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Did you find it spooky that Disney bought Marvel so soon after you wrote and put on the Gargoyles/Spectacular Spider-Man crossover Radio Play for the Gathering? I know that it was just a coincidence, but I still found the timing a bit eerie.
Eh... few things (in this business) truly surprise me these days. Which is NOT to say I saw this coming, because I did not. But hearing about it, I was hardly shocked.
In the latest move by The Walt Disney Corporation in acquiring Marvel, Disney has shown a renewed interest in comic book and superhero literature.
Can you see this as beneficial to getting Gargoyles back as an active property? Id Disney sell-able on making a now lateral pass of the Gargoyles property as a new Marvel entity? Given your stint writing for Spider-man, could you foresee a world in which The Manhattan Clan was a full member of the Marvel Pantheon?
2. I have no idea.
Hi, I'm posting on Disney/Marvel Merger Day and I'm looking for some historical perspective. Someone in the comment room says "I recall Greg once saying that back in the 90s Disney was interested in buying Marvel, but instead decided to create their own universe with Gargoyles." I've found this on the New Olympians episode ramble:
Well, the Greek Myths of course. But that's not really what I'm talking about. As many of you know, The New Olympians was a concept -- originally created by Bob Kline -- that we began developing at Disney TV Animation even BEFORE Gargoyles. It was definitely a concept that evolved, but it was also a concept that we felt fit nicely into the Gargoyles Universe. So this episode was created as a backdoor pilot. At the time we had big plans for the Gargoyles Universe. Hopes that it would eventually evolve into Disney's equivalent of the Marvel or DC Universe. The World Tour expanded our Universe in many ways -- mostly for the sake of the Gargoyles series itself. But also to demonstrate that our universe had the "chops" to go the distance."
Could you elaborate?
1) Is it true that Disney considered buying Marvel in the 90s?
2) Did the Disney higher-ups want a Gargoyles Universe to rival Marvel/DCU, if briefly, or was that your idea?
3) How heady were the days of season 2? Was Gargoyles being positioned as a significant face of Disney? I remember the Anaheim Gargoyles baseball team memo is from around that time too.
2. It was my suggestion, but it was a suggestion that my bosses, including Michael Eisner liked. At least for one meeting.
3. They weren't all that heady. There was a lot of potential in the property, but the schedule was also both long and brutal, and we were still producing episodes into May of 1996, even though the season had premiered in September or October of 1995. By January it was pretty clear that reruns, preemptions, the O.J. Simpson trial and Power Rangers had combined to severely damage our momentum. In addition, the death of Frank Wells and the departures of Jeffrey Katzenberg, Rich Frank, Gary Krisel and Bruce Cranston, i.e. some of the people who had been such great backers of the property, hurt too. As did Eisner's decision to step back from the hands-on decision making he had done vis-a-vis Disney T.V. Animation. It left us quite at sea. New people came in who had no affinity for the property, long before we were even done producing Season Two.
So does this mean that Gargoyles is part Marvel?
What do you think about the Disney Marvel merger? Do you think it will change anything for you(or in other words you're struggle to get more episodes of Gargoyles made)? Do you think we will see you're gargoyles comics published by Marvel in the future?
1. I'm withholding judgement.
2. I don't know.
I see there are two other questions about Disney buying Marvel - but I'm going to ask two other related questions:
(1) Were you aware ahead of time that Disney would be purchasing Marvel?
(2) I'm sure the legal complexities involved in this transaction are very... well, complex... as they interface with your show. However, to your knowledge, how does Disney's purchase of Marvel impact the possibilities of using previous off-limits characters on Spectacular Spider-Man? (Especially Kingpin, but also other characters you said you wanted to use on rare occasion, such as Human Torch.)
2. No idea.
Now that Disney is buying Marvel, do you think will affect, positively or negatively, The Spectacular Spider-Man's future?
I really don't know.
Will Disney buying Marvel Comics mean anything for the Gargoyles comic book series?
I don't think so, but I don't know.
I've always wondered how building a writing team works exactly. Obviously Sony liked your pitch for Spectacular (and I'm very glad they did)and we wound up with great efforts from Matt Wayne, Kevin Hopps, Andrew Robinson and Randy Jandt. But did you hand pick these people or were they provided for you by Sony? Or did they have their own takes on Spidey that convinced you that they, out of the many people who must have been vying for a spot on the show, had the right stuff for the series? And you guys had a pretty solid rotation system, so how does whatever selection process used differ from freelancing for a show?
Hmmm.... the order of things...
I think it started with Randy, who had been my script coordinator on many previous series. We offered him the job of apprentice writer, a union position that would allow him to be a script coordinator but also take the next step up and write one script per season.
My next hire was Kevin Hopps, who was brought on as a staff writer. Kevin and I go way back to my Disney days. He's given me work; I've given him work. He's great and someone I can count on.
The rest of the "staff" was in fact freelance. Andrew Robinson was an obvious choice. He had done great work for me on W.I.T.C.H. I didn't know Matt Wayne, but my boss Michael Vogel was big on Matt's stuff... so I gave him a try (with great results).
Having chosen these writers, we did start something of a rotation.
I wrote the pilot and reserved the twelfth (origin) episode for myself. Then staff writer Kevin, was followed by freelancers Matt and Andrew for episodes 2-4 and 5-7. Randy took episode 8, a middle episode that would give him a chance to get acclimated on the series. 9-11 were taken by the "rotation". I did twelve. Kevin did 13.
For season two, I added Nicole Dubuc (another W.I.T.C.H. success story) as a freelancer to give us a another voice. While Nicole got acclimated, we began with the same Kevin, Matt, Andrew rotation for episodes 14-16. Randy did 17. Then we had planned to start the rotation again, with Nicole added in. (So the PLAN was to have 18-21 be Kevin, Matt, Andrew, Nicole). But by this time, Matt was getting pretty busy on other series. So Nicole also jumped in and took Matt's spot in the rotation, and 18-21 became Kevin, Nicole, Andrew, Nicole. We then started a new rotation without Matt. And Kevin, Andrew and Nicole took 22-24. I had reserved 25 for myself. And Kevin again finished out the season with 26.
That's the way I like to work. Have a small "staff" (mostly freelancers for budgetary reasons) that do multiple episodes. That way the writers really learn the show. We all break episodes together, helping each other out pre-outline. It really becomes a team.
