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Carl Johnson writes...

Hello Mr. Weisman,

I had just a couple of questions.

1. One thing about the animation industry is that once a season is over there is no guarantee that the next season will be picked up. Should some one have a plan B for another profession if the next season does not work out? Or is there plenty of work in California that if you did your job well, finding another one should not take long?

2.If someone has a animation idea they want to pitch and have all the details worked out (pitch bible, characters, story, and pilot script) how would they know when they could pitch the idea?

3. I had a question for attires for animation shows. Does it cost more to have different episodic attires for characters or do characters have only one attire to save time? I know in Spectacular, Peter had a winter attire with the jacket, or that one time he had the black shirt with brown pants during the symbiote removal episode but is there a choice on whether they can change their attire episode by episode to add more realism?
Thanks!

Greg responds...

1. Well, uh... There are no guarantees. I try to have other work lined up, pretty much always. And sometimes I'm just flat-out unemployed for stretches. This gig is not for the faint of heart, I guess.

2. I'm not sure I understand the question. If you're ready, pitch. But my caution would be to be careful not to poison the water. If it's a work in progress, and isn't actually very good (YET), then I wouldn't pitch. Make sure you're only showing the best possible version of what you've got. On the other hand, there's not much point in noodling forever on an idea. If it's solid, go for it.

3. Every design - and new clothes are a new design - cost time, which costs money. So, yes, in animation, we need a pretty good reason to give characters additional wardrobe. But if we need it, we need it.

Response recorded on April 24, 2017

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Lenny writes...

Hey Greg,

I am very interested into breaking into the animation industry. I am currently in college working on my English writing skills and drawing skills as well. I heard in one of your previous interviews that moving to California would be smart as thats where alot of the animation jobs are. By the time you read this question I would hopefully be done reading "Gardner's Guide to Writing and Producing Animation" by Shan Muir. I should get a better idea about the industry itself from reading that book, but since you have experience as a animation producer I just had a couple of specific questions hopefully you can answer.

1. Would animation companies be more interested in investing original show ideas or original ideas on licenses they already acquire? I.E. an idea that some one made up and wanted to make into a show or having original material for a Marvel Spider-Man show or DC Superman show?

2. I have never been to California but I heard the cost of living is higher than any state (considering that Im from the east coast) should one wait to have an agent then move to Cali or should they move there, settle in, get a part time job then pursue after the animation career?

3.If by some miracle a persons idea gets picked up by a company, they might not immediately give them control over production. Could a recommendation for a more seasoned producer ( like Paul Dini, Victor Cook, or even Brandon Vietti) be made and considered? or is it 9/10 they provide their own producer?

4 (Last one) Animation on live television has changed drastically over the past couple of decades. With online streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and even Amazon Prime have shown that people rather binge a season versus figure out what time slot it will appear on television. So my question is, if a person has an idea but would think that idea would perform better on a streaming service versus online television, should that be included in the pitch or should they let the executives worry about that? For example Marvel hasn't made a Spider-Man 2099 cartoon series yet and if it were to be adapted truly it would probably do way better on an online streaming service where people can watch and binge episodes on their own time, versus live television in which a shows lifespan can be cut at any moment.

That's all the questions that I have and I hope I haven't broken any of your guidelines. I hope to break into the industry within the next five years and is willing to do almost anything to make my dream come true. Thank you for your time!

Greg responds...

1. Marquis value is always something sought after, but there's no way to predict what a given network or studio is looking for from the outside in. You can come in with a take on Wile E. Coyote, and find out that Warner Bros already has plans for him. So, I tend to advise people to spend their time on something they can own. But it's not a hard and fast rule.

2. I don't know how you get an agent without getting work first. And frankly, I don't know how you get a first job if you're not here pounding the pavement. There's work in New York. And a few other places. But most of the animation writing work is in Los Angeles.

3. How could you possibly get a recommendation to be a producer from anyone if you've never produced? Dude, you have to work your way up through the ranks. Freelance writer. Staff writer. Story editor. Producer. If you come in with a brilliant idea that they're desperate to have, I suppose anything is possible. But it's not likely. Prove yourself. THEN sell your brilliant idea.

4. You can suggest whatever you want. But if you sell to Netflix, for example, of course they're looking at a binge-model. And if you sell to Cartoon Network, of course they're NOT. So try not to limit your options.

Response recorded on April 20, 2017

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killuaDev writes...

Do you enjoy having conversations with people about your work (If they are not asking for spoilers or trying to pitch you ideas etc.

Greg responds...

Very much.

Response recorded on April 18, 2017

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Anonymous writes...

1) Have you read much from the old DC Vertigo imprint? If so, what were among your favorites?
2) Do you see a realistic path towards animation becoming acceptable among the general adult population in the near future?

Greg responds...

1. I read everything prior to 1996. Almost nothing that came after. Sandman and Swamp Thing were obvious favorites, back in the day.

2. Depends what you mean by "acceptable."

Response recorded on March 23, 2017

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John writes...

Hi Greg, hope your day is going well, just wanted to say thanks for creating and producing all of these great shows, comics, and novels, and thank you very much for taking time out of your probably busy schedule to answer fan's questions.
1. How long does it take to make an episode of an animated series, like Spectacular Spider-Man or Young Justice?
2. Is Aquaman's son really named Artur, or was that just a typo in the video game?
3. What would it take to relaunch the Young Justice comic book series?
And I know these are probably spoilery, so I won't ask, but Zatanna and Rocket were some of my favorite characters in season one. Really hoping you guys get enough episodes to bring a resolution to the Zatanna/Zatara/Dr.Fate storyline, and we can finally find out who Rocket'a husband is! But if neither of these end up happening, I'm sure we'll get a fantastic Season 3 story from you guys no matter what. Ecstatic that YJ is back!

Greg responds...

1. Depends what you mean. You see, no one makes a SINGLE episode. From coming up with the springboard for the story, all the way through post-production, until it's in the can, it takes somewhere from between ten and thirteen months, depending on the schedule.

2. Artur is correct.

3. It would help if a lot of people bought electronic versions of the issues already published, either on the DC App, Comixology or iTunes.

Response recorded on March 10, 2017

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Snaggle Fraggle writes...

What in the animation industry has changed since you first got into it, for better or for worse?

Greg responds...

Tons. And nothing.

The biggest change for me, right now at least, is the end of animation in broadcast syndication and for the major networks, through the rise and (plateauing) of cable stations, into streaming services.

Response recorded on February 22, 2017

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Ah-Bee-Cee-Dee writes...

Is it my imagination, or are 11-minute/11-minute episodes steadily replacing 22 minute animation as the norm?

Greg responds...

I don't know about norm. But I do see a lot more series going the eleven minute route. (Not YJ, in case you were concerned.)

Response recorded on February 13, 2017

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Robert Misirian writes...

Hi Mr. Weisman. I remember we met in WonderCon last year and I asked you questions about writing spec scripts for cartoons. I remember you said that I should write three scripts, then go over them, and only submit one of them if you're absolutely sure it's good.

Knowing what you and your crew got away with in Young Justice, how do how people like you and Gennedy Tartakovsky on Sym-Bionic Titan get away with the TV-PG content and make your show with teens in mind? And since I plan to make TV-14 shows for the main Cartoon Network channel, would the channel accept them?

Greg responds...

You'd have to ask them. The needs of ANY given channel are constantly changing.

And I don't write for an older audience. I write on levels so it works for the widest possible audience.

Response recorded on November 30, 2016

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Green Lantern's Nightlight writes...

1). You say to fans a good way of showing they want Young Justice to return, is to buy the comics, DVDs, and the game (and the toys still?), but how much would fans have to buy for this to happen? Is there a goal to reach maybe or perhaps just enough to get noticed by DC/WB that it's still something that people want more of?

I would think they'd be more interested in what was selling when the show was still on the air, because that's obviously what Mattel was looking at for it to pull its funding.

2). If by miracle, YJ does get brought back by Netflix, where would the funding come from? Having Mattel as a backer makes it look like it couldn't be made without it. Not every Warner Bros. Animation show has a backer (unless there's a silent contributer), and most of the Netflix shows have a backer (helped by broadcasters who air it around the world), so what would happen with YJ? Would it just be supported by Warner (and DC), itself? And I guess, Netflix.

Greg responds...

Well, this is all largely moot now, but...

1. I never had a NUMBER or AMOUNT. It takes more to get a company's attention after a show is off the air, then it takes to keep a show on the air. The other thing to keep in mind is that buying toys (or whatever) second-hand does nothing to get a company's attention. So, for example, I was not advocating buying YJ toys this year, because those toys were off the market. Any purchases were second sales and does nothing for Mattel or WB or DC's bottom line.

2. So YJ's coming back, but I don't know where it will air. The term "backer" doesn't really fit, either. It's about MONEY. Money to produce the first two seasons of YJ came from Mattel and Cartoon Network. (Mostly from Mattel.) When Mattel pulled out, the money from CN wasn't enough to produce the series. Period. For season three, Warner Bros itself is paying for it, for now. They have confidence, I guess, that wherever it winds up and whatever merchandise they may or may not eventually release or license, they'll still make a profit. That's based on what the fans proved over the last few years.

Response recorded on November 17, 2016

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Blake writes...

Me and a friend of mine are making a show about war and we wanted to know if we should go with animation from star wars rebels or go with retro animation from the 90s.

Greg responds...

Okay, so...

(a) Are those your only two options?

(b) Are you defining "retro animation" as cell animation as opposed to CGI? Cause cell animation isn't by definition retro.

(c) Are you in fact MAKING this yourselves, or are you coming up with a pitch? If the former, evaluate what you can and can't manage. If the latter, keep your options open.

Response recorded on October 28, 2016

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Domenic writes...

How long did it take to write and make an episode for Young Justice?

By the way, you are THE BEST writer on TV ever!!!

Greg responds...

Thank you.

Um... well, it takes a minimum of nine or ten months to go from an episodic springboard to a final complete episode in the can, ready to air. Often more like a year.

Response recorded on September 15, 2016

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Annonymus writes...

Hi Greg, I was just wondering, how do you react to negative criticism on a show you worked on before like all those people who heavily criticized something you that you and your team liked, like the Joker in Young Justice for example? Would you stick to the creative choice despite how the majority of the audience did not approve or would you make changes to that criticism even if you thought it was fine the way it was.

I know I'm not obligated to advice the creator what to change or not not to change, I am merely asking how the creative team would react in this situation, because I too am learning in production management and how to plan construction for a form of entertainment media.

It would really help,

Greg responds...

I have to stick to my guns. In part because of the long lagtime between production and airing. And in part because I need to maintain my passion for a project. If I'm taking notes from everyone who can make a suggestion on the internet, I'll (a) never get anything done and (b) quickly lose my passion for the project.

If I had listened to all the YJ criticism that came down the pike early on, I would have, for example, cut Miss Martian, Superboy and Kid Flash from the series. I would have made the season one Robin Tim Drake and not Dick Grayson, which means we would never have gotten Nightwing in Season Two. I would have lost Dick's laughter and his wordplay. Aqualad would be another white guy and not the son of Black Manta. Etc. Etc. Etc.

People don't know what we have planned, and they react. Often negatively - especially on the internet - to things that they will eventually love if we and they are patient.

Response recorded on June 24, 2016

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Kyle Kale writes...

Hey Mr. Weisman

Given your experiences in animated media, do you think that animated shows have it harder (in terms of having to prove themselves as viable for gaining additional seasons) than live-action shows? I ask because it seems to me that you have, alongside collaborators, spearheaded numerous projects (such as WITCH, Spec Spidey, Young Justice) that have, critically and in terms of viewership, been very successful (I can't speak for Spec Spidey or WITCH, but I know that Young Justice consistently maintained numbers that even some live-action shows do not get or maintain), yet they have all been cancelled for various reasons. Meanwhile, there is no shortage of live-action shows that have been looked upon with far less critical or viewer approval and have been renewed for more than three seasons (of 16 to 21 episodes). If your answer is 'yes,' do you think that one reason for this increased difficulty on the part of animated shows is that most of them are forced into, in addition to maintaining constant viewer numbers, maintaining a toy line?

Greg responds...

I dunno. It's easy to complain, but the truth is MANY shows don't make it to a full season, let alone two or more.

Budget plays a role in any series, but a kids series - particularly a kids' action series - seems particularly prone to the need for an alternative revenue stream beyond ratings.

Response recorded on May 23, 2016

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SKL writes...

Hey Greg,

Going through the archives, I find the point by point summaries you give of the production process behind your various shows very interesting. It isn't necessarily obvious how much work goes into animated shows so I appreciate that you provide these brief insights.

Have you made a lot of changes to your approach or has it remained largely the same over the years? To put it another way, was your day to day work on Gargoyles significantly different to that of the work you did on WITCH, Spectacular Spider-Man or Young Justice?

Are any changes more to do with your own personal preferences, or are they largely determined by shifts occurring in the industry in general, with improvements to technology and so on?

Greg responds...

Day to day, little has changed of substance. But my process of breaking both arcs and stories continues to be refined with every new series. And there are technological changes that influence things too. I used to review timing sheets. Now, I almost never do. In fact, on Star Wars Rebels, I never even saw storyboards - just animatics.

But every series is slightly different. A lot depends on who you're partnered with, and the processes at any given studio, etc.

And yet, at the end of the day, the process is still basically the same.

Response recorded on April 28, 2016

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Andres writes...

Dear Greg

After so many years what is your opinion of the current status of Animation in America?

Second with how animation in motion pictures is telling more diverse type of stories than before with DC having great success with there direct to video animated films having success directed at a more general audience the success of anime as a genre and animation widely accepted as a medium for adult comedy why don't great series of drama action and adventure, intelligent well told stories such YJ fet taken more serious?Why are they seen as directed ot young boys who buy toys?

Greg responds...

Let me answer your second question first and work my way through the others from there.

I don't know.

I don't know why animation isn't taken more seriously by the general audience of adults. But the fact is: it isn't. Wish it wasn't so, but it is so. Even Pixar movies are largely viewed by MOST adults only if they are parents taking their children. There are a ton of exceptions, of course. And, of course, parents would rather see a movie that works on multiple levels, so that there's something for their kids, but also something for themselves, i.e. for adults. So parents/adults have learned to expect more from the animated movies of Pixar/Disney/Dreamworks/etc. because they've seen good movies from those companies and have started to learn the difference between a good animated move and a bad animated movie. And what is that difference? Well, your mileage may vary, but it's basically the same difference between a good movie and a bad movie, period.

As for a series like Young Justice, your thinking is backwards. Young boys don't buy toys. How could they? Where would they get the money? Parents buy toys for kids (boys AND girls) based on (a) what they think their kids like and (b) what their kids tell them they like.

A show like Young Justice is PAID FOR by the money that toys bring in. If there weren't toys, there wouldn't be any money to make the show. So, frankly, bitching about the shows being directed to kids for the purposes of selling toys is basically bitching about the show being made at all. Because, again, without the toy component, there is no show. NO SHOW.

That's why YJ didn't get a third season. The toyline failed. (We can spend hours discussing why, but that's another topic.) So no more money was coming in from the toy company. No money. NO SHOW. (Or no third season under that financial model, anyway.)

And I am 100% fine with that. Because I WANT kids watching Young Justice. Like a good Pixar movie, YJ is written on levels. There's plenty of eye candy for younger kids. Explosions, young heroes in costumes, etc. And plenty for tweens, teens, college students, adults and geeks of all ages to enjoy as well. That's the game plan. We have a target audience, we MUST hit, i.e. boys 6-11 years old. As long as we are successful in that demographic, everyone is happy. And everyone is HAPPIER if we also get girls 6-11 and boys 11-13, and girls 11-13 and teens and adults of all genders, etc., etc.,etc.

As for anime, and/or the DC animated movies, they are doing well - or better, at least. But let's not kid ourselves. They are still only serving niche audiences in the United States. They serve geeks of various flavors (myself included). On a grand scale - say, compared to LION KING or SHREK - they're not doing big numbers. They're just not. Fanbases on the internet fool themselves into thinking things are more popular and money-generating than they really are. "I like it and my friends like it and a bunch of strangers on the internet like it, therefore nearly EVERYONE must like it!' But that's a fallacy.

Which finally brings us to your first question: what is [my] opinion of the current status of Animation in America?

I don't know.

Response recorded on April 04, 2016

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Long Beach Comic Expo - 2016

Here's my schedule for this weekend's Long Beach Comic Expo at the Long Beach Convention Center:

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2016

11:30am - 12:30pm
DOWN TO NERD: INVADER ZIM AND GARGOYLES: CONQUEROR VS PROTECTOR
Thunderdome (Seaside Pre-Function) w/RuthAnn Thompson (moderator), Dave Crosland, Greg Weisman.
Description: Some come from another time to protect, another from a different planet to conquer- but both hold a special place in our hearts! Gargoyles VS Invader Zim. We will focus on the first 5 episodes of the TV series Gargoyles with writer/creator Greg Weisman and the first 5 issues of the Invader Zim comic books with Dave Crosland. What are the differences and similarities do these creatures out of space and time have? How will they fit in on modern day earth? Casual Fans and Hard Core Nerds alike join host RuthAnn Thompson and be "Down To Nerd"!

01:00pm - 02:00pm
THE ART OF STAR WARS & THE FANDOM BEHIND IT
Danger Room (S1) w/Ben Paddon (moderator), Terry Dodson, Craig Miller, Cat Staggs, Greg Weisman.
Description: Cat Staggs has been working for the Star Wars / LUCASFILM family since 2004, for which she has illustrated short fiction for starwars.com, produced sketch and trading cards, exclusive prints for Star Wars Celebrations III, IV, Europe, Celebration V, and Celebration VI. Terry Dodson is an American comic book artist who penciled the Dark Force Rising comic series in 1997. He has also provided art for Mark Waid's Princess Leia limited series. Moreover, Dodson has drawn the Books-A-Million variant cover to the first issue of the Shattered Empire miniseries, and the CBLDF variant to Star Wars: Vader Down, Part I. Greg Weisman is the writer for Star Wars Rebels - "The Machine in the Ghost", "Art Attack", "Droids in Distress", "Breaking Ranks", "Gathering Forces" and Star Wars: Kanan: The Last Padawan. Craig Miller was Director of Fan Relations for Lucasfilm from 1977-1980. He created and oversaw the Official Star Wars Fan Club as well as having edited and written virtually all of the first two years of Bantha Tracks. He was the producer of the Star Wars Sesame Street episodes in addition to operating R2-D2's head in the episodes, as well as being Producer for Lucasfilm on commercials such as the ones for licensee Underoos.. He was also responsible for creating the 800-number telephone hotline for The Empire Strikes Back that allowed fans to call up to receive more information about the movies and characters.

02:30pm - 03:30pm
DWAYNE MCDUFFIE AWARDS
Creator's Lab (S5)
Description: Long Beach Comic Con is proud to announce the commencement of the Second Annual Dwayne McDuffie Award. This one of a kind award will be granted on February 20, 2016 to an American comics work, published in print or digitally in 2015, deemed by the Selection Committee to promote diversity. In the spirit of Dwayne McDuffie, "promoting diversity" can be judged as either broadening the range of characters portrayed in comics, or adding to the variety of creators contributing to the medium.

04:00pm - 05:00pm
THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN PANEL
Danger Room (S1) w/Greg Weisman (moderator), Victor Cook, Kevin Hopps, Kelly Hu, Josh Keaton, Pamela Long.
Description: In 2008, a new version of everybody's favorite friendly neighborhood Web-Slinger - dedicated to recreating the feel of the original Stan Lee & Steve Ditko and Stan Lee & John Romita, Sr. comics - hit the air. Come hear the creative talents behind The Spectacular Spider-Man talk about what went in to making this classic take on a classic character. Panelists include Victor Cook (Director-Producer), Kevin Hopps (Writer), Kelly Hu (voice of Sha Shan Nguyen), Josh Keaton (voice of Peter Parker/The Spectacular Spider-Man), Pamela Long (Color Stylist) and Greg Weisman (Writer-Producer)!

06:00pm - 07:00pm
GETTING ANIMATED WITH TOP ANIMATION EXPERTS
Rumble Room (S4B) w/Ray-Anthony Height (moderator), Chris Copeland, Greg Weisman, Dean Yeagle.
Description: Top animation experts Greg Weisman (Gargoyles, Spectacular Spider-Man), Dean Yeagle (Caged Beagle Productions), and Chris Copeland (Marvel/Disney Animation) discuss how they broke into animation, their work and a Q&A with the audience!

I'll also have a table a on the show floor, specifically table AN-11 in "ANIMATION ISLAND" between Ellen Jin Over and Amy Mebberson, and near Dino Andrade, Michael Bell, Keith Coogan, Chris Copeland, Matt Doherty, Loren Lester, Tiffanie Mang, Joey McCormick, Chuck Patton, Peter Paul, Sara Richards and Aaron Sparrow. I'll be there between panels on Saturday and all Sunday morning until noon. (Not as sure about Sunday afternoon. We'll have to see.)

I'll sign and personalize anything you put in front of me, but I will also be selling copies of my two novels, RAIN OF THE GHOSTS and SPIRITS OF ASH AND FOAM ($10 each), CD sets of the RAIN OF THE GHOSTS AudioPlay ($30 each) and RAIN OF THE GHOSTS prints, drawn by artist Christopher Jones ($10 each, but free with a purchase of the AudioPlay and/or both RAIN and SPIRITS). In addition, I'll be selling animation scripts from series including GARGOYLES, W.I.T.C.H., THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, YOUNG JUSTICE, STAR WARS REBELS and others, ($20 each). Finally, I'll be selling script copies of a couple of the special one-off convention radio plays we did, i.e. THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN MEETS GARGOYLES and GARGOYLES MEETS THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN MEETS YOUNG JUSTICE ($20 each). All purchases are cash only.

I hope to see you there!


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Anonymous writes...

You have stated that to do Dr. Fate's voice Kevin Michel Richardson (the voice of Nabu) and whomever is playing the host (Jason Spisak/Kid Flash, Khary Payton/Aqualad, Lacey Chabert/Zatanna, or Nolan North/Zatara) are recorded saying the same lines. Then in post production, the voices are double-tracked, so the audience hears two voices.

1. What is the process step by step in order to be able to double-track?

2. Is double-tracking something that requires a studio in order to be able to do or could it be done from a smart phone?

Greg responds...

1. Um, it's pretty much what you listed above. It didn't really matter who we recorded first, so that was based on scheduling. If Kevin was in the recording booth first, we'd record Nabu first. If the host body actor was there first, we'd record him or her first. If they were both there, it was sort of Voice Director's choice. We then played the take from whomever recorded first for the second actor, who attempted to match the basic cadence and tempo. But we consciously chose NOT to have the second actor try to match the first exactly. We like those moments when they aren't perfectly aligned. Then during my attended edit of the dialogue, we'd lay those tracks over each other for storyboarding and animation purposes. (It helps that the Helmet of Fate doesn't reveal any lip movements, that might cause confusion between which track to animate.) Finally, in post-production, specifically at the mix session, we'd mix the tracks so that you can hear at least a taste of both flavors.

2. Uh... I don't know enough about smartphones to answer that question. I wouldn't know how to record one track on my smartphone, let alone two, let alone know whether or not I could double track 'em onto a single track.

Response recorded on October 22, 2015

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MomoCon 2015

I leave tomorrow for MomoCon 2015. More information on it can be found at their website: http://www.momocon.com/

But here's MY schedule for the weekend:

FRIDAY, MAY 29, 2015
BREAKING INTO ANIM 12:30pm - 01:30pm
Main "Villains" Room Omni-International
w/Floyd County Productions

SIGNING 03:30pm - 05:30pm
Autograph Area

YOUNG JUSTICE 08:00pm - 09:00pm
Main "Villains" Omni-International
w/Crispin Freeman

SATURDAY, MAY 30, 2015
SIGNING 11:00am - 12:30pm
Autograph Area

ANIM CREATORS 02:00pm - 03:00pm
"Underdog" A-313
w/Ben Mangum, Mike Reiss

SIGNING 05:30pm - 07:00pm
Autograph Area

SUNDAY, MAY 31, 2015
SIGNING 11:30am - 01:00pm
Autograph Area

GARGOYLES 02:00pm - 03:00pm
Main "Villains" Omni-International
w/Keith David

That's right! Both Keith "Goliath" David and Crispin "Red Arrow" Freeman will also be at MomoCon!

As usual, at my autograph sessions, I will happily sign anything you bring along with you for free. But I will also be signing and selling copies of my two novels RAIN OF THE GHOSTS and SPIRITS OF ASH AND FOAM. ($10 per book, cash only.) If you purchase both books (signed and personalized for $20 cash total), you get a FREE art surprise. I will also be signing and selling copies of my animation and radio play scripts (from GARGOYLES, MEN IN BLACK, STARSHIP TROOPERS, TEAM ATLANTIS, W.I.T.C.H., THE BATMAN, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, DC SHOWCASE: GREEN ARROW, BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN MEETS GARGOYLES, YOUNG JUSTICE, BEWARE THE BATMAN, GARGOYLES MEETS THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN MEETS YOUNG JUSTICE and KIM POSSIBLE). Each signed and personalized script is $20 cash. I'll also be giving away #RainoftheGhosts AudioPlay postcards for free!

So please stop by and say hello!


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Blizzard Sprite writes...

Hello, Mr. Weisman.

I had a question regarding the adaptation of original characters from television to their comic book counterparts. One of the more displayed occurrences of the comic book integrating a character from a television series was with DC comics integrating Harley Quinn from the Batman: The Animated Series. Since you had similar experience when the Aqualad character you created in conjunction with Brandon Vietti and Phil Bourassa became the official Aqualad of the DC comics universe, I thought you could answer a few questions on the subject.

1. What is the official process a comic book marketing company must use in order for its writers to begin using an original character? Do representatives from the comic book corporations contact writers from the television program and make negotiate to gain permission from you and other important figure heads on the television program?

2. How long does the process take for the comic book corporation to acquire all of the rights to the character and include the individual in the comic books?

3. How do these companies determine what makes an original character worthy of being integrated into the comic book continuity of these fictional universes? Since the version of the Aqualad character you created became the official one in the DC Comics universe, I imagine that the officials representing the comic book company would have explained what properties stood out the most.

4. Which party retains the copyright stemming from the creation of the character?

5. What are the chances that another one of your original characters from your Young Justice series, Green Beetle, will be adapted for the DC Comics continuity? After seeing the show, I was very surprised to learn everything about the character had not already been adapted from the comic books, but was an original creation on your part. Despite the limited screen time compared to some of the main characters, the character was fleshed-out and well-developed. I thought you had put enough creativity for the character to make a jump to the comic book continuity.

Thank you for your time.

Greg responds...

1. I'm not too comfortable answering this generically. I'm sure every case is unique. So I can only speak to examples I've been involved with, specifically - as you mentioned - Aqualad. In that case, the thing to keep in mind is that no one employed on the production has any rights in ANY of the characters we create. It's all being done under a "Work For Hire" contract, which means that Time-Warner, the company that owns DC Comics, Warner Bros Animation and Cartoon Network, owns all our work product outright. So they don't need our permission to use characters they already own, including Aqualad, which (a) was based at least in part on the existing Aqualad that they already owned and (b) they owned from the moment the idea for the new version came out of our heads, pens, tablets and keyboards. Geoff Johns did contact us and talk to us about the details of our version. He then went off and did his own revision on that for DC Comics.

2. See above. They already owned it. So it took NO time.

3. I think Geoff just liked the character - and/or thought he could do something with him - but you'd really have to ask him.

4. There are no parties. There is only one big corporation with multiple divisions.

5. I think it's unlikely, because if it didn't happen back when the show was on the air, why would it happen now?

Response recorded on December 17, 2014

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Kelley writes...

1) Do you ever grow tired or weary of writing and working on only super hero type of shows? I'm assuming working on this new star wars series must of been a breath of fresh air for you?

2)When it comes to the projects you create and produce how do you pick the correct voice director for the project? Do you have a process you go through or that type of thing out of your hands?

Greg responds...

1. They're not that different. And I love super-heroes. It's a bastard genre born from every other type of genre fiction, which allows me to do almost anything.

2. Well, when it's up to me, I tend to go with Jamie Thomason, who's both amazingly talented and a good friend. We have our rapport down to a science, and so it makes the process both fun and phenomenal. But sometimes it's not my call. And then there are a number of other great directors I've also worked with, in particular Ginny McSwain, but also Andrea Romano, Curtis Koller, Dave Filoni, Sue Blu and others. I also enjoy voice directing myself, so if schedules permit, I'm game.

Response recorded on December 12, 2014

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DENVER COMIC CON REVISED & UPDATED #3

ONE MORE TIME!! This looks to be as final a revision as it's going to get for Denver Comic Con website (http://denvercomiccon.com/), before I head for the airport in a couple minutes. But, again, follow me on TWITTER @Greg_Weisman to stay up-to-the-minute on when and where I'll be.

DENVER COMIC CON LATEST PANEL, INTERVIEW & SIGNING SCHEDULE

FRIDAY, JUNE 13th, 2014

10:30am - 11:20am - ART OF THE PITCH in ROOM 110/112.
Victor Cook, Greg Guler and myself will be talking about pitching and selling animated telvision series to the Powers That Be.

11:30am - 12:30pm - SIGNING at my BOOTH 122 on the main floor.
I'll be signing my novel RAIN OF THE GHOSTS throughout the weekend for $10 cash. (That $10 includes the book, a personalized signature and copies of the original development art by Kuni Tomita for the television version of Rain that never was.) I also have a half-dozen copies of Young Justice teleplays, which I'll sell (and sign) for $20 cash. I'll also sign anything else you bring and put in front of me for free - especially if you buy my book. ;)

12:50pm - 1:20pm - INTERVIEW with Tim Beyers of MOTLEY FOOL in the MEDIA LOUNGE.

1:30pm - 2:20pm - CARTOON VOICES I in the MAIN EVENTS ROOM.
I'll be moderating this panel, which features Kevin Conroy, Jim Cummings, Michael Dorn, Jennifer Hale & Veronica Taylor.

3:30pm - 4:30pm - SIGNING at my BOOTH 122 on the main floor.

4:45pm - 5:35pm - YOUNG JUSTICE in the MINI-MAIN ROOM.
This one includes myself (writer-producer, voice actor) & Christopher Jones (YJ companion comic book artist).

5:35pm - 6:05pm - OPENING CEREMONIES in the MAIN EVENTS ROOM.

7:00pm - 10:00pm - FOUR COLOR MIXER at Breckinridge Brewery/Hilton Garden Inn Denver Downtown.

SATURDAY, JUNE 14th, 2014

9:35am - 10:00am - INTERVIEW with BEYOND THE TROPE at my table at Booth 122.

10:00am - 10:20am - INTERVIEW with WESTWORD at my table at Booth 122.

10:30am - 11:20am - RAIN OF THE GHOSTS in ROOM 201.
I'll be reading from and discussing my new novels, Rain of the Ghosts & Spirits of Ash and Foam.

11:45am - 12:35pm - ANIMATION PROFESSIONALS in ROOM 201
I'm moderating this panel, which features Chris Beaver, Victor Cook, Greg Guler, Derek Hunter, Christy Marx, & Jan Scott-Frasier.

3:00pm - 3:50pm - SIGNING at my BOOTH 122 on the main floor.

4:00pm - 4:50pm - GARGOYLES 20th ANNIVERSARY in the MAIN EVENTS ROOM.
This is a big one, with me (writer-producer-creator), Victor Cook (storyboard artist), Jim Cummings (voice of Dingo), Jonathan Frakes (voice of David Xanatos), Greg Guler (character designer), Salli Richardson-Whitfield (voice of Elisa Maza) and Marina Sirtis (voice of Demona) .

5:00pm - 6:00pm - SIGNING at my BOOTH 122 on the main floor.

SUNDAY, JUNE 15th, 2014

9:30am - 10:20am - INTERVIEW with EXAMINER.COM at my BOOTH 122.

10:30am - 11:20am - THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN in the MINI-MAIN ROOM.
Includes myself (writer-producer-voice actor), Victor Cook (director-producer), Jim Cummings (voice of Crusher Hogan) & Greg Guler (artist).

1:30pm - 2:30pm - SIGNING at my BOOTH 122 on the main floor.

2:45pm - 3:35pm - CARTOON VOICES II in the MAIN EVENTS ROOM.
Again, I'm moderating for Robert Axelrod, Kimberly Brooks, Jennifer Hale & April Stewart.

4:00pm - 5:00pm - SIGNING at my BOOTH 122 on the main floor.

In addition to the times listed above, I'll often just be hanging out at my table, so stop by. Attend a panel, buy a book, say hello!


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simone writes...

Do you think if I call cartoon network on a regular and complain about how unfair they are for taking down YJ before we was able to have a 3rd/4th/5th season but yet they have all these other shows like bakugan still coming on.? Im not trying to down play them but seriously. ?! Why that play all the time but yet there is never a rerun of YJ .?? It came on on Saturday and Sunday morning. ..that's it.! I wouldn't blame the ratings if its so low.. who really wakes up at 8 or 9 to watch that show (could have came on at 10, not sure since it been so long) unless they know it was going to play that time.?

And that's another thing.. how is anybody suppose to know is there was gonna be another season if y'all don't advertise it.? I realized that y'all didn't do that for the 2nd season or if you was gonna have one (unless I looked it up on Google or something). There was times were I didn't know if a show was coming on that Saturday morning and I would have woke up for nothing ... just upset and sad.. I think that's another reason why y'all did not have that many ratings... we never really knew when it would come on unless we look it up. Please answer ... I really wanna know

Greg responds...

I've lost track of exactly what question you "really wanna know" the answer for. So I'll try to comment on what I can.

I think we can all agree that the series didn't receive as much promotion as we might have liked. Frankly, no show I've ever worked on has ever received as much promotion as I would have liked. None. (Although Star Wars Rebels may be the exception. Lucasfilm has quite the machine up and running to create buzz.) That's just the way things go in a business where promoting an animated series is an additional expense that most networks have decided they can't afford.

Whether you like Bakugan or not, keep in mind it's an acquisition, not an original series. It's considerably cheaper because the U.S. network doesn't have to pay for production, only for a license fee to air it in America.

Calling CN to complain daily does NOT sound like a good plan. Imagine if someone did that to you?

Response recorded on May 09, 2014

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Bilbo writes...

Considering you are part of the TV animation community, has anyone ever tried pitching an animation to a non-kids network ?

Do you think the cable and broadcast networks are too animation-phobic to actually try one out?

Greg responds...

Yes.

I'm not sure if "animation-phobic" is the correct term, but interest is not high.

Response recorded on April 11, 2014

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Jenn writes...

Greg,
When the shows are being edited, how is it decided what goes and what stays? How are some lines more important to the over all plot of the story than others?

Greg responds...

Um. They just are. I mean, if a character says something essential to understanding the plot, that'll stay in. If it's very funny, it'll probably stay in. If it's kinda off-point, and the episode is running long, then the line's at risk.

Response recorded on April 07, 2014

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Voice Acting Fan writes...

Dear Greg:

Thank you for answering my previous questions!

You have made reference to SAG before, so presumably Young Justice has to abide by SAG rules or get boycotted. I have a few questions related to this and the voice acting part of the production process:

1. How do the voice talent get paid? A flat rate? Are they paid by the hour? By the line? By the episode? Or some variable rate?

2. When you voiced Lucas Carr, did you have to join the SAG union? Or is production allowed to hire non-SAG personnel as long as they pay them differently?

3. You have stated that getting a second character out of an actor entails no added costs. Since it is free, I am wondering why a few actors (Jesse McCartney comes to mind) doesn't get to voice a character other than Dick Grayson. Was it a matter of actor preference, producer preference, or a mix of the two?

4. How long does a typical recording session last? Do you sit in throughout the whole session, or leave it up to the voice director? How many episode(s) are typically recorded in a sitting?

5. When one of the voice actors sing a song (Reach for a Reach, Hello Megan), they get separately credited. Is this subject to a different rate, or is the singing part simply added as a "character" in determining pay?

Thank you, and I hope by the time you are reading this, you've already got several gigs lined up!

Greg responds...

0. I'm not sure "boycot" is the correct word. The major studios sign contracts with SAG, that prohibits them from contracting non-SAG labor for their acting needs. They can get around this by SUB-contracting, but most don't on major projects.

