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Cassandra writes...

Hi, Greg. Here's my own ramble of things I love about Gargoyles. I found the show my senior year of high school and was hooked. And when Fox moved the second season episodes to 6 a.m., my handy VCR timer was always set. My college roommate soon became a Gargoyles fan too. On to the elements.

The shocks and surprises: I loved the way the smaller story lines worked into the larger ones. I know you're a long ways from talking about "The Gathering" but I'm starting there, sorry. I saw/heard that Kate Mulgrew was doing both Anastasia and Titania's voice without much difference, so I knew they were one in the same. But my congratulating myself on figuring that out stopped and I almost fell out of my chair when Owen was revealed to be Puck. My best friend DID fall out of his chair when I was showing him and his wife the episode. Going back to season one, actual blood was shown when Broadway shot Elisa! In a Disney cartoon! And when I told people about this, they didn't believe me. Derek goes to work for Xanatos and is mutated for ignoring his sister's advice. Fox and Xanatos got married. I caught the "she's totally in love with him" in "Her Brother's Keeper", but I didn't expect them to get married--live together maybe.

Elisa: Thank you for creating such a great female character. Tough, smart, and still a beautiful woman. She could have de-evolved from "Awakenings" into the helpless female that the gargoyles had to rescue every week (and part of me worried that it could happen), but instead she ended up saving them as often as they saved her. And who else would have had the guts to wake King Arthur up? But she isn't a superhero. She has problems dealing with her mother and brother, she gets hurt, and she gets a little obsessive.

Intelligent bad guys: I suppose more accurately stated is bad guys with intelligent motivations. Demona has psychological hang-ups that culminate in her desire to wipe out the human race. Xanatos is just fun. How many series villians never let revenge get in their way? Plus, he had most of the best lines. My favorite: "This is my first stab at cliched villanry. How am I doing?" from "Cloud Fathers". Thailog seems to have this Oedipal need to displace Xanatos in the world.

Characters evolve: No one remained static. Demona's downward spiral was shown, but it has the potential to end by her desire to protect and love Angela. Xanatos and Fox fall in love and have a child, and apparantly learn what it means to have someone manipulate your life, something they're both a little guilty of. Macbeth realize that the gargoyles are as honorable as he is, and finds a new purpose to life. I love his debate with Margot in "The Journey". The Pack gets their upgrade. Cameo characters get stories and prove that the six degrees of seperation works in the gargoyle universe too.

References: Shakespeare's plays; Scottish history; Eygptian, Irish, Norse, Greek, African, Jewish, King Arthur mythologies, pop culture, World War II, Loch Ness, aliens, werewolves, and fae. I was waiting for vampires to show up. Okay, maybe not real vampires, but Servarius could make some. It was great to watch a show that used this stuff inside its own mythos and used it effectively.

That's just a few of the things that I loved about the show. Artwork was excellent and dialogue was wonderfully written and flawlessly performed. Here's my hope, wish, spell, prayer that GARGOYLES comes back to the air with you at the helm. And one quick question before I go find the episode rambles I've missed.

Question: Did you or do you plan on a flashback or a TimeDancer episode in which Will Shakespeare shows up as a character?

Greg responds...

To Will or not to Will, that IS the question.

To be honest, the idea intimidated the hell out of me. I have more than one idea about Will's role in the Garg Universe, specifically with regard to Macbeth and Oberon/Titania/Mab/Puck/etc. But I don't know if I would have done it. Neil Gaiman already did something like that with "Midsummer Night's Dream" in SANDMAN, and if that wasn't intimidating enough, WILL himself looms.

And yet, if you're afraid to do something, that probably means that you should. I loved SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, and on one level, it should increase the intimidation level. I mean it's Tom Stoppard for God's sake. But it showed me a window into how to interpret Will as a man. So I like to think I would have gone for it.

(And by the way, thanks for your kind words on all the other stuff. It's particularly gratifying because it was our intent. We lucked out all over the place. But the stuff you mentioned was all part of the plan. I'm glad we managed to pull it off, for you at least.)

Response recorded on July 05, 2000

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Gside writes...

Now, my sweet honey lord,

*\ 1HIV I.2.152 (approx)
Insert random first time introduction/semi-hero-worship, and other random first question material \*

Right, now that that is over with, I have a question or three.

1. Just how much does Dingo know? //1HIV 1.2.184 I am asking in the context of the Bill reference, not general knowledge

2. Was he always imitating the sun covered by base clouds, or did he not originally have much beauty to be smothered from the world? //1HIV 1.2.186-8

3. Will he be able to fully pay of the debt he never promised? //1HIV 1.2.198

Greg responds...

'Kay, Gside, I hate to disappoint you, but I don't have the complete works of Shakespeare committed to memory. And I don't have 1 Henry IV here in the office. In fact, sneaky-bastard, it took me a bit just to figure out what you were talking about.

So why don't you repost the question, giving me the actual quotes instead of line numbers. (That's called meeting me and the rest of our ASK GREG readers halfway.)

Response recorded on June 20, 2000

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Todd Jensen writes...

I thought that I'd submit this as a change-of-pace question.

There's a new fiction book out by John Updike called "Gertrude and Claudius", a prequel to "Hamlet" covering the period from Gertrude's marriage to Hamlet's father all the way up to the start of the play. I've just read it and thought it quite good. I was curious as to whether you'd read it, and if so, what you thought of it.

(To me, one of the most intriguing parts of the book was its progression from the original version of the Hamlet legend in Saxo Grammaticus all the way down to the Shakespeare play - so that the book opens with the characters in a "Viking Age" atmosphere and using the names from Saxo, but then proceeds gradually into an increasingly Renaissance atmosphere, with the names evolving along the way until the familiar Shakespeare ones show up in the last part).

Greg responds...

Sorry, Todd, I've heard of the book, but I haven't purchased or read it yet.

