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Todd Jensen writes...

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

Greg responds...

Yes. The Lost Girl.

Response recorded on May 16, 2012

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Mel writes...

Hi Greg,

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

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

Greg responds...

1. Yes.

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

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

Response recorded on May 04, 2012

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Harlan Phoenix writes...

1. Would you be willing to get into the inspiration behind "Doc Shakespeare"?
1b. If so, what was it?

2. Was the pursuit of a live action pilot at the time driven by a purely creative desire, or more about taking advantage of specific commercial/economic advantages present at the time? Or a combination?

Greg responds...

1. Research, research, research. The more research I did on Shakespeare and his family, the more fascinated I became with his eldest daughter.

2. Both.

Response recorded on March 06, 2012

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Phoenician writes...

So the story behind this ramble actually goes back two years, starting when I first read your Ramble on EQUIVOCATION:

http://www.s8.org/gargoyles/askgreg/search.php?rid=817

Regrettably I would not have the chance to attend the Oregon Shakespeare Festival that year, dedicating my travel expenses to the last Gathering in Los Angeles. Before I go any further, can I say that I am quite jealous that you and your family go every year to Ashland? Because I am d:

Anyways, it didn't hit me until about month or so later that I could simply buy a copy of the script just as you had mentioned doing. A thorough look at (and a telephone call to) the OSF's Tudor Guild Gift Shop revealed they had quickly sold out of their entire supply, and that odds were, it'd be a while till they got more, if ever. Of course, by the time I DID check back with them, the OSF was done foe the season and Equivocation was not being performed again in the near future.

Fast forward to summer 2011, where I stumbled upon a copy of the play script at my old college in Los Angeles. I don't know how the conversation started, but the person I was talking to mentioned that the school was trying to get permission to perform the play that school year!

But before I allowed myself to get excited, I remembered I was only in town for the week to visit some friends I hadn't seen in over a year since I graduated in May 2010. My friend sympathized that my horrible, horrible timing wouldn't have me in Los Angeles if and when they did perform the play (and especially after hearing me recite your ramble from 2009 with alarming precision) he was generous enough to let me take a script with me back home!

I tried to be patient, reminding myself that I had waited two years to find a copy and that the AskGreg queue was closed during the Young Justice hiatus, but that VERY short flight back to Phoenix was suddenly felt like an eternity. Of course, its just my luck that even though I read it back in early August, I only JUST now remembered to write this rambling as yesterday (November 5th, 2011) was Guy Fawkes Night.

So did I enjoy the play, even when I only read it as a script?

In a word: YES. :D

But one thing is for sure: I really, really want to catch an actual performance now. I won't go into too much detail here (since you've seen the play and I don't want to spoil others that might read this before catching/reading the play themselves), but I will say this play reminds me quite a bit like Shakespeare in Love (a film I also remember you writing about more than once), though its obvious that (even if Stoppard and Cain were working with the same muse) this is a noticeably older Shag than the Will we saw in the 1998 film. For one, Shag's working for the King James VI/I and not Queen Elizabeth. For another, the only person caring for him these days is the very mature Judith. Finally, he's now an established name (he'll still be remembered in, oh, fifty year's time!), though the romances and comedies seemed to have been eclipsed with his slew of historical plays, earning him the reputation of killing "more Kings than any man alive."

The various references to Shag's other plays were fun, especially Hamlet and Macbeth. Speaking of the Scottish Play, remembering what you said about how Macbeth (in the Gargoyles Universe) was a drinking buddy of Shakespeare's, I vaguely wonder how the events in Equivocation looked from his perspective. ;)

I'll also say that after briefly mentioning "Doc Shakespeare" in your Equivocation ramble, I made sure to pay close attention to Judith's interactions with Shag, if only to one day have them as a reference point in understanding the characters . . . much like I hear Roger Lancelyn Green's works are a good place to see your early inspirations for King Arthur.

I must also admit to re-reading your thoughts from 1999/2000 about how Shakespeare in Love opened a door to understanding Will as a man . . . and having missed out on the 2005 Gathering in Las Vegas, I can only imagine how you treated Will (and Judith) in Doc Shakespeare. I guess I'm just hopeful to one day see you a work of yours introduce William Shakespeare the man, be it in the Gargoyles Universe or some other original work (and references in shows like The Spectacular Spider-Man will always be fun too).