1. I don't want to speak for EVERY show. In my experience, a voice actor gets paid a flat fee for four hours of work and up to two character voices. For a tiny additional fee, you can get a third voice. But this holds per episode. So for example, even if you could record one guy playing four roles over two episodes in a single four hour session, you'd still owe him two payments. The fee is negotiable, as long as it's above union minimum. But most series pay the union minimum plus 10% and have favored nation clauses in their contracts, which prohibits them from giving any individual actor a raise without simultaneously giving raises to EVERY actor on the series.

2. I first joined SAG to play Donald Menken on Spectacular Spider-Man, and am still a member in good-standing. No union shop can hire non-union actors.

3. Well, Jesse often DID voice additional characters, like Thug #2 or whatever. But generally, there are some actors who have the ability to change their voice enough that they can convincingly play multiple characters without the audience balking. Others really - as talented as they are as performers - only have their own voice.

4. Sessions typically go three to four hours. But often we'll be there all day. We can only keep each individual actor for four hours without incurring overtime, but we could start one actor at 10am and have him until 2pm. And we could start another actor at noon, and have her until 4pm. And a third at 1pm and keep him until 5pm. That way, we have overlap to record their scenes together, but we also have more time to get everything done.

5. Singing is a separate rate. And it's also an additional character, unless they are singing IN CHARACTER. That is, if Nightwing suddenly burst into song, we'd have to pay an additional fee to Jesse for his singing. But we wouldn't have to count that as a second character (or third, since he's also doing Thug #2).

Response recorded on December 06, 2013

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Nina writes...

Dear Mr Weisman,
What was it like directing the 2001 English dub of the anime OVA series 3x3 Eyes? How different is it from working on American cartoons?

Greg responds...

Well, I not only voice directed 3X3 EYES, but I also story edited the English language translation. In those days, that meant a LOT of time with a relatively crude VCR, going back and forth, line by line (grunt by grunt, even) with a LITERAL translation given to me by Jonathan Klein, my boss at New Generation Pictures, in order to transform it into (a) American idiom and (b) something that would fit the already existing lip-synch. Generating usable scripts for this purpose was VERY time-consuming.

The next step was the voice recording. Generally, in American cartoons, we bring in the entire cast and record them together, and those voice tracks are then used by our storyboard artists, directors, timers and animators to help create the footage. That is to say, the pictures are drawn to match the actor's performances. But when dubbing an existing cartoon into English, obviously, the actors have to match the picture instead. That's a time-consuming process called ADR, which, I think, stands for "Automatic Dialogue Replacement" - though I have no idea what about it is automatic. This process is done with a single actor in the booth at a time. The first actor has only the Japanese dialogue to respond to. Later performers can listen to what some of their English-speaking fellows have already performed.

As a voice director for something like 3X3 EYES, I'm looking for the right sound, a good performance and a good match with the existing lip-synch. I mostly cast people I'd enjoyed working with before, with Brigitte Bako ("Angela" from GARGOYLES) and Christian Campbell ("Max Steel" from MAX STEEL) as the two leads plus other favorites of mine, including Keith David in a really wild role, Ed Asner and Thom Adcox among others. We also held auditions for a handful of roles, and some of the people (e.g. Susan Chesler, Yuji Okuomoto) who worked for me for the first time on 3X3, later became new favorites of mine that I used again on other series like W.I.T.C.H. and Young Justice.

For fun, I also took a couple parts myself: I was Hide, one of the buddies of the male protagonist, and I was also a bum, who hummed a semi-recognizable theme song.

Finally, I also participated in the sound mixes here, balancing the new dialogue track with the existing music and effects tracks.

Response recorded on November 28, 2012

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Freeman writes...

Hello Greg Weisman, thank you for this interesting opportunity. I'm a big fan of Young Justice and it's great to see another great DC show around. I'm sorry to say this is the first show by you that I've watched (I should fix that). Snappy writing, fun undercurrent of mystery, and from what I understand is a staple of your shows, not assuming your fans are incapable of following an ongoing plot line.

I love the fight scenes in the show. Very fluid animation; and I enjoy in particular when the "normals" get to cut loose and drop some martial arts on each other. I also find it fun when Superboy gets to utterly wail on people.

Anyways, I have a question that has been plaguing me in recent years. I'm not sure if the answer varies from show to show but here it is. How much say do the writers get in the crafting of the action scenes? Do you guys lay down some guidelines for what must happen in a fight or do you ultimately leave it up to the animators and/or artists?

Well, there's my question that quickly devolved into a multi-question, I'm sorry. But, please, keep the awesome coming man! I hope this show keeps on keepin' on! Six seasons and a movie!

Greg responds...

Every series is different. On YJ - and most of the shows I've produced - I make sure that the script spells out the action in real detail - in part to attempt to assure that we're not winding up with an episode that's too long or too short. Having said that, I then am happy to have our board artists, directors and my fellow producer (on YJ that's Brandon Vietti) go to town and PLUS the action and visuals. But I do get approvals on all this to make sure we're staying on point with our story and not doing stuff that's out of character or off-tone for our series. Then you have the timers and, of course, the animators contributing too.

Response recorded on October 08, 2012

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NY writes...

Hi Greg! I looked through the archives and found that you previously mentioned that the first couple seasons of Gargoyles cost $400k-500k per episode to produce.

Assuming the cost of haven't changed dramatically, it seems as though animation is cheaper than the standard scripted network show. Given that, I'm surprised there aren't more animated shows on the major networks, especially with anime so popular in the US now, particularly among older audiences.

I think the only weakness to Young Justice is that it feels like the stories are big enough to fit in a whole hour, but are being condensed to thirty minutes. Again, assuming the cost of animation is in the ballpark of what it was for Gargoyles, an hour-long show doesn't strike me as financially prohibitive.

1. Can you say how much Young Justice costs to produce? A ballpark would be fine if you can't/don't want to give exact numbers.

2. What are your thoughts on the lack of non-Fox/non-comedy prime-time animation? Do you think this is something that can change in the future?

3. Do you think we might one day see hour-long dramatic animation? Did you ever consider making YJ an hour long?

Thank you very much for many excellent shows and opening yourself up for questions from the community!

Greg responds...

Your assumptions are faulty. Animation and anime have not - in this country - hit the kind of critical mass among adults that you seem to think they have. A few comedies, like Simpsons and Family Guy have worked in primetime, but others have failed. Even the great BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES - which was a huge success in the afternoons - didn't fare well in primetime.

In addition, costs HAVE changed dramatically. Budgets have not, but that means we have to learn to do more with less, generally.

More important is the issue of shelf space. An hour - per conventional wisdom - is a LONG time for kids to sit and watch an animated show. We're told, with some evidence to back it up, that they get bored. And kids still define the economics of most animated product. So if you are going to use up the VERY limited shelf space that any network has with an hour show, it darn well better kick some major butt in the ratings. Because otherwise, for nearly the same money, they could put on two shows (if not four) and have twice (or four times) the opportunity to grab the audience.

In fact, the trend isn't to longer shows, but to SHORTER shows. 11 minute episodes.

So with all that in mind:

1. No. That's proprietary information I'm not authorized to reveal.

2. Yes, I think it can change. But I won't pretend it would be easy to change the corporate culture that doesn't believe in this notion at all. What it takes, of course, is one network taking a chance on one show that's SO GOOD, that it's a hit in defiance of that culture and all conventional wisdom. That would break the floodgates. The inevitable result would be a lot of crap would go on the air, fail, and the conventional wisdom would come back into play with a vengeance. The one hit would be the "exception that proves the rule" and that would be it for awhile. That's what happened after Simpsons. (Who remembers Fish Police?) But the door would be open at least a little. Over the very long haul change is possible.

3. One day? Sure. In fact, I hope so.

3a. I'm not saying it's never crossed my mind. I'd love it, of course. But (a) it's not up to me, and (b) it's never been a realistic possibility.

Response recorded on September 19, 2012

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CrimsonBaroness writes...

The most often asked question to you must be "Will you ever bring back Gargoyles with new episodes or a remake?"
I to wish to know if ever it could happen but my question is about what form of animation would you most like to do it in ?
With CGI or the original style ?
A remake with to many changes so much that its like what they did in G.I.Joe and Transformers ?
The first version is always the best. If its not broke why try to fix it ? A re-shooting with a shrek cgi type animation would look fabulous. In any case I thank you so much for this series and I also loved Mummies Alive.

An Ask Greg Helper responds...

Greg Weisman says:

"Largely it would depend on what I could sell the higher-ups on. I'd do either if either were the only option. If given my choice (which rarely happens in this business), said choice would be based on issues of content."

[Response recorded on February 1, 2001.]

"It would depend on the show.

I think G2198 would be perfect for CGI. But I'd hate to do Dark Ages in CGI, though maybe not for the reasons you think."

[Response recorded on February 9, 2000.]

Response recorded on September 19, 2012

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Keith writes...

Hello Mr. Weisman. You won't remember me - I asked a question a while back about CN's rules about guns on the show.

Anyway, as somebody who really wants to write for television in the future, I'm asking you if you have any tips for breaking into the industry. I'm a high school junior so I'm beginning to look at colleges and was wondering if you had any advice to give out when it comes to getting into the buisness of television writing.

As always, love the series and can't wait for more!

An Ask Greg Helper responds...

Greg Weisman says:

"First and foremost, you write. Then write some more. Then do a little writing. Read a lot. Write some more. Read some more. Read a lot. Write a lot. Study story structure. Study great literature. Study myth and legends. Joseph Campbell. Listen to how people talk. How they really talk. Learn your craft. Get a kick-ass education. Write. Read.

Write.

Get copies of animation (or other television) scripts. Learn the format.

Write spec scripts for shows that you like. Try to use those specs to get an agent. Then your agent can use those specs to get you work. Write more specs. If you can't get an agent, send the specs to production companies that you admire. Don't send a Batman spec to Warner Bros or a Gargoyles to Disney. Legally, they can't risk reading those. But you can send Batman to Disney and Gargoyles to Warners. (I know it sounds weird. There's a real good reason for this, but it's a whole other question, so for now just trust me.) Actually, you shouldn't be writing a Gargoyles spec at all, since that show isn't producing new episodes now. You don't want your spec to come off as yesterday's news. Keep reading. Keep writing. Try writing a pilot script and a short bible for an original series. Try using those to get an agent or work (any work, you need credits on your resume.)

Oh, yeah. PROOFREAD. PROOFREAD. PROOFREAD. Read your own work aloud, you catch more mistakes that way. Read. Write. Write some more. Get used to a lot of rejection. A LOT OF REJECTION.

That's the best advice I can give you except this: writing for television is an extremely difficult career to break into, let alone succeed at; so if you don't really have a PASSION for it, then do something else. You'll need that passion to see you through a lot of dark times. If you can be happy doing anything else, then do that other thing.

Otherwise, good luck."

[Response recorded in the early days of Ask Greg; precise date unknown.]

Response recorded on September 19, 2012

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Todd Jensen writes...

The first season of "Young Justice" takes place over the course of half a year, starting on the Fourth of July and continuing to New Year's Eve in the Season One finale (with episodes set on Halloween and Thanksgiving along the way). I remember that the first season of "The Spectacular Spider-Man" similarly stretched from the start of the school year in September to Thanksgiving (with a Halloween episode along the way), and that the second season got up at least to Valentine's Day. The time progression in "Gargoyles" was more vague, but we had two Halloween stories ("Eye of the Beholder" and the Double Date story) and three wintry episodes in New York ("Her Brother's Keeper", which ends with a snowfall, "Re-Awakening", and "The Price"), as well as a clear timeline for the Stone of Destiny story.

I like this sense of the year's progress through the seasons and landmark days (like the Fourth of July and Halloween), but it doesn't seem that common in animated series outside your own work. I've seen two speculations on why that element is so rare in animated series. One is that a lot of the people who engage in such creative work aren't big on continuity and change, far less than you are. Another is that most people involved in creating animated television series live in or near Los Angeles and other parts of California, where the climate is pretty much the same year around and there's less a sense of four seasons than in other parts of the United States. I was wondering what your thoughts were on these theories.

Greg responds...

Both these theories seem valid to me, but they probably pale from the economic explanation: if you progress through the seasons then you have to redress backgrounds and characters, and that's expensive. Me, I believe it's WORTH the expense. But that's only true if you're really going to DO something with it. If you're not, then there's not much point. (We also did it on W.I.T.C.H. by the way.)

Response recorded on September 12, 2012

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Dr. Spanky writes...

Greg! You are my hero (professionally at least. I mean, face it, I don't know you. You could be an axe-murderer). I want to spend my life doing what you do. Any pieces of advice for an aspiring writer? What are good ways to train myself / further my writing skills / develop confidence in my voice (or my character's voices)? How did you get your start professionally, and what are some good avenues towards putting your work out in the world?

I thoroughly look forward to seeing the rest of your work, because all of it has been great. Thank you and adieu.

Greg responds...

At the risk of losing my heroic status, I'm going to demur here, since all this information is already available in the ASK GREG archives. (I've been asked this MANY times before.) For example, check out "Animation", "Behind the Scenes", "Biz, The" and "Weisman, Greg" for starters.

Response recorded on September 12, 2012

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Anonymous writes...

Who assigns storyboard artists? You've got big names like Lauren Montgomery, Curt Geda, Michael Goguen, some lesser known ones, and some who I think are people at MOI.

Greg responds...

The directors make board assignments - to a great extent based on who is AVAILABLE. We have/had some staff board artists, but a lot of the work was done freelance.

Response recorded on September 12, 2012

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Thomas Allen Dreyfuss writes...

Hi Greg. I've been a long time reader of your responses and I figured after reading through 100's of responses (for my own purposes), I'd find the courage in me to ask you a question. When it comes to planning for a show like "Young Justice" that's episodic in nature (like many of your other works) yet geared for all ages (see previous statement in parenthesis), how do you and your collaborators approach something as daunting like weaving together multiple plot threads, showing character growth, and create story arcs? What are some of the advantages and constraints to writing in the way that you do? I'm currently studying television production as my major in college (a career path I've been told that is faced with rejection, hard work, and passion) and I'm asking this question (well, now it's questions) because I've been fascinated with well organized/structured series. Being the well accomplished writer that you are, I thought I'd ask you on the subject since you have a lot of experience writing/creating/producing shows like "Gargoyles", "The Spectacular Spider-Man", and "Young Justice". If you don't feel like answering this question, I understand that you're a very busy person (you don't need to tell me how busy, I've read the rambles) who takes the time from work to answer the many questions people send to you and I for one certainly appreciate all the hard work you (and of course, the many people you've worked with) put into your each of your projects. Anyways, thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to ramble and I look forward to whatever stories you have planned next (INVASION! WOOT!).

Greg responds...

I've written quite a bit on this subject already - even recently (like today). So take a look at the archives, and if you have specific questions after reading what I wrote, feel free to post again.

Response recorded on August 30, 2012

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Thomas writes...

You are....amazing. No character is wasted in your series, they all connect back somehow, somewhere. Little movement is wasted in plot.

How do you come up with this stuff?

Greg responds...

With help from other very talented people and with a lot of index cards on a huge bulletin board. Oh, and with research.

Response recorded on August 28, 2012

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Justin F. writes...

Hey Greg. I wanted to let you know that I, and a large portion of the internet community, absolutely loved Spectacular Spider-Man. The show accurately portrayed who Peter Parker was, his troubles, his difficult choices, and his life as Spider-Man. Me, being a teen in high school, thought Peter was someone I could relate to, even though he had these extraordinary powers. Being able to relate to Peter Parker is something that should be constant (and for the most part, has been constant) in every Spider-Man story. I know I'm not the only one who thinks that the series should have went on for much longer. However, I know that the series' ending had to do with Disney/Marvel purchasing the animated series rights from Sony. Since this was pretty much out of your hands, I'm here to propose an idea.
Since the rights to the theme song, character designs, etc. for The Spectacular Spider-Man are locked by Sony, and you couldn't possibly resume the show even if you wanted to at Disney/Marvel, I suggest making, if you'd be fine with doing so, an INDEPENDENT episode (about 45 min. or an hour long)of The Spectacular Spider-Man and release it online. Sean Galloway could come back to do the designs, and you could get the voice actors who would agree to it back if the scheduling works in the favor of both parties. This is more than a scheduling thing than anything, when you're not busy with Young Justice and they're not busy with anything, but it may be able to work. And since it wouldn't be
released under the Sony or Marvel banner, and if you make it perfectly clear that it's a "fan film", no breach-in-contract would occur at all.
I'm sorry if I'm sounding selfish, but the show had a HUGE, HUGE fan base, and most of this HUGE fan base, when tuned in to watch Ultimate Spider-Man on Sunday, all cringed in unison (no offense to Marvel or anyone who likes the show). It just doesn't match the charm that your interpretation of Spider-Man had. So I would definitely like for you to take this into consideration. Would you be able to make an independent "final" episode of Spectacular Spider-Man exclusively for online, one that is a "fan film" of sorts? Thank you for your time.

-Justin

Greg responds...

Justin, it's just not up to me. I can't create a "fan film" with someone else's property.

For starters, who would pay for it? Even if I and everyone else involved were willing to donate services for free - which honestly I'm not - who would pay for the materials? None of us have the hundreds of thousands of dollars that it would take to do even one episode at the quality level you'd expect. And why would we want to produce something at a lower quality level? Why would you want to watch it at a lower quality level?

And that's aside from the fact, that I'd never be allowed to work for Marvel, Disney, Sony or probably any other studio again ever. I'm a pro. They know that. I can't make a fan film, stealing someone else's characters, and just get away with it.

For this to happen, Sony would have to make a deal with Marvel/Disney to do this - and then they'd have to reassemble the key players from the original cast and crew. I'd LOVE for this to happen, but I don't see that as realistic.

I mean, don't get me wrong. I'd love to do more SpecSpideys. But it's less likely than me doing more Gargoyles, even.

Response recorded on August 16, 2012

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Laura 'ad astra' Sack writes...

I forgot to ask this last night.. What are the logisitical difference now that cartoons are broadcast in HD? Do the films have to have more detail? Does it cost more?

Greg responds...

Everything costs more, it seems. But I'm afraid I'm not really up on the technical aspect of this sort of thing.

Response recorded on August 16, 2012

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Laura 'ad astra' Sack writes...

Wow! Is it hard to keep up with even the questions to post new ones. Thanks for reopening the queue!

Condolences on the lose of your Grandmother. I remember the months before my grandmother died how she had retreated into herself and was all but unrecognizable, than all of a sudden came back to herself for a week or two at the end. I still treasure it as a great gift that we were reminded who she was before the end. She was a good deal younger than 100 so we were not quite expecting the end, but I can understand what you mean by feeling that the person you love is already on the way somewhere else. I am glad you have so many years and so many wonderful memories to look back on.

1- I see someone already asked if you can explain some of the terms you used when you broke down the stages the of episodes in progress. He mentioned ‘online’ in particular. If you didn’t already do so, can you also define ‘slug’?

2- I know you prefer to record the voice actors together in conversation, unlike many other cartoons that record the voices in isolation. In live action tv and movies are recorded out of order, that’s the most efficient way to use the sets and actors. Since there aren’t sets for cartoons, and you prefer to have all the actors together anyway, are the scenes more or less recorded in order?

3- You mentioned in the past moments when stories just come together and surprise you- when the next event seems to announce herself, unplanned but seemingly totally organic to the story. Like when “Owen is Puck!” announced itself. Or when you kept hearing “Thailog” when the video was being rewound. Did you have any such moments for Spectacular Spiderman and the other shows you worked on? Have you had any with Young Justice yet? Can you share any if they’ve already happened?

4-One last question for this catch-all batch... what do you think of the new DC Nation shorts? I’m not crazy about loosing the opening credits, but I love shorts and think it is an easy trade. I love that they are all different and playful and yet often also a series. My favorite so far is the one with Batgirl and Supergirl trying to convince Wonder Girl to ‘borrow’ Wonder Woman’s invisible jet. (Oddly I have become used to (and approve) on Dianna being portrayed as someone from another country, with a light to strong intonation of something foreign, but it never occurred to me the same would apply to Donna.)

Begin pontification: I’ve never loved the Teen Titan cartoon, (plenty to like, but never loved), but I love the fact it is turning up in the shorts. Back when Disney XD was Toon Disney I wondered why they didn’t run shorts. (To be fair I didn’t have a TiVO at the time and it was possible they were already running the “Have a Laugh” abridged classic shorts as well as Shaun the Sheep. But they weren’t running any new material.) It seemed odd to me they were trying to compete with the Cartoon Network’s reach into the older demographic and didn’t, for instance, declare one night a week the 10 o’clock older folks movie night, (say a Miyazaki flik), and intersperse it with shorts- gorgeous, varied, counter expectation shorts like they gleefully did for Fantasia 2000. (I had the idea a long time ago.) If some of those shorts were back door pilots...great. It worked for the Simpsons They could have led to another late evening night of new programming of new shows. They couldn’t compete with cheap nostalgic cartoons or crude adult ones because that just isn’t Disney. Disney can never put out a Family Guy type show under the Disney label. Maybe they could do it on ABC, but not something with Disney in the name. (Even Miyazaki’s Princess Monenoke had to be released in the US under the Miramax label because a PG-13 cartoon would be problematic under the Disney label.) It a rather obvious route for a high end cartoon station to go and might have netted a few Oscars away from Pixar. Or perhaps more for Pixar. End pontification.

Of course it would have been an ideal place to run a little Gargoyle related short. :)

Greg responds...

1. A "slug" is the section of action BETWEEN lines of dialogue. A "slugged board" is a board that's been timed, i.e. the time for each action has been calculated - and since each line of dialogue has also been timed - you have an exact length, and you know whether or not your episode is going to be long, short or right on the money. If it's long or short, we need to cut or pad to get it to time.

2. Generally, yes. But for example, I poked my head in at a recording on Monday for "Beware the Batman". And there was one actress at the record who was only in one scene, and it happened to be the last scene. So after the rehearsal, they recorded that last scene first, so that the actress wouldn't have to sit through the entire record. It's a courtesy thing. Other times, it may be a scheduling thing. But, again, generally, we record the whole episode from start to finish.

3. It happens all the time. I wish I could remember a specific example from Spidey, but nothing immediately comes to mind. And it's too soon to discuss this stuff on YJ.

4. I love DC NATION. Sincerely. I think some of the shorts have been great, and some have fallen a little flat, but in general, I LOVE the FACT that they're doing the shorts. I just wish they'd expand DC Nation to two hours or something.

5. I'm game for ANYTHING that brings me back to Gargoyles.

Response recorded on August 16, 2012

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Anonymous writes...

Hello Mr. Weisman,
I am a teenage aspiring writer and I love to think of story ideas to write about. But whenever I actually sit down and try writing, I don't know how to start or I have second thoughts about my characters, plot, etc. So, I was just wondering if you could give me any tips on writing a story. Thanks!

Greg responds...

Just spit it out onto the page, and worry about quality later. You need to get past the self-imposed barriers you're creating. So just get it out.

Response recorded on August 16, 2012

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angela writes...

do you have any advice for people who want to go into animation.

Greg responds...

Yes. Check the ASK GREG archives under "Animation" and/or "Biz, The".

Response recorded on August 15, 2012

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Drake writes...

Dear Greg,

One quick question regarding production-ey type stuff(I think).

Is it conceivable for you to be the head show-runner for two different series at the same time? Like, say if DC decided to have another series take place in the same continuity and they wanted your input, would you be open to giving feedback and story ideas?

Greg responds...

It's conceivable, but I have enough trouble getting hired on one job, let alone two.

Response recorded on July 19, 2012

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Brazilian Guy writes...

Could you give us a few details on what the process to create an episode is like? I have no idea what doing online and locked picture mean...thanks!

Greg responds...

Sure.

1. We start/started by breaking down the entire season on index cards on a VERY large bulletin board.

2. Once the basic arc was approved, I wrote up premises for every episode in the season. Each premise is about a page long.

3. We brought in our freelance writers and broke down a handful of episodes at a time, with each writer in the meeting (myself included) taking one episode as their own, but with every writer in the meeting contributing ideas and notions to everyone's story.

4. The writer goes off with my written premise and the notes from the meeting and writes up an outline. This is a prose document, broken down by scene/sequence of about 8 to 10 pages in length. For me, as a story editor this is a VERY important step, as it nails down the story, making script writing much easier.

5. I do a rewrite on the writer's outline and submit it to WB, CN, DC, Brandon Vietti and the episode's director for notes.

6. The writer goes off with my revised outline and all the notes and writes a script.

7. I do a rewrite on the writer's script and submit it for notes to WB, CN, DC, BV, S&P, legal and the episode's director. Usually showed it to Kevin Hopps as well, who was great at catching my mistakes. The first season, Kevin was on staff, and it was part of his job. The second season, he just did it as a favor. Good guy.

8. I do another rewrite or polish based on all the notes.

9. We record the script, casting any new rolls, etc.

10. Simultaneously, the storyboards are begun...

11. While at the same time, design work for the episode begins: characters, backgrounds, props, effects. This is ALL black and white line-art at first.

12. The boards are roughed out and get notes from the director.

13. The boards are cleaned up and submitted to Brandon and myself.

14. Brandon and I give notes, and the boards are revised.

15. Meanwhile, designs are approved and then we go through the same process with color and background painting.

16. Boards are slugged for time to make sure the show isn't too long or too short.

17. X-Sheets (timing sheets) are created to give detailed information to the animators about how long each individual action will take and to give mouth movements to the characters.

18. All these materials are shipped to Korea to either Moi or Lotto to be animated.

19. We occasionally call for "Wedge Tests" that allow us to preview important or tricky bits of animation in advance to make sure we're getting what we want.

20. The animation comes back rough from overseas. Our editor Jhoanne Reyes compiles it into what we call an A-Frame. It's a very ROUGH cut.

21. Brandon, Jho, David Wilcox and myself call retakes, i.e. we ask the overseas studio for animation corrections. We also call out visual effects for Matt Girardi.

22. Brandon, Jho and I edit the episode, LOCKING it to the exact time that the network requires.

23. We spot the locked episode with our composers, Dynamic Music Partners, pointing out where and what we are looking for in the music.

24. We do the same thing with Audio Circus, our sound effects experts.

25. We preview the music in advance of the sound mix to make sure it's on target.

26. Generally, by now most of the retakes have come back from Korea and Matt's done most of his effects work too.

27. We mix the show for sound. That is we sit in a room and painstakingly balance the sound effects with the foley with the music with the dialogue.

28. We "On-Line" the episode. This is our last final view of the finished product to make sure everything is as good as time, budget and our abilities will allow it to be.

There's obviously more to it than all of the above, but that should give you the basics.

Response recorded on July 17, 2012

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John C. writes...

How do you get a job writing animation scripts?

Greg responds...

Initially, I pitched premises to a number of shows with my writing partner Cary Bates, until Jem and the Holograms bought one of our ideas.

Response recorded on January 12, 2012

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PPL Ltd. writes...

Hey Greg,

Looking at the TV series producing industry as a whole, something I've always noticed is that, when it comes to live-action, comedies like "How I Met Your Mother" are always produced to fill one half-hour time slot, while dramas like "Dexter" always fill an whole hour time slot. Every show ever made is bound to contain elements of both drama and comedy, of course, but it seems like it is the overall tone of the series that decides the length of each episode.

For example, comparing two recent shows with a vaguely similar premise, the two medical shows "Scrubs" and "House". Anyone will say that "Scrubs" is a comedy show with dramatic elements at times, while "House" is a drama that often incorporates humour. Scrubs was a half hour show, House is an hour long show.

So the general line of questioning I'm leading up to with all this is the following, why is it that that there has never been an animated series which consists of hour long episodes spread over a whole season, even though animated shows can also be seen as dramatic?

The closest thing I can think of as an exception is the early 2000s Justice League series, which always had at least two part episodes throughout its run (until it became Justice League Unlimited), but those were always divided into smaller chunks, even if many channels just aired them back-to-back anyway.

HBO's Spawn can easily be said to be more drama than comedy, yet the episodes still were not as long as any other dramas on the channel, even though there were only six episodes a season.

I'm not trying to say that quantity is the same thing as quality, I'm just wondering if you have any insight as to why the episodes of a regular animated series are always of about the same length, regardless of their tone, while live action ones are not.

Greg responds...

The "conventional wisdom" is that kids won't sit through an hour.

I'm not saying I agree. But that's what the wisdom of the conventional states.

Response recorded on November 17, 2011

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Sean writes...

Dear Mr. Weisman,

I've been a huge fan of yours for years and just wanted to thank you for supplying or helping to make 1/3 of the cartoons of my childhood. I'm currently following Young Justice and I love it! I do have one question that I couldn't find in the archives though.

I noticed in episode 10 what seemed to be some height inconsistencies with Red Arrow. Cheshire was said to be 5ft 6in tall. But when the two of them were having their stare down in prison, Roy only looked a bit taller than her. Meanwhile, he seemed to be a bit shorter than Lex Luthor as well. In my animation classes, my professor mentioned a tendency for teenage characters to be drawn slightly shorter than adults, to make them easier to distinguish. Is that what happened here, or was it just animation error/camera trick?

I know in a previous post you said that he was the tallest of the teens, with Aqualad in second, but I was hoping that you could tell me their actual heights (and the rest of The Team's), or at least your best guess.

Thank you for your time and good luck with the rest of the season.

Greg responds...

We have height charts for all our characters and those charts are sent overseas to our animators for reference. I won't deny that animation errors take place sometimes, but none that I noticed in 'Targets'.

I can't tell you their actual heights. We don't put that information on the charts. I can only tell you how tall they are relative to each other.

Response recorded on November 12, 2011

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spence writes...

A few questions about voice-over.

1) Is it recorded before the episode is animated?

2) How long does it take from recording the voice work until the episode is completely finished?

3) Do all actors get together in the room when recording one episode?

4) Are you present?

Greg responds...

1. Yep.

2. Months.

3. Ideally. Sometimes people aren't available on the day of the record, and we pick them up later. Sometimes if someone only has a line or two in the episode, we take pity on them and get them in and out fast. Sometimes, a single episode has two completely separate plots intertwining. We'd ideally record every actor in the first plot together, and then record every actor in the second together. But since the two groups don't interact, there's no need to record the entire group together and force a lot of actors to sit through scenes they're not in at all.

4. Yep.

Response recorded on October 31, 2011

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Sree writes...

I have a question on the western animation process in general (with special regard to YJ), if this is too complex to explain here or not the appropriate place for the question please ignore.

1. I think you mentioned that the inbetweens are done in South Korea. So is it fair to assume the key frames are done in house?

2. Using episode 2 "Fireworks" as an example how does an episode get made?
Does it start with you writing and onto the storyboard and to the animation team? (Sorry this part of the question was a bit vague)

3. At what point of the process does the Director of the episode come into play and what are his contributions?

4. What are the producers contribution to the process and how much weight does their word carry as opposed to the directors if a disagreement should arise?

Thanks. Also I did catch Scooby-Doo after hearing Victor Cook had a hand in it and it was a nice nostalgia trip, a bit weird like how real nostalgia is but nice nonetheless. Ermm thanks again I guess.

Greg responds...

1. No. Key frames are done in Korea too. Boarding is done here in the states for the most part.

2. Writing, recording, boards and design, color, shipping, animation, post-production.

3. At all points. And his or her contributions are omniverous.

4. Producers trump directors, and Brandon and I are very involved at every stage.

Response recorded on March 09, 2011

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Richard Jackson writes...

Todd Jensen and others have commented on the similarities between “Grief” and the Batman episode “Avatar.” Todd’s question being here:

http://www.s8.org/gargoyles/askgreg/search.php?qid=2870

I noticed another pair of episodes of Batman and Gargoyles that really reminded me of the other, because of the same writers. “Legion” and the Batman episode “What is Reality?” Both were written by Robert Skir and Marty Isenberg. Both episodes deal with virtual reality, but the third acts are very similar to me.

Batman/Goliath has to go into a virtual reality world to help his friend, Commissioner Gordon/Coldstone. His VR savvy compatriot Robin/Lexington tells him how it works. Once inside Batman/Goliath battles his enemy, The Riddler/Xanatos. Robin/Lexington tries to help Batman/get Goliath out of the VR world, but is painfully rebuffed. A shrill noise blasted into his ear piece in Robin’s case. An electronic shock emanating from Goliath’s body in Lex’s case. Side note: That was the biggest problem I had with “Legion.” I can buy a cybernetic gargoyle and that Xanatos can design a computer program based on his personality, but I never understood how Goliath’s body became akin to a live wire when hooked up to Coldstone. It must be one of those side effects when science and sorcery are combined.

Of course, “What is Reality?” and “Legion” are two different episodes and the execution of third acts are very different. Dialogue, characters and virtual reality as represented in the respective episodes were all different. Even the resolutions are different. I guess writing the virtual reality Batman episode gave Skir and Isenberg the experience to write the Gargoyles VR episode. Interestingly enough, they did write “Future Tense”, which also had a VR sequence in the Xanatos Pyramid, albeit in a dream. They didn’t write “Walkabout”, which had a metaphysical reality (MR?) scene.

I do think the examples of “Avatar/Grief” and “What is Reality?/Legion” are interesting examples of how writers will take previous ideas they’ve had and use another chance to expand or improve on them. “Avatar” didn’t work for me, but “Grief” is one of my favorite episodes of Gargoyles. And it’s close between “What is Reality?” and “Legion”, but I slightly prefer the former.

Greg responds...

Science and sorcery indeed.

Anyway, as always, the springboards for every Gargoyle episode pre-date writer involvement (unless the writer was also a story editor). But it may be very possible that once they got the assignment, they created or emphasized parallels with other work they had done.

Response recorded on January 12, 2011

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Marc G. writes...

Is there a list online somewhere of all the overseas animation studios used for Gargoyles, by episode? It's frustrating because the credits always just listed "Walt Disney Television Animation".
Also, a related question: did you have control over which scripts were sent to which studios? Or was it purely dictated by scheduling and budgetary concerns?
Thanks!

Greg responds...

I don't have a list. Most of the first season was animated at Walt Disney Television Animation Japan, though I seem to recall that a couple were subcontracted out to Korea.

Season Two featured some eps by WDTVAJ, plus more from Korea (such as Hanho). But I can't remember who did what.

Scheduling tended to dictate what studio got what episode, but we did make an effort to make sure that "Bushido" went to Japan.

Response recorded on January 12, 2011

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Mike W. writes...

Hi Greg,

First, let me briefly state that Gargoyles remains among the best animated series IMO of all time. I particularly appreciated the classical and Shakespearean references, I'm not sure I would have been as big a fan of Shakespeare in school and today, were it not for Gargoyles. That being said, the animated shows today lack the originality, narrative, and cutting edge that shows like Gargoyles, Real Ghostbusters, Batman, and even Duck Tales had, which is a real shame. Instead, today's cartoon for adults and kids, fail to have any purpose to them, and seem to have deevolved to the level of entertainment for 5 year olds. The only ones in past decade worth viewing have been Justice League and Boondocks.

My question involves trying to connect the 'Golden Age' of cartoons in 80's and early 90s, with today. I'm looking forward to your new series, and had a thought. I know that Mike Reaves worked with Gargoyles, as well as other cartoons, such as Ghostbusters and Dungeons and Dragons. While Gargoyles got a proper sendoff with Hunters Moon, there was never a finale for the short, Dungeons and Dragons cartoon, even though it was still popular and in syndication over a decade later, with only a dozen episodes. However, there was a screenplay finale done by Reaves, just not animated. What about in your or your production's free time, with Mike Reave's approval, you animate the finale of Reaves' screenplay, providing a link to your new series, which will remind the fans of cartoons of the serious narrative medium that cartoons used to be, that your cartoon series will have that 'edge' and give free publicity with many views (likely viral views) about your new series when people watch the link to the finale that was never done for a famous cartoon from the 1980's? It sounds like a good idea, which is why I am suggesting it.

Greg responds...

Well, let me begin by RABIDLY DISAGREEING with your statement about today's cartoons. Some suck. Some are great. I'm proud as hell of the work I did on W.I.T.C.H., Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice, and there's no way I would pretend that I'm the only guy out there doing great work. I think Brave and the Bold is a TON of fun for both adults and kids. I thought Kim Possible was great. And I barely worked on either of those two series. And Avatar (which I never worked on) also seems great and rich. And that's just off the top of my head.

Your definition of "Golden Age" seems to have more to do with you than history.

As for your D&D idea, you just seem to have NO idea about the way the business works. I couldn't do what your asking even if it was my fondest wish in the world. Believe me, if I had that kind of power, don't you think I'd be doing more Gargoyles?