Response recorded on June 17, 2000

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Ambrosia writes...

Hi Greg!! I was just reading your interview with Lexy. You said that you hoped Gargoyles would inspire people to learn more about sujects you touched on... and I realized that it has done exactly that for me. In fact, I don't know if I realized the magnitude of an impact Gargoyles has had in my life until I thought about that...
In The Mirror when the clan is trying to explain to Elisa who Oberon's Children are (I thought everybody knew this??), Brooklyn says, "Yeah, that guy Shakespeare wrote a play about them: A Midsummer Night's Dream." The next day after I saw that episode, I had the play in my possession and began poring over it. This began a love/obsession for Shakespeare- particularly that play.
Also, I read your ramblings about Theseus and decided I needed to learn more about him. Mary Renault's The King Must Die stuck out in my memory one day between classes and I found it in the library. I'll post again when I'm finished with it.
In ancient history 103, I could be tired and completely tune out my professor, but I'd hear the word "Scotland" and snap back awake and pay perfect attention.
I never really thought about these things as they were happening, but looking back I can see that so many things I've learned or done came from gargoyles: I'm teaching myself to draw, I want to visit New York... stuff like that. I wanted to say... thanks!

Greg responds...

And I want to say "YOU ARE VERY, VERY WELCOME!" As a former educator (who's about to start teaching again tomorrow) your message really warmed my heart.

Shakespeare and Renault are two of my favorite authors. It thrills me that I turned you on to them.

But you know what? The show had the same effect on me. I've fallen in love with Scottish History as well. I knew nothing about it before GARGOYLES. Now I'm fairly well-versed and, at the very least, very interested.

HEY! TELL YOUR TEACHER!

Response recorded on April 04, 2000

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Todd Jensen writes...

Incidentally, you mentioned during your October posts that you weren't too familiar with the original Boudicca, and I thought that I'd fill you in on her a bit.

Boudicca was the Queen of the Iceni (an ancient British tribe in what is now Norfolk) and wife to King Prasutagus in the early days of Roman Britain. When Prasutagus died, he left part of his lands and wealth to Rome, but the Romans greedily decided to help themselves to a lot more than he'd left them. When the widowed Boudicca protested, they flogged her and raped her daughters. In anger, Boudicca sought revenge by rallying the Britons (both the Iceni, and the neighboring tribes) against the Romans, and sacked three cities (London, St. Albans, and Colchester), ruthlessly slaughtering everyone that she could find living in them, in a war of rebellion between A.D. 60 and 61. The Romans finally defeated her army in the end, however, and Boudicca poisoned herself.

(She does remind me a bit of Demona, on the general level, in fact. Certainly the same basic concept was there of furious retaliation upon one's persecutors on a level just as savage as the original wrong itself, if not worse).

Greg responds...

Reminds me of Tamara in TITUS.

I wonder if Katharine, Tom and the Magus were thinking of that story when they named their Boudicca, or if it was just the notion of a female warrior that got them to choose the name?

Response recorded on April 03, 2000

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Todd Jensen writes...

A Macbeth question that I've been wondering for some time. In the Shakespeare play, he can only be killed by one who is not "of woman born". It occurred to me some time ago that this also holds true for the Gargoyles Macbeth, for the only one who can kill him is Demona, and she was hatched from a gargoyle egg, which counts just as well as a loophole as being from one's "mother's womb untimely ripped". Have you ever noticed this before?

Greg responds...

Yep. We talked about making a point about it in City of Stone, just as we discussed doing a Birnham Wood scene. But unfortunately all that "Shakespeare" stuff got cut for time (before we even went to script).

Response recorded on March 31, 2000

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Pyro X writes...

Hey Greg!

Some Questions About MacBeth:

1) In "A light house in the sea of time," MacBeth says "The Scrolls of Merlin, Seeld by my own hand." Did he mean the He (MacBeth) seeled the scrolls?

2) If that is the case, then did MacBeth know Arthur and
Merlin, or were they before his time? In pendragon, he did seem kinda shocked that that was King Arthur, so it make for a conflict.

the Next two also relate to MacBeth...

3. Did Macbeth Know that a play was being written about him by Shakespear and did he ever "see" the play?

4. Did Demona ever see MacBeth, because she knew it was about Macbeth?

5. Did MacBeth MEET Shakespear?

Thanks man!

Greg responds...

1. No. (Admit it, no one ever reads the archives.) Macbeth was reading that. Meaning, he read that Merlin sealed it with HIS own hand.

2. So, no, they were before his time.

3. Yes. And yes.

4. I'm sure she's seen it.

5. Yes. (Yeah, no one ever reads the archives.)

Response recorded on March 21, 2000

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Derek writes...

A response to your post on shocking moments in Gargoyles-
I was genuinely suprised by all three endings in the Hunter's Moon episodes. I saw PT 2 and figured the episode would be continued right as Robyn had her finger over the button, but then...SHE PRESSED IT!! The missile went off, the colck tower exploded! There was no going around that, they showed the explosion! I was in 8th grade at the time of it's original airing, and I remember sitting in my science class and wondering how they would ever get out of that situation? Where would they live now? With Elisa? I certainly NEVER would have guessed that Xantatos would show up and save them, but, it worked. I loved it. I was at the edge of my seat with my mouth open in awe, I couldn't wait until the GOLIATH CHRONICLES aired in January...
You did a great job, very dramatic story telling that took risks and still made sense. I loved it. Gargoyles is one of the finest television series ever. Because of you and Gargoyles, I have taken an interest in mythology, Shakespeare, Arthurian Legends, Animation. It covers EVERYTHING. I read T.H. Whites "Once and Future King" over the summer (while ASK YOU was down) just because I wanted to know more about these subjects that interested me in the show. I'm a Senior in High School and for my Senior Project, I'm Illustrating in comic book fashion 3 of shakespeare's plays...WHY? Because of Gargoyles. You have opened up so many doors to me, and I thank you.

