Fans of the RWBY animated seriesnow have a comic book companion that reveals the “unseen moments” from the show. Written by Marguerite Bennett with art by Mirka Andolfo and Arif Prianto, the RWBY title debuted this Wednesday digitally, with a print edition launching October 9.
RWBY (pronounced “ruby”) is a future-fantasy animated series from Rooster Teeth that has seen six successful seasons, with a seventh on the way. The story follows the four members of Team RWBY - Ruby Rose, Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna and Yang Xiao Long - a group of trained huntresses who fight against creatures of destruction called the Grimm.
Newsarama talked to the creators of the comic title to find out more about the series and what readers can expect that wasn’t revealed in the animated series.
Newsarama: Marguerite, did you know about the RWBY story when you were first approached about the project? What did you think of the project and why did it entice you as a writer when you learned more about it?
Marguerite Bennett: I hadn’t yet had the pleasure of RWBY’S acqutaince when my editor first told me about the project, but his pitch – “teenage girls at a monster-hunting academy” – was my Kryptonite.
I binge-watched the first dive seasons, and by halfway through Season 2, I’d absolutely fallen in love with every last one of the heroines. The absolute sincerity of their arcs – dark without being dark and gritty, sweet without being inane, traumatic while fully realizing their personhood instead of treating them as props to demonstrate the personhood of those around them - had me addicted.
Moreover, RWBY had the same priorities I did when I was the age of the heroines, and focused on the same things I loved most - friendships between the girls, their struggles for their own identities after inheriting the quests and baggage of their parents’ legacies and priorities, magic and mayhem and monster-hunting. The best part of my day is stepping into the world of Remnant.
Nrama: What will you be exploring in the comic book compared to what we’ve seen in the cartoon?
Bennett: The joy for me was getting to deep-dive into the unseen moments between the climactic beats that made fans of RWBY fall in love with the series - those heartbeats between Blake and Yang back at school, Yang’s recovery after the fall of Beacon, Blake’s trauma and guilt (and guilt over feeling guilty), Weiss’s relationships with heretofore isolated members of her family, Ruby’s difficult evolution into a leader who makes the complex choices.
Nrama: Mirka, what’s it been like translating the world of RWBY for comic books?
Mirka Andolfo: When I was proposed to work on that project, I was both thrilled and scared: RWBY is a very nice property, with a lot of fans, and it’s super fun and interesting working on that. The character design is so captivating, the setting incredible. I’m really happy to be part of this project!
Nrama: Arif, as you’ve done the colors for the book, what’s your experience been like as you explored this new world?
Arif Prianto: It has been a great experience! Normally I work on superheroes stuff (I was the colorist on Deathstroke for about a year), so this is a very welcome change of pace.
Nrama: Marguerite, how does this compare to writing in the world of superheroes?
Bennett: I get to unapologetically focus on the friendships and relationships of heroines, which makes me happy as a clam in high water. But the bombastic fight scenes, monster battles, tough choices, dramatic reveals, sinister prophecies, coming-of-age beats, and atonement for past sins are all kith and kin between the genres.
Nrama: How has it been working with Arif and Mirka?
Bennett: Mirka is one of my favorite artists, favorite collaborators, and favorite people in the whole entire industry. She is an immaculate chocolate croissant in a bakery of stale donuts. She is a glorious tigress amid a bunch of raccoons that have been spray-painted orange for some reason. She is the absolute real deal and is so accomplished at comedy, horror, erotica, and all the finest moments of human catharsis, and her characters look so cute and/or wretched, I could reach out and pinch them.
Arif has been an absolute gift, and I am impossibly grateful to have such an immensely skilled colleague on our team - I never knew there were heights Mirka’s art had not yet reached, but Arif makes every panel sing arias.
Nrama: Mirka and Arif, what has been the biggest challenge about representing the cartoon on the page?
Prianto: At first, I was not sure how to approach the colors for this project. In anime, they usually use a simple light and shadow effect to add dimension to their characters. In contrast with the background art, which was normally fully painted or modeled. I considered using the same technique, although I quickly abandoned that plan once I start working on the pages. Mirka’s take on the characters are so dynamic that it would be a shame if I just threw simple colors on it. In the end, it’s kind of reverse from the anime approach, I rendered the characters in detail (as much as the deadline allows me to) and gave the background colors just enough attention as not to detract the focus from the leading ladies.
Andolfo: The most challenging part of the work is to balance my personal interpretation and style and the original design, that of course I have to respect. But is also the most interesting part!
Nrama: Have any of the characters emerged as favorites?
Prianto: To be honest, I didn’t know much about RWBY before I took on this project. Although visually, I’m in love with Yang’s attire! Yellow, orange, brown, and a cool robot arm to boot! What’s not to like?
Andolfo: At the moment, I’m really focused on some pages starring Yang. I think she’s so far the most interesting character to me (well, they are all amazing, anyways). I like her energy and her attitude... She’s a strong and fierce girl!
Nrama: Marguerite, as you’ve explored the characters of RWBY, has anything about them surprised you? Or did you discover something you think readers haven’t realized, something that you’re highlighting in the comic book?
Bennett: Oh, absolutely. I was childishly disdainful of Weiss when she first appeared in the show, the spoiled rich girl condescending to students who hadn’t studied as hard as she had, but it was her struggle to atone and be better than the person she arrived as that won me over.
Then we learned more about Weiss’s family, and came to the realization that those sorts of personalities don’t develop in a vacuum. The fact that Weiss not only rebelled against the flawed, arrogant, classist person she was, but also against the family that had shaped into that cold, lost girl made her choices and her fight all the more powerful.
But as to the rest - much more is coming.