None of this stuff is up to guys like me or Michael. Different companies own the rights to different series, and most are uninterested in spending money on the kind of thing you're suggesting.

Response recorded on December 01, 2010

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Steven D. writes...

Hello again, Mr. Weisman.

I've had a question in the back of my mind for some time, and now seems like a good time to ask it.
Recently, you released the writer's rotation for the first 24 episodes of YJ.
I've always been fascinated with television writing,as there seems to be no one way to do it, so I wanted to ask a few questions on how you approach it.

1. Back when i first wanted to ask this, I checked the SpecSpiderman archives to see what you mentioned about writing for that show. When going over writing duties, you mentioned that some of the episodes that you "reserved" some of the episodes you wrote. Since Young Justice finds you in a similar position of being both a producer and staff writer, I'm curious to know, what factors do you use when picking episodes to reserve for yourself (and confirming that reserve wasn't just a metaphor you were using)?

2. While I'm here, I was hoping you could also shed some light on how much freedom your freelance writers are given. Do they ever get the chance to write an episode completely from scratch, or because the shows you work on are so arc based, are they always given a firm foundation to start with, and if so, how rigid is this foundation (generally)?

Thanks!

Greg responds...

1. Sometimes I end up writing an episode for pragmatic reasons... or a combination of the creative and the pragmatic. For example, I wrote the two-part pilot of Young Justice (i.e. episodes 1 and 2). Of course, I had a creative desire to write these episodes, but it also would not have been pragmatic for anyone else to write them. I needed to set the tone of the series for the other writers to be able to get it.

Another example: staff writer Kevin Hopps and I were set to write the last two episodes (25 and 26) of the first season. Though we know the basics of what takes place in them, based on meetings that Kevin, producer Brandon Vietti and I had over a year ago, we hadn't broken those episodes yet, and creatively I hadn't decided which of the two I wanted to write. But scheduling realities last week made it apparent that Kevin would HAVE to write 25, meaning I was writing 26. All of which is just as well. I started the season; I might as well finish it. But the decision wasn't creative; it was purely pragmatic. The creative decision might have been no different. But the creative decision became moot for pragmatic reasons.

On the other hand, I've also written three other episodes. In those cases, the pragmatic need was for me to write one episode each between 6-11, between 12-17 and between 18-24. Within those parameters, I chose 11, 15 and 19 for purely creative reasons. Those were the ones I felt a special affinity for (based on reasons I can't reveal now without spoilers). So going into the three writers' meetings for each of those three "sets" of episodes, there was SOME flexibility as to which writer took which episode (keeping scheduling pragmatism in mind), but I had "reserved" for myself the one I wanted to write in each case.

2. My freelancers have, for better or worse, very little freedom when it comes to WHAT stories we are telling. The premises were all approved long before the freelancers came aboard. If a specific writer feels no affinity for a specific story, then he or she doesn't have to take that episode. I always try to give each writer an episode that jazzes him or her. But the basics of the stories are set. Now, the writers are very involved in the execution of those stories. That's where their freedom comes in. But they still have quite a gauntlet to wade through... beat outlines, outlines, scripts (and notes from many sources). Ultimately, I take responsibility for every episode, and I'm the guy doing the final pass on every beat outline, outline and script. But I couldn't do this job without stellar writers providing me with great stuff. And on this series, I couldn't do it without Brandon and Kevin actively participating in the inception and breaking of every single story.

Response recorded on October 22, 2010

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Chris Krause writes...

Hey Greg!

I had a question. I'm currently a theatre student in college. However, I've always had my hand in multiple areas in the arts. It was only my love for writing and acting that had me not decide to go to a strict art college (I had wanted to be a comic book artist for a long time).

I plan to move to California eventually and try to make it in the show-biz, either through acting, my art ability (I'm currently doing a lot with prosthetics/mask making) or writing. My question was how exactly you got into your current field of work? It's something that interests me, what with my love for comics both in writing and art. So basically, I was just wondering how you got started.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,

--Chris

Greg responds...

Chris,

For a fuller answer, check the archives here at ASK GREG under topics like "Weisman, Greg", "Animation", "Biz, The", etc. As I know I've answered this before.

But the short answer is that I started as a comic book writer for DC Comics, while I was still in college. I then became an editor there for a couple years after college. Then I went to graduate school to hone my skills as a writer, while interviewing at various studios. I was hired as a junior executive at Disney Television Animation, got promoted a couple times, developed Gargoyles and became a writer-producer.

Response recorded on June 25, 2010

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Balron writes...

This is a silly question, and I might ask others on the blog page.
I was watching Pochahantes on youtube and I thought-what if "Gargoyles" had been directed and animated by the people who did this *f'd up* cartoon?
Could you imagine YOUR animation being done by the people who did that cartoon, or for that matter, "Fern Gulley?"

xD I lol at the concept XDD

Greg responds...

Are you actually asking about the animation or about the design style?

Response recorded on May 13, 2010

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Laura 'ad astra' Sack writes...

All the delays and schedule changes for Spectacular Spiderman, besides being terribly annoying, jepordize the chances of the series to catch on and continue. I listened to the podcast mentioned early and have a sense of the legal changes and problems that contributed to the crazy schedule, but still I can't shake the nagging feeling that there is a disrespect, perhaps born in ignorance, to animation that is greatly contributing to the problem. It wouldn't occur to TPTB to tell a cast of a live action show, "we'll let you know if we are picking you up for another season in 18 months." Let alone the none acting staff and crew. Beyond that, once the script is written, the turn around time for an episode is much shorter on a live action show.

Is there any truth to that nagging thought? The closest analogy I can think of was to how tv series handled the most recent writers' strike. It wasn't perfect, and some good shows died as a result, but the reoccuring question seemed to be, "do we try to rush in a delayed 2nd half to this season, or just pick up at the next.", not "let's send everyone home, wait a year, and then decide.

Greg responds...

I'm not sure how to respond. In general and IMHO, animation gets less respect than live action, but no company actively tries to sabotage its own show. Though mismanagement can do great damage.

Response recorded on March 29, 2010

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RandomStan writes...

What animal noises and sound effects were used to make the gargoyle sounds, like when they roar, growl, sigh? Also for Bronx and gargoyle beasts as well? What sound was used for when the gargoyles would dig their claws into stone? That one sounds a bit familar, almost like popping bublbe wrap.

Greg responds...

I don't recall. Sorry. Been too long. And I was never at foley sessions anyway. Just the mixes, when the effects had already been created.

Response recorded on February 23, 2010

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Robby writes...

My brothers and I are impressed by the fluid animation in Spectacular Spider-Man. We imagine it must be very expensive. How much does it cost to do those cool action scenes?

Greg responds...

I can't spit out a number for the action scenes in a vacuum. SpecSpidey had a fairly standard "per episode" TV Animation budget. We tried to get as much bang for our buck as possible.

Response recorded on November 24, 2009

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Tonya writes...

Hi Greg! I was reading an earlier post of yours where you mentioned that it's harder to pitch original ideas (I'm guessing to networks, but maybe it's the same with comics, books, etc...?) now than it was when you originally pitched Gargoyles:

1. Why is it more difficult to pitch original ideas now than it was then? (I would think they'd be anxious for new concepts???)

2. What's probably the #1 thing that the people being pitched to are looking for?

3. Is a successful pitch sometimes tied to the person you are pitching to? (I mean, if you're pitching to one guy on Tuesday, but had you gone on say, Thursday and had a different guy, could the outcome of the pitch be different? I guess I mean do you depend on getting lucky with whomever you're scheduled to pitch to? And if not, can you ask to pitch to someone else?)

Thanks! I hope my questions were clear enough to get across what I'm trying to ask. I'm thinking of writing professionally (IF I'm any good) and wondered how hard it would be to "pitch". Thanks again! (Love your work by the way.)

Greg responds...

1. They're not. They're afraid of new concepts and would rather have something that's "proven" in some other medium or era. This, in my opinion, is a direct result of the vertical integration of these companies that makes the decision making process a long uphill struggle.

2. It differs all the time, but marquis value doesn't hurt.

3. Luck-of-the-draw and incidental timing are huge factors.

Response recorded on November 02, 2009

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alycia lowry writes...

hi Greg,

i was wondering about something. Why did you guys took off gargoyles? I was upset over the years cause its my favorite tv show and also movies?

Greg responds...

Don't include me in the "you guys". It wasn't my choice. Disney stopped the syndicated version because they had a full 65 episodes, which is standard. They cancelled Goliath Chronicles because of poor ratings. For more details CHECK THE ARCHIVES!!!!

Response recorded on October 29, 2009

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Geoff writes...

What was with the animation goofs that happened throughout Gargoyles? Did they seriously get by everyone until the episodes were aired? (I'm talking about the character design ones, to be specific.)

Greg responds...

What exactly do you expect me to say here?

Sometimes things were off-model. Sometimes we had the time and money to fix it, other times we didn't.

Response recorded on October 28, 2009

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MARVEL-FAN writes...

Greg, how come in the Spectacular Spider-Man it doesent use realistic gunshot sounds? But, Batman: The Brave and The Bold it uses realistic gunshot sounds, other Batman cartoon shows.

Greg responds...

Different networks have different rules, I guess.

Response recorded on October 27, 2009

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Chryse writes...

Hey Greg, I have a quick question regarding the episode "Subtext" from Spectacular Spider-Man Season 2. I've watched the episode on my DVR a couple of times now (I'm from Canada, so I've seen 'em all already), and I've noticed that the animation is little off from all the other episodes. It seems a tad jerky and unpolished, and I was wondering if there was some sort of mishap when it came to animating the episode? Off course, you have every right to deny me an answer in case that Sony gets the wrong impression, and that's completely understandable. I am merely curious.

Other than that, the episode was well-written as always, and I especially enjoyed the fact that it starts in medias res (an artistic technique that I am quite fond of). If the scripts for Season 3 maintain such a high quality I'll tune in every week -- even if the show is animated using xerography (like "Marvel Super Heroes" back in the 60's...a Canadian-made show, sadly). Best of luck to you and your team and I hope that you guys get that 3rd season!

Greg responds...

SPIDEY SPOILERS!!!!!

I'm not denying you an answer, but I don't in ANY way agree with your assessment of the animation. I noticed no qualitative difference between "Subtext" and any of our other episodes, and I've been doing this for a LONG time.

Response recorded on September 18, 2009

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Rage writes...

Hi Greg!..iam a full supporter of your show....this show is by far the best spidey show ever...everytime i watch an episode i need more!! AMAZING JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Truly amazing! AMAZING !!!!!!

I have 3 Questions And A Request. :)

1) How much time does it take the crew to make one episode? and then a whole season ? i mean the final thing when every things (editing etc) finished,

2) If the confirmation for season 3 comes out (i hope it does!) ...how much time will it take for it to air? i heard season 2 came late because of the whole channel changing thing...now that every things set how much time will season 3 take ? i mean which month?

3)If ratings on all future seasons are good how many seasons would you plan to make ? (i hope more than 10 !!!lol)

And a Request

This show....has made me an addict to the extent that ive spent my holidays discussing episodes of Spectacular spiderman with my friends and not doing anything else lol....and i like it !!! this is the 1st show that im in love with ....i want you to promise your fans that other than the ratings you will do everything in your power to make this series a success and by success i mean doing more seasons! :)...Please please please please x 100000 Dont Stop making new seasons please.And i pray that this success will continue.:)

Eagerly waiting for your reply.
Long Live Spidey.!!! Long Live Spectacular Spiderman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Greg responds...

1. It takes between eight months and a year to produce a season of animation, with multiple steps going on simultaneously on multiple episodes, a bit like an assembly line.

2. No way to know at this point. We'd need the pick-up. I'd have to plan the season, then we'd get started. And even once we finished, they could choose to hold the episodes for a more auspicious launch time (at least to their minds).

3. Generally speaking, I'm shooting for 65 episodes and then hope to continue with Direct to DVDs. But I'll take more or less... basically whatever I can get.

As for your request, it's just really not up to me. If they offer me the opportunity, I will make more. But I have no control, I'm afraid.

Response recorded on August 11, 2009

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Will Keaton writes...

Greg:

SPIDEY SPOILERS

1. You've often mentioned how you chose Tombstone as the new "Big Man of Crime" because the Kingpin was unavailable due to legal issues. What other characters besides Tombstone did you consider for this position? Also, is the phrase "Big Man" a title given out to whoever happens to be in control of New York's crime rings at the time and is passed on to their successor, (ie, like a king or queen) or is it an alias that is permanently attached to Tombstone? I've seen evidence to support both cases.

2. How exactly does Doc Ock get dressed in the morning? The part of his harness that lines up with his spine clearly goes on underneath his clothing but the ring around his waist goes overtop of everything else. Can the harness still open up in front or is that fused shut too? Just watching Ock go through his morning routine would probably clear most of this up, plus the notion of him using his tentacles to brush his teeth is just hilarious. (Just be glad I'm not asking how Rhino goes to the bathroom.) I also assume that for the duration of Season 2 he's had enough time to acquire or build a new power source for his harness that can last for years at a time?

3. You burned down the Big Sky Billiard lounge! I loved that place. Every comic book needs a place where the supervillains can go for some downtime and hang out. Please, I know you don't want to spoil anything you have planned for season 3 but at least give us a vague hint that we'll get to see a new "Bad Guy Bar."

4. Is Chameleon's white visage a mask that he wears with other masks going on top of it, or is that actually his face after being surgically altered to have any distinguishing features like a nose and ears removed? Typically one would expect a face-changer to remove as much of their original face as possible and then add on top of that as needed, (just look at Metal Gear Solid's Decoy Octopus, the guy shaved down his cheek bones and cut off part of his nose and ears.) Wearing two masks doesn't seem to be that effective since you're doubling the amount the disguise is lifted above your actual face.

5. Exactly how long has Norman been inhaling the gobulin green? I'd assume he'd either start as soon as he'd invented the stuff, shortly after he was nearly killed by a giant geriatric buzzard and wanted to make sure he didn't have to rely on Spidey the next time something similar happened, or shortly after his first dealings with Hammerhead when he started planning to overthrow the Big Man. By the way, what kind of guy develops an experimental highly dangerous performance enhancing drug and then brings it home to show his family and then just leaves some lying around where his son can start chugging the stuff without anyone noticing it's gone?

6. We didn't see much of Aunt May in Season 2, but with so many characters floating around this isn't too surprising. If May does play an important role in any season three episodes is she going to get a spot in the opening credits for that episode?

7. When comparing animated shows through the years there doesn't seem to be a large change in the style and tone from the 1960's through to the late 80's. All the animated shows had a simplistic plot and generally weren't mentally demanding. However sometime in the early/mid 90's we started seeing shows like Fox's Spider-man, Batman The Animated Series, Reboot and Gargoyles, all of which felt more sophisticated than earlier shows and had such features as real character development and story arcs that could last through a season. Somehow I have a hard time imagining an episode like "Lethal Force" being done on G.I. Joe. As someone who has been in the industry a while did you notice a change in attitude from networks or executives towards animation at around that time? When producing Gargoyles did you find that in general people were more willing to let you attempt making a show with more mature themes relative to what you had done before?

8. Should Spiderman not get a third season or become cancelled for certain after season three wraps up, how likely is it that production could continue on direct to DVD movies? Generally speaking is it easier to convince producers or whomever to greenlight a single movie length piece of work comparred to an entire season of an animated show?

Greg responds...

SPIDEY SPOILERS!!!!!

1. No one really. Tombstone was pretty much my instant second choice to replace Kingpin. And as for the "Big Man" title, I've seen evidence to both sides too.

2. I'm mostly content to leave Ock's morning routine to your imagination. As for his power-pack, he has had time to find one that lasts a long time. But he still NEEDS the power-pack. The arms won't function without it.

3. Yes, eventually.

4. Again, I'll leave this to your interpretation.

5. As you indicated, he started immediately after surviving Vulture's attempts on his life. He did not like feeling that powerless.

6. Yep.

7. I think Batman the Animated Series was a revelation to many of us, and gave us the courage and evidence of success that allowed us to at least attempt to match or better that great series. Simpsons helped too, as did Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Little Mermaid (the movie), and to a lesser extent The Great Mouse Detective. Animation seemed to be in something of a renaissance. But it shouldn't have been surprising. A generation of multi-discipline writers and artists who grew up on cartoons, comic books and genre fiction -- creative types who had learned to be discerning readers and viewers -- began to execute the kinds of shows they wanted to see. As for Gargoyles specifically, the miracle wasn't that people let me do what I wanted, but that they left me alone, which allowed me to do what I wanted. A subtle distinction, I know. But a significant one.

8. If we got cancelled or not picked up after Season Two is done airing, it would, I believe -- despite all evidence to the contrary and no matter how unfair that perception might be -- put the stink of failure on the series. Which would make it hard to get a greenlight on a DVD.

Response recorded on August 07, 2009

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Harlan Phoenix writes...

So, I'm curious about something involving the early development of Gargoyles...particularly, the pitching process. I'm not exactly sure how to word this, as my knowledge of how the process of actually pitching a show works, but I'll try my best.

Listening to commentary on Awakening recently and browsing the Archives revealed that you had pitched Gargoyles multiple times: First as a comedy, then as an action show. What intrigues me in particular is the fact that the show had multiple pitches over the course of however long (the amount of time escapes me, sorry).

1. Are repeated pitching sessions common for television shows?

2. On what basis are pitches repeated (after being tweaked)? Positive notes from executives, faith in the concept, a combination?

3. Has the environment for pitching become stricter? As in, are concepts expected to be marketable/viable in one try or are multiple pitching attempts on the same concept still possible?

I apologize if these aren't worded all that correctly, it's just something I find very puzzling and I'm not entirely sure how to word my questions.

Greg responds...

1. Sometimes, although more often if a show doesn't sell the first time out it dies. But often enough, a creator will keep trying variations until he or she sells their idea... or runs out of people to sell it to.

2. All of the above, plus a smidgen of desperation.

3. See above. Nothing's really changed, though it's definitely tougher to sell an original idea now than it was back then.

Response recorded on July 21, 2009

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David B. Jacobs writes...

Hey, Greg!
I've got for you a very in-depth question: How did you get to where you are today? What kinds of steps did you take? If you could give specifics, I'd be quite happy.
You see, I myself would love to go into the business of TV and film, and I frequently identify myself with you (in a non-creepy way - I mean regarding style and that kind of stuff).
Thanks!

Greg responds...

I've answered this in depth and with specifics before. Check the archives for a more detailed answer.

Generally, I'd say the first things you need to do, if you haven't already are...

1. Finish your formal education.

2. Move to Los Angeles.

3. Read, write and proofread a lot. Practice. Learn that your first draft may suck, and that even your second draft may need shelving.

As for my specifics...

*Bachelors from Stanford in English with a Fiction Writing emphasis.
*Started working as a writer for DC Comics as a 19-year-old while still in college.
*Moved to New York to work in comics, cuz that's where THAT action was.
*Masters from U.S.C in Professional Writing with an emphasis in playwriting.
*Staff Assistant at Disney Television Animation.
*Eventually promoted to Director of Series Development.
*Developed Gargoyles and moved sideways to produce it.

Etc.

Response recorded on June 29, 2009

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I writes...

Hello,
How much does it cost to commission or create a series or season and how does that work?
sorry for my ignorance and ambiguity,
Me.

Greg responds...

Um... costs really vary. A lot depends on the mode of production, the development budget, etc.

Episodic costs on Gargoyles averaged about $450K per episode, at least for the first 65 episodes. (I have no idea what the final budget was for Goliath Chronicles, but I imagine it was considerably less.) And those per episode costs do NOT include development costs, marketing costs, etc. So making a series is a VERY expensive prospect, which is why we need/put up with studios, networks and the like.

Response recorded on June 05, 2009

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Heather writes...

In the series Elisa's hair color seems to be dark blue, although it is black considering her African and Native American ancestory. Is the reason you did this because of the series' generally dark color scheme and the probability of it getting lost in the background if it were black?

Or do you just like the color blue? :P

Greg responds...

There's kind of a tradition in comics and cartoons to use blue to highlight black hair. You can't highlight black with black. And lightening the black, i.e. making it grey, makes a character look old. If you use brown, then the character's hair looks brown, not black. For most people, the dark blue sheen on black hair still reads as black hair.

Response recorded on May 29, 2009

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Paul writes...

Thanks for doing such an amazing job with The Spectacular Spiderman. Both seasons are really enjoyable. I've just got two questions:

1) Why is it that a lot of the background music in season 2 was stuff that had previously been used in season 1? Aside from character themes, nothing seemed to be repeated in season 1, but in season 2, lots of music from previous episodes kept popping up again and again. Was a smaller budget used for the music in the second season?

2) The animation in season 2 seemed to be weaker than season 1 as well. Some episodes looked beautiful, but others seemed a bit choppy and off-model at times, like "First Steps" and "Identity Crisis". Was there a smaller budget for the animation in season 2?

Greg responds...

1. Themes were reused intentionally -- and by the second season we had a LOT more themes to reuse -- but to my knowledge, no actual music was reused, and I attended EVERY music spotting session, muisc preview session and sound mix.

2. No. We've had inconsistent animation here and there both seasons. Both our seasons contain some of our most gorgeous stuff and some of our weakest stuff.

Response recorded on May 27, 2009

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Galax writes...

I'm so sorry, I forgotten to tell which show I mean ^^

Of course Gargoyles ;)

So I ask again:

Can you tell me, which Animationstudio produced the episodes of the show?
Maybe a name of one or all?

thx a lot.

btw: keep on to bringing Gargoyles alive! :)

Greg responds...

Oh. Sorry, I guess I was in Spider-Man mode.

As for Gargoyles, the series was produced by Walt Disney Television Animation. Most of the first season episodes and many of the second season episodes were animated by Walt Disney Television Animation - Tokyo. Some others were animated in Korea by Han Ho. There were other studios too, but it's been too long, and I don't remember off the top of my head.

Response recorded on May 20, 2009

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Galax writes...

Hi Greg.

Can you tell me, which Animationstudio produced the episodes of the show?
Maybe a name of one or all?

thx a lot.

Greg responds...

Sony TV Animation produced the series. But if you mean what studios animated them, we used Dong Wu, Han Ho & Moi.

Response recorded on May 20, 2009

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Trisha writes...

I read your guidelines, and I am curious how to 'break into the business' Not necisarily starting my own comic book, but working for a smaller, more independent company such as Creature Comics. I have purused job sites, having recently graduated with a Bachelor of Animation, but am not having luck finding any such companies or positions.

As a side note (coming from the fan side of me) thank you for keeping the Gargoyle universe alive for your fans!! I am so excited to read the new comics, and see the Gargoyles making a comback!

Greg responds...

Creature Comics isn't really a company. It's more of a partnership -- between myself, Greg Guler and Marty Lund (and not really that anymore either) -- formed to get the license to the Gargoyles comic. That didn't happen, and we wound up at SLG instead.

But in any case, my first question is "Where do you live?" You have to go where there's work. Do some research into companies you might want to work for in your area. And if there are none in your area (or if the concentration is too slim to get employed) -- move.

Response recorded on October 22, 2008

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Lemmy Pierce writes...

So I unexpectedly came off work early today and found myself with a bit of free time-- not much, mind you, but enough. I don't know what it says for my intelligence or creativity that my thoughts immediately wandered to television, but eh . . . free time is supposed to make you feel good, not benefit humanity as a whole. And it felt like it'd been awhile since I'd gotten to actually sit down and watch anything (as opposed to, say, piping up the volume and listening from another room while I do this, that or the other thing). I wasn't sure what, if anything, I was in the mood for, and cast a casual eye onto my DVD shelf.

Gargoyles.

Well, why not Gargoyles? The quality ratio and fun factor with that show is so high that the only difficult part there is choosing which episode to run. So I pulled down Season One.

Initially I thought to watch Awakenings, but that's a lot of time to commit for one sitting when I had other things to be doing later on. I decided I'd watch "Enter Macbeth" instead.

It is, of course, one of my all-time favorites. mainly because of its titular character.

I actually watched it two times through for the hell of it. When I was finished, I ended up thinking and rethinking through a lot of it . . . and then somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered ASK GREG.

So, I thought I'd ramble. That *is* allowed, isn't it?

ENTER MACBETH

Yeah, we'll tell the truth on this one: The episode does kinda look like . . . well, crap. I have a much more affectionate eye for the episode than I did upon first viewing and look past a lot of it now, but there are still moments of "Enter Macbeth" that I can't get out of my head as something to say, "God, that's some [your negative adjective goes here] animation." I can't quite put my finger on what it is-- the whole episode just feels so off from a visual standpoint.

This would, in fact, become the start of one of the things I disliked most about this particular studio. When gargoyle wings fold over cloak-like, you should not see the three "limbs" as you do when seeing their interior. Or at least, you don't in the better animation studios. Drive me nuts; don't know why.

And of course, there was that one shot of Macbeth with the most yellow friggin' teeth. WTF?!

Greg, it's been many years since I've checked the archives in any great detail, but I think I remember you saying something like, "I was sure that the bad animation would make it so that almost no one would be interested in seeing Macbeth again." Well, this is one of those instances where the characters and plot shine through to make up for an episode's lackluster animation. (I call them "Korean Incidents".) It never detracted from the story. Not for me, anyways.

Let's start with Macbeth himself. This is an interesting character. At first glance, he appears to come out of nowhere. His motivations are unclear, so for now he's just "the bad guy". So how do you sell him without the cool backstory that will be developed later?

You have him kick copious amounts of ass, both literally and figuratively.

The scene with him posing as a prison guard is a highlight. So much of the credit for this episode should go to John Rhys-Davies, who from what I can tell just leapt into the role. Although, is it my failing memory or is this practically the only time that Xanatos and Macbeth have any real interaction with one another? If this is true, then that's a shame because they play well off of one another. But why would Macbeth introduce himself as . .. well, *himself*, rather than Lennox MacDuff (presuming that this is the identity he's gone by for many hundreds of years as a cover)?

Look at this guy, though. Not only does he wait for the gargoyles to awaken, he takes them all on single-handedly and wins. Not only that, but he takes prisoners. All on their home turf, and without so much as breaking a SWEAT. His knowledge in these "creatures" is so expert that he knows precisely what to do and how to do it with cold and calculated precision.

Check that attack. He throws (an admittedly off-guard) Broadway into Hudson and over the castle edge with ease. Then before anyone else can react, he tosses the smoke pellets and gains the upper hand over everyone else. Confusion ensues. The gargoyles who can't see and don't move end up blindsighted by gargoyles who can't see and DO move in very wrong directions. Or by Macbeth himself, who most assuredly can see and makes short work of Brooklyn before he can do a damned thing.

From there, it's just zap zap zap and it's finished. "Captured me three gargs in under 20 seconds, EL-OH-EL."

I always found this battle to be interesting in and of itself. Macbeth, for as much as we know this far in the game, is ordinarily human. He doesn't have biological enhancements or special powers or even henchmen; he's as human as you or me. And he takes them ALL down. Hell, Goliath himself probably gets the worst of it-- the outcome is so nakedly humiliating that I'm blushing. Oh, and that body slam into the fusebox didn't help either.

And is it me, or was Elisa WAY too close when Goliath came swooshing down after being electrified by the hull of Macbeth's ship? I say that she was damned lucky: If he had actually COLLIDED with her at that speed, I say that she might've been crushed to death.

So now Goliath leaves to track them down. Hudson and Broadway are left to defend the castle, but of course that's another subplot all its own.

Elisa warns Goliath that it's not safe to stay at the castle. Hell, she says it three times in a row. And his best reaction is to shrug her off-- something he won't be so apt to do in later episodes. He took off awful fast to rescue the other gargoyles at that point, almost as though he couldn't avoid the conversation fast enough.

Something else we don't see a lot of in later episodes tends to show in abundance with regards to Season One and particularly "Enter Macbeth", and that's Goliath Pissed Off. It was only juuuuuuust last episode that he was in a rage over what he thought was Elisa getting shot by Dracon. Goliath holding Dracon over the railing was a powerful dramatic moment. (Although in hindsight, he does that a LOT. Twice in "Awakening" with Hakon and Xanatos, Dracon in "Deadly Force" and I think at least once more somewhere down the line, although I can't remember when.) But in "Enter Macbeth", it's kinda flipped around. Goliath caught Dracon with relative ease, and it was clear what he would have done had Broadway not fessed up in time. Goliath never catches Macbeth, though. And he spends so much time chasing mirrors and shadows that I think Goliath might have been pissed enough to do worse than simply drop him. So we get to see a lot of vicious anger on his part in this ep. Roaring. Tearing through walls. Getting into a slugfest. Goliath isn't just another species, he's a dangerous one when it comes to the defense of his clan.

But that just makes Macbeth even cooler. Now it's Goliath who's handled with ease. Think about that for a moment. GOLIATH. A gargoyle warrior who is more than a match for just about any human out there. But against Macbeth, and especially on his turf, that same gargoyle finds himself at a disadvantage. And what makes that so interesting is that Macbeth isn't this ZOMG "genetically-engineered gargoyle sorceress hybrid mutant clone" superior foe. He's a human being. A human being with technology up the wazoo, but still human.

Look at the way he handles himself in their duel, after the chase is over. It's completely even. It was smart of Goliath to grab for a weapon when he got the chance, because even if weaponry isn't his habit I think he knew that against a sword-swinging Macbeth it was his only real chance. Even so, Macbeth doesn't relent. Goes on and on. Fights until the mansion is about to go up in flames . . . and he never gets too angry or panicked even when forced to escape. Is he pissed because the plan went to rot and his house burned down? Sure, why not? But he still takes it all with a certain amount of stride. No loud threats for vengeance, no personal grudge against Goliath, no real "villainous" actions taken at all (except, maybe, leaving the other gargoyles to burn alive). He just leaves when the gettin's good, and knows a little more for next time.

Love that little slip-out-of-the-jacket thing, by the way.

No, Macbeth doesn't have extra emotions to waste on Goliath and company. He wants Demona, Demona, Demona. The other gargoyles are just pawns (albeit useless ones as it turns out). I think it was a wise decision for her to not show up in this episode at all; it would have been too convenient, not to mention that it would also have detracted from Macbeth's character study. This is his episode.

Back at the castle, the remaining Gargoyles decide to take the Grimorum off Xanatos' hands. Now Owen gets his moment, too.

Hudson: Who's going to stop us? You?
Owen: Indeed.

You can tell by Hudson's attitude that he didn't expect Owen to knock his ass onto the floor. I don't think any of us did! Then, before Broadway can intervene, he's got a loaded gun pointed at his head. (I don't think that S&P would let that slide nowadays.) Owen is capable and reasonably prepared, no matter the circumstances. I think it's great that it's Elisa throwing a crutch at him that effectively turns the tables-- for all their strength, the gargoyles ended up pretty helpless otherwise.

Ah, well. All part of the job for Owen Burnett. However, I wonder if he faced some sort of penalty or reprimand for failing to prevent the theft of the Grimorum.

I despise when recurring characters are introduced via Korean outsourcing. I would say, introduce them some other way, and then give them crap animation somewhere down the line. Macbeth has a great character design; it should have been introduced through one of the better studios, perhaps the best one. (Not that I'm implying fault. You can give only so many episodes to Japan's Tokyo outlet; you make your choices and you live with 'em.) This is one of those episodes that I say to myself, "Damn, I'd love to see what this would'a looked like with kickass animation."

The "City of Stone" four-parter becomes interesting for this reason, given that we see how many changes Macbeth has gone through throughout the centuries . . . again, both figuratively and literally. It's not done by the Tokyo studio, but we're given so many designs for Macbeth. It's wonderful.

I've gotta start dinner now, so I guess that about does it for me. Later!

~Da Lemmy

Greg responds...

We couldn't know while writing scripts which episodes were headed for Korea vs. Japan. Of course, nowadays, things in Korea have improved quite a bit. ALL of The Spectacular Spider-Man is animated there, and we're generally thrilled with the results.

Response recorded on October 08, 2008

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anonymous writes...

Hi there:

1.) I didn't know if you knew, but your show currently holds the record for the most episodes to feature Sandman on any Spider-Man animated series, as he's never appeared in more than one episode of a Spider-Man cartoon. I've noticed some villains that have appeared on the various cartoon shows have been used surprisingly little. Mysterio's had no more than four episodes (as shown on the Fox Kids, 1990s "Spider-Man" show), Electro's had three (from the 1960s animated series), and Kraven's had three or four appearances at the most, I think (also from the Fox Kids TV show). Do you have any plans for future seasons to try and break these villains' current records and let the villains appear in more episodes?

2.) Is there any chance we will see Doctor Octopus meet with Mysterio in season two, or maybe in another season?

3.) When season two is a huge hit (which I'm sure it will be), will you guys get started animating season three or does it usually take a few months of planning before you can get right back to work on another season?

Greg responds...

1. I'm not interested in records, just in telling the best possible stories I have in my arsenal.

2. There's always a chance.

3. Planning, arcing, outlining, scripting, voice recording, pre-production, design, direction and all sorts of levels of approval must happen before animation can start. If we don't get a pick-up - for scripts at least - until Season Two airs and is (hopefully) declared a success, than there will be over a year gap between Seasons Two and Three.

Response recorded on September 29, 2008

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Needs A Little Guides writes...

This has been bothering me for sometimes, and i dont know how or who to ask this, so i'm just going to ask you because your in the cartooning busniess, I'm a senior in high school. And I've alwayed dreamt of becoming an cartoonist, I've alwayed enjoyed drawing and cartoons, and ever sense i was small I use to watch gargoyles and loved it, And from there I started getting into the arts, but it stopped when i enterd in high school,there was no arts and so my talent has gone to waste, -_-... You probably dont really have time for this but I'd really like your opion on how you started off or where to i could start, ...Thanks for putting up with me if you do response to this

Greg responds...

I don't know too much about art schools, but obviously it wouldn't hurt for you to look into them and find one that has a solid animation department. CalArts comes to mind, because I know so many artists in the business who went there. But I'm sure there are other decent programs out there too. If you're truly serious, then start doing research and find the program that's best for you.

Response recorded on September 25, 2008

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Bill Rodebaugh writes...

Hello Greg,

I'm an animation fan....particular from the days when everything was animated in the US....such as the earlier Hanna-Barbara days or Filmation's cartoons. Has "Gargoyles" and the new animated "Spectacular Spiderman" animated overseas? Do you have direct input into all the stories that go or have gone into these series?

Sincerely,

Bill

Greg responds...

All the writing and voice recording for both shows are/were done in the US. On Spider-Man all of the pre-production and post-production as well. On Gargoyles, most of the pre-production was done in the U.S., but a few episodes were pre-produced at Walt Disney TV Japan, but under the supervision of myself and Frank Paur. All the post for Gargoyles was done in L.A.

The actual animation was/is done overseas. Gargoyles was about 1/3 Japan and 2/3 Korea (with a bit of China thrown in). Spidey is all animated in Korea at one of three studios: HanHo, DongWoo and Moi.

Response recorded on April 17, 2008

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Jordan writes...

Hey Greg,

I caught the spider-man premire and I have to say it was one of the best saturday mornings I've had in years. Congrats to you and your crew.

In the time between Gargoyles and Spider-man, how would say the overall process of creating an animated show has changed, for better or worse?

Greg responds...

Mostly worse for me at least, because in those days I had the occasional ear of Michael Eisner. He was hard to sell, but if he said yes, we got to MAKE OUR SHOW with no more bologna attached. Nowadays getting a "yes" is nearly impossible as it's always a decision by committee. Heck it took them years to decide to make Spider-Man. I mean... Spider-Man?!! If any show is a no-brainer...

Response recorded on March 14, 2008

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Moeen writes...

This question is actually not about Gargoyles.

I was wondering if you have seen or know about the animated series "Avatar: The Last Airbender." If you have seen it, what do you think of it?

I've heard some people complain about how animation and animated shows in America have been in a decline since the 90's, but Avatar is actually the best animated show I've seen since Gargoyles. It came out a few years ago on Nickelodeon and is currently in it's third season.

The shows strong points are many that made Gargoyles such a great show, namely very complex characters, a complex plot and excellent pacing among other qualities. Like Gargoyles, it also appeals to many different age groups, not just kids.

You've mentioned how it would be difficult to air a show like Gargoyles these days with the current lack of S&P freedom, but the creators of Avatar have nonetheless managed to make a great show with an excellent storyline apparently without sacrificing anything, and it has become quite a hit.

So I thought you might be interested in looking into it, if you haven't already.

Greg responds...