I'll end this by saying THANK YOU so much for recommending Equivocation. I look forward to watching a performance one day (may the stars align soon) and its only a matter of time before I find my way to Ashland for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Greg responds...

Well, I've seen Equivocation twice now. That first time in Ashland, and again here in Los Angeles (Westwood, specifically) at the Geffen Theatre, starring Joe Spano (from Hill Street Blues) as Shag. He was also fantastic in the part. I just love this play.

His take on Judith is different from mine, as is his take on Susannah (who doesn't appear but is mentioned). But I've got no complaints.

I do tend to shy away from portraying Will Shakespeare himself in my stuff. It makes me nervous. Even in Doc Shakespeare, Will is an off-screen presence. Talked about - but never appearing.

We do try to go to Ashland every year, and I've never been disappointed. Ashland was also the first place I ever saw Stoppard's ARCADIA, which may be one of the most brilliant plays I've ever seen.

Response recorded on February 08, 2012

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SO WHERE HAVE I BEEN? Updates & Debunks

Hello everyone,

Haven't posted here in a while, and since I did a bit of message board lurking this morning, it seems to have led people to believe all sorts of odd things, so...

Where have I been?

Well, in early June, my family and I went to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon.
We saw seven plays in four days. Six of them (Henry IV, Part Two, The Language Archive, To Kill a Mockingbird, Julius Caesar, Love's Labours Lost and Measure for Measure) were just stellar productions. Everyone was great, but I'd like to particularly single out Susannah Flood in both Language Archive and Mockingbird, Dee Maaske in Mockingbird and Michael Winters as Falstaff in 2HenryIV.

Coming back from that, I was understandably swamped and didn't have time to post.

Next, I went to Minneapolis for the always great ConVergence convention. I did about thirteen panels. Some of which, like Gargoyles and Spider-Man and Young Justice, I felt qualified to be on. And some, like Dexter and Galaxy Quest, my only qualification was being a fan of whatever we were talking about. This was my third ConVergence, and it continues to be the best run convention I've ever attended. And now that the Gathering of the Gargoyles is no more, it has become my FAVORITE convention to attend.

Returning from ConVergence, I then got quite ill. In fact, I'm still home sick today. (Home sick as opposed to homesick, clear?)

So THOSE are the reasons I haven't posted. Nothing nefarious.

Next topic: YOUNG JUSTICE UPDATE.

We have aired episodes 101-109 (i.e. Season One, episodes 1-9).

(Yes, episode 110 accidentally was posted on Cartoon Network's website, but I'm going to pretend that never happened.)

Episodes 110-115 are in the can, i.e. they are completed and ready to air.

Episode 116 awaits only the final on-line, i.e. the final review of the episode. This has been delayed ONLY because I've been out sick this week.

Episode 117 will have it's sound mix on Friday. (I hope to be back at work by then.)

Episode 118 has been edited and work progresses on scoring and sound effects.

Episode 119 is ready to begin post-production.

Episodes 120-123 are being animated in Korea.

Episodes 124-126 are in layout in Korea, while we finish the final color models here in the States.

Episodes 201-202 (i.e. Season Two, Episodes one and two) - Are fully recorded and are in storyboard. (201 was written by me. 202 by Nicole Dubuc.)

Episode 203, written by Kevin Hopps, is almost fully recorded. We have one actor left to pick up, who has been out of town. It is also in storyboard.

Episode 204, written by me, will record this week. It is also in storyboard.

Episode 205 - Brandon Vietti, has turned in his draft of the script. I have to read and edit it.

Episode 206 - The outline, written by Peter David and edited by me, went out Monday for notes, which are due tomorrow.

Episode 207 - Kevin Hopps turned in his outline, which I need to read and edit.

Episode 208 - I'm writing this one. I'll start the outline, after I've edited the outline to 207.

Episode 209 - Jon Weisman turned in his outline, which I need to read and edit.

Episode 210 - Kevin Hopps is working on his outline.