Greg responds...

Thank you! You just made my night.

If the team and I introduced you to Shakespeare and White, then we really did something worthwhile. By the way, have you read White's "Book of Merlin". It's a wonderful final chapter to "Once and Future King". The scene with the hedgehog always breaks my heart.

Response recorded on March 19, 2000

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Man Mountain writes...

A few days after reading your review of "Titus" I saw Roger Ebert's TV show and had to smile at his review. He hit just about every point you did, including the fine acting of all involved (with special mention of Harry Lennix) and its corralation to "Scream." Maybe he reads ASK GREG... Well, I just thought you would like to know.

Greg responds...

Thanks.

Response recorded on March 17, 2000

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Todd Jensen writes...

One thing that I'm going to confess here, and it's that I'm still feeling somewhat taken aback at the discovery that the mythological gods in the Gargoyles Universe are subject to Oberon, a "mere" faerie king (though don't tell him that I called him that :) In traditional legend, Oberon wasn't a divinity, so seeing him have authority over gods like Odin feels a little strange to me still. It's like seeing an earl giving orders to a king. I know that in the Gargoyles Universe, Oberon does outrank the gods of mythology and that they were really "just" powerful faerie-folk, but it does feel a little odd to me all the same.

Greg responds...

That is... an absolutely SHOCKING confession.

Or not.

Look, I knew it was going to be controversial (relatively speaking). Frank Paur wasn't particularly comfortable with the idea, but I'm a fast talker.

The main motivation was that I wanted the Garg Universe to have a certain cohesion. I wanted it to be rich and expansive, but not completely arbitrary. So after a bit of tease and mystery, we reveal a feudal system.

And Oberon's lack of shall we say, press, didn't bother me. He was the big man behind the scenes. And although he's not exactly Mr. Maturity, I don't think that bothered him.

And of course, he did have at least one spectacular press agent. Guy named Will.

Response recorded on March 17, 2000

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Ashley E. writes...

Hi Greg My name is Ashley and I am the biggest fan of Gargoyles you will ever see. I cried when I found this page I have seen Gargoyle Series every single time it's been out and I miss you guys soooooo Much. I realy hope with all my heart that you guys bring it back. PLEASE!!!!! I thought that this cartoon was the best one ever made. I really want you guys to go on and on and on... How much would it cost to buy the rights from Walt Disney and start it yourself? Was it your baby from the start or was it there Idea? I read what you said about Titus how would I be able to see it and where can I get it??? Anyways I really miss you guys.. My favorite part was "The Hunter" Part 3 Where Alisa kissed Goliath, that was the best!!! Thank you for hours of absolute pleasure.

Greg responds...

Ashley,

What a wonderful post. Thank you.

Disney would never sell the rights, and if they did, lowly me could never afford to buy them. And no one's sorrier about that than I am.

Gargoyles was definitely my baby. (Still is.) Though many, many people participated in raising it to be the child that you saw on television. The basic ideas were mine, but it was very collaborative, extremely collaborative. And in any case, we were all working for Disney, so they own it, lock stock and gargoyle.

As for Titus, well I saw it in a movie theater. It's rated R (or should be) and I don't know how old you are or where you live, so I don't know if it's in your local theaters or whether you should be allowed in or not.

Eventually, it'll be on home video.

Response recorded on March 11, 2000

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Chapter IX: "Enter Macbeth"

Another episode by episode ramble. Feedback encouraged.

So here's where all that great continuity got us in major trouble.

The episodes were all designed to play in a certain order. But I didn't tell my bosses that in advance. I know it sounds sneaky, but it wasn't really. We wrote the darn things and sent them off in order. It never occured to me they wouldn't be able to come back and air in order. I mean, how could a newer episode get the jump on an older one? How could an older episode not be ready before a newer one? Then the footage came back on "Enter Macbeth".

This was the first episode not animated in Japan. And immediately we knew we were in trouble. I'm not talking about the version you all have seen. The one that aired. I'm talking about stuff you never saw. Much of the original footage we got was unusable. This wasn't about just calling retakes. This wasn't about us bitching how "Thrill" wasn't as well animated as "Awakening". This was a major disaster. So my bosses said: "Air the next one." And I responded, "We can't."

And not just because they were all designed to air in order. It was a horrible coincidence, but this episode, this episode that was unairable, was a tentpole. Yeah, if Thrill or Temptation had been reordered it would have been sad. Same with "The Edge" and "Long Way To Morning". But big deal, right? Better to get a new episode out and not make the audience deal with repeats this early in the season. (Remember, we had aired our first five episodes in one week. This was only week five. In those days, week five was considered way too early in the year for reruns.)

But this was the follow-up to Elisa's injury. It was important to us that we continue our policy of "repercussions". We put her on crutches to show that a gunshot wasn't something that was solved in twenty-two minutes. This was an ongoing recovery. If you pulled the crutches out by airing Edge next, you blew out the sense of repercussions.

But that wasn't the clincher. Of course, the clincher was the Clock Tower. This was the episode where the Gargs were "banished" from the castle and moved to the Clock Tower. That was a major shift. If we cut straight to Edge, the audience would be lost. Fortunately, Gary was convinced. In a way, I was lucky that our first crisis of order came on such a pivotal "tentpole" episode. We couldn't reorder these. So we went with reruns. But it was a lesson learned. And it would effect the way we approached the second season.

