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#764. Justin King VI
#768. Champs Elysees*
*Note: No accents included, as Ask Greg can't seem to handle 'em.
I've been trying to answer at least five questions a day here, every weekday, for quite a few months running. I'm still nowhere near coming close to emptying the queue.
But, as I'm certain some of you have noticed, the questions are, well, starting to grind on me. To get on my nerves. To tick me off.
Sometimes it's folks asking questions that are clearly answered by the material itself. On screen or on the page.
Sometimes it's folks asking for story spoilers, when that's clearly something I'm not going to reveal.
Sometimes it's folks ascribing motives for what I do that they can't possibly know.
Sometimes it's folks demanding that I acknowledge that my show sucks, with intense explanations for why I should do that. I'm okay with people not liking my stuff - wish they did, but you can't please everyone, all the time - but I resent people trying to convince ME that my stuff is bad. Maybe it's all in the phrasing, but it is, frankly, infuriating. Besides, I like my stuff.
I don't know if I've just hit a bad batch recently, but I think what's more likely is that I'm just burned out on it. That I'm reading negativity into perfectly innocent or at least neutral questions and statements. It's very possible I'm over-reacting.
Either way, my responses recently have been ire-filled, and I don't like that. It's not what I want ASK GREG to be. It's not, generally, what I think it's been for the last couple decades plus. (Give or take a tirade or smart-ass response, here and there.)
I took a few days off, posting Hercules premises, and thought that might help. And it did, a little. But clearly not enough. So I'm going to take an extensive break.
I'm tempted to close the question asking function for a time. But Young Justice: Targets is still coming out. And the new Gargoyles comic launches in December, and I want folks to be able to respond to those. So I've decided to leave the function alone for now. I realize that means that the backlog is going to continue to grow. But such is life, I guess.
I'm hoping that in a month or two, I'll be ready to come back. But for now, I need a break. Thanks and sorry.
This last HERCULES springboard I can recall must have only been a verbal pitch, as I don't seem to have a document to cut and paste here. So, I don't remember too much about it. But it was a Western pastiche, based on the television series BONANZA, called "Hercules and the Sons of Poseidon".
The idea was to treat Poseidon like he was Lorne Greene/Ben Cartwright.
And he had three sons:
THESEUS (Pernell Roberts/Adam Cartwright)
POLYPHEMOS (Dan Blocker/Hoss Cartwright)
TRITON (Michael Landon/Little Joe Cartwright)
Polyphemos, of course, is the cyclops from the Odyssey. Triton was going to be the youngest brother, but he was going to be the Triton who would someday grow up to become Ariel's father in THE LITTLE MERMAID.
And that's about all I can remember about the idea. Mark and Bob didn't go for it. But somehow, we took Theseus and found our way to making him the Grim Avenger for the one episode I DID end up writing for HERCULES.
"Versus the Volcano"
THE SET UP
CASSANDRA's twin sister POLLYANDRA is in town for a visit. Polly also has the "sight," but sheâs the complete opposite of her sister. Where Cassandra predicts gloom and doom, Pollyandra predicts sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. Her perky personality (she even thinks Icarus is cute) drives Cass up a wall, but everyone else seems to like Polly a lot. Worse yet, they believe her predictions and completely ignore Cassandra's. At the peak of her frustration, Cassandra's struck by a massive vision revealing that the local dormant volcano is about to blow. Everyone turns to Pollyandra. She pauses then cries out: "Weâre all getting free food processors!!" The crowd cheers.
HEPHAISTOS, GOD OF THE FORGE, just doesn't get enough respect. So he decides to change his name to VULCAN and become the VOLCANO GOD. Unfortunately, he does this right after Cassandra's prediction. With everyone in full-out scoff mode, no one believes that a guy as creative and productive as Heph-- sorry, as Vulcan, would ever destroy a whole town. Well, Vulcan's gonna prove them wrong once and for all. He blows his stack. HERCULES and PEGASUS have to hustle to contain the boulders and lava that the volcanoâs spewing. That leaves Cassandra, Icarus and Pollyandra to deal with Vulcan before his volcano destroys all of Greece.
IN THE END
Cassandra and Pollyandra have to work together to both reach Vulcan and calm him down. Each one learns a bit from the other. Vulcan sees the error of his ways, stops the eruption and helps Herc to contain the damage. In fact, Vulc -- I mean Hephaistos -- feels so guilty he gives everyone a free food processor. The crowd cheers!!
Some people are glass half-empty types. Some are glass half-full types. It takes all kinds to keep the world spinning.
Just as a change of pace, here's a [rejected] premise that I wrote for Disney's HERCULES animated series:
âClean & Jerkâ
HERCULES is doing his strongman/hero-in-training thing. Heâs showing off a bit for this new girl in town. A very pretty young lady named DELILAH. Delilah seems impressed, and Herc is fairly pleased with himself, until Delilah says, âThat was great, Hercules. Youâre almost as strong as SAMSON.â In fact, no matter what Hercules does, Delilah continues to damn him with faint praise in comparison to Samson.
Hercâs had all he can take, and weâre off on a road trip to JUDAICA to prove once and for all whoâs stronger, Herc or Sam.
Samson, whoâs just finished holding off the PHILISTINES with the jawbone of an ass (and thereâs a running joke in there somewhere), is a good olâ boy, happy to oblige in a contest of strength. But the boys are pretty equal, and no clear victor emerges. The contest culminates with a bit of arm wrestling: the combatants wind up holding hands all weekend, uh... that is theyâre locked in conflict for three days and three nights. And still, no winner is declared.
Finally, Samson gets word that the Philistines are attacking again. He has to break off the contest to stop them. By this time, Herc is pretty worked up (thanks at least in part to Delilah). He wants to prove once and for all that heâs the top dog. He insists that Samson fight him, really fight him. Samson refuses. Heâs a Judge. Not much of a Judge, heâll admit, but at least he knows enough not to waste time fighting a buddy when there are real enemies to do battle against. He departs. Hercâs fuming, and Delilah gives him a tiny little ânudge.â
Samson prepares to do battle with the Philistines. The guy Samâs most worried about is this new kid, a nasty punk GIANT named GOLIATH. But Goliath isnât alone. Heâs got a new partner. Hercules.
