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Carl Johnson writes...

Hello Mr. Weisman,

I had just a couple of questions.

1. One thing about the animation industry is that once a season is over there is no guarantee that the next season will be picked up. Should some one have a plan B for another profession if the next season does not work out? Or is there plenty of work in California that if you did your job well, finding another one should not take long?

2.If someone has a animation idea they want to pitch and have all the details worked out (pitch bible, characters, story, and pilot script) how would they know when they could pitch the idea?

3. I had a question for attires for animation shows. Does it cost more to have different episodic attires for characters or do characters have only one attire to save time? I know in Spectacular, Peter had a winter attire with the jacket, or that one time he had the black shirt with brown pants during the symbiote removal episode but is there a choice on whether they can change their attire episode by episode to add more realism?
Thanks!

Greg responds...

1. Well, uh... There are no guarantees. I try to have other work lined up, pretty much always. And sometimes I'm just flat-out unemployed for stretches. This gig is not for the faint of heart, I guess.

2. I'm not sure I understand the question. If you're ready, pitch. But my caution would be to be careful not to poison the water. If it's a work in progress, and isn't actually very good (YET), then I wouldn't pitch. Make sure you're only showing the best possible version of what you've got. On the other hand, there's not much point in noodling forever on an idea. If it's solid, go for it.

3. Every design - and new clothes are a new design - cost time, which costs money. So, yes, in animation, we need a pretty good reason to give characters additional wardrobe. But if we need it, we need it.

Response recorded on April 24, 2017

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Lenny writes...

Hey Greg,

I am very interested into breaking into the animation industry. I am currently in college working on my English writing skills and drawing skills as well. I heard in one of your previous interviews that moving to California would be smart as thats where alot of the animation jobs are. By the time you read this question I would hopefully be done reading "Gardner's Guide to Writing and Producing Animation" by Shan Muir. I should get a better idea about the industry itself from reading that book, but since you have experience as a animation producer I just had a couple of specific questions hopefully you can answer.

1. Would animation companies be more interested in investing original show ideas or original ideas on licenses they already acquire? I.E. an idea that some one made up and wanted to make into a show or having original material for a Marvel Spider-Man show or DC Superman show?

2. I have never been to California but I heard the cost of living is higher than any state (considering that Im from the east coast) should one wait to have an agent then move to Cali or should they move there, settle in, get a part time job then pursue after the animation career?

3.If by some miracle a persons idea gets picked up by a company, they might not immediately give them control over production. Could a recommendation for a more seasoned producer ( like Paul Dini, Victor Cook, or even Brandon Vietti) be made and considered? or is it 9/10 they provide their own producer?

4 (Last one) Animation on live television has changed drastically over the past couple of decades. With online streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and even Amazon Prime have shown that people rather binge a season versus figure out what time slot it will appear on television. So my question is, if a person has an idea but would think that idea would perform better on a streaming service versus online television, should that be included in the pitch or should they let the executives worry about that? For example Marvel hasn't made a Spider-Man 2099 cartoon series yet and if it were to be adapted truly it would probably do way better on an online streaming service where people can watch and binge episodes on their own time, versus live television in which a shows lifespan can be cut at any moment.

That's all the questions that I have and I hope I haven't broken any of your guidelines. I hope to break into the industry within the next five years and is willing to do almost anything to make my dream come true. Thank you for your time!

Greg responds...

1. Marquis value is always something sought after, but there's no way to predict what a given network or studio is looking for from the outside in. You can come in with a take on Wile E. Coyote, and find out that Warner Bros already has plans for him. So, I tend to advise people to spend their time on something they can own. But it's not a hard and fast rule.

2. I don't know how you get an agent without getting work first. And frankly, I don't know how you get a first job if you're not here pounding the pavement. There's work in New York. And a few other places. But most of the animation writing work is in Los Angeles.

3. How could you possibly get a recommendation to be a producer from anyone if you've never produced? Dude, you have to work your way up through the ranks. Freelance writer. Staff writer. Story editor. Producer. If you come in with a brilliant idea that they're desperate to have, I suppose anything is possible. But it's not likely. Prove yourself. THEN sell your brilliant idea.

4. You can suggest whatever you want. But if you sell to Netflix, for example, of course they're looking at a binge-model. And if you sell to Cartoon Network, of course they're NOT. So try not to limit your options.

Response recorded on April 20, 2017

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killuaDev writes...

Do you enjoy having conversations with people about your work (If they are not asking for spoilers or trying to pitch you ideas etc.

Greg responds...

Very much.

Response recorded on April 18, 2017

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Anonymous writes...

1) Have you read much from the old DC Vertigo imprint? If so, what were among your favorites?
2) Do you see a realistic path towards animation becoming acceptable among the general adult population in the near future?

Greg responds...

1. I read everything prior to 1996. Almost nothing that came after. Sandman and Swamp Thing were obvious favorites, back in the day.

2. Depends what you mean by "acceptable."

Response recorded on March 23, 2017

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John writes...

Hi Greg, hope your day is going well, just wanted to say thanks for creating and producing all of these great shows, comics, and novels, and thank you very much for taking time out of your probably busy schedule to answer fan's questions.
1. How long does it take to make an episode of an animated series, like Spectacular Spider-Man or Young Justice?
2. Is Aquaman's son really named Artur, or was that just a typo in the video game?
3. What would it take to relaunch the Young Justice comic book series?
And I know these are probably spoilery, so I won't ask, but Zatanna and Rocket were some of my favorite characters in season one. Really hoping you guys get enough episodes to bring a resolution to the Zatanna/Zatara/Dr.Fate storyline, and we can finally find out who Rocket'a husband is! But if neither of these end up happening, I'm sure we'll get a fantastic Season 3 story from you guys no matter what. Ecstatic that YJ is back!

Greg responds...

1. Depends what you mean. You see, no one makes a SINGLE episode. From coming up with the springboard for the story, all the way through post-production, until it's in the can, it takes somewhere from between ten and thirteen months, depending on the schedule.

2. Artur is correct.

3. It would help if a lot of people bought electronic versions of the issues already published, either on the DC App, Comixology or iTunes.

Response recorded on March 10, 2017

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Snaggle Fraggle writes...

What in the animation industry has changed since you first got into it, for better or for worse?

Greg responds...

Tons. And nothing.

The biggest change for me, right now at least, is the end of animation in broadcast syndication and for the major networks, through the rise and (plateauing) of cable stations, into streaming services.

Response recorded on February 22, 2017

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Ah-Bee-Cee-Dee writes...

Is it my imagination, or are 11-minute/11-minute episodes steadily replacing 22 minute animation as the norm?

Greg responds...

I don't know about norm. But I do see a lot more series going the eleven minute route. (Not YJ, in case you were concerned.)

Response recorded on February 13, 2017

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Robert Misirian writes...

Hi Mr. Weisman. I remember we met in WonderCon last year and I asked you questions about writing spec scripts for cartoons. I remember you said that I should write three scripts, then go over them, and only submit one of them if you're absolutely sure it's good.

Knowing what you and your crew got away with in Young Justice, how do how people like you and Gennedy Tartakovsky on Sym-Bionic Titan get away with the TV-PG content and make your show with teens in mind? And since I plan to make TV-14 shows for the main Cartoon Network channel, would the channel accept them?

Greg responds...

You'd have to ask them. The needs of ANY given channel are constantly changing.

