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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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