I've seen clips from Avatar, but I haven't seen a full episode.

I've heard very good things, but it doesn't change my argument. Nick has Avatar and... and...

Myself and others I know have pitched shows to Nick, shows that might be great companions to Airbender, and yet... and yet...

Avatar seems to be the exception that TESTS the rule. But the rule seems to still be in place.

Response recorded on October 30, 2007

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Shan Muir podcast

Friend, fan and pro, Shan Muir -- who some of you may have met at past Gatherings -- has been interviewed on a podcast promoting her new book on the animation biz. Check it out.

http://www.catchdacraze.com/episode94.html


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Landon "Lumpmoose" Thomas writes...

Hello, long-time reader, first time asker. I just caught "Ken 10" and loved it. I think it's one of the best Ben 10 episodes yet, and that's saying a lot. I love seeing the shades of Gargoyles in there with your fearlessness in shaking things up, adding drama, introducing new characters, and playing with the time line. It makes me all the more excited for Spectacular Spider-man (congrats on the 26-episode pick-up, by the way).

I'm currently pondering a career in sound design/editing/engineering. Animation is my passion and that's what I'd like to work with, at least partially (i.e. I can't draw). You've mentioned Advantage Audio in the past as the Gargoyles post-production house. Advantage Audio looks like a great place to work, but it surprises me that Disney television animation would contract out for audio work on one of their flagship products.

1) I know smaller animation studios usually contract out for audio post-production, but how often do the big studios, like WDTVA, WB, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon, use external post-production houses?

b) Do they even have in-house audio teams? If so, how often do they use them?

c) Just out of curiosity, what does Culver Entertainment do?

2) The thing I'm worried about most is being 'merely' a tech grunt in the audio production field. In your opinion, how much creativity is there in the audio post-production field?

b) How closely do you, as a writer/producer/director, work with audio teams? Do you just pass the work on and expect an end-product?

3) This is a personal, limited-in-scope question of which you may have no opinion. I'm currently in Minneapolis with a BA in theatre, minor in computer science, and very little audio experience. I'm pondering going to Full Sail for a trained-by-the-best kind of thing. Does that school stick out for you or would a local tech school and/or experience be good enough to break into the big time?

Thanks for any help! I know questions weren't strictly Gargoyles-related, but Gargoyles was what inspired me to steer into the entertainment industry in the first place!

Greg responds...

Thanks for the congrats.

1. None of the studios I've ever worked with in Television Animation have their own post houses.

b. Never.

c. Each show is different, but as far as Spidey's concerned, we'll probably make a decision in the next couple weeks as to which audio post house we'll be using.

2. Tons. But it depends on what you mean by creativity. Obviously, you're coming at the piece near the end of the process. You're not writing the story or animating the picture, but you are breathing life into it with sound, and there are a tons of choices to be made. The producers (if not the executives) have final say of course, but a great engineer or sound fx designer makes all the difference in the world.

b. I discuss things with the team, they go to town and then I'm present for the mix (at the very least). I don't just hand it off and cross my fingers that I'll like what comes back, but I also don't stand over their shoulders while the sound is being designed.

3. I've never heard of "Full Sail", but frankly I don't know this arena very well, so don't judge by me.

Good luck!

Response recorded on October 12, 2007

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Bazell writes...

In "A Long Way To Morning," Demona, Hudson and Goliath do not turn to stone until the clouds clear and the sunlight shines through - with the sun clearly well over the horizon, suggesting a bit of time has passed after sunrise. However, in "The Silver Falcon," Broadway turns to stone even though he is in a basement, cut off from the light of the sun, suggesting a circadian rhythm. Was it simply an animation error in "A Long Way To Morning," or is there a reason for this. (I assume it's the animation, but I was curious)

Greg responds...

A little from column A, a little from column B.

Response recorded on August 20, 2007

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Want to know more...?

Shan Muir, who some of you may know from various Gatherings she's attended, has written a book on Animation production:

Gardner's Guide to Writing and Producing Animation presents a step-by-step guide through the animation production process-- from deciding what type of animation project to produce to marketing the final production. This book includes behind-the-scenes glimpses into these areas by incorporating interviews with professionals in all areas of the field. It presents in-depth, first-hand descriptions of how certain people personally perform their duties as part of the general production pipeline. In addition, the book explores the various career opportunities in the animation industry, which is known for incorporating a diverse group of artists and engineers. Whether your goal is to produce a completed television special, pilot, short, or independent feature, Gardener's Guide to Writing and Producing Animation offers a comprehensive understanding of the art and business of animation.

Interviews include:

*Jack Angel, Voice Actor
* Monique Beatty, Line Producer
* Jerry Beck, Producer/Animation Historian
* Larry DiTillio, Story Editor/Writer
* Michael Donovan, Voice Director
* John Grusd, Director
* Marc Handler, ADR Story Editor/Writer
* Carl Johnson, Composer
* Bill Koepnik, co-owner of audio post house Advantage Audio
* Christy Marx, Story Editor/Writer
* Jan Nagel, Marketing Diva
* Josh Prikryl, Overseas Supervisor
* Sander Schwartz, Studio Executive
* Tad Stones, Producer
* Brooks Wachtel, Story Editor/Writer
* Greg Weisman, Producer/ Story Editor/Writer
* Robert Winthrop, Producer
* Tim Yoon, Production Manager

I haven't seen it yet, but it sounds invaluable if you're looking to understand how this thing works. Should be available at most big chains and can definitely be ordered on-line or by any bookstore! It's out there now, so support one of your own and grab up a copy!


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Billy Kerfoot writes...

Hi Greg, me again. Sorry but I forgot this other question I've been meaning to ask:

What type of animation did you guys use for the show? Was it dark deco like in Batman: The Animated Series? And although I know you didn't work on TGC, from the looks of it, do you know what animation they used as well? Thanks a lot!

Greg responds...

"Dark deco" isn't a type of animation, it's a term coined for the styling the creative team used. The type of animation was cell, i.e. as opposed to 3D CGI. Same for us. I'm afraid we never bothered to coin a term for our style.

Response recorded on July 18, 2007

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Justin writes...

I know this will not reach you for awhile. But I was perusing internet movie database and found an outstanding review of the series I thought and hoped you might enjoy.

This person captures the spirit of the fans in every way, on every level. We have bought the DVS's we WILL buy the comics, and Yes, I believe we will bring this timeless show back.

We cannot do otherwise guys.

I have just one question: How can Disney Television Animation produce such a wonderful show as "Gargoyles" for a couple of seasons and then go back to being Disney Television Animation? I simply cannot understand it, and if anyone has any thoughts, PLEASE share them with me! This show was a breath of fresh air on every level. If this wasn't a groundbreaking show, it certainly raised the bar sky high.

Voices--Many's the time I have thought that they could have chosen a better actor for a part in animation. Not here. The voice cast was so good that to this day I cannot imagine anyone else filling the bill. In the role of Goliath, Keith David demonstrated that he possesses one of the greatest speaking voices of any actor in the business. Jeff Bennett was also great as Brooklyn, my favorite character. (Loved the white hair!)

Music--Carl Johnson's scores were great. They beautifully set the tone and underlined the action and the drama.

Animation--Excellent. Dark, moody and stylish. The shots of the clan as stone statues are downright eerie at times. To this day, I still can't believe Disney did this one.

Plot--Action, drama, technology, mythology, humor and a little Shakespeare on the side. Folks, WHAT MORE COULD YOU POSSIBLY ASK FOR? This series had the most tightly structured story lines ever--there was not a single moment of dead air anytime.

The best thing about the series, however, was the characters. For being a clan of gargoyles (with a couple of humans), these characters were as real as you and I. Things HAPPENED to them! They actually got HURT as a result of violence. They matured, sometimes in ways unexpected. They found out the hard way who their friends and enemies were. And they had to live with the consequences of their actions, which sometimes came back to haunt them in later episodes.

Here's hoping Disney will realize the error of their ways and bring this show back. If you are already a fan, may you continue to enjoy the show. If you haven't seen it, give it a chance. But be advised: Once you have seen television and the world through the glowing eyes of a gargoyle, you will never want to settle for "standard kiddie fare" ever again.

I hope you enjoyed this Mr. Weisman

Greg responds...

Thanks, Justin. It's always nice to read praise. (I'm not shy about admitting that I like the ego-boost.) But I have to say that I don't see or understand the need to praise Gargoyles by BASHING Disney -- in particular the shows which preceded Gargoyles at Walt Disney Television Animation. "The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh", "Disney's Gummi Bears", "DuckTales", "Darkwing Duck", many episodes of "TaleSpin", "Chip 'N Dale's Rescue Rangers", "Aladdin" and a select few of "Bonkers" and "Goof Troop" strike me as some of the best TV Animation that's EVER been produced. Likewise shows since Gargoyles, like "Kim Possible" and a few episodes of "Hercules" and "Buzz LIghtyear of Star Command" also send me. (And there may be more, but I don't watch cartoons as much now as I did back when I was a Disney Exec.)

Obviously, not all these shows are going to send every Gargoyles fan. And that's fine. But I can't really understand not recognizing how superior they are to most of what's out there.

And remember: NO GUMMI BEARS; NO GARGOYLES.

Response recorded on January 15, 2007

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Rylynx1285 writes...

Mr. Weisman this would be my first time asking a question. I have to say I have been a big fan of Gargoyles since the beginning. The show really change my feelings about people who are different. Thank you Mr. Weisman for introducing this show to my life. As for my question. Do you feel that Animation in America has been on a steady decline? These days that aren't that many animated shows that are made with the same quality as Gargoyles or any animated shows during the ninties which I dubbed the golden age of animation. I just want to know your opinion on this subject. Thank you and I hope you can bring Gargoyles back in any shape or form in the near future.

Greg responds...

It would be easy for me to look back on shows like "Batman the Animated Series" and "Gargoyles"; "Ducktales" and "Gummi Bears", "Roughnecks" and early "Simpsons" etc. and play the old curmudgeon and say THEY JUST DON'T MAKE 'EM LIKE THAT ANYMORE.

Cuz, well, they don't. But they do other things VERY well. I really like Kim Possible. I like Ben Ten. And I'm very, very proud of the work I just did on the second season of W.I.T.C.H.

I honestly don't watch as many cartoons now as I did back then, when as an executive at Disney it was my job to know ALL of our cartoons and ALL of the competitions'.

We certainly, with the loss of the syndication market, have less S&P freedom than we used to. But that's nothing new. Last night I watched the classic "Charlie Brown Christmas" with my wife and kids. And they did stuff in that half-hour that we would NEVER have been allowed to get away with in the 90s, from an S&P standpoint.

Response recorded on November 29, 2006

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Joey Conaway writes...

Hey Greg I bought the GARGOYLES DVD today and I have enjoyed it already here is my question
to ya

How long did it take yall to do the animation and get the voice overs
for Disney at that time please let me know thanks

Greg responds...

It took ten months for every step. (It's called a ten-month sliding schedule.)

That is we had ten months to write the scripts. Ten months to record the voices. Ten months to storyboard. Ten months to animate. Etc. But all of those various "ten months" overlapped. The whole process was probably more like 14 months.

Response recorded on September 21, 2006

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Zel writes...

have you thought of pitching a non-gargoyles Animated-Action-Fantasy-Drama to Disney (or Fox, or Cartoon Network, or whoever)? I'd watch it. It's bound to be loaded with Gargoyles inside jokes

Greg responds...

I'm always pitching. Pitching is easy. Selling is hard.

Response recorded on October 27, 2005

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Joshua P. Christie writes...

Hi Greg-- first off before my question I want to say that my previous question regarding Goliath using the Phoenix Gate to not return to Scotland in order to save his clan when he used it to save Griff in London-- I submitted that a year and a half ago and when I didn't see an answer I took it upon myself to copy and paste it during the chat you had a couple of weeks ago (Nov./03). So it was not a double post but you had answered it twice. For what it is worth, I understood it the second time around. :)

My question for 2003 is, with Gargoyles being property of
Disney and the reality of not being able to do much with
the show without their blessing, have you ever considered
coming up with an original idea for a show and trying to
get something new off the ground? Perhaps not even a
syndicated show but something more akin to Todd McFarlane's
'Spawn' on HBO? I am not suggesting any particular idea, just one of your own which created a new universe of characters and storylines that perhaps one day could be funded and see the light of day notwithstanding our hopes
of Gargoyles one day returning to the air. It is encouraging to see Fox considering reviving 'Family Guy'
after the syndication and DVD sales surprised the hell out
of everyone. Maybe Gargoyles can see the revival it needs
on DVD to open Disney up to that possibility. Thank you for your time and I hope to see you at the next Gathering that comes stateside again.

Greg responds...

I am constantly trying to sell new and original ideas. It's harder than it looks from a distance.

Response recorded on September 29, 2005

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Julius Jacobson writes...

First off, thank you for creating a masterpiece. Undoubtedly one of the greatest animated shows of all time.

Now some questions about the TV industry:

1.You are quoted in the FAQ as advising aspiring television authors "If you can be happy doing anything else, do that thing." Working in the industry for all these years, do you feel that most of your peers have taken this advice, or do you feel surrounded by bitter and disillusioned cynics?

2. Why is it that you were given such a position of significant control with "Gargoyles" relatively early in your career, yet have been unable to find a position in similar role since adding that credit to your resume? Despite being a moderate hit, did losing the ratings war with Power Rangers attach a stigma to the show (and thus you) as "not being able to hit a homerun ", making it harder to get future opportunities (you have done some good work since, but nothing with the creative control or depth of Gargoyles)? Or is the industry understanding of what Gargs was up against (A barinless "Pokemon" like monster) and don't disparage it as a "failure" simply because it couldn't defeat a (ratings) behemoth, and your current situation is just the brakes of a volatile industry?

3. I don't necessarily want to be a TV writer (I'm into prose) but I am a big fan of animation. Do you think the FoxBox and the new Ninja Turtles cartoon (the blocks highest rated program by far), in going up against Kids WB, is in the same position Gargoyles and Disney Afternoon was in in 1995/96? Foxbox has moved to Sundays ostensibly to avoid the competition. As a creative Producer once in a seemingly similar situation, could you just objectively tell a worried fan if this is a sign of The End? ( TMNT has, however been signed on for more episodes up to 52, which according to you is succesful in todays market.) As an aside to this question, how much of keeping an animated show on the air has to do with sales of merchandise as opposed to pure ratings?

Thank you for your time.

Greg responds...

1. I am indeed surrounded by bitter and disillusioned cynics. Though most of us are pretty cheerful about it.

2. Mostly it's just the breaks. But I have been stigmatized here and there by various individuals who were in power... some of whom are no longer in power. Also there were a unique set of circumstances at Disney at the time of Gargoyles that resulted in me getting so much creative freedom and control. Circumstances that would be hard to duplicate. But since then, I have had substantial control over my ten Roughnecks episodes. I had some control over the first season of Max Steel. And on the show I'm working on now, W.I.T.C.H., I've had more control, more freedom -- and more fun -- than on any show I've done since Gargoyles.

3. I'm just not up to speed on the Fox Box/Kids WB situation, though I know that Kids WB is phasing out their weekday afternoon kids block. As for merchandise vs. ratings... Both can be HUGE factors. A network can't survive on bad ratings, but most shows have trouble making their budgets without merchandising revenue.

Response recorded on September 06, 2005

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Dragon girl writes...

hi there!!
Im a fan of yours!!! and im a fan of manga, comics and drawing, i wish one day i could illustrate my own story
i only want to ask you: What things do you need to do
to have a nice story and character desing?,please answer me
My mail.- beautifulbeast_10@yahoo.com.mx
bye!!

Greg responds...

I don't know where to start. I'm not an artist myself, so I'm not the best person to advise you on that.

As for story, I'd recommend education. Read a lot. (And not just manga and comics.) Write a lot. Proofread. Read some more. Write some more. Proofread. Go to college. Get a solid liberal arts education. Read the classics. Read the daily newspaper. Read some more. Write some more. Proofread.

(Get the idea?)

Response recorded on August 30, 2005

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Dragon boy writes...

Greg, i am making some "comics" cause my dream is becoming a professional japanese comic maker (mangaka) ,here is my only question:How can you become a good drawer and how can you make things that people really like?
here is it, please answer me,ops! and im a fan of yours n.n !!!!
n_- bye !!!!

Greg responds...

I wish I knew how to "become" a good artist. I'd love to be able to draw. But I don't have that talent, so I'm not the greatest person to answer that question.

As to how to "make things that people really like"? I usually start by trying to make something that I really like. If I'm not passionate about it, how can I expect anyone else to be?

Response recorded on August 26, 2005

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Vashkoda writes...

Hey Greg. Concerning all the different series you've worked for and all the jobs you've held in them (creator/producer/voice director/writer/etc.), which do you think actually "sells" your talent to companies to make them want to hire you? Do you feel any particular works of yours outshine the rest and really impress the execs? How well is "Gargoyles" regarded by these company execs, for instance? Or do you think it is instead the fact that you've worked for big name companies in the past, like Disney and WB, that impresses the execs, rather than any particular works you've done? Or when you apply as a freelance writer, for example, do you just submit several sample scripts of your ideas, and they decide from that whether to buy the story or not, regardless of your actual background? I'm just curious how it all works. Thanks!

Greg responds...

Uh.... all of the above, really.

There was a time when clearly Gargoyles was actually a liability for me on my resume. Thankfully, that time has passed, at least for now, and it is once again my biggest selling point and calling card. In part, this is because a new mini-generation of execs has surfaced. The group that I was part of respected my work on the show. But then a slightly younger group came in that didn't know the show and didn't care about it. Now we've got a group that remember it fondly from their youth.

Yes, I'm just that old.

But frankly, my "Resume" is GIGANTIC, and I think the mass of it is impressive to people who value experience and good credits. To people who are intimidated by those who might know more than they do, I think it's a roadblock.

Obviously, everything depends on the job at hand. The folks at Disney (but not SIP) were nervous about hiring me for WITCH because they were convinced I wasn't funny enough. It occured to me that they might not have read my comedy scripts, and so I sent a couple of them over. Having read the stuff, I was funny again -- and hired for the job. So the work itself can help. When asked to submit script samples, I have a ton to choose from. So it becomes a guessing game. I try to get a sense of the project or kind of project they're interested in me working on and then choose scripts that seem to fit ... in tone at least. But you never know if you're sending the right material or not. And sometimes they don't bother to ask for it.

It also truly helps to be able to talk a good game. I give good meeting. I have off days, but I generally do pretty well in a room. That helps. It's ironic, because I'm shy and lousy at small talk. But ask me about creative stuff, and you pretty much can't shut me up -- as anyone who's attended a GATHERING can attest to, including, I'm sure, you, Vash . I am also a pretty consumate bullshitter... and yet not afraid to admit that I haven't figured EVERYTHING out yet.

I think that covers the basics.

Response recorded on August 26, 2005

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Francois Ferland writes...

Sorry, it's me again. I know you must be getting tired of me, but I just rediscovered Ask Greg after five years, and I have tons of questions to ask.

I have an animation question.

1. I'm fairly certain without being 100% sure that all the episodes of a multi-parter are being done by a single studio. Is that true? It sure seems that way, like "Awakenings" and "Hunter's Moon" having gorgeous animation throughout and "City of Stone" and "Avalon" having moderately good animation all accross their parts.

I can see how it might be better this way. It insures a lot more consistency within the same story, and that includes scene continuity from one part to the next. Character models and background for all parts will be done by the same staff or supervised to make sure they fit together. I can't see communication ever being good enough between two distant animation companies to insure that two episodes would mesh together seemlessly.

Of course, sometimes it might be difficult for a company to complete 3, 4 or even 5 episodes at the same time, but I assume that those studios had their episodes assigned a lot of time in advance, with as few other episodes as possible being expected from them while the multi-parter was being done.

You mind shedding some light on the matter?

Thanks!

Greg responds...

As far as I can recall, multi-parters went to the same studios... although often not to the same exact crews. (Often a studio has multiple crews.) For all the reasons you stated above, it makes more sense.

Response recorded on April 20, 2005

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Mike Cohen CKayote@worldnet.att.net writes...

Topic: Weisman, Greg

As a result of watching 'too much' TV as a kid, I find myself wanting to work in writng TV and movies. I'm starting my freshman year of college in August, and I have no idea about how to get into my chosen profession. I tried asking my school's advisors and the film department people and looking on the internet,etc. but nobody knows anything about it.
So I figured that ask someone who's been there is doing that.

So how did you end up with a job writing all those Disney shows? Where did you go school? What did you major in? Who did you have to meet to get where you are?

Thank You Very Much,
Mike Cohen
CKayote@worldnet.att.net

Greg responds...

Well, let's see. By now, you must be almost done with your Sophomore year, and I hope you haven't been waiting that long to hear back from me.

My bio in brief:

B.A. Stanford University in English with an emphasis in Fiction Writing.
M.P.W. University of Southern California. M.P.W. stands for Masters of Professional Writing and my emphasis was in playwrighting.

In between, I worked on staff at DC Comics for two years. And I freelanced for them for about eight years -- beginning during my Junior Year at Stanford and ending after I was well-ensconced at Disney.

Before I left USC, I interviewed at numerous places... and hit it off with Gary Krisel, who was putting together Disney's TV Animation unit. A year later I started there as a VERY junior creative executive. It was supposed to be my day job while I wrote at night. But I didn't do much writing over those five years. Instead, I got steadily promoted, eventually rising to Director of Series Development. I developed numerous shows including Gargoyles, and then moved over laterally to produce that show.

Eventually left for some unfulfilling years at DreamWorks, and then went Freelance.

My first recommendation to anyone who's interested in the biz is to find something else to do... unless you just feel like NOTHING ELSE could do it for you. It's a brutal business full of rejection, so unless you have the passion to carry you through, over and/or around all that brutality and rejection, I'd go elsewhere.

Second rec is to move to L.A. That's where all the action is.

Third rec is to write, write, write.

Fourth is to read, read, read.

Fifth is to learn how to proofread, and practice the art religiously.

Response recorded on February 28, 2005

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Anonymous writes...

In a previous question, you told someone to send a script to a production studio, as a way to break into the business. I was just wondering if someone would actually read the script, or just throw it away?

Greg responds...

Did I really say that? It doesn't sound like me at all.

You are correct, they'd either toss it or send it back to you unread. Unsolicited material is dangerous for studio execs to read, particularly if its based on that studio's properties.

I believe what I suggested was to send a sample to an agency. They still might throw it away, but they are much more likely to read it.

Response recorded on January 21, 2005

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Haleigh Costantino writes...

I am a digital imagery student and freelance artist in Arizona. I wanted to know how you got started working and if you can tell me about any companies that accept freelance artists for concept art, etc. And please keep the idea of that Gargoyles movie going!

Greg responds...

All the animation companies go through phases of hiring and not hiring. You posted your question in early 2003, and I'm answering in late 2004, so I assume you haven't been waiting on me to pursue your goals.

My oft-repeated story is elsewhere in the ASK GREG archives under "Weisman, Greg". But the short version is that I've wanted to be a writer since grade school. I eventually got professional work as a freelancer at DC Comics. From DC, I transitioned to graduate school. While at graduate school, I interviewed at Disney and eventually got a junior executive position at Disney TV Animation. I developed and supervised numerous series for TVA, including, finally, GARGOYLES, which I then moved over to produce.

Response recorded on November 30, 2004

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Justin writes...

Greg,
This isn't a question, so much as a comment. I just rewatched Awakenings Part 2, and I must say it was absolutely stunning. The part that really sticks out for me is when the great acting the voice artist do in the opening scene. The parts that stick out in my mind are as follows:

"These bowstrings have been cut... there was betrayal here."
As you said Hudson was falling back on his training.

And Keith David and Bill Fagerbakke were excellent in their exchanges.

The animation during this scene is amazing in my book. Maybe not the models that I liked in episodes like Hunter's Moon, but it is still amazing. Each character display such emotion. I know Bronx is only a beast, but it even feels like he gets what happened. I loved the scene. Hudson knocking some Vikings into hay as he swoops in. Broadway using what he knows best... food! The action really picks up here and I feel so sorry for these characters. I must admit that in October 1994 when this first aired I thought many more died than about forty. Which is the number I think u said. But nonetheless it is so sad. I just lost a friend of mine back in November. So it taught me that if even one life is lost is just hard if hundreds are lost.

Anyway Kudos on an awesome episode.

Greg responds...

Thanks. Glad you liked it.

Response recorded on June 29, 2004

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roxanne writes...

last night I whached the episode "seeing isn't believing". I think it's the second to last episode in The Goliath Chronicals. Anyway, the animation style was really really weird, I wondering if you happened to know what that was about.

Greg responds...

No.

Response recorded on June 21, 2004

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Jim Tate writes...

I was watching Max Steel with my 2 year old son and was curious what software was used in the making. What about Lip Synch software.

Greg responds...

I have no idea. Sorry.

Response recorded on April 19, 2004

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Anonymous writes...

I would like to ask a producer his view on what an aspiring director and/or producer should major in college? Should it be filmmaking? Or media arts? Or is it something else all together? Thanks!

Greg responds...

Two years later, I'm guessing my answer comes late. And I'm afraid you didn't provide me with enough information. I assume we're talking about Animation, right?

I'm a producer, and I majored in English w/an emphasis in Fiction Writing. But a director (as opposed to an animation director or a voice director) ....

I don't know.

Depends on the programs available....

Response recorded on January 16, 2004

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Lord Sloth writes...

I have a few questions about the Leica reel for Bad Guy's, as I've never seen it (but really want to).

1. If you can't/don't want to spread the reel all over the net, could/would you write a detailed/some what detailed report on how the story goes. You of course don't have to, but I'm sure it would satisfy a lot of people who have never gathered to a gathering.

2. What IS a Leica reel? Is there anything animated about it, or is it more of a montonage <sp?> of art work with voice-overs from key characters?

3. How much detail is shown in the animation/stills (i.e.: sketches or paintings or stuff the like I see in Gargoyles)?

4. How long dose it run for?

*Note* I could have asked the CR about all this, but I enjoy the way you write, when you do :^B (enough flattery?).

And I hope to see it for myself someday, not in Virginia, but in NY, 2003 if all goes well.

Greg responds...

1. No. Sorry. It's a special treat for Gathering attendees, and I don't want the story in it to become common currency. I still have hopes of selling it someday.

2. A leica reel can be many things. The spelling suggests it has something to do with a Leica camera, but I've been assured that it really is code for IT'S LIKE-A REEL. It's also sometimes called an ANIMATIC or SIZZLE TAPE. There is no true animation, though I've seen some recent stuff using flash. It's basically a filmed storyboard, with a few fancy editing tricks, like panning, scanning, pushing in, pulling out and maybe a few dissolves or wipes. That's put with actual recorded vocals and hopefully some music and sound effects. It's an effective way to tell a story, like a glorified comic book for the screen. But it's supposed to be done for a relatively small amount of money. A few thousand dollars as opposed to tens of thousands of dollars.

3. It depends. Some are very detailed some are very sketchy.

4. Again, it depends. I think BAD GUYS runs about 7 minutes, which is probably too long for anyone but garg fans.

Or maybe you can come see it in Montreal in August of '04.

Response recorded on September 26, 2003

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jjwspider writes...

Who-hoo! An update, thanks Greg!
Onto the questions:
1) Will we ever see the Gargoyles episodes collected onto DVD? I would love to own the collection and think that it could possibly lead to more Gargoyles toons, as a Direct to Video thing maybe?
2) What projects are you currently working on?
3) As an aspiring cartoon creator can you give my any advice on who to contact or how to break in to the business?

Thanks!

Greg responds...

1. Disney tells me that the DVD of the first season will be released sometime in 2004 to coincide with the series' tenth anniversary. Further releases will obviously depend on the sales of the first release.

2. I'm in development on a number of potential projects, but nothing definite. My current paying gig is for Platinum Studios, where I'm writing a bible for their entire Universe.

3. Where do I start? How about referring you to the "Animation" achive here at ASK GREG, where I've answered this question before.

Response recorded on August 04, 2003

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Michael Gibbons writes...

First off Gargoyles is a fantastic show. Back in college I used it for many media research theses and got stunning results. Thank you.

I'm not filled with questions regarding continuity, what if, or whatever happened to, rather I'm more interested in technical production.

Is there a resource that offers animator's model sheets from the Gargoyles production?

Again thank you for your work and dedication.

Sincerely,

Michael Gibbons
Strydus@yahoo.com

(Feel free to edit)

Greg responds...

Thanks for the kind words, Michael.

Unfortunately, no, I can't think of a resource offering model sheets from the Gargoyles production, though samples have occassionally been on display at the Gathering.

Response recorded on April 02, 2003

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Kelly L Creighton/Kya White Sapphire writes...

I know you generally dont DESIGN characters, as to give the artists more freedom, but do you (or would you) ever say "i really want this character to have this specific trait" or "i want them to look kind of like this" or would you never even go there. (please dont take the words 'ever' and 'never' to be all inclusive, i just mean generally. :)

Greg responds...

I often do exactly what you describe. For some characters, I have a real clear picture in my head. For others, almost nothing. Depending on how strongly I feel, I'd give guidelines to an artist... and I certainly give feedback. But I try very hard to keep my mind open, to allow the artist to surprise me with something I hadn't thought of but just feels right.

Response recorded on March 19, 2003

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Another design memo...

We got more designs from WDAJ. Here's our response back to them...

To: Motoyoshi Tokunaga 8-26-93

From: Greg Weisman 818-754-7436

Re: GARGOYLES DESIGN WORK

Dear Mr. Tokunaga,

This is in response to the designs sent in your fax dated August 21st. (We've looked over the originals you sent as well.) Although we have substantial notes, I want to emphasize that we're learning more with each submission. Things that did not occur to us initially are now becoming clearer. For reference purposes, I'm going to refer to the page numbers of the fax. In the future, you might want to number every drawing on every page for easier reference.

PAGE 3
Seeing the four Gargoyles together raised a number of interesting problems. Goliath seems to have lost some of the upper body bulk that made him so imposing. And Broadway seems to be on an equal level with Goliath. We need to make Goliath more special and unique. And although the trio of Brooklyn, Lexington and Broadway must each be unique from each other, we'd like to see the three of them as a natural grouping. As it stands now, Goliath, Broadway and Brooklyn all seem of a piece, with Lexington as the odd man out.

I might propose the following possible solutions:
--Let's give greater stature to Goliath relative to the other three, particularly Broadway.
--Let's make Goliath the only one of the four who tends to stand erect like a man. If Broadway and Brooklyn existed in a crouch as Lex does, we could cheat all three of them larger and still leave Goliath with greater stature.
--We already have two unique wing constructions (Goliath's and Lexington's), but we could stand to create a third type. Leaving either Brooklyn or Broadway as is, if we gave the other a third style of wing, then when we looked at the trio of younger gargoyles as a unit, each of them would have a unique wing-type and Lexington wouldn't seem like such the odd man out.
--If I haven't mentioned it before, we think of Goliath as being in his late twenties (in Gargoyle years). We think of the trio as being between 17 and 19 years old (in Gargoyle years). Keeping them youthful should also help in making them into a visible unit and still distinguish them from Goliath. Broadway, in particular is looking a bit too old.

PAGES 4 and 5
We'd like to make Goliath more imposing in size. Perhaps by slightly reducing the size of his head relative to his shoulders and chest. Bulking up his upper body.

We're also divided over here on the issue of the tail. Some of us feel it adds an inhuman element to help make Goliath cool and different. Others, just feel it's another thing that'll need to be animated.

Love the way the wings drape on page 5.

PAGE 6
One of Gary Krisel's concerns is that the face have depth. He doesn't want it to look like a mask connected to Goliath's thick neck. I'm not sure I see that problem in these drawings, but it's something to watch out for.

Another important point is Goliath's attitude and expression. He is highly intelligent. Noble. Gary was also concerned that some of the expressions here (and on page 4) made him look a bit like a thug.

A third concern is whether or not we might still have too much pencil mileage in the facial design to animate effectively.

PAGE 7
I love the top two head shots. Goliath looks terrific surprised. And I think the trick with the pupils vanishing in anger is very effective with all the characters. I also like Goliath amused in the lower right corner. But I'm not sure about the lower left shot. I'm not clear what emotion is being expressed. Something about the teeth and maybe the eyes is unappealing. I apologize for not being able to pin down my problem further. Maybe we should reserve his jagged teeth for extreme expressions? I don't know.

PAGE 8
Both poses, particularly the kneeling shot, are wonderful. In the first pose, however, I think we should be cheating his wing-span much, much larger.

Page 9
Great.

Page 10
I like his slimmer "teen" build, but perhaps Brooklyn should "stand" in more of a crouch. Not simply bad posture, but keeping at least three limbs on the ground.

PAGE 11
Again, Brooklyn needs to remain 18 or 19 years old. Particularly in the lower left and right corners he seems much older than that. We also probably need a greater range of expressions. Remember, he is the irrepressible leader of the trio. Out to find adventure. Are his horns too far apart? As opposed to being slicked back like his cool young hair, are the horns scooping up, giving him a more demonic look than necessary? Have we created a mouth that inhibits expression too much? You can see, we have more questions than answers, still.

PAGE 12
I think Lexington works as a basically horizontal character, but we don't want to make him too diminutive relative to the others...stretch him out in poses. Remember that his middle set of limbs function as arms as well as legs.

His wing design may be more complicated than necessary. We may not need the rib construction coming out of his back. For him, it may be enough that he has this wing like webbing between his two upper sets of limbs. Perhaps it's more elastic than draping.

Again, we need to keep him young. Lex is highly curious about the modern world around him. Everything interests him and fills him with wonder. He's more naive and innocent than the others. These qualities should help compensate for his slightly more demonic look.

PAGE 13
My favorite shot is the third from the left on the bottom row. And as usual, the angry glowing eye "battle" version works great. The upper right shot is cute. And I like the surprised version in the second from the left on the bottom row. But we're not getting the sense of wonder or excitement from him in the upper left and upper middle. And I don't really care for the sinister shot of him in the lower left corner. He's not angry or primed for battle (we know this cause his eyes aren't glowing), so I can't figure out what would give him that kind of nasty, almost hungry expression out of a battle context. Again, it may be that using jagged teeth outside of battle mode makes them too demonic. Another question: do his cheekbones need to be so prominent?

PAGES 14
Body-wise, Broadway looks pretty good outside of a context of scale with the others. We like his gut, his sumo-like quality. But like Brooklyn and Lex, he should be a croucher. Like the center on an American football team. And we may want to scale him down; he doesn't necessarily need to be that tall or broad relative to Goliath.

Our biggest concern is that he looks way too old. Mostly in the face, but when scaled with Goliath, as on page 3, in the body as well.

PAGE 15
Again, in all these shots, he looks too old. In some ways, he looks too much like Goliath. He should be a nineteen year old party animal. He just likes to have a great time. Always laughing. The only shot that really works for us here is glowing eyes shot in the lower left corner. In battle, it's appropriate to have the jaw distended and grotesque. In the others, we might try to give him more youth by making his head shape more horizontal than vertical. Less cheekbones, maybe. Rounder, perhaps? I'm not sure.

That's it for now. Looking forward to seeing your next pass.

Thanks. Greg.

cc: Bruce Cranston, Barbara Ferro, Eddy Houchins, Lenora Hume, Gary Krisel, Paul Lacy, Tom Ruzicka, Dave Schwartz.


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More correspondence with Tokyo...

Another old memo from my development files. It's pretty self-explanatory.

To: Motoyoshi Tokunaga 8-4-93

From: Greg Weisman 818-754-7436

Re: GARGOYLES DESIGN WORK

Dear Mr. Tokunaga,

Just a quick note to let you know we all looked at the Clayface episode of Batman that you sent us. We thought it was terrific. If you are confident you can animate to this level, I'm confident we have a great show in the works.

Greg.

cc: Bruce Cranston, Barbara Ferro, Lenora Hume, Gary Krisel, Paul Lacy, Tom Ruzicka, Dave Schwartz.


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Chapter XXXVII: "Shadows of the Past"

Time to ramble....

This chapter (episode) was brought to you by:

Director: Kazuo Terada
Story Editor: Michael Reaves
Story: Michael Reaves
Teleplay: Michael Reaves & Brynne Chandler Reaves

Plus the usual suspects, including Frank and me.

The title is one of Michael's. I had the impulse to shorten it to "Shadows", but I didn't.

THE WORLD TOUR

As the recap ended and Tom shouted out: "Avalon doesn't take you where you want to go. Avalon sends you where you need to be!" My seven-year-old daughter Erin said, "Uh, oh."