And I don't write for an older audience. I write on levels so it works for the widest possible audience.

Response recorded on November 30, 2016

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Green Lantern's Nightlight writes...

1). You say to fans a good way of showing they want Young Justice to return, is to buy the comics, DVDs, and the game (and the toys still?), but how much would fans have to buy for this to happen? Is there a goal to reach maybe or perhaps just enough to get noticed by DC/WB that it's still something that people want more of?

I would think they'd be more interested in what was selling when the show was still on the air, because that's obviously what Mattel was looking at for it to pull its funding.

2). If by miracle, YJ does get brought back by Netflix, where would the funding come from? Having Mattel as a backer makes it look like it couldn't be made without it. Not every Warner Bros. Animation show has a backer (unless there's a silent contributer), and most of the Netflix shows have a backer (helped by broadcasters who air it around the world), so what would happen with YJ? Would it just be supported by Warner (and DC), itself? And I guess, Netflix.

Greg responds...

Well, this is all largely moot now, but...

1. I never had a NUMBER or AMOUNT. It takes more to get a company's attention after a show is off the air, then it takes to keep a show on the air. The other thing to keep in mind is that buying toys (or whatever) second-hand does nothing to get a company's attention. So, for example, I was not advocating buying YJ toys this year, because those toys were off the market. Any purchases were second sales and does nothing for Mattel or WB or DC's bottom line.

2. So YJ's coming back, but I don't know where it will air. The term "backer" doesn't really fit, either. It's about MONEY. Money to produce the first two seasons of YJ came from Mattel and Cartoon Network. (Mostly from Mattel.) When Mattel pulled out, the money from CN wasn't enough to produce the series. Period. For season three, Warner Bros itself is paying for it, for now. They have confidence, I guess, that wherever it winds up and whatever merchandise they may or may not eventually release or license, they'll still make a profit. That's based on what the fans proved over the last few years.

Response recorded on November 17, 2016

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Blake writes...

Me and a friend of mine are making a show about war and we wanted to know if we should go with animation from star wars rebels or go with retro animation from the 90s.

Greg responds...

Okay, so...

(a) Are those your only two options?

(b) Are you defining "retro animation" as cell animation as opposed to CGI? Cause cell animation isn't by definition retro.

(c) Are you in fact MAKING this yourselves, or are you coming up with a pitch? If the former, evaluate what you can and can't manage. If the latter, keep your options open.

Response recorded on October 28, 2016

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Domenic writes...

How long did it take to write and make an episode for Young Justice?

By the way, you are THE BEST writer on TV ever!!!

Greg responds...

Thank you.

Um... well, it takes a minimum of nine or ten months to go from an episodic springboard to a final complete episode in the can, ready to air. Often more like a year.

Response recorded on September 15, 2016

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Annonymus writes...

Hi Greg, I was just wondering, how do you react to negative criticism on a show you worked on before like all those people who heavily criticized something you that you and your team liked, like the Joker in Young Justice for example? Would you stick to the creative choice despite how the majority of the audience did not approve or would you make changes to that criticism even if you thought it was fine the way it was.

I know I'm not obligated to advice the creator what to change or not not to change, I am merely asking how the creative team would react in this situation, because I too am learning in production management and how to plan construction for a form of entertainment media.

It would really help,

Greg responds...

I have to stick to my guns. In part because of the long lagtime between production and airing. And in part because I need to maintain my passion for a project. If I'm taking notes from everyone who can make a suggestion on the internet, I'll (a) never get anything done and (b) quickly lose my passion for the project.

If I had listened to all the YJ criticism that came down the pike early on, I would have, for example, cut Miss Martian, Superboy and Kid Flash from the series. I would have made the season one Robin Tim Drake and not Dick Grayson, which means we would never have gotten Nightwing in Season Two. I would have lost Dick's laughter and his wordplay. Aqualad would be another white guy and not the son of Black Manta. Etc. Etc. Etc.

People don't know what we have planned, and they react. Often negatively - especially on the internet - to things that they will eventually love if we and they are patient.

Response recorded on June 24, 2016

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Kyle Kale writes...

Hey Mr. Weisman

Given your experiences in animated media, do you think that animated shows have it harder (in terms of having to prove themselves as viable for gaining additional seasons) than live-action shows? I ask because it seems to me that you have, alongside collaborators, spearheaded numerous projects (such as WITCH, Spec Spidey, Young Justice) that have, critically and in terms of viewership, been very successful (I can't speak for Spec Spidey or WITCH, but I know that Young Justice consistently maintained numbers that even some live-action shows do not get or maintain), yet they have all been cancelled for various reasons. Meanwhile, there is no shortage of live-action shows that have been looked upon with far less critical or viewer approval and have been renewed for more than three seasons (of 16 to 21 episodes). If your answer is 'yes,' do you think that one reason for this increased difficulty on the part of animated shows is that most of them are forced into, in addition to maintaining constant viewer numbers, maintaining a toy line?

Greg responds...

I dunno. It's easy to complain, but the truth is MANY shows don't make it to a full season, let alone two or more.

Budget plays a role in any series, but a kids series - particularly a kids' action series - seems particularly prone to the need for an alternative revenue stream beyond ratings.

Response recorded on May 23, 2016

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SKL writes...

Hey Greg,

Going through the archives, I find the point by point summaries you give of the production process behind your various shows very interesting. It isn't necessarily obvious how much work goes into animated shows so I appreciate that you provide these brief insights.

Have you made a lot of changes to your approach or has it remained largely the same over the years? To put it another way, was your day to day work on Gargoyles significantly different to that of the work you did on WITCH, Spectacular Spider-Man or Young Justice?

Are any changes more to do with your own personal preferences, or are they largely determined by shifts occurring in the industry in general, with improvements to technology and so on?

Greg responds...

Day to day, little has changed of substance. But my process of breaking both arcs and stories continues to be refined with every new series. And there are technological changes that influence things too. I used to review timing sheets. Now, I almost never do. In fact, on Star Wars Rebels, I never even saw storyboards - just animatics.

But every series is slightly different. A lot depends on who you're partnered with, and the processes at any given studio, etc.

And yet, at the end of the day, the process is still basically the same.

Response recorded on April 28, 2016

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Andres writes...

Dear Greg

After so many years what is your opinion of the current status of Animation in America?

Second with how animation in motion pictures is telling more diverse type of stories than before with DC having great success with there direct to video animated films having success directed at a more general audience the success of anime as a genre and animation widely accepted as a medium for adult comedy why don't great series of drama action and adventure, intelligent well told stories such YJ fet taken more serious?Why are they seen as directed ot young boys who buy toys?

Greg responds...

Let me answer your second question first and work my way through the others from there.

I don't know.

I don't know why animation isn't taken more seriously by the general audience of adults. But the fact is: it isn't. Wish it wasn't so, but it is so. Even Pixar movies are largely viewed by MOST adults only if they are parents taking their children. There are a ton of exceptions, of course. And, of course, parents would rather see a movie that works on multiple levels, so that there's something for their kids, but also something for themselves, i.e. for adults. So parents/adults have learned to expect more from the animated movies of Pixar/Disney/Dreamworks/etc. because they've seen good movies from those companies and have started to learn the difference between a good animated move and a bad animated movie. And what is that difference? Well, your mileage may vary, but it's basically the same difference between a good movie and a bad movie, period.

