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I have been picking up issues of Captain Atom recently. Nice writing from you and Cary. Just had two questions.
1. I do plan to pick up any available issues as I get the money to afford them. That said, are there any stories you'd recommend? So far for reference I have #1-32, 42-47 and Annual #1.
2. I read in your Captain Atom section that one of the stories you wrote for Captain Atom featured an appearance by Batman and Scarecrow. Which issue(s) did they appear in?
1. Well, I kinda like them all, so I'd recommend you pick up 33-41 and 48-50. As with Gargoyles, you get more out of the stories by reading them in order.
2. I'm afraid it's been so long that I can't remember. And I don't have the info here at the office. Sorry.
But know that I'm thrilled that Captain Atom's getting some attention. I'm very proud of Cary & my run on the book.
Just picked up #5 from my LCS today, loved it!
The Clones Vs the Clan was pretty cool.. that sneaky Thailog got his share of genetic samples again. He's really a great character.
Also, the end bit with Brooklyn was funny... if I didn't know about the canon in training stuff I would be feeling extra sorry for the guy.
The Illuminati ranking system is pretty cool... And man.. what a surprise member! You really have to give it to those Gathering people for loyalty and keeping those tidbits under wraps.
Speaking of comics.. have you seen what they are doing to Captain Atom.. err Monarch in Countdown? If everything with him is resolved and he somehow returns to his status quo, would you consider pitching a Captain Atom mini or one-shot?
The era of DC Comics when you wrote for them is probably my favorite.. a lot of great stories being told in the individual books, without all the crossover stuff they try to force on people today.
I've made it very clear to the folks at DC that I would love to do Captain Atom again. Ball's in there court.
Knew I was forgeting something. I figured I'd comment on the JLE/Captain Atom/Gargoyle Crossover.
I enjoyed all of the stories in JLA Showcase #1, but just the same, your story alone was worth the cover price. I'm just sorry I haven't stumbled onto it sooner.
Everything from Behemoth and clans Awakening, to the introductions is hilarious. My favorite line though:
Metamorpho- I thought he said they were an endangered species?
Captain Atom sure had his priorities straight alright. Anyway, I hope my commenting was ok.
Just a few questions considering others take on the issue.
1. Did you get any complaints for those who might not have appreciated the humorous nature of the parody?
2. Did Beth, Erin and Ben read it?
2a. If yes, what were their comments.
3. Have you considered doing a ramble on the story?
1. Nope. There was an earlier draft without the Flash, and my editor asked me to do a rewrite so that the JLE membership didn't come off as quite so feeble.
2. I don't think so.
3. I haven't. But maybe I will someday.
My favorite word in the entire story is "Thomeheb."
This probably isn't the right forum for this, but I don't know how else to contact you!
I was wanting to speak to you about the possibility of having you as a guest of honor at CONvergence, a Science Fiction convention I help to run. It's held the first full weekend in July each year in Minnesota, with an attendance of just under 2000 people. If you'd be willing to discuss the possibility, please contact me at email@example.com.
By the way, I'm also a penciller for DC Comics and was the artist on your Exercise in Self-Indulgence story with Captain Atom and some familiar looking beasties.
I hope to hear from you soon.
Thanks for your time,
You did great work on that Captain Atom/JLE/Gargoyles parody story in JLA SHOWCASE back in February of 2000. Thank you. I think the story turned out great. Self-indulgent as planned and as noted, but pretty darn funny to Gargoyles' fans.
Of course, I'm not sure if your offer still stands to attend the con, as two years have past.
You've mentioned here on "Ask Greg" that you used to read Sandman. Has that influenced your Gargoyles stories? Have you ever worked with Neil Gaiman? If you haven't read "American Gods" yet, go for it!
I've never worked with Neil Gaiman, though I once used Death in an issue of Captain Atom. An appearance that I've been told he hates, though I think it was misinterpreted, since I made a tremendous effort to be careful and respectful.
For example, Captain Atom asks Death who she is relative to the Black Racer. She asks him (in essence) to guess. He guesses. I heard (third hand) that Neil really disliked Cap's interpretation, but that's why I didn't put it in Death's mouth. It's only Captain Atom's guess. If it's wrong, no harm done. Or so I thought.
It certainly was okay with Karen Berger, Neil's editor on Sandman, who was shown the appearance before it was published. In my defense, I had permission, and we were all working in a shared universe. I would have been happy to have talked with Neil about the appearance in advance. But all I got from Karen and Denny O'Neil (my editor) was a go-ahead, so I figured it was all right. I certainly didn't write it to piss him off.
But after he protested, I know that I was forbidden from using Death again later.
Was I influenced by Neil? I don't think so, but I think we both share influences, obviously. Shakespearean and mythological influences for example. There's one way that I know Gaiman's work effected Gargoyles. When I was interpreting the Weird Sisters for the series, my first thought was to do the traditional Maid, Mother and Crone moon goddess. But because Neil was using that in his books, I went with the Triplet version that you saw.
I haven't read much of Neil's work beyond the comics he was doing in the 90s. But I liked that stuff -- a lot. I somehow doubt the feeling is mutual.