Herc and Samson fight, but eventually Herc realizes what a jerk heâs become. He switches sides and helps Samson defeat Goliath and the Philistines. In the end, it doesnât matter whoâs stronger, as long as they work together.
Oh, and Delilah, who turns out to be a Philistine herself, gets her comeuppance from Herc. Although as soon as Herc departs, sheâs already working on getting back in Samsonâs good graces. She particularly admires his gorgeous long hair.
I'm attaching a ramble J. Michael Straczynski posted back in 1995 on usenet in response to a very negative reaction to even a hint at a same-sex tryst on an episode of "Babylon 5". The point of Greg Weisman posting this is not to get into a discussion of religion or LGBTQ+ issues. Or even to get into a discussion of "tolerance," which was a big buzzword in the 90s, but which, as I've stated before in many ways, I find insufficient. The point of me posting this is to show that just because SOME FANS don't like something doesn't mean EVERY FAN feels the same way. And so, be careful what you wish for, right? Because if people start telling creators what they can and can't put into their shows, you may not like what ELSE they remove.
See, here's where I start to have a problem. For starters, I don't do any thing to be politically correct, or politically incorrect, I do what I do in any story because that's what the story points me toward. Anybody who says "It's not necessary" isn't entitled to that judgement, frankly; you don't know what's necessary to the story. And by framing it in the "is this NECESSARY?" way is designed to make you defend your position when such defense isn't the point; is it NECESSARY to have humor? to have a romance? to have correct science? No, *nothing* is NECESSARY. It's what the writer feels is right for that scene, that story, that character.
"Oh, well, I saw it, but was all that violence NECESSARY?" This is, frankly, a BS observation usually offered by someone with an agenda, who wishes to invalidate the notion of an artistic view and impose some kind of quota, or objective criterion to what is and isn't necessary for a movie or film. As far as I'm concerned, the first person to throw this into a discussion has, frankly, just lost the argument.
Point the second: one of the most consistent comments I get, in email and regular mail, is the spirituality conveyed in the show, that we have shown, and will continue to show, tolerance toward religion, even created sympathetic religious characters. "Thank you for your tolerance," they say...until we show somebody or some action THEY don't like...and at that point suddenly it's a lot of tsk-tsking and chest thumping and disapproval; so okay, how about I just stop all positive religious aspects of the show?
It seems to me, that if I do *all that* with religion, and with thje (the) simple act of showing maybe ONE PERSON in all the long history of TV science fiction across 40 years has a different view of life, that the show is somehow degraded, or downgraded, or dropped in opinion...this simply reinforces the notion, held by many, that a lot of folks in the religious right wish to make sure no other perspective or lifestyle is ever shown on television, at any time, unless in a negative fashion.
The thing of it is, while on the one hand I'm getting praise from religious folks for addressing spirituality in my series (speaking here as an atheist), I've gotten flack from others who think it has no place in a SCIENCE fiction series, and why the hell am I putting something in that goes right against my own beliefs? "Because," I tell them, "this show is not about reflecting my beliefs, or yours, or somebody else's, it's about telling this story, about these people, with as much honesty and integrity as I can summon up. That means conceding the fact that religious people are going to be around 260 years from now." Well, fact is, all kinds of people are going to be around 260 years from now. And what did the anti-religion folks say specifically about including spirituality in my series? "It's not *necessary*," they said.
Translation: they didn't like it. Well, tough. It was right for this story, and this show. And it seems to me rather hypocritical for some folks, who applaud the show for tolerance, for my standing up to those who want to exclude religion from TV, to then turn around and say the show is diminished because it showed that same tolerance...to another group or perspective. I guess tolerance is only okay as long as it's pointed one way.
You say that as a christian, you think any sex except that between a husband and a wife to be wrong. Well, as I recall, the bible also speaks against murder. We've depicted deaths by the hundreds of thousands. (And we're talking here about the *depicting* of the act, simply showing it, not the value judgements made after the fact.) Why does the one (which is so barely hinted at as to be almost invisible) cause the show to be diminished where the other does not?
My job is not to reinforce your personal political, social or religious beliefs. My job is not to reinforce MY personal political, social or religious beliefs. Then it isn't art or storytelling anymore, it's simply propaganda. My job is to tell this story, about these people, AS people, as mixed and varied as they are today. And there is no outside objective criteria as to what is, or isn't *necessary* in a story; that is the sole province of the author. You may or may not like it. You may or may not choose to watch it. Just as people who don't like to see religion and god discussed on TV may dislike it or choose not to watch it.
But you'll excuse me if I see complaints about this one little thing from the religious side, after all I've done to present religious characters and the religious life in a positive fashion, to be hypocritical and frankly somewhat ungrateful. It's as though all this means nothing because of one thing, one outside-imposed litmus test that disregards anything and everything else that has been done.
So straight up...if I should stop tolerating or showing viewpoints that are not my own (spoken as someone who is absolutely straight), then should I now stop showing religion as well? Because that's what this comes down to. Is that what you want? Because religion is included at my discretion as well as anything else on this show. You want me to be less tolerant? Just say the word.
This comment, posted on ASK GREG, was brought to my attention today, and I thought I should respond sooner rather than later...
Question received on Wed, February 02, 2022 12:26:33 AM
I'm not really a fan of how you've increasingly used GLAAD and MPAC to shield yourself from criticism from fans. I've seen you use their support to say the criticism isn't a monolith more than once. Yeah of course it's not a monolith, but that doesn't mean the criticism isn't valid. It comes off a little -i can't be racist i have a black friend- Not to mention that these Hollywood institutions are often out of touch with everyday people, so you should listen to your fans as much as you listen to them. And as a cis white straight man, you dont ever have the right to tell someone who is LGBT or a POC that they're wrong. Just log off Twitter and stop responding. People are allowed to have their own opinions.