As for a series like Young Justice, your thinking is backwards. Young boys don't buy toys. How could they? Where would they get the money? Parents buy toys for kids (boys AND girls) based on (a) what they think their kids like and (b) what their kids tell them they like.

A show like Young Justice is PAID FOR by the money that toys bring in. If there weren't toys, there wouldn't be any money to make the show. So, frankly, bitching about the shows being directed to kids for the purposes of selling toys is basically bitching about the show being made at all. Because, again, without the toy component, there is no show. NO SHOW.

That's why YJ didn't get a third season. The toyline failed. (We can spend hours discussing why, but that's another topic.) So no more money was coming in from the toy company. No money. NO SHOW. (Or no third season under that financial model, anyway.)

And I am 100% fine with that. Because I WANT kids watching Young Justice. Like a good Pixar movie, YJ is written on levels. There's plenty of eye candy for younger kids. Explosions, young heroes in costumes, etc. And plenty for tweens, teens, college students, adults and geeks of all ages to enjoy as well. That's the game plan. We have a target audience, we MUST hit, i.e. boys 6-11 years old. As long as we are successful in that demographic, everyone is happy. And everyone is HAPPIER if we also get girls 6-11 and boys 11-13, and girls 11-13 and teens and adults of all genders, etc., etc.,etc.

As for anime, and/or the DC animated movies, they are doing well - or better, at least. But let's not kid ourselves. They are still only serving niche audiences in the United States. They serve geeks of various flavors (myself included). On a grand scale - say, compared to LION KING or SHREK - they're not doing big numbers. They're just not. Fanbases on the internet fool themselves into thinking things are more popular and money-generating than they really are. "I like it and my friends like it and a bunch of strangers on the internet like it, therefore nearly EVERYONE must like it!' But that's a fallacy.

Which finally brings us to your first question: what is [my] opinion of the current status of Animation in America?

I don't know.

Response recorded on April 04, 2016

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Long Beach Comic Expo - 2016

Here's my schedule for this weekend's Long Beach Comic Expo at the Long Beach Convention Center:

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2016

11:30am - 12:30pm
DOWN TO NERD: INVADER ZIM AND GARGOYLES: CONQUEROR VS PROTECTOR
Thunderdome (Seaside Pre-Function) w/RuthAnn Thompson (moderator), Dave Crosland, Greg Weisman.
Description: Some come from another time to protect, another from a different planet to conquer- but both hold a special place in our hearts! Gargoyles VS Invader Zim. We will focus on the first 5 episodes of the TV series Gargoyles with writer/creator Greg Weisman and the first 5 issues of the Invader Zim comic books with Dave Crosland. What are the differences and similarities do these creatures out of space and time have? How will they fit in on modern day earth? Casual Fans and Hard Core Nerds alike join host RuthAnn Thompson and be "Down To Nerd"!

01:00pm - 02:00pm
THE ART OF STAR WARS & THE FANDOM BEHIND IT
Danger Room (S1) w/Ben Paddon (moderator), Terry Dodson, Craig Miller, Cat Staggs, Greg Weisman.
Description: Cat Staggs has been working for the Star Wars / LUCASFILM family since 2004, for which she has illustrated short fiction for starwars.com, produced sketch and trading cards, exclusive prints for Star Wars Celebrations III, IV, Europe, Celebration V, and Celebration VI. Terry Dodson is an American comic book artist who penciled the Dark Force Rising comic series in 1997. He has also provided art for Mark Waid's Princess Leia limited series. Moreover, Dodson has drawn the Books-A-Million variant cover to the first issue of the Shattered Empire miniseries, and the CBLDF variant to Star Wars: Vader Down, Part I. Greg Weisman is the writer for Star Wars Rebels - "The Machine in the Ghost", "Art Attack", "Droids in Distress", "Breaking Ranks", "Gathering Forces" and Star Wars: Kanan: The Last Padawan. Craig Miller was Director of Fan Relations for Lucasfilm from 1977-1980. He created and oversaw the Official Star Wars Fan Club as well as having edited and written virtually all of the first two years of Bantha Tracks. He was the producer of the Star Wars Sesame Street episodes in addition to operating R2-D2's head in the episodes, as well as being Producer for Lucasfilm on commercials such as the ones for licensee Underoos.. He was also responsible for creating the 800-number telephone hotline for The Empire Strikes Back that allowed fans to call up to receive more information about the movies and characters.

02:30pm - 03:30pm
DWAYNE MCDUFFIE AWARDS
Creator's Lab (S5)
Description: Long Beach Comic Con is proud to announce the commencement of the Second Annual Dwayne McDuffie Award. This one of a kind award will be granted on February 20, 2016 to an American comics work, published in print or digitally in 2015, deemed by the Selection Committee to promote diversity. In the spirit of Dwayne McDuffie, "promoting diversity" can be judged as either broadening the range of characters portrayed in comics, or adding to the variety of creators contributing to the medium.

04:00pm - 05:00pm
THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN PANEL
Danger Room (S1) w/Greg Weisman (moderator), Victor Cook, Kevin Hopps, Kelly Hu, Josh Keaton, Pamela Long.
Description: In 2008, a new version of everybody's favorite friendly neighborhood Web-Slinger - dedicated to recreating the feel of the original Stan Lee & Steve Ditko and Stan Lee & John Romita, Sr. comics - hit the air. Come hear the creative talents behind The Spectacular Spider-Man talk about what went in to making this classic take on a classic character. Panelists include Victor Cook (Director-Producer), Kevin Hopps (Writer), Kelly Hu (voice of Sha Shan Nguyen), Josh Keaton (voice of Peter Parker/The Spectacular Spider-Man), Pamela Long (Color Stylist) and Greg Weisman (Writer-Producer)!

06:00pm - 07:00pm
GETTING ANIMATED WITH TOP ANIMATION EXPERTS
Rumble Room (S4B) w/Ray-Anthony Height (moderator), Chris Copeland, Greg Weisman, Dean Yeagle.
Description: Top animation experts Greg Weisman (Gargoyles, Spectacular Spider-Man), Dean Yeagle (Caged Beagle Productions), and Chris Copeland (Marvel/Disney Animation) discuss how they broke into animation, their work and a Q&A with the audience!

I'll also have a table a on the show floor, specifically table AN-11 in "ANIMATION ISLAND" between Ellen Jin Over and Amy Mebberson, and near Dino Andrade, Michael Bell, Keith Coogan, Chris Copeland, Matt Doherty, Loren Lester, Tiffanie Mang, Joey McCormick, Chuck Patton, Peter Paul, Sara Richards and Aaron Sparrow. I'll be there between panels on Saturday and all Sunday morning until noon. (Not as sure about Sunday afternoon. We'll have to see.)

I'll sign and personalize anything you put in front of me, but I will also be selling copies of my two novels, RAIN OF THE GHOSTS and SPIRITS OF ASH AND FOAM ($10 each), CD sets of the RAIN OF THE GHOSTS AudioPlay ($30 each) and RAIN OF THE GHOSTS prints, drawn by artist Christopher Jones ($10 each, but free with a purchase of the AudioPlay and/or both RAIN and SPIRITS). In addition, I'll be selling animation scripts from series including GARGOYLES, W.I.T.C.H., THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, YOUNG JUSTICE, STAR WARS REBELS and others, ($20 each). Finally, I'll be selling script copies of a couple of the special one-off convention radio plays we did, i.e. THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN MEETS GARGOYLES and GARGOYLES MEETS THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN MEETS YOUNG JUSTICE ($20 each). All purchases are cash only.

