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RJB writes...

Hi Greg,

1. Do you think that "quality of writing" is something that the average person might have a stronger opinion about compared to other subjective creative forms like art or music? Does that make it more likely that you'll get people complaining about the quality of the writing in a show rather than any other aspect of it?

2. Is it fair to say that a lot of complaints of this nature are ignorant of the many factors that go into making a show outside of purely creative decisions? Stuff like budget, scheduling or availability that might influence what's reasonably possible to do in a specific time frame?

3. Have you noticed these kinds of criticisms getting worse over time? I feel there wouldn't have been as many people complaining about "Hello, Megan" during the time of Gargoyles, or maybe even Spidey.

4. I get that armchair criticism has always been around and that social media has provided a bigger platform for it, but the recent negative reception to stuff like the ending of Game of Thrones or Star Wars The Last Jedi has made me curious about your perspective on this kind of thing.

Greg responds...

1. I do think that. My hypothesis - untested, unconfirmed - is that in a literal sense, nearly everyone knows how to "write". They know how to grab a pencil, pen or keyboard and put words on a page in an order that is at least comprehensible to another human being. So there is, perhaps, a subconscious assumption that if they just set their minds to it, that they could write stories, too - as good or better as most of the professional writers out there. On the other hand, to take your examples, not everybody believes they can draw or make music. Those talents seem esoteric, special, unique. I believe they strike a bit more awe - at least generally - than writing does. So the writing becomes the easy target. Or at least the easier target. But, of course, I'm a writer that can't draw or make music. So it makes sense that I should believe I'm under attack more. Human nature. So take it all with a grain of salt.

2. I think that's very fair to say. (And this is reading a bit like I posted these questions myself in order to defend myself with the answers. Not that I'm complaining.)

3. The internet is... well... awful... in so many ways. And its spread and influence has increased over the years, so, yes, it is definitely getting worse. But it hasn't really changed. Back in the pre-internet days, I'd still get nasty letters (sent via the post office) on Captain Atom. And the basic percentage of praise to criticism to abuse is really about the same. It just feels multiplied by the internet. The quantity of feedback is exponentially larger. And, again, human nature being what it is, I can get literally 50 tweets of praise, which are then wiped out of my mind by one mean tweet.

4. Well, I hated the ending of Game of Thrones, too... and I had mixed feelings about Last Jedi... but that wasn't the point of your question. It definitely FEELS worse. The main thing that people don't seem to get is that I LIKE MY SHOW. Brandon and I like what we've done. Not every frame, mind you, but overall, we LIKE OUR SHOW. And we are making the show WE WANT TO MAKE. I don't mind that people don't like it. (It'd be lovely, I suppose if we had 100% praise for the thing, but I honestly don't expect that. Ever.) What gets on my nerves is the assumption that many "fans" (or hate-watchers) have that we should be making the show that THEY WANT US TO MAKE, and that we're failing because we're not MAKING THEIR SHOW instead of MAKING OUR SHOW. That does grind on me. You want to shout out: "GO MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN SHOW!! No one's forcing you to watch ours!" But, of course, that's not a particularly politic statement to make. And more hate-watchers are still more watchers.

Response recorded on September 13, 2022

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Imaad R writes...

Hi Greg! I'm such a big fan of you and the spectacular team's take on Spider-Man. I grew up with Spectacular, (and young justice!) and it came back as a big inspiration in my life as an artist and writer after insomniacs fantastic games and rereading the classic comics from when I was a kid. You have created my favorite versions of these characters by modernizing them and giving them that classic feel in ways that blow my mind. Im a pretty classic spidey fan (i love lee/ditko/romita) despite being in my teens and I value cohesion like your take did. I have a question however from an aspiring writer to a professional;
If I think that a version long passed (yours) was the best version of something, what can I do to personally find a way to make my own take, despite having a similar mindset? Should I be afraid to be similar?
I would really value your opinion and again, thanks for your fantastic and inspiring work. Really hoping to see more of your stuff!

Greg responds...

Well, first off, thanks.