This is clearly a response to the following Twitter exchange:
Stop misrepresenting Islam and Muslims in your cartoons. The bare minimum is to educate yourself about the topic. Being a Muslim magician is oxymoronic the 2 are not compatible. Performing magic takes one out of Islam. One cannot be both like Khalid claims.
5:56 PM Â· Jan 28, 2022Â·Twitter Web App
We ran everything on that episode, which was written by @nidachowdhry and performed by @UsmanAlly, by @SueObeidi and the folks at @mpac_national. And they were happy with it. So perhaps - just perhaps - you should consider that not every Muslim agrees with you.
First off, I agree that people are allowed to have their opinions. I never said otherwise. I NEVER said that Xaar was "wrong". I clearly wrote that perhaps not every Muslim viewer agrees with him, her or them, and I clearly have evidence to back that statement up. Yet, you seem to have no problem mischaracterizing what I wrote. Likewise, you seem to have no problem disrespecting me, and by implication disrespecting the Muslim writer of the episode, disrespecting the Muslim actor who performed the role of Khalid, and disrespecting the Muslim organization that works daily to improve how Muslims are depicted in the media. (And for no particular reason, disrespecting GLAAD while you were at it.)
Meanwhile, as a pragmatic matter, I'm not exactly sure what alternative you're preaching.
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that you are right about MPAC and GLAAD being "Hollywood institutions" that "are often out of touch with everyday people." [And to be clear, I disagree with that statement strongly. I even take some umbrage at the notion that MPAC's Sue Obedi is not "everyday people," or the implication that I'm not.] But again, for the sake of argument, who else should I be consulting when I and the rest of the YJ crew make a concerted effort to accurately and respectfully depict Muslims? The fans? How would that work in advance of us making something for the fans to see. Should I poll a random selection of fans? And would that make everyone happy? As it currently stands, I've received complaints on this point from only two "fans". The relatively anonymous "Xaar" and the completely anonymous you (and that's assuming that you yourself are not Xaar, i.e. that you are not the same person slamming me twice on two separate forums). The dozen or so other comments I've received from self-stated Muslim fans have all been highly positive. So do I need 100% agreement in order to do ANYTHING? Or can I go with the prevailing sentiment expressed by most fans (a.k.a. everyday people), MPAC, the writer and the actor?
See, the thing is I'm not hiding behind MPAC or GLAAD. But I am respecting their opinions - and relating those opinions to you and the rest of the fandom, because I think its pertinent information.
Mostly, as a self-admitted "cis white straight [animist Jewish] man," I'm admitting I'm NOT an expert on being a cis biracial straight Muslim man. So instead, I WENT to experts. That's how this works. And I don't see how else it could work. Or are you suggesting that I should only write about cis white straight [animist Jewish] male characters, and never attempt to add diversity to the projects I work on? Cuz, frankly, that's not going to happen, and I don't really think anyone wants that - unless what they really want is a DIFFERENT "crime" with which to hammer me.
As for logging off Twitter, there are days (like today) when I want nothing more. But (a) I feel the need to promote the projects I've worked on, both for the sake of my own career and for the other people who've worked so hard on those projects, and (b) if, as you say, people are entitled to their opinions, then I figure I'm also entitled to mine. So I'm not going to allow you or anyone like you to chase me off. Certainly not over the sin of YOU misquoting ME.
Well, as I tweeted today, YOUNG JUSTICE: PHANTOMS is complete, with all 26 episodes in the can. I've also updated all my various reference documents to include everything from Season Four (not to mention Seasons 1-3, our various comic books, the AudioPlay and the video game). And since statistics kinda fascinate me - and since maybe they might fascinate you as well - here are a few.
The Young Justice Timeline is currently 718 pages long. In the past, I've reported that the length of the timeline mysteriously differed between my laptop and my desktop computers, but during the pandemic, my (relatively) ancient desktop finally bit the dust. So now the laptop page count triumphs.
There are 759 characters confirmed - one way or another - to be in the Earth-16 Universe. Some have only been mentioned or referenced briefly. Others, obviously, have had entire arcs dedicated to them. Calling some of them "characters" might also be a bit of a stretch, but I have reasons for including every single one. And - anal individual that I am - I have actually ranked them all in order of their importance to the series. This is something I once did as a hobby for the Buffyverse (which you can find in the ASK GREG archives under the heading of "Buffyverse Geek-Out"), and I've been perfecting my ranking system ever since. The idea is to attempt to make an incredibly subjective thing as objective as possible, based on things like screen time and amount of dialogue and the amount of times other characters reference them, etc. It's still not perfect because I do wind up with point scores, and especially with the lower ranking characters, I wind up with a number of ties. Thus, in order to break any tie, I'm forced to apply more subjective criteria.I was thinking about listing them a few per week, starting with 759 and working my way backwards toward number one. But some of the names haven't been intro'd yet. So it occurs to me that I need to wait until the Phantoms' season finishes airing.
Across four seasons (98 episodes) an AudioPlay and a video game, we've used 128 actors, a phenomenally talented group if ever there was one. Some have only voiced one character. Others have voiced over a dozen. I'm honored to be included among them - even if hiring myself is a rather dubious way to earn this distinction.
There's probably more, but this will do for now.
Just a little peek into my weird brain. Hope you enjoyed it. And I hope you enjoy the show.
I only met Peter Scolari on the handful of occasions that he came in to play Preston Vogel for us on Gargoyles. But he was wry and funny and thoroughly professional. He had most of his scenes with the late Robert Culp, who was a ton of fun bur a challenge in the booth. But Peter played off Culp wonderfully and kept the sessions flowing. Outside, the booth Peter had great stories that kept us laughing and fascinated.
And, man, was he talented. Gargoyles and Vogel aside, I ADORED Scolari in Bosom Buddies, and treasured his performances in Newhart.
He will be missed.
So... I had a LOT going on this past weekend.
On Saturday, DC FanDome premiered trailers for both CATWOMAN: HUNTED and YOUNG JUSTICE: PHANTOMS, and revealed that the first two episodes of the latter were dropping THAT DAY!
I spent considerable time online - and I don't usually do the online thing over the weekend; in fact, I don't even check my email most weekends - trying to #SpreadTheWord.
But to sum up, here's the news...
