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As a live action film producer/director, Iâve 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.
Your best bet is to go through your agent, who should be able to get you meetings with animation execs.
Hi Greg. I'd like to ask for some career advice.
1. I would love to write for animation. Besides writing as much as possible, what steps should I take that would make me a better writer for this art form?
2. I love animation, but cannot draw nearly good enough for any type of decent storyboarding. Is this something I need to fix in order to write for animation? I'm good at describing what I want to see, but I'm worried not being talented at drawing will hurt my chances.
3. I'm curious on your stance in terms of writing CAMERA ANGLES and TYPES OF SHOTS in the script. Traditionally, I've been taught to leave that to the director as much as possible. How do you tackles this when you write?
4. In action sequences, how detailed do you go? Do you give a general description for the director or an actual play-by-play. For example, is it more: "they trade punches, parrying each other until Clara gets an opening and hits Harry across the face." OR "Clara goes for the uppercut, but Harry leans back and dodges, then attempts to sweep her legs. Clara jumps over the kick, then grabs his shoulders, and head butts her opponent. She makes up for the previous miss with a fist to the face." (Just came up with that, so obviously not the best examples but hopefully that suffices).
4. What should I do to get hired on a show? I know that connections are key, but as someone who has no connections, what's the best thing for me to do? I have a spec of another show and a pilot for an original series. I'd love to be a writer's assistant, but that also comes about through connections. I have occasionally messaged a creator on social media and asked if there was any opportunities on their show, but I know that's hardly a good method to pursue a career. Any guidance on this aspect would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for taking the time to answer these fan questions.
1. Sebastian, I'm going to refer you to the ASK GREG Archives on "Writing" and "Writing Tips" and "Biz, The". No offense, but I've answered this basic question so many times, it's kinda pointless for me to right it up again.
2. I can't draw stick figures well.
3. When I began in animation, we used to do much more directing in our scripts, as opposed to live action scripts, where you are advised to stick to Master Shots. Nowadays, we limit that calling of shots and angles, etc., to specific needs, e.g. we need a close-up on that light switch being turned off or a wide shot to reveal who is in the room or a tight close-up on a character's lips turning up into a cruel smile, etc.
4. I go for the specifics, because it expands page count. And page count equates to time. And if you're script is too long, you'll have to cut. So we try to get an accurate sense of time in the script, even if the board artists chose to choreograph the fight a bit differently.
5. Pre-pandemic, my first question would have been, "Where do you live?" And if your answer was anywhere other than Los Angeles, my second question would have been "When are you moving to Los Angeles?" Now, all the old rules are out the window, at least for the time being. I'm not sure what to recommend. Some of the advice in the archives should still be helpful. Otherwise, we're all just going to have to wait and see what happens, post-pandemic - assuming we ever get post-pandemic.
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.
Hi, and thank you for taking time :) why didn't air YJ in Germany? Or would be there at lesst some german subtitles within a DVD release in Germany? Pls can you do Fans from Germany a favour: DON'T FORGET US over here and bring YJ to Germany, too, please! :)
I'm sorry, but all those questions and requests are way above my pay grade. They don't tell me anything about international distribution at all. And I have no control over it either. Wish I did. I'd make sure EVERYBODY in the world had it!
What in the animation industry has changed since you first got into it, for better or for worse?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Big fan here (I reply to you on Twitter sometimes!) and I thought I'd make use of this site to get some help with my intention to write for television in the future!
First off, I'd like to say how much I love Young Justice. From the moment I finished the first episode, I was hooked. I'm quite a seasoned animation fan but I must say Young Justice is probably one of the best things I have ever watched; particularly it was the animation and writing that drew me in the most. I wasn't really into comic books too much before with the exception of adaptions from TV like Adventure Time, and manga; but Young Justice awakened a part of me that just had to look further into the characters, and now I'm completely taken in by the DC universe, it's so wonderful and for that I thank you for helping to bring Young Justice to light!
The show is truly an inspiration for me; I intend to become a writer for television, animation being my ultimate goal, in the near future. In September 2014 I will be starting a screenwriting course at university. I live in the UK, but hope to move to America in future to have a better chance of landing a writing job in animation.
1) What would you recommend I seek to do when I finish university? Would becoming an assistant at a TV studio help as a start?
2) Do you draw storyboards? I am not very confident in my drawing abilities and I'm worried this might affect pitching and demonstrating my ideas.
3) What are some key terms or quotes that have stuck in your head during your writing career? Things that people have told you and you have remembered and applied to your work?
4) Who are your inspirations? What programmes did you enjoy when you were a kid/teenager?
Thank you so much for taking the time to read and answer my questions!
1. It wouldn't hurt. Get in there. See first hand how things are done. The main thing I recommend, you already plan to do, which is to move to where the work is. Second, WRITE. Third, REwrite. Fourth, PROOFREAD RELIGIOUSLY.
2. No, I can't draw stick figures well. I team up with very, very talented artists.
3. "Less is more."
4. Space Ghost. Speed Racer. Jonny Quest. Herculoids. Anything with Marvel or DC heroes in them. Hill Street Blues. Cheers.
Hi Greg. I am a big fan and I have a copyright question for you . The characters you use in Gargoyles are besides the main cast are mythological. So that would put them in the public domain, but your spin on them is that protected by copyright. Such as Oberon and Titania's connection to Avalon and their devours.
Thanks and Cant wait for Rebels and whatever else you do.
Oberon and Titania, to use your examples, are public domain. But our designs of them are not. And it one began to hew too closely to the backstories we created for them, Disney could, in theory, sue.
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
YOUNG JUSTICE 08:00pm - 09:00pm
Main "Villains" Omni-International
SATURDAY, MAY 30, 2015
SIGNING 11:00am - 12:30pm
ANIM CREATORS 02:00pm - 03:00pm
w/Ben Mangum, Mike Reiss
SIGNING 05:30pm - 07:00pm
SUNDAY, MAY 31, 2015
SIGNING 11:30am - 01:00pm
GARGOYLES 02:00pm - 03:00pm
Main "Villains" Omni-International
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!
1. Did you ever worry that you would be approached to start working on shows you've done in the past while you were already working on one? (Ex: Let's say you were working on Young Justice, but Disney approached you to work on Gargoyles again.)
2. What would you do if situations like that ever came up?
1. No, I should have such problems. I'm usually lucky to find one job. Having two I wanted that badly has literally NEVER come up.
2. I don't really deal in hypotheticals. The realities in front of me are confusifying enough.
New interview on Cinepresto, where I talk about my background, the biz, Gargoyles, Star Wars Kanan and the Rain of the Ghosts AudioPlay!
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.
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?
The Gargoyles Twentieth Anniversary U.S. Tour continues. Stop #5 is MechaCon in New Orleans, LA: http://www.mechacon.com
Here's my schedule for the weekend:
FRIDAY, AUGUST 1, 2014
04:00pm - 05:00pm: VOICE DIRECTING PANEL
Panel Room 1. With Jonathan Klein and Andrea Romano.
06:00pm - 07:00pm: OPENING CEREMONIES
08:00pm - 09:00pm: GOLDPASS MEET-N-GREET
SATURDAY, AUGUST 2, 2014
11:00am - 12:00pm: SIGNING
Signing Room, Secondary Events. I'll be selling and signing copies of my new novels RAIN OF THE GHOSTS and SPIRITS OF ASH AND FOAM. $10 cash for each book, which includes the book and a personalized signature. But if you buy both books for $20 cash, you also get free signed copies of the original development character designs by Kuni Tomita for the television version of Rain that never was. In addition - and by popular demand - I am selling and signing an array of my animation teleplays for $20 cash from such series as Gargoyles, Team Atlantis, DC Showcase (Green Arrow), Men in Black: The Series, The Spectacular Spider-Man, The Batman, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, W.I.T.C.H., Young Justice and even the 2009 Radio Play "The Spectacular Spider-Man Meets Gargoyles". I'll also sign anything else you bring and put in front of me for FREE - especially if you buy my book. ;).
02:00pm - 03:00pm: STATE OF THE ANIMATION INDUSTRY PANEL
Panel Room 1. With Jonathan Klein, Andrea Romano and Steve Yun.
03:00pm - 04:00pm: SIGNING
Signing Room, Secondary Events.
05:00pm - 06:00pm: GARGOYLES TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY PANEL
Panel Room 1.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 3, 2014
10:00am - 11:00am: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN PANEL
Panel Room 1.
11:00am - 12:00pm: SIGNING
Signing Room, Secondary Events.
12:00pm - 01:00pm: RAIN OF THE GHOSTS PANEL
Panel Room 1.
02:00pm - 03:00pm: YOUNG JUSTICE PANEL
Panel Room 1. With Khary Payton (voice of Aqualad, Black Manta, Brick, Black Lightning).
03:00pm - 04:00pm: SIGNING
Signing Room, Secondary Events.
If you're anywhere near NOLA, stop by and say hello!
So the #Gargoyles20 U.S. Tour continues. Stop #3 is CONvergence in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Well, actually in Bloomington, Minnesota, but close enough.) http://www.convergence-con.org
This is a big one for us. It includes a number of events that we used to do at the old Gathering of the Gargoyles Conventions, which ran from 1997-2009. And I know a bunch of Gargoyles fans will be attending, so it'll also be a reunion of sorts.
My schedule for the long weekend is quite packed - which is just how I like it!
THURSDAY, JULY 3, 2014
2:00pm - 3:00pm GARGOYLES RADIO PLAY AUDITIONS
Ever wanted to be in a radio play? Now is your chance! We are holding auditions for a live performance at CONvergence! You don't even have to be a fan of Gargoyles to enter. You just have to know how to read! Casting: Myself and Jennifer Anderson (Talent Coordinator on The Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice). Casting decisions will be posted by 7:00pm on Friday, July 4th. ATRIUM 7.
3:30pm - 4:30pm BUFFYVERSE TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY
Okay, so Gargoyles ISN'T the only show celebrating an anniversary. The Buffy/Angel universe has been off the air for ten years. Let's reminisce and talk about the impact these shows have had on TV fantasy since their cancellation. Panelists: Myself, Tim Lieder, Cetius d'Raven, Madeleine Rowe, Mark Goldberg. EDINA.
7:00pm - 8:00pm OPENING CEREMONY
If it's not exactly a magical invocation, it is nonetheless our official kick-off for the convention! Join CONvergence mascot Connie as we welcome our Guests of Honor, give out some awards (including the Mark Time and Ogle winners), and get this party started. Panelists: Myself, Amy Berg, Emma Bull, C. Robert Cargill, Sarah Clemens, Scott Lynch, Marina Sirtis, Frank Paur, Matthew Ebel, Dawn Krosnowski, Greg Guler, Rob Callahan, Windy Bowlsby, Michael Lee. MAIN STAGE.
9:00pm - 10:00pm GREG WEISMAN'S FANCY BASTARD PIE COMPETITION
Geek Partnership Society is excited to host the Greg Weisman Fancy Bastard Pie Competition at CONvergence 2014! It is open to all CONvergence members who wish to participate. The goal is to make a pie that Greg Weisman, herein to be known as "Fancy Bastard", likes best. The winner will be told super-secret Young Justice spoilers. Find out [some of] what would have happened in Season 3! (But winner must swear to secrecy to claim prize.) See below for some helpful hints.* CABANA 110.
FRIDAY, JULY 4th, 2014
11:00am - 12:00pm GARGOYLES RADIO PLAY AUDITIONS
Ever wanted to be in a radio play? Now is your chance! We are holding auditions for a live performance at CONvergence! You don't even have to be a fan of Gargoyles to enter. You just have to know how to read! Last chance to audition! Casting: Myself and Jennifer Anderson (Talent Coordinator on The Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice). Casting decisions will be posted by 7:00pm on Friday, July 4th. ATRIUM 7.
12:30pm - 1:30pm FROM TV TO COMICS
We'll discuss the TV shows that expanded into the comicverse, such as Buffy, Smallville, Young Justice and Gargoyles. Did they succeed? Were any of the comics improvements on the shows? How did canon change during the transition? Panelists: Myself (Gargoyles, Young Justice), Shawn van Briesen, Jonathan Palmer, Greg Guler (Gargoyles), Karine Charlebois (Gargoyles, Bad Guys), Christopher Jones (Batman Strikes, Young Justice, Bad Guys). PLAZA 2.
2:00pm - 3:00pm SIGNING
Myself, Christopher Jones (Young Justice, The Batman Strikes, Parallel Man) and Greg Guler (Gargoyles, Phineas and Ferb) will be holding a signing session. Both Chris and Greg always have an array of stuff (books, prints, etc.) to sell and sign. But this time I'm pretty darn prepared as well. First off, I'll be selling and signing copies of my first novel RAIN OF THE GHOSTS for $10 cash, which includes the book, a personalized signature and signed copies of the original development character designs by Kuni Tomita for the television version of Rain that never was. In addition - and by popular demand - I am selling and signing an array of my animation teleplays for $20 cash from such series as Gargoyles, Team Atlantis, DC Showcase (Green Arrow), Men in Black: The Series, The Spectacular Spider-Man, The Batman, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, W.I.T.C.H., Young Justice and even the 2009 Radio Play "The Spectacular Spider-Man Meets Gargoyles". I'll also sign anything else you bring and put in front of me for FREE - especially if you buy my book. ;) CONVERGENCE CENTRAL.
3:30pm - 4:30pm CREATING GARGOYLES
This is what we used to call (at the Gathering) the Rocky Horror Gargoyles Show. The creators of Gargoyles show clips and tell stories of how the show came to be. Lots of visual aids. Panelists: Myself (Creator, Supervising Producer/Story Editor, Writer), Frank Paur ( (Supervising Producer/Director), Greg Guler (Lead Character Designer). ATRIUM 6.
7:00pm - 8:00pm TIME TRAVEL THEORY
Let's assume for a moment that Time Travel is possible. This panel will explore the theories behind such technology. We'll explore quantum realities, temporal anomalies and all other challenges our theoretical time travelers will be face! [Now, I suggested this panel, but then they went and put some actual scientists on the damn thing. So I may quickly be embarrassed into silence.] ;) Panelists: Myself, Nicole Gugliucci, Jim Kakalios, G. David Nordley, Amy Berg. ATRIUM 4.
8:30pm - 9:30pm GARGOYLES Q&A
Join the cast and creators of the "Gargoyles" series and SLG companion comic books to ask and talk about the property. And, as always, Cosplayers are welcome! Panelists: Myself (Creator, Supervising Producer/Story Editor, Writer), Christopher Jones (Bad Guys guest artist), Marina Sirtis (voice of Demona and Margot Yale), Frank Paur (Supervising Producer/Director), Karine Charlebois (Gargoyles Guest Artist, Bad Guys Artist), Greg Guler (Lead Character Designer, Gargoyles Guest Artist). MAIN STAGE.