Since we're discussing comic books, what other comics have you written besides Captain Atom and that JLA/JLE/JLI issue?
Was it DC that ordered you to reinovate Captain Atom?
Was Dr. Manhattan suppose to be Captain Atom? Why didn't DC allow the Charlton characters to appear in Watchman?
Let me handle your questions in reverse order.
When Alan Moore first suggested Watchmen, he was indeed planning to use the Charlton Characters. My memory is hazy, but I think it broke down as follows...
Dr. Manhattan = Captain Atom
Rorshach = The Question
Night Owl = Blue Beetle
Comedian = Peacemaker
Ozymandias = Peter Cannon?
Silk Spectre? = Nightshade?
Dick Giordano, who was executive editor at the time, was fond of the Charlton characters (having worked at Charlton way back when) and didn't want Alan to decimate the line-up that he had worked to get DC to acquire. He suggested that Alan create new heroes for the story, and I think everything turned out for the best.
Meanwhile, DC was reinventing all those old Charlton characters, and the job to revamp Captain Atom fell to Cary Bates and Pat Broderick. Cary brought me in to help.
As for other comics I worked on, well, there were many entries in Who's Who. Many letter columns for Tales of the Teen Titans, JLA and others. An issue of DC Challenge that I ghosted (the only time I've ever ghosted). Some Secret Origins stuff. And a bunch of stories that never got published. My one and only consistent comics writing gig was Captain Atom.
This may seem like a dumb question considering I don't read comics, but where did the alien metal that bonded with Captain Atom and Major Force come from? Did it belong to one of the races of the DC universe?
The alien metal was the skin and substance of Silver Shield, one of the so-called "Quantum Fish" aliens that exist as part and parcel of the quantum field. The metal is composed of pure quintessence, which was bonded to Cap (and later to Major Force) by atomic power.
Silver Shield was a Quantum Fish stranded on the material plane.
Or so I recall without looking it up. It's been awhile.
Greg, I've always been a fan of your work. I luv the Gargoyles series, but even more I luv'd when you did Captain Atom. Unfortunately, I haven't seen much of the character since we last saw him in Kingdon Come II. Have you heard of anything up coming involving Cap and if so, are you going to play any part in it? Plus, do you miss doing Cap at all? Thanks.
Aside from a single flashback story (involving Captain Atom and the JLE, meeting gargoyles in Paris) I haven't done any work for DC Comics since 1991.
I do miss working on Cap. Next to Gargoyles, it's the series I miss the most. But I long ago stopped following the character. The stuff they did immediately following my departure was as out of character for Cap and his supporting cast as Goliath Chronicles was for Gargoyles. More, maybe. (Simon Del Monte, are you out there to confirm?)
I have more than once expressed an interest to DC to coming back to either the character specifically or the DC Universe to play. But so far there hasn't been much interest. And I'm definitely not privvy to their plans.
But I'm glad you liked the stuff.
There's no memo, outline or script for this one on my computer, so we'll head right into my ramble on...
"AVALON, PART ONE"
DIRECTOR: Dennis Woodyard.
WRITER: Lydia Marano.
STORY EDITOR: Brynne Chandler Reaves.
...is all over the place. So much was coming together in this three-parter. The Weird Sisters, the eggs, the Archmage, Tom, Princess Katharine, the Magus, Macbeth, Demona. This was our most ambitious story yet. Which given episodes like "The Mirror" or "Vows" and multi-parters like "Awakening" and "City of Stone" was saying something.
Of course "Avalon" was never designed to be the cohesive single story movie that "City of Stone" was. It was designed as a tryptych. Part one would bring our heroes up to date. Part two would bring our villains up to date. Part three would pit them against each other.
"Avalon I" also represented the first episode in our fourth tier. The three-parter was what we called a 'tentpole'. We knew we couldn't air it until all the Tier 3 episodes had aired. And we knew we couldn't air any other Tier 4 episodes until this three-parter had aired. Despite the fact that "The Price" aired out of order, generally our Tentpole/Tier system worked very well. Out of 66 episodes that I worked on only two: "The Price" and "Kingdom" aired out of order, hopefully with minimal damage to the continuity.
The title was one of mine. But initially I wasn't sure that we were going to call the island Avalon. Now, it's mind-boggling to me, but I actually had my assistant Monique Beatty (who's now a producer in her own right) research Brigadoon to find out if that name was created only for the musical, or if it was something pulled from legends. I was thinking of Avalon, but looking for something from a Scotish tradition as opposed to British. Fortunately, Brigadoon was created for the musical. So we were 'stuck' with Avalon. Which made including King Arthur a natural.
Many series don't reveal that an episode is going to be a multi-parter until you get to the 'To Be Continued' line at the closer. "Avalon, Part One" could have just been titled "Avalon". The conventional wisdom is that people are reluctant to commit the time to a multi-parter in advance. That it is better to hook them on the story before revealing that they HAVE to come back to see the end. I always felt that was cheating. What is your reaction to seeing "Part One" attached to a title?