CATWOMAN: HUNTED, an anime movie based on my original script, is being released in early 2022. You can see the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYPqTLS_g9c. It stars Elizabeth Gilles as Catwoman and Stephanie Beatriz as Batwoman. Voice directed by our old friend Jamie Thomason, it also features Jonathan Banks, Lauren Cohan, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Ron Yuan and my peeps, Steve Blum, Keith David, Zehra Fazal, Jonathan Frakes, Kelly Hu, Andrew Kishino, Eric Lopez and Jacqueline Obradors. Folks have asked me if it's in continuity with Young Justice. My answer: it's YJ-adjacent, much like that old Green Arrow/DC Showcase short I wrote years ago. A version of these events happened on Earth-16. If you're a completist, you're going to want to watch. (Also, I really think it turned out great!)
Meanwhile, the fourth season of YOUNG JUSTICE, i.e. YOUNG JUSTICE PHANTOMS, dropped its first two episodes this past Saturday on HBOMax. Episode 403 will drop this coming Thursday, 10/21. With another episode (through 413) dropping every Thursday through December 30th. The back half of the season (i.e. 414-426) will drop weekly in Spring, 2022. I'm truly excited for the fans to see the season - and evil creator that I am - also glad that the show isn't all dropping at once. I firmly believe television - especially a show like YJ - is a better experience if you have time to savor and sort and absorb and predict for a week in between episodes.
As for the fourth season's production, we have 21 episodes in the can and ready to air. The last five have all been animated and are currently in post-production. And since there was no IATSE strike today, we're still hard at work. (And to be clear, I'm a member of IATSE as part of the Animation Guild, and I was 100% supportive of the union.) We should be done with all 26 episodes by the end of November.
IMPORTANT ADDENDUM: YOUNG JUSTICE has NOT yet been picked up for a fifth season. So if fans want more of Earth-16, the answer is simple: #KeepBingingYJ (all four seasons) over and over. And over and over. And help us #SpreadTheWord. We want to #SaveEarth16.
So use the following hashtags ad nauseam - just as I'm doing in this post:
And watch the show on HBO Max!!! Please...
For international fans, I wish I could give you info on when any or all of the above will be available in your countries. But unfortunately, TPTB do not keep us folks in the trenches well-informed. Asking me over and over won't magically reveal that information to me so that I can reveal it to you.
Finally, by the time all my work was done on Saturday, I was completely exhausted and took a nap. In the nap, I dreamed I wrote a hit song. Seriously. Now, normally, my dreams slip away entirely upon waking. And even when I do remember the gist of a dream, the details are lost within seconds. But I actually woke up with a clear memory of the song - both the lyrics AND the tune. Here are the lyrics:
I'm taking my pants off,
Cuz it's that kind of party!
I'm walking a straight line,
And it's luminous!
That's the whole song. You can see why it was such a big hit in Dreamland. I'm expecting the Dream-Royalties to roll in any minute.
STAY WHELMED, everyone!
Well, it took me YEARS, but I finally have cleared the ASK GREG queue. I'm going to take a bit of a break now, but we'll open the question asking function for DC FANDOME on October 16th. I honestly don't know what YJ will be doing for Fandome, but I assume we'll have some presence of some kind, and by then I should have had enough of a rest to jump back in.
Thanks for your patience.
This is hard.
It's been a bit of a stressful weekend, as my father went into the hospital with chest pains. A stint that had been replaced last year had failed and was replaced again Saturday morning during an angioplasty. I've been concerned, worried. But the procedure seemed to go well, and he was set to go home today. We seemed to have dodged a bullet.
But there was a second gun.
I slept in today. I woke up to two pieces of news:
1. My dad was good. Solid. My sister picked him up at the hospital and took him straight to breakfast. (My mother was annoyed at not being included - but that's a whole other story.) He's home now. I've talked to him. He sounded cheerful. All good.
2. Ed Asner had passed away.
I spent most of the day doing laundry and other mundane tasks. Life goes on, right? It has to. But it's been difficult getting my head around the whole thing. I've gotten many calls and texts today, offering condolences as if I were part of the Asner family. Folks seem to know how close I felt to Ed. But I don't want to exaggerate. Ed was my friend. I hope he knew I was his, as well. But I haven't talked to him in at least a couple of years. (You can partially blame that on the pandemic, I suppose. There are a lot of people I've lost touch with. If anything, this is a reminder to GET in touch. And I'm going to make an effort to do that.) In any case, there are many, many people who knew Ed better than I did, who were closer to Ed than I was.
Nevertheless, at the risk of turning this post into my own self-aggrandizement, I am going to spend a few paragraphs here on the subject of the Ed Asner that I knew and loved.
I was a fan of Ed's long before I met him. Like many, many people, he first entered my awareness playing Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. (Later, I got a kick out of picking him out of reruns, where he usually played the heavy in such series as The Wild Wild West and others.) But as Lou, Ed was simply brilliant. One of the truly classic scenes in all of television is the scene in the TMTMS pilot, where Lou interviews Mary for a job. Do yourself a favor and view it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zj286uBKCu0
That scene had a major effect on me, even seeing it as a kid.
Now, having just rewatched it, the genius of the writing and the two performances still knocks me out. But there was something else about Lou and Mary. Watching their interactions was a bit like watching my parents. The connection in my mind between Lou and my dad was especially strong.
Ed and my father were two Ashkenazi Jews from the midwest. My dad was from Chicago; Ed, from Kansas City. They were gruff AND loving. They even had mannerisms in common. There was much more, I'm sure, that they DIDN'T have in common. But something connected the two men in my mind. And, meanwhile, my admiration for Asner as a performer knew no bounds. When I saw him in the Lou Grant series, in Rich Man, Poor Man, in Roots, that admiration only increased. When I learned of his activism - and the price he paid for it - that admiration shot through the roof.