Secondly, as a professional, I really wouldn't spend much time (even much idle brain time) adapting something that you don't own, unless you're (a) being paid to do it or (b) you have a reasonable hope of being paid to do it. And even for (b), I wouldn't recommend doing very much work until someone said, "Yes! I love where you're going with this. Let me pay you to go further." Instead, I'd recommend coming up with your own original thing. Blow us away with that. And then maybe will want to trust you to adapt something that is theirs, e.g. Marvel with Spider-Man.

But finally, to get to your question, I guess I wouldn't sweat it too much. If I adapt Lee/Ditko or Lee/Romita comics, I'm still borrowing from what came before. And I'm not stopping there, nor am I shy about "stealing" from any of the source material from any era. Because, that's NOT stealing. It's adapting. I'm sure my adaptation had many similarities with others that came both before or after Spectacular. Of course it did. We're all going back to the same source material. So how could it not?

Response recorded on March 08, 2022

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Jerry writes...

The shows that you do, are they in different languages? Like French, Spanish, Russian, even Chinese? I ask because I like to use cartoons as a language learning help (also because I love cartoons in general)

Like Gargoyles, there's a French theme some, are there also French episodes?

Thank you!

Greg responds...

I assume so.

Response recorded on August 16, 2021

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Charles Beale writes...

As a live action film producer/director, I’ve often thought some ideas might be created as an animated series. What guidance would you give to someone looking to branch into animation? Assume I have no existing relationships.

Greg responds...

Your best bet is to go through your agent, who should be able to get you meetings with animation execs.

Response recorded on August 16, 2021

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Marvelman writes...

Sorry to put you on the spot but...

Roy Thomas alleges here, https://www.bleedingcool.com/2019/04/18/an-open-letter-to-dc-comics-from-roy-thomas-on-paying-and-crediting-whats-due/ that DC Entertainment has not paid him royalties for their use of Artemis who he created. How do you feel about this?

Did DC ask you to change Artemis' name to Tigress or was it just a story/character decision?

Greg responds...

DC did not ask us to change Artemis' name to Tigress. That was a purely story-driven decision. (And her name is still Artemis Crock.) Besides, to my thinking Roy created BOTH Artemis and Tigress (i.e. the Tigress version of Paula Brooks).

I worked as Roy's assistant editor at DC in the mid-80s. He was very good to me. And, of course, I personally think he deserves royalties on the Artemis character, no matter what she's called.

In the Bleeding Cool article linked above, he's wrong on only one point: when he says that virtually every other character in YJ has creators listed. Unfortunately, that's not true. No matter how many creators he sees credited on our show, the vast majority of characters still do not receive creator credits - or only include some but not all of their creators. How they decide who does and doesn't receive that credit (and the royalties that go with) is a complete mystery to me. I have been pushing back against this from Day One... to no avail.

Now, I might honestly get in trouble for posting this. And it won't change anything, anyway. So a big part of me is hoping that Ask Greg doesn't have much of a reach.

Or that I'm politically smart enough to delete this post.

But I'm not.

Response recorded on July 26, 2021

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Marvelman writes...

Hi Greg,

Having watched the first half of season 3, I can honestly say that the writing on Young Justice is as sharp as ever. As always, some episodes like "Evolution" and "Nightmare Monkeys" are better than others, but that's going to be true of any show.

However, I recently re-watched "Depths" from season 2, and I have to say that the quality of the animation on Outsiders is just not at the level of the animation on seasons one and two. What would account for this? Is your budget smaller? Did you switch animation houses? Or, do you not agree with the premise of my question?

Don't get me wrong. I think the animation is okay. It's just not as good as prior seasons.

Greg responds...

Our budgets are technically higher, but are (with inflation) more or less the same. We did switch animation houses. But we had to. The world has changed. There's way more production in Seoul than there used to be. It's way more competitive for studios and artists over there.

But basically, I don't agree with the premise of your question. We've had mixed animation success in every season, with strong episodes and weak episodes and everything in between. I'd put the animation on "Nightmare Monkeys" up against anything we did in Seasons One or Two. And there are episodes in all three seasons that had us pulling our hair out over the animation. In the end, however, I think they all cleaned up respectably.

Response recorded on July 26, 2021

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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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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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