My brothers and I are impressed by the fluid animation in Spectacular Spider-Man. We imagine it must be very expensive. How much does it cost to do those cool action scenes?
I can't spit out a number for the action scenes in a vacuum. SpecSpidey had a fairly standard "per episode" TV Animation budget. We tried to get as much bang for our buck as possible.
Hi Greg! I was reading an earlier post of yours where you mentioned that it's harder to pitch original ideas (I'm guessing to networks, but maybe it's the same with comics, books, etc...?) now than it was when you originally pitched Gargoyles:
1. Why is it more difficult to pitch original ideas now than it was then? (I would think they'd be anxious for new concepts???)
2. What's probably the #1 thing that the people being pitched to are looking for?
3. Is a successful pitch sometimes tied to the person you are pitching to? (I mean, if you're pitching to one guy on Tuesday, but had you gone on say, Thursday and had a different guy, could the outcome of the pitch be different? I guess I mean do you depend on getting lucky with whomever you're scheduled to pitch to? And if not, can you ask to pitch to someone else?)
Thanks! I hope my questions were clear enough to get across what I'm trying to ask. I'm thinking of writing professionally (IF I'm any good) and wondered how hard it would be to "pitch". Thanks again! (Love your work by the way.)
1. They're not. They're afraid of new concepts and would rather have something that's "proven" in some other medium or era. This, in my opinion, is a direct result of the vertical integration of these companies that makes the decision making process a long uphill struggle.
2. It differs all the time, but marquis value doesn't hurt.
3. Luck-of-the-draw and incidental timing are huge factors.
Greg, how come in the Spectacular Spider-Man it doesent use realistic gunshot sounds? But, Batman: The Brave and The Bold it uses realistic gunshot sounds, other Batman cartoon shows.
Different networks have different rules, I guess.
In response to two of your previous responses to me (via everyone):
You wrote, "If I am going to "lift", I try to be direct and on the head about it, so that I'm acknowledging the debt as opposed to trying to get away with something."
Would you say that this is simplified explanation of the difference between 'homage' and 'rip-off'?
As for Free Comic Book Day, it's the first Saturday in May every year and is sponsored by some of the larger comic book companies as a way to support the industry and local comic shops. Here is their website:
Yes, I think in bald terms that is the difference between 'homage' and 'theft'.
Hey, Greg. I heard some scenes in Gargoyles were censored by Disney. In one episode in season 1, I remember a part where Hyena says "Would you like an autograph?" a girl (forgot her name) pulls out a knife on the guy and says, "Maybe I should signï»¿ it on your face!" And that's when Jackal says, "Might as well get in on the fun." And I heard there were a few more episodes that had censors.
I would say Spectacular Spider-Man is a little violent for a children's show. So far, your show has had drug addiction, Tombstone getting stabbed in the back by the Green Goblin, Doc Ock promising Rhino the "permission" to impale Spiderman's heart, George Stacy saying the F word in "Shear Strength", a funeral, and also violent fights. I've considered most of the fights in this show (especially the season 2 fights) a little bit violent for little kids.
So here's my question: Will Spectacular Spider-Man suffer from censors the same way some scenes of Gargoyles have? Were there any censored scenes in the show so far in Spectacular Spiderman on Disney? If yes, which scenes? Also, I heard the "Natural Selections" episode had censors. Is that true?
Thank you for answering my questions.
GARGOYLES wasn't censored in the traditional sense of the word when the shows first aired. Since then, I'm told, ToonDisney/Jetix/DisneyXD may have made some cuts. But I haven't watched their versions of the shows.
George Stacy never said the "F-word" unless you and I have VERY different ideas of which F the F-Word stands for. I don't think THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN is too violent for kids. Of course, I grew up on Coyote and Roadrunner cartoons.
You're sort of throwing the c-word (censorship) around willy-nilly. I'm not sure you really get what it means in a practical sense. But in any case, the 1st Season and half the second season have all aired on DisneyXD, and nothing has been cut from the versions we made.
And, no, nothing was censored out of "Natural Selections". Where did you hear that?
Got easily a hundred calls, texts, e-mails yesterday about the big Marvel/Disney news and a few about the Sony/Marvel/Spidey news, so here are a few random thoughts to go with what I posted yesterday...
1. SPEC SPIDEY: The main thing that's changed about the Spec Spidey situation is that Sony is now out of the loop/decision making process about whether or not there's a third season. Before Sony was waiting to see if Disney picked up the series. Then they'd decide on its economic feasibility for Sony. Now Sony isn't part of that equation, leaving the whole thing in Marvel and Disney's hands. Of course, now that Marvel and Disney are kinda one hand, so-to-speak, I don't know what that means for us. Other than the obvious, which is that I'm sure we're not exactly Disney/Marvel's highest priority at the moment. How and when this decision gets made is really up in the air, but a former negative does feel good -- now -- that our last six episodes won't start airing on Disney XD until late October. That means our last episode won't air until early December, which may be a better time for Disney/Marvel to focus on the show. (Or not.) Of course even a positive decision in December or (more likely) January means a HUGE gap between Seasons Two and Three, but I'd take that over no new episodes.
2. FLASHBACKS:I can't help but be reminded of events in the mid-nineties, when Michael Eisner (then CEO of Disney) wanted to buy Marvel, so that he'd have super-heroes to compete with Warner Bros' DC Universe heroes (including Superman and Batman). Back then, however, Marvel was, or so I was told, a corporate mess. And it wasn't just that -- as now -- various studios already had the rights to individual characters, but that the rights had been double sold all over the place, and that every character pretty much represented a lawsuit in the making if not already in the works. Eisner was advised NOT to buy Marvel, and of course he didn't. But he REALLY wanted to be competing in the boys action/super-hero market. That was when the Gargoyles Universe was raised as a possible alternative. We pointed out that the Marvel Universe began with the Fantastic Four, and that we could use Gargoyles as a springboard to more properties and to an entire Universe. We were encouraged by Michael to create spin-off properties, backdoor pilots, etc. And that was THE major impetus for us to work on things like New Olympians, Bad Guys, Pendragon and Dark Ages. (Gargoyles Future Tense -- which became Gargoyles 2198 and TimeDancer came later.) It was also a reason to be expansive with the World Tour and introduce more and more new characters, etc. Of course, by the time all this stuff was actually made, the world had changed again. Frank Wells died. Michael and Jeffry Katzenberg went to war, with Jeffry eventually leaving to found DreamWorks, and taking two of my immediate superiors, Gary Krisel and Bruce Cranston, with him. Rich Frank (another of my bosses up the chain) also left. Dean Valentine was placed in charge of Walt Disney Television Animation and he had no affinity for Gargoyles or its spin-offs. And Michael, who had initiated the whole thing, had way bigger concerns on his plate. I was more or less forced out. But for one bright, shining moment...
