The Complete Transformers Drift Comic Collection - Interview with Writer Shane McCarthy
The Complete Transformers Drift hardcover collection from IDW Publishing and Hasbro brings together the now-classic DRIFT limited series by Shane McCarthy (Mars Attacks: The Transformers) and Alex Milne (Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye) and the powerful SPOTLIGHT: DRIFT issue by McCarthy and fan-favorite Casey W. Coller. Oversized and packed with extras, this book is going to fit great on your shelves right next to the ALL HAIL MEGATRON and LAST STAND OF THE WRECKERS hardcovers! We sat down with Shane McCarthy to talk about Drift!
Q: Hi Shane. It’s been five years since Drift made his debut in the ALL HAIL MEGATRON series. Can you explain where the idea of this character came from and what your initial goals were for him in the series?
SHANE MCCARTHY: It’s really not a convoluted as people might think. While I was working on the roster and story for AHM I had an idea for a Transformers character that’s a Japanese Drift Racing car. I thought it would be cool given Drift Racing is so big in Japan—as are giant robots. A lot of the Autobots are cars from the ’80s, so I thought it would be cool to have one that’s so current. It was really a case of “wouldn’t it be cool.” We ran the idea past Hasbro and they loved it, and immediately wanted to make a toy. I had no other plans for him beyond being a part of the overall roster and representing a facet of the overall war.
Q: When (artist) Guido Guidi was designing Drift, did you have something specific in mind or have much input into how he finally appeared?
SHANE MCCARTHY: Oh, for sure. I knew Drift’s backstory at that stage, so it was a matter of getting something happening that was true to that and his overall demeanor. Guido went through a few designs based on my initial outline and we chose one from there.
Q: Drift switches from Decepticon to neutral to Autobot in his past. Having seen other characters on both sides previously do this, what was it that made Drift’s story so different from all of the others before him?
SHANE MCCARTHY: To be honest, I don’t think his story is so different at all. I never set out to make anything happen with him that was groundbreaking. It was honestly a case of a “cool” idea being picked up, when we thought there was little chance it would be. From there, I decided to use him to highlight the aggression and antagonism between the Autobots and Decepticons and also to establish the “third faction” of Cybertronians.
Q: When sitting down to put the actions of the character on paper, how clearly could you see the characters past, present and future at the time?
SHANE MCCARTHY: It depends on a character. Sometimes you know every single specific and you’re seeding pieces of that throughout the story. Other times you have a basic idea and allow that to influence the character. In Drift’s case, I knew his history and temperament, but not the exact particulars. I knew about the third faction and his swapping from ’Con to ’Bot, I knew about the sword’s history but not exactly how he came to have it. It was all there in my head for AHM but there really wasn’t any room to get into it there.
Q: In ALL HAIL MEGATRON, Drift appears and casually and quietly goes about his business. Was this always the intention, or did circumstances change during the series that maybe took some of the focus away from this new character?
SHANE MCCARTHY: No, that was always the intention. There was literally only one scene that was cut from AHM, which was Drift Vs Frenzy. Given it was only a fight and didn’t add to the overall story it was an easy cut. But Drift was only ever meant to be part of a larger tapestry.
Q: SPOTLIGHT: DRIFT gave us more time with the character and showed as what he’s like and where he stands. Were there many changes to his backstory while you were writing or did you have cut down or trim anything out?
SHANE MCCARTHY: It was a case of fleshing out the particulars. I knew the big beats but the smaller details had yet to reveal themselves.
Q: The DRIFT mini-series shows us what happened to Drift before either ALL HAIL MEGATRON or the SPOTLIGHT issue, and introduces the Circle of Light. Why explore a third faction of Cybertronians and place Drift amongst them?
SHANE MCCARTHY: Mostly because I thought it made sense there’d be Cybertronians out there that didn’t want to be a part of the war. Just because America goes to war with someone doesn’t mean everyone in America agrees with that, or wants that to happen. So when your planet is engulfed by that war, what do you do? I found that an interesting concept and one I thought Drift could fit nicely into. He needed to see what the war was doing from a neutral point of view.
Q: What does Drift as a character represent for you? Did he say everything you felt you wanted to say about the Cybertronian conflict?
SHANE MCCARTHY: For me, Drift represents redemption and forgiveness; forgiveness of others and of yourself. He was a nasty piece of work and he got to see the darker side of himself and the war. He was able to come back from all of that but managed to do so without any malice or hatred in his heart… or spark.
Q: Holding the Drift toy must have been quite an experience for you.
SHANE MCCARTHY: Yeah, it was a real thrill actually, I won’t lie. Seeing it on the toy shelves was a big moment and seeing my nephews playing with it was pretty moving. Mostly because it felt so circular; I’d gone from a kid buying those toys to being a man writing the comics to watching kids buy a toy I’d had a part in making. It felt like I was giving back.
Q: Having seen Drift continue his story in MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE, are you happy with how the character has been progressing in that series?
SHANE MCCARTHY: I couldn’t tell you, sorry. I haven’t read anything post AHM so I’m not sure how he’s been treated. He’s not “mine,” though, so people can do whatever they like with him.
Q: If the opportunity rose again for you to write Drift, do you know what kind of stories you’d like to tell with him?
SHANE MCCARTHY: I’m sure there’s a host of stories that could be told. I was a little sad Guido and I never got to work on something where he had his “real” Drift alt mode, so it would definitely play a part.