I hope to see you there!


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Anonymous writes...

You have stated that to do Dr. Fate's voice Kevin Michel Richardson (the voice of Nabu) and whomever is playing the host (Jason Spisak/Kid Flash, Khary Payton/Aqualad, Lacey Chabert/Zatanna, or Nolan North/Zatara) are recorded saying the same lines. Then in post production, the voices are double-tracked, so the audience hears two voices.

1. What is the process step by step in order to be able to double-track?

2. Is double-tracking something that requires a studio in order to be able to do or could it be done from a smart phone?

Greg responds...

1. Um, it's pretty much what you listed above. It didn't really matter who we recorded first, so that was based on scheduling. If Kevin was in the recording booth first, we'd record Nabu first. If the host body actor was there first, we'd record him or her first. If they were both there, it was sort of Voice Director's choice. We then played the take from whomever recorded first for the second actor, who attempted to match the basic cadence and tempo. But we consciously chose NOT to have the second actor try to match the first exactly. We like those moments when they aren't perfectly aligned. Then during my attended edit of the dialogue, we'd lay those tracks over each other for storyboarding and animation purposes. (It helps that the Helmet of Fate doesn't reveal any lip movements, that might cause confusion between which track to animate.) Finally, in post-production, specifically at the mix session, we'd mix the tracks so that you can hear at least a taste of both flavors.

2. Uh... I don't know enough about smartphones to answer that question. I wouldn't know how to record one track on my smartphone, let alone two, let alone know whether or not I could double track 'em onto a single track.

Response recorded on October 22, 2015

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MomoCon 2015

I leave tomorrow for MomoCon 2015. More information on it can be found at their website: http://www.momocon.com/

But here's MY schedule for the weekend:

FRIDAY, MAY 29, 2015
BREAKING INTO ANIM 12:30pm - 01:30pm
Main "Villains" Room Omni-International
w/Floyd County Productions

SIGNING 03:30pm - 05:30pm
Autograph Area

YOUNG JUSTICE 08:00pm - 09:00pm
Main "Villains" Omni-International
w/Crispin Freeman

SATURDAY, MAY 30, 2015
SIGNING 11:00am - 12:30pm
Autograph Area

ANIM CREATORS 02:00pm - 03:00pm
"Underdog" A-313
w/Ben Mangum, Mike Reiss

SIGNING 05:30pm - 07:00pm
Autograph Area

SUNDAY, MAY 31, 2015
SIGNING 11:30am - 01:00pm
Autograph Area

GARGOYLES 02:00pm - 03:00pm
Main "Villains" Omni-International
w/Keith David

That's right! Both Keith "Goliath" David and Crispin "Red Arrow" Freeman will also be at MomoCon!

As usual, at my autograph sessions, I will happily sign anything you bring along with you for free. But I will also be signing and selling copies of my two novels RAIN OF THE GHOSTS and SPIRITS OF ASH AND FOAM. ($10 per book, cash only.) If you purchase both books (signed and personalized for $20 cash total), you get a FREE art surprise. I will also be signing and selling copies of my animation and radio play scripts (from GARGOYLES, MEN IN BLACK, STARSHIP TROOPERS, TEAM ATLANTIS, W.I.T.C.H., THE BATMAN, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, DC SHOWCASE: GREEN ARROW, BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN MEETS GARGOYLES, YOUNG JUSTICE, BEWARE THE BATMAN, GARGOYLES MEETS THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN MEETS YOUNG JUSTICE and KIM POSSIBLE). Each signed and personalized script is $20 cash. I'll also be giving away #RainoftheGhosts AudioPlay postcards for free!

So please stop by and say hello!


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Blizzard Sprite writes...

Hello, Mr. Weisman.

I had a question regarding the adaptation of original characters from television to their comic book counterparts. One of the more displayed occurrences of the comic book integrating a character from a television series was with DC comics integrating Harley Quinn from the Batman: The Animated Series. Since you had similar experience when the Aqualad character you created in conjunction with Brandon Vietti and Phil Bourassa became the official Aqualad of the DC comics universe, I thought you could answer a few questions on the subject.

1. What is the official process a comic book marketing company must use in order for its writers to begin using an original character? Do representatives from the comic book corporations contact writers from the television program and make negotiate to gain permission from you and other important figure heads on the television program?

2. How long does the process take for the comic book corporation to acquire all of the rights to the character and include the individual in the comic books?

3. How do these companies determine what makes an original character worthy of being integrated into the comic book continuity of these fictional universes? Since the version of the Aqualad character you created became the official one in the DC Comics universe, I imagine that the officials representing the comic book company would have explained what properties stood out the most.

4. Which party retains the copyright stemming from the creation of the character?

5. What are the chances that another one of your original characters from your Young Justice series, Green Beetle, will be adapted for the DC Comics continuity? After seeing the show, I was very surprised to learn everything about the character had not already been adapted from the comic books, but was an original creation on your part. Despite the limited screen time compared to some of the main characters, the character was fleshed-out and well-developed. I thought you had put enough creativity for the character to make a jump to the comic book continuity.

Thank you for your time.

Greg responds...

1. I'm not too comfortable answering this generically. I'm sure every case is unique. So I can only speak to examples I've been involved with, specifically - as you mentioned - Aqualad. In that case, the thing to keep in mind is that no one employed on the production has any rights in ANY of the characters we create. It's all being done under a "Work For Hire" contract, which means that Time-Warner, the company that owns DC Comics, Warner Bros Animation and Cartoon Network, owns all our work product outright. So they don't need our permission to use characters they already own, including Aqualad, which (a) was based at least in part on the existing Aqualad that they already owned and (b) they owned from the moment the idea for the new version came out of our heads, pens, tablets and keyboards. Geoff Johns did contact us and talk to us about the details of our version. He then went off and did his own revision on that for DC Comics.

2. See above. They already owned it. So it took NO time.

3. I think Geoff just liked the character - and/or thought he could do something with him - but you'd really have to ask him.

4. There are no parties. There is only one big corporation with multiple divisions.

5. I think it's unlikely, because if it didn't happen back when the show was on the air, why would it happen now?

Response recorded on December 17, 2014

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Kelley writes...

1) Do you ever grow tired or weary of writing and working on only super hero type of shows? I'm assuming working on this new star wars series must of been a breath of fresh air for you?

2)When it comes to the projects you create and produce how do you pick the correct voice director for the project? Do you have a process you go through or that type of thing out of your hands?

Greg responds...

1. They're not that different. And I love super-heroes. It's a bastard genre born from every other type of genre fiction, which allows me to do almost anything.

2. Well, when it's up to me, I tend to go with Jamie Thomason, who's both amazingly talented and a good friend. We have our rapport down to a science, and so it makes the process both fun and phenomenal. But sometimes it's not my call. And then there are a number of other great directors I've also worked with, in particular Ginny McSwain, but also Andrea Romano, Curtis Koller, Dave Filoni, Sue Blu and others. I also enjoy voice directing myself, so if schedules permit, I'm game.

Response recorded on December 12, 2014

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DENVER COMIC CON REVISED & UPDATED #3

ONE MORE TIME!! This looks to be as final a revision as it's going to get for Denver Comic Con website (http://denvercomiccon.com/), before I head for the airport in a couple minutes. But, again, follow me on TWITTER @Greg_Weisman to stay up-to-the-minute on when and where I'll be.