3. GARGOYLES: I'm sure a lot of people are wondering what this means for our favorite winged warriors, but in the short term, I'm sure the answer is "Not much." Gargoyles is pretty much under Disney's radar right now, and really doesn't exist on Marvel's radar at all, as far as I can tell. We'll be an extremely low priority. Our best bet is still SLG, which HOPEFULLY will be motivated by the sales of the Trades to want to make more content with me. Having read Dan "Mr. SLG" Vado's recent reaction to the Disney/Marvel merger, I'm hoping he isn't too discouraged by being in bed with his competition. But I have no doubt that the best way to get Dan fully on board is to make it worth his while by having those trades sell VERY well. So again, buy the trades and/or SPREAD THE WORD!!!!
Okay, in the period of just a few days, I have been rocked by two incredible pieces of news.
1. Last Thursday (8/27/09), Vic Cook and I were informed that in exchange for some concession vis-a-vis the live action Spider-Man features, Sony returned the television rights (including the animated television rights) for Spider-Man to Marvel. This took place the day before ComicCon, I'm told. But I was only informed of it this past week.
2. Today (8/31/09) comes the news that Disney has purchased Marvel outright.
NOW, before you ask -- before you post a thousand duplicate and/or overlapping questions to ASK GREG -- let me be clear: I have NO IDEA what this means for either Gargoyles or The Spectacular Spider-Man. Neither of these developments are by definition good news or bad news. Shocking news, sure. But how it will play out for either or both properties is a complete mystery to me. As soon as I have ANY information on either property, I will post it here at ASK GREG. Until then, don't ask. Seriously. Just don't. There's just no point in bogging down the queue with questions I have no answer to. Thank you for your cooperation.
Hi Greg!..iam a full supporter of your show....this show is by far the best spidey show ever...everytime i watch an episode i need more!! AMAZING JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Truly amazing! AMAZING !!!!!!
I have 3 Questions And A Request. :)
1) How much time does it take the crew to make one episode? and then a whole season ? i mean the final thing when every things (editing etc) finished,
2) If the confirmation for season 3 comes out (i hope it does!) ...how much time will it take for it to air? i heard season 2 came late because of the whole channel changing thing...now that every things set how much time will season 3 take ? i mean which month?
3)If ratings on all future seasons are good how many seasons would you plan to make ? (i hope more than 10 !!!lol)
And a Request
This show....has made me an addict to the extent that ive spent my holidays discussing episodes of Spectacular spiderman with my friends and not doing anything else lol....and i like it !!! this is the 1st show that im in love with ....i want you to promise your fans that other than the ratings you will do everything in your power to make this series a success and by success i mean doing more seasons! :)...Please please please please x 100000 Dont Stop making new seasons please.And i pray that this success will continue.:)
Eagerly waiting for your reply.
Long Live Spidey.!!! Long Live Spectacular Spiderman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
1. It takes between eight months and a year to produce a season of animation, with multiple steps going on simultaneously on multiple episodes, a bit like an assembly line.
2. No way to know at this point. We'd need the pick-up. I'd have to plan the season, then we'd get started. And even once we finished, they could choose to hold the episodes for a more auspicious launch time (at least to their minds).
3. Generally speaking, I'm shooting for 65 episodes and then hope to continue with Direct to DVDs. But I'll take more or less... basically whatever I can get.
As for your request, it's just really not up to me. If they offer me the opportunity, I will make more. But I have no control, I'm afraid.
1. You've often mentioned how you chose Tombstone as the new "Big Man of Crime" because the Kingpin was unavailable due to legal issues. What other characters besides Tombstone did you consider for this position? Also, is the phrase "Big Man" a title given out to whoever happens to be in control of New York's crime rings at the time and is passed on to their successor, (ie, like a king or queen) or is it an alias that is permanently attached to Tombstone? I've seen evidence to support both cases.
2. How exactly does Doc Ock get dressed in the morning? The part of his harness that lines up with his spine clearly goes on underneath his clothing but the ring around his waist goes overtop of everything else. Can the harness still open up in front or is that fused shut too? Just watching Ock go through his morning routine would probably clear most of this up, plus the notion of him using his tentacles to brush his teeth is just hilarious. (Just be glad I'm not asking how Rhino goes to the bathroom.) I also assume that for the duration of Season 2 he's had enough time to acquire or build a new power source for his harness that can last for years at a time?
3. You burned down the Big Sky Billiard lounge! I loved that place. Every comic book needs a place where the supervillains can go for some downtime and hang out. Please, I know you don't want to spoil anything you have planned for season 3 but at least give us a vague hint that we'll get to see a new "Bad Guy Bar."
4. Is Chameleon's white visage a mask that he wears with other masks going on top of it, or is that actually his face after being surgically altered to have any distinguishing features like a nose and ears removed? Typically one would expect a face-changer to remove as much of their original face as possible and then add on top of that as needed, (just look at Metal Gear Solid's Decoy Octopus, the guy shaved down his cheek bones and cut off part of his nose and ears.) Wearing two masks doesn't seem to be that effective since you're doubling the amount the disguise is lifted above your actual face.
5. Exactly how long has Norman been inhaling the gobulin green? I'd assume he'd either start as soon as he'd invented the stuff, shortly after he was nearly killed by a giant geriatric buzzard and wanted to make sure he didn't have to rely on Spidey the next time something similar happened, or shortly after his first dealings with Hammerhead when he started planning to overthrow the Big Man. By the way, what kind of guy develops an experimental highly dangerous performance enhancing drug and then brings it home to show his family and then just leaves some lying around where his son can start chugging the stuff without anyone noticing it's gone?
6. We didn't see much of Aunt May in Season 2, but with so many characters floating around this isn't too surprising. If May does play an important role in any season three episodes is she going to get a spot in the opening credits for that episode?