"Uh, oh," indeed.

And so we begin Tier Four in earnest. Our quartet of travelers weren't headed straight home. Of course you couldn't know at that time just how long they'd be gone. And frankly when we started writing, neither did we.

It wasn't just the quantity of episodes (23 counting the Avalon three-parter, Kingdom, Pendragon, The Green and Future Tense) that we'd spend before everyone was reunited in Gathering One. It was the reruns in between.

What was supposed to be a five week trip became a five month trip. And so, for many of the fans it became interminable.

Why all the reruns? Well, the schedule finally just caught up with us. When Gargoyles was picked up for a second season by Buena Vista, I was asked how many we could reasonably produce for the fall quarter (between September & December of 1995) without interruption.

I told them that we were prepared to do six more. That was all the scripts that had been ordered (Leader, Legion, Metamorphosis, Lighthouse, Beholder, Vows). But I said we could do 13. We had done 13 the first season with a ten month sliding schedule. Now we had just under twelve months so we could certainly do 13 again.

I was asked what's the most we could do. I said, well if we start right now we can do 18.

Not 52? They asked.

52? Are you nuts? (Well, I didn't say that exactly.) I said we'll never get 52 done for the fall quarter. We'll wind up with a lot of repeats. You (Buena Vista) will not be happy with all those repeats.

They were disappointed. So disappointed, that instead of ordering 18, they only ordered six. (If we can't have 52, then forget it. [Okay, they didn't exactly say that either, but that seemed like the basic attitude.])

So we get to work to do six. Two weeks pass. Buena Vista comes back and says. No, do 13.

We respond with, uh, okay. Of course we've lost two weeks, so it'll be a bit harder, but we can do it.

Two weeks pass. They come back and say, "No, do 18."

We grumble a bit, because now we've lost a month of prep time when we could have been building crews, etc. But okay, I said we could do 18. We'll manage.

Two weeks pass. They come back and say, "Do 52."

Now we balk. We warned you we couldn't do 52 in twelve months. Now you want us to do it in 10? It took us ten to do 13.

Do 52.

And so we did. We built multiple crews. Our staff increased exponentially. We expanded to four writing teams from one. We expanded from one pre-production team (in Japan -- waves at Roy) to three and a half (one in Japan) and two and a half here in L.A.

And we worked like little demons to bring you 52 for the fall quarter. But it was never going to happen.

We wound up doing pretty good. I don't have my old calendar in front of me, and I can't remember exactly how many we managed to air in the fall, but it was considerably more than the 18 that I thought we could do.

But it wasn't 52. And so we had reruns. And reruns. And reruns. And most of those reruns came in the middle of the World Tour. And thus... yes... it seemed to go on forever.

Whoops. Sorry.

Of course, other people didn't care for it for other reasons. They felt it got away from the series strengths of the gargs in Manhattan. Obviously, it left behind four of our characters, and I'll admit that I underestimated the trio's popularity a bit.

But I felt it was important. The World Tour gave our series breadth and hope. It expanded the Gargoyles Universe, added many new characters and in particular added at least four other clans of gargoyles.

And I think some of the stories really kicked ass.

So I apologize for nothing. NOTHING, do you hear me, nothing!!!!!!

Except for that outburst. Sorry about that outburst.

WYVERN, SCOTLAND

Anyway, our first stop was no place new. Goliath immediately recognizes the ocean cliffside as "home, my home."

Even before Hakon and the Captain start to drive him crazy, his dialogue is laced with nostalgia.

He's so into being back in Scotland, that when he climbs the hill, he doesn't even take Elisa with him. Elisa goes with Angela. Which is no big deal. But usually, G's more of a gentleman than that. Particularly with Elisa.

TIDBIT

Angela: "It was always summer on Avalon."

Just wanted to give a sense of things on the fair island. Seemed to fit the legends as well.

TOKYO, JAPAN

I can't say enough good things about the animation in this episode. It's just gorgeous. The work of Disney's studio in Tokyo. WOW! Production AND Pre-Production was done there. All sorts of little touches, like Elisa slipping briefly and regaining her footing. And GREAT, GREAT character animation. Great lighting as the characters enter the tunnels. STELLAR effects animation in the megalith chamber. Just wow gorgeous stuff.

And boy, did we fight over this episode. [Roy, I'd love to get your perspective on this.]

When we got the storyboard from Japan, Frank and I each found something that just drove us nuts.

For Frank, it was the Wyvern cliff. The castle was gone, of course, as Xanatos had taken it away. But the cliff seemed to otherwise remain in tact. Frank was adamant that a chunk of the cliff had clearly been taken away and was part of the Eyrie Building. You could see it on that design. So obviously, we needed a crater of sorts to exist back at Wyvern.

When Frank pointed it out to me, I agreed with him. It didn't bother me as much as it bothered him, but I agreed.

What bothered me was Elisa's parka. In the storyboard, Elisa was wearing a parka with a hood. Of course, she looked great in it. And it kept her warm and safe and dry. But there was of course, no way and no place where she could have acquired that parka. (The Avalon Eddie Bauer, maybe?) So I insisted the parka had to go.

Frank agreed with me after I pointed it out. It didn't bother him as much as it bothered me, but he agreed.

So we gave Japan both these notes. And to our surprise, they balked. They felt that the only changes we were allowed to make to their boards were S&P changes.

We couldn't believe it. Finally, they relented. But on the cliffside ONLY. They felt that was a fair compromise. Since that had been Frank's BIG note, he was appeased. But obviously, I was not. All sorts of people came to me asking me to back down.

But I wouldn't. And I can honestly say it was for you guys that I refused. I knew even then that OUR FANS paid attention. That we couldn't get away with Elisa suddenly having a warm coat from no where.

So I put my foot down, and Elisa stayed cold and wet.

And our Tokyo Studio had another reason to be annoyed with me.

I regret the tension, certainly. But I still think I did the right thing, so I apologize for NOTHING, DO YOU HEAR ME? NOTHING!!!!

Except for that outburst, I apologize for that outburst.

GASLIGHT

A great movie. A husband tries to convince his wife that she's going insane. It's now a staple of melodrama everywhere. And we used it too.

So the ghosts of Hakon and the Captain try to gaslight Goliath.

We tried to gaslight the audience a bit too. Tried to let them think for a bit that Goliath might just be losing it. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, maybe.

You can hear it in Goliath's voice. How he's lost in the past. Angela tells him that he did the right thing all those years ago by saving the Princess.

His only response: "Still, I wanted revenge." I love Keith David's reading of that line.

But we also wanted to play fair, so we dropped a hint: when Goliath hears Demona's voice, Bronx howls. He senses something. Always trust Bronx.

Bronx has a pretty important supporting role in this, btw.

THE AXE OF HAKON

When Goliath and friends first enter the caves, Goliath picks up an old Viking axe. Hakon's Axe. The one he uses in "Vendettas".

Should have been a mace by the way. Should have been the same mace you can see in the opening titles EVERY episode. The one that Hakon used to smash the gargoyles at Wyvern.

Shoulda been. My fault.

Okay, for that -- I apologize. I screwed up. Dang.

THE STREET PIZZA TRADITION

a.k.a.

A CLASSIC MICHAEL REAVES' ELISA LINE:

"This place is creepier than the morgue at midnight."

Michael was great at giving Elisa this tough contemporary feel without taking us out of the moment.

Another good one: "Old wounds bleed as bright as new ones sometimes."

GETTING TO KNOW ANGELA

When Goliath pretends that he's NOT freaking out and having hallucinations, Angela can tell he's lying.

I love Brigitte's read there. She sounds SO SHOCKED: "He's not telling the truth."

You can tell she was raised in a world where there was little cause for lying.

COOL CLIFFHANGER

Goliath attacking Elisa and Angela, thinking they are Hakon and the Captain.

Very dramatic. And again, we don't know yet, objectively that he isn't just going nuts.

What did you guys all think at this point? Did you suspect the truth?

Anyway, Bronx saves the day.

And Goliath runs off. He also has a nice stumble here. Again, parka aside, much amazing attention to detail and character in all this animation. Stunning.

STAR TREK INFLUENCE

No, I'm not talking about the voice cast.

Finally, we objectively reveal that Goliath is being influenced. We see two floating entities hovering over the scene. He doesn't see them, so they're not part of his dementia. Ergo (I don't have much opportunity to use the term ergo you know), ergo, they must be what is causing this.

Of course, they look like energy beings right out of Star Trek.

We also see Demona, Othello and Desdemona.

More of us playing fair. Sure they're identifiable. But of course, they (plus Iago) would be the souls LEAST likely to be haunting Wyvern and Goliath.

SALLI RICHARDSON

Yeah, Keith was the star. And we're always going on about Jeff's versatility. But we really were blessed with an amazing cast right down the line.

Salli does Elisa SO DARN WELL. It's the little things really.

Like when Angela explains about the fissure and how Goliath could die in it. Elisa says, "Swell." Just, "Swell." In one word, she says everything that needs to be said. It's hard. Try it sometime.

SPEAKING OF FISSURES

Bronx saves Goliath (temporarily) from falling by chomping down on his arm. Always thought that was cool. Would have liked to have drawn some blood, but we knew we'd never get away with that.

And the fissure itself is way cool. I love Goliath's fall.

And Elisa's determination, as she starts to climb down feet first. And I love the contrast, as Angela and Bronx, by virtue of their claws, climb down head first.

THE TURN

Some fans have felt, I know, that the Captain's change of heart at the end comes suddenly. That may be so. It's hard in a mere 22 minutes to achieve these arcs and turns. But as usual, we tried to drop subtle hints that he wasn't fully on board with Hakon.

Hakon is enjoying tormenting Goliath.

The Captain says: "Make an end to it." Hinting at his ambivalence. Torturing Goliath doesn't give him pleasure.

And while we're praising voice actors, how about a toast to the late Ed Gilbert, voice of the Captain of the Guard. Wonderful work here. Evil. Tortured. Redeemed.

Ed, wherever you are... THANKS!

THE FATAL FLAW IN YOUR PLAN

Demona. The Captain must have assumed that Demona died in the massacre. He and Hakon figured that her appearance would be the coup de grace. That Goliath's will would just dissolve when faced with her ghost.

They were almost right. But of course, G is no idiot. A bit slow sometimes, but not stupid. Demona's ghost shouldn't be here. Cuz the dame ain't dead.

[By the way, the idea to have her fist morph into a mace was mine. Just a little post-storyboard tidbit that I suggested amid bitching about the parka. They must have liked the idea because that wasn't one I insisted on, but they did it anyway. When push came to shove, everyone -- on both sides of the ocean -- was just VERY dedicated to making the show better.] [See. It's a mace because that's the weapon that we associate with the Massacre. Hakon's axe should have been a mace. How did I miss that?]

Anyway, Goliath figures out the truth and, hey, we've awakened the sleeping giant. He trashes the phony Demona. And we think he's going to smash all the others.

But something even more chilling happens. They all begin to dissolve around him. It still gives me the creeps. Very cool animation AND music and effects. (Props to the gang at Advantage Audio too.)

HOW

Or rather how come we don't have ghosts hanging around ALL the time. I didn't want this episode to open a spectral floodgate, where any character that was killed or had died in the past was available to haunt us.

So the Captain offers two possible explanations: Hate and Magic. Both present in ample supply. Plus Guilt. His guilt. Unfinished business.

THE DANCE

Again, very cool effects on the Megalith's here. But the idea emerges from an old (if not very original) idea I've had since I was a teen. The notion that Stone Dances, that Megalith Circles were like Medieval Mystic Dynamos. Circles of power. That build and generate.

Really came to life here.

I love Hakon's line: "I can feel it. I can feel again." I love that transition halfway through the line between where he can feel that the process is working and when he realizes the simple fact that he can feel things again.

But again, watch the Captain feel his own hand. You can see the ambivalence there. Particularly when Goliath becomes the Ghost and Hakon is beating on him. Cap doesn't participate in this.

And Goliath helps him remember what he has forgotten. The Captain doesn't HATE Goliath. His problem is that G's presence has reinforced his own guilt.

But here's an opportunity to redeem himself: "I can't let this happen again!"

He pushes Hakon back.

Hakon: "You've crossed the lines of power, you fool."

You can almost here the Ghostbusters say, "Don't cross the streams."

RESOLUTION

So Cap hated himself, not G.

G forgives. He forgave the Magus last episode. Now he forgives the Captain. Shows that he's a pretty decent guy.

You think if Hakon made an effort? Nah.

Anyway, I like G's line: "One enemy. And one friend."

And then a positively angelic Captain returns briefly to say goodbye and thanks. I also like the "shackles of hate and guilt" line. And the way he calls Goliath, "Old Friend".

Elisa thinks she's in for a long story.

G: "Centuries long."

And as the sun rises, and Elisa -- as usual -- leans against her stone beau for a nap....

Hakon: "Don't leave me here alone!! Not without anyone to hate!!"

Many people think I should have left him there forever. But evil doesn't rest in peace in my opinion. When left alone it tends to get out of control.

Besides I already had this fun idea. What if Wolf was Hakon's descendant?

Anyway, that's my ramble. Where's yours?


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Audra writes...

Was Gargoyles animated in the widescreen version? I know Gargoyles is a TV show, so it was meant to be seen in standard version on a standard TV, but I know movies like The Lion King II Simba's Pride was direct to video, and never shown in theaters, but there is a widescreen version of the movie. Thanks, I just was curious.

P.S. What do you think of both Lion King movies?

Greg responds...

No. Gargoyle's aspect ratio was strictly designed for the tv set.

I thought the first Lion King was wonderful. (Not perfect, but wonderful.) And the opening still gives me chills, despite the fact that at one NATPE, I must have seen it five hundred times in one day.

As for the second one, I've never seen the whole thing. Just glimpses here and there, so it's not fair for me to comment.

Response recorded on March 28, 2002

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LIFE IN THE REAL WORLD

This is something I wrote YEARS ago. But I don't think it's here in ASK GREG, or if it is, it's only in the old archives. Vash dug it up recently, and I thought I'd reprint it here, verbatim, I've added a few notes in [brackets]:

Life in the real world.

I know I've said this stuff before. Please read this carefully. I have a real fear that this might sound defeatist or condescending, but you can't possibly succeed in "saving" the show if you don't come to terms with these hard truths. I don't know what you've been told by other people. But I do know a few things about today's animation market. I've told you before that I did not believe that Gerry Leybourne was single-handedly responsible for not renewing the show. Dean Valentine is also not single-handedly responsible. Neither is Eisner. If the fans insist on looking for a VILLAIN to blame, they stand no chance. [Neither Leybourne or Valentine are at Disney anymore.] You say you're looking for a straight answer. But really you've been given and have ignored straight answers and what you are looking for is for simple answers. There are none. Here are some (but not all) of the many factors that have probably played into the non-renewal:

1) Quantity. A normal syndication package for any children's show is 65 episodes. If you don't make it up to 65 then you are considered something of a failure. If you make 65, then you have created a show that can have ongoing library use. That's a success. Anything above 65 is gravy and NO SHOW makes more than 65 episodes without significant financial incentive. They made 78 gargoyles (including Chronicles). The financial incentive for the last 13 was that ABC needed a boys action show with some "Marquee" attached to help fill out it's Saturday Morning line-up. You'll notice that no new episodes were made for syndication. There was no financial incentive in syndication. So they didn't make any more for syndication. [These days a syndication package can be as few as 39.]

2) Ratings. The ratings for Goliath Chronicles are, or so I'm told, lousy. Forget about the why for a moment, and just absorb this fact. If the ratings are lousy, we've just lost the financial incentive to make any more beyond the 13. On that level, Goliath Chronicles objectively failed. Gargoyles did a bit better in its day, but it never broke out and knocked down the competition. Aladdin did better business for Disney. And they're not making any more new Aladdin tv episodes either.

3) Shelf space. The Disney Afternoon, as we know it, is dead. The rise of FOX, the WB and UPN ate up almost all of the existing independent stations that aired the Disney Afternoon or (in lieu of the full two hour block) the individual shows that made up The Afternoon. We've known this was coming for awhile. Existing contracts kept the Afternoon alive through the end of this season. But after that it is gone in it's present form. Now, as I understand it, Disney has made a deal with Kelloggs to do a reduced version of the Afternoon. I think it's supposed to be an hour and a half long, with one new show and two library shows. The new show for next season is 101 Dalmations. For fall of 98, it's supposed to be HERCULES. There isn't room for new Gargoyles in syndication. ABC has similar problems. As a broadcast network, they've committed to air 3 hours of FCC/Kid friendly programming per week. That means 3 hours of their morning have to be reserved for that kind of programming, because unlike Fox, they don't have any other place in their schedule to air this FCC stuff. That only leaves them with about one and a half hours to fill their morning. They have an existing commitment to the Bugs Bunny cartoons that they air for an hour. That leaves them with one half hour slot to fill. Given Goliath Chronicles ratings, it just doesn't make sense to fill that one slot with a show that's failing, when you can take a chance on something new that might succeed.

4) Resources. The fans seem to regard Disney as this Giant that can do whatever it wants, and that's true up to a point. But Disney TV Animation has limited resources. There are only so many talented animators and storyboard artists out there. There's only so much money they can spend without profits to justify the expense. From Disney's point of view, Gargoyles had its shot. You and I may quibble about how that shot was handled. Whether it could have been handled better. I think everyone would acknowledge that mistakes were made. But not intentionally. EVERYONE at Disney wanted the show to be a huge success. IT WAS NOT. I wish I could tell you different. Creatively, I'm very proud of the show. We touched a substantial group of people. But an even more substantial group preferred POWER RANGERS on a consistent basis. They cleaned our clock. Disney has to decide how to allocate limited resources. If Gargoyles had 78 shots to be a hit, and didn't quite make it, you can see why they might think it's time to allocate their resources to something else.

5) Quality. Resources came into play with Goliath Chronicles. The decision was reached to allocate priority resources to shows and home videos that they believed had a better chance to break out. That's why Chronicles looks the way it does. In my opinion, the show is inferior to the original on almost every level. This doesn't mean that a lot of good people didn't work their butts off to make it as good as it could be. But limited resources result in limited success. The resource issue was the major reason why I walked away. I regret it now. The animation has been weak, but I should not have passed up the opportunity to tell twelve more of my stories. But that's spilled milk. Eric Lewald was under the gun from the moment he came on board the show. There wasn't adequate time to make the show at its previous quality level. There wasn't even adequate time for Eric to become as familiar with the show as I'm sure he would have liked to. I tried to help. I was paid to consult. But...

6) Time. Along with limited resources, the main reason Chronicles isn't up there is Time. The show didn't get a go ahead until late november '95. I began "The Journey" in December. Eric didn't really come aboard until January '96, as I recall. Look at where we are now. It's late February [1997]. Do you really want to see the GARGOYLES episode that would result if it started from scratch now and had to air in September [1997]? I WOULD NOT.

7) Expectations. I do believe that Disney in general views the show as a disappointment. They had tremendous high hopes for it. They rushed 52 episodes into production for it's second year despite my warning that they'd have to air a lot of reruns in between new episodes. The reruns, the weaker stations we were on and many other factors, including series content resulted in a solid but decidedly unspectacular performance. I do believe that the high expectations that many at Disney had for the show, led to greater disappointment in its real failure to break out and its perceived failure in general. That disappointment doesn't make a lot of people feel inclined to make more.

8) Strategy. O.k., I'm not at Disney anymore, so I'm not privy to their strategy meetings, but from outside observation, it doesn't seem like Gargoyles fits in their overall strategy plans. Maybe it never truly did. Now we can be mad about this. We can even try to change it. But first and foremost, we should be glad they made the show at all. Next we should realize that if it doesn't fit their plans, they aren't going to be too inclined to change them IN THE SHORT TERM.

9) Management. (The one I suppose you've been waiting for if you still insist on playing the blame game.) There has been a lot of management shake ups at Disney. Jeffrey Katzenberg, Rich Frank, Gary Krisel and Bruce Cranston all left. So did I. We were all supporters of the show. But Eisner didn't leave and he was a supporter too. I haven't talked to him recently. I don't know what he thinks about the show. Maybe he's disappointed. Maybe he's not. Maybe for him it's just the resource issue. Gotta take a shot with something new. Maybe he's not involved in this decision in a significant way. No way to know. But I wouldn't be so quick to label him a villain. It doesn't hurt to let him know that you love the show, but it can't help to blame him for its demise.

I don't know Gerry at all. I've never met her. I'm also a little vague on her responsibilities at Disney, thought I've heard she's responsible for scheduling ABC's Saturday morning. But before you blame her, or even guess at what she personally feels about the show, reread all the above, particularly the section on shelf space, strategy and ratings. Now she may not like the show. I have no idea. Neither do you. If she doesn't care for the show, I'd personally be curious to know what she bases her dislike on. Goliath Chronicles? Gargoyles? Both? Whatever, she's entitled to her opinion.

I've met Dean. I've heard that Gargoyles isn't his thing. I've heard that he believes that it may not be Disney's thing either. But I don't know any of that. And again, Dean's personal view of the show is, positive OR negative, way down on the list of reasons not to make more. See above.

Buena Vista. Mort Marcus ran Buena Vista at the time I left Disney. I have no idea if he's still there. Mort was a big early supporter of the show. He was also very disappointed when it didn't perform up to expectations. Buena Vista is taking its next shots with Dalmations and Hercules. But even if the Afternoon had survived, there wouldn't be any new episodes of Gargoyles in syndication. Look at the Disney Afternoon's history. A new show premieres with new episodes. Over the next few years, the reruns move down through the Afternoon. That's cause they couldn't afford the MILLIONS of Dollars that it would take to make new episodes for early time slots that don't deliver very many kids. If there aren't any (or many) butts sitting in front of the t.v. then advertisers don't want their products advertised there, in which case they don't pay much for commercials. So networks won't pay much for the shows, so the shows operate at HUGE budget deficits. Gargoyles operated at a huge deficit. Ultimately, I'm sure it will make an overall profit for the company. It may have already. But let's not pretend this was the LION KING.

Other divisions. Some did better than others. But no one is clamoring for more gargoyles product, so none of the other divisions are clamoring for more shows.

SO WHAT DO WE DO?

We begin by admitting, at least to ourselves, that in the short term, we lost the battle.

Then we go on and try to win the war.

We have one big chance and a general small chance. Both are long shots.

The Big Chance is the Touchstone Live Action Feature. If this ever gets made and if it succeeds, then there will be renewed interest in the show.

The general chance is that television is cyclical. He-Man rules until DuckTales comes along. Rescue Rangers rule until Batman comes along. Soft and quirky is big now. But times change. And Gargoyles has a marquee. (It's a trifle damaged, but it's real.) There's a chance it could come back.

The best thing we can do is keep the flame burning. Keep executives, particularly if there's any executive turnover, informed that there is a fan base for the property. Write letters to Buena Vista, to Eisner, to ABC, to Disney TV Animation, to Touchstone. Write letters to local stations, asking them to air reruns. Write letters to the Disney Channel for the same thing. If the reruns are airing in the U.S., we have a much better chance of someday making new episodes. Keep these letters respectful. Don't try to assign blame. My god, what difference does that make. If I thought it would help I'd take 100% of the blame myself. I certainly deserve some of it. Just let people know that you loved the show. Praise it's virtues. Show "Deadly Force", "Lighthouse..." and "The Green" at grade schools. Make the GATHERING a yearly event. Increase it's budget and scope on a slow and steady basis until it becomes an important event. (Don't try to get too big too fast. If you go bust early on, you won't get a second chance.) Keep the fan base excited about the show. (This to me is the main virtue to the whole fanfic thing, which I have many mixed feelings about. If it keeps the fans interested, great.) Don't let the fans marginalize themselves with hostility or esoterica. If they get territorial they keep new fans out. No new fans. No new episodes. Prove to Disney that you are part of that great consumer demographic that they are hunting for. BUY STUFF. Buy all the stuff you can find. Prove that the show can still make money for the company. Buy all the videos off the shelf. Then write Disney's home video division and have them make more. More copies of existing tapes and more episodes on tape. Show those taped episodes to new fans. Particularly young fans. Adults and college kids are great too, but if kids don't like the show, we are doomed. Try to convince Disney records to release Carl's music on C.D. Buy animation cells from authorized Disney dealers. Talk it up.

As for the petition, hell, make copies. Send it a lot of places. Buena Vista for sure. Don't worry about whether or not it's read cover to cover by the president of the division (Mort Marcus, I think). It'll make an impression. But I don't see why you shouldn't send it to Gerry too. Send it to Dean Valentine at Disney T.V. Animation. Send it to Barry Blumberg (at the same place). Have someone in every market send it to their local ABC affiliate. Gerry isn't giving you bad advice there. If the local stations want the show, they'll make their voices heard at the network. (But remember, you need locals to send it to local stations. A petition postmarked Newark won't be taken very seriously in Cleveland.) Send it anywhere you think it might help. But you might want to read it over first. If it's full of hostile and antagonistic attacks, then we've marginalized the petition. Also try to make sure that there's no doubling up. If people signed the petition twice and Disney figures that out, then they'll figure the entire document is compromised, and they'll freely ignore it. If it's a rational statement from real existing fans than I promise you it'll make a positive impression.

But I don't want to kid you. We are probably past the point of no return, at least for this coming fall [1997]. I appreciate that you refuse to give up, and I'm not telling you to. But if you want to save yourself some heartbreak, I think you might want to start focusing on the long term instead of the short term. Even if we could change everyone's minds overnight, we've all but run out of time to put new episodes of any quality on the air by September. I don't like saying that, but I figure it doesn't help anyone to beat around the bush.

Now let me say in advance that most of this won't work. Sorry. The odds are against us. I take some consolation in knowing I was involved with 66 episodes that I can be proud of. I told the stories I wanted to tell. Not nearly all of them, but many. I ended it with Hunter's Moon and Journey, in a way that gave us some small closure but left it open in case I get another shot. A shot I'm longing for. All this offers some consolation. I hope you and the other fans feel the same. It's something to hold onto through what's bound to be a LOT OF REJECTION. There are no guarantees that we'll ever get the show back on the air in any form. But what I've written above is the most practical plan I can think of. If I can help in any way, let me know.

Otherwise, Good Luck. You are going to need it.

GREG


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Thomas E. Reed writes...

Hi there. With the understanding that Disney's animation division (heck, every Disney division) is in turmoil right now, what direction do you see them going in the future? For the last few years, Disney's TV projects have abandoned the direction of "Gargoyles" (serious action-adventure) and gone for "Kids In School" shows such as "Pepper Ann," "Doug" and "Recess." Most of these have been from cartoonists/artists/creators not specifically tied to Disney, like Sue Rose, German/Ansolebehere and the like.

While "Atlantis" may have seemed disappointing to Disney, it looks like the "Kids In School" shows aren't doing well either. ("Family Dog" practically died on the vine...maybe Nathan Lane should have sold 25,000 percent of the show to some old ladies.) If there is anything successful in TV animation, it's split between Cartoon Network's original shows and some of the dubbed anime kid adventures.

So, based on what you've heard (without prejudicing yourself or Disney or violating nondisclosure agreements) what do you percieve Disney's direction in animation to be? What kind of shows do they think will be the "next big thing" in animation? Bearing in mind that there have been big shakeups there, of course.

Greg responds...

I assume by "Family Dog" you really are referring to "Teacher's Pet."

Otherwise, I swear to god, I have no idea. Disney seems determined to stay the course with shows like Filmore and Lloyd in Space.

They've got something interesting coming up for the Disney Channel: Kim Possible. (I haven't seen it, but it was done by some talented friends of mine.)

Response recorded on September 06, 2001

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Vega writes...

Hey again.

I assume you're a fan of animation in general, considering your career choice. What are some of your favorite animated shows?

Do you find that the North American preconception of animation as being "for kiddies" as a hinderence to making quality shows like Gargoyles?

As a side note, I really have to heap some praise on everyone who worked on Gargoyles. There are some subtleties in the series that would do a top quality anime justice. The subway rescue in Hunter's Moon, as well as Goliath at Elisa's window. To be more specific, Goliath greets Elisa on the train, Goliath overhears Elisa talking to Jason Canmore. Silent, but eloquent beyond words. That kind of subtlety of expression is very rare in North American animation.

Greg responds...

I like animation, of course.

I know I've answered the 'what are your favorites' question before... so I'm not going to attempt a comprehensive list again. But it's hard to top the original Johnny Quest. And I liked the Herculoids a lot. And Batman the Animated Series. Gummi Bears, etc. For a more complete list check the archives.

And yes, of course, it doesn't help that the country almost exclusively views animation as a kids medium. On the other hand, I don't mind writing for kids. I think kids are a lot smarter than most people give them credit for.

Response recorded on September 06, 2001

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Denis writes...

Hello, Greg!

Sorry that I didn't got to attend the Closing Ceremonies, last monday, at the Gathering. Anyway, to the question.

During the Auction, I bought the script of the ROSWELL CONSPIRACIES' pilot, and frankly I loved it! WAAYYY better than the one that was aired!. My question is purely 'technical' and concern one of the terms used in the script:

when you write "OTS on <Character's Name>", what does mean the OTS? And how does it translate on screen?

Thank you for your time

sincerly,
Denis

Greg responds...

OTS stands for Over The Shoulder. It means the Camera is placed at an angle looking over the characters shoulder onto the subject of the shot. (It foregrounds said character and puts him or her in relation to the action or background).

And I'm glad you liked the Roswell script!

Great to see you at the Gathering again, by the way.

Response recorded on July 17, 2001

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Yttrium writes...

Why is the second season so long in comparison to the first and TGC seasons? What I mean is, could you not have you divide up the fifty-two episodes in the second and said they were several seasons, each the size of the first? It makes it sound like a short series when you say it only had two (or three) seasons to it.

---Ytt

Greg responds...

These were business decisions -- not emotional or "how it sounds" decisions.

Initially, Buena Vista only ordered thirteen because Gargoyles and "Action Friday" was an experiment.

Keep in mind that the first season's thirteen episodes represents thirteen weeks of airing the show once a week. That's enough to fill "one quarter" of the year. (52 weeks in a year divided by 4.)

For the second season, they decided that they wanted the series to air FIVE days a week. So multiply 13 weeks by five episodes/week and you get a total of 65 episodes. We had 13 made already. So subtract 13 from that 65 total and you get the second season order of 52.

The third season wasn't produced for syndication. It was aired on ABC's Saturday Morning. And for ABC, it was going to be a bit distinct. (Thus the Goliath Chronicles title and the little sermons Goliath gave at the head of each episode. Neither of which I cared for.) So they started over. Saturday is once a week, so they ordered 13 episodes to cover the 13 week quarter.

Now the obvious question is why 13 weeks? What's so magical about one quarter of the year? Why not 1/8 of the year or 1/2? I don't have a good answer for this, but at that time the conventional wisdom was that kids needed new material in the fall through Christmas. After that, stations could get away with airing reruns.

It's actually gotten worse since. Five-day-a-week series used to be 65 episode orders. Now they've dropped to like 39. It's not so much that conventional wisdom has changed -- rather the economics have gotten so bad, that 39 is the lowest number that networks and studios think they can get away with. Until recently it was forty. Eight weeks of five new episodes a week instead of the old 13 weeks. We did 40 Starship Troopers, for example. (More or less.) But Team Atlantis only ordered 39. There's NO rhyme or reason to that number that I can see other than the fact that it is one less than forty. Thus having mentally adjusted the audience to 40 down from 52 down from 65, they've now chipped one more episode off the total order.

It sucks.

What was your question?

Response recorded on July 11, 2001

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Anonymous writes...

Why is it that you couldn't afford to design the Avalon clan yet you could afford to design Raven's fake clan?

Greg responds...

Can't you see the difference?

Raven's "fake clan" had, what, like three members?

We didn't have the man-hours to design 36 separate gargoyles for Avalon. But we did design some members of the Avalon clan. Angela, Gabriel, Ophelia, Boudicca, at least.

Response recorded on June 29, 2001

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Anonymous writes...

You once said that you had a medusa character in NO that was eventually replaced by Sphinx. So did you take out the medusa character because you wanted to show that there were also human looking NOs?

Greg responds...

Sphinx isn't particularly human-looking. She's certainly less human looking than Boreas, for example.

Mostly we took out Medusa in a lead role, for two reasons...

1. We thought she'd be very hard to animate. So we wanted to be able to use her sparingly.

2. I liked the ability to use angelic imagery for the first meeting of Terry and Sphinx.

Response recorded on June 10, 2001

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Bethany writes...

This doesn't neccesarily have anything to do with gargoyles per se, but i was wondering if you had any advice for me on something: I'm a theater major, and looking into voice work, either for animated shows or commercials..is there anything in particular I should avoid/definetly do in looking for this sort of work? I am in the dark.

Greg responds...

For starters, where do you live?

If the answer is anywhere but L.A. or maybe New York, then my second question is When are you moving?

It's not impossible to have a voice career elsewhere, but the odds are stacked against it.

Once you're here there are classes I can recommend. But you can't take them long distance.

Response recorded on May 30, 2001

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Duncan Devlin writes...

I noticed a contuning theme with the drawing of Xanatos. When there are other characters around, he seems to dominate everyone in size, with the notable exception of Goliath.

This was strongly evident in Future Tense, when Demona kicked him. She was about 1/3 his size.

Any comments? Did this happen on purpose? Was it your idea or animation's?

Greg responds...

Part of it is a function of design.

Some of it I'm sure came from the board artists/director and producers.

Some from the animators.

Response recorded on May 04, 2001

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Sapphire writes...

Wouldn't it be cool if gargoyles was done in amine?

Greg responds...

Do you mean "anime" or maybe "mime"?

And what exactly do you mean by that? Do you want bigger eyes?

Response recorded on March 13, 2001

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Entity writes...

Hi Greg,

Thanks for giving my comments about AWAKENING (the portrayel of the Trio and the cut prologue) a fair explanation. (I'm glad to hear that you would've preferred the prologue, too -- maybe I just wanted to know it wasn't cut for quality reasons.)

I understand the usage of the Next Time and Last Time segments better now, too. Though I have to ask: Is the quantity of bad animation you got back on GARGOYLES typical of an animated show?

Greg responds...

No. Actually, on the whole, I'd say Gargoyles got much BETTER animation than the average tv show. For starters, many of our episodes were done by Walt Disney TV Animation Japan. Those guys kicked ass.

And we also did very well by our Korean sub-contractors. Not every time. But often enough that I don't want to complain. Well, to be honest, there were always things to complain about. From every studio. That's the nature of tv production. But we got pretty lucky over all.

Response recorded on March 08, 2001

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Jim R. writes...

I am curious. You were an "executive producer" for Gargoyles, right? What does an executive producer do for an animated series? Did you work on any of the artwork? Any of the storyline? The voice actors?

What is it that an executive producer does? In a nutshell, of course, I know you're busy...

Greg responds...

Haven't I answered this a hundred times?

No. In those days, Disney TV Animation did not give out "Executive Producer" credits. I started as a "Co-Producer". Then became a "Producer". Then "Supervising Producer". Through all these title changes, my duties never changed. [Which is to say, that a title doesn't necessarily give a consistent read on an individuals responsibilities or efforts. So I can't speak for all Executive or even Supervising Producers. I can just tell you what I did.]

I came up with all 66 story springboards and supervised the writing staff. Though I didn't have the title, since my producer credit rendered it redundant, I was the Supervising Story Editor for the series. I personally wrote and story edited "The Journey". Though I did not produce the Goliath Chronicles episodes, including Journey.

I also supervised all recording sessions with the actors. I voice directed one episode (VENDETTAS).

I don't draw, but I did give notes and approvals on all designs and storyboards. I also supervised post-production. Called retakes, supervised final edits, mixes, on-lines, etc.

I didn't do any of this stuff alone. But along with Frank Paur, I was the final word on everything.

Response recorded on March 02, 2001

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Pyro X writes...

Hello;

Generally, what does an Executive producer do, as in preparing a show like Gargoyles?

Greg responds...

Well, I wasn't an Executive Producer. Gargoyles didn't have any executive producers.

I was a Supervising Producer. I came up with all the springboards, reviewed all premises, outlines, scripts. Supervised Voice Recordings, edit sessions, sound mixes and on-line sessions. Gave notes on all designs, storyboards and animation. I was a busy boy.

Response recorded on February 15, 2001

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melcelestial@hotmail.com writes...

Seriously, how'd you get noticed by the world of your high-qualitied animations, A-Z starting from college? What inspired you to start the career as a cartoon animator? Do prefer 2D or 3D? What gave you the inspirations to start a cartoon????????