DENVER COMIC CON LATEST PANEL, INTERVIEW & SIGNING SCHEDULE

FRIDAY, JUNE 13th, 2014

10:30am - 11:20am - ART OF THE PITCH in ROOM 110/112.
Victor Cook, Greg Guler and myself will be talking about pitching and selling animated telvision series to the Powers That Be.

11:30am - 12:30pm - SIGNING at my BOOTH 122 on the main floor.
I'll be signing my novel RAIN OF THE GHOSTS throughout the weekend for $10 cash. (That $10 includes the book, a personalized signature and copies of the original development art by Kuni Tomita for the television version of Rain that never was.) I also have a half-dozen copies of Young Justice teleplays, which I'll sell (and sign) for $20 cash. I'll also sign anything else you bring and put in front of me for free - especially if you buy my book. ;)

12:50pm - 1:20pm - INTERVIEW with Tim Beyers of MOTLEY FOOL in the MEDIA LOUNGE.

1:30pm - 2:20pm - CARTOON VOICES I in the MAIN EVENTS ROOM.
I'll be moderating this panel, which features Kevin Conroy, Jim Cummings, Michael Dorn, Jennifer Hale & Veronica Taylor.

3:30pm - 4:30pm - SIGNING at my BOOTH 122 on the main floor.

4:45pm - 5:35pm - YOUNG JUSTICE in the MINI-MAIN ROOM.
This one includes myself (writer-producer, voice actor) & Christopher Jones (YJ companion comic book artist).

5:35pm - 6:05pm - OPENING CEREMONIES in the MAIN EVENTS ROOM.

7:00pm - 10:00pm - FOUR COLOR MIXER at Breckinridge Brewery/Hilton Garden Inn Denver Downtown.

SATURDAY, JUNE 14th, 2014

9:35am - 10:00am - INTERVIEW with BEYOND THE TROPE at my table at Booth 122.

10:00am - 10:20am - INTERVIEW with WESTWORD at my table at Booth 122.

10:30am - 11:20am - RAIN OF THE GHOSTS in ROOM 201.
I'll be reading from and discussing my new novels, Rain of the Ghosts & Spirits of Ash and Foam.

11:45am - 12:35pm - ANIMATION PROFESSIONALS in ROOM 201
I'm moderating this panel, which features Chris Beaver, Victor Cook, Greg Guler, Derek Hunter, Christy Marx, & Jan Scott-Frasier.

3:00pm - 3:50pm - SIGNING at my BOOTH 122 on the main floor.

4:00pm - 4:50pm - GARGOYLES 20th ANNIVERSARY in the MAIN EVENTS ROOM.
This is a big one, with me (writer-producer-creator), Victor Cook (storyboard artist), Jim Cummings (voice of Dingo), Jonathan Frakes (voice of David Xanatos), Greg Guler (character designer), Salli Richardson-Whitfield (voice of Elisa Maza) and Marina Sirtis (voice of Demona) .

5:00pm - 6:00pm - SIGNING at my BOOTH 122 on the main floor.

SUNDAY, JUNE 15th, 2014

9:30am - 10:20am - INTERVIEW with EXAMINER.COM at my BOOTH 122.

10:30am - 11:20am - THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN in the MINI-MAIN ROOM.
Includes myself (writer-producer-voice actor), Victor Cook (director-producer), Jim Cummings (voice of Crusher Hogan) & Greg Guler (artist).

1:30pm - 2:30pm - SIGNING at my BOOTH 122 on the main floor.

2:45pm - 3:35pm - CARTOON VOICES II in the MAIN EVENTS ROOM.
Again, I'm moderating for Robert Axelrod, Kimberly Brooks, Jennifer Hale & April Stewart.

4:00pm - 5:00pm - SIGNING at my BOOTH 122 on the main floor.

In addition to the times listed above, I'll often just be hanging out at my table, so stop by. Attend a panel, buy a book, say hello!


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simone writes...

Do you think if I call cartoon network on a regular and complain about how unfair they are for taking down YJ before we was able to have a 3rd/4th/5th season but yet they have all these other shows like bakugan still coming on.? Im not trying to down play them but seriously. ?! Why that play all the time but yet there is never a rerun of YJ .?? It came on on Saturday and Sunday morning. ..that's it.! I wouldn't blame the ratings if its so low.. who really wakes up at 8 or 9 to watch that show (could have came on at 10, not sure since it been so long) unless they know it was going to play that time.?

And that's another thing.. how is anybody suppose to know is there was gonna be another season if y'all don't advertise it.? I realized that y'all didn't do that for the 2nd season or if you was gonna have one (unless I looked it up on Google or something). There was times were I didn't know if a show was coming on that Saturday morning and I would have woke up for nothing ... just upset and sad.. I think that's another reason why y'all did not have that many ratings... we never really knew when it would come on unless we look it up. Please answer ... I really wanna know

Greg responds...

I've lost track of exactly what question you "really wanna know" the answer for. So I'll try to comment on what I can.

I think we can all agree that the series didn't receive as much promotion as we might have liked. Frankly, no show I've ever worked on has ever received as much promotion as I would have liked. None. (Although Star Wars Rebels may be the exception. Lucasfilm has quite the machine up and running to create buzz.) That's just the way things go in a business where promoting an animated series is an additional expense that most networks have decided they can't afford.

Whether you like Bakugan or not, keep in mind it's an acquisition, not an original series. It's considerably cheaper because the U.S. network doesn't have to pay for production, only for a license fee to air it in America.

Calling CN to complain daily does NOT sound like a good plan. Imagine if someone did that to you?

Response recorded on May 09, 2014

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Bilbo writes...

Considering you are part of the TV animation community, has anyone ever tried pitching an animation to a non-kids network ?

Do you think the cable and broadcast networks are too animation-phobic to actually try one out?

Greg responds...

Yes.

I'm not sure if "animation-phobic" is the correct term, but interest is not high.

Response recorded on April 11, 2014

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Jenn writes...

Greg,
When the shows are being edited, how is it decided what goes and what stays? How are some lines more important to the over all plot of the story than others?

Greg responds...

Um. They just are. I mean, if a character says something essential to understanding the plot, that'll stay in. If it's very funny, it'll probably stay in. If it's kinda off-point, and the episode is running long, then the line's at risk.

Response recorded on April 07, 2014

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Voice Acting Fan writes...

Dear Greg:

Thank you for answering my previous questions!

You have made reference to SAG before, so presumably Young Justice has to abide by SAG rules or get boycotted. I have a few questions related to this and the voice acting part of the production process:

1. How do the voice talent get paid? A flat rate? Are they paid by the hour? By the line? By the episode? Or some variable rate?

2. When you voiced Lucas Carr, did you have to join the SAG union? Or is production allowed to hire non-SAG personnel as long as they pay them differently?

3. You have stated that getting a second character out of an actor entails no added costs. Since it is free, I am wondering why a few actors (Jesse McCartney comes to mind) doesn't get to voice a character other than Dick Grayson. Was it a matter of actor preference, producer preference, or a mix of the two?

4. How long does a typical recording session last? Do you sit in throughout the whole session, or leave it up to the voice director? How many episode(s) are typically recorded in a sitting?