7. When comparing animated shows through the years there doesn't seem to be a large change in the style and tone from the 1960's through to the late 80's. All the animated shows had a simplistic plot and generally weren't mentally demanding. However sometime in the early/mid 90's we started seeing shows like Fox's Spider-man, Batman The Animated Series, Reboot and Gargoyles, all of which felt more sophisticated than earlier shows and had such features as real character development and story arcs that could last through a season. Somehow I have a hard time imagining an episode like "Lethal Force" being done on G.I. Joe. As someone who has been in the industry a while did you notice a change in attitude from networks or executives towards animation at around that time? When producing Gargoyles did you find that in general people were more willing to let you attempt making a show with more mature themes relative to what you had done before?
8. Should Spiderman not get a third season or become cancelled for certain after season three wraps up, how likely is it that production could continue on direct to DVD movies? Generally speaking is it easier to convince producers or whomever to greenlight a single movie length piece of work comparred to an entire season of an animated show?
1. No one really. Tombstone was pretty much my instant second choice to replace Kingpin. And as for the "Big Man" title, I've seen evidence to both sides too.
2. I'm mostly content to leave Ock's morning routine to your imagination. As for his power-pack, he has had time to find one that lasts a long time. But he still NEEDS the power-pack. The arms won't function without it.
3. Yes, eventually.
4. Again, I'll leave this to your interpretation.
5. As you indicated, he started immediately after surviving Vulture's attempts on his life. He did not like feeling that powerless.
7. I think Batman the Animated Series was a revelation to many of us, and gave us the courage and evidence of success that allowed us to at least attempt to match or better that great series. Simpsons helped too, as did Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Little Mermaid (the movie), and to a lesser extent The Great Mouse Detective. Animation seemed to be in something of a renaissance. But it shouldn't have been surprising. A generation of multi-discipline writers and artists who grew up on cartoons, comic books and genre fiction -- creative types who had learned to be discerning readers and viewers -- began to execute the kinds of shows they wanted to see. As for Gargoyles specifically, the miracle wasn't that people let me do what I wanted, but that they left me alone, which allowed me to do what I wanted. A subtle distinction, I know. But a significant one.
8. If we got cancelled or not picked up after Season Two is done airing, it would, I believe -- despite all evidence to the contrary and no matter how unfair that perception might be -- put the stink of failure on the series. Which would make it hard to get a greenlight on a DVD.
Hey, Greg! I love what you've done with Spectacular Spider-Man. The the best show ever. The 90s show compared to yours is nothing. This show rules!! Here's my question:
Every season in Spectacular Spider-Man has 4 arcs. Each arc is 3 or 4 episodes. You were involed in "The Batman" but you weren't the main director. If you were the main director and producer of "The Batman" when it was first planned, would you have done the same thing you did to Spectacular Spider-Man (having 4 arcs per season)?
I'm not a director at all. (Well, I've been a voice director, but I'm guessing that's not what you're talking about.)
What you seem to be talking about is me being a writer-producer. But no series exists in a vacuum. The arcs weren't my idea on Spec Spidey -- they were part of my marching orders -- though I took to the notion like a duck to water.
Regular readers of Ask Greg know I'm not too fond of hypothetical questions, but asking me about The Batman in this context is just... well... a hypothetical that borders on the silly. (Sorry.) There are too many unknown factors for me to evaluate. But since clearly the producers of The Batman had no such marching orders, the odds are slim that we would have taken that approach.
So, Greg, just out of sure curiosity, have you ever felt there was a whole conspiracy against the Gargoyles series at Disney? I mean, judging from Disney's actions, it was like they wanted the series to fail?
As I've said many times before, that's SO far from the truth it's beyond preposterous.
They made 78 episodes before RATINGS caused them to cancel the series.
So, I'm curious about something involving the early development of Gargoyles...particularly, the pitching process. I'm not exactly sure how to word this, as my knowledge of how the process of actually pitching a show works, but I'll try my best.
Listening to commentary on Awakening recently and browsing the Archives revealed that you had pitched Gargoyles multiple times: First as a comedy, then as an action show. What intrigues me in particular is the fact that the show had multiple pitches over the course of however long (the amount of time escapes me, sorry).
1. Are repeated pitching sessions common for television shows?
2. On what basis are pitches repeated (after being tweaked)? Positive notes from executives, faith in the concept, a combination?
3. Has the environment for pitching become stricter? As in, are concepts expected to be marketable/viable in one try or are multiple pitching attempts on the same concept still possible?
I apologize if these aren't worded all that correctly, it's just something I find very puzzling and I'm not entirely sure how to word my questions.
1. Sometimes, although more often if a show doesn't sell the first time out it dies. But often enough, a creator will keep trying variations until he or she sells their idea... or runs out of people to sell it to.
2. All of the above, plus a smidgen of desperation.
3. See above. Nothing's really changed, though it's definitely tougher to sell an original idea now than it was back then.
i would like to say thank you for creating the best superhero animated series of all time...second, this is a question, i know you can't and won't reveal any future plans for the series but can you answer this, i know fox had a hellofalot things the 90's series couldn'y do like punch...PUNCH, obviously this series doesnt have as much problems but, finally my question, is carnage to dark for the series, along with morbius biting people, and how about the death of gwen and george stacey stories? thanks
I don't know any way to answer this without making it sound like hints toward future plans.
So just talking about S&P in general, the situation shifts and changes all the time, depending on everything from the network and its current strategy and target audience to the individual giving notes -- but most of all depending on how any given thing is handled by the writers and board artists. Ultimately, it's all about execution.
When recording voices for animation, must all actors record voices in the same studio?
It's not an absolute, but we like it both for reasons of actor chemistry and because it's easier on our budget.
Hi Mr. Wiesman
As a folllow-on from something asked of you by "Anonymous" on the issue of growth and evolution in Spider-Man , I would like to, first, argue that the Spider-Man series you have been working on isnt "pinned down" by the problems the comic version of Spidey faces. You have placed Peter, MJ, Gwen, Harry and others into the most innocent kind of "hell" on Earth, High School.
Long before girls fell off bridges, long before clones and long before Peter realized MJ was the love of his life and married her, you don't have to worry about "resetting" there because that only affects the characters outside of High School...where readers expect them to act grown up and responsible for one another, and when they act like rank adolescents as they do in BND (my opinion), or heck, ever since the last ten years worth (Spidey's never recovered since 1999, again, my opinion)
Spider-Girl has now been running for eleven years, with another good few years left in the tank (I don't know how long Tom intends to tell it, right now the word is "indefinatly"), yet Tom recently admited if he so much as fought for an animated series, he'd be shot down. I find this incredibly tragic and disheartening.
