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Avi writes...

1. You write strong female characters with skill(Demona, Gwen, MJ, Artemis, ETC). Since women can be portrayed weak sometimes, how do you do it?
2. Other than Stan Lee's run with Romita and Ditko, what era of Spider-man comics did you enjoyed reading the most?
3. What is your opinion on Spider-man: Kraven's Last Hunt, by JM Dematteis? Most people generally like it but others think it may have been too dark for Spider-man (Dematteis was actually going to have the story be a Batman and Joker story at first)

Thanks for the amazing shows! Spectacular Spider-man (I was looking forward to Season 3-5 and DTV's) was absolutely amazing along with Young Justice (I was so looking forward to the next season). I am only up to Avalon part 1, but Gargoyles has been tremendously fun to watch so far. I don't love Star Wars, but Rebels seems great so far and I can't wait. You are an inspiration to me. Thank you.

Greg responds...

1. I like to think I've portrayed some female characters as strong and others as weak. Some who stay strong, some who weaken. Some who stay weak, some who gain in strength. As to the 'how'… I don't have a magic formula. I'm sure it helps that I've always known, loved, admired and respected strong women all my life, starting with my mom. But really, I don't know any other way to do it.

2. There was some fun stuff for me in the 80s.

3. I haven't read it.

Response recorded on January 08, 2014

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FallenLegend writes...

Hello greg

You previously said that you don't like gran finales and you don't intend to really give closure to any of your shows/stories. Not even gargoyles that as you described it is your "baby" even if you don't own it.

Does that mean that we will always get cliffhanger endings from your tv show when they get canceled?

What about your new book series, will it end in a cliffhanger too?

As much as I am a fan of your stories Greg, It feels empty not to have any closure at all.

No offense but basic story telling has beginning-conflict-resolution and as fans we never get to see a resolution of the overall plot.

I mean having an ending that gives the illusion that "the story never truly ends" is great (that's not what I am critical of).

But I think that not having an ending that acknowledges that the story has to end for real life reasons(maybe becuase you simply can't write stories forever, becuase you aren't getting more episodes, becuase you have to move on etc)... is disrespectuful to your fans that expect to have a complete story.

Take JLU unlimited ending. It even ended with wonderwoman saying "...and the adventure continues" and even left two unresolved plot points, But at the same time it ended the main plots and acted as a send off/good bye to it's fans and it didn't feel empty.

Sorry for being so critical, you are a big inspiration and even if I don't agree with you always I think you are a fantastic story teller (an inspiration for me in fct) and I am planing on buying our new book.

Greg responds...

I NEVER leave a season with a cliffhanger.

I ALWAYS leave a season with open-ended closure.

I don't mean to sound disrespectful to you or any of my fans, but that's how my mind works. If you don't like it, I can't really help you, because you'd be asking me to change the way I tell stories.

But perhaps we're not so far apart. You cite the JLU ending, which I haven't seen. But you state that, in essence, it has open-ended closure, even noting it had unresolved plot points. That's EXACTLY what I do at the end of EVERY season. Not everything is going to be tied up into a neat knot, but every major plot point of that season will be, as happened at the end of Gargoyles, WITCH, Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice.

So what exactly are you looking for from me that's any different?

And thank you for buying RAIN OF THE GHOSTS. It's much appreciated! Sincerely!!

Response recorded on November 26, 2013

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ANIME VEGAS 2013 - Corrected Schedule

Let's try this again with the correct dates:

As I've mentioned before, I'm a guest at ANIME VEGAS this weekend, November 1-3rd, 2013, at the Renaissance Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada:

http://www.animevegas.com/

Here's my schedule:

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2013
01:00pm - 02:00pm - OPENING CEREMONIES
Cosplay Ballroom.

02:00pm - 03:30pm - GARGOYLES/THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN Panel and Signing
Cosplay Ballroom.

05:00pm - 06:30pm - YOUNG JUSTICE Panel and Signing
Paramount Room with Yuri Lowenthal, the voice of Lagoon Boy, Tempest, Icicle Jr. and Tommy Terror.

06:30pm - 08:00pm - IKKI TOUSEN Panel and Signing
Paramount Room with New Generation Pictures Voice Director and Producer Jonathan Klein.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2013
10:00am - 11:30am - "WRITER'S ROOM" Panel and Signing
Summit Room.

