September 28, 1963.
2. What inspired Greg to become a writer?
Always wanted to be a storyteller. I love stories. Wanted to be a writer at least since 2nd grade. I did have a number of teachers, starting with my 2nd Grade teacher SANDY VOYNE who encouraged me a great deal. I also had two parents who were very supportive. (GDW / 3-19-98)
[Later, he adds...] In second grade, we had spelling words that we had to put into a sentence. I ran all the sentences together to make a story. It was fun. I got praised for it. So I kept at it. I started my first unfinished novel in the sixth grade. Etc.
3. What's Greg's background as a writer?
I've been writing stories since at least 2nd Grade. English has always been my favorite subject. I took eight full years worth of English courses during my six years of junior high and High School. (Including AP English, American Literature, Modern American Literature, Creative Writing and Advanced Creative Writing.) I took a lot of history as well. I also took a Popular American Literature course at UCLA while I was still in high school.
I received a Bachelors Degree in English with an emphasis in Fiction Writing from Stanford University. (Coursework there included: The Short Story, Fiction Writing, Poetry Writing, Detective Fiction, Eighteenth Century Views of Women in Literature, Milton, Conrad & Faulkner, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Western Culture, Reflections on the American Condition, more Fiction Writing and Authorial Voice, among others. I also took courses in acting, dance, economics, physics, calculus and computer science, among others. Plus I did a ton of theater -- on stage, back stage and behind the scenes.) I was a t.a. for Ron Rebholz's Shakespeare class. And I taught a seminar on the Mythic Hero in Modern Literature. At Stanford's Programme in Oxford, I took courses on the English Novel, Shakespeare and British Architecture.
I later received a Masters Degree from U.S.C.'s school of Professional Writing with an emphasis in playwriting. (Coursework included: Humor, Playwriting, fiction writing, screenwriting, etc.)
And after all that, I took a seminar on Story Structure from Robert McKee.
4. What led Greg to go into animation?
I like cartoons. I always have. But I don't know if I was inspired to work in animation. As I was finishing graduate school, I began looking for jobs. Disney TV Animation offered me one. So I took it. Sorry, it's not much of a story.
5. What other animated series does Greg like?
As a kid, I was a big JONNY QUEST, SPEED RACER, SPACE GHOST, HERCULOIDS fan.
I liked almost anything with Marvel or DC Super-Heroes in it. (I had very undeveloped tastes.)
I watched tons of cartoons and liked more than I disliked probably.
When I was at Disney, I liked Gummi Bears, some DuckTales, Talespins, Darkwingsand Old Development Bonkers, among other shows.
These days, I watch almost no cartoons. I really love KING OF THE HILL. I like FUTURAMA a lot. SIMPSONS is about as weak as it could be right now, but there's usually something in every episode that makes me laugh.
6. Why did Greg give up on comic books in 1996?
It's kind of a long story, but in a nutshell here are a few factors as to why I gave up comics in 1996:
1) Many of the comics I was reading at the time ended their run. Love & Rockets. Sandman. Etc.
2) Other comics I was reading became UNREADABLE. Hulk springs to mind. It wasn't really Peter David's fault. But by that time Hulkwas the only Marvel Universe Book I was still reading. Then the Marvel Universe split in two or something, and I couldn't make heads or tails out of Hulk anymore. DC's Universe wasn't that much better.
3) Comics I still wanted to collect, like Cerebus, were becoming hard to find. There was no longer a good comic shop near my office. I couldn't go every week like I used to. So I'd try to go once a month. I'd miss an issue and not know it for another month when the NEXT issue came out. By that time, finding that back issue became VERY difficult.
4) Because so many comics I used to love were gone or unreadable, I was down to collecting very few titles. Given that I collected so few and the logistical difficulties of getting to a decent store, I was no longer feeling the old, "Gotta get in there and by the next issue of everything" pressure. Half the time I did go, I no longer found ANYTHING that I wanted.
5) I didn't plan on quitting. I went to a store in November of 1996. Didn't get around to going again in December or January of 97. By February or so, I realized that I had gone a while without... and that I didn't MISS IT AT ALL. This was a shocking revelation to me. SHOCKING. I'd been addicted to comics for DECADES. I had a huge collection -- particularly huge since from 1985-1987, I got every issue of every comic being published (with very few exceptions) for FREE. (I was on staff at DC at the time, and the various publishers had a gentleman's agreement to provide each other with free copies). Once I found I didn't miss it, I decided to quit. Freed up a ton of time and money.
