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From All Surrounding Parallel Realities 


Posted 10.21.17 

I hadn’t planned on doing a follow-up to my Q&A with Bill Spangler, but here we are.

Back when I was working on my Q&A with novelist James Luceno, aka Jack McKinney to Robotech readers, it occurred to me that some of my questions I asked Jim should be directed to Bill, too. Those questions pertained to the Malcontent Uprisings events of the Robotech saga. The stories for those events were first told in Bill’s The Malcontent Uprisings comic book series, then embellished upon by Jim later in his The Zentraedi Rebellion novel. Differences between the works aside, I’m fond of both yarns; Jim explored the politics and other dramas of the Malcontent Uprisings in captivating detail, and Bill’s series concentrated on the last few exciting chapters of the tumultuous period, although the text pieces he wrote for the back of the comics offered further insight into the characters and history. Since both men covered the same territory but with different perspectives, I wanted to ask Bill what I asked Jim about the Uprisings—questions that somehow weren’t asked in the initial Q&A.

Time passed. I had other things that came up. So when I made time to post my follow-up with Bill, I thought about how it would fit with certain developments that have emerged in the real world. I’m not referring to real-life politics and current events, as tempting as that may be. I’m referring to the state—as it were—of Robotech. I have strong views about the franchise, and some of them can be discovered by going through this website. But for the sake of this follow-up, I’m not mentioning them. I’m posting the follow-up largely in the way that it was originally intended. I’m posting it while things are still fun. In the spirit of fun, I have an almost completely off-topic question for Bill at the end.

Bryant Shiu aka Mecha 8


M8: The Malcontent Uprisings series was an unprecedented Robotech comic book; it was the first saga-related Robotech comic series that wasn’t an adaptation of animated episodes or novels. (Not counting the Robotech Defenders title because, well, it’s unrelated to the saga.)

BILL: Yeah, that’s how I remember it. The Waltrips may have been doing original material for the Sentinels comic, but I’m not sure how much. My understanding—and I may have this wrong—is that sometimes they had full scripts to work from, but, sometimes, they just had outlines.

M8: They stayed rather close to the novels in the beginning, but they introduced more of their own ideas as time passed. And the swimsuit issues were totally them.

He's a little bit country. She's a little bit rock 'n' roll.      Max and Miriya don't let their differences get in the    way, though.

M8: Through The Malcontent Uprisings, we got to know the Zentraedi race better, along with a number of the characters, both human and alien. What is it about the Zentraedi that makes them seem more suitable for further exploration than other alien races in the epic? Did you find something particularly relatable about them?

BILL: One thing I like about the Zentraedi is that most of them have very strong personalities, and it’s fun to pit them against each other. They’re not some sort of hive mind, despite the influence of the Imperative.

In “Malcontents,” the Zentraedi are in a really interesting situation, I think. On the one hand is the Imperative, but on the other hand is the fact that they simply have to find a new way to live, if they’re going to survive on Earth.

M8: The Zentraedi Imperative to fight has a primal appeal and is one of the most interesting things about Those Who Were Giants (and then became giants again). What were some of the things that went into your development of the Imperative?

BILL: Well, I think the Imperative was programmed into the Zentraedi at the genetic level, compared to, say, the Klingon warrior philosophy which is primarily cultural. (Nature versus nurture, anyone?) The evidence suggests—to me, anyway—that the Imperative isn’t a rigid set of instructions, like a computer program. The Zentraedi may be allowed some room for creative thinking—and rebellion—because of the distances that separate the fleets from the Robotech Masters.

And this connects to the idea that the Zentraedi are clones. My theory is that the Masters had to relinquish a certain amount of control in some cases, in order to get other skills they wanted.

If you're lost, you can look, and you will find me, time after, well, the time it takes me to hop into my time machine.

M8: With Anatole Leonard, you fleshed out the character as no one had before. In the Robotech Masters part of the TV series, he’s the character everyone hates. In your comic, he becomes the character everyone loves to hate. Or the character that people hate a whole lot more because of the atrocities he commits. Still, there’s more to him than his vileness—he’s put through his emotional paces. As written by you and novelist James Luceno, the character doesn’t fit certain molds for villains; excuse me for using supervillain comparisons—he’s not the Joker, but he also isn’t Magneto (who has a resonant pathos in his story). Was generating some amount of sympathy for Leonard ever a goal? Or was the goal to give him more dimension?

BILL: Honestly, I think I started out with the idea of creating a significant revelation about one of the characters that didn’t contradict the canon and probably wouldn’t be contradicted by the canon. I didn’t start out with the idea that it was going to be Leonard. Developing him this way was the strongest idea that I had. But I definitely think that making him more dimensional was a good thing, and it made him more sympathetic.

M8: The female Zentraedi come to the fore in The Malcontent Uprisings. They’re shown as formidable strategists and warmakers who understand human nature more so than their male counterparts do, as opposed to Azonia, who doesn’t really do anything in the TV show but keep Khyron in check before Dolza’s Rain. It’s been said that if women were in charge, there would be peace throughout the globe. On the other hand, the female Zentraedi, albeit aliens, show a reversal of that idea; they’re able to organize and arm the different bands far better than the males. How much did certain previous characterizations of Zentraedi (Rico, Bron, and Konda; Miriya and Azonia; Khyron; the mindless outbursts of violence by male Zentraedi post-War) play a role in the portrayal of the females in your series? Or was this portrayal due to thinking, “Women as more dominant in making war…haven’t seen much of that in sci-fi…”?

BILL: I was working more from individual characterizations than any particular theme. And I was influenced by other strong women we’ve seen in popular culture. By the time Robotech premiered, we had been introduced to Princess Leia and Ripley. And I’ve always been a big fan of Emma Peel, from those other Avengers…

M8: Who would win in a fight? Deep Space Nine Worf or micronized Breetai?

BILL: Hey, I’ll take a shot at it. I think even the micronized Breetai would be physically stronger than Worf. But I think Worf is more intelligent, and that might be enough to give him the win. On the other hand, if the match was Breetai and Exedore versus Worf, Worf would have some problems.    

M8: Note that I didn't ask the question about Worf fighting the full-size Breetai, 'cause, well, it would be the same as asking what would happen if Godzilla fought Bambi. Still, an animated short done in the style of that other match could make for a neat fan-made video. RCT

Read the first Q&A with Bill. Reach him on Facebook.


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