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As a writer and creative, you've been responsible for some of my most cherished childhood and adulthood favorites. Given your experience, I wanted to know what one's approach would be when they come up with a story that they could see manifesting as an animated series? Do you flesh the whole story out as if writing a novel, or do you try and create episodes on paper and tell the whole story; is the process entirely different altogether? I would love your insight on this sensei. Thank You
Are we talking about selling or producing? They're two very different processes.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Hi, Greg. I hope you are well. This is a follow up to an earlier question about what not to say while working in the entertainment business.
Would you say that it is best not to publicize your political opinions while working in the entertainment business - especially if they go against the mainstream? Would you suffer some kind of retribution if higher-ups don't like what you have to say?
Let me give you two examples. They are my examples, everyone. I am not saying Greg even has an opinion on either of these issues. Let's say you disagree with Israel's treatment of the Palestinians and say so on an online forum - not as an employee of Warner Bros. but as a private citizen. Or, let's say you think corporations have too much power over the U.S. government and that corporate donations to political campaigns ought to be banned.
Would publicly expressing such opinions be a career ending move? Should you limit such discussions to friends and family?
I'm not too shy about expressing my political opinion. I'm a liberal Democrat and that's hardly a secret. And, GENERALLY, I work in a liberal industry, so there aren't a ton of repercussions professionally.
On the other hand, I try not to be obnoxious about it. And "politic" about when I bring things up. There are appropriate and inappropriate times. Again, most of this is about common sense and being polite.
On the third hand, I'm not that interested in using my position to make online political statements. I AM interested in using my fiction to make those statements: hopefully with some finesse, if not subtlety.
Most people who know me would say I'm book-smart, but not street smart. (I'm a little like Dustin on Stranger Things.) I have an unfortunate tendency to not be politically smart and blurt out exactly what I'm thinking. Sometimes it gets me into trouble.
How do you deal with that as someone working in the entertainment industry? What do you do, just for example,if someone asks you what you think about the current Spider-Man cartoon, and you happen to think that it sucks? What do you do if somebody asks you what executive producer John Doe is like, and you happen to think John is a jerk? Do you lie? Do you massage the truth? How do you do that? Can you give some examples? As someone who will probably always be socially inept, I'd love to know.
Teach me, oh wise one.:)
Mostly, it's about (a) thinking before you speak and (b) utilizing common sense.
A lot depends on who's asking me. Do I know this person? Do I trust this person? What does this person do?
If it's a reporter, I'm going to be way more circumspect unless I'm confident I'm speaking off the record.
If I think a show (or Producer) sucks, I'm not likely to say that unless I know the person I'm talking to and trust that person not to spread it.
Some of this is political. I don't want to burn bridges; I have to work in this town, etc. But some of it is just being polite and considerate. I don't review other pop culture for a living, and I don't need or want to be a jerk, tearing down the hard work of other professionals just because it's not to my taste.
Having said that, keep in mind, I haven't always been "wise" about this stuff. I had a massive learning curve as early answers in ASK GREG will probably reveal.
In the rise of tv shows being streamed on individual networks how can we support Young Justice and other shows like it? If this is a really simple solution, I am sorry as supporting shows and comics like this has been really complicated in the past with pre orders and toy lines and I would like a professional in the industry to clarify if it is not too presumptuous.
Basically, subscribe to the service that carries YJ. Back in S3, that was DC Universe. For S4, that'll be HBO Max. That's the best way.
Buying Blu-Rays and merch helps too.
Hey Greg, i have a question which hopefully won't be misconstrued as a spoiler request. You mention way back when that Cartoon Network wasn't ready to display openly LGBT characters in cartoons. However with Legend of Korra and later Star vs. the forces of Evil, Gravity Falls, Steven Universe and whatnot being more open with LGBT elements in series with a young demographic:
1. Do you think that Cartoon Network would be more open to having openly LGBT characters on Young Justice.
2. And in your opinion will cartoons in general start displaying more LGBT characters/themes?
Thanks in advance..
1. I honestly don't know. It's kind of a moot point vis-a-vis Young Justice, as season three won't be on Cartoon Network.
2. I think so. I hope so.
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?
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.
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!
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.
Do you enjoy having conversations with people about your work (If they are not asking for spoilers or trying to pitch you ideas etc.