06:30pm - 07:30pm - SIGNING
Summit Room with Jonathan Klein.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2013
09:00am - 10:30am - 3X3 EYES SCREENING, Panel and Signing
Paramount Room with Jonathan Klein.

10:30am - 11:30am - VOICE DIRECTING Panel
Paramount Room with Jonathan Klein.

12:30pm - 01:00pm - SIGNING
Paramount Room with Jonathan Klein.

As you can see, I'm doing a LOT of signing. I'll sign anything you bring along for free. But I'm also bringing a single copy of EVERY one of my Young Justice teleplays (i.e. the ones that I personally wrote), which I'll be selling for $20 per script (cash only) - autographed and personalized to the buyer's taste - on a first-come, first-serve basis, starting with the Young Justice signing at 6pm Friday evening.
So if you're in the vicinity, plan to be there. As you all know, I'm not big on SPOILERS, but I'm WAY, WAY more likely to tease a few things in person than I am on either Twitter or here. So come and be (slightly) better informed!!!


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Anime Vegas - Schedule!

As I've mentioned before, I'll be a guest at ANIME VEGAS this weekend, November 1-3rd, 2013, at the Renaissance Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada:

http://www.animevegas.com/

Here's my schedule:

FRIDAY, AUGUST 23, 2013
01:00pm - 02:00pm - OPENING CEREMONIES
Cosplay Ballroom

02:00pm - 03:30pm - GARGOYLES/THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN PANEL and SIGNING
Cosplay Ballroom

05:00pm - 06:30pm - YOUNG JUSTICE PANEL and SIGNING
Paramount Room with Yuri Lowenthal, the voice of Lagoon Boy, Tempest, Icicle Jr. and Tommy Terror.

06:30pm - 08:00pm - IKKI TOUSEN PANEL and SIGNING
Paramount Room with New Generation Pictures Voice Director and Producer Jonathan Klein

SATURDAY, AUGUST 24, 2013
10:00am - 11:30am - "WRITER'S ROOM" PANEL and SIGNING
Summit Room

06:30pm - 07:30pm - SIGNING
Summit Room with Jonathan Klein

SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
09:00am - 10:30am - 3X3 EYES SCREENING, PANEL and SIGNING
Paramount Room with Jonathan Klein

10:30am - 11:30am - VOICE DIRECTING
Paramount Room with Jonathan Klein

12:30pm - 01:00pm - SIGNING
Paramount Room with Jonathan Klein

As you can see, I'm doing a LOT of signing. I'll sign anything you bring along for free. But I'm also bringing a single copy of EVERY one of my Young Justice teleplays (i.e. the ones that I personally wrote), which I'll be selling for $20 per script (cash only) - autographed and personalized to the buyer's taste - on a first-come, first-serve basis, starting with the Young Justice signing at 6pm Friday evening.

So if you're in the vicinity, plan to be there. As you all know, I'm not big on SPOILERS, but I'm WAY, WAY more likely to tease a few things in person than I am on either Twitter or here. So come and be (slightly) better informed!!!


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Daniel C W writes...

Dear Mr. Wiseman,

I know that these kind of shows are a big team effort, so just thanking the head-writer or the credited writer is not enough. So if you ever talk to your colleagues about how the audiences react to Young Justice, please tell them, that there is at least one viewer, where you exactly hit the right spot, and pushed his emotional buttons. As I said, there is at least one, but probably thousands, or millions, but I can only speak for myself. Especially the episode "Coldhearted" got me up and down a few times, so thanks to everyone involved for that.
Looking forward for more of that ...

And a thank you to you for interacting with us - even if it is just for you ego :)

I also got some questions.
Actually, think of them as cues, please. Feel free to write as much as you want about the topics I raise in those questions, please.

1) What exactly do we see during the endcredits, and what else can you tell us about them?

2) I see that you, and many other writers and producers, usually do not know much about the success of your show as seen from the business side of things, for example the ratings, or if your show has been sold internationally.
Do you not care about it, or is it acutally difficult for you to get this kind of information?
Or do you even try to avoid it, to not risk any (bad) influence?

3) From another reader's question I know that you were responsible for some English dubs. Does that experience affect your writing? Do you sometimes wonder how something you just wrote could be difficult to handle for those who translate your work into other languages (or cultures)?

I would have asked that question anyway, as I try to ask every author I can reach about it. But now that I know, that you know both sides of the problem, I am more inclined than ever, to hear your thoughts about it.