Greg responds...

O.K. First off, I'm NOT an animator. I'm a writer. And largely, at the time, I followed the work and the opportunities. I got a job in animation and followed that course until it eventually led me to create Gargoyles. But it was in that order, not the other way around.

As for 2D and 3D, I have no absolute preference. I like good animation, no matter the format. I like well-told stories. Some subject matter works better in 2D, some in 3D. And I like doing shows where the content and the format are working together as opposed to at odds.

Response recorded on February 07, 2001

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SEM writes...

Given what you learned from STARSHIP TROOPERS and MAX STEEL -- if you were told that you could do GARGOYLES again but only if it could be done in 3D Animation would you? Do you think GARGOYLES could even work in 3D?

(I know it's a hypothetical, but this was the main selling point that got VOLTRON back on the air after 10 years as VOLTRON: THE THIRD DIMENSION for 26 episodes.)

BTW for the person who asked what program MAX STEEL is rendered in -- I know Netter Digital (now defunct) used Lightwave, and that Foundation Imaging used Lightwave for season one (as well as for the work they did on STARSHIP TROOPERS). I presume its still being used for the current season but not sure. Lightwave's major competitor is a program called Maya.

Sorry if I wandered too far off topic, Greg, but since I knew this came up thought I'd answer it for the archives.

Greg responds...

Yes, I think Gargoyles could work in 3-D. And if that was my only option for bringing it back, I'd jump at the chance.

If I had multiple options, however, I'd use the animation style that best suited the subject matter of the series.

Response recorded on February 07, 2001

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Entity writes...

Hi Greg,

In your latest beat sheet for the series opener, I see that the idea of the Trio being young and inexperienced was still prominant. I understand where you came from in eventually changing that, but when I first watched AWAKENING I was distraught by the Trio. Every gargoyle we saw was a full-fledged warrior. Where _were_ the inexperienced kids? The elderly? It seemed slightly out-of-sync that the Trio were such able-bodied fighters. Was the Viking attack a real threat or wasn't it?

That is just my original impression of the events of the initial Viking attack. Later on, when the gang counterattacks the camp, I can understand their participation.

I guess the battle just came off too light-heartedly when we glimped the Trio, starkly contrasting with characters like Goliath's and Demona's scenes. A real sense of danger is added by Hakon drawing Goliath's blood, boulders crashing into stone, refugees huddling about, the Captain barking orders, etc. But then we have the Trio gallavanting through the battle like it's, as Brooklyn puts it, just "fun."

I think their innocense could have been portrayed in a way that didn't detract from the realism that was so effectively installed earlier on.

This isn't intended to come off as pure criticism. AWAKENINGS was brilliant, especially Part 1. But I thought I'd mention my first impressions.

Another little thing I noticed from the beat sheet is that the flashback originally began showing the refugees entering the castle, with the Marauders/Vikings on their tail, and then both parties camp for the day till dusk. This struck me in two ways: First, it gave me a better grip of realism. Enemy attackers camping right outside the castle, both sides waiting for the battle to begin... that could've added a cool flavor to things, and immerse us more into the medieval setting. Secondly, showing the refugees herded into the castle beforehand would've better clarified the events surrounding the battle. In the final product, we jump straight into the fight and, as a result, a reason is not even necessarily needed. The Captain's off-hand comment about refugees comes off as superfluous. I remember shrugging. 'That's nice' I thought. We were in the battle. Who needed backstory? Of course, the refugees were an important component, for the sake of Tom and his mother, and to better portray the environment of 10th century Scotland. If we'd seen the prologue to the battle, that's included in the beat sheet, I think it would've been much more effective.

I guess what this comes down to in the end is my earlier message I sent to you, in which I asked about trimming episodes with Last Time and Next Time segments. You defended, saying they were useful for tightening the episodes, but I put forth, as shown here, that some valuable stuff can be lost. Of course, it's doubtful you would've wanted or could've gotten a 6th Part to AWAKENINGS, but don't you think you could use ANY extra time you have to better flesh things out?

Greg responds...

The trio are new to this warrior thing at the time of the Viking attack. Brooklyn takes it more seriously, and unfortunately we don't see much with Lex (not enough time in the episode). Broadway enjoys the battle and doesn't take it as seriously as he should. We did this on purpose in order to contrast his response in the second battle at the Viking encampment.

I don't think the realism was damaged (though, of course, you're entitled to your opinion). I just think we were showing a variety of responses to the stimuli at hand.

And we did show the elderly -- in the person of Hudson. We couldn't show everyone, so he stood in for all of his generation that still survived. The only group we didn't show at all were kids (Bronx's age). It was felt that it would just be too brutal to establish and show these kids -- only to have them smashed later.

As for the prologue, well, I liked it too. But talk about superfluous...

I mean, what would you have been willing to cut from the episode in exchange for adding that prologue. It's not like I can say, "Hey, we want this prologue. Let's animate an additional three minutes here." Ultimately we have an absolute time limit to every episode. A footage limit (based on budget concerns) that we are allowed to send overseas to be animated. Something had to go. And I think the Captain's line covers the necessary info. It might not be elegant. But it's servicable.

But don't start on the Previously and Next Time segments. They don't count. What I'm talking about is how much we were allowed to ANIMATE at our budget. That was limited to about twenty-two minutes and thirty seconds. Putting entire new sequences in would require us to speed up the pacing of everything else. Using thirty seconds for a PREVIOUSLY segment allows us to tighten pacing and cut out bad frames of animation once something is animated. Because, the truth is, nothing ever came back to us PERFECT. NOTHING.

So AGAIN, had I cut all those previously and next time segments you would not have gotten any extra scenes. You just would have had the scenes you saw with some bad animation and pacing left in. And if there's still bad animation and pacing in there -- well, trust me, we used those thirty seconds to cut out the worst of it.

We clear now?

Response recorded on February 07, 2001

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Baal writes...

Had to ask this and I didn't see it in the archives, so here goes:

1.What companies did the the animations for the two episodes, Temptation and Future Tense? I was wondering because they did an awful good job considering some of the animation I've seen on some other nameless television shows.

2.(This may have been asked already but I don't think so.)If you had a chance to get the series going again, would you use CGI or the old animation style if you could. I guess it kinda depends on what is actually more expensive. I was always a little partial to the regular animation myself.

Greg responds...

1. This is from memory, but I'm fairly certain both of those were done by Walt Disney TV Animation Japan. It says on the episode credits, though.

2. Largely it would depend on what I could sell the higher-ups on. I'd do either if either were the only option. If given my choice (which rarely happens in this business), said choice would be based on issues of content.

Response recorded on February 01, 2001

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Jim R. writes...

Did you ever work with computer animation when developing the Gargoyles series? I know you did some stuff for Toy Story, right? Toy Story was made by Pixar which is operated under Steve Jobs, who is also CEO of Apple. Being how I am a die-hard Macintosh person, (but do own some PCs too), do you use Macs if you've done any computer animation for anything? Mac is the best for that sort of thing.

Greg responds...

Uh, I never worked on Toy Story. I worked on Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, but that was animated traditionally with cels.

I use Macs myself. I have iMacs here and at home and some other kind of Apple something or other at my Disney office.

I have worked on some computer animated shows. Not Gargoyles, that was strictly cell. But Max Steel and Starship Troopers. But I don't personally animate anything. And I have no idea what kind of machines the animators of those series were using.

Response recorded on January 31, 2001

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LSZ writes...

In general and on average, how long does it take to complete a whole season of say, 13 episodes of a half-hour animated show?

Greg responds...

A year.

We wrote the first season of Gargoyles (13 episodes) in ten months. Every other step in production had more or less that same ten months on a cascading schedule.

We wrote the second season of Gargoyles (52 episodes) in ten months. Every other step in production had more or less that same ten months on a cascading schedule. Obviously we had a MUCH bigger staff the second year. But we still had a harder time keeping up.

Response recorded on January 17, 2001

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Wesley McGee (for whom Toon Disney doesn't air nightly) writes...

When you were talking about the studio that animated "Enter Macbeth", it wasn't Startoons was it? It did have that 'unique style' of theirs. Anyway I did not like Startoon's ANIMANIACS eps. (I liked the style of TMS when they did Animaniacs, who incidently are based in Japan.)

Anyway, which company -ies did the animation for Gargoyles.

Greg responds...

Most of our best animated episodes were animated by Walt Disney Television Japan. It's been so many years, that I don't remember the names of all the other companies. I have a vague recollection that Han Ho in Korea did the City of Stone four parter. But I'm not even 100% sure of that.

I don't remember who did Enter Macbeth specifically. I think it was a studio in Korea. But again, it's just been too long.

Response recorded on December 22, 2000

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Demona Taina writes...

Heya, Greg!

I was wondering what happened to all the unseen footage of the show Gargoyles. Do you have it? If not, who does? Somebody has to have them! :P

To animate all those scenes just to have them cut and thrown in the trash? No, that can't be..

Thanks! :)

Greg responds...

What unseen footage?

Almost everything is used. We time shows to within a minute of their air lengths, before we send them to be animated. And that minute that we wind up cutting is like a frame here or three frames there.

It's not live action where entire scenes wind up on the cutting room floor.

Response recorded on December 22, 2000

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Peter C. Roblejo, MD writes...

Hello greg. Just thought I'd respond for the third(and last) time. I'd like to thank you for your "advice." It was, of course, a lead, so I won't complain, especially given the legal position you claim to be in. It's just a terrible....truly terrible...shame that I wasn't able to impress you due to my 'prrofreading" errors. It could simply be that in my haste to respond to you, I clicked that little old button just a bit too fast. Or, it could be that I am even less impressed with your merits and capacity than you are with mine. I pore over proofreads when I deem it worth the effort. In this case, I obviously did not. In retrospect, I suppose my sub-optimal efforts were justified. Thanks again and good luck to you!
P.S. No need to write back. I can't check back. I've got other plans.

Greg responds...

Dr. Roblejo,

You seem to be upset with me. Which I don't really get. You said you won't be checking back, but just in case...

And at any rate, this info might be useful to someone else.

You write about the legal position that I "claim" to be in, as if perhaps I'm kidding about that. I'm not. I'm a creative writer, whose livelihood is based on me constantly coming up with new ideas, stories, etc. I've already been through two lawsuits with Disney, so believe me, I'm not exagerating the legal risk I take should I break policy and start reading other people's original work now. So I don't take that risk. I realize that the downside of this is that I can't mentor strangers creatively. But I teach and I try to bring new writers into the business, so hopefully I'm giving SOMETHING back.

You're clearly not happy that I picked on your proofreading skills, but I was trying to make a point that's valuable to everyone here. Like most of you, the internet makes me lazy about proofing. There are probably some proofreading errors in this message as well as all my other responses to you. I'm not going to try and justify that; I was simply pointing out that given what you were trying to accomplish, it's DEATH to have proofing errors. If you're asking for career help and advice from someone (no matter what you think of that persons "merits and capacity") then you need to "deem it worth the effort", or else why should they?

The fact that you aren't impressed with my merits and capacity (capacity?) is fine. I can't win 'em all. Though I'm not sure why you asked me for help in the first place. I mean why would you want help from someone you don't respect? Should I infer that you were just being opportunistic?

At any rate, as I tried to indicate, I'm not sure how much help I could have been anyway. I won't read your work "over the transom". And I don't live in New York and have no connections there. I therefore gave you the best advice I could under the circumstances. Proofread carefully. Try to find an agent. And pitch to networks that air stuff that is similar too, but not the same as, what you've got.

Given the forum, I'm not sure what else you expected to get out of our exchange.

However, if I was rude in any way, I do apologize. That was certainly not my intent. Good luck with your work.

Greg Weisman

Response recorded on November 15, 2000

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Fontaine writes...

I'm writing a paper on computer animation and special fx and I was wondering if you could describe the process by which you create the animation...like what programs do you use, how much time it takes, etc.

Greg responds...

I know nothing technically about how computer animation is made -- regarding things like programs. Sorry. You might try asking Roy Sato in the comment room. (Sorry, Roy.)

Response recorded on November 13, 2000

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Peter C. Roblejo, MD writes...

Dear Greg-
To respond to your response: you're not being snide, just honest. I live in the New York City Metro area..within 40 minutes in fact. As for prrofreading, as a writer, editing and proofreading is essential in every way. I assure you my material has been edited several times and is imminently to be published by 3 separate online web companies. Of course, the chances are small, yet I would defer to your wisdom and experience in this field for a way to crack it! I believe this has serious possibilities because the material is different from what's out there, and yet very much within the genre. Can you help? Thanks for your first response. (I'm being presumptuous but here's my e-mail just in case: kevlarpcr@aol.com)

Greg responds...

I can't help. Or rather, as I state in the rules for this site, I won't. Because if I help you, I'd have to offer the same help to everyone -- and I'd just be overwhelmed.

In addition, I can't read your stuff, because it's original, and that would put me at legal risk. And I can't recommend what I haven't read. So you see the bind.

[And of course, the reason I made the proofreading comment was because there were proofreading errors in your last post, which didn't exactly impress me. You also misspelled "prrofreading" in this post, but I'm gonna give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that was a joke.]

I am willing however to make general recommendations. Unfortunately, though I know there is some animation production in NYC, I don't live there and I don't know much about it. I guess my first recommendation is to get an agent to represent your work. Then depending on what the material is -- and, no, I don't want to know -- you should pitch that material to the network that airs stuff that's (a) similar to but (b) not duplicated by your stuff.

Good luck.

Response recorded on November 13, 2000

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Peter C. Roblejo, MD writes...

Dear Mr. Weisman,
I am home sick today and for the first time was exposed to the Max Steel show. To see an entertainment medium of this kind on regular TV was amazing. It also occurred to me that this may afford me the opportunity I've been looking for to further my own ideas: I am an author, published through the internet. My chronicles deal with characters similar to those on Max Steel, and although this is not a request for employment, advice on how to penetrate the industry would be most appreciated. I feel my ideas could inject some fresh variety to this action genre. In fact, I think it was made for it. Please help.

Greg responds...

Well, Peter, not to be snide, but my first bit of advice is to proofread. (And just cuz I don't, doesn't mean you shouldn't.)

After that, there's no quick or surefire way to get into the biz. Where do you live? (I mean what city. I'm not interested in your address.) If you're not living in L.A. (or maybe New York) than you're clearly not serious about being part of the animation business. People with established careers, like Cary Bates for example, can afford to move to the city or town of their choice and communicate via e-mail, etc. But newbies need to be where the action is. I'm sure there are exceptions. But not many.

Response recorded on November 09, 2000

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Michael W. writes...

Hi! I was wondering if it is possible to ever see layouts/sketches/blueprints? of Xanatos' building with the gargoyle's castle in it. I am really interested in not only the Gargoyles show but also the incredible settings. I really enjoyed the creativity in the design of the earlier episode's airship. I really enjoy the show and feel that is one of the most original series ever to be produced. I appreciate that you have taken the time to read my question and please answer it.

Greg responds...

Layouts must exist in the Disney Archives.

I doubt actual blueprints were ever made. I don't think we had time for that.

Response recorded on August 23, 2000

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Frank writes...

Why doesn't Elisa change her clothes?

Greg responds...

She has 102 black t-shirts. She changes three times a day.

Or were you looking for a real world answer? We couldn't afford to redesign her every episode. And the more different looks we gave her, the more we were inviting animation errors.

(No one mentions why Owen seems to wear the same suit every day?)

Response recorded on August 23, 2000

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aXvXia writes...

*hope you enjoyed the gathering cause i couldnt go! poop!*

I know what you're thinking, mr. weisman: "NOo! Not another August 7th post! I'm just one man, dammit!" i totally sympathize with you, but i just have to ask:

**How much money (on average) would you say it took to produce an average episode of gargoyles with the normal character cast having speaking parts??
I just wanted to know, cause i know alot of people who would, if they knew where to send it, give money to see GARGOYLES back on the air.

Thanks for your time and efforts Mr.Weisman, and if there is anything you need for me to do for you (posts,etc) just say so in your answering post.

Greg responds...

You mean just the voice recording or the entire episode?

If the latter, it cost just under half a million dollars per episode.

Response recorded on August 23, 2000

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Demona Taina writes...

Well, I was reading through the "Questions Answered Archive." Somebody noticed the anklet drawn on one of the gargoyles in "City of Stone 4." I can't remember who posted it, but whoever did, he/she was right.

One of the gargoyles had an anklet on his right ankle when the sky was in flames. And guess who it was? [drum roll] It was Goliath! He was watching the show in the sky, and there it is, an anklet like Demona's on his ankle. Well, this isn't the only mistake.

They once drew Goliath in Angela's clothes, how about that? "Ill Met by Moonlight." When Angela, Gabriel and Goliath collapse, you can see it.

Once, they made Elisa's hair slide back in "Monsters."

They forgot to draw Goliath's tail in "Walkabout."

They drew a shirt like Demona's on Angela in "Mark of the Panther."

They've forgotten to draw Goliath's underwear countless of times. They've forgotten to color Hudson's shirt. They've colored Goliath's wings wrong.. and I think they DID draw a mustache on Macbeth in "Enter Macbeth."

Just the little details of life. [chuckles] My question is.. how can those animators mess up so much? I mean, I've drawn the characters plenty of times, and I don't make mistakes like those. Even when I color them.

I understand that they have to color thousands of drawings but.. well, it's a little unbelievable. What do you think of all this?

Thank you for your time. :)

Greg responds...

I think you have very little sympathy or understanding for the pace and speed that all these things are done at. Most of what you cited above are actually painting errors, not drawing errors. Think about having to fill in all those little lines on hundreds of cels, day after day after day. Frankly, I'd go insane. Mistakes happen. We caught as many as we could. Fixed as many as we had time to fix. But mistakes happen.

Response recorded on August 23, 2000

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Karen writes...

One of my favourite parts of each Garg episode are the gliding scenes. I just finished watching the Hunter's Moon episodes over the last two nights and was particularly impressed with:
1. When Goliath rounds the building and sees the Hunters' airship, he backwings and lands on the building. Very nice.
2. My all time favourite: the battle at the dam, when Goliath dives down and soars back up, he does the most wonderful wingover over the top of the dam. It's so powerfully graceful. I loved it.
Unfortunately, there are cases in some eps where the aerodynamics didn't always quite ring true, but hey I'm no pilot to criticize, and what looked to me like gaffs generally were pretty minor. So, to my actual question: Do you know if the animators studied any sort of flying in order to protray this sort of thing? IE, did they look at acrobatics with airplanes, bats, etc?
Thank you for your time!

Greg responds...

I don't know. There were times when it felt wrong to us too. The animators would, for example, on occasion allow the Gargs to hover like Superman. We'd have to call a retake to get them to (at least) keep the background panning behind them.

Some of the stuff did look great though.

Response recorded on August 18, 2000

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BloodBane writes...

Hello Greg.

Ok, I have noticed the animation in some of the episodes was relly great!For an example in Hunters Moon there was a part where the oldest brother picked up Maza, and put her to sleep with the tranquilizer and in that few seconds the animation was really good.Do you no why they didn't draw the whole series like that?

Greg responds...

It's not like they didn't try. But animation involves a huge quantity of people and not everyone is as good as everyone else. Not all the episodes, for example, could be animated at Disney's Tokyo Studio, which was collectively superior to the other studios that worked on the show.

We got the best that we could get in the time and with the budget that we had at our disposal. It's not ALL as good as Hunter's Moon 3, but I'm pretty proud of most of it.

Response recorded on August 02, 2000

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dracolich5 writes...

Hello again, Greg! I've decided to start posting questions more frequently, and I've got an interesting assortment of production questions.
During the creation of characters, how were their eventual designs chosen? Did the artists in question work on one design only, or were several designs tried? If so, is there any way we can ever see these unused designs? My interest in unused character designs started when I purchased some Japanese Godzilla books that showed alternate designs for machines and creatures. Just curious to see if similar interesting designs are around.

On a side note, IF any alternate character designs were made, were any of these re-used for later characters? Just checking!

Greg responds...

We had development artists at Disney come up with inspirational designs for all the main characters, which were used in the pitch to sell the show.

Bob Kline: Xanatos, the Eyrie Building
Dave Schwartz: Brooklyn, Lexington, Broadway
Greg Guler: Goliath, Demona, Elisa, the Pack
Paul Felix: the Clock Tower (and Hudson, I think)

These designs were then sent to Disney TV Animation Japan, where they sort of had a little competition to see who would be the primary designer on the show. They submitted multiple interpretations of the characters (Goliath in particular), and we chose Mr. Takeuchi, who seemed to capture the feeling of the show the best. Eventually Frank Paur went to Japan to work with Takeuchi and fine tune his designs. Paul Felix did a very early Bronx, but Frank changed it so entirely, it's basically a new design.

I have some of this old stuff, though I wish I had more. For example, I have almost nothing from the early comedy development. If you attend the Gathering, you can see the pitch and some of those early designs.

Response recorded on August 02, 2000

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The Gatekeeper (repost by Aris) writes...

I have some questions on how the voice recording was done.

I've looked through the archives, and it appears that you get all the actors together at one time but I'm not getting an entirely clear picture. You have mentioned doing some editing on the voices for rhythms and the like. Is this possible to do when the recording is done in a group session? I know the partial answer, each voice is on it's own track, but wouldn't the natural bounce (if you would) of all the actors playing off each other make for a natural sounding dialogue?

Were the recording sessions filmed as well, so that some of the facial expressions of the actors could be incorporated into the animation? I can just picture Marina Sirtis sneering at Keith David.

What is the sequence that things are done? I think the script and story board comes first, but are the voices recorded before or after the animation, or it is a kind of hand in hand process?

The reason I ask, is because I remember listening to an interview with a voice actor (back in the mid '70's) and he said that all his lines were sent to the studio on a tape that he did at his home.

Greg responds...

Anything's possible but that last scenario sounds awful strange to me.

Here's the basic order:

1. Write the scripts.
2. Design new characters. This begins even before the script is finished sometimes.
3. Record the voices.
4. Storyboards are drawn. (This sometimes also begins before all the voices are recorded, depending on deadline pressure. But ideally it waits for the board artist to get the voice tape.)
5. Direct the board. (For timing, etc.)
6. Send materials overseas for animation.
7. Animation.
8. Post-Production. Retakes, editing, sound, etc.

As for step 3 itself, we tried as often as possible to get all the actors together in one room. This was almost never completely possible. There'd always be someone who wasn't available or was out of town or something. (For example, Keith David spent most of the second season performing in SEVEN GUITARS on Broadway. We would pick him up by "phone patch" from a studio in New York. One time, I seem to recall, we had to get Jim "Fang" Belushi by phone patch from Australia, where he was shooting a movie.

So we had to edit in anyone who wasn't in the session. Plus sometimes the best takes weren't consecutive. Say, Thom "Lex" Adcox did a great reading of a question. And Jeff "Brooklyn" Bennett stuttered when answering. Jeff probably did two or three great takes of his line. But we'd still want to use Lex's great take. So we'd edit it too.

And sometimes we'd tighten things up for pace. Since, as you noted, we had to allow each line to be on a separate track, that meant we couldn't overlap dialogue in the recording booth. But in real life, people often interrupt each other or talk over each other, etc. So sometimes we'd edit to create that overlapping effect.

Still the reason we TRIED to get everyone together is because we'd generally get a better, higher energy performance from most of the actors by allowing them to play off each other.

Response recorded on August 01, 2000

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Blaise (repost by Aris) writes...

TEMPTATION

While this isn't the ep that cemented Brooklyn in my head as "Favorite Character," I have to admit he is GREAT in it.
I still love Lexington's remark about building a horse from spare parts.
Demona's tour of the city--Yeah, the DEAD BODY surprised me too. Very powerful, very good, as were Demona's other two "examples" of humanity. Bennett and Sirtis did WONDERFUL jobs with their voice acting here.
As for the bikers not noticing Brooklyn, yeah everybody notices that. I just try to ignore it and that seems to work. If nothing else, most of the bikers in that scene WERE wearing sunglasses at night (as someone else already pointed out). Come to think of it, some of them weren't even wearing helmets....;-)
Elisa's finger--great, now that you've mentioned it, *I'LL* probably look for it and not be able to see anything else in the scene.
I was surprised to hear that Brooklyn's description of the Cloisters was taken by some folks as "proof" that gargoyles were not native to this planet. Anyone who saw the first two episodes should have understood what Brooklyn meant. Come to think of it, why WOULD people want the gargoyles to be from another planet?
One of my favorite lines in this episode--Brooklyn: "You hold the book, Demona. But *I* hold the *spell*!" I just LOVE that.
The resolution of the spell may have been a bit of a cheat, but it WAS a creative and original solution to the problem. So, you guys still get some points in that area.
Lex and Brooklyn talking about the motorcycle at the end and Lex's reaction are always enjoyable.
Pointless note: Hudson doesn't speak a single line in this episode. Odd, when I think about it. Still, you do at least SEE him a few times.

Good ep.

Greg responds...

The Hudson thing was budgetary. Often if we had a character who needed to appear for logic's sake but didn't have too much to contribute to the story, we'd avoid just giving him one or two lines to prove he's there. That way we could save money on the actor's salary for that episode. That money saved could be used later on for some of our big cast expensive episodes.

Trust however that I never scrimped. If I thought Hudson needed to speak in that episode, even if it was only ONE line, I would not have hesitated to pay for Ed Asner to be in the session.

Response recorded on August 01, 2000

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HEATHER writes...

Hello. My dream ever since I was 4 years old is to be a Disney animator. I know that you no longer work for Disney, but are my chances pretty good at making my dream come true? I have just completed my sophomore year in college, as I am majoring in art. Any job openings?? (I know you wouldn't know this now, but it's worth asking you.) Also, when I get to work for Disney (thinking optimistically), I will do all I can to make them bring the "Gargoyles" show back, and see that you are re-hired as the producer, since you did such a FABULOUS job with the show. I love that show to death. I will do all I can to help bring it back. Thanks for your time, Greg!! :)

Greg responds...

Thank you.

I don't know how to answer your questions, however. As you pointed out, I don't work for Disney. You say your majoring in art, but are you studying animation specifically. Do you really want to be an ANIMATOR, or do you just want to work as an artist in the animation industry?

Disney TV Animation, where we pre-produced Gargoyles, doesn't hire animators. They hire designers, board artists, color stylists, directors, etc. (I'm not saying that some of these guys or gals don't know how to animate, I'm just saying that's not what they were hired for.) The actual animation was done overseas in places like Japan, Korea and Taiwan.

Disney Features Animation, where I've never worked, does hire animators.

Heather, if this is your lifetime goal, your best bet is to learn all this stuff backwards and forwards. At least to start.

Response recorded on July 26, 2000

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Fenrir writes...

Greetings Mr. Weisman!

Thanks for answering our questions. It means a lot.

I apologize if this has been asked before, but I did not see the answer in the archives. Approximately how many Gargoyle-Beasts were at Castle Wyvern in the year 994? There was at least one (Bronx) and presumably at least one female (to lay the Boudicca egg at the Wyvern rookery). What I'm getting at is: Who are Boudicca's biological parents? Is Bronx her father? Or would he be too young?

Greg responds...

Bronx is not Boudicca's father. He's too young. I don't know exactly who her bio-parents are. They had no names after all. But there was a goodly number of Garg Beasts at Wyvern. Animation budgets prevented us from showing you the full clan. Sorry.

Response recorded on July 26, 2000

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Amethyst Delena writes...

Did you come up with, draw and design...etc. Golith?

Greg responds...

No. I can't draw at all, which Aimee and Jody's sketchbooks can now attest to.

Greg Guler did the orignal design for Goliath. This was adjusted by Mr. Takeuchi of Walt Disney Television Animation Japan. Frank Paur also had input into the final model. (I had input too, I guess, but not with a pencil, just a memo.)

Response recorded on July 26, 2000

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Chapter XVII: "A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time"

Written by Brynne Chandler Reaves & Lydia C. Marano
Story Edited by Michael Reaves

Well, I watched "Lighthouse" again last night with my family. First thing I noticed was the bad "Previously" recap. This is all my fault. The recap features Macbeth, because I wanted to make sure the audience knew who he was. But that blows out the first act surprise reveal that he's behind it all. Up to that point in the story, you'd be thinking Xanatos. But because of the dopey recap, you know it MUST be Mac. Later in the season, after I got hammered over these recaps by the folks on the Disney Afternoon e-Mailing list, I learned never to put anything into the recap that wasn't revealed in the first five minutes of the show to follow. But here's a perfect example of me screwing up my own mystery.

We introduce archeologists Lydia Duane and Arthur Morwood-Smythe. Dr. Duane was named after writers Lydia Marano and Diane Duane. Professor Morwood-Smythe was named after writers Arthur Byron Cover and Peter Morwood. Arthur is Lydia's husband. Peter is Diane's husband. I don't know anyone named Smythe.

Macbeth episodes, at least up to this point, seem to be cursed with mediocre animation. (Of course, everything's relative. Mediocre on Gargs was still better than most series got. But relative to our expectations, this ep is pretty weak.) I bet Elisa would have really looked cute in that red baseball hat if the animation had been even slightly better.

I don't know how clear it is in the prologue. The idea there, was that the wind was blowing through the lyre. The haunting sound drew the archeologists further into the cave. They read the warning which indicates that the seeker of knowledge has nothing to fear, the destroyer everything. They are supposed to hesitate, look at each other, decide that they are seekers not destroyers and then open the chest. Merlin's clearly put a safety spell of some kind on the chest. An image of the old man appears and basically checks to confirm whether the archeologists are in fact seekers or destroyers. Satisfied, the spell disipates. But you can imagine what would have happened if a Hakon type had stumbled in.

Anyway, it never felt like all that came across. Did it?

Brooklyn (re: Broadway): "Ignorance is bliss." In High School, I had a classmate named Howard Bliss. We had chemistry together with Mr. Miller. Mr. Miller once asked the class a question that we all should have known. No one knew the answer, and our own idiocy generated laughter among Miller's students. He just shook his head and said: "Ignorance is bliss." He forgot that he had a student named Bliss. It generated more laughter. I don't know why I told you that. But it's what I thought about when Brooklyn read that line.

There's a semi-heavy-handed "Read More About It" feel to the clock tower conversation regarding Merlin. Goliath practically quotes those public service announcements, saying there are many books about him in the library. I don't mind. I had wanted to cite a few actual books -- like Mary Stewart's THE CRYSTAL CAVE -- but our legal department wouldn't give us clearance for that. Very short-sighted.

A connection is made between Merlin and the Magus. This was not an accident, as at that time, I had planned to have the Magus journey with Arthur on his Pendragon quests to find Excalibur and Merlin. I later changed my mind. But the Magus does at least play a Merlin-esque roll in the Avalon three parter.

I always wonder who was playing in "Celebrity Hockey" that night.

Macbeth's standard Electro-Magnetic weapon was my idea. I didn't design it exactly, but I did make crude little drawings of something that looked vaguely like a staple gun, with two electrodes that generated the charge. I was always proud of that weapon. It was uniquely Macbeth's (and Banquo and Fleances'). Set him apart from all the concussion, laser and particle beam weapons we used elsewhere. (I did the same kind of thing on the Quarymen's hammers.)

It's fun to listen to B.J. Ward voice both sides of the confrontation between Fleance and Duane.

Banquo's model sheet showed him squinting out of one eye. Some episodes, not so much this one, but some took that to mean he only had one eye. So he walks around looking like Popeye for the entire episode. (His big lantern jaw helps accentuate that.) There are a couple of Popeye moments in this ep. But more in his next appearance I think.

It was my idea to just have Mac's mansion rebuilt without explanation. I don't exactly regret it, but it's kinda cheap. We burned it way down. He has it rebuilt. It makes sense. But we usually dealt with consequences more than that.

When he rebuilds it, he installs those cannons. They were supposed to be giant-sized versions of the hand-held E-M guns. But they don't come off that way. Instead they fire at the gargoyles. And mostly seem to destroy the various turrets of Macbeth's own place. Ugghh.

As in "Leader" we get another scene of Goliath and friends confronting Owen at the castle. Looking for Xanatos, when in fact Xanatos isn't the threat. It made sense in both episodes. And it's always nice to showcase Owen a bit. But after two of those in four episodes, I wasn't gonna do that again. (At least not until KINGDOM.)

I love the "Macbeth Theme" that Carl Johnson created for the villain, which is featured at the end of ACT ONE.

Macbeth opens the "second scroll" and starts to read Merlin's seal. This caused tons of fan confusion, as he read "Sealed by my own [i.e. Merlin's] hand". No one seemed to get that he was reading that. They thought Mac was saying that he [i.e. Macbeth] had sealed the scroll. Of course that notion renders the whole thing confusing as hell. But it never occured to us that anyone would take it that way.

We also introduce Jeffrey Robbins and Gilly in this episode. Gilly is of course short for Gilgamesh, one of the legendary characters that Robbins once wrote about. It's just a bit odd, because Gilly is a female.

Robbins is a very cool character. Wish we had had the opportunity to use him more.

I like how when Robbins and Hudson are introducing themselves, Robbins gives his first and last name. Hudson says, I'm Hudson, "like the river". An echo of how he got the name. And a reminder that names aren't natural to him. Even if they are addictive.

John Rhys-Davies is just fantastic as Macbeth. I love his speech to Broadway. It accomplishes everything we needed it too. That line about the "human heart" by the way is a reference to the Arthur/Lance/Gwen triangle.

I also love his line: "I'm Old, but not THAT Old." This was a little hint to what we'd reveal in CITY OF STONE. Sure Macbeth's from the eleventh century, but not the fifth or sixth. It's like someone saying to someone my age, "So what did you do during World War II?"

Lennox Macduff. That was a cool touch. Also a hint as to how Macbeth feels about Shakespeare.

I like the Phone Book scene too. Hudson says "Hmm. Magic Book." Robbins replies: "Aren't they all." Great stuff.

By the way, as Robbins goes through the phone book, scanning names, he passes "Macduff, Cameron". One of my college roommates was Cameron Douglas, who was really interested in his Scotish heritage. That was a mini-tribute to him.

My daughter Erin reacts to the fact that Macbeth threatens to use Merlin's spells on Broadway. She points out that Macbeth had promised to let Broadway go after he had the scrolls. She's surprised he hasn't kept his word. My wife at that point reminds Erin that Macbeth is the villain. Erin gets that. But you can tell it isn't quite sitting right with her.

Later when Macbeth DOES let everyone go without a struggle, Erin is clearly not sure what to make of him.

And on one level, that's exactly as we wanted it. Macbeth is a troubled guy -- a hero who's devolved into a villain. A suicidal villain on top of that, though we hadn't revealed that yet. But he is a villain. Later, it's debatable, but here he's taken to being an ends-justify-the-means kinda guy. And even his ends are hazy at best.

I love Broadway's "precious magic" speech. It's so wierd hearing poetry from the big galoot. But that's so Broadway. The soul of a poet. Bill Faggerbakke was a huge help.

And I love Robbins "They are lighthouses in the dark sea of time..." speech. I love that it's not exactly the title. Brynne and Lydia did fine work on this one.

I wonder what happened to that lyre?


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Entity writes...

Hi Greg,

In an earlier response of yours, you state that the "Next time on Gargoyles" teasers were actually advantageous in that they padded out air time.

This confuses me. Well, actually, it somewhat disturbs me. You man having less time in which to tell a story was a good thing?

For me, in any half-hour program, I savor every minute because I know there are only twenty. It's not the same in hour-long shows. Yet, they often have the briefer teasers.

Greg responds...

By thirty seconds... DAMN STRAIGHT.

Budgets forced us to send shows overseas that timed out almost to the exact length that the show would air. But bad animation happens. Mistakes. Bad timing. Things we overlooked in board. Etc. If you can't cut anything because you're already more or less at the correct airing time, that limits what you can and can't fix. Having the freedom to cut another 30 seconds allowed us to tighten things up immeasurably. Action sequences have more punch, move quicker, I guarantee.

It's not like we were losing scenes or even lines of dialogue. It's not five minutes, it's just thirty seconds spread out over nineteen minutes worth of footage. It helps make each minute much more savory. Trust me.

Response recorded on July 05, 2000

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Chapter XV: "Metamorphosis"

STORY EDITOR: Michael Reaves
WRITERS: Brynne Chandler Reaves & Lydia Marano

The first appearance of Anton Sevarius and the MUTATES: Maggie the Cat, Fang and Claw. Derek had appeared before, but this was TALON's "first appearance" as well.