We do NOT yet have a pick-up beyond episode 210, but our bosses have told us to start blocking out episodes 211-220 in anticipation of one.

Episode 211 - We've broken this story. I still need to find time to write up the Beat Outline, though I have it all on index cards.

Episode 212 - We've got the basics of this one down, but we (i.e. myself, Brandon and Kevin) still need to finish breaking the story.

Episodes 213-220 - We've got a very clear sense of the arc and what things need to happen, but we haven't started on these yet.

NEXT TOPIC: DEBUNKING YJ RUMORS

False Rumor #1: YJ IS A GREG WEISMAN PRODUCTION
Everywhere on the Internet, all I see is that YJ is Greg Weisman's show. That's just blatantly false. This is a VIETTI/WEISMAN production. Just as Spectacular Spider-Man was a COOK/WEISMAN production and Gargoyles was a PAUR/WEISMAN production. I am not, nor have I ever been, a one-man show on ANY project I've EVER worked on. EVER. And in particular, on YJ, it's extremely unfair to Brandon to leave him out of consideration. Brandon is heavily involved in every aspect of production, INCLUDING SERIES DEVELOPMENT AND STORY. He's been right there with myself and Kevin Hopps breaking every single episode. It's been a team effort from day one. Many of the series' best ideas came/come from Brandon. And this is aside from the fact, that of course, Brandon can write - but I cannot draw, which arguably makes him MORE important to the production than I. I am exceedingly proud of this series and my own work on it - though certain very vocal fans seem to think I shouldn't be - but that doesn't change the fact that Brandon and I are a team.

False Rumor #2: YJ WAS RUSHED INTO PRODUCTION
Another blatant misconception. Look, Brandon and I are both perfectionists. Neither of us would deny that we'd LOVE to have more time on each and every episode. But that's not the same as being rushed. Let's make a comparison: on Spectacular Spider-Man, I basically had one week to develop both the series and the entire first season. Then Vic Cook came aboard, and we raced to get into production in less than two months. Brandon and I had seven months to develop the series, break the first season (which granted had twice as many episodes as the first season of Spidey) and head into production. The show isn't and never has been rushed. That's not to say the schedule isn't tight. But we haven't aired a single episode that wasn't ready to air. And we won't.

False Rumor #3: YJ ISN'T AIRING NOW BECAUSE WE'RE REWORKING EPISODES BASED ON INTERNET CRITICISM
This is my favorite. I love it the most because the first person I saw who posted this rumor also said that I'd deny it. So here I am denying it, which of course serves to PROVE that he or she was correct, see? Let's be clear: for better or worse, this series is COMPLETELY unaffected by internet criticism BECAUSE of schedule. Everything of any significance was set and DONE before even the pilot movie aired last November, so we couldn't address fan concerns even if we wanted to. And, honestly, we don't want to. We don't in part because there is way less consensus than some people seem to think. For example, for every post I see expressing hatred for "Hello, Megan!", I see a post that likes it. And personally, I like it. Brandon likes it. So why would we change it, even if we could? In fact, even Season Two is moving forward more or less disregarding "fan" criticism. Brandon and I always had very clear ideas for what we wanted to do in Season Two (and even Season Three, should we get one) and those ideas haven't changed. As with every series I've co-helmed, all we can ever do is write and produce to OUR OWN passions - and then just cross our fingers and hope enough people share our passions to make it a success. Anything else is doomed to failure, because if we're not passionate about it, it'll show in the work, and then no one will like it. And just to make it clear: WE LIKE OUR SHOW!! Doesn't mean you have to - but don't try to tell me I don't.

So why aren't we airing new episodes now? That's a fair question that I don't have an answer for. After all, we have six unaired episodes in the can, with four more on the verge of completion. It's a Cartoon Network decision. Some fans have argued that they shouldn't have started airing ANY episodes until ALL episodes were in the can. But that too is a decision above my pay grade.

My best guess - and that's all it is - is that CN will air new episodes - starting with 110 ("Targets") - in September. The good news is that the later they wait, the more weeks they can go uninterrupted by reruns. I do know that Season Two (i.e. "Young Justice: Invasion") will begin airing as part of DC NATION in March of 2012. And by then ALL of Season One will have aired. So do the math.