Thanks in advance :-D

Greg responds...

1. Not sure what you mean: they're end credits; what you see is what you get.

2. I care very much, but the bosses aren't always forthcoming.

3. Words always matter to me. But though languages fascinate me, I'm decidedly monolingual. (Though not proud of that fact.) So the short answer is no. I focus on making it work in English and otherwise cross my fingers and hope for the best.

Response recorded on December 30, 2012

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Masterdramon writes...

Hey Greg! Hope that you're doing well, and that the holiday season is treating/did treat (depending on when you read this) your family happily.

What follows is a paper I recently submitted to my Contemporary Political Theory class at Pomona College, interrelating several of the concepts from the book we discussed that week ("You Are Not a Gadget" by Jaron Lanier) with the notion of namelessness in traditional gargoyle culture.

My professor (unfamiliar with the show, but very intrigued when I explained it to her) really got a kick out of the piece, and I earned a more-or-less "A-" equivalent for it. But as long as I've got it sitting around, I figured you might enjoy giving it a read as well.

[NOTE: You may want to review this post you made on Ask Greg in 2004 beforehand, as it is cited frequently: http://www.s8.org/gargoyles/askgreg/search.php?rid=387].

Now, without further ado, the essay. It has been edited from the submitted version only by rearranging paragraph breaks...

The 1994 animated television series Gargoyles posits a highly intelligent species which dominated the Earth prior to human genesis and ascendance.

These gargoyles possess a unique culture which predates humanity's by a significant period, but the first on-screen depiction of the gargoyle species takes place in the 10th century, after millions of years of convergent evolution between the two cultures.

Indeed, the pilot episodes depict the essential death of one lingering component of gargoyle culture, at least for the series protagonists: that gargoyles lack personal names. This idea is first discussed in a conversation between two gargoyles and a human boy:

TOM: I'm Tom. What's your name?
GARGOYLE #1: Except for Goliath, we don't have names.
TOM: How do you tell each other apart?
GARGOYLE #1: We look different.
TOM: But what do you call each other?
GARGOYLE #2: (shrugs) Friend.

For context, "Goliath" is the leader of the clan of gargoyles to which the protagonists belong, and their liaison to the humans with whom they share an uneasy alliance; those humans felt incapable of dealing with a nameless entity, and Goliath did not bother to reject the name they selected for him.

Still, he does not use the name in communicating with his own clan until a betrayal by their human allies and a magical curse cause the protagonists to sleep as statues and then reawaken in 20th century Manhattan.

Here they meet and befriend Elisa Maza, a police detective who is both confused by and - for reasons she has trouble articulating - uncomfortable with this traditional lack of names. The following exchange takes place between Elisa and the clan's elderly mentor:

ELISA: Are you coming on the tour…uh, what do I call you, anyway?
GARGOYLE: Must you humans name everything? Nothing's real to you till you've named it, given it limits!
ELISA: It's not like that! It's just that…well, uh…things need names.
GARGOYLE: Does the sky need a name? Does the river?
ELISA: The river's called the Hudson.
GARGOYLE: (sighs) Fine, lass…then I will be 'the Hudson' as well.
ELISA: Great! Hudson it is.

From that point onward, that particular gargoyle is known as Hudson, and only Hudson.

The younger gargoyles who survived the centuries follow suit; the two who conversed with Tom become Lexington and Brooklyn, for example. And Goliath more-or-less fully accepts the moniker afforded him by the Dark Age humans.

As Gargoyles creator Greg Weisman points out, "naming is clearly addictive," and once they are established the convenience they offer makes doing away with them virtually impossible. Thus, for the Manhattan Clan of gargoyles, namelessness largely remains a thing of the past for the remainder of the series.

In "You Are Not a Gadget," Jaron Lanier describes the phenomenon experienced by these gargoyles using the term "lock-in."

As Lanier puts it, "lock-in…removes design options based on what is easiest to program, what is politically feasible, what is fashionable, or what is created by chance." Furthermore, the process "also reduces or narrows the ideas it immortalizes, by cutting away the unfathomable penumbra of meaning."

Despite originally referring to programming language, this is a perfect description of the process that "Hudson" has been subjected to in the previous scene.

Names are a method of defining identity, which necessarily must involve "giving it limits." But in traditional gargoyle culture, identity has greater meaning than that; it is amorphous, and changes with the circumstances.