SATURDAY, JULY 5th, 2014
9:30am - 10:30am GARGOYLES SIGNING
Myself, Marina Sirtis (voice of Demona and Margot Yale) and Frank Paur (Supervising Producer/Director) will be holding a signing session. Again, I'll be selling and signing copies of my first novel RAIN OF THE GHOSTS for $10 cash, which includes the book, a personalized signature and signed copies of the original development character designs by Kuni Tomita for the television version of Rain that never was. In addition - and by popular demand - I am selling and signing an array of my animation teleplays for $20 cash from such series as Gargoyles, Team Atlantis, DC Showcase (Green Arrow), Men in Black: The Series, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, W.I.T.C.H., The Batman, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Young Justice and even the 2009 Radio Play "The Spectacular Spider-Man Meets Gargoyles". I'll also sign anything else you bring and put in front of me for FREE. CONVERGENCE CENTRAL.
11:00am - 12:25pm GARGOYLES RADIO PLAY REHEARSAL
This is a closed session - for those who were cast in the Radio Play - led by Myself, Jennifer Anderson (Talent Coordinator on The Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice) & Marina Sirtis (voice of Demona, Margot Yale and Queen Bee). ATRIUM 6.
12:30pm - 1:30pm GARGOYLES RADIO PLAY PERFORMANCE
Fans and professionals - including Myself (voice of Donald Menken and Lucas "Snapper" Carr), Jennifer Anderson (Talent Coordinator on The Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice), and of course, Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi from Star Trek TNG and the voice of Demona, Margot Yale and Queen Bee) - perform a LIVE, ORIGINAL Gargoyles radio play! ATRIUM 6.
2:00pm - 3:00pm GARGOYLES BIOLOGY AND CULTURE
A "what if" panel about the biology and culture of the Gargoyles universe. Creators and performers speculate about anything and everything going on outside the frames of the TV series. Panelists: Craig A. Finseth moderates Myself (Creator, Producer) and Greg Guler (Lead Character Designer). ATRIUM 7.
3:30pm - 4:30pm RAIN OF THE GHOSTS
I'll be reading from and talking about the world and characters of my novel "Rain of the Ghosts" and its sequel, "Spirits of Ash and Foam," which comes out July 8th, 2014, one week after the convention! ATRIUM 3.
7:00pm - 8:00pm ONE ON ONE WITH GREG WEISMAN
Hal Bichel will moderate a one-on-one panel with Myself. PLAZA 2.
8:30pm - 9:30pm SIGNING
Once again, I'll be selling and signing copies of my first novel RAIN OF THE GHOSTS for $10 cash, which includes the book, a personalized signature and signed copies of the original development character designs by Kuni Tomita for the television version of Rain that never was. In addition - and by popular demand - I am selling and signing an array of my animation teleplays for $20 cash from such series as Gargoyles, Team Atlantis, DC Showcase (Green Arrow), Men in Black: The Series, The Batman, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, W.I.T.C.H., Young Justice and even the 2009 Radio Play "The Spectacular Spider-Man Meets Gargoyles". I'll also sign anything else you bring and put in front of me for FREE. CONVERGENCE CENTRAL.
10:00pm - 11:00pm BLUE MUG
Ever wonder about the sexual habits of Gargoyles? Ever wonder who was sleeping with whom among the Young Justice Team or the cast of Spectacular Spider-Man? Join us for for a late night peek at your favorite animated series. This panel will get blue! (So attendees will be carded!) Panelists: Myself, Christopher Jones, Mara Cordova (Last Tengu in Paris Artist). It is also rumored that Edmund Tsabard (an unfancy bastard and Last Tengu in Paris Writer) may make an appearance. EDINA.
SUNDAY, JULY 6th, 2014
11:00am - 12:00pm PROTOFEMINISTS IN SHAKESPEARE
Shakespeare portrayed several intelligent, independent, and self-aware women--Juliet, Lady Macbeth, Katharine, Beatrice, Viola, Rosalind. We'll discuss the problematic and the remarkably (for the era) fleshed-out aspects of their representation. Panelists: Myself, Elizabeth Bear, Ashley F. Miller, Joseph Erickson, Alexandra Howes. EDINA.
12:30pm - 1:30pm GARGOYLES FAN PANEL
It's the 20th Anniversary of Gargoyles. Come share your favorite moments from the show. As always, Cosplayers are welcome! Panelists: Daniel Mohr moderates Myself, Ryan Alexander, Robert Wagner, Maggie Schultz, Jennifer Anderson, Karine Charlebois. ATRIUM 6.
2:00pm - 3:00pm SIGNING
Myself and Greg Guler (Gargoyles, Phineas and Ferb) will be holding one last signing session. Greg G. always has an array of stuff (books, prints, etc.) to sell and sign. And I'll be selling and signing copies of my first novel RAIN OF THE GHOSTS for $10 cash, which includes the book, a personalized signature and signed copies of the original development character designs by Kuni Tomita for the television version of Rain that never was. In addition - and by popular demand - I am selling and signing an array of my animation teleplays for $20 cash from such series as Gargoyles, Team Atlantis, DC Showcase (Green Arrow), Men in Black: The Series, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, The Batman, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, W.I.T.C.H., Young Justice and even the 2009 Radio Play "The Spectacular Spider-Man Meets Gargoyles". I'll also sign anything else you bring and put in front of me for FREE - especially if you buy my book. CONVERGENCE CENTRAL.
3:30pm - 4:30pm YOUNG JUSTICE
Creative minds behind the Young Justice TV and comic book series will talk about this fan favorite. We're planning some special surprises as well. And, as always, Cosplayers are welcome! Panelists: Myself, Marina Sirtis (voice of Queen Bee), Christopher Jones (Artist YJ Comic). MAIN STAGE.
5:00pm - 6:00pm CLOSING CEREMONY
It's not over 'til the gynoid sings - or something like that. Join CONvergence mascot Connie and our Guests of Honor as we say farewell to another convention. Shenanigans may ensue. Panelists: Myself, Amy Berg, Emma Bull, C. Robert Cargill, Sarah Clemens, Scott Lynch, Marina Sirtis, Matthew Ebel, Frank Paur, Dawn Krosnowski, Greg Guler, Windy Bowlsby, Rob Callahan, Michael Lee. MAIN STAGE
SEE?!! I told you there was a lot. And that's only the stuff that I'm doing. CONvergence is jam-packed with all sorts of pop culture nutritional goodness. So stop by and say hello!!
*In the interest of Full Disclosure, Fancy Bastard would like all to know that he especially likes the following pies:
BERRY (pretty much any kind of berry or a mix of same)
BANANA CREAM (herein to be known as the funniest pie)
Combinations of some of the fruit pies can be great. Contestants are welcome to try other pies at their own risk.
Fancy Bastard does NOT especially like the following pies:
Anything with Chocolate or Lemon or Meringue
Raisins in Apple Pie
Almost never Cherry, though he has tasted the rare exception...
On a slightly different note...
1. Do you watch/like the TV series "The Big Bang Theory"?
2. As you may know (if you've seen or heard about the show) some scenes in some episodes take place in a comic book store. Now I am not that much of a regular viewer but one time in an episode in the comic book store in the background on the racks was a copy of one of the Young Justice comic books! It must have been from a while back because I believe it was either issue #0 or #2. So I'm sorry I don't know the exactness but if I find out I'd let you know (or do you already know?)
3. I ask because I wonder if you are in some entitled to something because your comic book appeared on a TV show. Do you know if there should be some sort of payment or recognition for people whose work appears in such a manner due to copyright material?
4. Do you know or would you know someplace I could be directed about copyright issues? Like say I want to use the Flash in a comic strip; some people would say it's fine, but does credit need to be given to DC Comics or do I have to get permission from DC to use him? Or say I want to take a clip of the Flash from one of the YJ episodes; again should DC be consulted? Do you think the same thing would go for stores?
5. What's been your experience with issues like these? Say you might have wanted in one of your shows for characters to enter a Starbucks; do you have to ask permission from said company first?
Thanks a lot Greg!
1. Yes and yes.
2. I'd heard, but I hadn't noticed it myself. So I missed seeing the issue/episode.
3. DC owns all that. They don't have to pay me for using it as a prop.
4. Personally, I'd avoid using someone else's property in your work, period. But I'm no lawyer. And, no, I don't know where to direct you to research this.
5. I would pretty much NEVER do that. At most, I'd do a pastiche, like the FOREVER 16 SUBURBAN OUTFITTERS (instead of FOREVER 21 and URBAN OUTFITTERS) that appeared in Young Justice #0.
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
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?
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?
I'm not sure if "animation-phobic" is the correct term, but interest is not high.
Hi, Greg, just following up from what you said on twitter. Did you hear the comments Paul Dini made about why shows like Young Justice were not renewed?
Here's a link to the specific clip
And a link to the full podcast in case anyone else wants it
What are your thoughts on this?
For the record, I listened to the clip but not the entire podcast. So if I missed out on some important context, I apologize.
I agree with a lot of what was said, but I don't agree that the executives didn't want girls to watch. (And I'm not really sure that's exactly what was being said, though that's the way it's been reported on that internet thing.) The target audience for Young Justice was ALWAYS Boys 6-11. If we ALSO got girls that was fine. If we got older kids, tweens, teens and adults, that was fine. If we got younger kids, that was fine.
But we had to hit the target: Boys 6-11. And we did to some extent, but not enough to compensate for the loss of our toy line. Anyone who says the show was cancelled because too many people (of any specific demographic) were watching us, is, I think, grasping at straws. It's not that too many were watching, it's that NOT ENOUGH were watching in our target demographic. Even then, if the toys had sold, we would have been fine. But the toy line was cancelled, which took away our financing for the series. And that was that.
You had mentioned that you negotiated with Jeffrey Katzenberg to get the publishing rights for Rain of the Ghosts. Did you attempt to acquire the rights to any other property you developed while at Dreamworks?
I have turnaround rights to pitch a couple of other properties that I developed there.
Now that I've posted all my episode thoughts...(in theory I still plan on doing the same on the comics, but...) I want to say thank you for the series in general. (I'd go into details, but it seems redundant after posting all those responses.) I've thoroughly enjoyed it in all its parts. Well, by the time you read this the video game will be out. [Yep!] I probably will have to sit it out. Pathetic as it is, I have to admit to some motion sickness from a lot of video games. I'm assuming I'll be able to get some pretty detailed descriptions from the good folks here. I hope that there will be other continuations as well. (Also good luck on your new Star Wars series.)
I have to admit to more than a little annoyance that another show I enjoy is canceled, but also some confusion. If I understand correctly one of the major factors, if not the major factor in the cancellation is that the merchandise didn't sell as well as they companies had hoped. Good viewership numbers are almost inconsequential. If this is true, (big if, I admit), I don't understand the business model. Why continue making cartoons targeting the older demographic at all? I know the show aimed for a broad audience, but it aimed for each part directly. A lot of cartoons aim themselves at kids directly, and place bonus references and jokes for the older viewers. I've loved many shows like that. But the complexity of characters and plots in shows like Young Justice is not a bonus for older viewers, it is integral. (IMHO) A relationship like, for example, Guardian and Bumblebee is more relateable to a college or adult viewer than a kid. (I would have gone to Babs and Dick, but that was mainly expanded upon in the comics.) A kid would gravitate to the first season romances, or the M'gan/L'gan/Conner triangle. All the relationships were interesting and important to the show, and none were simple, it's just different parts resonant (from experience or at least plot type familiarity) better to different age sets. (Or for out of YJ examples- In Green Lantern- the complexity of Razor and Ia's relationship- given his past lost love, her resemblance, his survivor guilt and rage issues and her ultimate sacrifice is not something that targets the younger viewers of the show. They'll just accept the two are a couple and enjoy the fight scenes. It was perhaps more integral to the show than any Hal based plot. In Tron the entire looks of the show was aimed older, high teens and 20s would be my guess, and not particularly conducive to action figures to my eye.)
Older fans are less likely to buy toys, (or have toys bought for them), but they also have control over their own finances to buy what is actually advertised during broadcast. Between the 24 hour cable tv cycle and dvrs, grown ups will be watching when kids can't, allowing for targeted ads of the none happy meal/stompies/pillow pet variety. (For the record, my 4.5 year old adores her stompies. ~she's 5 now~) I get that a franchise like DC or Marvel or Star Wars can expect some cross product sales, and even a show not squarely aimed at a small kid can have a cool iconic action figure that sells well. But no one expects Smallville or Arrow to survive on toy and apparel sales, they stays on air based on the number and demographics of viewers, just like Birds of Prey did not last for the same reason. Have cartoons, or at least the beautifully animated ones, become loss leaders for merchandise like comics have become loss leaders for movies? And is that a reasonable burden to place on a show that does not squarely target the audience that will buy those toys? Is a high level video game an attempt to tap into an action figure equivalent of older viewers?
I don't want to turn this into a rant about how annoyed I am that YJ was canceled....er, not renewed. I will admit to being mightily confused why DC Nation isn't aiming to expand into more than an hour of programming. I just assumed it was planned to become a 2 or 3 hour block like the old Disney Afternoon, with perhaps a rotating stable of shows. But I am interested on your more insider insight on what the none creative aims are when a new cartoon is unleashed upon the world nowadays and whether they are reasonable. Thanks,
I think one thing to keep in mind is ratings these days are NOT what they used to be.
Ducktales was a ratings smash. It made it's money by itself. Any merchandising was gravy.
Our numbers on Gargoyles, back in the day, puts the ratings of many of today's quote-unquote top-rated animated series to shame. (And Gargoyles was a hit, but never a home run, ratings-wise. Just a single or double.)
So with lower numbers overall, that means less income is coming in from advertising. Meanwhile, the costs of production have either held steady or gone up. That's pretty simple math, isn't it?
So to pay for the production of these shows, you're counting on other streams of revenue to balance the books - and for an action show that mostly means TOYS.
So if the toys don't sell - for whatever reason - how do you pay for the series?
Whether that's reasonable or not is somewhat immaterial. It's just the cold, hard truth of the situation.
So EVERY show I've ever been asked to produce has a core target that it's trying to reach, and usually that's BOYS 6-11, because the belief is (whether you agree or not) that Boys 6-11 drive toy sales for action figures. Doesn't mean the networks object to other demographics (girls or younger kids or older kids, tweens, teens and adults) ALSO watching. But you still have to hit the target.
Picture it like a bullseye. Concentric circles. You MUST hit the center. But hopefully in hitting that sweet spot, you are also reaching the other demos. Back on Gargoyles, I was farely successful at hitting that target audience AND reaching other demos too. And that has always been my goal on these shows. We didn't quite manage it on W.I.T.C.H. We did on Spectacular Spider-Man. And our success was mixed on Young Justice. Ratings were decent overall (by today's standards though not by any absolute standard at all), but our ratings in our target demo were inconsistent at best. (We could go on forever about why, but it doesn't change the FACT of the numbers.)
Throw in Mattel's decision to abandon their YJ line (again, without going into the reasons behind it), and frankly it's no surprise we weren't renewed.
Because how could Warner Bros afford to make it?
