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A Pretty Cool Guy writes...

Hi Greg,

I hope you don't shut down the site, it's excellent being able to reach out to a creator I so admire and discuss their work. On that subject, I was wondering who are some of your influences are as a writer (obviously Shakespeare). Which writers serve as your models or inspiration for plotting stories, writing dialogue, and the writing process as a whole?

Are you familiar with / a fan of Joss Whedon's work? Between Gargoyles and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you two wrote characters facing some similar challenges (tormented individuals, tragically and unwittingly bound to each other, frequently dealing with the burden of immortality). Obviously Gargoyles came first, I've just noticed you two writing about many of the same themes, and was wondering if you enjoy or find inspiration in his work in general.

Assuming I am granted it, thanks for your time!

Greg responds...

1. This has been answered before. Please look at the "INFLUENCES" section of the ASK GREG archives.

2. Yes, as even a casual glance at the topics in the archive would indicate, e.g. "Buffyverse Geek-Out".

Response recorded on September 12, 2012

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Andre writes...

Hey man, been a big fan of Gargoyles since my early childhood days, and have been following your work from Spectacular Spider-Man to Young Justice.

My question refers to the primary antagonist of the Gargoyle universe, David Xanatos. What was the inspiration for you to create such a complex gray villain? Also, where'd the name come from for Xanatos too?

Greg responds...

1. The most immediate inspirations were Captain Hook/Duke Igthorn mixed with a healthy dose of General Wade Eiling, plus some Bruce Wayne and Captain Kirk.

2. The name is a variation on Thanatos, the greek god of death. It also is a real name you can find in most phone books. Assuming you can find a phone book.

Response recorded on August 30, 2012

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Matthew writes...

Just watched Performance and liked it a lot. I'm glad to see an episode focusing on Robin. Just curious was Robin's laugh inspired by the Shadow of pulp/radio fame?

Greg responds...

Well, the Shadow's up there in my brain, but I really don't think so. It's inspired more by his youth and irrepressibility.

Response recorded on August 23, 2012

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The Greenman writes...

Hi Mr. Greg Weisman,

I have been a fan of yours since Gargoyles. One of the things that interest me is the basic structure of the themes and world building in the series. One of the styles I see continue to pop up in your series is the relationship between science and sorcery. This is something I have been a fan of in comics like Iron Man and Fantastic Four (specifically Dr. Doom versus Reed Richards). I love the simple explanation that energy is energy.

1. Now I didn't see much of this argument come up in your Spectacular Spider-Man series, because Peter debunked Mysterio, but can you say that you ever planned to and who you would've used to explore that science versus mystic aspect?

2. I am upset that directors such as Jon Favreau and Shane Black have knocked down the very idea of Mandarin showing up as not to approach the so-called mystic aspect. Though, it could be be alien in origin or something, as they claim and prove that even super-science isn't allowed in the MCU. Have you read and understand the Iron Man comics specific to Mandarin and Tony's relationship to science versus sorcery? Was it influential at all in your writing?

Greg responds...

1. Well, we had Calypso. I'm not going to get into much beyond the fact that we would have explored her character more.

2. I'm not sure specifically to what you're referring. I've read comics from the 60s, 70s and 80s with Iron Man and Mandarin. Probably nothing more recent than that. In any case, I don't think it influenced me much if at all.

Response recorded on August 15, 2012

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Richard Jackson writes...

Did you name the London Clan's magic shop, Into the Mystic, after the Van Morrison song?

Greg responds...

I didn't name it. I assume either Gary Sperling or Robert Cohen named it.

Response recorded on May 16, 2012

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Todd Jensen writes...

Though I haven't seen "Coldhearted" yet, I've read a bit about it, and learned that Perdita originated in a Green Arrow story that you wrote a couple of years ago, meaning that you created the character. Did you name her after the Perdita of "The Winter's Tale"? (I thought it likely, given your fondness for Shakespeare, but wanted to make certain.)

Greg responds...

Yes. The Lost Girl.

Response recorded on May 16, 2012

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Tyler Reznik writes...

More a philosophical question than one about any of your work (although it does relate to some of your characters):
What is your opinion of Friedrich Nietzche's quote "He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you"? How do you think it relates to superheroes, and characters who struggle against "evil" in general? I'm very interested in your input on the subject.