In our original development, the Talon character was called CATSCAN. He wasn't Elisa's brother. In fact, he was sorta Sevarius. That is, he was the scientist who created the mutagenic formula. At first he works for Xavier (Xanatos), but later -- when he realizes that Xavier was responsible for the "accident" that turned him into Catscan -- he tries to hunt Xanatos down, forcing Goliath to actually protect Xanatos in order to save Catscan's soul. This version of Catscan was basically the inspiration of my good friend Fred Schaefer, who was a Disney Development Associate at the time. Part of the team. Oh, and Catscan was a solo act, there were no other Mutates. And he didn't have wings either. He fired some kind of radiation bolt from his eyes.

Later, we began to prep Derek for the Catscan/Talon role. I don't remember if we knew Derek's fate way back in "Deadly Force", when he was introduced, but we definitely knew by "Her Brother's Keeper". One of the reasons we made him a pilot was to give him some flight background to justify how quickly we needed him to learn to fly. This was emphasized HERE by putting him in a glider.

Anton Sevarius became a separate character obviously. Michael Reaves, I believe, came up with his name. At first, I didn't like it. I thought it was too cartoony. Now I think it suits him.

Rereading my memo, it seems I was thinking of Brent Spiner to play Sevarius. I hadn't remembered that. Of course, no one else could be Sevarius except Tim Curry. And Brent was a perfect Puck for us too. So all's well that ends well. (But can you imagine if somehow the rolls had been switched?) Tim has some great lines here: "...Or has that changed?" is one of my favorites. He's so hungry.

FYI - That's Jonathan Frakes voicing Fang's one-liner in this episode. We couldn't afford to hire a separate actor for one line. So Jonathan stepped in. Of course, later Fang was taken over by Jim Belushi. But I don't think anyone noticed.

Gotta love the Snidely Whiplash reference.

As I mentioned in my last Ramble on "Leader", Xanatos' plans were getting more and more sophisticated. Here we had two humdingers in a row. The one in "Leader" is just a lot of fun. This one is cruel. Throughout the story, we (I think) tend to believe in Xanatos' mea culpa and his outrage regarding the Mutates ("They'll crucify you. And if they don't, I WILL!!"). Why? Because he's so darn likable we want to think well of him. (Who was fooled? I'd like to know.) Also his story rings true. When he tells Sevarius, "I've been in prison before." We know he has. We believe he could take it again. It's that touch of truth amid the lies that makes him so sharp.

And Owen was complicit. On one level, that shouldn't be surprising, yet there's something of the Mr. Spock about Owen. As faithful as you know he is, you don't actually expect him to lie.

And frankly, the plan is SO complex. I hope it's believable when all is said and done. We made a real effort to make sure that it could have worked, that if it hadn't gone EXACTLY as depicted it would feel like there would have been alternative scenarios that would have generated the same result. Of course the master-stroke is Sevarius' death. Our S&P executive raised an eyebrow over that, as she finished reading Act Two. Fortunately, she was the type who finished the script before knee-jerking us with an objection. We got away with depicting a violent death on-screen -- because it was fake. (But who was fooled?)

We tried to play fair with a number of clues throughout. We used Xanatos' own security team as the "hired mercenaries" that Sevarius was using. Only Xanatos checks Sevarius' pulse. When Matt and Elisa are later investigating the scene, there's no body and NO CHALK OUTLINE either. They have no idea that anyone even theoretically was supposed to have DIED there. And Sevarius is SO OVER THE TOP. That should have been a stylistic clue. It was way fun to do -- and it took great acting on Tim's part to act that badly and still make it play.

For once the script came in a tad short. So the board artist added the bit where the gargoyles break out of stone and we see the debris rain down on the people below. Pigeons fly off into the night. (Just a little touch of realism.) Very nice.

I was never too fond of Elisa's Zen Master joke. Still, in the comic book story I wrote before the Marvel comic book was cancelled, I created a Zen Master character. (Just compulsive I guess.)

My original plan for Gen-U-Tech was to abreviate its name as G.U.T.S. As in the company that twists yours up. (The full name is Genetic Undiscovered Technical Systems.) Instead it became Gen-U-Tech, which is probably better. But I can't remember who made the change. The script has plenty of GUTS references in the descriptions. But it may have escaped my notice that it has none in the dialogue. And the logos designed all read Gen-U-Tech, not guts. I wonder if Frank & Michael were slyly protecting me from a mis-step?

I like the conflict between Brooklyn & Broadway here. All the interplay with the trio is very well handled, I think. Were people really rooting for Brooklyn & Maggie to wind up together?

Not our best animated episode. Both the modeling and the animation leave a bit to be desired. Derek's ears look mid-transformation long before he's hit with that dart. Makes me cringe, but I guess if the audience isn't expecting him to get changed, they don't notice the subtle pointyness to the ears, until after the contents of the dart are revealed. But on a second viewing...?

Maggie Reed: "I'm from Ohio." As if that should explain EVERYTHING. I love that line.

"Morgan Reed", by the way, was one of our may early names for what eventually became Elisa Chavez, Elisa Bluestone and finally Elisa Maza. (I never waste anything.)

Observations from my daughter Erin:

1. "I like the click of their boots." [Erin complimenting the foley during the recapture of Maggie in the alley.]

2. "His hands ARE tied!" [My clever Erin catching the irony. Elisa says "My hands are tied." Brooklyn responds, "Well mine aren't." But then he turns to stone, prompting Erin's observation.]

3. "Hudson and Bronx always stay home." [Erin commenting on our proclivity for leaving Hudson & Bronx behind at the castle or clock tower when Goliath and the Trio go off. It is kind of a rip.]

Another great series of endings and false endings.

Xanatos tells Owen to bring him the "best geneticist on the planet."

The gargs arrive and fight the Mutates. Elisa arrives. Xanatos asks her to "stop this senseless violence". [Ahh, what a lovely bastard he is.]

Maggie makes the accurate observation that Brooklyn wants her to stay a monster. And yet despite that incite, she clearly still believes that both she and Brooklyn ARE monsters. She's as bound up in appearances as he is.

Talon names himself. It's kinda odd. But I think it works.

Elisa declares war on Xanatos. And for a split-second it registers on his face. Something has actually given him pause.

And then Owen brings in the best geneticist. I still wonder if it's immediately clear that this "new guy" IS Sevarius. He looks SO different. And Tim wasn't using the hoky accent anymore. Was anyone else confused, even momentarily? But anyway, it's another stunner Xanatos Tag. Did your eyes bug out? Or did you know by this time?

And finally, back to the Tower. Brooklyn is in a funk. But Elisa...

This entire episode is obviously a direct sequel to "Brother's Keeper". Right down to the end. In the end of that one, Elisa can do nothing but stare sadly out at the snow. But we're past that now. Now she cries. Xanatos doesn't wind up with the Mutates, though he correctly predicts there eventual return, but this is his clearest victory yet. The Mutates blame the gargs. Talon still believes X is his best chance at a cure. And he has an emotional and physical weapon against Elisa and the gargs. I was proud of us for ending a "cartoon" on such a relatively down note. Can't always have happy endings. How many people were surprised we ended it that way?

That's it. Comments welcome...


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Pyro X writes...

Mr. W:

I read you post on "Enter Macbeth" again, and was wondering:

Could you tell us one or three of the shots that got reanimated?

thanks.

Greg responds...

Specifically, no. I just can't remember from that long ago. But quite a bit. It's easier for me to remember what we DIDN'T reanimate that I wish we had been able to, because that stuff's still present in the episode and really bugs me.

I do think that some of the early scenes of Xanatos in prison looked particularly Aladdin-esque in their modeling. I seem to recall we had those redone.

Response recorded on June 23, 2000

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SEASON TWO

Well, my plan had been to finished transcribing the "Leader of the Pack" outline memo. Then start on my new ramble on seeing the episode last week. However, I'm at home today and the only copy of the memo is still at the office. So I'll finish the memo soon. Meantime, here's a ramble that "Leader" inspired with a little background info on the transition to Season Two...

So the second season begins. And we had a new system in place. Tiers and tentpoles. As you may recall from a previous ramble we had run into huge scheduling difficulties with "Enter Macbeth". The animation had come back very problematic and the nature of the story was such that we couldn't air it out of order. I received a mandate to make sure in Season Two's fifty-two episode killer schedule that we do everything possible not to run into that kind of problem again.

Trouble was, I liked the sequential nature of the series. If all the episodes could air in any order with no effect on each other then how could the characters grow, evolve, change? How could the situations?

My solution was tiers and tentpoles. We would create tiers of episodes that could air in any order as long as they aired BETWEEN their tentpole multi-parters. We'd pay special attention to the Tentpole episodes to make sure THEY didn't get into production trouble that would derail the entire airing schedule. But if an individual episode within a tier ran late, we could skootch another one forward without causing any harm.

Tentpole One was retroactively set as the "Awakening" five-parter. Tier One was retroactively everything between that and "Reawakening", which became Tentpole Two by default. (Now obviously the Season One airing order was very important, but they had aired already, so I didn't have to worry about them anymore.)

Tentpole Three would be the "City of Stone" four parter. Tier Two would include eight episodes: "Leader of the Pack", "Metamorphosis", "Legion", "A Lighthouse in the Sea of Time", "The Silver Falcon", "The Mirror", "Eye of the Beholder" and "Vows". In theory, I was supposed to make sure that these eight could air in any given order.

In practice, it never turned out to be that simple. For example, how could I air "Vows", the episode where Xanatos & Fox wed before "Eye of the Beholder" the episode where they get engaged? I wound up having a strong order preference for ALL 65 episodes. Tiers and Tentpoles be damned. But the truth is, the system served us well. It did tend to keep us on track. Creatively, it allowed us to build to strong multi-parters. And we rarely ever HAD to air episodes out of my preferred order. We only screwed up twice. "The Price" aired too soon. "Kingdom" aired too late. But only someone paying VERY careful attention would notice that. (Of course, anyone fanatical enough to be reading this was probably one of those people paying VERY careful attention.)

So anyway, "Leader" was my choice to open the new season. Lots of action. Some really great twists and turns. Some great character moments. It all seemed like a great way to intro potential new viewers to the series. BTWE, is there anyone out there for whom "Leader" was their first GARGOYLES episode? I'd love to hear from you here at ASK GREG.

We made other changes off the first season, as well. We had rebuilt the opening titles sequence to include some new footage. Keith David/Goliath's narration was added as well. This was written by Gary Sperling and myself. And hotly debated around our offices. Hotly debated inside my own brain as well. Frank Paur and I both felt that the titles were more powerful, more dramatic WITHOUT the narration. But we wanted to make sure that the series was still accessible to new viewers. The narration would serve the same function as the GILLIGAN'S ISLAND theme song. If you missed our pilot, you could still get the set up. Frank & I could see the wisdom of both positions. Even our boss, Gary Krisel, could. He left it up to me. I finally decided to err (and air) on the side of caution. I needn't have worried about "drama". Keith's voice, as usual, was so dramatic, that the opening narration became a classic -- reprinted on nearly every garg website I've ever seen. My kids love to shout out "WE LIVE AGAIN!" in chorus with Keith.

Another thing we did was to permanently install those "Previously on Gargoyles..." recaps at the head of EVERY episode. This was done for three reasons. One, see above, we wanted new viewers to have a chance to get what was going on without requiring them to see every episode that had come before. So the salient points could and would be summed up in those recaps. Two, since at some future time there was the possibility that the episodes WOULD air out of order, the recaps would help ground a viewer in when this particular episode was falling. And most important, three, it helped us in editing.

You see, footage would come back from overseas. And sometimes it would be great. And sometimes not. But no matter how good it was there wasn't a single episode that couldn't be improved by trimming a few frames here, a few frames there. No scenes were cut wholesale, but timing was improved and sped up. Mistakes were edited out. The recap gave us thirty extra seconds per episode of editing flexibility.

Now, on some level, the recaps may have backfired. Though they provided useful information, they may have given new viewers the IMPRESSION that there was too much to learn. I'm not sure it's true, but I've heard that argument. Also, I started hearing from the Disney Afternoon mailing list that everyone hated the recaps, because what they included tended to give away too much in the episode that was about to air. We fixed that problem midway through the season. Me, I still have no regrets. As I've mentioned before, HILL STREET BLUES was a major influence. The "Previously on..." format (which everyone uses today) came right out of Hill Street, so I was comfortable with it. And that 30 seconds of editing flexibility absolutely helped the shows play better.

NEXT TIME ON GREG'S RAMBLES...
More from my original memo to Michael Reaves and my specific responses to reviewing "Leader of the Pack"...


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Vasy writes...

Hello Mr Greg Weisman. I wnated to ask you a question not about gargoyles in particular, but about animation and allthat other cartoony stuff in general. I am a Computer Scientist, and I am very interested in computer graphics, game graphics. I love looking at cartoons from 80's to today and see how better they have gotten. They even have 100% computer animated shows like Beast Wars and stuff. My question to you is, how do I go about getting a job in this field. I know gargoyles had some computer graphicing and animation involved. Basically, I am lost on my search to becoming a great animator. Can you give me any advice, tips on what to read, languages I should know, and anything else that might be helpful. Thanks a lot.

Greg responds...

Gargoyles had absolutely NO computer animation in it, except maybe in the main titles for GOLIATH CHRONICLES.

I've worked on some computer animated shows since, however like ROTG, Starship Troopers and Max Steel.

Still, I'm not an animator (computer or otherwise) so I'm really not the best guy to give you tips.

I recommend finding a computer animated show that you like (you mentioned Beast Wars) and contacting the studio that produces the animation (I believe that's MainFrame in Vancouver). Contact them politely, as you did me, and I'm sure someone there will be helpful. And if they're not, then contact another company that produces another show.

But, Vasy, first... LEARN TO PROOFREAD. Nothing impresses people LESS than typos.

Response recorded on April 07, 2000

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ATTENTION ANIMATION WRITERS-IN-TRAINING

Writer-Producer Kevin Hopps and I will be teaching a class through UCLA EXTENSION at Universal CityWalk
starting next week. There are still seven spaces available for "From Script to Cel: A Complete Writer's Guide to the
World of Television Animation" The class meets Wednesday nights, through early September (with a few weeks off in
the middle). In addition to Kevin and myself, we'll be having numerous guest speakers from every discipline of
producing an Animated series. And students will come out of the course with a completed spec script. I'd recommend this
class to anyone living in the Greater Los Angeles area who is truly interested in writing for TV Animation. If you're
interested contact Brandon Gannon or Kathy Pomerantz at UCLA Extension's Writer's Program. 310-206-1542.


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Bengali writes...

1.In many of the Gargoyles episodes there are a great deal of animation errors and the animation styles varied. Why is this?, why didnt you and Frank stick to one animation company?

Greg responds...

Errors happen. We call as many retakes as we catch and/or we have time to fix. Stylistically, they should all be following our model sheets, etc. But talent varies, and the ability to match our style varies.

And why did we animate this thing all over the globe? Because no one company had the capacity to do all 66 episodes. (These things don't make themselves.)

Response recorded on March 25, 2000

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Chapter XI: "Long Way To Morning"

"Long Way To Morning" This was my title, based on an idea I'd had from way early in the development of the series. It was always obvious to me that the fact that the gargs turned to vulnerable stone at sunrise, gave the series a built-in ticking clock that added tension. But given the gargoyles' healing factor (to borrow a Wolverine term) it occured to me early on that there might come a time when sunrise couldn't come fast enough. That was the origin of this episode and the title. (I think I may have even mentioned the scenario in the Series' Writers' Bible.)

The other obvious purpose of the episode was to give Hudson a showcase episode to equal the Trio tryptich. As I've mentioned before, Gargoyles was originally developed as a comic series, and one of the funny little gargoyles in that show was "Ralph", a very domestic couch potato Gargoyle who loved to stay at home and watch T.V. Hudson developed out of Ralph, but he spent much of the first few episodes "Guarding the castle" (or the clock tower). We'd given him some great action in AWAKENING. But we still felt a major need to UN-RALPH him.

I wanted to deal with his age as realistically as possible. To have him doubt himself, maybe even be aware of his limitations, but then have him prove to himself that he still had something to contribute. I think we basically succeed in that here.

But this ep afforded us other opportunities as well. Opportunities to explore Wyvern backstory in our parallel flashback story:

--We find out definitively that Hudson WAS the leader of the clan and that Goliath was his second. We also get to see the baton get passed.

--We learn how Hudson was blinded in one eye.

--We meet Prince Malcolm and get a sense of how Princess Katharine became the bitch she was at the start of "Awakening". I think this was very important in paving the way for her role in the "Avalon" tryptich. By the end of "Awakening", she's remorseful and has seen the error of her ways, but it doesn't change how badly she acted. But this episode reveals how and why her antipathy toward Gargoyles was created. It doesn't excuse her behaviour, but it helps to explain it enough so that we can buy her as a heroine when we next see her. Malcolm doesn't come off as well. I wanted to present how easily casual thoughtless words could be hurtful, and even lead to tragic consequences. My daughter Erin (age 5 1/2) had seen this episode at least once before. But this time, that aspect of Malcolm's inadvertent damage and Katharine's mistaken blame really grabbed her attention. The injustice of it really troubled her. Which is exactly the response I was looking for. (My kids are so cool. She also noticed Hudson's eye getting injured, and commented on how smart Hudson was to jump off into the waterfall.)

--I love the subtle changes that Jeff, Keith and Marina made in their voices when playing the young Magus, Goliath and Demona. It's interesting to see Demona's progression in hindsight from "Vows" to "Long Way" to "Awakening, Part One" to "City of Stone" to the present day. She really is a fascinating character, if I do say so myself. Here, you see her ambition. But no villainy. Of course, it made for a nice counterpoint with her vicious murderous tendencies in the present day story.

--Throughout production of this episode, I had to keep pointing out to the artists, etc., that the flashbacks all had a point of view, i.e. Hudson's. That Demona and Goliath's "private conversations" could NOT be as private as they thought. Hudson had to know what they were saying about him. Both because it further eroded his confidence in both the past and present (the true demon he had to overcome) and because if he didn't hear those conversations it would be cheating to include them in HIS dreams and flashbacks.

--We also intro'd the ARCHMAGE. A one-shot villain if I ever saw one, except that David Warner was so amazing, I knew I had to bring the character back. When he falls into the chasm, you can just here the Phoenix Gate exploding open down there. (Of course, to some people that sounded like him hitting bottom. Their mistake.)

Continuity:

Brooklyn still has it in for D. Broadway is now Ultra-Protective of Elisa. Hudson has superior tracking skills in the past and the present.

And Demona has clearly focused her hatred on Elisa. (Who, by the way, loses her second gun of the series.) It was important for these early episodes that we fool Demona into thinking that Elisa was dead. Otherwise, how else do we explain why she doesn't just kill her.

Demona at the end, uses her cannon as a club. This was designed to be ambiguous. Did Hudson's sword damage the weapon? Or was Demona just so furious that she wanted the satisfaction of cudgeling the old guy to death? Yeah, it was designed to be ambiguous, but no one ever EVER thought that the gun was damaged. They all assumed Demona just lost it. Which is probably true.

Speaking of that Waterfall thing, that image was important retro-pipe for Hunter's Moon, Part Three. (More on that in 54 chapters.)

Animation-wise, I just wish Demona hadn't come off as such a lousy shot.

I love Hudson and Goliath's last exchange. Goliath assures Hudson that he still has "Years of fighting left". Hudson, glad to be of use, is still less than thrilled at the prospect. It's a great wry beat, but it was also important to me to point out that no rational person would wish to fight like that forever. The gargs, including Hudson, fight the good fight because they have to, because it is their duty, part of their natural protective instincts. But none of them WANT to fight.

As usual, I'd like to encourage responses to this episode here at ASK GREG, particularly how you responded to viewing this for the first time.


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Kraken writes...

Hi mr. Weisman.

I read in the archives that you wouldn't mind a Gargoyles show in CGI. I feel that CGI would not be right for Gargoyles. Not because it would be impossible to make, but I notice that CGI shows tend to have few characters. There's also a lot of generated characters looking close to one and another, like the Apes in Starship Troopers who look alot alike save for their faces, nametag, size.

A show like Gargoyles have many characters with different shape, size, color, etc. Wouldn't that be costly or long to create?

I'd like to have your view on this one, thank you in advance.

Greg responds...

The limitations in CGI are no more severe than in cel animation; they are simply different. And most can be overcome with proper lead time and development.

Gargoyles, is, in many ways an ideal CGI show. Doesn't mean it might not be better in cel. But I think it could work. Size, color, shape, etc. none of that is a problem. Hair is a problem. That would take some work. Clothes are a problem. Loinclothes would take some work. But for GARGOYLES 2158, it could be a whole new world in CGI.

Response recorded on March 22, 2000

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Phil writes...

Hi, Greg! Thanks for answering our questions.

I went back and read the entire archive, and I'm fascinated by your previous work as a development executive at Disney. You wrote that you worked on everything from the Gummi Bears to Gargoyles; that's an impressive list.

My questions:
1) How does a studio like Disney get ideas for new series? Are they primarily generated internally?

2) If an animation fan somewhere in the Midwest with no Hollywood connections had an idea for an animated series, how would he go about making his ideas known?

Good luck catching up on our questions. I'll be looking for my answer sometime in the spring. (Just teasing!)

Greg responds...

1. Yes. Or at least they were in my day. (I sound so old.)

2. Carefully. Put together a PROFESSIONAL presentation and use it to get Los Angeles area representation. Use the representation to get meetings with development execs. Good luck. You'll need it.

Response recorded on March 11, 2000

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Chapter IX: "Enter Macbeth"

Another episode by episode ramble. Feedback encouraged.

So here's where all that great continuity got us in major trouble.

The episodes were all designed to play in a certain order. But I didn't tell my bosses that in advance. I know it sounds sneaky, but it wasn't really. We wrote the darn things and sent them off in order. It never occured to me they wouldn't be able to come back and air in order. I mean, how could a newer episode get the jump on an older one? How could an older episode not be ready before a newer one? Then the footage came back on "Enter Macbeth".

This was the first episode not animated in Japan. And immediately we knew we were in trouble. I'm not talking about the version you all have seen. The one that aired. I'm talking about stuff you never saw. Much of the original footage we got was unusable. This wasn't about just calling retakes. This wasn't about us bitching how "Thrill" wasn't as well animated as "Awakening". This was a major disaster. So my bosses said: "Air the next one." And I responded, "We can't."

And not just because they were all designed to air in order. It was a horrible coincidence, but this episode, this episode that was unairable, was a tentpole. Yeah, if Thrill or Temptation had been reordered it would have been sad. Same with "The Edge" and "Long Way To Morning". But big deal, right? Better to get a new episode out and not make the audience deal with repeats this early in the season. (Remember, we had aired our first five episodes in one week. This was only week five. In those days, week five was considered way too early in the year for reruns.)

But this was the follow-up to Elisa's injury. It was important to us that we continue our policy of "repercussions". We put her on crutches to show that a gunshot wasn't something that was solved in twenty-two minutes. This was an ongoing recovery. If you pulled the crutches out by airing Edge next, you blew out the sense of repercussions.

But that wasn't the clincher. Of course, the clincher was the Clock Tower. This was the episode where the Gargs were "banished" from the castle and moved to the Clock Tower. That was a major shift. If we cut straight to Edge, the audience would be lost. Fortunately, Gary was convinced. In a way, I was lucky that our first crisis of order came on such a pivotal "tentpole" episode. We couldn't reorder these. So we went with reruns. But it was a lesson learned. And it would effect the way we approached the second season.

But meanwhile, we had the problem at hand. We couldn't reanimate the entire show. So we picked shots to redo judiciously. There are still some awful looking scenes. When Goliath says, "How Dare You?!" to Elisa, he looks like an Animaniacs parody of Goliath. And that sarcophogus/iron maiden thing that Goliath follows Macbeth through looks like a prop out of CHIP N DALE'S RESCUE RANGERS. (Another perfectly good series, but with a slightly different art style, if you know what I mean.) Or how about the GIANT remote that Macbeth pulls from his duster in order to summon his ship? "Enter Macbeth" is still, as aired, the worst looking episode of the first season. And that really killed Frank and I, because we both really loved this story. We were sure that the bad animation would kill any interest in Macbeth. The fact that generally, the character did catch hold of fandom's collective imagination is a true testament to the work of Steve Perry, Michael Reaves, John Rhys-Davies and Jamie Thomason. And, oh, yes... William Shakespeare.

The weak picture forced us to use a lot of little tricks to get a final cut. One thing we did, which I regret, is reuse dialogue. Elisa says "You aren't safe here" like three times. And it isn't three different takes. It's just the exact same take reprinted and reused. Lex & Brooklyn also reuse lines to get Bronx to find Goliath. That sort of thing drives me nuts.

There is one really nice moment in the animation. When Macbeth chooses his sword off the wall, the reflection effect is quite sweet. And I also like the down shot of Bronx running right down the middle of Broadway (the street not the gargoyle). I also love how Goliath makes no attempt to hide. That really spoke to the Gargoyles attitude about living among humans. They wouldn't hold press conferences, but they would not cower.

Anyway, we ran reruns. Awakenings. And obviously all five episodes on five consecutive weeks. That might have been a good thing for people who had heard about the show by word of mouth in week two or later and needed to catch up. But for anyone who had been following the show from its premiere, it was a long time to wait for new episodes. By the time we came back, so much time had passed since "Deadly Force" that we felt the need to put a "Previously on Gargoyles" at the head of the episode. Another trick I cribbed from HILL STREET BLUES. Cartoons rarely did that sort of thing. Sure multi-parters had to. But single episodes... For some reason, it made me feel very grown up. (Which only proves how immature I really am.) The "Previously" also allowed us to cut 30 more seconds of bad looking footage out of the episode. That little bonus was something I'd remember for season two as well.

HOME

As we pushed guns in the previous episode, this one is laced with the imagery and language of home. What is it? What makes it? What price is one willing to pay to keep or secure it? There are four homes depicted. Well, really five. The Gargoyles' castle. Xanatos' prison. Macbeth's mansion. The Clock Tower. And the Castle again, once it is reclaimed by Xanatos and thus becomes a very, very different place.

I tried to make sure, as much as possible, that every episode had that kind of underlying theme. (I recently tried with very limited success to do the same thing in MAX STEEL. Someone asked me once, why the one-word S-Titles for all the Max Steel episodes. They were my attempt to make me and the writers focus on the theme of each story.)

And how do all these homes turn out? Macbeth is so obsessed that he loses his home to a fire. Xanatos finally gets out of prison. (Not on Halloween by the way, or that would make the dates depicted in Double Jeopardy innacurate. Obviously, Halloween was circled on his calendar because the guy just loves Halloween. And after all, Owen specifically says in a LATER scene that Xanatos has one week left before he gets out. The wall calendar had shown only a few days.) The Gargoyles lose the castle, gain the clock tower, but realize that home is literally where the heart is. And Xanatos... well all other concerns of Grimorum and gargoyle of destruction and competition pale next to the simple pleasure of being back home.

And how many of you were suprised that the Gargoyles lost the castle? That was supposed to be another pretty shocking development. I mean, sure, Batman might lose the Batcave for an episode, but for 56 episodes? When Goliath said "We'll be back to claim that which is ours" at the end, did most of you think he'd be back next week? Next month? By the time, the gang finally did return in chapter 65, did anyone still remember Goliath's vow?

MACBETH

I've discussed this before, but Macbeth's origins (at least in terms of our series) were (ironically) an early attempt to play the notion of THE HUNTER. I was looking for someone human who could physically take on the Gargoyles as prey. Someone smart, with an agenda. We actually started with the notion of trying to create our own KRAVEN THE HUNTER type character. But it quickly moved in its own direction. Frankly, away from Kraven and more toward BATMAN. In those days, we were constantly being told that we would be accused of ripping off Batman. So Frank, Michael and I decided to create a villain who, at least in M.O. would be our Batman.

I had a semi-separate idea to add a human to the cast who was from Goliath's time. Thus creating a good thematic nemesis or opposite for him. (The key to creating a good villain, in my opinion.) But this villain would have lived through the centuries. So that he was familiar with the very latest in technology. This dove-tailed with our anti-Batman, and was also exactly how we viewed Demona. So it soon became clear to Michael and I that the two characters must be connected in some way. That suggested that he shouldn't merely be 1000 years old. He should be Scottish as well. All that was left was a name. And given my love of Shakespeare, I'm surprised it took me so long to figure it out. Our nemesis was Macbeth himself. An immortal Scottish King. What Scottish King was more immortal than Macbeth? More mortal too for that matter.

This was the beginning of countless Shakespearian references that I would either slide (or force) into the show, or that the writers would stick in knowing I was a sucker for them. And I love the little exchange between Lex & Brooklyn...

[dialogue approximate]
LEX: "Wasn't "Macbeth" the name of that play by that new writer Shakespeare that Goliath was talking about?"

BROOKLYN: "Have you read it?"

LEX: "No. Have you?"

BROOKLYN: "No. But maybe we should."

This was my little way of trying to encourage our viewers to read or at least learn about the play. If they wanted to know who Macbeth was, it wouldn't hurt to go to the primary source.

And at the time, Shakespeare was my primary source for Macbeth. This was long before Tuppence Macintyre and Monique Beatty did all their research for me for "City of Stone". Back then, the only Macbeth I knew about was Shakespeare's.

We gave him a sense of honor, but a twisted one. And we gave him a very interesting motivation. I didn't yet know the particulars, but this guy was after Demona in a major way. He had stained glass windows in his home depicting the two of them. He was the man who named her. It was all pretty intriguing stuff to me. I love the exchange between him and Goliath. Goliath is a pawn. Mac wants the queen and believes that endangering Goliath is the surest way to ensnare Demona. And how does Goliath respond? By gum, if he doesn't laugh -- MANIACALLY!! And watch how the tables turn. Macbeth is not infallible and suddenly Goliath has him on the defensive. Goliath even uses a MACE!! Great stuff.

Incidentally, we had in the script described Macbeth as wearing a thin layer of exo-armor. And Goliath was supposed to dig his claws into it. Macbeth would escape by detaching from the armor. Instead, the artists did the bit with the duster coat. But I remembered the claws in armor thing and eventually found a place for it... in HUNTER'S MOON, PART THREE.

Finally, watching the episode tonight, my five year old daughter said she spotted the Mona Lisa on Macbeth's wall. I didn't see it. But I believe her. And I wouldn't be at all surprised if that was the original. Too bad about that fire.


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Chapter VII: "Temptation"

[More rambles on individual episodes. As usual, I encourage you to post your responses here.]

Part two of our trio tryptich. Brooklyn looks pretty cool in this one. I have to admit, I didn't realize what a break-out star Brooklyn was back then. I mean I liked him, but I didn't yet realize how much he would really capture a huge chunk of fandom's imagination. (Of course, back then the show hadn't aired yet, so there wasn't any fandom.) But seeing this episode in hindsight, you can sure see how cool this guy was. Good-looking with the hair and the muscles and everything. Even the snout adds to the look.

And he's so sympathetic too. Yes, he gets "turned" by Demona. But he immediately realizes that what she's doing is wrong. He admits his mistake and tries to correct it. He's such a good guy. Later, of course, I'd recognize the star power and attempt to give him his own series: TIMEDANCER.

Back then, of course, I had really modeled the ensemble nature of the show on HILL STREET BLUES. Goliath was my Frank Furillo. Everyone would get their own stories, but Goliath carried the weight. So, although the tryptich was designed to deepen the characters of the trio, you can see that each episode also prominently features Goliath. THRILL: Lex & Goliath. TEMPTATION: Brooklyn & Goliath. DEADLY FORCE: Broadway & Goliath. (And later, LONG WAY TO MORNING: Hudson & Goliath.) Don't get me wrong, I don't regret this at all. I think those are all great stories, and without Goliath they would not have worked as written. But I think the design of them betrays a bit of insecurity. We weren't sure if the other characters could carry their own episodes alone. The nice thing about the tryptich (and LONG WAY) was that it proved to us what a strong ensemble of characters we had built.

Lex has some real attitude here: "You rode a horse once, does that mean you could build one from scratch."

The motorcycle is interesting. It was one of three toy driven elements we consciously put into the show. (The others were in "Her Brother's Keeper" and "Eye of the Storm".) It was a rare moment of Kenner and Disney being in semi-synch. And the toy actually looks like the motorcycle. But of course, what the hell were we going to do with a motorcycle? How could we make that an on-going element in the show. Sure Batman has a batmobile, but the garg-cycle just sounds silly. So we put it in, but Michael, Brynne, Frank and I are so subversive that we blow the thing up before the end of Act One. Kenner never said anything. I'm not sure if they ever saw the episode. (But we weren't being very good partners.) But what goes around comes around. I'll tell the flip side of this when I ramble on Keeper and Storm.

S&P required that Brooklyn wear a helmet when riding. That was fine with me, but I wanted to make an effort to make it organic. Brooklyn puts it on because it's "All part of the look." Helmets make it cooler. Thus helmets are cool. Thus kids will wear their helmets. Aren't we sneaky?

Also, Brooklyn loses yet another pair of sunglasses.

Morgan's back. But he litters. That always bugged me. Talk about setting a bad example.

And is that Margot Yale's actress sister on the television sitcom saying, "Who do you think you are... Elvis?" [Add laugh track here.]

CONTINUITY

"Kindred Spirits" - Brooklyn quotes Lex from Thrill and attempts to make the same kind of connection with the bikers that Lex attempted with the Pack. With similar results. Later, Demona refers to Lex's little adventure with the Pack. This was the moment when Michael Reaves and I decided to attempt to treat the series as episodic but sequential. The order of the episodes would matter. Yes, you should be able to enjoy any individual story... but viewing is enhanced when you see the shows in order. This was not an obvious decision. Most shows REQUIRE that episodes are airable in ANY ORDER. We had that requirement too, up to a point. But we wanted to add something more. To play with continuity. With evolving lives. This wasn't an issue in the pilot five parter. Of course, that had to air in order. And then there was Thrill. Just the first one we made after Awakening. That aired next. But we didn't think about it. But here, we had to decide. So we opted for an episodic but sequential series. (My favorite kind.) We referred to previous conversations. (Elisa's still pestering Goliath about the Xanatos-ticking clock.) And we laid pipe for future episodes, by having Demona rip a few spells out of the Grimorum. (At the time, I didn't even know what those spells were for. But I knew she had them. I knew we'd use them.) We had Demona admit she had lied about how she had survived to the present. Etc. Anyway, all this continuity would later bite us on the ass a bit. (I'll talk more about this when we get to "ENTER MACBETH", which forced us to slightly change our M.O. for season two.) But again, I have no regrets; I think it's one of the things that makes the show special.

Meanwhile, how did Demona know about the Pack & Lex? Although the pact with Xanatos clearly hasn't been broken yet (not till CITY OF STONE, obviously), she also doesn't exactly have free run of the castle. She has Brooklyn steal the book. Of course, she wants Brooklyn complicit. And it's hard to sneak around the castle, when the Gargoyles (at least think that they) are the proprieters. I just always wondered whether Demona might not have been following Lex & Goliath around throughout that entire Pack battle. Or whether, Xanatos just phoned her and told her. Obviously, the former is much more interesting.

ANIMATION

Another great looking episode that we didn't fully appreciate at the time. Lots of great little touches. I love when Demona casts her spell, and then closes the Grimorum with one last flash of magic. So cool. And, as I said, Brooklyn really looks great throughout.

But there are a couple things...

The bikers approach Brooklyn. They get very close, and he's not in shadow. But they don't notice he's a "monster" until he takes off his helmet. What?! The snout didn't give it away?! That scene continues to drive me nuts. I just hate how it was staged.

And when Elisa's lecturing Goliath she is wagging her index finger in his face. That's annoying enough. But worse, the finger seems to get longer (like Pinocchio's nose) the more she wags (or nags). It's sorta mesmerizing. In that scene, I can't see anything else.

CHARACTER

I love how Marina Sirtis' voice bristles when Brooklyn mentions Elisa to Demona. Demona/Marina forces herself to say that the Detective may be "The exception [to human evil] that proves the rule." It seems sincere, but I really hear the hatred underneath.

Elisa tries to talk Goliath into leaving again. This time, she's got an idea where he can go. (So although that seems to be a repeat of their conversation from THRILL, we actually advanced that plot too. Weren't we smart?)

[And yes, I realize that all these rambles sound incredibly arrogant and immodest. I'm sitting here praising me and my team's own work. But what can I tell you? I do really like it. And I figure you guys might still be interested in my -- totally biased -- observations.]