After experimenting for two seasons and 46 episodes of YJ, why wouldn't they take the chance on something new that might bring in more money? Or at least pay its own way?
Frankly, we need a new business model. But the studios haven't landed on one that works yet. So they still chase hits.
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!
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).
Dear Mr. Weisman,
You have been responsible for two of my favorite shows--Gargoyles and Young Justice. They have brought me much enjoyment and I thank you greatly for that. You a writer of the highest caliber, able to write deeply intrinsic plots and characters who are both philosophically intelligent and comically amusing. Your talents are recognized not only by your fans, but also through organized bodies with highly publicized awards, such as the Emmy.
So quite objectively, your work is very good and many people enjoy the shows you produce. Why is it then, and I ask this with as minimal offense as possible, that your shows always seem cut tragically short?
Gargoyles and Young Justice both deserved additional seasons, yet the cries from fans seem to fall on deaf ears. Are network producers really so blind?
I'm not sure the Emmys have recognized my talents... but I'm glad the fans have.
The thing to keep in mind is that MOST shows don't go on forever, and few even go as long as their creators would like. My situation is not unusual at all.
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.
Hints on starting a company? No, sorry. I don't know how.
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?
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.
Are you cursed? If so please provide name of curser and last known adress, thank you.
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.
Well, another great show bites the dust before its time.
Thank you for all your effort on YJ. Your respect and enthusiasm for the source material shined through in each and every episode.
My question to you: Do you ever feel like you just can't catch a break when it comes to 3rd seasons? First Gargoyles, then Spectacular Spider-man, and now Young Justice. It's just a damn shame.
Best of luck Greg. I know you'll end up somewhere doing great things sooner rather than later.
I won't deny a certain amount of frustration. But the circumstances for each of the shows you mentioned were all very different. It's the biz.
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?
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.
While on the topic of CGI, do you prefer this method or the classic hand drawings for animation and why? I know your series have mostly been all drawings (I think) but wanted to see.
I don't have a preference if the series is developed correctly for the medium it's using. I did Roughnecks: the Starship Troopers Chronicles in CGI, and I think it worked great. I did Max Steel (Season One only), and although I'm proud of our scripts, I DON'T think it worked great, because the series as it was developed (by me but under marching orders from multiple very large companies) didn't work in CGI.
I apologize if this question may be a bit vague but aside from that Stargate premise and any others you may have mentioned in the archives(which are filled with lots and lots of answers so its taking a while to go through them all)
Were there any other comic/show/series concepts that you tried to sell that have not come up thus far? I and im sure many of your other fans would probably be quite curious to discover what amazing and grand projects you have plotted in the past that never made it off the ground.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
So, having nothing to do with the future of Young Justice or Young Justice: Invasion, Khary Payton and I pitched a Young Justice spin-off to DC Nation, based on a suggestion by David Wilcox, inspired by a design by Phil Bourassa.
The folks at DC Nation asked for a brief write-up, but Khary and I felt that the best way to get the idea across was to write a script for the first episode. So we did. On spec. Though it received some praise, DC Nation eventually passed on it. But I thought you'd like to see it, so here it is, keeping in mind that it's NOT formatted correctly on this website:
BLACK MANTA'S CELEBRITY HOT TUB
"Black Beetle, Black Vykin, Black Lightning"
Written by Khary Payton & Greg Weisman
FIRST DRAFT: October 17, 2012.
EXT. BLACK MANTA'S BACKYARD - NIGHT
ON BLACK MANTA'S BAND - MANTA TROOPERS play various instruments, including the LEAD TROOPER playing SAXOPHONE through a small hole in his helmet and three female BACK-UP SINGERS (CHESHIRE, AMANDA WALLER & KILLER FROST - all in their standard outfits, including Cheshire's mask). The Lead Trooper finishes a <SAX RIFF> and then sings into his microphone:
LEAD TROOPER (singing): Who's the man with the underwater plan?
CHESHIRE, WALLER, FROST (singing): Black Manta!
LEAD TROOPER (singing): Who's got the time to do the crime?
CHESHIRE, WALLER, FROST (singing): Black Manta!
TRUCK OUT TO REVEAL - A large bubbling HOT TUB.
LEAD TROOPER (singing): Who do you know with his own Hot Tub Show?
CHESHIRE, WALLER, FROST (singing): Black Manta!
LEAD TROOPER: That's right, it's…
LEAD TROOPER, CHESHIRE, WALLER, FROST (singing): "Black Manta's Celebrity Hot Tub!"
CLOSE ON WATER - BLACK MANTA (in full costume) slowly RISES out of the bubbling water to sit (up to his chest) in the tub.
LEAD TROOPER (OS): With your host, Black Manta!
WIDEN TO INCLUDE BLACK BEETLE (in full costume) - Sitting in the tub beside Manta.
LEAD TROOPER (OS CONT): Manta's guest tonight: Black Beetle.
Manta turns to Beetle. Neither say anything for a LONG BEAT. Then Black Manta <BLASTS> Black Beetle with his EYE-BEAMS. Beetle <EXPLODES> and is just gone. Manta sits back in the tub.
ON BAND - The Lead Trooper, Back-Up Singers and the rest all stare at their boss. Then they quickly cover.
LEAD TROOPER: Thanks for watching! This has been…
SMASH WIPE TO:
EXT. BLACK MANTA'S BACKYARD - NEW NIGHT
ON BLACK MANTA'S BAND
LEAD TROOPER, CHESHIRE, WALLER, FROST (singing): "Black Manta's Celebrity Hot Tub!"
CLOSE ON WATER - BLACK MANTA (in full costume) slowly RISES out of the bubbling water to sit (up to his chest) in the tub.
LEAD TROOPER (OS): With your host, Black Manta!
WIDEN TO INCLUDE BLACK VYKIN (in full costume) - Sitting in the tub beside Manta.
LEAD TROOPER (OS CONT): Manta's guest tonight: Black Vykin.
Manta turns to Vykin. Neither say anything for a LONG BEAT. Then Black Manta <BLASTS> Black Vykin with his EYE-BEAMS. Vykin <EXPLODES> and is just gone. Manta sits back in the tub.
ON BAND - Less surprised.
LEAD TROOPER: Thanks for watching! This has been…
SMASH WIPE TO:
EXT. BLACK MANTA'S BACKYARD - NEW NIGHT
ON BLACK MANTA'S BAND
LEAD TROOPER, CHESHIRE, WALLER, FROST (singing): "Black Manta's Celebrity Hot Tub!"
CLOSE ON WATER - BLACK MANTA (in full costume) slowly RISES out of the bubbling water to sit (up to his chest) in the tub.
LEAD TROOPER (OS): With your host, Black Manta!
WIDEN TO INCLUDE - Nobody.
LEAD TROOPER (OS CONT): Manta's guest tonight: Black Lightning.
TILT UP - BLACK LIGHTNING (in full costume) stands beside the tub with his arms crossed. Manta looks up at him.
BLACK MANTA: Man, get in the tub.
BLACK LIGHTNING: I'm not getting in that tub.
BLACK MANTA: Get in the tub, man.
BLACK LIGHTNING: Not unless you take off that helmet.
BLACK MANTA: Man, I'm not taking off my helmet!
BLACK LIGHTNING: Then I'm not getting in the tub.
ON MANTA - Very begrudgingly, he starts to REMOVE his helmet.
BLACK MANTA: <low grumble>
REVEAL that with the helmet off, Manta's AFRO is STILL shaped like his helmet.
FAVOR LIGHTNING - He NODS.
BLACK LIGHTNING: Oh. You don't want to get your hair wet.
BLACK MANTA: I don't want to get my hair wet. Now get in the hot tub.
ON TUB - Lightning LOWERS himself into the tub beside Manta. Neither says anything for a LONG BEAT. Then Manta's afro <FRIZZES OUT> huge and ridiculous from the humidity.
ON BACK-UP SINGERS - Reacting.
CHESHIRE, WALLER, FROST: <Ooooooooooooo!>
ON TUB - Manta glowers.
BLACK MANTA: <low burn>
Then Black Manta's ROCKET-LAUNCHER <RATCHETS> out of his shoulder and <BLASTS> Black Lightning, who <EXPLODES> and is just gone. Manta sits back in the tub.
ON BAND - Ready this time.
LEAD TROOPER (singing): Who do you know with his own Hot Tub Show?
CHESHIRE, WALLER, FROST (singing): Black Manta!
BLACK MANTA'S CELEBRITY HOT TUB
"Black Beetle, Black Vykin, Black Lightning"
BLACK MANTA - 6 lines. With and without his helmet. When the helmet's off, his Afro is the same shape as the helmet - until it FRIZZES OUT ridiculously.
LEAD TROOPER - 16 lines. Singing and announcing. In a Manta Trooper costume with a hole for the mouth so that he can play saxophone and sing.
CHESHIRE - 8 lines. One of Manta's back-up singers. In full costume, including her mask.
AMANDA WALLER - 8 lines. One of Manta's back-up singers. In standard outfit.
KILLER FROST - 8 lines. One of Manta's back-up singers. In full costume.
BLACK LIGHTNING - 4 lines.
BLACK BEETLE - No lines.
BLACK VYKIN - No lines.
MANTA TROOPERS - No lines. They play various musical instruments in Black Manta's band.
BLACK MANTA hosts his hot tub talk show, which features a series of celebrity guests from the DC NATION. This week: BLACK BEETLE, BLACK VYKIN and BLACK LIGHTNING.
[FYI - We had ideas for a ton more vignettes. Once DC Nation passed, we sent it over to CN's MAD. But they passed too. Which is too bad, but that's just how it is in the business. Selling stuff is... hard.]
I'm big fan of your characters drawing pics and I want to know how to draw those characters to be a great cartoonist drawer and something else like you and others as well.
I can't draw AT ALL. So for artistic advice, I'd recommend asking one of the artists.
Did you have plans of pitch or self produce a new original concept in form of series/comic?
I've tried pitching many times, but have yet to sell anything. Long ago, I had thoughts of self-producing, but it's just an economic impossibility for someone with my (lack of) financial resources.
I heard down the grapevine you're a fan of Joss Whedon.
1.) Have you gotten to see the Avengers film yet?
2.a) If so, did you draw any inspiration from it, seeing as it's in the same "super-hero ensemble" genre you write (so well) for?
2.b) What modern works (be they film, television, literature, art, or not at all) do you draw inspiration from? Or just like?
3.) Over your career, you're written generally high-concept stories. Now more than ever, it seems like high-concept stuff has entered the mainstream (aliens, super-heroes and giant transforming robots running around everywhere). Since everyone's playing in the same sandbox artistically, does that make it more difficult to come up with original ideas? Without subverting or straight-up parodying the genre you're writing in?
4.) How do u rite so gudd? What would you recommend to new, ambitious writers, to help us learn to write with confidence and voice and stuff?
5.) Your decision to skip ahead 5 years (in YJ) shocked me, upset me and piqued my interest. I've never seen a show jump so much time, so I'm very excited to see how you all bridge the two season together. How did you let the studio powers-that-be let you take such a big narrative risk? Was it a big struggle?
Thanks for (presumably) taking the time to read and answer my questions. I love that Ask Greg makes it so easy to reach out to an artist I admire, whose work I respect. I'm the biggest fan ever of everything you've ever done, yadda yadda more accolades, etc. But really, you are an inspiration.
2a. We were WAY done by the time I'd seen the movie.
2b. Check out the "INFLUENCES" archive here at ASK GREG.
3. I'm not sure you're defining "High Concept" correctly. I think you mean "genre" has entered the mainstream. In any case, I just don't think in those terms. I'm just trying to tell good stories.
4. READ the classics. WRITE a lot. Proofread scrupulously. Get yourself VERY educated. Read newspapers. Etc. Or check the ASK GREG archives for a more complete answer.
5. No struggle. Everyone loved the idea.
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!
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.
I just read a comment there about shows being leaked on youtube. Not taking away from what you creative guys do but I think a lot of the blame should go to how the industry is structured. Taking Young Justice for example, If you live somewhere like America were Young Justice is screened on tv, catch up service on the Cartoon networks website(probably), available for purchase digitally from Itunes or Amazon or on a region 1 DVD, then there's no excuse. But due to international copyright laws that's not the case for those outside of the US, the show hasn't been made available to purchase in any way.
And it goes both ways. There are popular european tv shows, particularly british shows that US citizens want but can't purchase due to the DVD region system. Or if they can they are expected to wait for two-three years possibly, indefinately. Look at Gargoyles. It's only been partially released in the US, there's been zero releases to the rest of the world.
The best way to discourage piracy, in my opinion, is to make content available universally, so people are actually able to purchase the SAME content at the SAME time. If not through DVDS then digitally. I don't know why the entertainment has such a problem with this?
I'm very much in favor of entertainment companies making their product available.
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!
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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!).
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.
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, 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.
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!
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.
Hey greg what's up I love your work and I am big fan of how awesome you are as a writter so I would like to ask you the following?
1.-What would you advice to aspring storytellers?
2.-In your opinion wht makes/how do you create an interesting character?
3.- What in your opinon makes a good villain
4.- What in your opinion makes a good plot?
5.-If you could advice something to your ast self regarding stprytelling what would you do?
Thanks for your time. You are a big inspiration
1. I'm going to direct you to the archives, as I've answered this many times before, and nothing's changed about the kind of advice I'd give.
2. I believe they exist as fully as possible. I create backstories for them, whether or not those backstories will be revealed on screen or on the page. I make them real to me.
3. See the answer to question 2 and add one factor: Opposition to the villain. Again, check the archives, as I've discussed my theories of opposition before, particularly with regard to the villains of Gargoyles and Batman.
4. Characters make a good plot.
5. I'm not sure I understand the question.
If this double posts I'm sorry, whoever the admin is can remove this only if it is a double post.
I saw your answers to my questions, or one of them anyway, but I also noticed that I left out the second question.
The companion comics have a date of say April '12 on them (issue 12) but that comic came out in January '12. Was this intentional or were the comics finished sooner than expected? I was waiting for the questions to open back up to ask this, and when asked, I messed up and left out my question.
I've noticed this trend when looking at the page on the comic website I order from. I may be wrong, I don't know.
One added thing, I noticed looking at the comic site, that Issue 14 has a different look than 1-13, any reason why the change in the way you display the issue number.
I've never really understood why comics' cover dates don't ACTUALLY reflect the dates they come out. (For example, it's currently July as I write this but our "September" issue just hit the shops, stands, etc.) But it's a fairly universal thing. Not at all specific to YJ.
First, I just want to say that Gargoyles is one of my all-time favorite shows, and I often return to it when I'm lonely and I'm always pleased by how fresh episodes like "Vows" remain after many viewings many years later. I'm also a big fan of Young Justice--to be honest, it took a while for the show to win me over 100% (of course, very high expectations were in place, both because it's a DC animated property and because you were working on it), but, I'll admit I've watched the Brazilian "leaks" up through "Unusual Suspects" and those episodes are pitch perfect, so, great job, and many thanks. I'm VERY excited for what's next.