7. What is Greg's favorite Shakespeare play?
Wow. That's a tough one. My favorite character is definitely Edmund from KING LEAR. But I love so many of the plays. Some of my favorites are influenced by great productions I've seen. (HENRY V, A WINTER'S TALE, ROMEO & JULIET, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, RICHARD III, HENRY IV, PART ONE, TWELFTH NIGHT.) Some of them I love because I've got my own ideas for them. (HENRY IV, PART ONE, KING LEAR, ROMEO & JULIET, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, MACBETH, TEMPEST, HAMLET, LOVE'S LABOURS LOST.) PERICLES and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM literally turn me on. (I'm sure you didn't want to know that.) Others simply fascinate me because of the connections between them. (KING LEAR and CYMBELINE, for example). There are many I just like a lot (OTHELLO, for example). Others that I find problematic (TAMING OF THE SHREW, A MERCHANT OF VENICE). Others I've never seen and can't imagine how they'd work (TIMON OF ATHENS). Sorry, I just can't decide.
8. Why is Edmund your favorite Shakespeare character?
Part of the reason is that I've played the character on stage. I've also written the equivalent of Shakespeare Fan Fiction about Edmund. A near-monologue using Shakespeare's dialogue and some of my own that extrapolated background and specific motivation for the character. I know him better than many people. I feel an affinity for him.Which is scary, because he is a thorough villain by intention and by deed. But it's thrilling too.
Greg's also incorporated elements of Edmund into his villains, particularly Thailog.
9. Does Greg read fan fiction? What does he think of it?
No. To protect himself legally, he has a policy of never reading any fanfic. He doesn't want someone to claim he stole an idea from them and sue him. As to what he thinks of it:
I'm very ambivalent toward fanfiction. On the one hand, it's very gratifying. I've created something that has taken on a life of it's own. That people like enough to invest their time into and create anew. On the other hand, I have a territorial instinct that exhibits a kind of knee-jerk negative reaction to seeing other people controlling the destiny of my characters. (That's the main reason why Goliath Chronicles was so painful for me to watch.) For example, I know that TGS is doing their own TimeDancer spin off. That's very cool, but somebody mentioned (though I don't know if this was the final word) that they're not naming Brooklyn's son Nashville, because they think the name is silly or because they hate country music or whatever. I can't help resenting that. (I know it's not rational, but I'm trying to be honest about my emotions here.) I haven't explained the Nashville name. I don't intend to explain it yet. Obviously, I have no intention of making Brooklyn into the next Garth Brooks, but I'm not in the mood to go into my reasons yet. But when someone else decides that GREG THE GARGOYLE MASTER made a misstep regarding the name of a character, I bristle. But going back to the first hand, I have to acknowledge that once a thing is created and sent out into the world, it no longer belongs to the creator, but to the interpretations of those who received it. If a fan believes that Gargoyles were created by fey sorcery, then to that fan they were, no matter what I might say to the contrary in a comment room. Fanfiction is the ultimate example of fans interpretating (and extrapolating upon) what they've seen.
10. Does Greg like hypothetical questions?
No. He hates them, in fact.
11. Can Greg e-mail me my answer?
It's his policy not to, since he wants to share the answers from Ask Greg with everyone.
12. How do I break into the television writing business?
Greg's (first) answer:
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.
13. Does Greg have any advice for aspiring voice actors?
For starters, where do you live?
If the answer is anywhere but L.A. or maybe New York, then my second question is When are you moving?
It's not impossible to have a voice career elsewhere, but the odds are stacked against it.
Once you're here there are classes I can recommend. But you can't take them long distance.
14. What does Greg think of questions that try to trip him up?
So maybe it's me...
But lately I've been feeling like people are popping in to ASK GREG with the deliberate intent of catching me in a mistake or inconsistency. Like they are trying to trip me [or the series] up.
If not, my apologies.
But if so... CUT IT OUT, OKAY!!!!
It's just not much fun for me.
And before anyone else gets personally paranoid, this isn't directed at any one person. I've just had this general sense that somehow this is the new contest here. Who can make Greg look stupid. Believe me guys, I don't need much help in that department.
If you have a legitimate question you're curious about, then ask away. But if you're just posting to make me look foolish and/or to prove that the show wasn't perfect... well, how 'bout I just acknowledge both things here and now, and we let that drop.