The gargoyle who first made a compact with the humans at Castle Wyvern is the same gargoyle who mated three times and produced three progeny; he is the same gargoyle who fought the evil Archmage and received a wound that blinded him in one eye; he is the same gargoyle who slept for centuries and once awakened, found himself fascinated with the television show "Celebrity Hockey."

Does one name - Hudson - really encapsulate all of these aspects of his identity?

In-and-of-itself, all it signifies is that the place Hudson awoke in was modern-day New York (a cut line from the episode's script even has Elisa commenting, "Good thing we weren't facing Queens," emphasizing with humor how off-hand and esoteric the choice was).

That name was "locked-in" as the full and entire representation of the character from that point onward, solely because it was politically feasible (it makes dealing with Elisa and later human allies far more expedient), it was fashionable (every other intelligent being in 1994 New York has a name, so why not the gargoyles?), and it was created by chance (quite literally in this case, as the "Queens" quote illustrates).

And the result is that the very meaning of his identity is narrowed. He is no longer capable of being someone at a particular moment, and someone else in the next.

He is always Hudson.

There is an even greater story here, however, which Weisman's later musings have helped to illuminate. As he once observed, "Gargoyles don't seem to have a native language. They acquire human language, perhaps much the same way that they acquire names…And language, in many ways, is just sophisticated naming."

This is a compelling point. As he later notes, a different and arguably much more persuasive response that Elisa could have offered is that the river is called "the river."

Languages are systems for describing objects, concepts, actions, etc. using strict and uniform definitions, confining them to names that society calls words.

But does a name like "the sky" really fully encapsulate the meaning inherent within the depths that humans observe from below? Does it even begin to provoke a holistic understanding of its astronomical, religious, chemical, or poetic contexts?

And even more to the point, what of metaphysical concepts like "justice"? Can a single clear definition even exist for such a weighty and nebulous notion - and if not, does sticking the name "justice" to it not necessarily limit it?

Lanier certainly appears to believe so. As he conceives it, the system of symbology under which all current human languages operate is itself a lock-in; at best, a "middleman" between intent and "directly creating shared experience" that he wants to work to cut out.

His method for doing so is improvements on virtual reality, until researchers develop "the ability to morph at will, as fast as we can think."

Lanier envisions a world where the rather simplistic words "I'm hungry" will not be the only way to communicate the sensation which has brought them on - instead, he sees potential in the power of virtual reality technology to place us in the bodies of others, as a way to intimate the sensation itself.

Humanity would no longer have to be limited to extracting some piece of the concept it calls "hunger," giving it that name, and using it as code so that others who know the symbology of the English language will understand some approximation of that concept.

The concept would simply be understood, and communication would be a straightforward matter of imparting that understanding.

But perhaps there is an even better solution than this - although one that is, unfortunately, largely forgotten.

Presented with the puzzle that gargoyles are highly gregarious and intelligent by nature and yet appear to lack any notion of their own language, Weisman has mused that perhaps, long before human language evolved and became the locked-in method for communication, the gargoyle species possessed "mild psychic abilities that left them with no need to create language."

While emphasizing that he was only asserting a possibility, the communication he imagines - where it was not "words that they intuited (or transmitted or read or whatever) but emotions, maybe images or sensations" - sounds exceedingly similar to what Lanier hopes to achieve through virtual reality.

Such communication would be consistent with what audience knows about pre-human gargoyle culture, where definition and identity are situational as opposed to consistently codified.

But if that is the case, it leads to a rather lamentable conclusion. As Weisman puts it, "perhaps the very language skills that gargoyles learned from the human race dampened their psychic intuitiveness;" in other words, lock-in of a very particular method of communication (symbology) "locked-out" another method that presented communicative possibilities human technology can currently only dream of.

The initial insistence on not using personal names, then, can be considered a lingering hold-out of a bygone era where every concept was considered unlimited, and every sensation intimated in their full depth.

In dealing with nascent human cultures, gargoyles must have gradually accepted the limiting of concepts like "sky" or "river" because this made interspecies congress significantly more efficient, but they resisted the longest on the limiting of the very depths of the self.

But with the permanent instatement of "Hudson" and the rest, there does not appear to be room to return to the possibilities an unlimited identity presents. Human language has killed them.

Of course, both the gargoyle race and their culture are fantastical constructions, but that does not necessarily mean that humans cannot learn from their fictional example.