Now, on to my questions:
As several people have pointed out, Brazil and Turkey are ahead of the US in terms of airing schedule. I don't know if you're aware, but fans have undertaken to sub the broadcast episodes back into English. I know you have mixed feelings on the subject of fanfiction, but I wonder if you have feelings on the practice of fans sub titling your work, originally created in English, back into English with their own translations? (And if you do have feelings/ideas on the subject, would you care to share?)
And while we're on the subject of fanfiction--I know a lot of authors who engage their fans have a public policy of not reading fanfiction, and you're among these. IIRC, the reason is because you don't want to incur the risk of being sued by a fan who claims you stole their work. I'm a law student and something of a nerd/geek, so I'm intensely curious to know where you picked this idea up. I'm taking copyright right now, and two of the doctrines we've learned seem to be in contradiction with the viability of this fear: (A) The idea/expression distinction (ideas are not protected under copyright, only their expression, so the idea of having Prospero on Gargoyles, even if you got it from another source, would probably not be considered infringement since the idea of having Prospero on Gargoyles is probably too abstract, whereas if there were a specific fanfic which predated a Gargoyles comic by five years and the Gargoyles comic carefully followed the plot of the fanfic, that could be a case of copyright infringement). And, (B) Infringing works are deprived of copyright protection, so if a fanfic infringes on a copyright (which, presumably almost all fanfic does, unless fanfic is fair use), it would have no copyright protection. (Here a critical question is whether fanfiction is fair use, which is an odd little quirk of the law, in that it's a well-known black hole in the law of copyright that seems unlikely to be adjudicated, and therefore, unlikely to ever be resolved.)
Of course, I'm not a lawyer (yet) and this is by no means intended to be legal advice, and I'm also not suggesting that you read fanfiction (personally, I'd rather you produce your awesome original stuff than spend time reading fanfic). But as a law nerd, I'm intensely interested in the relationship between perceptions of the law and the law on the books, and to what extent the law (and perceptions thereof) impact professional practice.
Thank you both for your wonderful works, and for your time.
1. I am HORRIFIED that people are watching episodes for the first time on YouTube - and in a different language no less. Given that those episodes were due to air in the U.S. in a matter of mere weeks, I think it's appalling that anyone would choose to watch them that way. So then having someone sub or dub it back into English seems beyond preposterous - and again mildly HORRIFYING. Just be patient and watch the shows as they were meant to be watched. Don't spoil them for yourselves.
2. I learned this fear from corporate attorneys at EVERY entertainment company that's ever employed me. And I've also learned this fear from personal experience from fans and others who have filed lawsuits or threatened to. And that's the key. It's not about who has a valid case, it's about who can make me miserable by filing suit - and how I can protect myself (as much as possible) from exposing myself to that misery.
Hey Greg why your not consulted on Scheduling
I'm not important enough in the grand scheme, I guess.
Loving Young Justice up here in Canada!!! We are expecting our first son in April and I have all the episodes taped for when he is old enough to watch them.
My question is how often do you receive feedback from the Cartoon Network? When would you know whether to begin on season 3? Keep up the awesome work!
We receive feedback from Cartoon Network all the time, but 'feedback' and a 'pick-up' are two different things. In theory, they could pick the show up at any time, but I don't expect any definitive answer for weeks, if not months.
Hello Greg.i would like to ask a few questions about your job because i am interested in going into the directing business.
1. What exactly is your job(the name of your job)?
2. Do you enjoy it?Do you ever get bored?
3. What did you have to study in college for this job?
4. What would you say are the most useful school subjects that should be learnt for this job?
I appreciate if you could answer these questions. And you are also a role model for me and i really love Young Justice.
1. My title is Producer. And sometimes I'm also the Writer. And even, on occasion, an Actor. I'm also the Story Editor - but that's pretty much covered by my Producer credit.
2. I do enjoy it, and I NEVER get bored, but I do get very, very tired sometimes. Exhausted even. Our schedules can be brutal.
3. I don't know if I "had" to study this, but my B.A. is in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing. My Masters is in Professional Writing, with an emphasis on Play Writing. Plus I studied a bunch of other things too, including history, languages, a little bit of physics and math, etc. And a lot of literature - and Shakespeare, in particular.
4. Learn to read critically. Learn to write. Learn to PROOFREAD!!! Learn to rewrite and revise. Etc.
Hello, Mr. Weisman.
My questions today are more closely related to television programming. So here goes.
1. Have you viewed the new ThunderCats on Cartoon Network that debuted last year? Assuming so, what did you think of it?
2. Have you viewed any of the original episodes of the ThunderCats cartoon? Assuming so, what is your opinion of the old show, and how do you think it compares to the latest incarnation?
3.The original ThunderCats cartoon met the 65 mark episode needed to go into syndication, and produced episodes beyond it. While many of the new episodes were entertaining, I could not help but notice, in my opinion, a decline in certain qualities of the show. One of the areas hit hardest, in my opinion, was the writing in the episodes. This seemed to manifest itself in terms of more predictable scenarios occurring, less creative solutions to the problems that arose and eventually lackluster storylines. ThunderCats wasnât the only show to suffer from this though. Cartoons like Captain Planets, which also surpassed the 65-episode mark, began to experience a bit of a lag, and lost many of the original voice actors/actresses who made their characters so exceptional.
4. So my question is what exactly happens to a show behind the scenes after moving beyond syndication? Is a showâs storyline only plotted out for 65 episodes and not expected to pass it? Or does the writing team have to brainstorm an entirely new set of ideas for episodes beyond? Are new writers assigned to the program or the old ones retained? Are the initial voice actors/actresses replaced with new people, choose not to renew their contract or different causes altogether?
Thanks for the time.
1. I haven't had time to see it, but I really like the people involved with it.
2. I did a long time ago, when I was working on a single script for a different reboot that didn't see the light of day. But you need to understand that I never saw it when it first came on, so I have no nostalgia for it.
3. I just have no opinion on this. I only saw a handful of episodes.
4. Every case is different. And obviously, I have no idea what went on with ThunderCats.
I was just reading the Toonzone interview with the late Dwayne McDuffie (http://www.toonzone.net/news/articles/36545/toonzone-presents-an-interviewtribute-to-dwayne-mcduffie) and he describes the difference between Story By credits and Teleplay By credits on Justice League, and how there may be a lot more writing done by uncredited main writers on the show. Is this similar to how you work on your shows?
Yeah, more or less.
1. What was the gem in Misplaced called?
2. Where did Ultra Humanite get his scar across his mouth?
3. Do you know why Young Justice Invasion only has 20 episodes instead of 26?
1. Ambre Jeune Perdu.
2. It came with the body. (For more on this, see issue #19 of our companion comic book.)
3. That's how many Cartoon Network ordered.
What's was the budget for the first season of young justice
Ps big fan of just about all our work
That's proprietary information.
Do you think there's a way Disney and Marvel could be convinced to consistently pay royalties (including royalties paid to estates of deceased creators) on reprinted material like DC Comics does?
Horror comics legend Steve Bissette publicly announced that he is boycotting all Marvel products due to Marvel not paying any money to Jack Kirby's family (and keep in mind that Steve has noted that DC still pays him royalties for reprints of his Swamp Thing stories, and that he and John Totleban got paid when their co-creation John Constantine was adapted into that movie with Keanu Reeves.), there's been speculation that reprints of Alan Moore's Marvelman/Miracleman have been held up by by the fact the artists (included Rick Veitch, who has had trouble with Marvel in the past) didn't sign away their rights, and I think Don Rosa of Disney Ducks comics fame has refused to work for Disney again because they don't pay him royalties for reprints of his works.
Any ideas on how to get Disney/Marvel to remedy these situations?
First off, I can't confirm or deny any of your statements. I have no idea what Marvel and/or Disney and/or DC is or isn't providing royalty-wise. Second of all, I'm not a lawyer.
One might easily argue that I should be more educated on this subject, but one can't deny the fact that I'm NOT. And I'm just not going to speak to issues I'm ignorant of.
Dear Mr. Weisman,
Thank you for all the wonderful work you've done from Gargoyles, to Spiderman, to Young Justice. Been a fan for years.
1) From your experience, what was more enjoyable to work with? Working on a show that was completely yours to control - Gargoyles - from character development, plot, and storyline? Or Spiderman and Young Justice where the basics has already laid out?
2) Was there more pressure to succeed working on Gargoyles because it was original and the creativity was your to control? Or was there more pressure to work on an adaption on Spiderman and Young Justice because the bar has already been set?
1. They're different. Gargoyles is my baby. But in terms of the actual work, I don't think I had any more or less fun working on SpecSpidey, W.I.T.C.H. or YJ.
2. I think the pressure rises with each series, but I blame the internet more than anything inherent in the series. (I blame the internet for a lot, which is not to say I could go back to living without it.)
I am so tempted to ask if Bette Kane (aka flamebird) Barbara Gordon ( aka Batgirl) and all those other high School students with alternate hero personas (Bumble bee, Herald) in the comic books are ever going to put on said costumes/personas on the show but I know better than that. So I'm just going to ask about another topic.
(1) Is it hard coming up with ideas and episodes for a show?
(2) When you get writers block is that when you raise the flag for a hiatus?
(3) Do writer's for t.v shows (any t.v show in general) use hiatuses in order to work on other projects?
1. Nope. It's hard to leave things out. Thank goodness for the comic.
2. No. I don't have writer's block on this series at all. And we had no control, one way or another, over any hiatus. That's the network.
3. I suppose some do. I was busy on Young Justice.
Hey greg, my name is Michael. I was a huge fan of your spectacular spiderman series. And I'm not sure if you're gonna know the answer to my question or not, but I'm just gonna shoot for it. Question: Do you have any idea why Marvel canceled it? I mean, both season 1 and 2 had decent reviews and many fans liked it. So, I gotta ask,Do you have any idea why Marvel made that decision.
Marvel DIDN'T cancel it.
It's all very complicated, and we were certainly the recipients of bad corporate luck, but no single company cancelled the series. We just wound up with a situation where no single company could proceed with it.
I'll try to break it all down:
1. Sony had originally produced SpecSpidey as part of their overall entertainment license of the Spidey property (which of course included the extremely lucrative live action films).
2. But in order to win some concession on those live action feature films, Sony returned the animation rights to the character back to Marvel.
3. So now only Marvel could produce a Spider-Man cartoon. Sony no longer could, which meant SpecSpidey couldn't continue at Sony.
4. I have no idea whether Marvel was interested in continuing Spectacular Spider-Man or not. But let's assume for the sake of argument that they would have liked to.
5. They couldn't.
6. Why? Because Sony owned all the specific elements (designs, storyline, etc.) to the SpecSpidey VERSION of Spider-Man. So Marvel would have had to license all that BACK from Sony.
7. You can imagine how unlikely THAT scenario was. Marvel finally gets the rights back to do an animated version of their marquee character, and then they have to pay Sony to do it instead of just starting from scratch. That was never going to happen.
8. Of course, all this was complicated by the fact that Disney purchased Marvel, and Disney and Sony are direct competitors.
9. And I'm sure Marvel was excited to put their own stamp on an animated Spider-Man. Who could blame them?
10. So that was it. We were toast through no fault of our own. The folks at Marvel, Sony and even Disney all seemed to like our show, but the corporate mess made it impossible for us to continue.
11. And, yes, it is a bummer. (For me, at least.) But it's no single person or single company's fault. It's just how things shook out.
12. And finally, though I have no involvement with the upcoming Ultimate Spider-Man, you can't deny that a lot of great people have worked on it. There's no reason to think it won't be as good or better than SpecSpidey. To a certain generation, SpecSpidey will always be THEIR Spider-Man cartoon. But to a new batch o' viewers, I'm sure their Spidey of choice will be the Ultimate.
I'm currently attending college to achieve a degree in English. Problem is, I don't know what to do with it apart from the obvious "get a paycheck". I'm a big fan of your work and was wondering if you had any advice, especially on how to get into the entertainment.
Many thanks for all the fond childhood memories (i.e., "Batman: The Animated Series", "Gargoyles", et. al) and please keep up the great work.
I didn't work on Batman: The Animated Series.
As to "how to get into the entertainment". I'd start by proofreading a little better. (Sorry, the English Teacher in me couldn't resist.)
If your serious about it, you need to be someplace where the entertainment is happening. Learn as much as you can and figure out what EXACTLY you want to do. Then go for it.
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.
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.
just read your response to my post about the league of assassins being called the league of shadows. you're right i should have waited to see the episode before jumping to conclusions. loved the intro of red arrow/Artemis and the inclusion of sensei.
besides im too big a fan of your work to let a minor gripe like that blow the show for me. just had to vent thou.
initially, i might have been over glorifying what i believe tv-pg v ratings get away with violence and edge wise. (and i agree with you completely, i believe that we all want to see smart storytelling with well developed characters. and being that i am not an expert i only assumed that kids want to see all that grimy stuff.)
but as far of my lack of knowledge as to how the censorship of cartoons works, Whats good with some inside info?
1. how does censorship effect you in this series.
2. when developing a series thats tv-pg v, what content do you automatically take off the table? where do you believe the line of tv-pg v stops in terms of what you can get away with?
3. what are some of the more risky themes you've brainstormed? i know how you feel about spoilers so ill take what i can get on that last one.
and as always keep up the good work.
1. Almost not at all. It may be because to a certain extent that, after nearly two decades in this business, I've internalized Standards & Practices, but I don't think so. I think I have my own standards about what you will and won't see in a show I'm producing. Every once in a while we get a note from S&P, usually just a warning along the lines of "When you do that don't milk it to death," which is generally a note that I agree with and didn't need to get in the first place. Sometimes - very rarely - a double entendre gets rejected. Disney had this thing on SpecSpidey about the sound of broken glass, but didn't mind when we replaced it with the sound of broken porcelain. (It's a subtle distinction.) KidsWB didn't like the sound of gunfire. And everyone wants to beware of imitable behavior - including me (within reason). I don't want to assume our audience is unintelligent, but I'm conscious that I don't want to model dangerous behavior for impressionable little kids.
2. I don't pay any attention to these ratings. None. I do what I do.
3. Themes? I dunno. Watch the shows, and you tell me.
How different of an experience is it to work on a show were the seasons are 13 episodes(Spectacular Spiderman) from one where the seasons are 26(I think it's 26 might have read 28 somewhere)?
I mean do you have to pace yourself differently?
Which do you prefer?
Are you more comfortable including sub-plots that you might not get to adress in 13 episode seasons?
You know stuff like that.
The more episodes the better as far as I'm concerned. More EMPLOYMENT, first of all. Plus more room to maneuver, to add more subplots, more characters, etc.
There have been many forums who have been comparing Young Justice to Chris Yost's Avengers series that's coming on Disney XD. Personally, I think they're both great shows that comic book fans and the general audience can enjoy at the same time. I mean this is the first time in animation where there's a cartoon featuring the Earth's Mightiest Heroes and another one with the Justice League. Anyway, what do you think of this debate from maybe both a perspective of a comic book reader and a professional writer? Also, what do you think of Mr. Yost's Avengers series?