Another cool shot of our gargs waking up. Always nice to reiterate that at the start of our bigger stories.
Bronx gets left behind. Of course, this often happens. It was one of the things that the World Tour would set about correcting in a BIG way. But we made his getting left behind a bit more obvious here. Usually, he just doesn't go. This time they won't take him and he's sad. We were laying pipe.
My 5-year-old son Benny asked where Hudson and the Trio were going. I had to think about it. "On Patrol, I guess."
Then the GUARDIAN shows up. I love his cool, Goliath-inspired armor. My 7-year-old daughter Erin immediately demanded to know who he was. I wouldn't tell her. (I'm so mean.) Did any of you guess?
Of course he immediately encounters BRENDAN & MARGOT. (What would one of our multi-parters be without him?)
Then comes the three gang-bangers from "AWAKENING, PART THREE". As usual, Keith David does the voice for one of them -- making it distinctive from both Goliath and MORGAN, who's about to come in and speak. The problem is we got a touch confused. In Awakening, Keith voices the bald white guy. Here he does the same voice, but it's assigned to the black guy. Hard to say which is wrong, except by virtue of which came first. It annoys me though.
Morgan's fun in this. I really like him. No one but Simon DelMonte will get this, and I don't know if he even reads these rambles, but Morgan kind of reminds me of Jeff Goslin, a character that Cary Bates and I created in Captain Atom.
Anyway, I like how Morgan talks Guardian down. And I like how the sword is much heavier than he thought it was going to be. His cop buddies tease him, but he maintains his sense of wonder and goodness when talking about the Guardian to Elisa.
That's kind of a cool scene. First off he describes Guardian's armor: "Real armor. King Arthur stuff." Anyone think this was a clue to what was coming in the next episode? Even with the Avalon title? Then he tells her the guy's looking for Gargoyles. Elisa of course discourages her fellow officers from taking Garg reports seriously. Everyone who's seen one must be a nut-case. These guys should form 'a club'. Then she finds out that this Guardian was asking for Goliath by name. BOOM.
Site of our last encounter with Demona and Macbeth. Another clue.
Once Elisa got a look at the Guardian's armor, she must have thought -- yeah, there's a Goliath connection here all right.
Goliath shows with Bronx, who gets to come along and come along and come along for once. Bronx always seemed underutilized to us. We knew we couldn't bring the whole clan along. (Too many characters and no poignancy.) But Bronx was an easy addition. Of course, Bronx is also useful as a kind of living personality test. If Bronx likes you, it's a damn good sign. Bronx likes Tom. Does he remember him? What scents do you figure the Guardian carried back from Avalon. Anyway, Bronx engenders immediate trust in the Guardian for Goliath.
I love this scene. Guardian gives everyone so little time to catch up. He talks about the Archmage, reveals that he's Tom and talks about 'the eggs' being in danger. *That was a fun idea. Keep you guys thinking in terms of eggs for twenty minutes and reveal that it's just a pet name for the Avalon Clan.*
Benny asked: "What kind of Eggs?"
Erin: "Gargoyle Eggs."
Benny: "I didn't know Gargoyles hatch out of eggs." [Well, keep in mind it's been a year since he saw the first thirty episodes. And he's too young to remember the first time he saw the ones we're watching now.]
Then there's the skiff. Elisa: "Where'd that boat come from? ... To where? The other side of the lake? ... Wait for me!"
This all sounds fishy to her. Nothing makes sense. I wanted to get a clear shot in there of the pond in Central Park so that you could see objectively that it doesn't go anywhere. But I never quite managed that. I wanted you guys to be confused. Or at any rate to have a million questions. But like Elisa, no matter how suspicious, I figured you'd want to go along for the ride.
Mary, Katharine, the Magus and young Tom are all reintroduced. It's very clear that the first three have all learned their lesson from Awakening. They've all really become better people. Tom, of course, didn't need to learn that lesson. But he does learn to be a hero. He officially becomes the Guardian. It begins, I believe, as just a nice gesture on the part of the Princess. Later, of course, it'll become the truth. Then there's the long journey. I like the montage there. Hardship. We never had the time to show enough of the hardship of tenth century life.
Our gang heads into Edinburgh. Constantine's followers are all over the place. They all seem to look like Disney storyboard artists for some reason. ;)
There's some stellar voice work in this ep. Morgan Shepard as King Kenneth II. Sheena Easton making her Garg Premiere as Finella. Ian Buchanan as Constantine. (I've already mentioned Keith's versatility.)
But as usual, real props must be handed out to Jeff Bennnett and Kath Soucie.
Jeff plays Brooklyn, the Magus and Maol Chalvim. (No Bruno or Owen or Vinnie in this ep, I'm afraid.)
Kath plays Katharine, Mary and all three Weird Sisters.
Benny saw Finella and said: "That's one of the witches."
A year ago, Tom was his favorite character. Now Tom barely registered. And he really is fascinated with the Weird Sisters. Anyway, I corrected him, but I was glad that they were appearing later.
