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ASK GREG LIVE! - WONDERCON 2013 REPORT
First, a little background. I'm going to quote a section from the introduction I made to to Station 8 Comment Room, waaaaaay back in July 2010:
"Given that I was three when Season 1 of 'Gargoyles' first began airing, I was obviously quite outside the target audience at that point, and if I watched any of the episodes on first airing I definitely don't remember them. Rather, my first clear memories of 'Gargoyles' were watching it during the late 90s when Toon Disney was first starting up. This produced some interesting experiences; for example, I never saw and indeed never even had a clue that 'Deadly Force' existed until Toon Disney started airing it again in 2002 or so.
At the time that I first was watching this show voraciously it was amongst a litany of dozens of other cartoons, some well-written ('Batman: The Animated Series,' 'Darkwing Duck,' etc.) and some...well, not so much (here's looking at you, 'Captain Planet'). To an eight year-old, there was little differentiation between the relative qualities of these shows, and it was not until a few years on that I really began to appreciate what a true gem 'Gargoyles' was.
I'm not entirely sure when my perspective changed, though it might have had something to do with the aforementioned first viewing of 'Deadly Force.' By this point I was a pre-teen, and old enough to understand the basics of S+P...so to see one of the protagonists shoot another one in the chest accidentally, nearly causing her to die was an absolute revelation to me. Around this time I began watching the entire series with new eyes, and what I saw astounded me.
The depth, the complexity, the characterization was unlike anything else I had ever seen on the small screen, live-action or animated. The little things that escaped me on the first, second, or even tenth viewing (yes, I watched a LOT of Toon Disney) suddenly rared to life and showed me how amazing this show was, is, and always will be. Everything from the sheer emotion that Tony Shalhoub brought to the show's single greatest cameo role to the little nuances about Lexington that made me think, 'Oh, of course!' when I learned that Greg considered him to be homosexual all became clear to me, and clearer and clearer with each viewing.
'Gargoyles' did much for me over the years. To take a particular example, when I first began really reading Shakespeare during mandatory reading times in high school, I went with 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' then 'Macbeth,' and then, after the obvious 'Hamlet,' moving to 'Othello.' It shouldn't take too many guesses to figure out what attracted me to those plays specifically.
I have many obsessions in my life, some that have faded and some that have stayed with me forever. 'Gargoyles' stayed with me forever, and by the time I was about 13 or so it overtook virtually all of my other obsessions to become forefront in my fiction-dominated mind. I began searching around the internet for various little tidbits and behind-the-scenes stuff, and was blown away when I first discovered Greg's Master Plan. That someone could have so intricately designed such a massive and complex fictional universe intrigued me to no end...particularly 'Bad Guys,' since Dingo was at the time my favorite character.
On one of my frequent revisitings of the Master Plan in 2004, I ended up clicking around some links that brought me to the FAQ...and consequently to AskGreg. If the Master Plan had blown me away, then this site caused my mind to spontaneously combust. So many hints and clues to what the future might hold for the series, should Disney allow it to somehow continue...straight from the mouth of the creator himself! In all the years since that I've been up and around the world wide web, never have I again seen such a direct, easy-to-access method of communication to the artist behind such a masterful work.
Over the years, I have read virtually every single post in the AskGreg archives, some of them several dozen times. It is one of the websites that I frequent several times a day without fail, and I have gained an uncountable amount of enrichment from reading it constantly. It was through this site that I first learned of the DVDs and comics, all of which I purchased as soon as I could possibly get my hands on them, and of the Gathering, the scope of which shocked and awed me.
One of my greatest regrets is that I was never able to attend one of these amazing events; convincing your parents to let you fly out of Hawaii to the mainland for a convention on a 90s cartoon isn't the easiest thing in the world. And although I WAS actually in town for the final one, Gathering 2009 happened to fall on the EXACT same weekend as my college orientation. If the Gathering had been just one week later, or my introduction to Pomona College just one week sooner...but I guess it's pointless to deal with hypotheticals.
In any event, my praise goes out to all of you unbelievably dedicated individuals who kept it alive for so long. If ever you are able to arrange some sort of smaller event in the future, you have my word that I will attend.