I haven't seen Avengers, but there are a bunch of great people working on it, so I'd hardly be surprised if it was kick-ass.
I don't see much to be gained even by comparing the shows, let alone putting them in some kind of hypothetical competition. They're not even on opposite each other. And in this DVR age, what difference would it make to most people even if they were?
Anyway, if you like one of the two series but not both, watch the one you like. If you like both, watch both and enjoy each for its merits - which may have a few things in common, but are likely very different.
Are the "bibles" something that just you do, or is it standard for animated series?
Do live action television series do it to?
Also do all animated series have time-lines like you've made?
Or do they just kinda make it up as they go?
1. It's pretty standard, though mine tend to be longer than standard.
2. As far as I know, though I've never worked in live-action.
3. That I doubt.
4. I'm sure each series is different.
So what's the specific appeal of animation to you? Or rather, the appeal of writing it (and by extension, comic books) primarily over other mediums?
I could make guesses, but I'd be curious to know what exactly thrills you.
Well, the MAIN appeal is that they'll hire me.
(Only semi-kidding there.)
Anyway, I love the semi-contradictory notions of the control I have over the final product and the collaboration I get while making my way there.
Todd Jensen and others have commented on the similarities between âGriefâ and the Batman episode âAvatar.â Toddâs question being here:
I noticed another pair of episodes of Batman and Gargoyles that really reminded me of the other, because of the same writers. âLegionâ and the Batman episode âWhat is Reality?â 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 Robinâs case. An electronic shock emanating from Goliathâs body in Lexâs case. Side note: That was the biggest problem I had with âLegion.â I can buy a cybernetic gargoyle and that Xanatos can design a computer program based on his personality, but I never understood how Goliathâs 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, âWhat is Reality?â and âLegionâ 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 âFuture Tenseâ, which also had a VR sequence in the Xanatos Pyramid, albeit in a dream. They didnât write âWalkaboutâ, which had a metaphysical reality (MR?) scene.
I do think the examples of âAvatar/Griefâ and âWhat is Reality?/Legionâ are interesting examples of how writers will take previous ideas theyâve had and use another chance to expand or improve on them. âAvatarâ didnât work for me, but âGriefâ is one of my favorite episodes of Gargoyles. And itâs close between âWhat is Reality?â and âLegionâ, but I slightly prefer the former.
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.
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?
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.
I heard that Young Justice's premiere was viewed by over 2.5 million people which apparently is very good. I dont know what numbers for channels like Cartoon Network are usually like, can you kinda explain how good that number is?
In this day and age, it's GOOD.
I hate to say it, but I was extremely disappointed in the Young Justice premiere. Don't get me wrong--the animation was gorgeous, the dialogue entertaining, the story intriguing. But the gender imbalance was a huge turn-off for me.
Why was it that the women of the Justice League were only shown in the last five minutes of a two-part pilot? Why did the male sidekicks get to go on a rebellious adventure and force the League to accept them as a team of their own, while the first girl is only added to "Young Justice" at the very end, introduced by her uncle and guardian like some sort of token?
I expect that the women will have a lot more to do in the episodes to come, but I still find it profoundly problematic to introduce the characters in such an unequal manner. I believe there are too many men in the world as it is who see women as mere supporting players in their stories. Why reinforce this stereotype for a whole new generation of superhero cartoon fans?
It's a legitimate gripe. And I doubt my answer will satisfy you, but it came down to a couple factors that we at least found important: (1) practicality and to a lesser extent - but intertwined with - (2) tradition.
Let's start with practicality.
You asked why there were no female Leaguers until the end. But where would they have fit? There are no female Leaguers with traditional first generation sidekicks. So Batman, Green Arrow, Aquaman and Flash could not be replaced by Wonder Woman, Black Canary or Hawkwoman. That leaves the four Leaguers introduced at the Hall of Justice. I needed Martian Manhunter to be there to set up Miss Martian. I needed Red Tornado there to set up his interest in the teens. I needed Superman there to set up Superboy. That leaves only Zatara. He was certainly replaceable. But then I would have had to hire another voice actress to read ONE LINE. I couldn't afford to do that. We have budgets. (And you'll notice that Red Tornado never speaks in the episode. Couldn't afford giving him a line either. None of which had anything to do with gender.)
There was NEVER any intent to introduce Artemis this early in the season for story reasons. Wouldn't make sense for her character. And I think the reasons why will become clear as the season progresses.
As for Miss Martian, yes, in theory, we could have introduced her sooner. Manhunter COULD have brought her along at the beginning. But then I'd have had FOUR characters running around the first half hour and FIVE in the second. That steals screen time and characterization from everyone. I think the entire production would have been weaker for adding another character -- ANY other character (gender notwithstanding).
Of course, that begs the obvious question - why not ditch one of the boys in favor of her to create a little balance.
But it seemed to us that would create balance at a cost.
There are FOUR TRADITIONAL sidekicks: Robin, Speedy, Aqualad and Kid Flash. To leave one out seemed wrong to us. Which brings in the Tradition argument, which I'll admit is somewhat feeble, but as an old comic book geek, I'll also admit it matters to me and to everyone else here.
The very first Teen Titans story ever in Brave and the Bold featured only THREE heroes: Robin, Aqualad and Kid Flash. Wonder Girl did not join until their second adventure. So we felt there was a precedent for beginning with Robin, Aqualad and Kid Flash and saving the real introduction of Miss Martian (beyond hellos) for OUR second adventure.
For what it's worth, if you give the series another chance, starting with episode three (i.e. the one immediately following the pilot "movie"), I think you'll see that female characters including Miss Martian, Black Canary, Artemis, Wonder Woman and MANY others will be playing ESSENTIAL roles in the show as we progress. I think the balance - and then some - is absolutely present in the first season when viewed in its entirety.
Yes, the pilot was very boy-centric, but that's not the rubric for the series. Personally, I love writing female characters, and if you're at all familiar with my past work, you'll know I have a history of doing them justice. (At least, I think so.) Gargoyles, for example, is FULL of strong female characters, including Elisa, Demona, Angela, Fox, etc. WITCH was nearly ALL female leads. Even Spider-Man had a strong female supporting cast, in my opinion at least.
If we did "reinforce a stereotype" (which I think is overstating it) then perhaps we've lured in kids that we will reeducate over the course of the season - organically without forcing it.
So I'd beg a little patience, a little indulgence... maybe even a little trust that we'll do right by this issue.
But judge for yourself.
I saw in the archives how you've answered how long it takes to create a single episode (8 to 10 months). I'm curious how long it takes to write an episode or how long you give your writers to turn in a script after you've given them the story.
I try to give them at least two weeks to write the script based on an approved outline. More if I can.
Hey again Greg,
You once said that while you were working at Sony, you and Victor Cook tried to get Sony interested in doing a Ghost Rider series. Now the impression I got was that the "Powers That Be" weren't interested and the concept never got far beyond the "I just had a neat idea" stage, so I understand if you didn't draw out some big five season master plan about how you'd handle the series.
But I was just wondering if you'd given any thought to how you would have dealt with a lot of the S&P challenges that related to the character. Mainly that both GR himself and a good chunk of his rogues gallery are literal demons from Hell. Is America ready for a superhero cartoon where the Big Bad is Satan?
I would have crossed that hellbridge when I came to it.
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.
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.
Do you have a premeire party when the shows you work premeire on TV?
Depends on the studio.
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)?
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.
dear greg weisman i wont ask what i really wanted too ask because too be honest i wanted too suggest a idea. i got something big in mind that i would love too see or even be apart of as far as gargoyles go. also i am a aspiring actor. i really dont have any expierince but i still would like too know how would i be able too be apart of your work. please email me back at firstname.lastname@example.org i look forward too hearing from you.
As I've stated MANY times before, I do not respond to personal e-mails. If I did it once, everyone would expect me to do it, and that just isn't practical. Also, if you read the guidelines for this site, you'll see that appeals for work are not appropriate to this forum.
If you want some general advice on how to break into the business, that's one thing. Otherwise...
I wrote this blog entry up a few months back, and I thought I'd share it with you. I'm curious as to your thoughts on the matter:
Ever since Disney bought Marvel, people have been asking Greg Weisman if he has any interest in integrating the "Gargoyles Universe" (which would be the first sixty-five episodes of the series, and the two SLG comic series "Gargoyles" and "Gargoyles: Bad Guys") into the Marvel Universe, and Weisman keeps saying no. Yet people keep asking him.
I love "Gargoyles" and I love the "Marvel Universe." I love "Gargoyles" more, and I'm not afraid to say it. But this is a terrible idea, and I'm going to talk about why it's a terrible idea.
First of all, the two universes are pretty incompatible. Time travel works differently in both universe for one. In "Gargoyles" you cannot alter history, and that series is so much better for it. If it were a part of Marvel, it would be too easy for Goliath to, let's say, go back in time and prevent the massacre of his clan back in 994 Scotland.
I suppose you could retcon away those Marvel time travel stories like "Age of Apocalypse" and "Days of Future Past." While I would not mind that, it wouldn't be fair to the fans and creators of those stories.
Second, while I have no doubt the existence of gargoyles would be shocking to the people of the Marvel Universe, it wouldn't have the same impact it should. Not in a world where mutants, super-beings, Atlanteans, Inhumans, Eternals, Norse gods, and Fin Fang Foom are already known to exist with Galactus stopping by every other Tuesday.
Third, okay, Marvel's Odin is now a Child of Oberon, as are the Asgardians. Okay... how well do you think that's going to go over with the fans of Jack Kirby's Thor who have been reading it for nearly fifty years now? Hell, there are still some people who are uneasy about Odin being subject to Oberon in "Gargoyles." I'm not one of those people, but I understand where they're coming from.
Now, I know some people are bound to mention the NON-CANON Radio Play from the 2009 Gathering, that was a crossover between "Gargoyles" and "The Spectacular Spider-Man," so let's get this out of the way. That wasn't actually the Marvel Universe. It was a re-imagined, and stream-lined version of it. It also helped that both shows were created or developed by Greg Weisman. It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed it, but I don't think anyone wants this to be a regular, or even a recurring occurrence. I think it worked well as a pandering love letter to fans of both franchises, and the voice actors who brought these characters to life.
Finally, and perhaps most important, the Marvel Universe is not really going anywhere. It is very cyclical. Things come, things go, status quos change and are restored. Spider-Man is married for twenty years, then he is single again. Magneto reforms, then is a villain again, then reforms, etc, etc.
For example, I respect a lot of what Joe Quesada has done for Marvel. However, the notion of him having any kind of creative influence over "Gargoyles" scares me. "Goliath and Elisa were more interesting before they finally declared their love and got together. The core of it was always impossible love, so now we have to split them up." You know it would happen.
"The Gargoyles Universe" is going somewhere, even if we're currently not getting any new fiction, it was always evolving. Never going backwards, but moving forwards. It was an evolving tapestry, and change was constant. Marvel, on the other hand, lives and breathes on the illusion of change, while actual change is non-existent. Death is meaningless. Characters don't age, and the status quo may shake up on occasion, but it is always eventually restored.
The Marvel Universe was built by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko, and maintained by many very talented and creative people acting as custodians of that work. But, for better or worse, it is a soup with hundreds of cooks. Many great chefs, and more than a few fast food fry cooks.
"Gargoyles" was co-created by Greg Weisman, and while he had a lot of help, he was the only co-creator, and the one who never stopped working on it. He was the first author of "Gargoyles" and more than likely he will be the last author of "Gargoyles." For the better. We saw "Gargoyles" without Greg Weisman, and it was nothing good.
Both universes have their place, but you couldn't merge them without one of them being significantly altered in the process. Now, I will admit my bias again and say that I wish the "Marvel Universe" was more like the "Gargoyles Universe" but, there's no real point. It's been around for nearly five decades (over seven if you want to talk about Timely Comics), and it's not going to change. As I've made clear, I think that's kind of the problem, but an understandable one given the nature of Marvel Comics. DC too, for that matter.
Now, I realize a lot of the above makes it look like I'm saying "Gargoyles" is great and Marvel is awful, but I don't feel that way at all. I just don't think such a thing would work without one of the universes suffering for it.
The Radio Play was a ... lark, a goof. But even if we were ONLY talking about the Spectacular Universe merging with Gargoyles, I'd be opposed.
I want to become a writer just like you. How can I get my ideas published?
There's no one way. And there's no surefire way -- though if you find one let me know.
Since I don't know your background (i.e. where you are in the continuum toward being a professional writer) it's hard to give you advice.
I'm a big fan. I work in South Korea teaching English and I thought you would be interested in your creations' progress over here.
I did some research on the internet and Gargoyles: The Movie and some season 1 episodes were released on VHS over here. What a collector's item those would be? The official translated name of the show is "Champion Goliath", but happily enough online Korean fans just call it "Gargoyles."
Channel surfing, I did see The Spectacular Spider-Man on the cartoon channel, 5:30, Saturday morning. That's actually a good time, since Korean children have Saturday school and 5:30am would be just the right time they're waking up.
Keep up the good work and hopefully I'll see Young Justice in Korea.
Very cool! Thanks, Richard.
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!
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.
A while back I remember you commenting how it annoys you that when folks praise Batman the Animated Series they mention Timm and Dini (rightfully) but not Burnett. Actually, I just did a search and see you mentioned it several time, and that it mystifies you. Since I had wondered something similar, (his name was so prominent in the Dark Deco look episodes, and don't really remember it after), I was going to ask if you have a theory why. Instead I'll ask if it, in some small way, factored into the Naming of Owen Burnett?
The "Owen" part of the name was in the original development. The last name Burnett came from writer Michael Reaves, so you'd have to ask him if Owen Burnett was a tribute to Alan Burnett.
And I don't have a clue why Alan doesn't get all the credit he deserves -- other than the fact that Alan doesn't seem to seek it at all. He's a modest guy. Not an attention whore like me, for example.
Hey Mr. Weisman,
I noticed that in the Bad Guys issues, character's inner thoughts were shown through narration boxes, while in the final few issues of Clan-Building, Brooklyn's thoughts were shown in cloud-shaped thought balloons. Is there any reason for the difference?
It's stylistic. I think captions are more distancing... so they feel more thoughtful, less immediate. Thought balloons seem more casual.
I decide those kind of things on a case-by-case basis.
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.
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.
Disney as of recent bought out Marvel. That in mind will Marvel release thier comic adapton to Gargoyles as a graphic novel?
I doubt it.
With your expertise in the writing industry I am hoping you would be willing to perhaps give me some advice in my own writing career. I have written a fantasy adventure story for pre-teens and have begun my search to get it published. I have been working with Children's Literary Agency and they have suggested me to go to Strategic Publishing, which I have done. They sent me a contract that sounds okay, but they are asking for a large fee up front and I am a bit concerned.
1; Is this a vanity company, which I have been advised to stay away from?
2; Is it normal for publishers to ask for a fee up front?
