Robyn Hood: The Hunt writer LaToya Morgan on bringing diverse faces to the forefront

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Dec 23, 2017

As 2017 draws to a close, so does the final chapter of the recent foray into the adventures of Zenescope Entertainment's reimagined version of classic character Robin Hood. Robyn Hood: The Hunt finds Robyn in "an otherworldly, high tech, maximum security prison." But no matter how stubborn she may be, she must learn that sometimes you can't do everything on your own. She is not an island, as much as she tries to be. 

We spoke to Robyn Hood: The Hunt writer LaToya Morgan (Into the Badlands, Shameless, TURN: Washington's Spies) about the influences she had while working on the book, what she likes about writing Robyn and making a concerted effort to include diverse characters in her work.

[The Hunt] is the first Robyn Hood story I've read, but I got into it really quickly. Did you go back and read everything that happened earlier in her story to prepare to work on this? 

Well, for me, one of the things that I love about this series is that you can really jump in, read the issues, and get a sense of who she is as a character. She's on this really cool journey in this little mini. So it's a lot of fun. You can totally, completely understand it without having to go back and read everything else. But I was already a fan of Robyn Hood and her character, so I sorta skipped around and read a bunch of different series for her written by Pat Shand, who's one of the editors at Zenescope. So it's nice to go back and read some of the other issues. But you don't necessarily have to to get this story.

How is the process of working on a comic different than working on a TV show? Other than obviously one is longer than the other.

[laughs] Well, for me, it's different in that when you write scripts for comic books you get the great gift to be very detailed with what you want to see on the page. So when I'm designing how I want the script to look, the layout, I'll include references to different films or different shots from movies that have inspired me. What I think a certain panel should look like, and I can put that into the script and the artist really works to try to bring that to life. So you have a little bit more control over how the issue turns out.

In TV it's a little different. I'm equally as disciplined and as detailed with my scripts, but once you go into production and you go and you've written something set in, let's say an office room, and then you get to the actual set where you're going to shoot and you see that the door's in a different place than what you were imagining. Or there's just something different about the layout, you have to adjust it to that. And one other factor that plays a big role is you're working with a director who's going to bring this script to life, so the director may have input into how to do the scene in a completely different way than what you were thinking about. Usually, under the best of circumstances, it's very collaborative when you're working with a director. So they may come up with a cool idea for blocking a scene or, you know, maybe you don't say one of those lines that you thought was really important, and you can say it all in a look. So those are the kinds of things that really define what the difference is between a comic book script and a television script.

Were there certain things you remember referencing when working on Robyn Hood?

[laughs] Well I'm a big fan of 1970s exploitation films, and I love those prison movies. A lot of them Pam Grier did that I loved. I think there's even a line in the first issue where I reference the women in cages, because I love that stuff. So that was definitely a reference. Of course, Shawshank Redemption is like one of my all-time favorite films, and that was top of my mind when I was writing that script.

What's your favorite thing about writing Robyn as a character?

My favorite thing about writing Robyn is that she's really feisty. She's smart. She's a smart aleck, and I love that. It sort of cuts to the core of who I like to believe that I am. I always liken her to being almost in the vein of a Deadpool. She's really snarky and funny in the deadliest of circumstances.

She has a comeback for everything.

[laughs] Yes. She always has a comeback, which is a lot of fun to write. And so it really combines the things the two things I love the most, which is -- I love writing action. I love writing strong female characters, and I get to have her be somebody who always has the right comeback that I wish I had.

How do TV and comics compare when it comes to the different kinds of characters we get to see?

I think that television and comics both have room to grow when it comes to putting more diverse faces on the canvas. But the opportunities are there. They need to be explored. One of the things that I wanted to do in the first issue of the new series The Hunt is to really show that there are a couple of characters that are of color to give them some agency in the story. So Robyn's cellmate in the story is a character named Zoë. And when I wrote in the script the reference for the artist I had just recently watched Big Little Lies. So Zoë Kravitz was right at the top of my mind, so I was like "Yes, I need a character like her who is young and strong and feisty" and could match wits with Robyn. So that's where I drew my inspiration. So you have to put the effort in to put those characters forward.

On the show that I'm working on now, Into the Badlands, we have a very diverse cast of characters. We're getting even more diverse in the third season, in the new season that we're writing right now. So it's just up to the creators and the people that are behind the camera to put in the effort to make sure that there's more visibility for everyone.

Do you have any comic book characters that you think would be great to see in film or TV that we haven't seen yet?

That's a good one. They're covering, like, my favorite ones. I'm a Marvel kid, so they're gonna go through every single character from Marvel. That's a tough one. They're doing all of my favorites.

I guess that's good then.

Yeah, I know. I know there's one. It'll come to me before this conversation's over, dammit. I'll be able to answer.

What are your favorite ones that they are doing?

Well, I love Spider-Man. So I'm very happy with the reboot that we saw. I loved it. And I'm a big fan of X-Men. So those will always be first and foremost in my heart. I love that they've done those, and for the most part, they've done a pretty good job with those.

X-Men was the first comic book movie that I ever watched and thought, "Oh, this is really cool."

You know, it's such a great canvas. There's such a great variety of characters. They all have these complex things that they're dealing with. They're fun. And it's just the world, it has such a great message too. You know, especially given our political climate now, it resonates. So it was more than just pictures on a page. It really stayed with me when I was a kid when I would read them. Those are some of the books I love the most.

Are they doing Vixen for DC? I kinda like her character.

I don't know if I've seen anything about that.

That's one that they should definitely do. She's badass.

One thing I really like about The Hunt is seeing Robyn’s relationship with her cellmate Zoë, because it's a female friendship and it's not really about a guy. It's just them potentially trying to help each other.

Exactly. And you know, that's the thing. Hopefully, this will pass the Bechdel test. [laughs] I hate that we watch shows that's always about who's going to get the guy. This is really about something a little more visceral than that. We need to survive. We need to get the hell out of this dangerous situation. And we're both strong and we both bring something good to the table that can help each other out. So it's a really fun relationship that they start to develop over the course of the series.

What else are you working on?

I am working on Into the Badlands Season 3 right now. Which is a lot of fun. We're expanding the universe of the Badlands. We're adding more characters. More villains that are gonna come cause trouble for Sunny and Bajie and the Widow and the rest of our team. Which should be fun. That's the big thing I'm working on. And then I am developing a couple of pilots for AMC. I'm adapting a couple of books for them that I'm working on. And we're in the early stages of that and hopefully get to push those over the finish line.

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Robyn Hood: The Hunt Issue #6 is available December 27 from Zenescope.