Anyway, I love how what Elisa's saying to a very close-minded Goliath plays right into what Brooklyn heard from Demona. Brooklyn tries to argue Elisa's point. Putting Elisa and Demona, ironically, on the same side. Kudos to Brynne and Michael. It's a great little scene. Of course it ends with Brooklyn and Goliath turning to stone mid-argument. Just like Lex & Goliath did in the previous episode. Frank came to me and warned me not to do that again. Twice in two episodes was enough. At least for a while.

I also love Goliath's lines about "half-truths that [Demona] has thoroughly embraced."

LITTLE TOUCHES

Goliath just loves saying "Joy-Ride". It seems so pleasant.

Lex's double take reactions to finding out the motorcycle was blown up.

Elisa's "Thanks, I think." reaction to Brooklyn saying that he knew that she at least was a worthwhile member of the human race. Brooklyn still isn't quite free of prejudice. A work in progress.

The DEAD BODY. I held my breath on that one. We've got a chalk outline. And a corpse in a body bag. I was sure S&P would balk. But Adrienne was great. She saw that it was important to the story. And since we didn't dwell on it or explain it, she figured little kids wouldn't get it and/or be traumatized. As you can see we had a great working relationship with S&P. I mean, a DEAD BODY! It still shocks me.

Did Demona pay that family to perform their little scene for Brooklyn? I didn't think so at the time. But now I'm suspicious.

Brooklyn has a perfectly innocent line about the Cloisters being a place like the "world we came from" or something like that. Meaning of course, the medieval time that they came from. Once this aired, I immediately start seeing e-mails claiming this as evidence that Gargoyles are from another planet. This misapprehension may be one of the reasons I so quickly got involved with fandom.

Did we cheat? Elisa solves Goliath's slave-spell problem by using the spell to unhex him. I love that little bit. But Michael Reaves and I had a long back & forth discussion where we debated whether we were cheating the audience. (I seem to recall that at different times he and I both came down on both sides of the argument.) We finally decided to go for it. And again, no regrets. I do think it worked. And we sort of both promised each other that we wouldn't pull that kind of thing again. (Airwalker, I think there's a mention of this in the City of Stone memo I sent you.)


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CHAPTER VI: THE THRILL OF THE HUNT

More musings on individual GARGOYLES EPISODES. As usual I welcome reactions and responses posted here based on both your original impressions from when you first saw the episode and later thoughts from repeated or recent viewings.

After the semi-epic "Awakening" multi-parter, Michael Reaves and I consciously set about creating a tryptich to develop each member of the Trio. Lex up first.

In hindsight, we probably didn't do enough Lex episodes. (I think this is Thom Adcox's favorite. He said "Leader of the Pack" at the pro-chat the other day, but the more I think about it, the more I think he was describing "Thrill".) We tried to give each member of the Trio equal coverage, but down the road, Lex might have been cheated a bit. But not here.

I love the fact that Lex is RIGHT. Sure, he's wrong about the Pack, but he was so right about taking chances on people. And I love that as stubborn as Goliath is, he's capable of admitting his mistakes, giving Lex full credit for, uh, rightness. Practically quoting back to Lex everything Lex had said to him.

You may notice that starting with this episode and running through the end of the first season, the writer's got their credit at the beginning with the title of the episode. This was a function of the Disney Afternoon. Michael Reaves rightly objected to the "gang credits" at the end of the two hour block. It had never been an issue before, because annually each new series, i.e. the one with original episodes, had always aired last with its credits immediately following. But in Gargoyles' first season, we aired on Fridays at 4pm, a half-hour before the last show. That meant that the writers' credits didn't appear until a half hour after the show ended. Gary Krisel agreed to make an exception and display writer's credits at the head of the episode for that one season. I wish I had fought to make that rule permanent. I didn't. Mea culpa.

I think Thrill is important right off because it established a few things which today we take for granted, but which I think were, at the time, fairly unusual for a cartoon series.

CONTINUITY.
--Xanatos was still in prison. He hadn't just "somehow" gotten sprung between the end of Episode 5 and the beginning of 6.

REAL RAMIFICATIONS.
--The Gargoyles won the Awakening war. And the castle still wasn't theirs to keep. At every turn, Michael and I just tried to make things play in a slow, steady logical progression. I wasn't trying to change the world in every episode. Not because I'm against world changing, but because each new situation was fascinating to explore. But we wouldn't let the world stand still either.

Early on, you can still see signs that to the creators, the audience AND the other characters, the Gargoyles themselves were still a wonderfully alien species. (And I don't mean that literally. Geez.) We tried to maintain the perspective of creatures out of their time. Goliath is stubborn, even dense and condescending toward Elisa, when she tries to convince him to leave the castle. But I think from his POV, his responses were perfectly natural. Xanatos was banished. The castle was theirs. The concept of ownership was sketchy for the Gargoyles at best, but if they did understand it, they understood it in the "Possession = Ownership" sense. The notion that Xanatos could still "own" the castle after an embarrassing defeat was completely ALIEN to Goliath.

Likewise, look at Fox's actions at the end of the episode. Can you imagine Fox in any later episode crudely taking a hostage? It seems like she checked her brain at the door. But it works for me because at that time, she (and we) didn't truly know what an angry gargoyle was capable of. Maybe Goliath would dismember her. Our boys got so borderline cuddly as the series progressed that I had to remind everyone just how dangerous they could be in HUNTER'S MOON. But Hunter's Moon wouldn't have worked back in Season One. Because in Season One, no one would have been shocked by Goliath's desire for Demonaesque vengeance. Maintaining that edge was always very important.

But if Fox wasn't acting her brightest here, I think Wolf was. That scene with Susie and Billy, where he pretends the Gargoyles were monsters sent by the evil ninjas, is about as smart a move as we ever see Wolf make. When you think about it, it's pretty darn clever. For him anyway. In later episodes, I think I got too big a kick out of making him dumb. I could justify it after UPGRADE. But if I got back, I think I'd give him a bit more of a mental edge.

And speaking of Wolf and Fox, how about that Pack? Their first appearance. The thing I was most struck by in viewing it here is how great they were cast. Clancy Brown, Laura San Giacomo, Matt Frewer, Cree Summer and Jim Cummings. Man, what a great ensemble. Hats off to casting and voice director Jamie Thomason. Time and again, he assembled great, great people for us.

There are a lot of little touches that make me smile. Jim Cummings "narration" during the appearance at Madison Square Gardens is priceless. We were consciously trying to do a professional wrestling meets (the hated) Power Rangers thing, and it amuses me to no end. There's that very anime shot of the Pack standing absolutely still (a held cell) while spotlights pass over them. It's very cool.

I even like that we got the notion of the Daily Tattler into the episode. That was something I wanted to expand on more. The Gargoyles never made any real attempt to keep themselves very hidden. Oh sure, they weren't holding New Olympian style press conferences, but they didn't sweat it if they were spotted. But we figured that the more of an urban myth they became, the less the majority of the population would believe in them. And once stories about Gargoyles started regularly appearing in the Tattler, people would be sure the whole thing was faked. I'm not sure we mentioned the Tattler again until Hunter's Moon, which is too bad. Though it does show how consciously Michael and I were echoing first season concerns and contrasts in that final mini-series.

Fox and Lex. Their relationship is established in that one moment when she strokes him under his chin. Even I didn't know that down the road they'd become flat-out allies thanks to Alex. Hell, back then I didn't know Alex was on the way. Didn't even know that Fox and David were an item. The characters were just beginning to teach me who they were and what they wanted.

Action-wise this thing is taut. The Pack just keeps coming and coming. The Gargs never have a chance to catch their breath. And, then, suddenly, they do. And the tables turn fiercely. And the Point of View, as well. We are ALWAYS on the side of the hunted. When it's Goliath and Lex, we get very little of the Pack. Just snatches of them attacking. The gargs struggling to stay alive. But up on that roof, we abruptly switch POV. Suddenly, we're following the Pack. Even, dare I say, sympathising with them. Not that we want them to win. But we begin to identify with them as they battle these strange creatures. I love that.

It's hard to believe, but when Frank Paur and I first saw the animation on this episode we were crushed. I look at it now and think its gorgeous. But we were so spoiled by the Awakening animation, we thought this was a debacle. Later we'd get some truly mediocre animation and learn to appreciate the good stuff more. But back then... we were idiots.

Those tv lines were my idea. I love television. I mean I really, really love it. And I hate when people attack it. I think on a percentile basis, there's more good work being done in television than any other medium. Doesn't mean there isn't a lot of crap being done. But that's true in everything. But still it's fun to poke fun. To bite the hand that's feeding you every once in awhile. One of the trio says: "The Pack is just like us. They fight evil. And they do it on television." (I just saw the episode half an hour ago, and I can't be sure who said it. That's pathetic.) Of course, whoever said that didn't mean to say that the Gargoyles were also on television. That was an afterthought. But it's a bit of an in-joke for us and our audience, because the Gargoyles are just like the Pack. I just like to think they had a better show.

But my favorite is Hudson's line: "Maybe we shouldn't believe everything we see on the television..." A lesson we all should live by.

And finally, "Thrill" contained the first of what would soon be a Gargoyles Trademark. The Xanatos Tag. Our favorite manipulator snatching partial victory from seemingly overwhelming defeat. Again, something vaguely revolutionary for a cartoon. You gotta love the guy.


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Elisa writes...

i've wondered this for a long time, but, why is Elisa Maza's hair color so wild? i mean it's blue; she's the only one with an odd hair color. why is that?

Greg responds...

In cartoons and comics, giving a character a blue/black sheen is a visual conceit that implies very dark black hair. If we actually used solid black, you'd get no light or shadow. No sense of density. Just the absense of color. The blue allows more play. I'm so immersed in the conceit, I don't even see it. At any rate, I'm quite sure that she's not the only character we did that with. (Superman, for years before John Byrne, had the same blue-black hair.)

Response recorded on February 26, 2000

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Craychek writes...

Hey Greg, if you do manage to get Gargoyles or one of the spin offs(I would prefer Gargoyles 2158, but that's my opinion) would you use the same animation team that did the animation for the first two seasons of Gargoyles?

Greg responds...

I'm not sure we could gather the exact same people. And we had multiple teams in multiple countries. Some did a better job than others. Or are you talking about Pre-Production?

Response recorded on February 23, 2000

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Cid Highwind writes...

Hello..

I was wondering what other Animation shows (If any) Do you like?

Greg responds...

As a kid, I was a big JONNY QUEST, SPEED RACER, SPACE GHOST, HERCULOIDS fan.

I liked almost anything with Marvel or DC Super-Heroes in it. (I had very undeveloped tastes.)

I watched tons of cartoons and liked more than I disliked probably.

When I was at Disney, I liked Gummi Bears, some DuckTales, Talespins, Darkwings and Old Development Bonkers, among other shows.

These days, I watch almost no cartoons. I really love KING OF THE HILL. I like FUTURAMA a lot. SIMPSONS is about as weak as it could be right now, but there's usually something in every episode that makes me laugh.

Response recorded on February 23, 2000

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Lazarus writes...

Given the recent trend in American animation (more violence and other, darker, elements), if there were to be a new Gargoyles series, would it be darker than the original? Or would it still be targeted for a 16 and under audience?

Greg responds...

I don't agree that you've described the recent trend in American animation at all. Quite the reverse, I think there's been a sad backlash -- caused mostly by video games, etc.

Animation is getting softer, not harder. Lighter, not dramatic. The percieved (not real) failure of Prince of Egypt, convinced everyone that drama doesn't play in feature animation. Anime is still seen as peripheral. And the crossover hit is Pokemon, which is as fluffy and light as things come. I can't sell a drama to save my life right now.

As to how that relates to Gargoyles. It doesn't. Not if I was in charge. The tone wouldn't change in either direction. Because the show I made was the show I wanted to make. And that wouldn't change.

Response recorded on February 20, 2000

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AWAKENING: PART FIVE

More tidbits and observations...

The first appearance of the Steel Clan. It's a silly little thing, but at the time I was ridiculously pleased by the name "The Steel Clan". It just seemed so right. Cool sounding, tough. And yet original and appropriate to the series. It was one of those early moments that made me feel like I was really tapping into the Gargoyles Universe.

Also the first appearance of the Eyrie Building Lobby Security Guard. The one that Oberon will later do his Obi-wan number on. I never forget a minor character.

One reason some of the editing is different between the video version and the tv episodic version has to do with when the two separate products were due. (I'm not referring to the TV movie version that's been appearing recently. I have no idea who edited that one. Or when. Or why.) As I've mentioned before, the video version was not originally created for video. It was created for our world premiere on two big screens at the movie theater multiplex on Pleasure Island at Walt Disneyworld. That premiere was in September of 1994. But the series premiere was almost a full month later. While I was supervising the editing of the movie version, Frank was (relatively speaking) taking his time on the five episodes. In my editing bay, we didn't have the luxury of waiting for all the retakes to come back before we had to complete OUR edit and lock picture for sound design. In fact, sometimes we were editing to pencil test animation. That's animated pencils without background paintings or ink or paint. It can sometimes be very hard to read at all. But we had to make decisions based not soley on "ART" but also on what we likely thought we'd get back in time to get the two prints made for the Florida premiere. Sometimes we cut little pieces that wound up turning out fine and making it into the episode.

Generally, I think the animation in this episode is just stunning. A few examples.
--Hudson lifting Bronx off that train.
--The whole scene with Xanatos, Demona and Owen standing beside the Steel Clan robots while they are covered with sheets. Some incredible shadow work. And the character stuff is so sweet.
--Some gorgeous battle stuff with those robots.
--The castle tower blowing up, crashing and falling apart.
This and more can still take my breath away.

I love all the Demona-Goliath-Elisa triangle stuff. It's all spelled out in the confrontation when Goliath wants to go keep his appointment with Elisa, and Demona's trying to stop him. If Demona hadn't been so bloodthirsty aboard FORTRESS-1, would Goliath have even remembered his appointment with Elisa? Or would he be off cuddling with his long-lost love?

Anyway, that whole conversation is just full of delicious irony -- all working against Demona. Goliath says, "I cannot make war on an entire world," completely unaware that that's exactly what Demona wants to do. He says, "Doesn't Xanatos prove that some humans can be trusted?" But of course, Demona knows that Xanatos absolutely cannot be trusted. Every statement Goliath makes pushes Demona toward further extremism. And he isn't even trying. Finally, after Demona reminds him of the Wyvern betrayal and Massacre, he says that the ones responsible for that "have been dead for 1000 years." Now putting aside that the Captain and Hakon aren't quite as dead-dead as Goliath thinks, this has got to push Demona over the edge. Deep down she knows her own responsibility. Again Goliath is wrong, because the traitor is standing right in front of him. My hats off to Michael Reaves. What a great scene! "So be it." she says. Goliath won't know it until VOWS. But they are DONE. Right there.

Cultural Differences 101: Elisa is trying to convince Goliath not to trust Xanatos. I don't remember the exact line, but she says something with the word "three" in it. (Maybe refering to the three disks or the three Cyberbiotics installations...?) Anyway, to indicate three she holds up her index finger, her middle finger and ... her thumb. It still looks totally goofy to me. I don't know anyone who wouldn't use their ring finger with the other two, using the thumb to hold the pinky down. Does anyone know if in Japan the thumb is preferred?

When Demona's destroying FORTRESS-1, Goliath is standing around stunned. She tries to get him to leave, but he refuses. Finally, she pulls him out. What was supposed to happen was that the tilting ship was supposed to dump him out the hatch at the same time Demona was pulling. So that he was more unwilling to abandon the crew of the ship. But it never animated with the tilt going the right way.

In our original development we planned on making a lot bigger deal of all the various Xanatos Enterprises sub-divisions. You got a taste of that with PackMedia Studios and Gen-U-Tech (a.k.a. Gen-U-Tech Systems or G.U.T.S.). But we were also going to make a bigger deal of his robotics division, which was going to be called the Scarab Corporation. (Thus the scarab design that appears on the transmitter.) But Xanatos wound up being even more hands-on then I anticipated. Less Lex Luthor. More his own glorious self. So Scarab never got much of a spotlight because Xanatos handled those kinds of adventures himself and/or the robots handled things themselves (cf. Coyote in Leader of the Pack). For those of you who have been to one of the Gatherings and seen the original Gargoyles Pitch, you might recall a giant chrome cockroach climbing up the side of a building to attack Goliath. That was going to be a Scarab Corp. creation.

Isn't Xanatos just too cool:
"Let's let them play out there little drama, shall we?" He's so amused. He can't resist watching the confrontation. And for once I don't feel like it's cause he's a villain stupidly giving the hero time to turn the tables. He's sincerely entertained by the show.

"Without me you'd still be gathering moss." Nuff said.

There's another great little dialogue editing moment. Real subtle. When Demona says: "The plan was perfect." Goliath whispers "Plan?" She says something else and then he completes his thought "What Plan?" That little overlap wasn't scripted. It was another product of me having the luxury to really nurse those dialogue edits on those early scripts.

There is good and evil in all of us. Human and Gargoyle alike. Hey, Lexy, there's another major theme of the series. No one group has a monopoly on either attribute.

One thing that never quite worked for me, was the reveal of Demona's name. She makes such a big deal of it. But the name (at this point in the series) just doesn't have enough resonance for me yet. Later, sure. "Demona". We all sit up and take notice. But there. "Demona". Yeah, so? Did that moment play for you guys?

Goliath is about to toss Xanatos off the building. Elisa begs him not to. That'll make you just like Demona she says. Then Hudson pipes in and says, "She's right, lad. Is that what you want?" I intentionally instructed our voice director Jamie Thomason to direct Ed Asner to read that line with ambiguity. Hudson DOESN'T care whether Goliath tosses David or not. He simply wants Goliath to make an informed choice.

And yeah, yeah, David & Goliath. Perfect opposites.

Elisa: "Maybe, we'll catch a Giants' game."
Goliath: "Giants?"
Were any of you surprised when a Giant Oberon attacked the castle?

As usual, I encourage responses posted here, on either your original feelings when seeing the episode for the first time and/or newer more recent observations from repeat or recent viewings.


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AWAKENING: PART FOUR

More random observations...

Jogger's first appearance.

Cyberbiotics first true appearance.

Bruno (aka the Commando Leader) gets a bit of character development. I remember when voice director Jamie Thomason asked Jeff Bennett to do that voice. Jeff asked what Jamie wanted and Jamie said something like: "Do a George C. Scott/Patton thing." I don't know if that's what I'm hearing, but I like the end result.

We see Vinnie for the second time. Of course, we still didn't know that was Vinnie yet. His nose is HUGE. He must have had a little work done between this show and Metamorphosis. (Not the smartest way to spend money when you're out of work.) One of my favorite bits in "Vendettas" is the reveal of how exactly Vinnie was knocked out by Goliath aboard the airship. In Awakening IV, Goliath lifts Vinnie out of the shot. We hear a loud <SMACK> and Vinnie falls unconscious. The implication being that G knocked him out. But in Vendettas, Cary and I showed what was previously off-screen. You see that the <SMACK> came from G hitting his fist against the wall. Vinnie wasn't knocked out. He fainted.

Elisa looks damn good with her jacket off. I wish we had had more opportunities for costume changes with her. They always work so well.

I always thought that the tranq the Commandos used on Goliath in parts III and IV was pretty unreliable. It seems to knock him down. Then he's up again. Then he's staggering. All very story convenient. You could look at it as a flaw in the episodes. Or you could justify it by saying that they had never had the opportunity to test the stuff on Gargoyles before. It had strange effects.

Owen has one line in the whole episode: A very effective clearing of his throat. You gotta love a character who can be so memorable with so little.

The Commandos seem to be pretty bad shots, until you realize in episode V that killing Goliath isn't really what they're after. In my head, they were told NOT to kill him if they could effectively put a scare into him. Elisa was probably much more expendable. Bruno's discretion.

This seemed like the first episode to use the "CLAW WIPES"... but I'm not sure. A Wipe is one means of moving from one scene to another. Other methods are straight CUTS or DISSOLVES, etc. But Japan started doing these very dramatic CLAW WIPES, where a Gargoyle hand seems to be tearing the old scene away with his or her claws. It wasn't called for in early scripts, but after we had seen it a few times, we started to call it out.

Elisa puts the transmitter on a dog she calls Rover, a dog that's scrounging through garbage in the park. In the very next scene, Hudson is watching TV and a dog that could easily have been Rover as a pup is seen starring in a dogfood commercial. How the mighty have fallen.

There's a few great moments with the trio in this show. Maybe not the obvious ones. I love their exchange of dialogue to Hudson when they come back from their night on the town. We had the opportunity to really edit the dialogue with multiple overlaps and rhythms before it went to Japan. The scene really snaps. In later episodes, we wouldn't always have that luxury.

The scenelet where they fly away from the castle on their way to the Cyberbiotics Tower is also very cool. A combination of animation, editing and sound, that really gives SNAP to their departure. I love it.

Of course, the naming scene is great. Names are so addictive.

And I still like the character development in our love triangle here. Goliath doesn't trust Elisa even yet. Hasn't told her about his daytime vulnerability. And he might not have, if he hadn't been caught outside. But her loyalty and steadfastness really impresses him. I feel the connection very strongly. And I think she does too, when she asks if she can see him again later tonight. It's not just curiosity about a new life-form.

And Demona. I love that wing hug when she and Goliath are reunited. But you have to wonder about that reunion from her point of view. Yes, she's scheming here. But she must be thrilled to see him and the other gargs awake and alive. THRILLED. All those years of lonliness and now her true love is awake. But she never hesitates to prioritize her scheming. All those years of bitterness have stunted her emotions even more.

Finally, lots of people keep telling me that Elisa says "Damn" in the boathouse in at least one version of this thing. But it's not true. We never even recorded her saying Damn. Why would I? No way it would get by S&P, so why bother. Didn't even occur to me. She does grunt right before she says "Empty". And I suppose that grunt might sound a bit like the word "Damn." I mean, I don't think so, but it's the only explanation for this myth that I can come up with.


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AWAKENING, PART THREE

Watched this with the family half an hour ago...

More random observations...

RE: Our supporting cast...

Who knew that Brendan & Margot would wind up being so important? Credit Marina Sirtis, for making Margot so gloriously bitchy.

And then there's Vinnie's first appearance on that motorcycle. Of course, no one knew Vinnie existed back then, which is thoroughly appropriate to his character.

And credit Keith David with breathing real life into Morgan the cop. Morgan didn't even have a name then. He was just a place holder, someone for Elisa to respond to. But Keith made me interested in him.

Little things still bug me. Xanatos' floating ponytail in the scene where he and Elisa first meet.

In the Kitchen, the Freezer door was supposed to have one of those easy to open latches on the inside. The irony being that Broadway could easily extricate himself, if he just knew how to operate the latch (or even what it was). Something a kid could do, assuming the kid was born in the 20th century. But BW has to bust down the door.

In the original script and the recording of that script, it's Brooklyn who says "So many wonders..." and it's Broadway who says "Goliath said not to let anybody see us." But in those early days, lots of people in L.A. and in Tokyo kept confusing their names (and Bronx's) so the animation came back as you see it. And it was easier to re-record the voices then to reanimate. (Or am I getting all this totally backwards? I just saw the show again half an hour ago, and already, I'm confused.)

(CAVEAT: In all these little things, I'll probably be pointing out animation errors here and there. But please understand, I think most of the animation we got, particularly from Walt Disney TV Animation - Japan, was brilliant. I think those guys did a great job and don't get enough credit. But anecdotes generally come out of when things go wrong, not when they go right, so it may seem like I'm talking about mistakes more often than not. Sorry, in advance to Roy Sato or anyone else who might take offense.)

When Elisa is first being checked out by the Trio, there was a scene in the original animation where Brooklyn seems inordinantly interested in her behind. We had to call a retake, cuz the guy was practically drooling. I wonder if that's where I got the idea that Brooklyn would fall for anyone in a skirt (or with a tail).

Also, after Goliath saves Elisa from falling off the building we have a point of view shot from her. It begins at Goliath's feet and pans up to his face, as she takes him in. In the original animation, the pan started at his head and panned down. That seemed less effective, so we had our editors reverse the pan, without calling for a retake.

At the end of Act Two, the door slides open revealing Demona in silhouette, clearly plotting something with Xanatos. That always really bugged me. I didn't want to give away that she was alive in this episode. I didn't want to know who Xanatos was talking to. How did you guys react to this? Did that spill everything? Did any of you not know that Demona was alive? Did any of you, by this point, not know that she and Xanatos were the bad guys?

Elisa says something like "This is where Dracula shows up." when she's walking through the corridors of the castle. If you take that literally (and you might as well), then you gotta figure that someday, Dracula will be roaming that very hallway.

Elisa loses the first in her series of guns, when Goliath crushes it near the end of Act One.

Goliath tells a joke: "And please, don't fall off the building this time." Goliath tells a joke. Can you believe it? It wasn't bad either. We should have let him tell jokes more often.

Elisa's surprise that Goliath can talk is indicative of what I thought a 20th (or 21st) century initial response to the gargs would be. That's why Goliath Chronicles' trial episode bugged me so much. I don't think humans would take for granted sentience. And I think most humans, those less open than Elisa, wouldn't even buy talking as enough evidence that the gargs weren't just beasts. (Cf. Margot Yale.)

Goliath is a pretty begruding hero. That's somewhat unique for cartoons. Elisa asks if there are more gargs, and Goliath responds: "Barely." He cuts her very little slack. But already you can see their relationship developing. I still think Hudson's expression after Goliath sweeps Elisa up into his arms is just priceless.

In that same scene, Hudson gets named for the river. I love that scene, as I loved the scene where Tom, Brook and Lex are talking about names. Of course, the desire not to name most of the gargoyles until we got to NYC '94, was mostly pragmatic. It allowed us to use those fun, cool NY names for most of the characters. But once we came up with the rationale for it, and once I managed to explain it to everyone, I really fell in love with the concept. Hudson's lament, here, that humans don't think something is real until they've put there stamp on it, is, to me at least, so damn true. And Elisa's response is so feeble and circular. "Things need names." Pathetic. But I'm no different. <SIGH> I'm such a human. But I aspire to gargoylosity. Anyway, after Hudson points to the river, and Elisa basically tricks him into taking that name, she used to have a line, as I may have mentioned before, where she said (under her breath) "Good thing we weren't facing Queens" -- implication being that Hudson nearly ended up being called Queen, I guess. It was always funny, but S&P didn't care for it, and I couldn't really defend it. So out it went. We tried another version, where she just says, "Good thing we weren't facing East." But it didn't play. So out it went too.

The thing that struck me most, however, was the almost thorough lack of action in this episode. After all that Viking stuff in Part One, and Vikings and a full act of commandos in Part Two, Part Three is a mood and character piece. Sure Elisa falls off a building, but that was a problem easily solved. Until the commandos' Central Park attack in the last seconds of Act Three, nothing else happens that could genuinely qualify as action. That was mostly a result of what was once a four-parter being turned into a five-parter. The reason we made that change is because Michael Reaves wrote a brillaint four-part script. It was amazing. But it was WAY too long. I was faced with either having to make drastic cuts (as I would later have to do in Avalon and Hunter's Moon) or expand it. Fortunately, Gary Krisel and Bruce Cranston saw the wisdom of expansion. For one thing, it would save us money. But also, it made sense because we could run the five parts across a whole week of the Disney Afternoon like a mini-series special event. It wouldn't require us to re-program one day of that first week. So we were all agreed, the four parter would become a five parter.

But that meant adding act breaks, and redividing everything. The episode that most benefited was Part One. In the orignal version, Part One covered all of what is currently part one, plus the first act of what's currently part two, i.e. ALL the Scotland stuff. The episode ended with Goliath's "suicide". A great ending, but we would have obviously had to cut a TON out of the flashback. This way we were able to expand into part two and preserve almost all of the story.

So Part Three winds up being nearly action-free. And by the way, I love that. I still think the episode works great, and it proved to me that the charcters themselves could really hold the audience's attention. (I'm such a proud papa. Unashamedly so. It must be pretty obnoxious.) I wish we had always had the luxury to be so... well, luxurious. To expand and play character. But generally a half-hour format makes it tough. I'm very sick of writing half hours, actually. But the powers that be in Animation believe that kids can't or won't sit through an hour long show.

As usual, I welcome posts here responding to this episode. Both your original reaction to seeing it for the first time, and your current reaction if you've seen it again recently.


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Zeliard writes...

Hi, other than your work, do you watch other cartoons?

Greg responds...

Very rarely, these days.

Partially, this is a free time issue. As in, I don't have any...

But partially, it's a reaction to the horrible things I know about the animation business. I get angry about behind the scenes stuff, and I don't need more reasons to be pissed off.

Response recorded on February 09, 2000

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Aaron writes...

Just out of curiosity, was MacBeth's Paris home based on an actuall house? Thanks.

Greg responds...

Not that I'm aware of, but it's possible that our layout artists used some reference for it.

Response recorded on February 09, 2000

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Darkling writes...

Hi Greg,

I just read the post where you said the long term chances for getting a Gargoyles series back on the air were 'good to very good'. Since you've worked on CGI shows now, do you think a future Gargoyles show would benefit from being CGI, or would you prefer traditional animation?

Greg responds...

It would depend on the show.

I think G2158 would be perfect for CGI. But I'd hate to do Dark Ages in CGI, though maybe not for the reasons you think.

Response recorded on February 09, 2000

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Jade writes...

Dear Gerg,
Before the Gargoyles were on T.V. and you were making up the story in your head did you see how Goliath and the others would look like or was that the just the drawers imaginateon.

Greg responds...

All this was a process. Keep in mind, this was never a one-man show. I always had various inspirational designs and drawings in front of me. I also have a fairly visual imagination.

Response recorded on February 03, 2000

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Tiffiny Whitney writes...

Again, I don't think this violates any of your rules. Don't worry...I'm not asking you for a job! However, I would like to know how you get into the business. In fifth grade when I was totally into the show, I had so many ideas it was weird (and I think of them now and develop them into better plots and write fics). So, I consider myself pretty darn creative and I think maybe I should try and get into this stuff. Is there any way you can help me or at least give me advice on how to get into the "business?" Thanks! :)

Greg responds...

There's no one way to get into the business. (I assume we're talking about as a writer.) But I think it's safe to say that the best thing you could do is get a superb education. If you were in 5th grade when the show was on the air (which by the way, makes me feel like a complete geezer), then I'm guessing you're in 9th or 10th grade now. Finish high school. Go to college. Study literature. Study mythology. Study creative writing. And write. Read. Write. Write some more. Write every day. Read your own words out loud. Read the classics. Read the newspapers. Write. Write some more. Proofread. Etc.

If you really want to be writing cartoons, move to Los Angeles. Get sample scripts and write your own "spec" scripts. Take classes. I periodically teach a class in Animation Writing through UCLA Extension. (Kevin Hopps and I will be teaching a comprehensive 20 week version of the class this April - September.) But even when I'm not teaching it, UCLA Extension usually has someone else teaching it.

But mostly write.

Response recorded on February 03, 2000

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Aspiring Animator Jennifer writes...

Greg, thanks for taking the time to read this.
What were some of the artistic inspirations for the varied Gargoyle designs? Were there specific types of architecture or animals the artists looked at for inspiration? For their different designs, what species' anatomy did the artists look most at? Please share some of the working ideas leading up to the final character designs we all know. Also, please share the artistic reasons or design necessities for the Gargoyles' different colors.

Greg responds...

Jennifer,

I'm afraid I'm a bit out of my depth with your question, as I'm not an artist myself. (Plus, I'm somewhat color blind.) There are others who could better answer this for you.

In particular, Kline, Guler, Felix, Schwartz, Takeuchi, Paur. Roy Sato may know more than me too.

What I provided was character detail, physical type. I knew I wanted Zafiro to be inspired by Quetzacoatl. Leo, Una and Griff by English heraldic gargoyles.

I knew what physical type I wanted Goliath to be, Hudson to be, Broadway, Brooklyn, Demona, Angela, etc. But the inspiration, the anatomical reference, etc. Was left in the capable hands of talented folk who could draw.

Obviously, actual stone gargoyles were a huge influence and inspiration.

As for the WHY to there multiple colors, well, we were making an animated show. It seemed more visually interesting.

Hoped that helped.

Response recorded on January 10, 2000

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Vanessa writes...

Ok, My question is not related to the content of the show, but the production.

1. How closely did you work with each of the departments (ie. writers, artists, actors, etc.) while you were making the show?
2. Who had the final say about what actually aired and what got cut?

Greg responds...

1. The writers and story editors worked for me directly.

The actors worked for our Voice Director Jamie Thomason, but I sat right next to Jamie at every recording, so I knew them very well.

The pre-production artists worked under Frank Paur, Dennis Woodyard and Bob Kline, and I largely dealt with those three Director/Producers as opposed to having direct contact with the artists. BUT -- there were tons of exceptions and I got to know many of the storyboard artists fairly well. Plus I had brought our (2nd season) lead character designer Greg Guler onto the show in its development phase. So I worked fairly closely with him.

I also had one on one meetings with our timing directors.

As for the actual overseas production artists. People like Roy, I had no real contact with them. Mostly I left that to Frank, though I occasionally communicated with the head of Walt Disney Japan via FAX.

In post, I worked directly with everyone. Editors, Sound folk, music, etc.

2. There isn't one answer to this. I had a tremendous amount of authority on the first two seasons, but I did have people I answered to. Largely, they gave me pretty free reign. Frank had equal authority. We generally agreed or at least could reach a solution together. Occasionally, whether we agreed on something or not, a decision would go up the ladder.

Response recorded on August 23, 1999

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--D writes...

I don't suppose you might be able to tell me where I can purchase copies of the original episodes?

Greg responds...

Nope. Sorry.

Response recorded on August 21, 1999

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Derek! writes...

What did you think of Disney's new Tarzan movie?

Greg responds...

I was very impressed with it. I liked it. It was gorgeous. And it's certainly closer to Burroughs than most Tarzan movies are. But I must admit it failed to really move me. It didn't reach inside me as, for example, GREYSTOKE: THE LEGEND OF TARZAN did. That movie I loved. Closer in spirit to Burroughs than anything I've ever seen.

Still, Disney's TARZAN was a magnificent achievement.

Response recorded on August 17, 1999

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*The Bride of Ringo* writes...

Hi again... :-)

My question this time is are gargoyles right handed or left handed the way humans are? I know it's kind of silly, but I've always wondered that since I've never seen any of them take a pen or pencil and write anything.

Greg responds...

I suppose many are ambidextrous. Since in animation, that's not a detail we have the luxury of paying much attention to.

Response recorded on August 17, 1999

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Derek! writes...

This is my first time too. But, I've read through the entire archive and these questions remain---
1.What exactly is a leica reel?
2.In RECKONING, Demona said she knew every surviving Gargoyle. When she said this, was she assuming Goliath's clan was the last, or did she know others?
3.I know there are a lot of questions for you to answer here, but could you please continue THREE BROTHERS soon? You left us at the most interesting part.
4.Are you constantly getting ideas for possible stories (For Gargs) and jotting them down?
5.If so, I was wondering if you've cracked that scarecrow story yet.
6.A few months ago, I E-Mailed the Editor of Gladstone comics about a Gargoyles comic book and he said that when they were done sorting out some leagal problems, some of Diney's newer properties would be considered for publication, including Gargoyles. but, he said a comic series would be more likely if Gargoyles was at the hight of it's media exposure and basically challenged us fans to get Gargoyles into the media eye again. Do you ahve any suggestions?
7.How did you feel when you learned Gargoyles was voted best animated series in USA Weekend's Toon TV showdon?
8.Would the new PACK member have been a full human like Dingo?
9.HOBGOBLINS OF LITTLE MINDS- care to devuldge any info?
10.Same deal on the Coldstone in the Himmilayas (sp?) comic book .
Okay, that's all I can remember. By the way, thank you for keeping in touch with the fans. It really helps to keep this series alive.

Greg responds...

Hi Derek,
1. A Leica Reel is a storyboard shot onto film or video (or into a computer) and cut to time. Dialogue, temp music and temp sound effect tracks are often added so that, you FEEL like you are watching a reel of actual footage. It's LIKE-A-REEL. (I'm told that's the real origin of the term, though I don't know if I believe that.)

The rest of your questions are on multiple different topics. So based on our new rules, you'll have to resubmit them as multiple separate posts. I welcome you to do just that.

Thanks.

Response recorded on August 17, 1999