3; Do you know anything about either of the two companies listed above?
Being new to this industry I am hoping that you will lend me your professional opinion.
1. If they are asking YOU for money, then it sounds like a vanity company at best. There's nothing wrong with that, per se, if it's legit. You pay to get the books published and succeed or fail on your ability to market and sell your books. (Good material helps of course, but isn't mandatory.) But make sure it is legit so that you're not sending money to someone who's just going to pocket it.
3. No. But keep in mind, I have no experience in that end of the business. Comics and animation is the sum total of my background - at least so far.
Hey Mr. Weisman,
Before I ask my question I just want to thank you very much for Gargoyles I'm not sure that any other piece of fiction has stuck with me so profoundly. I thoroughly enjoyed the final volumes of the comic series though I had to stifle back tears as I realized it was over. I will never stop hoping that there will be more Gargoyles for me and my future children to enjoy.
My question is focused around the recent buy out of Marvel by Disney. I don't imagine you have many more insights into it than anyone else watching the news reports but I do wonder if you've thought of approaching Marvel now. Marvel being such a well established comic publisher may see the merit in continuing your run of the comic series. I would hate to see them take it and make it their own of course, we'd never see your true vision of it, but it would be nice to see them allow you to continue what you started. Just something I've been thinking about as I very badly want to see Gargoyles continue.
In a similar line of thought, I asked this question sometime ago and never got a response. Would there ever be a time that you would make a more detailed version of your overall plot for the rest of the series and its spin-offs available to read. The Three Brothers story was great. I'd love to read more like that. I've always feared that if enough time passed we would never get to know what else was lurking in that wonderful brain of yours regarding our beloved Gargoyles. Would you ever reach that point if things didn't look good for the series being continued that you would allow us more bits of your vision?
Re: Marvel. Check the archives. I've answered this ad nauseum.
Re: My master plans. I throw out tidbits now and then and if the whim strikes me, I might give out a bit more. But beyond that, any story is only as good as its execution, so I'm not likely to just ... vomit up ... a report of my plans.
Now that Marvel is own by Disney how will it affect your plans with Gargoyles comics or other media?
Asked and answered multiple times. Check the archives.
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.
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.
What does Disney's aquisition of Marvel mean for the future of Gargoyles?
Did you find it spooky that Disney bought Marvel so soon after you wrote and put on the Gargoyles/Spectacular Spider-Man crossover Radio Play for the Gathering? I know that it was just a coincidence, but I still found the timing a bit eerie.
Eh... few things (in this business) truly surprise me these days. Which is NOT to say I saw this coming, because I did not. But hearing about it, I was hardly shocked.
In the latest move by The Walt Disney Corporation in acquiring Marvel, Disney has shown a renewed interest in comic book and superhero literature.
Can you see this as beneficial to getting Gargoyles back as an active property? Id Disney sell-able on making a now lateral pass of the Gargoyles property as a new Marvel entity? Given your stint writing for Spider-man, could you foresee a world in which The Manhattan Clan was a full member of the Marvel Pantheon?
2. I have no idea.
Hi, I'm posting on Disney/Marvel Merger Day and I'm looking for some historical perspective. Someone in the comment room says "I recall Greg once saying that back in the 90s Disney was interested in buying Marvel, but instead decided to create their own universe with Gargoyles." I've found this on the New Olympians episode ramble:
Well, the Greek Myths of course. But that's not really what I'm talking about. As many of you know, The New Olympians was a concept -- originally created by Bob Kline -- that we began developing at Disney TV Animation even BEFORE Gargoyles. It was definitely a concept that evolved, but it was also a concept that we felt fit nicely into the Gargoyles Universe. So this episode was created as a backdoor pilot. At the time we had big plans for the Gargoyles Universe. Hopes that it would eventually evolve into Disney's equivalent of the Marvel or DC Universe. The World Tour expanded our Universe in many ways -- mostly for the sake of the Gargoyles series itself. But also to demonstrate that our universe had the "chops" to go the distance."
Could you elaborate?
1) Is it true that Disney considered buying Marvel in the 90s?
2) Did the Disney higher-ups want a Gargoyles Universe to rival Marvel/DCU, if briefly, or was that your idea?
3) How heady were the days of season 2? Was Gargoyles being positioned as a significant face of Disney? I remember the Anaheim Gargoyles baseball team memo is from around that time too.
2. It was my suggestion, but it was a suggestion that my bosses, including Michael Eisner liked. At least for one meeting.
3. They weren't all that heady. There was a lot of potential in the property, but the schedule was also both long and brutal, and we were still producing episodes into May of 1996, even though the season had premiered in September or October of 1995. By January it was pretty clear that reruns, preemptions, the O.J. Simpson trial and Power Rangers had combined to severely damage our momentum. In addition, the death of Frank Wells and the departures of Jeffrey Katzenberg, Rich Frank, Gary Krisel and Bruce Cranston, i.e. some of the people who had been such great backers of the property, hurt too. As did Eisner's decision to step back from the hands-on decision making he had done vis-a-vis Disney T.V. Animation. It left us quite at sea. New people came in who had no affinity for the property, long before we were even done producing Season Two.
So does this mean that Gargoyles is part Marvel?
What do you think about the Disney Marvel merger? Do you think it will change anything for you(or in other words you're struggle to get more episodes of Gargoyles made)? Do you think we will see you're gargoyles comics published by Marvel in the future?
1. I'm withholding judgement.
2. I don't know.
I see there are two other questions about Disney buying Marvel - but I'm going to ask two other related questions:
(1) Were you aware ahead of time that Disney would be purchasing Marvel?
(2) I'm sure the legal complexities involved in this transaction are very... well, complex... as they interface with your show. However, to your knowledge, how does Disney's purchase of Marvel impact the possibilities of using previous off-limits characters on Spectacular Spider-Man? (Especially Kingpin, but also other characters you said you wanted to use on rare occasion, such as Human Torch.)
2. No idea.
Now that Disney is buying Marvel, do you think will affect, positively or negatively, The Spectacular Spider-Man's future?
I really don't know.
Will Disney buying Marvel Comics mean anything for the Gargoyles comic book series?
I don't think so, but I don't know.
I've always wondered how building a writing team works exactly. Obviously Sony liked your pitch for Spectacular (and I'm very glad they did)and we wound up with great efforts from Matt Wayne, Kevin Hopps, Andrew Robinson and Randy Jandt. But did you hand pick these people or were they provided for you by Sony? Or did they have their own takes on Spidey that convinced you that they, out of the many people who must have been vying for a spot on the show, had the right stuff for the series? And you guys had a pretty solid rotation system, so how does whatever selection process used differ from freelancing for a show?
Hmmm.... the order of things...
I think it started with Randy, who had been my script coordinator on many previous series. We offered him the job of apprentice writer, a union position that would allow him to be a script coordinator but also take the next step up and write one script per season.
My next hire was Kevin Hopps, who was brought on as a staff writer. Kevin and I go way back to my Disney days. He's given me work; I've given him work. He's great and someone I can count on.
The rest of the "staff" was in fact freelance. Andrew Robinson was an obvious choice. He had done great work for me on W.I.T.C.H. I didn't know Matt Wayne, but my boss Michael Vogel was big on Matt's stuff... so I gave him a try (with great results).
Having chosen these writers, we did start something of a rotation.
I wrote the pilot and reserved the twelfth (origin) episode for myself. Then staff writer Kevin, was followed by freelancers Matt and Andrew for episodes 2-4 and 5-7. Randy took episode 8, a middle episode that would give him a chance to get acclimated on the series. 9-11 were taken by the "rotation". I did twelve. Kevin did 13.
For season two, I added Nicole Dubuc (another W.I.T.C.H. success story) as a freelancer to give us a another voice. While Nicole got acclimated, we began with the same Kevin, Matt, Andrew rotation for episodes 14-16. Randy did 17. Then we had planned to start the rotation again, with Nicole added in. (So the PLAN was to have 18-21 be Kevin, Matt, Andrew, Nicole). But by this time, Matt was getting pretty busy on other series. So Nicole also jumped in and took Matt's spot in the rotation, and 18-21 became Kevin, Nicole, Andrew, Nicole. We then started a new rotation without Matt. And Kevin, Andrew and Nicole took 22-24. I had reserved 25 for myself. And Kevin again finished out the season with 26.
That's the way I like to work. Have a small "staff" (mostly freelancers for budgetary reasons) that do multiple episodes. That way the writers really learn the show. We all break episodes together, helping each other out pre-outline. It really becomes a team.
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?
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.
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.)
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.
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.
Different networks have different rules, I guess.
In response to two of your previous responses to me (via everyone):
You wrote, "If I am going to "lift", I try to be direct and on the head about it, so that I'm acknowledging the debt as opposed to trying to get away with something."
Would you say that this is simplified explanation of the difference between 'homage' and 'rip-off'?
As for Free Comic Book Day, it's the first Saturday in May every year and is sponsored by some of the larger comic book companies as a way to support the industry and local comic shops. Here is their website:
Yes, I think in bald terms that is the difference between 'homage' and 'theft'.
Hey, Greg. I heard some scenes in Gargoyles were censored by Disney. In one episode in season 1, I remember a part where Hyena says "Would you like an autograph?" a girl (forgot her name) pulls out a knife on the guy and says, "Maybe I should signï»¿ it on your face!" And that's when Jackal says, "Might as well get in on the fun." And I heard there were a few more episodes that had censors.
I would say Spectacular Spider-Man is a little violent for a children's show. So far, your show has had drug addiction, Tombstone getting stabbed in the back by the Green Goblin, Doc Ock promising Rhino the "permission" to impale Spiderman's heart, George Stacy saying the F word in "Shear Strength", a funeral, and also violent fights. I've considered most of the fights in this show (especially the season 2 fights) a little bit violent for little kids.
So here's my question: Will Spectacular Spider-Man suffer from censors the same way some scenes of Gargoyles have? Were there any censored scenes in the show so far in Spectacular Spiderman on Disney? If yes, which scenes? Also, I heard the "Natural Selections" episode had censors. Is that true?
Thank you for answering my questions.
GARGOYLES wasn't censored in the traditional sense of the word when the shows first aired. Since then, I'm told, ToonDisney/Jetix/DisneyXD may have made some cuts. But I haven't watched their versions of the shows.
George Stacy never said the "F-word" unless you and I have VERY different ideas of which F the F-Word stands for. I don't think THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN is too violent for kids. Of course, I grew up on Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons.
You're sort of throwing the c-word (censorship) around willy-nilly. I'm not sure you really get what it means in a practical sense. But in any case, the 1st Season and half the second season have all aired on DisneyXD, and nothing has been cut from the versions we made.
And, no, nothing was censored out of "Natural Selections". Where did you hear that?
Got easily a hundred calls, texts, e-mails yesterday about the big Marvel/Disney news and a few about the Sony/Marvel/Spidey news, so here are a few random thoughts to go with what I posted yesterday...
1. SPEC SPIDEY: The main thing that's changed about the Spec Spidey situation is that Sony is now out of the loop/decision making process about whether or not there's a third season. Before Sony was waiting to see if Disney picked up the series. Then they'd decide on its economic feasibility for Sony. Now Sony isn't part of that equation, leaving the whole thing in Marvel and Disney's hands. Of course, now that Marvel and Disney are kinda one hand, so-to-speak, I don't know what that means for us. Other than the obvious, which is that I'm sure we're not exactly Disney/Marvel's highest priority at the moment. How and when this decision gets made is really up in the air, but a former negative does feel good -- now -- that our last six episodes won't start airing on Disney XD until late October. That means our last episode won't air until early December, which may be a better time for Disney/Marvel to focus on the show. (Or not.) Of course even a positive decision in December or (more likely) January means a HUGE gap between Seasons Two and Three, but I'd take that over no new episodes.
2. FLASHBACKS:I can't help but be reminded of events in the mid-nineties, when Michael Eisner (then CEO of Disney) wanted to buy Marvel, so that he'd have super-heroes to compete with Warner Bros' DC Universe heroes (including Superman and Batman). Back then, however, Marvel was, or so I was told, a corporate mess. And it wasn't just that -- as now -- various studios already had the rights to individual characters, but that the rights had been double sold all over the place, and that every character pretty much represented a lawsuit in the making if not already in the works. Eisner was advised NOT to buy Marvel, and of course he didn't. But he REALLY wanted to be competing in the boys action/super-hero market. That was when the Gargoyles Universe was raised as a possible alternative. We pointed out that the Marvel Universe began with the Fantastic Four, and that we could use Gargoyles as a springboard to more properties and to an entire Universe. We were encouraged by Michael to create spin-off properties, backdoor pilots, etc. And that was THE major impetus for us to work on things like New Olympians, Bad Guys, Pendragon and Dark Ages. (Gargoyles Future Tense -- which became Gargoyles 2198 and TimeDancer came later.) It was also a reason to be expansive with the World Tour and introduce more and more new characters, etc. Of course, by the time all this stuff was actually made, the world had changed again. Frank Wells died. Michael and Jeffry Katzenberg went to war, with Jeffry eventually leaving to found DreamWorks, and taking two of my immediate superiors, Gary Krisel and Bruce Cranston, with him. Rich Frank (another of my bosses up the chain) also left. Dean Valentine was placed in charge of Walt Disney Television Animation and he had no affinity for Gargoyles or its spin-offs. And Michael, who had initiated the whole thing, had way bigger concerns on his plate. I was more or less forced out. But for one bright, shining moment...
3. GARGOYLES: I'm sure a lot of people are wondering what this means for our favorite winged warriors, but in the short term, I'm sure the answer is "Not much." Gargoyles is pretty much under Disney's radar right now, and really doesn't exist on Marvel's radar at all, as far as I can tell. We'll be an extremely low priority. Our best bet is still SLG, which HOPEFULLY will be motivated by the sales of the Trades to want to make more content with me. Having read Dan "Mr. SLG" Vado's recent reaction to the Disney/Marvel merger, I'm hoping he isn't too discouraged by being in bed with his competition. But I have no doubt that the best way to get Dan fully on board is to make it worth his while by having those trades sell VERY well. So again, buy the trades and/or SPREAD THE WORD!!!!
Okay, in the period of just a few days, I have been rocked by two incredible pieces of news.
1. Last Thursday (8/27/09), Vic Cook and I were informed that in exchange for some concession vis-a-vis the live action Spider-Man features, Sony returned the television rights (including the animated television rights) for Spider-Man to Marvel. This took place the day before ComicCon, I'm told. But I was only informed of it this past week.
2. Today (8/31/09) comes the news that Disney has purchased Marvel outright.
NOW, before you ask -- before you post a thousand duplicate and/or overlapping questions to ASK GREG -- let me be clear: I have NO IDEA what this means for either Gargoyles or The Spectacular Spider-Man. Neither of these developments are by definition good news or bad news. Shocking news, sure. But how it will play out for either or both properties is a complete mystery to me. As soon as I have ANY information on either property, I will post it here at ASK GREG. Until then, don't ask. Seriously. Just don't. There's just no point in bogging down the queue with questions I have no answer to. Thank you for your cooperation.
