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Aspiring Comic Book Writer writes...

Hello Greg,
My friend and I really want to start a comic book company, but we do not know how. I was wondering if you could give us some helpful hints or tips for getting started. Thank you very much for you time and answers.

Greg responds...

Hints on starting a company? No, sorry. I don't know how.

Response recorded on September 03, 2013

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Barnabas writes...

1a. When you are working on a series and have to deal with a story bible or design document, is it inclusive of scripts and detail or just an over view.
1b. If they get to large is it common to separate them into their own documents? ex. A document for characters biographies and another for plots/timelines.
2. When changes are made to either a script or story bible do you use strike-through until it is finalized or simply delete the content?
3. When I am working on story boards or scripts I try to make characters actions be causality based and driven by their personality, moral alignment and available options. Is this similar to how you create your story lines?
4. How can I make characters engaging and direct through dialogue in scenes that are relaxed?
5. What is your going rate for projects and would you be interested in working with Mark Crilley or Luaren Faust?

Greg responds...

1a. Most series bibles are written in advance of scripts. Mine TEND to be very thorough, including plans for stories, etc. But, no, by definition, it does not include all the details included in all the scripts. I try to update/revise the bible as we proceed. But by that time no one's looking at the darn thing anymore, so keeping the bible on track is a luxury and a low priority and almost always falls by the waysid. I'm not sure what you mean by a "design document".

1b. For a television series that doesn't seem like something that would ever happen. Years ago, I did do the bible for the entire Platinum Comics Universe, and that was so long that I did split it into multiple sections.

2. See above. But I tend not to use strikethrough very often. I tend to just revise.

3. Yeah, pretty much.

4. Get in their heads. Be clear what they want. Be clear on the difference between what they want and what they know they want. HEAR THEIR VOICES.

5. I'm not going to tell you what I get paid. Sorry.

5a. I'm always interested in collaborating with talented folks, but I'm not going to get specific about any individual.

Response recorded on May 01, 2013

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wintersmith writes...

Are you cursed? If so please provide name of curser and last known adress, thank you.

Greg responds...

Let's please not perpetuate this "cursed" thing. I mean, seriously, that's all I need. For the next guy who might want to hire me to think I'm cursed and/or incapable of going beyond two seasons.

Response recorded on April 19, 2013

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Erica writes...

Why do networks love canceling your shows? Seriously, your shows are always my favorite on any network that they're on, and yet that network always thinks that it's a great idea to cancel it!

Greg responds...

It's nothing personal. Believe me. I'd love to indulge my paranoid side and think it is, but it just isn't.

Response recorded on April 19, 2013

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Amy writes...

Greg,

1. When you write an animation spec how much blocking do you put into the episode? My research says I should describe every single twitch of the character's face and body so that the animators in Korea will get everything right. But I wrote a short episode for a company that told me I should only do that if I'm both the writer AND the animator. I should just stick to short details like I would for live action. So who is right?
2. I assume the best way to answer that question is to read examples of animated scripts--Is it possible to obtain copies of Young Justice scripts from season 1 somewhere? Should I go to a script library in LA or attempt to contact Cartoon Network for a copy?

Greg responds...

1. There is no right and wrong. Every series has it's own rules. I'd love to say there's a standard, but there just isn't. On MY SHOWS, we use the scripts to direct the entire episode, including camera angles, etc. The actual directors and storyboard artists aren't restricted to doing the script exactly as written, but by being thorough like that, I feel more confident that at the very least, they know what I'm looking for. If they come up with better ideas, great. I don't know that I've ever seen an animation script that was totally Master Shot style, a la live action. But I've seen many that lean way more in that direction. But it's not the way I work.

2. You can. But I don't recommend it. Currently, though we're not thrilled about it and hope the situation changes someday, YJ is dead. You want your spec script to be for a show that's CURRENTLY IN PRODUCTION. On that level alone, YJ doesn't qualify as a good way to spend your time if you're serious about getting work in the industry.

Response recorded on April 18, 2013

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Blizzard Sprite writes...

Hello, Mr. Weisman.

These questions are an extension of the previous question I submitted.