While humans do not seem to share these "mild psychic abilities" (although there are some who would vehemently disagree with that statement) that Weisman hypothesizes, that there are methods of sensation and communication which precede language skills is clearly documented.

As with gargoyles, members of the species Homo sapiens did exist well before the development of the earliest known language, and while current understanding of those early cultures is limited at best, there is also a much more immediate example to turn to.

Newborns spend a few years before they learn to define the world around them in the code of words - the sun is an experience to them long before the strictly defined, limiting name of "the sun" is ever applied to it.

The depths of what could be learned from observing children raised without learning language skills, interpreting sensations and intimating them to others via methods of their own device, are boundless; of course, the enormous ethical travesty presented by such experiments means they are not a viable avenue for inquiry.

So instead, humans turn to fiction - attempting to realize through others what that they have long since lost, and yearn to find again.

Greg Weisman has often described gargoyle culture, and pre-human gargoyle culture specifically, as something of a wish fulfillment for him. "I'm such a human," he laments with a written-out sigh, "But I aspire to gargoylosity."

Well, if the virtual reality morphing that so excites Jaron Lanier can indeed allow humans to experience sensation as a pre-human gargoyle (or a pre-language human, or a baby, or even a cephalopod) did/does - if it has the potential to turn the clock back as well as forward, and show what it is like for things simply to be, without the cumbersome and restrictive middleman of naming them - then perhaps that is an aspiration that more humans should share.

Greg responds...

At first, when you mentioned 'You Are Not a Gadget', I couldn't help thinking the follow-up statement would be 'You Are a Chip, a Dale or a Monterey Jack'. Talk about lock-in.

Anyway, is it immodest to say that your essay warmed my heart? I enjoyed reading it. And I found it quite insightful. I do believe my own thinking has evolved since I wrote that ramble on gargoyles' latent psychic abilities. My thinking now is less psychic and more intuitive based on sensory clues.

But it doesn't change my positive response to your thesis. And it also speaks to one of my goals - perhaps even needs (NEEDS) - as a writer. Using words, multiple, multiple words, in an attempt to reach beyond the lock-in that comes with words like river or sun or Hudson or, most especially, Greg. The original version of Hudson's line was something like: 'Nothing is real to you until you've named it, defined it, given it limits.' More words to more fully illustrate the concept. And often in my writing I find myself trying to paint pictures with more and more words in an almost poetic sense. That verbosity is often counterproductive when writing dialogue. But I LIKE to think it lends - even when cut back and cut down - a certain depth to the dialogue. But it's a constant push and pull in my writing between trying to find just the one right word and using many, many to paint that fuller picture.

Response recorded on December 30, 2012

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Connor writes...

Hi Greg! I wanted to ask about your methods of storytelling. For adapted shows like The Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice, you seem to have planned out certain events and arcs in advance and seem to include nothing if you aren't going to follow up on it later. Do you have a personal set of rules or guidelines for when you work on projects like these?

Greg responds...

It's no different on any project. We try to plan as much in advance as possible, while still leaving ourselves open to discoveries along the way.

Response recorded on December 12, 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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Bazell writes...

Sometimes when I write, I worry about how much specific influence other similar media has on what I'm working on. As a student and literary lover, I am well aware of the dangers of plagerism and feel very sensitive to it, but I worry about unitentionally drawing too much from source material in fiction writing. For example, if I was working on a story about a vampire, I would worry about how much I'm being influenced by, say, Interview With the Vampire, which is a personal favorite novel and series. It's important for ideas to be new and fresh, even if they cover subject matter already used in the past.
Like you, I produce what I'd like to consume, so how do you avoid copying your favorites? Any sagely advice?

Otherwise, also want you to know that I impressed upon my local comic shop the sheer importance of my obtaining the two trades coming out this summer. I talked up the series, of which he was alredy a similarly disappointed fan. Both trades are on my pull-list.

Greg responds...

I don't have a set of guidelines for you. I try to feel my way through it, I guess. If I am going to "lift", I try to be direct and on the head about it, so that I'm acknowledging the debt as opposed to trying to get away with something. But I also avoid seeing/reading newer interpretations of stuff I know I plan to write about. And as much as possible I stick with "source material," i.e. things in the public domain.

Response recorded on June 30, 2009

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Clark Cradic writes...

Is it difficult to kill off a character that you've become really attached to?

Greg responds...

Very.

Response recorded on June 26, 2009


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