Ian Buchanan, once of General Hospital, is playing a cad here. We have to very quickly set up a lot of politics, sexual and otherwise. This story was as historical as we could make it based on the available research, the fact that we had to fit in a few fictional characters and eggs, and screen time compression.
Believe it or not, we also had another character originally that we cut early on because it was just getting too damn complicated. Katharine and Maol Chalvim's cousin: the future King Kenneth III. The father of Bodhe. Yep. That Bodhe. The father of Gruoch.
Kenneth III winds up being made High King of Scotland after Constantine is killed. To get a sense of their relationship, at least as I see it, you might want to check out "Once upon a time there were three brothers..."
(Or to give you a hint, ten years after the events depicted here, King Kenneth III would be murdered by Maol Chalvim's operatives during a civil war. Maol Chalvim was also known as Malcolm Forranach, the Destroyer. We used the Maol Chalvim version of his name so as not to confuse him with Katharine's father Prince Malcolm. Just as in City of Stone we emphasized Malcolm Canmore's Canmore name for the same reason.)
Anyway, Maol Chalvim seems intense but right on the money here. He's even kind of heroic when he and the Magus bring Tom back to Katharine's apartment, and he begs Katharine to go. Kind of heroic. He still leaves her. We were trying very hard to balance out his minor role here with his future roll as the grandfather of and major influence on Duncan. (Of course, he's also Macbeth's grandfather, as well.)
After Katharine tells Maol to go, there's a weird cut of him just standing there smiling. We needed some kind of transition before he took off running, and I guess that was the best we could do. But it's still awkward as hell.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
We establish early on that Katharine doesn't think much of Constantine. You wouldn't know it from Awakening, but obvioulsy she's learned to be a decent judge of character.
Kenneth isn't quite so sharp. Everyone can see that he's a fool for Finella. And he doesn't recognize Constantine's threat (despite the fact that Constantine's father was a bitter enemy and) despite the fact that his son flat out tells him to beware. My thinking was that the crown had kept bouncing back and forth between different branches of the royal family. Kenneth had hoped that by taking Constantine in, instead of banishing him, he'd be able to be a positive influence on the boy. A nice idea perhaps, but maybe Kenneth was too innattentive to pull it off. And Maol probably was too covetous to really be a brother to young Con.
Anyway, Constantine tricks Finella and kills the king. We hear Finella sobbing, just to prove that she was neither in on it nor that she would approve of it. (Though one wonders what her reaction would have been down the road if Constantine hadn't spurned her in favor of Katharine. Would she have adjusted to the crime? Or did Constantine become an unredeemable villain in her eyes immediately? I hate to say it, but I tend to think it's the former. Actually, I don't hate to say it. She's more interesting to write that way.)
Erin asked: "He killed King Arthur? Why?"
That's a tough question. So first I had to explain that it was King Kenneth, not King Arthur. Then my wife Beth helped out by explaining that Constantine wanted to be king.
We come back from the act and we see that Constantine was ready for the takeover. The Banners are immediately changed in a scene clearly inspired by the Ian McKellan (spelling?) movie version of Shakespeare's Richard III. (A version I heartily recommend, by the way.)
We also continue to set up the Magus' own tragedy. He loves Katharine. Has loved her since before Awakening. That feeling is shown to deepen here when she is once again in danger. And when Constantine tries to coerce her into marrying him. (The astute Mary and Tom have to hold him back.) Here, we sense that maybe Katharine might some day return that love. That's what I wanted you all to think anyway. Did you?
Constantine takes his crown. Originally we wanted to stage this with the Stone of Destiny as we did with Macbeth. But again, I think we just had too many sets.
Michaelmas. I just like that word.
Constantine is fairly astute himself: "You have 36 very good reasons to obey." We kept reiterating the number of eggs for what was coming later.
The Magus disguises broken pots as eggs and vice-versa. But it always seemed to me that the kitchen staff at Edinburgh sure broke a lot of pots. I mean a LOT!
I like the lines: "Taking the wee bairns for a walk?" and "I don't think I like Gargoyle eggs." Very menacing.
Princess K burns her wedding dress. She feels she cannot leave because C will follow her to "the ends of the Earth." So the Magus responds: "Then I will take you beyond them." Again. Very romantic moment between them.
Finella joins the troop. The WOMAN SCORNED. She's really fun now. Dangerous. I always laugh when Constantine drinks the brew and collapses so abruptly.
Erin: "The Weird Sisters". My kids are just fascinated with this trio. I wonder if they still will be by the end of this three-parter or if like many fans, they will be disappointed?
They get turned into owls. But the Magus worries about giving up the source of his power. K doesn't care about that.
And Finella and Mary agree to take the book. I love these two. I think they'd make a totally kick-ass team. I doubt it would be commercial enough, but I'd love to do a spin-off show just with these two women. At any rate, there was the plan to include them as recurring characters in TimeDancer.
Tom has to leave his mother and his childhood behind. Now his role as the Guardian is a way for Katharine to make him accept the loss. It is the start of their relationship, though neither knows it. I watch this now, and I can't help thinking of the Anakin & Padma relationship and where that's destined to go.