But meanwhile, we had the problem at hand. We couldn't reanimate the entire show. So we picked shots to redo judiciously. There are still some awful looking scenes. When Goliath says, "How Dare You?!" to Elisa, he looks like an Animaniacs parody of Goliath. And that sarcophogus/iron maiden thing that Goliath follows Macbeth through looks like a prop out of CHIP N DALE'S RESCUE RANGERS. (Another perfectly good series, but with a slightly different art style, if you know what I mean.) Or how about the GIANT remote that Macbeth pulls from his duster in order to summon his ship? "Enter Macbeth" is still, as aired, the worst looking episode of the first season. And that really killed Frank and I, because we both really loved this story. We were sure that the bad animation would kill any interest in Macbeth. The fact that generally, the character did catch hold of fandom's collective imagination is a true testament to the work of Steve Perry, Michael Reaves, John Rhys-Davies and Jamie Thomason. And, oh, yes... William Shakespeare.

The weak picture forced us to use a lot of little tricks to get a final cut. One thing we did, which I regret, is reuse dialogue. Elisa says "You aren't safe here" like three times. And it isn't three different takes. It's just the exact same take reprinted and reused. Lex & Brooklyn also reuse lines to get Bronx to find Goliath. That sort of thing drives me nuts.

There is one really nice moment in the animation. When Macbeth chooses his sword off the wall, the reflection effect is quite sweet. And I also like the down shot of Bronx running right down the middle of Broadway (the street not the gargoyle). I also love how Goliath makes no attempt to hide. That really spoke to the Gargoyles attitude about living among humans. They wouldn't hold press conferences, but they would not cower.

Anyway, we ran reruns. Awakenings. And obviously all five episodes on five consecutive weeks. That might have been a good thing for people who had heard about the show by word of mouth in week two or later and needed to catch up. But for anyone who had been following the show from its premiere, it was a long time to wait for new episodes. By the time we came back, so much time had passed since "Deadly Force" that we felt the need to put a "Previously on Gargoyles" at the head of the episode. Another trick I cribbed from HILL STREET BLUES. Cartoons rarely did that sort of thing. Sure multi-parters had to. But single episodes... For some reason, it made me feel very grown up. (Which only proves how immature I really am.) The "Previously" also allowed us to cut 30 more seconds of bad looking footage out of the episode. That little bonus was something I'd remember for season two as well.

HOME

As we pushed guns in the previous episode, this one is laced with the imagery and language of home. What is it? What makes it? What price is one willing to pay to keep or secure it? There are four homes depicted. Well, really five. The Gargoyles' castle. Xanatos' prison. Macbeth's mansion. The Clock Tower. And the Castle again, once it is reclaimed by Xanatos and thus becomes a very, very different place.

I tried to make sure, as much as possible, that every episode had that kind of underlying theme. (I recently tried with very limited success to do the same thing in MAX STEEL. Someone asked me once, why the one-word S-Titles for all the Max Steel episodes. They were my attempt to make me and the writers focus on the theme of each story.)

And how do all these homes turn out? Macbeth is so obsessed that he loses his home to a fire. Xanatos finally gets out of prison. (Not on Halloween by the way, or that would make the dates depicted in Double Jeopardy innacurate. Obviously, Halloween was circled on his calendar because the guy just loves Halloween. And after all, Owen specifically says in a LATER scene that Xanatos has one week left before he gets out. The wall calendar had shown only a few days.) The Gargoyles lose the castle, gain the clock tower, but realize that home is literally where the heart is. And Xanatos... well all other concerns of Grimorum and gargoyle of destruction and competition pale next to the simple pleasure of being back home.

And how many of you were suprised that the Gargoyles lost the castle? That was supposed to be another pretty shocking development. I mean, sure, Batman might lose the Batcave for an episode, but for 56 episodes? When Goliath said "We'll be back to claim that which is ours" at the end, did most of you think he'd be back next week? Next month? By the time, the gang finally did return in chapter 65, did anyone still remember Goliath's vow?

MACBETH

I've discussed this before, but Macbeth's origins (at least in terms of our series) were (ironically) an early attempt to play the notion of THE HUNTER. I was looking for someone human who could physically take on the Gargoyles as prey. Someone smart, with an agenda. We actually started with the notion of trying to create our own KRAVEN THE HUNTER type character. But it quickly moved in its own direction. Frankly, away from Kraven and more toward BATMAN. In those days, we were constantly being told that we would be accused of ripping off Batman. So Frank, Michael and I decided to create a villain who, at least in M.O. would be our Batman.

I had a semi-separate idea to add a human to the cast who was from Goliath's time. Thus creating a good thematic nemesis or opposite for him. (The key to creating a good villain, in my opinion.) But this villain would have lived through the centuries. So that he was familiar with the very latest in technology. This dove-tailed with our anti-Batman, and was also exactly how we viewed Demona. So it soon became clear to Michael and I that the two characters must be connected in some way. That suggested that he shouldn't merely be 1000 years old. He should be Scottish as well. All that was left was a name. And given my love of Shakespeare, I'm surprised it took me so long to figure it out. Our nemesis was Macbeth himself. An immortal Scottish King. What Scottish King was more immortal than Macbeth? More mortal too for that matter.

This was the beginning of countless Shakespearian references that I would either slide (or force) into the show, or that the writers would stick in knowing I was a sucker for them. And I love the little exchange between Lex & Brooklyn...

[dialogue approximate]
LEX: "Wasn't "Macbeth" the name of that play by that new writer Shakespeare that Goliath was talking about?"

BROOKLYN: "Have you read it?"

LEX: "No. Have you?"

BROOKLYN: "No. But maybe we should."

This was my little way of trying to encourage our viewers to read or at least learn about the play. If they wanted to know who Macbeth was, it wouldn't hurt to go to the primary source.

And at the time, Shakespeare was my primary source for Macbeth. This was long before Tuppence Macintyre and Monique Beatty did all their research for me for "City of Stone". Back then, the only Macbeth I knew about was Shakespeare's.