Years later, when we had begun pre-production on GARGOYLES, I thought of Ed Asner - or of Lou Grant, at least - as the inspiration for Hudson. In fact, when we held auditions for the role, I wrote at the bottom of the character description that "Hudson hates spunk." This was, of course, a variation on Lou's classic line from the above job interview scene. Now, to be clear, I never imagined we'd get Ed to play the role. I figured he was way too big a star for us to land. But low and behold, a few days later, Ed came in to audition for the part. Later, he told me that when he read the character description, he was initially thrilled. The "Hudson hates spunk" line made him feel like he was a lock to land the role. Then a couple minutes later, he thought that if he didn't land the role it would really be awful. But of course, he immediately understood the character and nailed his audition... only for Jamie Thomason and I to throw him a curveball, asking him to do it again in a Scottish accent. He nailed that, too.
Working with Ed was a joy. He was fun and funny and so supportive. In addition to playing Hudson (and Burbank and Jack Danforth/Dane) on Gargoyles, I also cast him as recurring characters on Max Steel (Chuck Marshak), 3x3 Eyes (Grandpa Ayanokoji), W.I.T.C.H. (Napoleon the talking cat), Young Justice (Kent Nelson) and Rain of the Ghosts (Joe Charone). When casting Peter Parker's late Uncle Ben in The Spectacular Spider-Man, Ed was the only person I ever considered. He always brought so much to each and every role.
And more than that he was a great friend to me. After the first season of Max Steel, when I couldn't find a job for over a year and thought I might have to give up on my writing career, Ed was there, offering me support. We had lunch at Musso & Frank's. He looked at pictures of my kids out of my wallet and told me to laminate them. He introduced me to his son, Matt Asner, a producer. He didn't allow me to wallow in self-pity or to badmouth guys who I believed had done me wrong. He just reassured me that I had ability and would find my way through. He was, in essence, my work dad.
So today, as you might imagine, has been complicated. My dad is home and healthy. And Ed is gone. I'm grateful and sorrowful. And struggling. But life goes on. It has to, right?
Finally, I'm going to quote Hudson from Gargoyles. In "The Price," an episode that spotlighted the character, Ed as Hudson told Xanatos: "A friendly word of advice: True immortality isn't about living forever, man. It's about what you do with the time you have. When all your scheming's done, what will be your legacy, Xanatos?"
I think we all know that Ed Asner did amazing things with the time he had. And though we'll miss him dearly, his legacy is clear and shining.
Fans pointed out some errors that I will correct here:
By the end of Team Year Zero:
Henry Fyff is 14.
Tatsu Yamashiro is 21.
Just wanted to let people know that at the end of this month, we're going to shut down the ASK GREG a question function for the time being. I don't have anything new coming out any time soon, and I believe everyone has had time to respond to (or question) my latest output. And in any case you've got a little more than a couple weeks yet to get your burning questions in.
I've been very busy working on Season Four of YOUNG JUSTICE, and I simply haven't had times to answer questions at the rate any of us would like. And the back-log has just gotten ridiculous. So we'll cut off questions for the time being, and I'll try to cut down on some of that back-log in time for the release of YJ S4.
I'm not on Twitter that much these days either... and I've even cut down on convention appearances, but I still jump on Twitter when I'm at loose ends, so you can potentially find me @Greg_Weisman.
Response to my latest novel, War of the Spark: Forsaken, has been understandably negative, particularly as a result of how the character of Chandra Nalaar was depicted in the book. My response is a bit late in coming, but here it is:
After reading the materials that preceded my work on Magic: The Gathering, I was particularly intrigued by the burgeoning relationship between Chandra and Nissa. I felt that it should culminate in the War of the Spark books. In lieu of bringing them together, as it was not a relationship that WotC planned to pursue, my goal was to write something that honored Chandra's feelings for Nissa and Nissa's feelings for Chandra, something that would give closure to their relationship in a sad but satisfying and understandable way. I believe that if readers had seen my original ideas for the chapter in question, they might have gotten a better sense of what I was trying to accomplish. They might have liked it better. Or maybe they wouldn't have. In any case, through the mutual creative/editorial process with WotC and Del Rey, we ended up with the final product that was published in Forsaken, which clearly didn't meet anyone's expectations or delivers on my intentions. And for that, I am truly sorry.
The following needs saying, so I'm taking time out from my very packed weekend - not to procrastinate, which would not be unusual - but to write up something that I think is important.
But first, some backstory...
I'm not particularly smart about very many things. I am in many ways a bear of very little brain. Ask anyone. I use an iPhone 4.0 because I literally believe that I don't have the brain space to deal with upgrading. I'm a slow reader. My dyslexia makes math difficult as I am constantly transposing numbers. I'm afraid of change. Etc., etc., etc.
But one thing - maybe the ONLY thing - I am smart about is STORY. Now, I've studied story for decades and decades in small ways and large. I also believe I have an innate gift for story. Like a great pianist, the gift itself would have been wasted without years of study and practice. I've had and done both.
What that means is that - when it comes to story - I have often (not always, but quite often) considered myself - with no modesty and tremendous arrogance - to be the smartest person in the room. In any room where this is a topic of conversation, but especially in any room where story was being professionally discussed. (You can see why - with an attitude like that - I'm so popular with animation executives and the like, and why I've been fired from so many jobs.)
Even on the many, many occasions when I have felt that I am among peers who understand story as well as I do, I never felt like they understood it better than I. As good, yes. Differently, sure. Stylistically, of course. But not better. I never felt anyone knew story better.
Oh, I've made mistakes, missed opportunities, slipped up, ad nauseam. I'm human and have never claimed perfection. I've collaborated with some brilliant and wonderful people. The list is nearly endless. But none of that ever shook my basic feeling that when it came to story, I was as smart or smarter than anyone in the room.
All that changed with YOUNG JUSTICE.
So let me state it for the record: when it comes to story, BRANDON VIETTI is the Smartest Human Being in the Room.
I'd love to tell you - BELIEVE ME, I'd love to tell you - that he learned all this at my ancient knee, and that if the student has surpassed the master, the master can at least take some satisfaction in that. But that, dear readers, would simply be a load of crap.
From Day One of YJ, as witness Kevin Hopps could attest, Brandon Vietti knew story, understood it deep, the way I do. And he was smarter about it than I.
The ultimate example of this dropped this past Friday.