People have asked me if I'm bummed about losing momentum by this delay. But the thing is we've ALREADY lost all momentum. So as long as they PROMOTE us whenever they finally do start airing us again, then pragmatically I'm good. Yes, I'll admit to a certain level of frustration in that I want our stuff to get out there, but if CN has a plan to make the most of the episodes, then more power to them.

Anyway, I think that's it for now. I'll get back to answering questions on ASK GREG as soon as I can find the time. (But keep in mind that San Diego Comic-Con is fast approaching. Note: Young Justice has a panel scheduled for Sunday, July 24th at 10am, with a signing to follow. I'll also be signing Gargoyles comics (and whatever else anyone might want) at the SLG Booth from 11:30am to 12:30pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (July 21, 22, 23).


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Liam writes...

Gargoyles obviously had a lot of influence from Shakespeare, and so did Spectacular Spider-Man, towards the end of the series. Will we be seeing at least a little bit of that theme in Young Justice?

Greg responds...

No comment.

Response recorded on March 18, 2011

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Todd Jensen writes...

I think that this is just a coincidence, but I decided I should mention it to you.

I was rereading Chapters Three and Four of "Bad Guys" today, because of their link to New Year's Eve, and noticed that the captions stated that the Eastcheap Island adventure took place five days after the confrontation with Sevarius. We know that the Sevarius adventure was on New Year's Eve, so the encounter with Falstaff must have taken place on January 5. And January 5 is Twelfth Night - a holiday after which one of Shakespeare's comedies was named.

I was amazed and impressed by that revelation, but I assumed that it must be a coincidence; the Eastcheap adventure draws on Shakespeare, of course, but on Falstaff rather than on "Twelfth Night". Still, when I mentioned it in the comment room, Matt suggested that I share it with you, so I did.

Greg responds...

Thanks. I'll be honest, it was PROBABLY a coincidence. I think. But it's been SO long since I actually wrote the script (way before the book came out, which was already some time ago) that it's possible that I had Twelfth Night on the brain and timed it that way to amuse myself. I just can't remember.

Response recorded on February 01, 2011

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Richard Jackson writes...

Have you ever seen Orson Welles' adaptation of of Henry IV, Chimes at Midnight (titled Falstaff in some countries)? I really enjoyed it. After all, Welles as Falstaff. It doesn't get any better than that.

On the same note, who is your favorite Shakespeare screen actor? Olivier? Welles? Branagh?

Greg responds...

I have not seen Chimes at Midnight, and I definitely consider it a gap in my education.

I guess I'd have to say Branagh... just because -- from a cinema standpoint -- Henry V was a revelation to me.

Response recorded on January 20, 2011

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Todd Jensen writes...

Some time ago, I mentioned a book by Eleanor Prosser called "Hamlet and Revenge", which argued that Hamlet's goal to avenge his father on Claudius was not a righteous duty, but a misguided and dangerous quest. Recently, I thought about a passage in it in connection to "Clan-Building: Volume Two".

In one of the early chapters, the author discusses Kyd's "The Spanish Tragedy", one of the leading revenge-plays before "Hamlet". The protagonist, Hieronimo, is out to avenge the murder of his son Horatio. After discovering his son's body near the start of the play, he decides not to bury it until he can achieve his revenge, an act which, Prosser comments, would have unsettled the audience.

This reminded me of the scene in "Clan-Building" where, after Demona reports the slaughter of the Sruighlea cell by Constantine and Gillecomgain, True suggests that they hold a Wind Ceremony for the dead gargoyles, and Demona rejects it in favor of pursuing revenge on the humans who did the deed. I just thought I'd share it with you.

Greg responds...

Thanks. I like the parallel a lot. And I agree with what it reveals about character... though I've never read "The Spanish Tragedy" unfortunately. At least not yet.

Response recorded on July 29, 2010

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Oregon Shakespeare Festival 2010

Hey gang,

I just got back from taking my kids to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon. Saw five uniformly great productions:

Hamlet

Henry IV, Part One

Twelfth Night

Merchant of Venice

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

Can't recommend any or all of them strongly enough...



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