We gave him a sense of honor, but a twisted one. And we gave him a very interesting motivation. I didn't yet know the particulars, but this guy was after Demona in a major way. He had stained glass windows in his home depicting the two of them. He was the man who named her. It was all pretty intriguing stuff to me. I love the exchange between him and Goliath. Goliath is a pawn. Mac wants the queen and believes that endangering Goliath is the surest way to ensnare Demona. And how does Goliath respond? By gum, if he doesn't laugh -- MANIACALLY!! And watch how the tables turn. Macbeth is not infallible and suddenly Goliath has him on the defensive. Goliath even uses a MACE!! Great stuff.

Incidentally, we had in the script described Macbeth as wearing a thin layer of exo-armor. And Goliath was supposed to dig his claws into it. Macbeth would escape by detaching from the armor. Instead, the artists did the bit with the duster coat. But I remembered the claws in armor thing and eventually found a place for it... in HUNTER'S MOON, PART THREE.

Finally, watching the episode tonight, my five year old daughter said she spotted the Mona Lisa on Macbeth's wall. I didn't see it. But I believe her. And I wouldn't be at all surprised if that was the original. Too bad about that fire.


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Greg "Xanatos" Bishansky writes...

Thanks for the info on the Titus Andronicus movie. Sounds like it has a good cast. I hope it comes out near me soon. By the time you get this you'll probably have seen it, so what did you think of it?

Greg responds...

I have seen it. By now I'm sure you've read my responses to it. If not, check out the ASK GREG: Shakespeare archive.

Response recorded on March 03, 2000

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Todd Jensen writes...

You once gave a list here of Shakespeare plays that you especially liked because you had ideas for using them in your stories: Henry IV Part One, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, The Tempest, Hamlet, and Love's Labor's Lost. Just for the fun of it, I went over that list recently to see how many of these you'd made use of in "Gargoyles", or had indicated making use of in this forum.

HENRY IV PART ONE: You mentioned that Dingo's real name would be Harry Monmouth, an aka of Prince Hal, and I definitely see a parallel between the two.

KING LEAR: Aside from the mention that I once made of the similarities between Edmund and Thailog (which may not count since you indicated in your response that it was subconscious on your part), I noticed that Xanatos quoted this play in "Vows" in his "Reason not the need" line to Petros Xanatos (interesting, since in the play, Lear quoted that line to one of his daughters - either Goneril or Regan; I can't remember which - so that Xanatos had reversed the parent/child roles here).

ROMEO AND JULIET: The quotes in the library scene in "The Journey", Queen Mab, and Terry and Sphinx as a parallel to Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM: Oberon, Titania, and Puck. (No prizes there).

MACBETH: Macbeth and the Weird Sisters. (Again, no prizes there).

THE TEMPEST: You mentioned having plans to bring Prospero into "Gargoyles" at some point.

HAMLET: Ophelia's name, Elisa doing the "more things in heaven and earth" quote in "Heritage", and Xanatos's "Alas, poor Yorick" parody in "Future Tense".

That leaves just "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Love's Labor's Lost" on the list. Had you ever planned to use anything from those plays in "Gargoyles", similarly?

Greg responds...

As with everything, given enough time and episodes, it would probably be inevitable.

But no, not really. My idea for "Much Ado" is a feature screenplay, which I hope to make myself write someday. My idea for "LLL" is a stageplay, which I also hope to make myself write some day.

And incidentally, my idea for Lear is another stage play, based on a one-act play that I wrote in college (actually when I was living in Oxford). The one-act had three parts for actors: EDMUND, the MEN and the WOMEN. Me, my roommate Cameron Douglas and my then-girlfriend Peggy Gold, performed one reading of the play at Stanford in 1985. I played Edmund. Cameron played the Men. Peggy played the Women. I've always hoped that I could expand this into a full length play. I've had the structure and basic story in my head forever. It's just another one of the long list of projects that I am too enfeebled to pursue.

(I'm much less of a role model than most of you think.)

Response recorded on March 03, 2000

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LSZ writes...

What was Macbeth's exact relationship to Shakespeare?

Greg responds...

They were drinking buddies.

Response recorded on February 20, 2000

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IN SUPPORT OF EDUCATION

I don't normally approve of letting people take "cuts". Or of breaking rules I've set myself, like the one about separate topics requiring separate posts.

But Lexy is writing a paper on GARGOYLES for her HONOR'S ENGLISH CLASS, and she needed some questions answered. I'm a big fan or Honor's English classes, so I couldn't resist. But I figured you all might be interested in the answers as well. So with Lexy's permission, I'm answering them here.

Dear Greg,

Thanks SO much for helping me with my paper. I hope
to do you,and the rest of the fandom,proud:) Here are
some questions I whipped up for an interview. But If
you have anything you think would be helpful to add or
to subtract from them, please feel free to do so.

1) What do you think are some reasons ppl find
mythological creatures, such as gargoyles, intriguing

GREG'S RESPONSE: I think people like to let their imaginations run. And why limit those imaginations to what we know exists. If a concept has its own internal logic, something real in its emotions and relationships for an audience to grab a solid hold too, then there's little limit to how far-fetched the fantasy can get.

2) What started your personal fascination with
Gargoyles?

GREG'S RESPONSE: A high school trip to Europe and hearing the tidbit that Gargoyles were placed on castles and cathedrals to scare away evil spirits. The notion that monsters were used against evil was very intriguing. And this was years before we developed the series.

3) Name some of your favorite books or stories you
enjoyed when growing up.

GREG'S RESPONSE: Wow. Um. How far back to you want to go? GO, DOG, GO was an early favorite. Later, I liked the Hobbit. I liked reading about myths of all kinds. I had the D'Aulaire's GREEK MYTHS and NORSE GODS & GIANTS books and I reread those over and over. I also was always a big fan of detective fiction. I liked Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Later, Conan Doyle, some Christie, but my favorites were Hammett, Chandler and ROSS MacDonald. I loved the LEW ARCHER novels. I liked Heinlein in Science Fiction. "Requiem" is a heartbreakingly beautiful little story. I liked Mary Stewart and especially Mary Renault. I read a lot. I liked a lot of diverse stuff. I could go on for hours.