And yet...look at what D.C accomplished ten years ago with Batman Beyond.
Terry McGuiness may only have had the golden rule of syndication ("Get 65 and DIE") one movie, and one episode of JLU, but it says a great deal about the higher-ups at WB to risk three years worth on character growth on someone new, whilst balancing that with remarkable doses of growth for Bruce Wayne and Barbera Gordon to that extent than, say, three more years of "The New Batman Adventures"
Hell, let's argue LOONATICS. Done CORRECTLY, this would have made Loony Toon characters DRAMATIC...key word there is "done correctly" of course, but premises like that are ones any writer can eat up with a spoon...again, WB risked it, suceed or fail.
Likewise you have put a lot of risk into Spectacular Spider-Man that has paid off, so maybe it's not a case of marketers being afraid of "growth and change", maybe it's more a case of certain groups being behind the times and just not living in the here and now.
Time will tell. Right now, I like to think those people KNOW that we need something new. Nothing lasts forever.
Not even the relevancy of the "Modern Myth".
My question: Why is it easier for something like Batman Beyond to be favoured over something like Spider-Girl?
No idea. Not even sure that's true, frankly.
The thing to keep in mind is that the business is fluid and NOT monolithic. Things change. There's much human turnover, and with that turnover comes changes in direction at every studio and every network. What the RULES are this week may not be the rules in six months time.
I've often said we'd NEVER have gotten Gargoyles on the air today, and that's true TODAY. But tomorrow is a whole other story.
Maybe Batman Beyond hit at the right studio and the right network at the right time.
Spider-Girl's situation is complicated by the fact that Marvel and Sony co-control the Spider-Man license. I'd guess (and it's ONLY a guess) that Marvel views Spider-Girl as a separate property. And I'd guess Sony views it as part of the Spider-Man license... and that disagreement (assuming it exists and/or has EVER even come up) would obviously be a roadblock to making a Spider-Girl series.
In any case, you give me credit for taking risks that I don't really think I deserve. Sony and Marvel came to me and ASKED me to do a Spider-Man series set in his High School years that was not in continuity with the movies or the current comics or Ultimate or anything. That's all they gave me, but that fit perfectly with what I wanted to do with the character. And given the fact that Spidey is one of the top marquis characters in the known universe, it wasn't exactly a risky proposition.
I like to think we executed well, but let's face it -- ANY Spidey show would do pretty well just by virtue of it being Spidey. I can't exactly take credit for the character's popularity. All I can do is strive to do him justice. It's for others to judge if we succeeded, though we succeeded well enough to satisfy me. I'm biased, of course, but my standards are pretty high.
Sometimes when I write, I worry about how much specific influence other similar media has on what I'm working on. As a student and literary lover, I am well aware of the dangers of plagerism and feel very sensitive to it, but I worry about unitentionally drawing too much from source material in fiction writing. For example, if I was working on a story about a vampire, I would worry about how much I'm being influenced by, say, Interview With the Vampire, which is a personal favorite novel and series. It's important for ideas to be new and fresh, even if they cover subject matter already used in the past.
Like you, I produce what I'd like to consume, so how do you avoid copying your favorites? Any sagely advice?
Otherwise, also want you to know that I impressed upon my local comic shop the sheer importance of my obtaining the two trades coming out this summer. I talked up the series, of which he was alredy a similarly disappointed fan. Both trades are on my pull-list.
I don't have a set of guidelines for you. I try to feel my way through it, I guess. If I am going to "lift", I try to be direct and on the head about it, so that I'm acknowledging the debt as opposed to trying to get away with something. But I also avoid seeing/reading newer interpretations of stuff I know I plan to write about. And as much as possible I stick with "source material," i.e. things in the public domain.
I've got for you a very in-depth question: How did you get to where you are today? What kinds of steps did you take? If you could give specifics, I'd be quite happy.
You see, I myself would love to go into the business of TV and film, and I frequently identify myself with you (in a non-creepy way - I mean regarding style and that kind of stuff).
I've answered this in depth and with specifics before. Check the archives for a more detailed answer.
Generally, I'd say the first things you need to do, if you haven't already are...
1. Finish your formal education.
2. Move to Los Angeles.
3. Read, write and proofread a lot. Practice. Learn that your first draft may suck, and that even your second draft may need shelving.
As for my specifics...
*Bachelors from Stanford in English with a Fiction Writing emphasis.
*Started working as a writer for DC Comics as a 19-year-old while still in college.
*Moved to New York to work in comics, cuz that's where THAT action was.
*Masters from U.S.C in Professional Writing with an emphasis in playwriting.
*Staff Assistant at Disney Television Animation.
*Eventually promoted to Director of Series Development.
*Developed Gargoyles and moved sideways to produce it.
I have watched the first two seasons of Spectacular Spider-man and absolutely love them! I think the thing I appreciate the most is the fact my 3 yr old son and I can watch them with both of us being entertained. We can share that experience and take completely different things from the episode. Kudos for walking that tightrope. With the series moving to Disney XD I have a few questions. 1) How does the ratings thing work? We record and watch every episode that comes on and would LOVE for that to be counted as credit for you guys. I want to do whatever I can to ensure a third and forth season. 2) Is there somewhere or someone we can contact and/or email with our support for this series? I would hate for it to not get picked up. Keep up the good work if you get the opportunity!!
Thanks. I'm glad you and your son both enjoy the show. That was the intent, for there to be something for kids and adults without short-changing either demographic.
1. Unless you are a Nielson household, your personal viewing is not specifically counted, but IN THEORY if you and your kid are watching and a bunch of other folks like you are watching with their kids, then the odds are some Nielson family just like yours is mirroring your collective behavior and that DOES count in the ratings. It has to do with statistics, and I don't pretend to understand it really -- or even fully buy into it. But that's how it works. Again, IN THEORY, if you stop viewing the show it suggests that somewhere some Nielson family just like you has also stopped. So DON'T STOP!!!
2. You can try to contact Disney XD through their website or write a letter to them. It can't hurt.
How much does it cost to commission or create a series or season and how does that work?
sorry for my ignorance and ambiguity,
Um... costs really vary. A lot depends on the mode of production, the development budget, etc.