Episode 307 of Young Justice: Outsiders, entitled "Evolution."
SPOILERS coming, so if you haven't seen the episode then please go watch it first before reading any further.
Like all YJ episodes this season, Brandon and I broke this story together. A pretty even 50-50 collaboration. There were certain things I wanted specifically to see, like the Cave Bear. Certain things I had researched such as that in (actual documented non-DC Comics) mythology, Nabu was the son of Marduk. And there were certain things that BV wanted in there, like the meta-human kid that Kalibak sacrifices. Certain things he had researched like The Art of War by Sun Tzu (a.k.a. Vandal Savage, a.k.a. Genghis Khan, a.k.a. Marduk, a.k.a. etc.)
And together, we created a pretty kick-ass story for the episode. I don't actually remember the day of the week, but for the sake of simplifying the story, let's say we finished breaking/building the story with index cards all neatly pushpinned into my office bulletin board on a Monday. Monday evening. We both felt pretty good about it, or at least I did, and we left for the day.
Tuesday morning, he comes in and says, "Something's missing."
I tell him he's crazy. There's nothing missing from 307. Nothing. It's a great damn episode. Maybe one of our best.
BV says no. Something's missing.
I say, "What? What's missing?!"
BV says, "I don't know yet. Something. Give me a day."
I roll my eyes in as pronounced a fashion as I possibly can and say, fine.
Wednesday morning he comes in and says, "I want to add a character."
I'm resistant. "It'll mess up the works, I tell him."
But he explains, and of course, he's right. Because Brandon Vietti is the Smartest Person in the Room.
The character he wants to add is Olympia. Olympia Savage. (I take credit for the first name only.) That's right. In our first version of this story, Olympia simply did not exist.
Try to picture "Evolution" without Olympia. Be honest. It's still a solid story. A few of the actual things Olympia does, we had Cassandra doing. But otherwise the plot remains almost completely unchanged.
But not the ending.
With Olympia in the story, the episode isn't merely a solid YJ episode. It's not merely a great YJ episode. To my mind, "Evolution" transcends YJ. It is a phenomenal, even revolutionary twenty-plus minutes of television.
And I tried to talk the guy out of it.
Of course, BV's contributions don't end there. He wrote the script, too, which is fantastic. And if you knew how much he contributed to every facet of production it would humble you. It humbles me, and as you can see above, I'm NOT a humble guy.
But screw all that. I'm not talking about pretty pictures, or color, or sound, or music or even dialogue.
This post is ONLY about STORY. And when it comes to STORY... BRANDON VIETTI will always be the SMARTEST HUMAN BEING IN THE ROOM.
I bow to his greatness. And trust me, I do not do that lightly.
To be honest, he's so good, it's pretty damn annoying.
But it's an honor to be his partner.
This won't mean much to folks who aren't living in the Minneapolis area, but KFAI 90.3/106.7 will be serializing the AudioPlay version of RAIN OF THE GHOSTS across five consecutive Sundays, starting at 9:30pm on August 5th, 2018 on their Sound Affects weekly broadcast. There's more info about the broadcast here: http://www.greatnorthernaudio.com/sound_affects/schedule.html or here: http://www.kfai.org/soundaffectsaradioplayground. By clicking on the KFI website's "LISTEN NOW" button at the appropriate date and time, you can hear the Rain AudioPlay from pretty much anywhere with internet or WiFi.
I want to thank Jerry Stearns for making this happen.
For those of you asking... "AudioPlay? Rain of the Ghosts? What the heck is he talking about?" Here's a blurb:
Rain of the Ghosts
The adventures of Rain Cacique, a young girl descended from the indigenous TaÃno people of the Caribbean. Rain lives on the Ghost Keys, a chain of islands on the edge of the Bermuda Triangle, where her parents own and run a Bed & Breakfast that is both Rainâs home and place of employment. Rain goes from making beds for tourists to learning she has the ability to communicate with ghosts. Rain has a mystery to solve, a mission to accomplish and a destiny to fulfill. Book written by Greg Weisman, who also produced this audio play. Twenty actors in the cast, including Brent Spiner, Marina Sirtis, and Edward Asner, with Brittany Uomoleale as Rain Cacique. Full sound effects and an original musical score.
If you're interested in hearing this at your own pace on your own schedule, it's available on Audible/Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Rain-of-the-Ghosts/dp/B01MU5XQ06/ref=sr_1_1_twi_audd_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1532394865&sr=8-1&keywords=rain+of+the+ghosts
I'm truly proud of this work and urge you to check it out - one way or another.
Rest in Peace, Steven Bochco.
I met Mr. Bochco only once. My brother and I were planning to write a book about Hill Street Blues, and after interviewing Grant Tinker, I interviewed Mr. Bochco for the book. Producing Gargoyles got in the way of finishing the research for the book, and unfortunately I never got back to it. But I enjoyed our conversation, and I still ADORE the man's work.
Hill Street Blues remains television's turning point. Few of the series you enjoy today, including #YoungJustice, #Gargoyles, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, etc. could or would exist without Hill Street Blues.
He will be missed.
Here's my schedule for Grand Rapids Comic-Con this weekend:
GRAND RAPIDS COMIC-CON - DeVos Place
187 Monroe Avenue NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2016
*02:00pm - 05:30pm - I'll be at Booth 017 . All signatures and selfies are free, but I will - as usual - be selling all sorts of fun stuff. I'm bringing 40 animation and radio play scripts from the many shows I've worked on (including - but not limited to - Gargoyles, WITCH, Kim Possible, Young Justice, Young Justice Invasion, Spectacular Spider-Man, Star Wars Rebels, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers Prime, Ben Ten, Transformers Rescue-Bots, Shimmer & Shine, Men in Black, Starship Troopers, Team Atlantis, etc). I'm also selling Christopher Jones art prints for Gargoyles, Young Justice and Rain of the Ghosts. I'm selling my three published novels: Rain of the Ghosts, Spirits of Ash and Foam, and World of Warcraft: Traveler. And I'm selling the Rain of the Ghosts Audio-Play. The novels are ten dollars each. Everything else is $20 each. Cash only. Artist Mara Cordova will also be at my booth, helping out and selling her wonderful stuff too.
