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Aspiring Comic Book Writer writes...

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

Greg responds...

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

Response recorded on September 03, 2013

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Barnabas writes...

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

Greg responds...

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

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

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

3. Yeah, pretty much.

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

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

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

Response recorded on May 01, 2013

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wintersmith writes...

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

Greg responds...

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

Response recorded on April 19, 2013

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Shellhead writes...

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.

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on April 19, 2013

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Amy writes...

Greg,

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

Greg responds...

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

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

Response recorded on April 18, 2013

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A Flash Fan writes...

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.

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on March 22, 2013

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Jasae Bushae writes...

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.

Greg responds...

Yes.

Response recorded on March 14, 2013

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Blizzard Sprite writes...

Hello, Mr. Weisman.

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

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

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

Thank you for your time.

Greg responds...

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

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

Response recorded on March 13, 2013

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Blizzard Sprite writes...

Hello, Mr. Weisman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your time.

Greg responds...

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

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

3. Very inconsistently.

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

3b. Often, we got no info.

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

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

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

Response recorded on March 13, 2013

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the greenman writes...

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

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

Thank you very much. Have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Greg responds...

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

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

Response recorded on December 28, 2012

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Tom writes...

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

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

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

Greg responds...

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

Response recorded on December 26, 2012

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Young Justice Spin-Off

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"
(Script #1)

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!

THE END

BLACK MANTA'S CELEBRITY HOT TUB
"Black Beetle, Black Vykin, Black Lightning"
CAST LIST

RECURRING:
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.

GUEST:
BLACK LIGHTNING - 4 lines.

NON-SPEAKING:
BLACK BEETLE - No lines.
BLACK VYKIN - No lines.
MANTA TROOPERS - No lines. They play various musical instruments in Black Manta's band.

SYNOPSIS:
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.]


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Ian S. writes...

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.

Greg responds...

I can't draw AT ALL. So for artistic advice, I'd recommend asking one of the artists.

Response recorded on December 04, 2012

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Julio Lopez writes...

Did you have plans of pitch or self produce a new original concept in form of series/comic?

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on November 29, 2012

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An Intelligent Mackinaw writes...

HI GREG!

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.

Greg responds...

1. Yes.

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.

Response recorded on October 08, 2012

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Freeman writes...

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!

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on October 08, 2012

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Anonymous writes...

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?

Greg responds...

I'm very much in favor of entertainment companies making their product available.

Response recorded on September 26, 2012

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NY writes...

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!

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on September 19, 2012

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Todd Jensen writes...

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.

Greg responds...

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.)

Response recorded on September 12, 2012

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Dr. Spanky writes...

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.

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on September 12, 2012

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Thomas Allen Dreyfuss writes...

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!).

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on August 30, 2012

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Justin F. writes...

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

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on August 16, 2012

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Anonymous writes...

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!

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on August 16, 2012

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Korra writes...

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

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on July 24, 2012

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reiena grayson writes...

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.

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on July 24, 2012

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P. N. Guinn writes...

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.

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on July 17, 2012

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Anonymosly Writes writes...

Hey Greg why your not consulted on Scheduling

Greg responds...

I'm not important enough in the grand scheme, I guess.

Response recorded on May 16, 2012

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Craig writes...

Hi Greg,

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!

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on May 14, 2012

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Anonymous writes...

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.

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on May 07, 2012

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Blizzard Sprite writes...

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 wasn’t 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 show’s 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.

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on May 07, 2012

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Anonymous writes...

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?

Greg responds...

Yeah, more or less.

Response recorded on May 04, 2012

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Nathan writes...

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?

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on May 03, 2012

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Jayel20 writes...

What's was the budget for the first season of young justice
Ps big fan of just about all our work

Greg responds...

That's proprietary information.

Response recorded on May 01, 2012

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John Pannozzi writes...

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?

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on April 30, 2012

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Lavariel writes...

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?

Greg responds...

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.)

Response recorded on April 24, 2012

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Curious writes...

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?

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on February 10, 2012

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Michael J. Eilen writes...

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.

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on February 09, 2012

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Ben Osterloh writes...

Hey Greg,

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.

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on November 29, 2011

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PPL Ltd. writes...

Hey Greg,

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.

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on November 17, 2011

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Logan writes...

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.

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on May 02, 2011

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Anonymous writes...

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.

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on March 17, 2011

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Ed Rabka writes...

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?

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on March 09, 2011

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Henry writes...

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?

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on February 02, 2011

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Harlan Phoenix writes...

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.

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on January 21, 2011

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Richard Jackson writes...

Todd Jensen and others have commented on the similarities between “Grief” and the Batman episode “Avatar.” Todd’s question being here:

http://www.s8.org/gargoyles/askgreg/search.php?qid=2870

I noticed another pair of episodes of Batman and Gargoyles that really reminded me of the other, because of the same writers. “Legion” and the Batman episode “What is Reality?” 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 Robin’s case. An electronic shock emanating from Goliath’s body in Lex’s case. Side note: That was the biggest problem I had with “Legion.” I can buy a cybernetic gargoyle and that Xanatos can design a computer program based on his personality, but I never understood how Goliath’s 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, “What is Reality?” and “Legion” 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 “Future Tense”, which also had a VR sequence in the Xanatos Pyramid, albeit in a dream. They didn’t write “Walkabout”, which had a metaphysical reality (MR?) scene.

I do think the examples of “Avatar/Grief” and “What is Reality?/Legion” are interesting examples of how writers will take previous ideas they’ve had and use another chance to expand or improve on them. “Avatar” didn’t work for me, but “Grief” is one of my favorite episodes of Gargoyles. And it’s close between “What is Reality?” and “Legion”, but I slightly prefer the former.

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on January 12, 2011

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Marc G. writes...

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?
Thanks!

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on January 12, 2011

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Anonymous writes...

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?

Greg responds...

In this day and age, it's GOOD.

Response recorded on December 27, 2010

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John Derrick writes...

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?

Greg responds...

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.

Response recorded on December 21, 2010

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Richard Jackson writes...

Hi Greg,

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.

Greg responds...

I try to give them at least two weeks to write the script based on an approved outline. More if I can.

Response recorded on December 03, 2010

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Algernon writes...

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?

Greg responds...

I would have crossed that hellbridge when I came to it.

Response recorded on December 01, 2010


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