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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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.
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?
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.
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.
Hey, Greg! I love what you've done with Spectacular Spider-Man. The the best show ever. The 90s show compared to yours is nothing. This show rules!! Here's my question:
Every season in Spectacular Spider-Man has 4 arcs. Each arc is 3 or 4 episodes. You were involed in "The Batman" but you weren't the main director. If you were the main director and producer of "The Batman" when it was first planned, would you have done the same thing you did to Spectacular Spider-Man (having 4 arcs per season)?
I'm not a director at all. (Well, I've been a voice director, but I'm guessing that's not what you're talking about.)
What you seem to be talking about is me being a writer-producer. But no series exists in a vacuum. The arcs weren't my idea on Spec Spidey -- they were part of my marching orders -- though I took to the notion like a duck to water.
Regular readers of Ask Greg know I'm not too fond of hypothetical questions, but asking me about The Batman in this context is just... well... a hypothetical that borders on the silly. (Sorry.) There are too many unknown factors for me to evaluate. But since clearly the producers of The Batman had no such marching orders, the odds are slim that we would have taken that approach.
So, Greg, just out of sure curiosity, have you ever felt there was a whole conspiracy against the Gargoyles series at Disney? I mean, judging from Disney's actions, it was like they wanted the series to fail?
As I've said many times before, that's SO far from the truth it's beyond preposterous.
They made 78 episodes before RATINGS caused them to cancel the series.
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.
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.
i would like to say thank you for creating the best superhero animated series of all time...second, this is a question, i know you can't and won't reveal any future plans for the series but can you answer this, i know fox had a hellofalot things the 90's series couldn'y do like punch...PUNCH, obviously this series doesnt have as much problems but, finally my question, is carnage to dark for the series, along with morbius biting people, and how about the death of gwen and george stacey stories? thanks
I don't know any way to answer this without making it sound like hints toward future plans.
So just talking about S&P in general, the situation shifts and changes all the time, depending on everything from the network and its current strategy and target audience to the individual giving notes -- but most of all depending on how any given thing is handled by the writers and board artists. Ultimately, it's all about execution.
When recording voices for animation, must all actors record voices in the same studio?
It's not an absolute, but we like it both for reasons of actor chemistry and because it's easier on our budget.
Hi Mr. Wiesman
As a folllow-on from something asked of you by "Anonymous" on the issue of growth and evolution in Spider-Man , I would like to, first, argue that the Spider-Man series you have been working on isnt "pinned down" by the problems the comic version of Spidey faces. You have placed Peter, MJ, Gwen, Harry and others into the most innocent kind of "hell" on Earth, High School.
Long before girls fell off bridges, long before clones and long before Peter realized MJ was the love of his life and married her, you don't have to worry about "resetting" there because that only affects the characters outside of High School...where readers expect them to act grown up and responsible for one another, and when they act like rank adolescents as they do in BND (my opinion), or heck, ever since the last ten years worth (Spidey's never recovered since 1999, again, my opinion)
Spider-Girl has now been running for eleven years, with another good few years left in the tank (I don't know how long Tom intends to tell it, right now the word is "indefinatly"), yet Tom recently admited if he so much as fought for an animated series, he'd be shot down. I find this incredibly tragic and disheartening.
And yet...look at what D.C accomplished ten years ago with Batman Beyond.
Terry McGuiness may only have had the golden rule of syndication ("Get 65 and DIE") one movie, and one episode of JLU, but it says a great deal about the higher-ups at WB to risk three years worth on character growth on someone new, whilst balancing that with remarkable doses of growth for Bruce Wayne and Barbera Gordon to that extent than, say, three more years of "The New Batman Adventures"
Hell, let's argue LOONATICS. Done CORRECTLY, this would have made Loony Toon characters DRAMATIC...key word there is "done correctly" of course, but premises like that are ones any writer can eat up with a spoon...again, WB risked it, suceed or fail.
Likewise you have put a lot of risk into Spectacular Spider-Man that has paid off, so maybe it's not a case of marketers being afraid of "growth and change", maybe it's more a case of certain groups being behind the times and just not living in the here and now.
Time will tell. Right now, I like to think those people KNOW that we need something new. Nothing lasts forever.
Not even the relevancy of the "Modern Myth".
My question: Why is it easier for something like Batman Beyond to be favoured over something like Spider-Girl?
No idea. Not even sure that's true, frankly.
The thing to keep in mind is that the business is fluid and NOT monolithic. Things change. There's much human turnover, and with that turnover comes changes in direction at every studio and every network. What the RULES are this week may not be the rules in six months time.
I've often said we'd NEVER have gotten Gargoyles on the air today, and that's true TODAY. But tomorrow is a whole other story.
Maybe Batman Beyond hit at the right studio and the right network at the right time.
Spider-Girl's situation is complicated by the fact that Marvel and Sony co-control the Spider-Man license. I'd guess (and it's ONLY a guess) that Marvel views Spider-Girl as a separate property. And I'd guess Sony views it as part of the Spider-Man license... and that disagreement (assuming it exists and/or has EVER even come up) would obviously be a roadblock to making a Spider-Girl series.
In any case, you give me credit for taking risks that I don't really think I deserve. Sony and Marvel came to me and ASKED me to do a Spider-Man series set in his High School years that was not in continuity with the movies or the current comics or Ultimate or anything. That's all they gave me, but that fit perfectly with what I wanted to do with the character. And given the fact that Spidey is one of the top marquis characters in the known universe, it wasn't exactly a risky proposition.
I like to think we executed well, but let's face it -- ANY Spidey show would do pretty well just by virtue of it being Spidey. I can't exactly take credit for the character's popularity. All I can do is strive to do him justice. It's for others to judge if we succeeded, though we succeeded well enough to satisfy me. I'm biased, of course, but my standards are pretty high.
Sometimes when I write, I worry about how much specific influence other similar media has on what I'm working on. As a student and literary lover, I am well aware of the dangers of plagerism and feel very sensitive to it, but I worry about unitentionally drawing too much from source material in fiction writing. For example, if I was working on a story about a vampire, I would worry about how much I'm being influenced by, say, Interview With the Vampire, which is a personal favorite novel and series. It's important for ideas to be new and fresh, even if they cover subject matter already used in the past.
Like you, I produce what I'd like to consume, so how do you avoid copying your favorites? Any sagely advice?
Otherwise, also want you to know that I impressed upon my local comic shop the sheer importance of my obtaining the two trades coming out this summer. I talked up the series, of which he was alredy a similarly disappointed fan. Both trades are on my pull-list.
I don't have a set of guidelines for you. I try to feel my way through it, I guess. If I am going to "lift", I try to be direct and on the head about it, so that I'm acknowledging the debt as opposed to trying to get away with something. But I also avoid seeing/reading newer interpretations of stuff I know I plan to write about. And as much as possible I stick with "source material," i.e. things in the public domain.
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).
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.
I have watched the first two seasons of Spectacular Spider-man and absolutely love them! I think the thing I appreciate the most is the fact my 3 yr old son and I can watch them with both of us being entertained. We can share that experience and take completely different things from the episode. Kudos for walking that tightrope. With the series moving to Disney XD I have a few questions. 1) How does the ratings thing work? We record and watch every episode that comes on and would LOVE for that to be counted as credit for you guys. I want to do whatever I can to ensure a third and forth season. 2) Is there somewhere or someone we can contact and/or email with our support for this series? I would hate for it to not get picked up. Keep up the good work if you get the opportunity!!
Thanks. I'm glad you and your son both enjoy the show. That was the intent, for there to be something for kids and adults without short-changing either demographic.
1. Unless you are a Nielson household, your personal viewing is not specifically counted, but IN THEORY if you and your kid are watching and a bunch of other folks like you are watching with their kids, then the odds are some Nielson family just like yours is mirroring your collective behavior and that DOES count in the ratings. It has to do with statistics, and I don't pretend to understand it really -- or even fully buy into it. But that's how it works. Again, IN THEORY, if you stop viewing the show it suggests that somewhere some Nielson family just like you has also stopped. So DON'T STOP!!!
2. You can try to contact Disney XD through their website or write a letter to them. It can't hurt.
How much does it cost to commission or create a series or season and how does that work?
sorry for my ignorance and ambiguity,
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.
Greetings, Mr. Weisman. First off, let me say that it is an honor to be able to speak to you, regardless of whether my question is accepted or not. I truly wish I were able to meet you someday being a writer myself! If only my living in Puerto Rico were not so bothersome... (why not make a Gathering here? :3)
Anyways, on to my question. We all know the story: for reasons beyond us, Disney canceled the legendary Gargoyles TV show we all know and love, and then we got a certain spin-off fiasco. Then, literally a decade later, we get a gratifying notice: the comics! (which I will definitely buy this summer, hopefully, even if it's only the Clan Building trades.) But now, sadly, Disney's gone EPIC CANCEL on us. Again. Therefore, I must ask this question. Apologies if it has been asked, by the way. Here goes:
Has it crossed your mind to consult other animation companies, such as Viz, Funimation, Man of Action (creators of the excellent Ben 10 series) on acquiring the license off Disney, or perhaps giving the series a new animated show on a different genre, such as anime or CG? Hell, I'm pretty sure people would pack the theater if it were to be turned into an anime or CG, especially given the highly impressionable teenager crowd of today that's into these genres.
If you ask me, Gargoyles is definitely not doing well under Disney's wing- I mean, it was virtually untouched for a whole decade and more and would have been thrown into the dark hell of obscurity were it not for the fans-i.e. us, and I'd like to take the chance to thank the fans for doing everything the fandom has done.
Thank you very much for your time, sir. It has been an incredible privilege that you even read this letter. Greetings from Puerto Rico, God Bless and please keep giving us great stories to enjoy.
Wolf E. Urameshi
PS: Did I mention your Spider-Man series is awesome? If not, there we go. :)
First off, thanks for all the praise.
You're welcome to organize and hold a Gargoyles Convention in Puerto Rico. I'd be happy to attend too.
The reasons for Gargoyles being cancelled are NOT beyond us. I've laid them out many times, and you can find them by looking through the ASK GREG FAQ. Calling "Goliath Chronicles" a spin-off, isn't really accurate either. It was a third season, rebranded, and with different behind the scenes talent running the production.
And again, to be accurate, Disney didn't cancel the comics. Technically, SLG did, because they could not afford the license under the terms Disney was offering. But sales of the trades will determine whether we'll eventually be back.
And, yes, this question has been asked and answered MANY, MANY times, so check the archives for fuller answers. But briefly, there's no way Disney would release the animation license to another company. And bashing Disney's efforts doesn't further our cause.
This is a question kind of about a Gargoyles movie but not really. I read that back in the 90s one of the reasons a live-action Gargoyles movie wasn't made was because a good script couldn't be found. Not sure if this is true or not but it leads to my question.
Why is it, Gargoyles or otherwise, movie companies contact outside screenwriters to develope a script instead of the creator, if the creator is available for contact (Not dead or no longer working on the project)?
I assume they think that the creator can't create something that would work for a wide audience because they'd be TOO faithful to their creation. I'm sure in some cases that might be true. But there's also a basic assumption that movie writers are inherently superior to television (and certainly cartoon) writers.
A comment, inspired by my last question about the Standards & Practices deaths.
Many of the "deaths by falling" that you had in the series, such as Findleach's and Gillecomgain's, were there simply because of S&P, and I don't think that it would have made a sizable difference to the story and characterization if, say, Gillecomgain had run Findlaech with a sword instead.
But it made good dramatic sense, I think, to have the Captain and Hakon die that way. One of the crucial points of "Awakening"'s opening was Goliath being driven to despair by one blow after another, to the point where he finally commits suicide (in a sense). The Captain and Hakon falling off the cliff rather than being ripped to shreds by Goliath worked there; now, not only has Goliath's clan been massacred, but he can't even exact vengeance upon the two people most responsible for his loss. It brings him one step closer to devastation.
So I think that even without Standards & Practices, it was a good idea to have the Captain and Hakon die that way.
In "City of Stone", you had Findlaech, Gillecomgain, and Duncan all die by either falling off something or getting burned up by the Weird Sisters' magic, to make the methods of their deaths acceptable for Standards & Practices.
But in Part Four, you had Canmore temporarily slay Macbeth by running him through with a sword. Did you have any difficulty with Standards & Practices over that?
Nope. Because (a) the audience saw no details of the event and (b) a few seconds later he stood up.
I know you are probably used to hearing it, but I am a big fan of both Gargoyles and The Spectacular Spider-Man. My questions mostly concern Spectacular Spider-Man.
1. How do the overseas ratings effect our chances for a third Spider-Man season?
2. What is the earliest we could possibly know if Spider-Man is picked up again?
3. If picked up, how long would it take to produce a new season?
4. How has the show being transferred to a Disney channel helped or hindered the possibilities of a third season?
5. Will Disney now be handling the DVD releases of Spider-Man?
My last question I ask because I am hoping they will be as I think (or hope) that they would use that as a sort of free advertising for the Gargoyles DVDs (If you like this, buy this other series by creator Greg Weisman, etc.) and possibly give us the season 2 part 2 we have all been waiting for. Anyways, thanks for your time and just know that I, as a dedicated Spider-Man fan who was highly wary of any new incarnation of the character, love what you have been doing on that series so far. Thanks again.
1. Well, if ratings are high all over the world and those stations want more episodes than perhaps it would encourage Sony International to put more money into the series, so that if for WHATEVER reason, other Sony divisions are less interested, it might help compensate. But we're still waiting for Disney to give us a domestic pick-up sometime after the second season starts airing in June.
2. June at the earliest.
3. About ten months, give or take.
4. Well, we lack continuity, and Disney wants us to prove ourselves all over again, I suppose.
5. No. That's always been Sony Home Entertainment.
I was just wondering...I have a very general question. How is it you or any of us know how well a cartoon does. I mean, is there a website that shows a show's ratings? I was interested in knowing how spectacular Spiderman, or any show for that matter, is doing in popularity and there seems to be little out there when I search. Great work on spectacular spiderman by the way. Best cartoon ever.
I learn about the ratings from my bosses. I would think they're published SOMEWHERE, but I couldn't tell you where.
Hello, Greg. I'm familiar with the guidelines and I clearly understand why you dont want any original ideas or fanfic. But I got this ideas for season 3 (I know its not even picked yet), its really only the major plot for the episodes, not getting into any depth. All I'm asking is if I can post them or somehow send them to you, just to take a look and tell me is it good, bad, what do you think of it. Just this. I dont wanna make your life miserable. I know that you, Vic Cook and everybody else can and will come up with something way better. I just want your opinion. If this question/request doesnt get approved, I'll understand.
I appreciate you asking so nicely, but there's no way Sony would allow me to read what you're offering, even on an educational "tell me if it's good" basis. Spidey is a LIVE property. I can't risk the lawsuits, and Sony wouldn't let me risk the lawsuits even if I was inclined to take the risk. Policy. Sorry.