Episodic costs on Gargoyles averaged about $450K per episode, at least for the first 65 episodes. (I have no idea what the final budget was for Goliath Chronicles, but I imagine it was considerably less.) And those per episode costs do NOT include development costs, marketing costs, etc. So making a series is a VERY expensive prospect, which is why we need/put up with studios, networks and the like.
Greetings, Mr. Weisman. First off, let me say that it is an honor to be able to speak to you, regardless of whether my question is accepted or not. I truly wish I were able to meet you someday being a writer myself! If only my living in Puerto Rico were not so bothersome... (why not make a Gathering here? :3)
Anyways, on to my question. We all know the story: for reasons beyond us, Disney canceled the legendary Gargoyles TV show we all know and love, and then we got a certain spin-off fiasco. Then, literally a decade later, we get a gratifying notice: the comics! (which I will definitely buy this summer, hopefully, even if it's only the Clan Building trades.) But now, sadly, Disney's gone EPIC CANCEL on us. Again. Therefore, I must ask this question. Apologies if it has been asked, by the way. Here goes:
Has it crossed your mind to consult other animation companies, such as Viz, Funimation, Man of Action (creators of the excellent Ben 10 series) on acquiring the license off Disney, or perhaps giving the series a new animated show on a different genre, such as anime or CG? Hell, I'm pretty sure people would pack the theater if it were to be turned into an anime or CG, especially given the highly impressionable teenager crowd of today that's into these genres.
If you ask me, Gargoyles is definitely not doing well under Disney's wing- I mean, it was virtually untouched for a whole decade and more and would have been thrown into the dark hell of obscurity were it not for the fans-i.e. us, and I'd like to take the chance to thank the fans for doing everything the fandom has done.
Thank you very much for your time, sir. It has been an incredible privilege that you even read this letter. Greetings from Puerto Rico, God Bless and please keep giving us great stories to enjoy.
Wolf E. Urameshi
PS: Did I mention your Spider-Man series is awesome? If not, there we go. :)
First off, thanks for all the praise.
You're welcome to organize and hold a Gargoyles Convention in Puerto Rico. I'd be happy to attend too.
The reasons for Gargoyles being cancelled are NOT beyond us. I've laid them out many times, and you can find them by looking through the ASK GREG FAQ. Calling "Goliath Chronicles" a spin-off, isn't really accurate either. It was a third season, rebranded, and with different behind the scenes talent running the production.
And again, to be accurate, Disney didn't cancel the comics. Technically, SLG did, because they could not afford the license under the terms Disney was offering. But sales of the trades will determine whether we'll eventually be back.
And, yes, this question has been asked and answered MANY, MANY times, so check the archives for fuller answers. But briefly, there's no way Disney would release the animation license to another company. And bashing Disney's efforts doesn't further our cause.
This is a question kind of about a Gargoyles movie but not really. I read that back in the 90s one of the reasons a live-action Gargoyles movie wasn't made was because a good script couldn't be found. Not sure if this is true or not but it leads to my question.
Why is it, Gargoyles or otherwise, movie companies contact outside screenwriters to develope a script instead of the creator, if the creator is available for contact (Not dead or no longer working on the project)?
I assume they think that the creator can't create something that would work for a wide audience because they'd be TOO faithful to their creation. I'm sure in some cases that might be true. But there's also a basic assumption that movie writers are inherently superior to television (and certainly cartoon) writers.
A comment, inspired by my last question about the Standards & Practices deaths.
Many of the "deaths by falling" that you had in the series, such as Findleach's and Gillecomgain's, were there simply because of S&P, and I don't think that it would have made a sizable difference to the story and characterization if, say, Gillecomgain had run Findlaech with a sword instead.
But it made good dramatic sense, I think, to have the Captain and Hakon die that way. One of the crucial points of "Awakening"'s opening was Goliath being driven to despair by one blow after another, to the point where he finally commits suicide (in a sense). The Captain and Hakon falling off the cliff rather than being ripped to shreds by Goliath worked there; now, not only has Goliath's clan been massacred, but he can't even exact vengeance upon the two people most responsible for his loss. It brings him one step closer to devastation.
So I think that even without Standards & Practices, it was a good idea to have the Captain and Hakon die that way.
In "City of Stone", you had Findlaech, Gillecomgain, and Duncan all die by either falling off something or getting burned up by the Weird Sisters' magic, to make the methods of their deaths acceptable for Standards & Practices.
But in Part Four, you had Canmore temporarily slay Macbeth by running him through with a sword. Did you have any difficulty with Standards & Practices over that?
Nope. Because (a) the audience saw no details of the event and (b) a few seconds later he stood up.
I know you are probably used to hearing it, but I am a big fan of both Gargoyles and The Spectacular Spider-Man. My questions mostly concern Spectacular Spider-Man.
1. How do the overseas ratings effect our chances for a third Spider-Man season?
2. What is the earliest we could possibly know if Spider-Man is picked up again?
3. If picked up, how long would it take to produce a new season?
4. How has the show being transferred to a Disney channel helped or hindered the possibilities of a third season?
5. Will Disney now be handling the DVD releases of Spider-Man?
My last question I ask because I am hoping they will be as I think (or hope) that they would use that as a sort of free advertising for the Gargoyles DVDs (If you like this, buy this other series by creator Greg Weisman, etc.) and possibly give us the season 2 part 2 we have all been waiting for. Anyways, thanks for your time and just know that I, as a dedicated Spider-Man fan who was highly wary of any new incarnation of the character, love what you have been doing on that series so far. Thanks again.
1. Well, if ratings are high all over the world and those stations want more episodes than perhaps it would encourage Sony International to put more money into the series, so that if for WHATEVER reason, other Sony divisions are less interested, it might help compensate. But we're still waiting for Disney to give us a domestic pick-up sometime after the second season starts airing in June.
2. June at the earliest.
3. About ten months, give or take.
4. Well, we lack continuity, and Disney wants us to prove ourselves all over again, I suppose.
5. No. That's always been Sony Home Entertainment.
I was just wondering...I have a very general question. How is it you or any of us know how well a cartoon does. I mean, is there a website that shows a show's ratings? I was interested in knowing how spectacular Spiderman, or any show for that matter, is doing in popularity and there seems to be little out there when I search. Great work on spectacular spiderman by the way. Best cartoon ever.
I learn about the ratings from my bosses. I would think they're published SOMEWHERE, but I couldn't tell you where.