AskGreg also gave the chance to really get to know Greg Weisman (or at least, as much as this is possible without real-world contact), and he is currently one of my absolute greatest heroes in all of entertainment. I am not using hyperbole when I declare him to be the single most talented writer in animation history, and in my mind absolutely anything he touches turns to solid gold. I avidly watched 'W.I.T.C.H.,' 'The Spectacular Spider-Man,' and the various episodes he freelanced for favorite shows of mine like 'The Batman,' 'Kim Possible,' and 'Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!'...many of which turned out to be some of the best in their respective series. And I wait with bated breath (and fanboyish panting) for 'Young Justice.' Spider-Man is my favorite Marvel superhero and DC is my favorite comic book universe...so to have Greg interpret both with his usual flair for complex, multi-layered story arcs and deeply involved character development has left me positively salivating."
Now, as you can probably tell from these words, this was a moment I've been waiting on for nearly 10 years. So as you might expect, I was...anxious. Despite my personal contact with Greg over the past couple years due to my moderating duties here, as well as friends who had met him previously who assured me that he was a really nice guy in-person, I was still a little worried I'd screw this up somehow.
Thankfully, ASK GREG LIVE! turned out to be a great experience, and truly the highlight of the weekend. There was somewhere between 15-20 guests in attendance, including myself, my girlfriend, and Blaise (whom it was awesome to meet in person). Kudos to Matthew for holding up the event sign for over an hour, and to whoever it was that cosplayed as Batgirl.
We pretty much just jumped straight into an hour-and-a-half of questions, which I hope I didn't hog too many of. A few highlights from the revelations presented therein:
- Following the Season 1 finale, Vandal immediately called up Hugo Strange and told him, "Open all the doors." Which explains a lot. Now, Greg W. ALSO said that by Team Year Five, Belle Reve was fairly full again...but at least it explains why so many imprisoned villains were walking the streets again in Season 2.
- The Joker was originally considered to appear in "Auld Acquaintance," controlling the Justice League. But for a variety of reasons (mainly budgetary; they needed Klarion anyway for the "magic stuff"), they switched him out for Klarion.
- Greg also responded to my question about whether the Joker of Earth-16 knows he's in a cartoon show by saying, "I think he's crazy enough to believe that, even if he's NOT."
- Lieutenant and Sergeant Marvel were originally considered to be on the Team in Season 2. But with only 20 episodes, several intended arcs were cut or reworked to have occurred during the Time Skip: a Marvel Family arc, a Red Tornado arc, and a Zatanna arc. With nothing to do anymore, Mary and Freddy were slotted into the Time Skip.
- He hinted pretty damn strongly that we'll be hearing more about "poor, disgraced Ocean-Master." Presumably in "Legacy," which I am personally excited as all hell for.
- Clone!Roy, post-"Satisfaction," is a stay-at-home-dad. For the most part. He and Cheshire are "trying to make it work," to the degree that people like them can.
- I asked if working on YJ had made him give more thought to who the 16 Sixteens in the Illuminati are. He basically said, "not really," while adding that he's got most of the major players in the Illuminati pretty well figured out, and has for a while. Which isn't to say he doesn't leave a fair few slots open for moments of epiphany.
- Darkseid has been the Light's silent partner since Season 1. Which most of us had assumed, but it's nice to have firm confirmation.
- Victor Cook did a fly-by. No time for questions, just said hi and name-dropped "Mecha-Nation." But still...really cool.
- He described Jason Spisak's last recording with them. Jason came up afterward and said that it was rare for an actor to be able to end his role on such a great, final note, "instead of just flying off into the sunset, with no one having any idea if you survive or not." Having now seen "Dark Matter," Greg believes that may have been coded snark.
- Oh, and surprising no one with a head on their shoulders...Greg disproved the rumor that DC wanted Wally killed off because of the New 52. Though it WAS amusing to hear him call those rumors, and I quote: "Complete horse"...baloney.