*06:00pm - 07:00pm - Television Production and Its Challenges. Monroe Rooms A-D w/Brandon Vietti . "Two of the most prominent television producers in animation today whose work includes "Gargoyles", "The Batman", and "Young Justice" will discuss the roles and challenges of their career as well as upcoming projects.
*07:15pm - 08:00pm - Booth 017. Signing & selling.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2016
*10:00am - 12:45pm - Booth 017. Signing & selling.
*02:00pm - 03:00pm - The Science of Shipping. Grand Gallery E-F w/Comfort & Adam, Thom Zahler. ""Shipping" is when a fan imagines possible romantic relationships between two characters in a story. Shipping is big, but why do we do it? Join husband and wife comic creators Comfort and Adam and special guests Greg Weisman and Thom Zahler as we talk about all the reasons we love our ships; from biological drivers to emotional and intellectual hooks, from the vast history of literary fiction to the present day. But that's not all! In the second half, panelists and audience will be creating a new couple that Comfort and Adam will draw live!"
*03:30pm - 04:30pm - Transferring Comics To The Screen and Vice Versa. Grand Gallery E-F w/Christopher Jones, Jason Spisak, Brandon Vietti. "Directors, producers, comic artists and voice actors discuss the challenges of taking a comic book and transferring it to a television show or movie and the expectations that fans have in this delicate and complicated process."
*04:45pm - 07:00pm - Booth 017. Signing & selling.
*07:30pm - VIP PARTY - Atrium Ballroom.
Stop by and say hello. (If we've met before, please reintroduce yourself. I'm horrible with names AND faces, but I mean well.)
Just a quick plug for the MYTHIC LEGIONS comic book I wrote based on the toys from the Four Horsemen: http://www.newsarama.com/33096-greg-weisman-brings-mythic-legions-to-life.html
Just a few words about Miguel Ferrer, who passed away yesterday. I won't pretend I knew him very well, but he was always a pleasure to have in the booth. He was the voice of Silvio "Silvermane" Manfredi on The Spectacular Spider-Man, and Bo "Bibbo" Bibbowski and Tribune #1 on Young Justice.
Did I forget anything? Oh, yes. His brilliant portrayal of Vandal Savage in Young Justice, making him one of the most interesting and complex hero/villains I've ever had the pleasure of working on.
His talent - both in material I was involved in and in the many, many things I simply watched as a fan - was immense.
He will be missed.
I'll be doing a reading, signing and Q&A of my new novel, WORLD OF WARCRAFT: TRAVELER at Chevalier's Books on Wednesday, January 11th at 7pm.
More info here: https://chevaliersbooks.com/2016/12/07/author-gargoyles-creator-greg-weisman-reads-signs-world-of-warcraft-traveler-a-new-book-series-for-middle-readers/
Please help spread the word!
Brandon Vietti and I are hard at work on Season Three of the Young Justice television series. But (a) we just got started and (2) making animated episodes takes a LONG time. (Ten months minimum. MINIMUM.)
So, if you want more new YJ stories sooner, the answer is pretty simple. Artist Christopher Jones and I are chomping at the bit to make more YOUNG JUSTICE stories in comic book form. Producing a comic book takes considerably less time than producing television episodes,so if we got a green light on a comic book series now, you could theoretically have new stories in a matter of months.
So the question is how do we get the green light for more YJ comic?. And the answer to that is pretty simple too. We just need to convince DC Comics that there's a market for YJ comics even before the third season premieres.
Which begs the next question: How do we convince DC of that?
And the answer is again simple. BUY THE COMICS THAT ALREADY EXIST!
Issues #0 - #25 of our companion YJ comic have been collected into four trade paperbacks. (And ALL of these stories are canon to the series, with time stamps and everything. In fact, stuff in Season Three will play off of stuff from Seasons One and Two AND from the comics.) The best way to show DC that you want more comics is to purchase these stories electronically on the DC APP, on COMIXOLOGY, or on iTUNES.
Now, I'm an old school guy, and I love having actual hard copies to hold in my hand. Unfortunately, the books are all out of print. So if you do find hard copies online or in a store, those are secondary sales, and DC won't know about them. So you need to buy them electronically. Put money in DC's pocket and they'll want more of that green. Buy a lot of YJ comics and it just follows that they'll order up more YJ comics.
If you already have those issues, give them as holiday gifts. And in any case, help us SPREAD THE WORD!
It's just logic. The more the existing comics sell, the more DC will want to make more. And if more sell fast enough, you'll be getting more YJ stories sooner!
Reminder: convention arrangements are often in flux, so the following may change.
But here's what I have scheduled so far in 2017:
February 17-19: Gallifrey-One in Los Angeles. I'll only be there for one day - probably Saturday, February 18th. http://www.gallifreyone.com
May 5-7: Wizard World Minneapolis. http://wizardworld.com/comiccon/minneapolis
June 16-18: Wizard World Sacramento. http://wizardworld.com/comiccon/sacramento
October 20-22: Grand Rapids Comic-Con http://www.grcomiccon.com
That's it, so far. I'm sure there will be others, particularly if Warner Bros decides to start sending Brandon Vietti and I "on tour" to talk about Young Justice. I'll try to update as I know more. BUT - ALL OF THIS IS TENTATIVE!!! ALL OF IT!!
So the big news:
YOUNG JUSTICE is coming back for a third season! Yes, that's right! Warner Bros. announced it today! It's official. Here are some links to some articles on the subject:
Not too much more to tell. I start back at Warner Bros. on Monday, 11/14/16. Brandon Vietti and I, of course, had plans for Season Three way back when. Now, we'll get the chance to make those plans a reality!!
It's so crash!
Today, I head down to Anaheim for my final convention of the year. It's BlizzCon 2016.
Anaheim Convention Center
800 West Katella Avenue
Anaheim, CA 92802
Scholastic Liason: Lindsey Johnson, 910-827-2673.