Hello, Greg. I'm familiar with the guidelines and I clearly understand why you dont want any original ideas or fanfic. But I got this ideas for season 3 (I know its not even picked yet), its really only the major plot for the episodes, not getting into any depth. All I'm asking is if I can post them or somehow send them to you, just to take a look and tell me is it good, bad, what do you think of it. Just this. I dont wanna make your life miserable. I know that you, Vic Cook and everybody else can and will come up with something way better. I just want your opinion. If this question/request doesnt get approved, I'll understand.
I appreciate you asking so nicely, but there's no way Sony would allow me to read what you're offering, even on an educational "tell me if it's good" basis. Spidey is a LIVE property. I can't risk the lawsuits, and Sony wouldn't let me risk the lawsuits even if I was inclined to take the risk. Policy. Sorry.
I'm loving the effort and detail put into Spectacular Spider-Man! It's incredible how this show stays close to the comics, and somehow does its own thing! I can't find anything negative to say, and I'm accustomed to always finding something bad to say.
But I am curious...what was the reasons behind putting this show (in the USA) on Disney XD? The show started on CW, and it was doing well (wasn't it?) on that network, then BAM...Disney has the show...and their decisions to torment us with how long we have to wait for the season 2 episodes seem so...stupid. What happened? Why Disney?
(We are talking about the same company that screwed us all on Gargoyles after season 2 aftreall, Mr. Weisman...)
Wow... where to start.
First, thank you for the compliments.
Second, Disney did NOT "screw us all" after season 2 of Gargoyles. That's patently false. One could argue about how good a job they did or didn't do with the show, but no screwing was involved. For more information, read this: http://www.s8.org/gargoyles/askgreg/faq.php?s=realworld
Third, as for Spidey, the show aired originally on KidsWB, which was a programming block on the CW. Halfway through our season, we learned that CW was dissolving the KidsWB block and selling (renting?) the space to 4KidsTV. So KidsWB became CW4Kids. Sounds like nothing more than a minor name change, but that's not true. CW4Kids was a totally different business entity. I had ZERO involvement in or direct knowledge of the negotiations that followed with either CW4Kids or with DisneyXD (or with Cartoon Network or any other channel Sony might have talked to), but I think it's safe to assume that DisneyXD offered Sony the best OVERALL financial deal, which doesn't necessarily mean the biggest episodic license fee. There are other FINANCIAL factors too that I'm sure were considered. But... and I hope this doesn't shock you... it is ultimately all about money.
I read your guidelines, and I am curious how to 'break into the business' Not necisarily starting my own comic book, but working for a smaller, more independent company such as Creature Comics. I have purused job sites, having recently graduated with a Bachelor of Animation, but am not having luck finding any such companies or positions.
As a side note (coming from the fan side of me) thank you for keeping the Gargoyle universe alive for your fans!! I am so excited to read the new comics, and see the Gargoyles making a comback!
Creature Comics isn't really a company. It's more of a partnership -- between myself, Greg Guler and Marty Lund (and not really that anymore either) -- formed to get the license to the Gargoyles comic. That didn't happen, and we wound up at SLG instead.
But in any case, my first question is "Where do you live?" You have to go where there's work. Do some research into companies you might want to work for in your area. And if there are none in your area (or if the concentration is too slim to get employed) -- move.
I think spectacular spider-man is great and probably one of the best animated series in the past 5 years. The only other series that I can think of that have equally strong plotlines, acting, and sense of continuity are those in the DCAU (DC Animated Universe) created by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini. That whole shebang spun off of what was originally the standalone Batman: The Animated Series because of the commercial and critical success of that show. I already know that you're considering doing DVD movies after Spectacular Spider-Man ends it's run, but would you ever consider doing other shows set in the same self-contained Marvel Universe like that of the DCAU? Just wondering b/c I see how strong a series Spectacular Spider-Man is and can only imagine the potential for adapting other characters.
And once again, the DCAU was not "created" by Timm & Dini. For starters, of course, it was not CREATED by any of these people, it was DEVELOPED. An important distinction in this business. Secondly, it was developed by a number of people, but certainly the two most important were Timm & ALAN BURNETT (who was Paul Dini's boss). I feel bad about constantly doing this, because I think it leaves the (false) impression that I've got an axe to grind against the very talented Mr. Dini, and I absolutely do NOT. Paul is phenomenal and deserves major props for his work on the DCAU. But I'm really tired of Alan not getting the credit he deserves for (a) RESCUING Batman the Animated Series from mediocre writing and (b) being the Executive Producer (alongside Bruce) of the entire DCAU (including THE BATMAN).
As for Spidey launching a "MCAU"... it isn't likely. Marvel's doing that on their own. Sony has the rights to ONLY Spidey and Ghost Rider. And before you ask, Vic and I have asked Sony about doing an animated Ghost Rider, but they are currently uninterested.
I'll start off with my question, but please forgive me for including some praise which I feel you are due.
My question: With Disney's recent decision to raise their licensing fee (effectively ending production of the Gargoyles comic) as well as their now seemingly permanent decision to not release Season 2, Volume 2 on DVD - do you ever get the feeling Disney thinks of you as the bastard child they never wanted and would do anything to make go away forever?
On a personal note - I would like to thank you for making my childhood better. "Gargoyles" was always a major part of my childhood - I had the toys, I had the VHS "The Heroes Awaken" with the game, I had everything. I even remember getting yelled at for putting TV above family when I commented to my mom one day that I couldn't go anywhere with her because the new "Gargoyles" episode was about to come on. After recently finding the two DVD collections currently available, I watched every single episode - and was once again amazed at how great they were.
Thanks for all that you do - I'm currently trying to buy all the comics that I can. I hope that, one day, we'll see the rest of your creation available on DVD, because I would love for my children to see it one day.
No, I don't feel that way. For starters, they did WANT us originally. They just never quite knew what to do with us. How to help us be as successful as possible. Now, we're simply a low, low, low priority. A corporation with literally hundreds of IPs needs to prioritize certainly, and we're low... largely because we have never made them quite ENOUGH money to be a high priority.
Are you the maker of Gargoyles? and if I want to make a book what should I do?
Please tell me how to make a good story.
I'm the creator (or at least co-creator) of the GARGOYLES television series. I was one of the writers, supervising producers and supervising story editor, and I'm currently writing the GARGOYLES and GARGOYLES: BAD GUYS comics.