Back to the present. We see the impressive shores of Avalon. Very cool painting.
Bronx reacts. Guardian: "He's found the eggs..." And the music swells and two gargs and a garg beast appear on the cliff.
Now is that a cliff-hanger or what? What was your reaction?
Erin and Benny wanted "to see ther rest!" I told them they'd have to wait a week and we got a lot of protesting. Just what I was hoping for.
Anyway, that's my ramble. Where's yours?
What shows or properties did you work on before gargolyes?
Many, many. All the Disney stuff, primarily DuckTales and Darkwing Duck and Bonkers and Raw Toonage, but most of the rest in some capacity or another too.
Before that I was at DC Comics, where my main claim to fame (though not much fame) was Captain Atom.
You said that you were trying to develop a scarecrow character for the Gargoyles Universe so have you finished developing it? Does it resemble Marvel¡¯s Scarecrow character, which is a demon or does it resemble DC¡¯s Scarecrow?
I'm unfamiliar with Marvel's and I was consciously trying NOT to emulate DC's, a character I'm fond of and have used in a Captain Atom/Batman team-up story.
I have to date, not succeeded in coming up with a satisfactory Scarecrow character for the Gargoyles Universe. Which is a shame, because Gargoyles and scarecrows clearly have a lot in common.
1) What years were you working at DC Comics? Were you there around the time they did CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS? (I'm assuming yes, since you worked on its 'cousin' WHO'S WHO IN THE DC UNIVERSE.)
2) If (1) was yes, did you work on anything Crisis-related (excluding WHO'S WHO)?
3) What did you think of the Crisis, story-wise? (I liked it, of course. Then again, anything with cosmic stuff and grand epic battles is guaranteed to be a favorite with me.)
4) Which did you like better, the pre-Crisis multiverse or the post-Crisis single universe? (I like them both, but I miss the former.)
5) What did you think of the Crisis' effects on DC Comics as a whole? Do you think it did more good, more harm, or do you think it didn't really do either? (I think it was interesting, and created many excellent opportunities for revamps (Superman, Wonder Woman, and Captain Atom being among the best). However, the continuity blips- especially those afflicting poor Hawkman- were a major long-term failing.)
Sorry if these questions are a bit annoying or disinteresting to you, but I just realized that you were in the offices around the time (at least) that the post-Crisis cleanup was underway, and I was curious about your views on that period. Thanks!
1. I started freelancing for them in 1983. I joined the staff as an Editorial Assistant in 1985, toward the tail end of Crisis. I was promoted to Assistant Editor in 1986. And promoted again to Associate Editor in 1987. I quit my staff job in '87 but continued to freelance for them until late 90 or early 91 (overlapping with my Disney career for a year or two.)
2. No. I was a peon in those days. Unless you count xeroxing stuff. Of course, Crisis had ramifications that lasted for years, so you could say I later worked on things that were "Crisis related".
3. Some of the issues of Crisis are powerful great stuff. But the name Anti-Monitor never did much for me. And I have to say I miss the parallel universe stuff a bit. It wasn't so much Crisis as what came out of it that disappointed me. For me the results either went too far or not far enough. And there was so much well doing and redoing... It's all hindsight, and not like anyone at DC is asking me, but I'd do things differently.
4. Definitely the multiverse. I'd bring it back if I could. "Crisis on One Earth". I think it's what allows them to start over every twenty years or so, let the characters age normally. But then move on to a new Earth, where the old ones can still be reached, but we can see Superman, etc. young again. Let's us leave behind missteps without shattering continuity. Etc.
5. Well, I've kind of answered this already. But again, I don't want to blame Crisis. I think Crisis did ITS job. I just don't love all those revamps. (Except Captain Atom, of course.)
It's fun to revisit old stuff. That's why I'm here no need to apologize.
You said that you once had Death of the Endless in Captain Atom so was this the infamous issue where Death is seen as an equal to the Nekron and the Black Racer?
I'm not sure about "equal". That's subject to interpretation.
But Death, Nekron and the Black Racer all appeared in the same issue. And yes, I wrote it.
I love that it's called "infamous". I heard that Neil was pissed off about it. I feel NO GUILT. His own editor had the opportunity to comment on the script. Hell, she could have sent it to him for his comments. Had either she or he notified me with concerns, then of course I would have changed the script to address those concerns. But there was no comment until AFTER the thing was published. And then suddenly, I was "in trouble".
The one thing I do feel bad about is that Death was miscolored in the issue. But that was beyond my control. I never saw the color proofs.
Otherwise, I tried to be faithful, and even intentionally vague. Death never says what she is. Captain Atom guesses at her function and at her relationship to the other "death" figures (i.e. the Racer and Nekron). No one in the issue says that he guessed right. So even if what he said was completely off-base, there's still nothing in the issue that contradicts anything that was established about the Endless. At least not to my mind. One can always choose to believe that Captain Atom was simply wrong.
