All Hail McCarthy

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Perth in Western Australia may not be a prime hub of activity for comic book fandom, but for a vast state with a small population, it certainly hits above its weight class regarding pop culture. Ben Templesmith, Shaun Tan and Shane McCarthy would be the most well known names springing from the quiet city, with more certainly on the way. McCarthy made his name with 3 issues of Detective Comics in 2004, and later a Riddler arc that effectively re-invented the character post-Hush.

McCarthy has also set his sights on Star Wars for Dark Horse and Zombies Feast for IDW. Currently the scribe of IDW’s All Hail Megatron, with artist Guido Guidi, the 12 part series has been wowing TransFans and newbies alike with its brutal war appeal and ‘evil wins’ premise. When not writing Shane teaches swing dancing in Perth, proving that he’s just as sure footed on the dance floor as he is behind the keyboard.

BROKEN FRONTIER: How exactly does a young man from the most isolated city in the world end up writing Batman?

SHANE MCCARTHY: Well I could answer with a list of mildly humorous jokes regarding blackmail and inappropriate photos of editors but the reality of it was simply a case of determination. I'd spent a fair amount of time submitting work via mail (actual posted letters!) and when that didn't work I flew myself to America in order to take it to a more personal level. From there it was actually a chance meeting with Bob Schreck (one of DC's head editors) that put me on the path towards my first international publication.  Bob saw something in my work, goodness knows what, but it was something he thought had promise. I really owe everything to Bob, he's one of the industry's best.

BF: What was your first thought when you saw your name on the cover of Detective Comics?

SM: When I first saw it I was actually more concerned with how the book looked (did it come out OK?  Did it look good printed up) and the next project I was working on to really understand the gravity of that first publication. My Dad was far more impressed than I was. It wasn't till much later on that it actually really hit me. I make an effort these days to appreciate the moment when the book comes out rather than be too distracted to really enjoy the moment.

BF: Is there a chance you’ll work with DC again?

SM: I'd like to think so. I love the DC characters a lot. Who knows though, the industry moves in mysterious ways.

BF: Can it be overwhelming when you’re writing some of pop culture’s greatest characters?

SM: You'd think so but so far it hasn't been. I've been lucky enough to write characters I really love (Batman, Transformers) so it's less about the immensity of the characters and more about what I think works best for their world and the characters themselves. When I write my scripts I tend to be really oblivious to anything beyond the work itself.

BF: What was it about All Hail Megatron that got IDW’s attention?

SM: I think it was the spectacle of it all. They were looking to rattle the cage with a big project that would look at the characters a little differently than they'd already been treated and one that would catch the attention of some new readers.  It was really a case of me coming to the table with something they were already looking for. Good timing.


BF: Can you give us a lowdown on the series?

SM: AHM is a story dealing with the war between the Autobots and the Decepticons. The story begins at a time when the Decepticons have won (or clearly believe they have) but we'll be flashing back to show how this came to be and, of course, showing whether or not this will be something that will last.  The most significant element of this is the dramatic and lasting impact this will have on our world and culture.  It's not a good time to be a human.

BF: You must be pretty excited about creating Drift, a brand new Transformer. Not many people can say they’ve done that.

SM: Yeah it's pretty cool. I never set out to do it but had an idea for a character that would add an element I hadn't seen so far. When he was accepted into the comic was a nice moment both from a storytelling point of view and a personal one (not huge but nice). Then hearing that Hasbro was planning to make a toy of it was even better. I think the real joy will come when my nephew is playing with the toy and I won't have a clue on how to transform the thing.

BF: How do you go from project to project? Is it a matter of swamping publishers with different pitches until someone bites?

SM: Not really no. Maybe other guys do the 'swamping' approach but I just tend to keep my ear to the ground to see if anyone's looking for pitches. These days I'm interested in working with friends in the industry as well as continuing my work with IDW. I don't think the swamping really works to be honest. If the companies want you they let you know.

BF: And lastly, you undoubtedly have a burning need to write a heroic swing dancer in one of your stories, right?

SM: Haha, no. Not at all. I'm happy to keep swing dancing well away from the world of comic books.

The first trade collection of Transformers: All Hail Megatron is currently available published by IDW priced $19.99. To order Volume 1 on Amazon click here and Volume 2 can also be pre-ordered.

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