I'm not sure what kind of book you have in mind. Generally, I advise would-be writers to get a great liberal arts education. Read... a lot. Write... a lot. And proofread.
Hello greg, I just wanted to say season 1 of SSM was very good and i cant wait to see many many more seasons come for the series. I loved it alot besides a few changes here and there i didnt like at first but grew on me over time and it works for the show itself. I just had a question i was wondering on the production side of things for the show. How long does it take to animate a single episode for the series?
It takes eight to ten months - give or take.
This is question in regards to censorship in Spectacular Spider-Man. Back in the 90s series, there was an obnoxious amount of censorship (Spidey couldn't throw a punch?!) that sometimes hindered the story in obvious ways. Now, Spectacular Spidey is obviously a bit of a lighter tone, so I don't expect to see people dying all over the place or anything, but I am curious about how the censorship from the studios of this series differs from other shows you've worked on, like Gargoyles--which I think was great about being delightfully edgy whilst still obeying the censors. Gargoyles was much darker that Spider-Man currently is, obviously; I'm just curious as to how similar the rules regarding the amount of death and violence and such are and if it has changed a lot since your work in the 90s.
And just to be clear, I'm not complaining or asking for Spider-Man to be darker or more violent or anything, I'm very happy with how everything has been handled and balanced without getting too "gritty" thus far (and I'm usually a sucker for dark stories). I'm just curious, you know?.
I'm hinky about the way you throw the word "censor" around. The biggest rule is, was and always has been our own personal standards of what's right and wrong, what is and isn't appropriate. After that, both Gargoyles and Spectacular Spider-Man benefited from having smart, intelligent and understanding S&P executives (Adrienne Bello for Gargoyles, Patricia Dennis for Spidey). As I've mentioned before, there wasn't much we wanted to do on Spidey that was disallowed. The realistic sound of gunshots comes to mind... and those are being restored on the DVDs. I think it has less to do with the era, and more to do with the individual looking over your shoulder.
I just wanted to say thanks Greg for the fantastic story you've created here. I went on a nostalgic kick awhile back and revisited some series from my childhood.. most did not stand up so well, but I actually appreciate what you were doing with Gargoyles more now than I ever did back then and, in hindsight, recognize just how far ahead of its time it actually was.
The world you have crafted here is so vivid and interesting, it got me to thinking, have you ever thought about writing a novel about the Gargoyles? Or do you see Gargoyles always existing in a more visual medium, like animation or comic books?
Just to go a little further afield, what are your thoughts on "opening it up," Stars Wars style, so other authors can write the stories while you maintain tight control over canon? I think I know what your answer will be, but I have quite the appetite for more Gargoyles stories than exist at the moment, so I have to ask.
As I've said (here) many times before, I'd LOVE to write a Gargoyles' novel.
As for your second question, that's pretty much how I ran the series in the first place.
Do you think that adapting a familiar comic-book figure from the medium of comic books to the television screen (as you're currently doing with "The Spectacular Spider-Man") is much like adapting a familiar legendary figure (such as King Arthur or Theseus) to a modern work of fiction (except, of course, that Arthur and Theseus have been around a lot longer than Spidey has)?
There are common factors, but no. The main difference is that Spider-Man isn't public domain. Marvel OWNS the character and is quite the watchdog, as it should be.
Do you know what the writer's strike had on the writer's extent that they can choose what they write and shows they can choose to script? Will this have any affect on the animation industry?
Uh... I don't have a clue what you're first question is asking. But the strike had little effect on the animation industry, as most animation writers are covered by TAG not WGA.
If you had wirten a story How would you do it t make people intersted more in the book?
You're looking at it.
I love your work and would really value your advice; I have decided to produce a comic/graphic novel from one of the stories I have designed. I have no experience of any budget to speak of and in this moment I can only recruit people who are willing to use it as a learning experience with just a hope of reward if all goes well. So far so good, I have a couple of writers on board, a few artists in training and a colourist. I guess this won't be a straighforward question as such, I ask for advice really. How much time is reasonable to spend on one issue, where do I turn to for recognition, do you have any general tips you could give on getting published or sponsored?
I'm not sure I'm the guy to advise you. I've never self-published anything and know little or nothing about it. I'm also not clear... you're the writer, but you have a couple of writers? Most self-published things don't employ other writers, I'd think.
As for how much time per issue... well, I usually write a couple pages per day, so that I can write two comics a month (more or less). It takes me between twenty minutes and an hour per day.
I caught the spider-man premire and I have to say it was one of the best saturday mornings I've had in years. Congrats to you and your crew.
In the time between Gargoyles and Spider-man, how would say the overall process of creating an animated show has changed, for better or worse?
Mostly worse for me at least, because in those days I had the occasional ear of Michael Eisner. He was hard to sell, but if he said yes, we got to MAKE OUR SHOW with no more bologna attached. Nowadays getting a "yes" is nearly impossible as it's always a decision by committee. Heck it took them years to decide to make Spider-Man. I mean... Spider-Man?!! If any show is a no-brainer...
If I was evry want to become a writer what sould I do to make people like my storys? How old where you when you wrote storys? I been thinking of some good storys but I don't know if any one would like them? When I read a bionicle story I feel like I am in a different world. Am I cary or what?
I began writing stories as early as Second Grade. It's a great hobby, and it can be a great profession -- but I'd only recommend it to someone who truly felt they couldn't be happy doing anything else. Because there will be REJECTION. Nature of the beast, I'm afraid. But if you want to do it, then do it. My first and biggest recommendation is to learn to PROOFREAD your work. Get a dictionary and look up words that you're not sure of. Make sure your grammar is impeccable. No one will want to read your work if it's loaded with typos and other small errors. They'll never get to see your wonderful stories. My next recommendation is to READ. READ, READ, READ. Read voraciously. Newspapers, magazines, classic works of literature, comic books, whatever. But read. My next recommendation is to LISTEN. Listen to how people talk, how they sound, their dialects, their slang, etc. That's the way to learn to write good dialogue. Finally WRITE, WRITE, WRITE. PROOFREAD. REWRITE. READ. READ. Etc.
Sorry, forgot to include this in my last question.
This past summer, I emailed disney some ideas I had for animated shows. They replied telling me that they can't take unsolicited ideas. So my question is, how do I make my ideas solicited?
Get an agent.