I'm loving the effort and detail put into Spectacular Spider-Man! It's incredible how this show stays close to the comics, and somehow does its own thing! I can't find anything negative to say, and I'm accustomed to always finding something bad to say.
But I am curious...what was the reasons behind putting this show (in the USA) on Disney XD? The show started on CW, and it was doing well (wasn't it?) on that network, then BAM...Disney has the show...and their decisions to torment us with how long we have to wait for the season 2 episodes seem so...stupid. What happened? Why Disney?
(We are talking about the same company that screwed us all on Gargoyles after season 2 aftreall, Mr. Weisman...)
Wow... where to start.
First, thank you for the compliments.
Second, Disney did NOT "screw us all" after season 2 of Gargoyles. That's patently false. One could argue about how good a job they did or didn't do with the show, but no screwing was involved. For more information, read this: http://www.s8.org/gargoyles/askgreg/faq.php?s=realworld
Third, as for Spidey, the show aired originally on KidsWB, which was a programming block on the CW. Halfway through our season, we learned that CW was dissolving the KidsWB block and selling (renting?) the space to 4KidsTV. So KidsWB became CW4Kids. Sounds like nothing more than a minor name change, but that's not true. CW4Kids was a totally different business entity. I had ZERO involvement in or direct knowledge of the negotiations that followed with either CW4Kids or with DisneyXD (or with Cartoon Network or any other channel Sony might have talked to), but I think it's safe to assume that DisneyXD offered Sony the best OVERALL financial deal, which doesn't necessarily mean the biggest episodic license fee. There are other FINANCIAL factors too that I'm sure were considered. But... and I hope this doesn't shock you... it is ultimately all about money.
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!
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.
I think spectacular spider-man is great and probably one of the best animated series in the past 5 years. The only other series that I can think of that have equally strong plotlines, acting, and sense of continuity are those in the DCAU (DC Animated Universe) created by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini. That whole shebang spun off of what was originally the standalone Batman: The Animated Series because of the commercial and critical success of that show. I already know that you're considering doing DVD movies after Spectacular Spider-Man ends it's run, but would you ever consider doing other shows set in the same self-contained Marvel Universe like that of the DCAU? Just wondering b/c I see how strong a series Spectacular Spider-Man is and can only imagine the potential for adapting other characters.
And once again, the DCAU was not "created" by Timm & Dini. For starters, of course, it was not CREATED by any of these people, it was DEVELOPED. An important distinction in this business. Secondly, it was developed by a number of people, but certainly the two most important were Timm & ALAN BURNETT (who was Paul Dini's boss). I feel bad about constantly doing this, because I think it leaves the (false) impression that I've got an axe to grind against the very talented Mr. Dini, and I absolutely do NOT. Paul is phenomenal and deserves major props for his work on the DCAU. But I'm really tired of Alan not getting the credit he deserves for (a) RESCUING Batman the Animated Series from mediocre writing and (b) being the Executive Producer (alongside Bruce) of the entire DCAU (including THE BATMAN).
As for Spidey launching a "MCAU"... it isn't likely. Marvel's doing that on their own. Sony has the rights to ONLY Spidey and Ghost Rider. And before you ask, Vic and I have asked Sony about doing an animated Ghost Rider, but they are currently uninterested.
I'll start off with my question, but please forgive me for including some praise which I feel you are due.
My question: With Disney's recent decision to raise their licensing fee (effectively ending production of the Gargoyles comic) as well as their now seemingly permanent decision to not release Season 2, Volume 2 on DVD - do you ever get the feeling Disney thinks of you as the bastard child they never wanted and would do anything to make go away forever?
On a personal note - I would like to thank you for making my childhood better. "Gargoyles" was always a major part of my childhood - I had the toys, I had the VHS "The Heroes Awaken" with the game, I had everything. I even remember getting yelled at for putting TV above family when I commented to my mom one day that I couldn't go anywhere with her because the new "Gargoyles" episode was about to come on. After recently finding the two DVD collections currently available, I watched every single episode - and was once again amazed at how great they were.
Thanks for all that you do - I'm currently trying to buy all the comics that I can. I hope that, one day, we'll see the rest of your creation available on DVD, because I would love for my children to see it one day.
No, I don't feel that way. For starters, they did WANT us originally. They just never quite knew what to do with us. How to help us be as successful as possible. Now, we're simply a low, low, low priority. A corporation with literally hundreds of IPs needs to prioritize certainly, and we're low... largely because we have never made them quite ENOUGH money to be a high priority.
Are you the maker of Gargoyles? and if I want to make a book what should I do?
Please tell me how to make a good story.
I'm the creator (or at least co-creator) of the GARGOYLES television series. I was one of the writers, supervising producers and supervising story editor, and I'm currently writing the GARGOYLES and GARGOYLES: BAD GUYS comics.
I'm not sure what kind of book you have in mind. Generally, I advise would-be writers to get a great liberal arts education. Read... a lot. Write... a lot. And proofread.
Hello greg, I just wanted to say season 1 of SSM was very good and i cant wait to see many many more seasons come for the series. I loved it alot besides a few changes here and there i didnt like at first but grew on me over time and it works for the show itself. I just had a question i was wondering on the production side of things for the show. How long does it take to animate a single episode for the series?
It takes eight to ten months - give or take.
This is question in regards to censorship in Spectacular Spider-Man. Back in the 90s series, there was an obnoxious amount of censorship (Spidey couldn't throw a punch?!) that sometimes hindered the story in obvious ways. Now, Spectacular Spidey is obviously a bit of a lighter tone, so I don't expect to see people dying all over the place or anything, but I am curious about how the censorship from the studios of this series differs from other shows you've worked on, like Gargoyles--which I think was great about being delightfully edgy whilst still obeying the censors. Gargoyles was much darker that Spider-Man currently is, obviously; I'm just curious as to how similar the rules regarding the amount of death and violence and such are and if it has changed a lot since your work in the 90s.
And just to be clear, I'm not complaining or asking for Spider-Man to be darker or more violent or anything, I'm very happy with how everything has been handled and balanced without getting too "gritty" thus far (and I'm usually a sucker for dark stories). I'm just curious, you know?.
I'm hinky about the way you throw the word "censor" around. The biggest rule is, was and always has been our own personal standards of what's right and wrong, what is and isn't appropriate. After that, both Gargoyles and Spectacular Spider-Man benefited from having smart, intelligent and understanding S&P executives (Adrienne Bello for Gargoyles, Patricia Dennis for Spidey). As I've mentioned before, there wasn't much we wanted to do on Spidey that was disallowed. The realistic sound of gunshots comes to mind... and those are being restored on the DVDs. I think it has less to do with the era, and more to do with the individual looking over your shoulder.
I just wanted to say thanks Greg for the fantastic story you've created here. I went on a nostalgic kick awhile back and revisited some series from my childhood.. most did not stand up so well, but I actually appreciate what you were doing with Gargoyles more now than I ever did back then and, in hindsight, recognize just how far ahead of its time it actually was.
The world you have crafted here is so vivid and interesting, it got me to thinking, have you ever thought about writing a novel about the Gargoyles? Or do you see Gargoyles always existing in a more visual medium, like animation or comic books?
Just to go a little further afield, what are your thoughts on "opening it up," Stars Wars style, so other authors can write the stories while you maintain tight control over canon? I think I know what your answer will be, but I have quite the appetite for more Gargoyles stories than exist at the moment, so I have to ask.
As I've said (here) many times before, I'd LOVE to write a Gargoyles' novel.
As for your second question, that's pretty much how I ran the series in the first place.
Do you think that adapting a familiar comic-book figure from the medium of comic books to the television screen (as you're currently doing with "The Spectacular Spider-Man") is much like adapting a familiar legendary figure (such as King Arthur or Theseus) to a modern work of fiction (except, of course, that Arthur and Theseus have been around a lot longer than Spidey has)?
There are common factors, but no. The main difference is that Spider-Man isn't public domain. Marvel OWNS the character and is quite the watchdog, as it should be.
Do you know what the writer's strike had on the writer's extent that they can choose what they write and shows they can choose to script? Will this have any affect on the animation industry?
Uh... I don't have a clue what you're first question is asking. But the strike had little effect on the animation industry, as most animation writers are covered by TAG not WGA.
If you had wirten a story How would you do it t make people intersted more in the book?
You're looking at it.
I love your work and would really value your advice; I have decided to produce a comic/graphic novel from one of the stories I have designed. I have no experience of any budget to speak of and in this moment I can only recruit people who are willing to use it as a learning experience with just a hope of reward if all goes well. So far so good, I have a couple of writers on board, a few artists in training and a colourist. I guess this won't be a straighforward question as such, I ask for advice really. How much time is reasonable to spend on one issue, where do I turn to for recognition, do you have any general tips you could give on getting published or sponsored?
I'm not sure I'm the guy to advise you. I've never self-published anything and know little or nothing about it. I'm also not clear... you're the writer, but you have a couple of writers? Most self-published things don't employ other writers, I'd think.
As for how much time per issue... well, I usually write a couple pages per day, so that I can write two comics a month (more or less). It takes me between twenty minutes and an hour per day.
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?
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...
If I was evry want to become a writer what sould I do to make people like my storys? How old where you when you wrote storys? I been thinking of some good storys but I don't know if any one would like them? When I read a bionicle story I feel like I am in a different world. Am I cary or what?
I began writing stories as early as Second Grade. It's a great hobby, and it can be a great profession -- but I'd only recommend it to someone who truly felt they couldn't be happy doing anything else. Because there will be REJECTION. Nature of the beast, I'm afraid. But if you want to do it, then do it. My first and biggest recommendation is to learn to PROOFREAD your work. Get a dictionary and look up words that you're not sure of. Make sure your grammar is impeccable. No one will want to read your work if it's loaded with typos and other small errors. They'll never get to see your wonderful stories. My next recommendation is to READ. READ, READ, READ. Read voraciously. Newspapers, magazines, classic works of literature, comic books, whatever. But read. My next recommendation is to LISTEN. Listen to how people talk, how they sound, their dialects, their slang, etc. That's the way to learn to write good dialogue. Finally WRITE, WRITE, WRITE. PROOFREAD. REWRITE. READ. READ. Etc.
Sorry, forgot to include this in my last question.
This past summer, I emailed disney some ideas I had for animated shows. They replied telling me that they can't take unsolicited ideas. So my question is, how do I make my ideas solicited?
Get an agent.
What is your opinion on the current strike going on between the writer's guild and the studios?
I'm completely pro-WGA. And I'm NOT a member of either organization.
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!
Thanks for the congrats.
1. None of the studios I've ever worked with in Television Animation have their own post houses.
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.
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.
*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!
I wanted to ask you some questions about dealing with Disney, and making a comic that was based in one of their shows, as I am considering going to them? But I have absolutely no experience in doing such deals, or with making comics... etc. And I live in the UK, so obviously I can't just go to their offices.
I have written a story set in one of Disney's classic shows. The show is 'Talespin', which of course has been cancelled for years, but I wanted to know if it were possible for Disney to make a comic out of it again, if they came upon a really good idea? (I know they did once, but it didn't last)
The story I've written is about 110 pages long, set in 4 chapters, and I like to think has some quite good storylines.
I wanted to know who I should contact, to submit the idea... their address, email, website URL or such? And should they agree, then what comes next?
Do I send them my whole story, and if I do then should I make copies, or do I take them first to a lawyer or someone to get copyrights? (Just in case someone tries to steal my ideas (paranoid I know, but you can never be too careful nowadays)).
Assuming everything goes well, and they agree, then what happens? Do they hire all the artists themselves, and/or get more experienced writers to trim my story down to their liking? Do I have any say in the matter? I mean, living in the UK would no doubt be a problem to work with them, since they're based in the US.
If you could answer any of these questions, I'd be most grateful. Or if you could give me the contact details of someone who could help me, or have details sent to me, I'd be even more stoked?
Thanks! (Oh, and loved the 4th Gargoyles comic issue btw!)
Nothing is impossible, and far be it from me to tell you not to go for it, but the scenario you're describing is pretty darn close to a pipe dream.
So let's take it point for point...
It is possible for Disney to make a Talespin comic again -- in theory. But in point of fact, Disney is NOT publishing any comics to my knowledge. Keep in mind that Disney is NOT publishing Gargoyles. SLG has licensed the property (and three others) from Disney and is publishing the book. I feel like I vaguely recall that Disney has other licenses with other companies. There's also Disney Adventures Digest, which used to publish the occasional comic book story. Don't know if they still do. Actually don't know if they still publish that digest at all. So would Disney start publishing Talespin again if they LOVED your idea. I really, really doubt it. Either Talespin comics are part of their business strategy or they're not. Either a financial argument can be made to add Talespin comics to their business strategy or it cannot. Their assumption would be that IF they decided to make the comic, they could find PROS, experienced PROS, to turn out high quality product. That's the LEAST of their worries. It is unlikely that no matter how brilliant your storyline might be that the storyline itself would convince them to do this.
I don't know whom you should contact. But if this is important to you, then do your homework. RESEARCH who you should contact. Find other Disney books and contact the people making them. If you're not serious enough to do your homework, than you'll never get through the hassle of what is BOUND to follow -- even assuming you luck into or are fed the correct contact info.
I might start by sending a plot synopsis. Something more digestible than an 110 page document. I would absolutely make copies. I mean what if it gets lost in the mail? But a lawyer for purposes of "protecting" your idea seems like an unnecessary expense. You can send the document to yourself in a sealed envelope by the U.K. equivalent of certified mail, i.e. with the date marked on it. Then simply do NOT open that envelope, until or unless you find yourself in a court of law in front of witnesses needing to prove that you wrote what you said you wrote when you said you wrote it. But frankly, even THAT precaution is unnecessary. I used to worry about people stealing my ideas too. I got over it. The bigger danger is that someone INDEPENDENTLY has a very similar idea and gets it out into the public before you. Then you are effectively blocked. And let's face it... this isn't an original property we're talking about. This is Talespin. There is EVERY reason to think that someone else could independently come up with a similar idea, because you and that someone else are both working off the same source material. Source material, which I should remind you, you don't and can NEVER own.
As to what happens if they agree... well, we're TRULY into blue sky territory now. I mean, WHO bought it? Who's doing it? I'm assuming you have no plan to pay the extraordinarily large licensing fee to do this yourself. The publisher, I guess, would find an artist. But are you saying that you yourself think that you need a PRO to clean up your writing? Again, do your homework. If you can't present this in a presentable professional form, what chance do you have? How much say you have... would depend on all of the above factors. (Living in the U.K. I would think would hardly matter at all. Not these days, not with computers, not if they've already bought your idea.)
I have to say I would NOT focus my energies on a property I didn't own. I know that must sound hypocritical given how much time and energy I've spent on Gargoyles, but I really do think it's a different situation. Which doesn't mean I'VE been smart either. But at least I'm the creator with some cache vis-a-vis the property, a fan following and a real investment (mental and emotional at least) in it.