4) Did anything in particular inspire you to create
'Gargoyles'?

GREG'S RESPONSE: I've spoken to this before. Gummi Bears was an inspiration, as was Hill Street Blues (my all-time favorite tv show). My on-going fascination with stone gargoyles. And the pragmatic need to be constantly feeding the Dragon that was the Disney Afternoon.

5) Do you believe that gargoyles and other statuary
such as grotesques are rooted in evil traditions? Or
are they there for the common good through harsh
example? (explain)

GREG'S RESPONSE: Neither. I think they are symbolic (or rather emblematic) of something primitive and primal. They scare away evil. Not all monsters are against us. We need our dreams and nightmares.

6) (circa) When did you start work on the television
show 'Gargoyles'?

GREG'S RESPONSE: 1991.

7) When and why (circa) were you (and others) forced
to cancel 'Gargoyles'?

GREG'S RESPONSE: The question is phrased in such a way that it's difficult to answer directly. We never planned to do more than 65 episodes. That was a standard run for any show. Now in huge success, a show (like DuckTales for example) made additional episodes, and I won't deny I had hopes that we would to. But the answer came back no. Our ratings were strong. But we were a consistent second place to Power Rangers. So we weren't cancelled. But new episodes would not be made. Then ABC and Disney merged, and ABC wanted some Gargoyles. All my bosses at Disney had left and the new management wanted their own people on the show. So they made me an offer to continue that was designed to make me say no. In hindsight, I should have said yes anyway, but that's spilt milk. I left and they made additional episodes for ABC under the Goliath Chronicles banner. The ratings were not good. Neither, in my opinion, were the episodes. So it wasn't renewed.

8) What did the television show 'Gargoyles'mean to you
as it's creator?

GREG'S RESPONSE: It was and continues to be the highlight of my professional career. Nothing I've done, before or since, let me bring my vision so intact to the screen. It was very collaborative, not every idea was mine, but I still feel like that was the one show that achieved what I hoped it would achieved. I'm ridiculously proud of it, beyond all reason, really.

9) What was the central theme or message of the show ?

GREG'S RESPONSE: There wasn't just one. Among the messages was the obvious DON'T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER moral. Plus plenty about the preciousness of life and hope. Themes of redemption are very important to me. Guilt, fear, love, trust, loyalty. You name it, at some point we through it in. Often episode titles were designed to remind both audience and writer of what the major theme in that story was.

10) How many Gatherings have you attended?

GREG'S RESPONSE: All three. Two in NYC. One in Dallas. And I hope to continue to go as long as you folks want me.

11) What is your opinion of the Gatherings?

GREG'S RESPONSE: It is always one of the true highlights of my year. How could it not be? I'm basically treated like royalty for 72 straight hours. Since that doesn't happen to a guy like me much in real life, it's pretty damn cool.

12) What do you hope ppl who watch 'Gargoyles'will
come away with?

GREG'S RESPONSE: First and foremost, I hope they were entertained. Not a little, but a lot, and on multiple levels. I hope we got the adrenaline going. I hope we touched their hearts. I hope we gave them something to think about. I hope we educated them a bit, or more likely gave them reason to want to be educated about, say SHAKESPEARE or Scottish History or King Arthur or Native American customs or whatever. I'm greedy. I want all of this.

13) What did you like most about the show 'Gargoyles'?

GREG'S RESPONSE: I'm not objective enough to answer this one.

14) What did you like most about working on the show
'Gargoyles'?

GREG'S RESPONSE: Honestly, the autonomy. The freedom. I also had some incredibly talented collaborators and when we were in gear, we really hummed. But for sheer fun, it's hard to beat those voice recording sessions. That was the part of the job that generally was the least like work. It's where all the potentials of the show come to life and few of the problems are revealed. Just fun.

15) Why incorporate so many classic dramas and other
time honored themes within 'Gargoyles'?

GREG'S RESPONSE: Purely for my own amusement. And with the hope that some people will either also be amused or will come to be amused as they discover these things. Plus it made my job easier. The story of Macbeth is so good, that adapting it practically wrote itself.

Thanks so much for all your help:)!

Lexy;)

GREG'S RESPONSE: You are welcome. Let me know if I can be of any more help.


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Leong writes...

Hi Greg, just one question; whatever did Demona think of the play Macbeth?

Greg responds...

Probably that it represented poetic justice.

Response recorded on February 03, 2000

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Todd Jensen writes...

This is another question I've been meaning to ask for some time, but finally got around to. You once mentioned your feelings about "The Merchant of Venice" and Shylock here, and particularly the reasons for your ambivalent response to the play. What Shylock prompts in me, in relation to "Gargoyles", is this question.

Do you think that there is a certain similarity, in the basics, between Demona and Shylock? I see one myself, since both come from oppressed minority groups, and both became sufficiently embittered by the persecution that they and their people underwent to seek revenge. (Of course, Demona's genocide schemes automatically dwarf Shylock's demand for a pound of Antonio's flesh). I'm curious about what your own thoughts are on this.

Greg responds...

It's a great connection. I won't pretend that it was a conscious choice on my part (though wouldn't it have been cool if it was).

But I absolutely agree with your basic analysis. You call me a monster often enough and at some point as Lex put it, you get a desire to "live up to the name".

None of which translates into genocide or pounds of flesh, unless you've got some serious internal problems anyway.

But none of that precludes having some qualities that border on the noble. And I think both Demona and Shylock, for all their faults and flat-out villainy, have noble aspects too.

I think that's what makes them so fascinating.

Suddenly, I'm dying to read Harold Bloom's take on Shylock.

