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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.