And if the problem is that she even appeared on the page with Nekron and the Racer, then I have no sympathy. Neil chose to set his characters in the DC Universe. He even absconded with Destiny. I have no problem with that. But it's a shared universe by definition. There were death concepts in it that pre-dated his.
Now, here's the thing. Neil and I have never met or spoken. I don't actually have any conflict with him, and I definitely don't want to generate one now. I'm a huge fan of Sandman. Heck, I don't know if he even remembers the issue at all. I don't know if he ever really had a problem with it. I just heard he did.
(So do I have a chip on my shoulder about it or what?)
Did you know that the Captain Atom you knew and wrote about has been retconned to a quantum clone of Nathaniel Adams?
Geez, that's original. How Swamp Thing.
No, I didn't know. Feel free to stop telling me things now, Mutai.
Did you have any part in the writing of Armageddon 2001 where Captain Atom was to become the evil dictator Monarch/Extant(that was later given to Hawk once someone leaked it)? If so did it influence your writing of Future Tense where Lexington was to become the dictator of New York?
PS You should see the new General Eiling who is now presently in the body of the Shaggy Man.
No. I had left Captain Atom a few issues before that mess began. My last issue was #50.
And I'd heard that they did that to Eiling. It's a travesty, frankly. I don't know who did it, but it's someone who had no respect for the character that Cary and I created.
With the different series you have done, like Starship Troopers, Max Steel, and MIB, have you ever thought of bringing Gargoyles in?...sneaking it I mean. As you did with the JLA comic. It might have worked especially in MIB, alien race of gargoyles ;)
I've snuck garg references into almost EVERYTHING I've done. It's kinda pathetic in a way. 3x3 Eyes. Buzz Lightyear. Team Atlantis, etc.
Who is Captain Atom?
Who is Captain Atom?!!!
Years from now, someone's gonna ask me, "Who is Goliath?" and then I'll really feel old.
Anyway, Captain Atom is a comic book super-hero. He was originally part of the Charlton Universe. But DC Comics purchased all the Charlton Characters in the Eighties and incorporated the character into the DC Universe. Cary Bates and I were the two writers assigned to the task. We wrote fifty issues of Captain Atom, and some of it is still some of the best stuff I've ever written. Back issues are hard to find, but cheap. Check it out.
Most recently -- well, a couple years ago -- DC asked me to do a Justice League flashback story featuring Captain Atom. So I did. But just for fun, I made it a Garg parody story as well. I think it came out pretty funny.
Hi, this DC comic edition (Justice League, Captain Atom, Gargoyles), which issue number and title was that?
I don't remember off the top of my head, and I'm not at my office. Ask me again another time. Or try the comment room. Some people there bought it and might remember.
Previously on 'ASK GREG' you mentioned that Scarecrows fascinated you, but that you'd never been able to crack a Scarecrow story yet. Have you done so since?
No. But I also haven't tried. Also, we're talking in the Gargoyles Universe, right? Cause I did a Scarecrow story in CAPTAIN ATOM (guest starring Batman) that I'm fairly proud of.
Just out of my own insane curiosity...If you could do one crossover, just one, with Gargs and something else, what would it be? Could be anything from a tv show to a movie to a comic. Disney, Warner Brothers, Universal, etc.
On a personal standpoint, I like the idea of X-Men/Gargoyles. They have pretty much the same goals and are treated the same. They want to protect the people who hate them because they are different and the characters are so very colorful in both sets.
X-Men/Gargoyles leaves me a bit cold.
Nothing immediately grabs me. It all feels kinda forced.
Batman in a vacuum maybe?
There aren't any easy fits that come to mind. Did you see the Gargoyles/Justice League Europe cross-over? It was palatable because it was played for laughs.
I was just reading through the Ask Greg archives and I found this mentioned, JUSTICE LEAGUE/CAPTAIN ATOM/GARGOYLES. What's the title and where can it be found?
You're a bit late, I think. It was some kind of Justice League Giant Size thing. (I'm not in my office and I can't remember exactly what it was called.) There was one Captain Atom-era JLE story in there which I wrote, that's basically a short little Garg parody and a treat for anyone who has fond memories of Cary and my days on Captain Atom. (Which as far as I know includes only me, Cary and Simon Del Monte.)
You might try asking in the comment room for more info. I'm sure someone must have picked it up.
Oh, and this is a little "general response" to "Max Steel", since my initial comments on the pilot episode also got lost in the crash.
I haven't fully made up my mind about it. On the one hand, the genre (secret agent-type adventure) isn't as much my personal piece of cake as the genre (urban fantasy with medieval connections) of "Gargoyles" was, so I haven't gotten as much into "Max Steel" so far. But I do think that it's quite well-written, with a good job on the conflicts that the hero has to face between his everyday life as Josh McGuire and his Max Steel role. My favorite part in it so far, however, has been the scenes involving the "mastermind villain" (Dredd, I believe his name was), who's got that same "calmly logical" quality that I found so appealing in Xanatos; I like how he responds to defeat in that very philosophical fashion. (In "Strangers", when discovering that L'Etrange's attempt to kidnap the German government for him failed, he just says with a shrug, "My fault, for entrusting such an important assignment to free-lancers", and in "Sphinxes", his commentary on the whole adventure at the Pyramids at the end definitely sounds Xanatosian, as he dwells on what they succeeded at and not what they failed at. I'm finding this element very appealing, not just because of its Xanatos-reminiscent style, but also because I rather like that kind of villain in general.