Their website is here: https://blizzcon.com/en-us/
Unlike other conventions that I attend, I won't personally be selling anything. Mostly, I'm going to be doing panels, Q&As and signings in support of my new novel, WORLD OF WARCRAFT: TRAVELER
Here's my schedule:
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 04, 2016.
SIGNING 01:15pm - 02:15pm
Blizzard Booth 2042 w/artist Samwise Didier.
MEET & GREET 03:00pm - 04:30pm
Scholastic Booth 3044. I'll be signing special Traveler posters here.
Q&A 06:45pm - 07:30pm
Come chat with author Greg Weisman and illustrator Samwise Didier about Aramar Thorne and the new World of Warcraft: Traveler book series.
Community Amphitheater w/Samwise Didier.
SIGNING 07:45pm - 08:45pm
Blizzard Booth 2042 w/Samwise Didier.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 05, 2016.
MEET & GREET 11:00am
Scholastic Booth 3044.
BUILDING WORLDS 01:00pm - 02:00pm
Books, novels, and short stories have been a part of Blizzard's storytelling heritage for more than twenty years. Join us for a look inside the process of exploring our worlds through prose.
Panel Stage Hall A w/Robert Brooks, Matt Burns, Christie Golden, Chelsea Monroe-Cassel, Timothy Zahn.
PANEL SIGNING 02:15pm - 03:30pm
Blizzard Booth 2042 w/Brooks, Burns, Golden, Monroe-Cassel, Zahn.
SIGNING 06:15pm - 07:15pm
Blizzard Booth 2042 w/Samwise Didier.
Please check out my new novel, WORLD OF WARCRAFT TRAVELER, available now at Amazon and bookstores everywhere.
I'm very proud of it. Here's a short blurb:
It's been years since twelve-year-old Aramar Thorne, a clever boy who is never without his precious sketch book, has seen his father. So when Captain Greydon Thorne comes ashore and asks his son to join him at sea, it feels as if someone has redrawn Aram's entire world. Once aboard ship, Aram struggles to get along--especially with second mate Makasa Flintwill, a tough teenaged girl who has been reluctantly placed in charge of him. Just as Aram starts to get his head above water, pirates attack, turning his world upside down once again. As Aram and Makasa try to find their way home, they encounter creatures both terrible and wondrous, and Aram will seek to understand Azeroth's denizens, forming unlikely friendships along the way. But the journey is hindered by Greydon's compass, which never points north. If the compass isn't leading Aram and Makasa home--to safety--to what destiny is it leading?
I'm about to depart for to GRAND RAPIDS COMIC-CON.
GRAND RAPIDS COMIC-CON - DeVos Place
303 Monroe Avenue NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Here's my schedule for the weekend:
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2016
02:00pm - 06:45pm
I'll be at my table, which is "ANIMATION ISLAND 13". (Well, the con opens at 9:30am, but I'll be driving down that morning to Long Beach from Los Angeles, so I'll get there as close to 9:30am as I can manage it.) I'll be signing and selling copies of my novels RAIN OF THE GHOSTS and SPIRITS OF ASH AND FOAM for $10 each. If you buy both, you get a free RAIN OF THE GHOSTS art print, illustrated by Christopher Jones. I'll also be selling CD sets of the RAIN OF THE GHOSTS AudioPlay for $30 This is an unabridged four hour production with 20 actors (including Brent Spiner, Marina Sirtis, Ed Asner, Vanessa Marshall, Jim Cummings, Steve Blum, Thom Adcox and more), a full original musical score (by the composers of YOUNG JUSTICE and THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN) and sound effects. It's like a four hour movie in your head! Buy the CD set and you also receive a free print. If you ONLY want the print, it's $20. Plus I'll also be selling original Christopher Jones art prints of YOUNG JUSTICE and GARGOYLES for $20 each. Finally, I'll be selling copies of my animation scripts (from series including GARGOYLES, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, YOUNG JUSTICE, STAR WARS REBELS and many others) for $20 each. All transactions are cash only. Signatures - if you bring something of your own for me to sign - are FREE!
06:45pm - 07:45pm
River Overlook D.
Greg Weisman - writer, story editor, voice actor, producer and co-creator of YOUNG JUSTICE - discusses the popular animated series and answers your questions about the characters, stories, people and process that went into making it's unique take on the DC Universe's Earth-16.
07:45pm - 08:00pm - BOOTH 434
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2016
10:00am - 02:00pm
02:00pm - 03:00pm
LET'S MAKE A HERO
River Overlook A&B.
Everybody loves a hero - they're the characters you root for and the people you want to be. Six-time Harvey Award nominated husband and wife Action Faction Comfort Love and Adam Withers lead this seminar in two parts: first, you'll learn what makes great heroes in both writing and in art. Then, Comfort & Adam will invite the audience to participate in creating a new hero which will be designed and drawn live. Comfort and Adam will be joined by Greg Weisman and Thom Zahler.
03:00pm - 06:45pm
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2016
10:00am - 11:30am
11:30am - 12:30pm
Grand Gallery A-C.
The producer of "Gargoyles" and "Young Justice" discusses the job of a television producer from concept to premiere and answers questions on how the magic happens.
12:30pm - 02:00pm
02:00pm - 03:00pm
LET'S MAKE VILLAIN
River Overlook A&B
Creating great villains is essential for making great stories - whether you love their every appearance or just love to hate them. Six-time Harvey Award nominated husband and wife action faction Comfort Love and Adam Withers lead this seminar in two parts: first, you'll learn what makes great villains in both writing and in art. Then, Comfort & Adam will invite the audience to participate in creating a new villain which will be designed and drawn live. Dirk Manning, Greg Weisman, and Stuart Sayger will join Comfort and Adam with this panel..
03:00pm - 03:30pm
For fans of THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, I've been doing a podcast where we go through the series, episode by episode, with guest starts including Josh Keaton (Peter/Spidey), Ben Diskin (Eddie/Venom), Supervising Director Vic Cook and others. The entire first season of "SPECTACULAR RADIO" is up now, here:
Plus, check out Spidey-Dude.com, which also does the podcasts Mayday Mondays (based on Spider-Girl) and Clone Saga Chronicles!