5. When one of the voice actors sing a song (Reach for a Reach, Hello Megan), they get separately credited. Is this subject to a different rate, or is the singing part simply added as a "character" in determining pay?

Thank you, and I hope by the time you are reading this, you've already got several gigs lined up!

Greg responds...

0. I'm not sure "boycot" is the correct word. The major studios sign contracts with SAG, that prohibits them from contracting non-SAG labor for their acting needs. They can get around this by SUB-contracting, but most don't on major projects.

1. I don't want to speak for EVERY show. In my experience, a voice actor gets paid a flat fee for four hours of work and up to two character voices. For a tiny additional fee, you can get a third voice. But this holds per episode. So for example, even if you could record one guy playing four roles over two episodes in a single four hour session, you'd still owe him two payments. The fee is negotiable, as long as it's above union minimum. But most series pay the union minimum plus 10% and have favored nation clauses in their contracts, which prohibits them from giving any individual actor a raise without simultaneously giving raises to EVERY actor on the series.

2. I first joined SAG to play Donald Menken on Spectacular Spider-Man, and am still a member in good-standing. No union shop can hire non-union actors.

3. Well, Jesse often DID voice additional characters, like Thug #2 or whatever. But generally, there are some actors who have the ability to change their voice enough that they can convincingly play multiple characters without the audience balking. Others really - as talented as they are as performers - only have their own voice.

4. Sessions typically go three to four hours. But often we'll be there all day. We can only keep each individual actor for four hours without incurring overtime, but we could start one actor at 10am and have him until 2pm. And we could start another actor at noon, and have her until 4pm. And a third at 1pm and keep him until 5pm. That way, we have overlap to record their scenes together, but we also have more time to get everything done.

5. Singing is a separate rate. And it's also an additional character, unless they are singing IN CHARACTER. That is, if Nightwing suddenly burst into song, we'd have to pay an additional fee to Jesse for his singing. But we wouldn't have to count that as a second character (or third, since he's also doing Thug #2).

Response recorded on December 06, 2013

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Nina writes...

Dear Mr Weisman,
What was it like directing the 2001 English dub of the anime OVA series 3x3 Eyes? How different is it from working on American cartoons?

Greg responds...

Well, I not only voice directed 3X3 EYES, but I also story edited the English language translation. In those days, that meant a LOT of time with a relatively crude VCR, going back and forth, line by line (grunt by grunt, even) with a LITERAL translation given to me by Jonathan Klein, my boss at New Generation Pictures, in order to transform it into (a) American idiom and (b) something that would fit the already existing lip-synch. Generating usable scripts for this purpose was VERY time-consuming.

The next step was the voice recording. Generally, in American cartoons, we bring in the entire cast and record them together, and those voice tracks are then used by our storyboard artists, directors, timers and animators to help create the footage. That is to say, the pictures are drawn to match the actor's performances. But when dubbing an existing cartoon into English, obviously, the actors have to match the picture instead. That's a time-consuming process called ADR, which, I think, stands for "Automatic Dialogue Replacement" - though I have no idea what about it is automatic. This process is done with a single actor in the booth at a time. The first actor has only the Japanese dialogue to respond to. Later performers can listen to what some of their English-speaking fellows have already performed.

As a voice director for something like 3X3 EYES, I'm looking for the right sound, a good performance and a good match with the existing lip-synch. I mostly cast people I'd enjoyed working with before, with Brigitte Bako ("Angela" from GARGOYLES) and Christian Campbell ("Max Steel" from MAX STEEL) as the two leads plus other favorites of mine, including Keith David in a really wild role, Ed Asner and Thom Adcox among others. We also held auditions for a handful of roles, and some of the people (e.g. Susan Chesler, Yuji Okuomoto) who worked for me for the first time on 3X3, later became new favorites of mine that I used again on other series like W.I.T.C.H. and Young Justice.

For fun, I also took a couple parts myself: I was Hide, one of the buddies of the male protagonist, and I was also a bum, who hummed a semi-recognizable theme song.

Finally, I also participated in the sound mixes here, balancing the new dialogue track with the existing music and effects tracks.

Response recorded on November 28, 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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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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CrimsonBaroness writes...

The most often asked question to you must be "Will you ever bring back Gargoyles with new episodes or a remake?"
I to wish to know if ever it could happen but my question is about what form of animation would you most like to do it in ?
With CGI or the original style ?
A remake with to many changes so much that its like what they did in G.I.Joe and Transformers ?
The first version is always the best. If its not broke why try to fix it ? A re-shooting with a shrek cgi type animation would look fabulous. In any case I thank you so much for this series and I also loved Mummies Alive.

An Ask Greg Helper responds...

Greg Weisman says:

"Largely it would depend on what I could sell the higher-ups on. I'd do either if either were the only option. If given my choice (which rarely happens in this business), said choice would be based on issues of content."

[Response recorded on February 1, 2001.]

"It would depend on the show.

I think G2198 would be perfect for CGI. But I'd hate to do Dark Ages in CGI, though maybe not for the reasons you think."

[Response recorded on February 9, 2000.]

Response recorded on September 19, 2012

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Keith writes...

Hello Mr. Weisman. You won't remember me - I asked a question a while back about CN's rules about guns on the show.

Anyway, as somebody who really wants to write for television in the future, I'm asking you if you have any tips for breaking into the industry. I'm a high school junior so I'm beginning to look at colleges and was wondering if you had any advice to give out when it comes to getting into the buisness of television writing.

As always, love the series and can't wait for more!

An Ask Greg Helper responds...

Greg Weisman says:

"First and foremost, you write. Then write some more. Then do a little writing. Read a lot. Write some more. Read some more. Read a lot. Write a lot. Study story structure. Study great literature. Study myth and legends. Joseph Campbell. Listen to how people talk. How they really talk. Learn your craft. Get a kick-ass education. Write. Read.

Write.

Get copies of animation (or other television) scripts. Learn the format.

Write spec scripts for shows that you like. Try to use those specs to get an agent. Then your agent can use those specs to get you work. Write more specs. If you can't get an agent, send the specs to production companies that you admire. Don't send a Batman spec to Warner Bros or a Gargoyles to Disney. Legally, they can't risk reading those. But you can send Batman to Disney and Gargoyles to Warners. (I know it sounds weird. There's a real good reason for this, but it's a whole other question, so for now just trust me.) Actually, you shouldn't be writing a Gargoyles spec at all, since that show isn't producing new episodes now. You don't want your spec to come off as yesterday's news. Keep reading. Keep writing. Try writing a pilot script and a short bible for an original series. Try using those to get an agent or work (any work, you need credits on your resume.)

Oh, yeah. PROOFREAD. PROOFREAD. PROOFREAD. Read your own work aloud, you catch more mistakes that way. Read. Write. Write some more. Get used to a lot of rejection. A LOT OF REJECTION.

That's the best advice I can give you except this: writing for television is an extremely difficult career to break into, let alone succeed at; so if you don't really have a PASSION for it, then do something else. You'll need that passion to see you through a lot of dark times. If you can be happy doing anything else, then do that other thing.

Otherwise, good luck."

[Response recorded in the early days of Ask Greg; precise date unknown.]

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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Anonymous writes...

Who assigns storyboard artists? You've got big names like Lauren Montgomery, Curt Geda, Michael Goguen, some lesser known ones, and some who I think are people at MOI.

Greg responds...