Response recorded on February 03, 2000

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Shakespeare ramblings...

Seeing TITUS and having some professional free time to dedicate to a more long term project finds me re-emersing myself in the Works of Will (WoW). At least, after a fashion.

Since this ramble will knock my comments on TITUS off the "LATEST RESPONSES" page, so may want to check those comments out by visiting the "Shakespeare" section of the ASK GREG archive.

But recently, I've also been reading Harold Bloom's book, "Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human". It's really an amazing work. I've been reading it while viewing various takes on ROMEO AND JULIET and HAMLET. It's really helped me to appreciate HAMLET more. In the past, I've always admired the play, but it never reached me as deeply as LEAR or R&J or MIDSUMMER or MUCH ADO or WINTER'S TALE, etc. I'm gaining a new, deeper understanding and appreciation of HAMLET now. In part from Bloom's book.

And in part, from Kenneth Brannaugh's four hour movie version, which I saw and liked in the movie theater a few years ago. Still, I'm gaining a new appreciation for it on video. So many little things to love. Such a scope. And I think I'm finally "getting" Hamlet himself.

But frankly, one of the big helps has been revisiting a film that Brannaugh directed (but did not star in) just before he took on HAMLET. In America, it's called "A MIDWINTER'S TALE". (Elsewhere, I think it's known as "IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER".) It's a little black & white film about a company of seven actors (and two support people) who put together a local production of HAMLET in order to raise money to save the church they're performining in. This is another movie I saw and liked in the theater. But seeing it again on video has been wonderful. Ophelia's song of madness has never been more poignant, then in the "rehersal" scene in this film. I can't help feeling, that this little movie was an important act of mental preparation before Brannaugh took on his big HAMLET film. Among other points of interest, the actors who play Hamlet, Claudius and Laertes in A MIDWINTER'S TALE, went on to play Laertes, Polonius and Horatio (respectively) in HAMLET.

I've also been revisiting ROMEO & JULIET. Bloom's book has some really interesting stuff about that play as well. (Though I'm convinced he gets one thing dead wrong. It's trivial, but he takes for granted that Susan is Juliet's late twin sister. His brain must be short-circuiting there. It seems beyond obvious to me that Susan was the Nurse's daughter. Born at the same time as Juliet, an infant who died shortly thereafter, making the Nurse a good candidate to be Juliet's wetnurse -- and surrogate mother.)

I've also watched the video of Baz Luhrman's version of R&J, starring Leonardo & Claire. I like it. This one suffers a bit off the big screen, but it has some great moments.

SPOILER WARNING

Romeo actually getting to see Juliet come back to life just AFTER he's taken the poison for example.

Next up, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE on video and then the ZEFIRELLI R&J. The movie that first opened the door to Shakespeare to me. (I'm still in love with Olivia Hussey.)

BTW, I realize that a lot of Gargoyles fans won't really know what I'm talking about here. ("Who the heck is Susan?") But, you are an exceedingly bright group. Maybe all this cryptic rambling will get you to check all of this stuff out. I recommend it.


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TITUS

I saw TITUS on Saturday with my wife Beth and three people who worked on GARGOYLES.

1. Fred Schaefer, who was a development associate who helped develop the show. (I think it's safe to say that Talon was sort of Fred's idea in a very early pre-Derek form. We called the character Catscan then.) Fred is currently a producer/executive/story editor at Porchlight Entertainment.

2. Monique Beatty was my assistant during the Gargoyles years. She did a lot of research for me. She's now a producer at Kinofilms.

3. Tuppence Macintyre is an old friend of mine. She also did a lot of Scotish research for Gargoyles, just as a personal favor and because it interested her. She's a Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles.

Anyway, the five of us went to see TITUS in Santa Monica. The film is based on one of Shakespeare's early tragedies, TITUS ANDRONICUS. It was adapted and directed by Julie Taymor, who adapted and directed THE LION KING for the Broadway stage. So it's not surprise that the film is visually stunning. Monique didn't like the anachronistic style of the film (depicting chariots and motorcycles side-by-side for example), but it's not the first time I've seen that kind of interpretation, so it didn't bother me.

And the acting is fantastic. Anthony Hopkins (who I've loved forever -- does anyone remember the movie MAGIC?) plays Titus. He's brilliant. His lament to the stones is heartbreaking. Jessica Lange is good as "Tamara, Queen of the Goths" (now tell me that isn't a Gargoyles' character in the making). And Alan Cumming (who voiced John Castaway in "The Journey") is a nice, twisted villain as Saturninus, the Roman Emperor. But the revelation is Harry Lennix as Aaron the Moor. Amazing.

The story of Titus is not for the squeemish or for children. It's a real pot-boiler. Something just this side of a horror movie with a hard R rating for violence and nudity, though thankfully a minimum of on-screen gore.

The play was a big hit for Shakespeare in his day. But it's been dismissed as a critical flop. And I can see why. I've read it a couple times and thought it awful. Which coming from a bardolitor like myself is pretty harsh. It seemed like none of the characters were sympathetic or interesting.

But I'd never seen it performed, so I was looking forward to the movie. As usual, Shakespeare plays tens times better than he reads. In the movie, I had -- at moments -- plenty of sympathy for nearly all the characters. And the wonderful thing is that my sympathies are constantly shifting. No one is without sin. All share the blame except for Aaron's son. And Aaron himself is amazing.

Although, I can't help agreeing that Shakespeare wrote TITUS at least in part as parody of the tragic genre -- the way SCREAM was designed to be both parody and exemplar of the horror film -- I can also see flashes of KING LEAR, HAMLET and CORIOLANUS in Titus' character.

But Aaron prefigures Othello, Iago, Edmund and Shylock at least. He's a remarkably progressive character for the time. A villain, who is the only character to succeed in preserving a sliver of innocence within the world of the play.