Greg responds...

I buy into it 100%. Doesn't mean every good guy goes bad, but every good guy's going to - at the very least - have those moments where it could go either way.

Response recorded on May 10, 2012

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Mel writes...

Hi Greg,

I have a MacBeth question this time. You mentioned a while ago that MacBeth has worked as a stage actor in the past. I thought that was such an interesting tidbit about a guy we don't necessarily know a ton about. Was that you idea, and if so, what inspired it?

You also mentioned that you saw MacBeth as acting in a lot of George Bernard Shaw plays probably. Why is that? Shaw was pretty political - do you think that influenced MacBeth's decision to do those plays?

Greg responds...

1. Yes.

1a. It just felt right. Plus I like the idea of him collaborating with Shakespeare.

2. Yeah. It just felt like Shaw's work would appeal to Macbeth.

Response recorded on May 04, 2012

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Zach Baker writes...

Hey Greg!

I recently saw this line from an interview with Steven Bochco in the early 80's, talking about Hill Street Blues (which currently has its first two-and-a-half seasons on Hulu Plus, by the way):

"Maybe the biggest problem with Hill Street, in terms of popular success, is that it is a show that demands to be watched. And most people do not watch television. They simply are in its presence."

I love that quote. What an insightful way to encapsulate about what was essential and great about Hill Street Blues, without going into all the details of what made it so outstanding. Just leave at this: unlike nearly anything before it, in many ways it was a show that demanded to be watched. I think that characteristic also applies to Gargoyles as well, no doubt due to the major influence Hill Street Blues had on the show (as you've often mentioned).

Nowadays, that quality, of being a show that "demands to be watched," is characteristic of so many excellent shows that appear on HBO, Showtime or AMC (before hitting DVD boxsets and iTunes), places where popular success isn't the one and only yardstick. And again and again, we've seen how this kind of series can flourish in the atmosphere of creative freedom offered by these outlets.

Can viewers hope that someday soon, that kind of environment will produce an animated serial drama that has the same level of quality, complexity and acclaim as these channels' current headline series? If so, what might it take for that to happen?

Greg responds...

Hey, Zach. Long time no see. I'd heard that quotation about Hill Street before, and couldn't agree more.

I appreciate you think Gargoyles falls in the same category. It's flattering and certainly what we strived for. I don't pretend that we were as good as Hill Street Blues, but no one can accuse us of not going for it.

As to your question, I like to think that W.I.T.C.H., Spectacular Spider-Man, Young Justice and Young Justice: Invasion also qualify. At least at Gargoyles' level. So I think it's already possible. But that's just my - apparently not so - humble opinion.

Response recorded on May 03, 2012

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Todd Jensen writes...

Recently, somebody asked you if you were familiar with C. S. Lewis' work, and you said "No", apart from seeing a couple of adaptations of "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe". I thought that you might like to know that Lewis and Roger Lancelyn Green were friends, and that it's thanks to Green that "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" was finished and published.

When Lewis was writing "Lion", he read some of it to J. R. R. Tolkien; Tolkien had done the same to him with "The Lord of the Rings" when he was writing it, and Lewis wanted to return the favor. Tolkien thought that "Lion" was dreadful, however, and made that clear. Lewis was so saddened by Tolkien's critique that he considered abandoning the story, but first read it to Roger Lancelyn Green. Green told him, "No, this is a great story, you mustn't drop it," and his words encouraged Lewis to complete the story and get it published.

Green also included a tribute to Lewis in his King Arthur book. One of Lewis's fantasy novels for adults, "That Hideous Strength" had Merlin awakening in the modern world to help the main characters defeat an Illuminati-type organization; Lewis had Merlin sleeping beneath a forest called Bragdon Wood. In Green's "King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table", one of the places where Merlin is said to be sleeping is "beneath the Wood of Bragdon". Since you especially liked Green's book on King Arthur (and even drew on it for Blanchefleur, and Percival's parentage), I thought you might enjoy hearing about that (and I hope the Wood of Bragdon wasn't on your list of places for King Arthur and Griff to visit during their search for Merlin, since it was Lewis' invention!).

Greg responds...

I did not know about the Green/Lewis connection. I did know about Tolkien/Lewis, but this is great additional info. Thanks.

Response recorded on February 10, 2012


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