The directors make board assignments - to a great extent based on who is AVAILABLE. We have/had some staff board artists, but a lot of the work was done freelance.

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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Thomas writes...

You are....amazing. No character is wasted in your series, they all connect back somehow, somewhere. Little movement is wasted in plot.

How do you come up with this stuff?

Greg responds...

With help from other very talented people and with a lot of index cards on a huge bulletin board. Oh, and with research.

Response recorded on August 28, 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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Laura 'ad astra' Sack writes...

I forgot to ask this last night.. What are the logisitical difference now that cartoons are broadcast in HD? Do the films have to have more detail? Does it cost more?

Greg responds...

Everything costs more, it seems. But I'm afraid I'm not really up on the technical aspect of this sort of thing.

Response recorded on August 16, 2012

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Laura 'ad astra' Sack writes...

Wow! Is it hard to keep up with even the questions to post new ones. Thanks for reopening the queue!

Condolences on the lose of your Grandmother. I remember the months before my grandmother died how she had retreated into herself and was all but unrecognizable, than all of a sudden came back to herself for a week or two at the end. I still treasure it as a great gift that we were reminded who she was before the end. She was a good deal younger than 100 so we were not quite expecting the end, but I can understand what you mean by feeling that the person you love is already on the way somewhere else. I am glad you have so many years and so many wonderful memories to look back on.

1- I see someone already asked if you can explain some of the terms you used when you broke down the stages the of episodes in progress. He mentioned ‘online’ in particular. If you didn’t already do so, can you also define ‘slug’?

2- I know you prefer to record the voice actors together in conversation, unlike many other cartoons that record the voices in isolation. In live action tv and movies are recorded out of order, that’s the most efficient way to use the sets and actors. Since there aren’t sets for cartoons, and you prefer to have all the actors together anyway, are the scenes more or less recorded in order?

3- You mentioned in the past moments when stories just come together and surprise you- when the next event seems to announce herself, unplanned but seemingly totally organic to the story. Like when “Owen is Puck!” announced itself. Or when you kept hearing “Thailog” when the video was being rewound. Did you have any such moments for Spectacular Spiderman and the other shows you worked on? Have you had any with Young Justice yet? Can you share any if they’ve already happened?

4-One last question for this catch-all batch... what do you think of the new DC Nation shorts? I’m not crazy about loosing the opening credits, but I love shorts and think it is an easy trade. I love that they are all different and playful and yet often also a series. My favorite so far is the one with Batgirl and Supergirl trying to convince Wonder Girl to ‘borrow’ Wonder Woman’s invisible jet. (Oddly I have become used to (and approve) on Dianna being portrayed as someone from another country, with a light to strong intonation of something foreign, but it never occurred to me the same would apply to Donna.)

Begin pontification: I’ve never loved the Teen Titan cartoon, (plenty to like, but never loved), but I love the fact it is turning up in the shorts. Back when Disney XD was Toon Disney I wondered why they didn’t run shorts. (To be fair I didn’t have a TiVO at the time and it was possible they were already running the “Have a Laugh” abridged classic shorts as well as Shaun the Sheep. But they weren’t running any new material.) It seemed odd to me they were trying to compete with the Cartoon Network’s reach into the older demographic and didn’t, for instance, declare one night a week the 10 o’clock older folks movie night, (say a Miyazaki flik), and intersperse it with shorts- gorgeous, varied, counter expectation shorts like they gleefully did for Fantasia 2000. (I had the idea a long time ago.) If some of those shorts were back door pilots...great. It worked for the Simpsons They could have led to another late evening night of new programming of new shows. They couldn’t compete with cheap nostalgic cartoons or crude adult ones because that just isn’t Disney. Disney can never put out a Family Guy type show under the Disney label. Maybe they could do it on ABC, but not something with Disney in the name. (Even Miyazaki’s Princess Monenoke had to be released in the US under the Miramax label because a PG-13 cartoon would be problematic under the Disney label.) It a rather obvious route for a high end cartoon station to go and might have netted a few Oscars away from Pixar. Or perhaps more for Pixar. End pontification.

Of course it would have been an ideal place to run a little Gargoyle related short. :)

Greg responds...

1. A "slug" is the section of action BETWEEN lines of dialogue. A "slugged board" is a board that's been timed, i.e. the time for each action has been calculated - and since each line of dialogue has also been timed - you have an exact length, and you know whether or not your episode is going to be long, short or right on the money. If it's long or short, we need to cut or pad to get it to time.

2. Generally, yes. But for example, I poked my head in at a recording on Monday for "Beware the Batman". And there was one actress at the record who was only in one scene, and it happened to be the last scene. So after the rehearsal, they recorded that last scene first, so that the actress wouldn't have to sit through the entire record. It's a courtesy thing. Other times, it may be a scheduling thing. But, again, generally, we record the whole episode from start to finish.

3. It happens all the time. I wish I could remember a specific example from Spidey, but nothing immediately comes to mind. And it's too soon to discuss this stuff on YJ.

4. I love DC NATION. Sincerely. I think some of the shorts have been great, and some have fallen a little flat, but in general, I LOVE the FACT that they're doing the shorts. I just wish they'd expand DC Nation to two hours or something.

5. I'm game for ANYTHING that brings me back to Gargoyles.

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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angela writes...

do you have any advice for people who want to go into animation.

Greg responds...

Yes. Check the ASK GREG archives under "Animation" and/or "Biz, The".

Response recorded on August 15, 2012

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Drake writes...

Dear Greg,

One quick question regarding production-ey type stuff(I think).

Is it conceivable for you to be the head show-runner for two different series at the same time? Like, say if DC decided to have another series take place in the same continuity and they wanted your input, would you be open to giving feedback and story ideas?

Greg responds...

It's conceivable, but I have enough trouble getting hired on one job, let alone two.

Response recorded on July 19, 2012

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Brazilian Guy writes...

Could you give us a few details on what the process to create an episode is like? I have no idea what doing online and locked picture mean...thanks!

Greg responds...

Sure.

1. We start/started by breaking down the entire season on index cards on a VERY large bulletin board.

2. Once the basic arc was approved, I wrote up premises for every episode in the season. Each premise is about a page long.

3. We brought in our freelance writers and broke down a handful of episodes at a time, with each writer in the meeting (myself included) taking one episode as their own, but with every writer in the meeting contributing ideas and notions to everyone's story.

4. The writer goes off with my written premise and the notes from the meeting and writes up an outline. This is a prose document, broken down by scene/sequence of about 8 to 10 pages in length. For me, as a story editor this is a VERY important step, as it nails down the story, making script writing much easier.

5. I do a rewrite on the writer's outline and submit it to WB, CN, DC, Brandon Vietti and the episode's director for notes.

6. The writer goes off with my revised outline and all the notes and writes a script.

7. I do a rewrite on the writer's script and submit it for notes to WB, CN, DC, BV, S&P, legal and the episode's director. Usually showed it to Kevin Hopps as well, who was great at catching my mistakes. The first season, Kevin was on staff, and it was part of his job. The second season, he just did it as a favor. Good guy.

8. I do another rewrite or polish based on all the notes.

9. We record the script, casting any new rolls, etc.

10. Simultaneously, the storyboards are begun...

11. While at the same time, design work for the episode begins: characters, backgrounds, props, effects. This is ALL black and white line-art at first.

