tokusatsu Network would like to give special thanks to Gallery Nucleus, Saban Brands, and Boom! Studios for the opportunity to meet and interview the writers.
The Power Rangers official tribute exhibition will be on display until Sunday, January 31st and available online at the Gallery Nucleus website.