Anyway, I really enjoyed it. And I recommend it to any Gargoyle Fan over the age of 17.


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Airwalker writes...

Would Dingo have any family members who would factor into BAD GUYS somehow?

Greg responds...

Yes. Definitely.

Response recorded on December 30, 1999

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Greg "Xanatos" Bishansky writes...

Hi Greg

The other day I saw Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus. The play was performed outside, overlooking the Hudson river, and the view and the gardens remined me of Avalon. I thought the play was very good. I hear its not performed often and I could see why. The queen of the Goths, Tamora, reminded me so much of Demona while I watched it. She was just as dedicated to getting revenge on Titus Andronicus for the murder of her sons as Demona was on humanity.
Did you ever have Tamora in mind while handling Demona?

Greg responds...

Well, not consciously. I've read Titus, of course. But I've never seen it performed. There's a movie version that just hit one theater in L.A. this week. It stars Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange and Alan Cumming (the voice of John Castaway in "The Journey"). I can't wait to see it.

Response recorded on December 30, 1999

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Aris Katsaris writes...

It has been noticed by the residents of the S8 comment room that the gender of Ariel in Shakespeare's 'The Tempest' only appears as 'he' in a stage direction and is not referred at all within the main text itself. When you included Ariel, what would his/her gender be?

For that matter, may we assume that Shakespeare was inaccurate in portraying Prospero as abandoning his magic?

Greg responds...

Ariel's gender... Don't feel like revealing that now. Sorry.

Shakespeare wasn't wrong. But Prospero found reason to start again.

Response recorded on August 23, 1999

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Airwalker writes...

1. What would be Katana and Nashville's reaction to Malibu?
2. Do you have designs in mind for Katana, Nashville, Tachi, Fudog, and Hudson's mate? If so, could you describe them?
3. You said that Brooklyn ended up with Mary and Finella in the 1970's. So doesn't that mean that they would still be alive today?
4. Why did you say that Shakespeare's MACBETH would amuse Macbeth? It portrays Gruoch as a Princess of Darkness. How can he take pleasure in that?
5. In what era did Demona arrive in America (Colonial, Antebellum, Reconstruction, etc)?
6. In what era did Macbeth arrive in America (Colonial, Antebellum, Reconstruction, etc)?
7. Now that Renard knows the truth about Anastasia, has it changed anything for him in terms of his feelings for her?
8. Considering that after all is said and done, Goliath was raised and lived most of his life in the 10th century, what is his stand on capital punishment?
9. What are the feelings of the Trio about the Magus and Katharine, considering that they only knew them before they changed, and have never seen their redemption, only heard of it?
10. What are the Mutates feelings about the Gargoyles now living in the castle?
11. Any news on the movie?
12. If you had done BAD GUYS, would Macbeth and/or Demona have appeared?
13. Why didn't anyone ever figure out that Gilcomgain was the Hunter? He has slash marks on his face that match the one's on the mask.
14. Broadway's blindness in FUTURE TENSE, was it just Puck playing with Goliath's sanity AND a prophecy or was it only just Puck playing with Goliath's mind?
15. If the show ever did come back, would you ever bring up or try to make clearer that the people Demona smashed in CITY OF STONE were truly dead?
16. You said that Demona would find love again. But what about Macbeth? Would he have found love again?
17. How rich would you classify Xanatos, Demona, Macbeth, and Post-RECKONING Thailog (Mildly rich, extremely rich, stinking rich, beyond the reach of ordinary people rich)?
18. What did the Mutates do with Sevarious' potion from THE CAGE?
19. Would you have shown us some of Fang's past and also some of his family if BAD GUYS had been done?
20. Can you give us a clue, where in the world, which hemisphere, which continent, where ever, is Coldstone and Coldfire's new clan going to be?
21. What was the name of Xanatos' mother and when did she die?
22. You said you haven't come up with real names for Jackal and Hyena. But do you have anything in mind?
23. Does Macbeth know about the Illuminati?
24. Does the Illuminati know about Macbeth?
25. Would we have seen some of Lexington's descendants in GARGOYLES 2158?

Greg responds...

1. That would depend on the circumstances of their introduction, don't you think?

2. I've dealt with this recently. I do have a fairly clear idea about Fu Dog. But I'm not going to pin myself down at this point.

3. Doesn't preclude the possibility.

4. It has a lot to do with Mac's relationship to Will.

5. In the immortal words of my Magic Eightball: "Try Again Later".

6. Which time?

7. What exactly does he know?

8. He probably has little trouble with it but feels that in an ideal world (which he knows this is not) it's a less than stellar solution. Of course, that's all very theoretical. In practice, we've seen how he responds.

9. Distanced.

10. The Mutates aren't a monolith.

11. Nothing new, since I last answered.

12. Maybe, eventually, but not in my immediate plans.

13. Dramatic license? Or.... There were a lot of people with similar scars running around Scotland back then. Yeah. That's the ticket.

14. You didn't really think I'd answer that, did you?

15. You mean go out of my way to cover that?

16. Sure. Why not? (I'm such an old softy.)

17. Xanatos is Beyond the Reach rich. Macbeth is just stinking rich. Demona's extremely rich. Thailog's just rich.

18. Maggie saved it.

19. Yes.

20. Huh?

21. Not saying now.

22. Jack and Hanna. (Just kidding.) (Unless, I decide that those names really amuse me.)

23. Not saying.

24. Not saying.

25. Not saying.


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Airwalker writes...

Would we have seen William Shakespeare appear in the series (Not just his plays but himself personally)?

Greg responds...

Eventually, yes. But I would have tackled his inclusion with great trepidation and reluctance. To be honest, he's hard for me to get my head around as a person. Maybe I'm just too big a fanboy.

Actually, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE might have given me a model that I could have used. Yeah....

<SOUND OF WHEELS TURNING...>



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