- He said he's deliberately keeping mum on "Rain of the Ghosts" until he knows if his publisher is doing any advertising. If they don't, he may start teasing some plot tidbits on Ask Greg.
- He talked a bit about availability issues...about how it came to be that Wentworth, Kittie, and George were replaced toward the end of the season. Just a whole lot of REALLY bad luck regarding other projects. But he also revealed the replacement that almost was...if it wasn't for the fact that no one on Earth could do an impression that did justice to him.
That's right...they once almost lost Tim Curry.
He was shooting something or another toward the middle of the season. They simply could not get him before the episodes had to ship. So what they did...was Greg recorded the lines. Taaaaaaaaalking liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiike thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis sooooooooooo thaaaaaaaaat theeeeeeeey cooooooould AAAAAAADR iiiiiiiiiiiit aaaaaaaaafteeeeeeer theeeeeeey reeeeeetuuuuuuurned froooooooom ooooooverseeeeeeeeeeas.
Which they would NEVER do otherwise. For no one but Tim Curry. Greg had to do a bunch of takes, because Jamie kept having to stop him and shout, "SLOWER!" Needed the mouth movements SO exaggerated that no one would notice it was ADR'ed. Which I don't think anyone did.
- I think those are all the big revelations, but there was lots of real fun little stuff on Greg's writing process, the backroom thinking that went into Darkseid's cameo, and Greg's hopes for the future. As he said at one point, "I still haven't given up on Gargoyles, and that's going on 20 years at this point! Why would I give up on a series that ended THIS month?"
Beyond that, it was just an incredible experience to be in the presence of the guy - to hear him speak, to ask questions (even utterly silly ones) directly answered to our faces, to shake hands, and to be personally thanked for my years of hard work on Ask Greg...which, needless to say, was incredibly gratifying.
The atmosphere was great - casual, friendly, and with no pressure on either the askers or on Greg. We chatted, we laughed, and we got to hear Greg at his absolute "frankest." Which is to say, a little...off-color. And oh it was glorious.
At my request, we also did an impromptu signing at the end; I got my Clan-Building Volume 1 trade, my SpecSpidey Season 1 DVD, my Young Justice Volume 1 trade, a Captain Atom comic, and the essay I wrote for Contemporary Political Theory last semester (and submitted to Ask Greg afterward) signed, and pretty much geekgasmed into the floor. SOOOOO utterly wonderful.
[If you want to see pics of said signed stuff and/or other stuff I snagged at the Con, you can go here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/94547312@N04/sets/72157633137324644/with/8608204054/].
We also got to chat a bit privately, which was of course very good fun. And he even indulged my stupid, silly, obsessive request...to pose with my Fluttershy toy and say, "Fluttershy is best pony." His response was golden, too.
Greg: I have no idea what that means.
Me: I didn't expect you to.
Greg: Nah, what I mean is, am I saying something that will get a thousand angry bronies coming after me?
Me: No, most bronies tend to agree that Fluttershy is best pony, anyway.
Unfortunately, my girlfriend's phone appears to have recorded only the first second of the line. But I still posted it to YouTube because the image is gold:
Overall, my first in-person meeting with Greg Weisman proved to be everything I was hoping for it to be, and more. He's a massively cool guy who doesn't operate on any pretense; he is what he is, and what he is is a genius at writing/interpreting fiction.
It was truly an honor to spend that time with him, and I very much hope it won't be the last.
Greg Weisman, you rock (woo-hoo!). Don't let anybody tell you different. Because this kind of treatment of your fans makes me truly proud to be involved with helping out here.
Thank you for ASK GREG LIVE!
Thank you for all the wonderful shows you've brought us over the years.
And thank you for never giving up hope. I await "Rain of the Ghosts" with bated breath, and I can't wait to here the announcement when you get your next television gig.
Because it's coming. And I look forward to watching the hell out of that show, whenever it comes.
Wow. Dude, do you really want to stoke my ego THAT MUCH?
Anyway, it was great meeting you too. You're contribution to Ask Greg has been invaluable.
I hope you're thinking about coming to ConVergence this July for the Gargoyles Reunion convention within a convention. More details on that should be forthcoming this month.