Yeah, Dread is very Xanatosian (or rather both of them are quite Eiling-esque). I was bothered by that for awhile. Like I wasn't being original. But the truth is I had plans for Dread that would have clearly set him apart from Xanatos. (Plans that I won't be executing now.) And at any rate, I agree with you. That's the kind of villain I like. One I can respect.
And it's Josh McGrath, by the way, not McGuire.
Out of curiosity, do you have any opinion on the works of former Animal Man and JLA scribe Grant Morrison? (While he did a good job with most of his stories, he was also responsible in JLA for killing General Wade Eiling and placing his mind in the body of the Shaggy Man.)
I'm not familiar with Grant's stuff.
However, if Grant took Eiling and put him in Shaggy Man then I pretty much hate him. How's that?
You mentioned your friend Tuppence Mcintyre (I hope that I got the spelling right) who's a Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles. Is there any connection between that being her profession and your having made Margot Yale an Assistant District Attorney in "The Journey", or was that just a coincidence? (Not that I seriously think that you'd have made a friend of yours that much of an inspiration for Margot, mind :)
It's Macintyre. Mac, not Mc. And no, I didn't model Margot on Tup. For starters, when Michael Reaves first created Brendan & Margot, I didn't know just how important they were going to be down the road. "The Journey" wasn't even a glimmer in my eye back then. Margot's occupation became an issue only at that point. I tend to think that she would have been an A.D.A., even if I didn't know D.D.A. Macintyre.
On the other hand, I did model a character after Tup. Her name was Tuppence MacRae and she was Plastique's lawyer in one of my last issues of Captain Atom. The judge in that comic was modeled after Bruce Cranston, my boss at Disney at the time. This was back when I was still working simultaneously for Disney and DC. (Note: when I say modeled, I don't mean visually, since I didn't draw the pictures or supply photo reference. I just let the "models" guide me when I was writing the dialogue.)
Oh, and I was also interested in hearing that you're currently a co-writer of a story pitting Captain Atom against the gargoyles of Notre Dame (as Alex Wittenberg mentioned in the Station 8 Comment Room). How's it feel to be writing a story about gargoyles again (although different gargs, and presumably ones that are a lot closer to the traditional negative imagery held by most humans than Goliath and his clan were)?
I hope by now many of you have read that story. It was almost more of a Gargoyles story than a Captain Atom story. (And I was the sole writer, not a co-writer.)
It was a lot of fun to join up two of my professional passions. it was great to write Cap and Bette again. And I stuffed as many gargoyle in-jokes into the ten page story as could possibly fit.
My DC Comics editor finally sent me a few copies of that Justice League comic with the Captain Atom/Gargoyles story. I had forgotten just how many Gargoyle in-jokes I put in that story. There's much more there for a Gargoyle fan then for a Captain Atom fan. Though I think the scenes of Cap kissing Bette (and the mention of Las Vegas) would make a couple people (Simon Del Monte, Melissa Page, for example) a bit nostalgic. I think the story turned out pretty well. Anyway, I'm happy. My editor made a couple small changes. He removed the two references to the year the story took place (1991). And he changed the title. It was called something like: "An Exercise in Self-Indulgence". Now it's called "The Flashback of Notre Dame". Both are accurate, but his is much more clever.
Lately, I've been giving away a lot of ASK GREG tidbits for some reason. Not sure why. I'm just in the mood, I guess. But it suddenly occured to me to register this caveat.
There's canon and there's canon.
As far as I'm concerned the only true canon is the 66 episodes of the series running from "Awakening, Part One" through "The Journey". As many of you know, I don't like to consider the other twelve episodes of Goliath Chronicles to be canon, let alone whatever other stories got published by Marvel or Disney Adventures Digest or whatever.
But to be honest, even some of my ASK GREG answers cannot truly be considered canon. They're closer. But I won't be held to them in any absolute sense. Part of the wonder of producing the first two seasons of Gargoyles involved things discovered along the way. I won't etch things in stone (pun intended) just for the sake of making these ramblings and off-the-cuff answers sacrosanct. If I got the chance to produce the show (or one of its spin-offs) again, I'd ABSOLUTELY incorporate much of what's here. But I'd be a fool not to hold everything up to a microscope and decide with consideration what would and wouldn't be best for the new series.
Having said that, I've been giving some particular thought to G2158 recently, studying timelines for example. And I've changed a few things in my head. Nothing major. But certain things have changed that would in turn effect things in TimeDancer and present-day Gargoyles. Maybe even New Olympians and Pendragon. (So far nothing that would alter Bad Guys or Dark Ages.)
The good news is that none of these changes effect our three current contests. (Wouldn't that be an ASK GREG disaster?)