6. Before Nielsen ratings were released for animated programs, what size audience had to be attracted in order to keep a show alive on a network? Since you worked on a number of projects over the years, it would make sense that you'd have a pretty good grasp on the matter.

7. How important are Nielsen ratings for animé dubbed into English and subsequently aired on the channels? Ratings for these shows almost never appear on ratings outlets, like Zap2It (http://www.zap2it.com/) and TV Series finale (http://tvseriesfinale.com/).

Thank you for your time.

Greg responds...

6. Nielsen ratings pre-dates my professional career - by a lot. (How old do you think I am exactly?) Anyway, ratings mean different things in different times. Before People Meters, kids ratings in general were way higher than after People Meters became standard. There isn't some fixed number that says this is good. Below this is bad. Everything's relative.

7. As important as for anything. Bigger numbers are better than smaller. But a show that's cheaper to produce can get away with lower numbers and skate by. But ultimately, if a program is dragging a network down, it's toast.

Response recorded on March 13, 2013

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Blizzard Sprite writes...

Hello, Mr. Weisman.

I had a few questions that pertain to the Nielsen's ratings system.

1. Why isn't there any public information about Nielsen's ratings for most of the animated series that have been on television? Classic cartoons and many of the modern ones have virtually no ratings tied to them. In the past few years, the figures have been released for programs that have performed well for cartoons, such as the animated series that currently air on Fox, Avatar: The Legend of Korra on Nickelodeon, Adventure Time on Cartoon Network not to mention Young Justice, as well as a few other programs on or were on the air.

2. Are networks allowed to request that the ratings for a show be withheld or simply not released to the public? In addition, why are the ratings released for some episodes of animated television programs, such as Young Justice or Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, while not being provided for others?

3. As someone who has worked on a variety of animated projects over the years, were you given the exact ratings of a program to work with? By that, I mean were the exact ratings made available to you, and if so, who provided them? Or was that information not provided? And did these particular ratings have any leverage on what would go in the animated universe?

4. What were the ratings like for your original animated series, Gargoyles? A search on Google turns up an article, http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-15899915.html, which requires a subscription to read in full, reads:

"Walt Disney Television Animation's Gargoyles new animated show delivered a strong 2.8 Nielsen metered-market rating and an 8 share average over a special stripped debut Oct. 24-28. That was up 33% in share from its,"

5. Are you even allowed to discuss the ratings of an animated program, or is there a contractual obligation that prevents you (and others) from doing so?

Thank you for your time.

Greg responds...

1. As far as I know, anyone can PAY to get Nielsen results. But if you don't feel like paying, then you're reliant on getting those results from entities that have paid. Those entities tend to be news organizations (that may not think enough of the general public has an interest in cartoon ratings) or networks (who are only going to display ratings that make them look good and/or suit their current strategy). But I'm no expert.

2. You've got it backwards. Nielsen is a COMPANY that charges for its services. It's not some public forum that networks have somehow forced to withhold info from you. If you really want the info, go pay for it.

3. Very inconsistently.

3a. For example, on YJ, we occasionally got ratings reports from CN via our bosses at WB.

3b. Often, we got no info.

3c. Absolutely not, because by the time ratings came in we were way past committed to whatever creative decisions had been made. Whether those numbers effected air dates, hiatuses (hiatusi?) or pickups is a your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine thing. I haven't seen enough of the raw numbers myself to make an evaluation.

4. As I recall, during our first season on Gargoyles, when we were weekly, our ratings were very strong. Our second season, when we were on five days a week, was during the peak of the Power Rangers craze, and although our ratings were solid, we were consistently beat by that show, coming in at number two for our time slot week after week after week.

5. There's no contractual obligation, but there are political considerations. Plus, as I said above, I'm not always informed. And I'm not fond of passing on rumors or making half-assed guesses.

Response recorded on March 13, 2013

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Facts and Fiction about "Deadly Force"

Facts and Fiction about "Deadly Force".

We got a shout out here:

http://m.mentalfloss.com/article.php?id=33538

15 Temporarily Banned Episodes of Popular TV Shows

"Deadly Force" made #5!!! Which is very, very cool!