12. The boards are roughed out and get notes from the director.

13. The boards are cleaned up and submitted to Brandon and myself.

14. Brandon and I give notes, and the boards are revised.

15. Meanwhile, designs are approved and then we go through the same process with color and background painting.

16. Boards are slugged for time to make sure the show isn't too long or too short.

17. X-Sheets (timing sheets) are created to give detailed information to the animators about how long each individual action will take and to give mouth movements to the characters.

18. All these materials are shipped to Korea to either Moi or Lotto to be animated.

19. We occasionally call for "Wedge Tests" that allow us to preview important or tricky bits of animation in advance to make sure we're getting what we want.

20. The animation comes back rough from overseas. Our editor Jhoanne Reyes compiles it into what we call an A-Frame. It's a very ROUGH cut.

21. Brandon, Jho, David Wilcox and myself call retakes, i.e. we ask the overseas studio for animation corrections. We also call out visual effects for Matt Girardi.

22. Brandon, Jho and I edit the episode, LOCKING it to the exact time that the network requires.

23. We spot the locked episode with our composers, Dynamic Music Partners, pointing out where and what we are looking for in the music.

24. We do the same thing with Audio Circus, our sound effects experts.

25. We preview the music in advance of the sound mix to make sure it's on target.

26. Generally, by now most of the retakes have come back from Korea and Matt's done most of his effects work too.

27. We mix the show for sound. That is we sit in a room and painstakingly balance the sound effects with the foley with the music with the dialogue.

28. We "On-Line" the episode. This is our last final view of the finished product to make sure everything is as good as time, budget and our abilities will allow it to be.

There's obviously more to it than all of the above, but that should give you the basics.

Response recorded on July 17, 2012

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John C. writes...

How do you get a job writing animation scripts?

Greg responds...

Initially, I pitched premises to a number of shows with my writing partner Cary Bates, until Jem and the Holograms bought one of our ideas.

Response recorded on January 12, 2012

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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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Sean writes...

Dear Mr. Weisman,

I've been a huge fan of yours for years and just wanted to thank you for supplying or helping to make 1/3 of the cartoons of my childhood. I'm currently following Young Justice and I love it! I do have one question that I couldn't find in the archives though.

I noticed in episode 10 what seemed to be some height inconsistencies with Red Arrow. Cheshire was said to be 5ft 6in tall. But when the two of them were having their stare down in prison, Roy only looked a bit taller than her. Meanwhile, he seemed to be a bit shorter than Lex Luthor as well. In my animation classes, my professor mentioned a tendency for teenage characters to be drawn slightly shorter than adults, to make them easier to distinguish. Is that what happened here, or was it just animation error/camera trick?

I know in a previous post you said that he was the tallest of the teens, with Aqualad in second, but I was hoping that you could tell me their actual heights (and the rest of The Team's), or at least your best guess.

Thank you for your time and good luck with the rest of the season.

Greg responds...

We have height charts for all our characters and those charts are sent overseas to our animators for reference. I won't deny that animation errors take place sometimes, but none that I noticed in 'Targets'.

I can't tell you their actual heights. We don't put that information on the charts. I can only tell you how tall they are relative to each other.

Response recorded on November 12, 2011

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spence writes...

A few questions about voice-over.

1) Is it recorded before the episode is animated?

2) How long does it take from recording the voice work until the episode is completely finished?

3) Do all actors get together in the room when recording one episode?

4) Are you present?

Greg responds...

1. Yep.

2. Months.

3. Ideally. Sometimes people aren't available on the day of the record, and we pick them up later. Sometimes if someone only has a line or two in the episode, we take pity on them and get them in and out fast. Sometimes, a single episode has two completely separate plots intertwining. We'd ideally record every actor in the first plot together, and then record every actor in the second together. But since the two groups don't interact, there's no need to record the entire group together and force a lot of actors to sit through scenes they're not in at all.

4. Yep.

Response recorded on October 31, 2011

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Sree writes...

I have a question on the western animation process in general (with special regard to YJ), if this is too complex to explain here or not the appropriate place for the question please ignore.

1. I think you mentioned that the inbetweens are done in South Korea. So is it fair to assume the key frames are done in house?

2. Using episode 2 "Fireworks" as an example how does an episode get made?
Does it start with you writing and onto the storyboard and to the animation team? (Sorry this part of the question was a bit vague)

3. At what point of the process does the Director of the episode come into play and what are his contributions?

4. What are the producers contribution to the process and how much weight does their word carry as opposed to the directors if a disagreement should arise?

Thanks. Also I did catch Scooby-Doo after hearing Victor Cook had a hand in it and it was a nice nostalgia trip, a bit weird like how real nostalgia is but nice nonetheless. Ermm thanks again I guess.

Greg responds...

1. No. Key frames are done in Korea too. Boarding is done here in the states for the most part.

2. Writing, recording, boards and design, color, shipping, animation, post-production.

3. At all points. And his or her contributions are omniverous.

4. Producers trump directors, and Brandon and I are very involved at every stage.

Response recorded on March 09, 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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Mike W. writes...

Hi Greg,

First, let me briefly state that Gargoyles remains among the best animated series IMO of all time. I particularly appreciated the classical and Shakespearean references, I'm not sure I would have been as big a fan of Shakespeare in school and today, were it not for Gargoyles. That being said, the animated shows today lack the originality, narrative, and cutting edge that shows like Gargoyles, Real Ghostbusters, Batman, and even Duck Tales had, which is a real shame. Instead, today's cartoon for adults and kids, fail to have any purpose to them, and seem to have deevolved to the level of entertainment for 5 year olds. The only ones in past decade worth viewing have been Justice League and Boondocks.

My question involves trying to connect the 'Golden Age' of cartoons in 80's and early 90s, with today. I'm looking forward to your new series, and had a thought. I know that Mike Reaves worked with Gargoyles, as well as other cartoons, such as Ghostbusters and Dungeons and Dragons. While Gargoyles got a proper sendoff with Hunters Moon, there was never a finale for the short, Dungeons and Dragons cartoon, even though it was still popular and in syndication over a decade later, with only a dozen episodes. However, there was a screenplay finale done by Reaves, just not animated. What about in your or your production's free time, with Mike Reave's approval, you animate the finale of Reaves' screenplay, providing a link to your new series, which will remind the fans of cartoons of the serious narrative medium that cartoons used to be, that your cartoon series will have that 'edge' and give free publicity with many views (likely viral views) about your new series when people watch the link to the finale that was never done for a famous cartoon from the 1980's? It sounds like a good idea, which is why I am suggesting it.

Greg responds...

Well, let me begin by RABIDLY DISAGREEING with your statement about today's cartoons. Some suck. Some are great. I'm proud as hell of the work I did on W.I.T.C.H., Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice, and there's no way I would pretend that I'm the only guy out there doing great work. I think Brave and the Bold is a TON of fun for both adults and kids. I thought Kim Possible was great. And I barely worked on either of those two series. And Avatar (which I never worked on) also seems great and rich. And that's just off the top of my head.

Your definition of "Golden Age" seems to have more to do with you than history.

As for your D&D idea, you just seem to have NO idea about the way the business works. I couldn't do what your asking even if it was my fondest wish in the world. Believe me, if I had that kind of power, don't you think I'd be doing more Gargoyles?

None of this stuff is up to guys like me or Michael. Different companies own the rights to different series, and most are uninterested in spending money on the kind of thing you're suggesting.

Response recorded on December 01, 2010


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