And all this thought has gotten me thinking about how I might handle a couple of thorny problems in any revival of the original series, specifically the time gap between 1996 and whenever the new show hit the air, and/or the existence of those 12 non-canon Chronicle episodes.
And frankly, I think the internet is the answer.
Goliath Chronicles exists. I can't change that. But I think I can ignore it. For example, if I wanted to do my version of the trial of Goliath -- the one where the question before the court is his very sentience -- couldn't I just do it?
New fans wouldn't know about the Chronicles trial and thus wouldn't be upset about it. Old fans could check here and find out why it was being ignored.
That only leaves a small percentage of people, who, for example, see the Chronicles episode on Toon Disney and wonder about it, but don't have the resources or whatever to find a site like this and learn the rationale. Would they be very put off? Is that too selfish an approach for me to take?
Likewise, the time gap. What if in the fist season, I did that Halloween story I've mentioned before. I wouldn't mention what year it was. For a new audience, they'd just assume that the story took place in say, October 2002. No harm done. But I could post here and tell people it took place in 1996. Then, by the end of the first season, I could have the series caught up to 2002, but still have gotten to do the stories that would have depended (continuity-wise) on proximity to the events in Hunter's Moon and The Journey.
What about that?
I'm very interested in all of your opinions on these notions. Please post them here.
Do you currently read any comic books?
Have you done any comic book work recently?
No. I gave them up cold turkey in 1996. I was already down to very few books. Bone. Cerebus. Maybe a couple of others. But it was getting too hard to find the books I liked. And many had been cancelled, discontinued or rendered unreadable.
As I'm sure you know by now, I did write a JUSTICE LEAGUE/CAPTAIN ATOM/GARGOYLES story that was just published. But that's it.
I'd love to write comics again, but no one's busting down my door, and I don't have the energy to initiate a hard sell of my own.
I'm back. And determined to pour through these questions. I can't believe I'm still backlogged until JULY!!!
But first, let me give you a quick update on what I've been up to recently.
Post-Production has been completed on my first arc of stories. They are all set on the jungle moon TESCA NEMEROSA. I think they turned out wonderfully. I'm still very proud of the writing, but I'm wildly impressed with the CGI. (And yes, there are a few small things that bother me, but...) Overall, I think it's a very powerful set of stories.
We've completed writing and recording all 13 episodes for the first season. Post-production should begin after the first of the year. The CGI series should premeire in February on the WB's Saturday Morning. And now that the heavy lifting is done, I'm all but unemployed, which means I should have plenty of time for ASK GREG.
A good friend of mine did the English dub for this Japanese Anime series. Thom Adcox does the voice for one of the leads, and I do a few incidental voices here and there. (Yes, the man who brought you "Nice Mask!" and "Father, the rockets aren't working!" is back behind the microphone. God help us all.) It's available on home video in stores starting mid-January.
JUSTICE LEAGUE GIANT
As many of you already know, I did a CAPTAIN ATOM/JLE/GARGOYLES parody team-up for this comic book. I wrote it a year ago and I still haven't seen the final result, but I'm told it turned out all right. And every copy you buy puts about a tenth of a penny into my pocket... Seriously, it wouldn't hurt if this issue sold out and was followed by a letter writing campaign asking DC to do an actual Gargoyles comic. Don't know if it would work, but it wouldn't hurt.
For those of you living in the L.A. Area, Kevin Hopps and I are teaching a twenty week course on writing for Television Animation through UCLA Extension's Writer's Program at Universal CityWalk starting this Spring and running through the Summer. Hope to see some of you there.
Now, back to your questions...
Reprinting (for posterity) what I just posted in the comment room:
Just a quick response/explanation to Alex (aka Simon).
I couldn't really do a full-on Captain Atom story. I was limited to 10 pages (and it takes a lot of time to write that short) and it was a JLA GIANT, so I was obligated to include the JLE from that era. Those were my marching orders.
So Dan Raspler (my editor) and I decided to do something fun. Something with Captain Atom elements, but something more in the tone of the JLE of that era -- admittedly, a sillier mag than the CAPTAIN ATOM book I used to write back then. But even in those days, when I put the JLE into Cap's book, I tried to split the difference on the tone, so that the transition wasn't too jarring.
I suggested making it a real exercise in self-indulgence by including a bit of a GARGOYLES parody. He went for it.
Now, in my first draft, I did open the story by showing the Funeral-At-Sea of Heinrich Megala. But my editor felt that it was too serious. That it clashed with the tone of the rest of the story. I didn't disagree. (I just didn't care.) But he didn't like it. So we went with what you saw.
Or so I assume. I haven't seen it yet. I called Dan yesterday, and he promised to send me a copy. Originally, Pat Broderick was supposed to do the pencilling -- a reunion of sorts. I don't know exactly what happened, but Pat didn't end up doing the story. So I can't even imagine what it looks like. And I don't know how much or how little I was edited. I hope it plays.
And I hope that clears things up.
By the way, I'm almost done with the writing and editing of Max Steel. I promise that after the first of the year, I'm going to try to MUSCLE through the backlog here at ASK GREG.
Sorry for the delays.