It's ALWAYS nice to be talked about, and I don't want to sound like a churl, but in the very short paragraph describing the situation, there are at least four errors. Here's the original text from the website:

5. Gargoyles, "Deadly Force"
Controversy: Gunplay

While pretending to use a gun in "Deadly Force," Broadway accidentally shoots Elisa and attempts to cover up his crime. Although this episode was initially pulled from the rerun cycle thanks to objections by advisory groups, it was eventually re-aired after editors removed some of the blood from Elisa's shooting. It has since been added to the DVD collection.

Error #1: Broadway wasn't "pretending to use a gun". He was playing with an ACTUAL gun, pretending to be a cowboy. (This one may sound nit-picky, but I don't think the original phrasing is clear at all.)

Error #2: "[Broadway] attempts to cover up his crime". Not really. He's so afraid and ashamed, he runs away and hides. When Goliath accuses Dracon, it takes Broadway a few minutes to own up to his culpability. But there's no attempt at a cover-up.

Error #3: "[T]his episode was initially pulled from the rerun cycle thanks to objections by advisory groups..." That's untrue. In fact, the REVERSE is true. Advisory Groups LOVED this episode. For example, we got a positive write-up in Madeline Levine's "Viewing Violence", which I can tell you was not overly kind to most animated television series. No, the truth is we were fine when the series was in syndication and when it was rerun on the USA network. But when it moved to what was then called "ToonDisney", a new group of Disney S&P execs over-ruled what our original S&P exec had decided and ignored ALL the good press that the episode had received. Thus (for a long while), TPTB removed it from the rerun rotation.

Error #4: "...it was eventually re-aired after editors removed some of the blood from Elisa's shooting..." Again, this is inaccurate. The episode aired ONCE with the excessive blood, because Frank Paur and myself didn't get the retake with less blood back from Japan in time. WE were the ones who wanted less blood, because (a) we didn't want it to appear that Elisa had already bled out and (b) that much blood seemed distracting, like we were trying to get away with something instead of trying to tell the story. By the episode's second airing, the retake was in and the episode aired multiple times with less blood in syndication and on USA before the series' reruns moved to ToonDisney, and the version with less blood was pulled from the rotation. It's reinstatement had nothing to do with quantity of blood. It was originally brought back for Halloween marathons - I suppose because TPTB at ToonDisney thought they could get away with it on Halloween. Then later, when we began airing VERY, VERY late at night, I suppose they figured there was no reason not to include it.

Anyway, so there you have it. Still glad we were mentioned, but I figured I should set the record straight on these points.

I'm sure you're all still wondering why my presence here at ASK GREG has been so minimal. I'm still quite swamped with work, but I wanted to try to post a little something...


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the greenman writes...

1) Reading the Stargate bible, have ever considered a Star Trek animated series? I know Paramount is very strict on that property.

2) Will you ever do another series of your own creation?

Thank you very much. Have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Greg responds...

1. I'd love to do one, but no one's asked me. (Keep in mind, I was asked to develop Stargate. I don't just go out and independently develop series based on properties that somebody else owns.)

2. Again, I'd love to, but no one's bought anything original that I've pitched in a VERY long time.

Response recorded on December 28, 2012

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Tom writes...

Young Justice: Invasion is the only comic series I've bought regularly (came close with the Jaime/Blue Beetle one couple of years ago). Like the TV series it's got a great mix of characters and tells a bunch of engaging stories at an all ages level. I love being able to read a series and share it with my younger brother (So many of the 'normal' series are intensely violent and feature sexual assault so often...).

So, thank you and your staff for making this series so great! It's always sold out at our local store. I'm sorry to hear that it's ending in two months.

What are your thoughts on how to keep comics relevant and get them to people, particularly younger crowds? Are downloads making a difference? Would releasing more series as longer graphic novels twice a year rather than shorter monthlies help? What about the content? Thanks for your time!

Greg responds...

I don't claim to be an expert on these topics. Generally, I just write the kind of stories that _I_ would like to read.

Response recorded on December 26, 2012


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