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Smelley writes...

Hey Greg,
You have writen that you quit reading comics cold turkey altogether in 1996. What were the reasons for such a decison? Although I acknowledge that there is a lot of crap in the industry, there is so many fresh things being done, both with superheroes and with DC Vertigo and small press titles. You're missing out on Quantum and Woody!

Greg responds...

Well, it's probably a long story.

But the main thing was that the number of books I was reading was dropping like a stone. I had dropped every marvel book except Incredible Hulk by that time. And then suddenly they were bizarrely reworking the whole Marvel Universe. Or dividing it in two or something. I never missed an issue of Hulk, and yet suddenly the book was incomprehensible to me. So I dropped it. Which left me Marvel-less for the first time ever.

DC wasn't much better. Sandman ended. And I wasn't as fond of all the other Vertigo titles as others were.

Love & Rockets had ended. Others too.

Finally, I was only picking up a couple of independent titles a month. Some that weren't even monthly. My local (i.e. near work) comic book store closed. And the next closest one wasn't convenient at all. So I stopped going there once a week. And when I did go, well... It was very frustrating. I'd get an issue of Cerebus. Watch for the next issue, and when I finally found one, I'd get it home and realize that I'd missed one in between. Then I'd have to go back to the store and try to order it or something. It just got intolerable.

Ironically, where comics lost me was when I stopped buying in volume. That stopped the need for me to go in every week. And eventually I didn't go one week. Then didn't go the next. Then the next. Then the next. And eventually I realized that I wasn't really missing it. Which, frankly, is too damn bad. Because, once upon a time, I was a true loyalist. And I was a professional. If they couldn't keep me... Well, it just doesn't bode well for the industry as a whole.

BUt I did just pick up Scott McCloud's "Reinventing Comics" from Scott himself at the San Diego ComicCon. Like most of Scott's work, it's pretty darn brilliant. And I'm enjoying his on-line Zot! comic a lot. Check it out at

www.comicbookresources.com/columns/zot/

Response recorded on August 21, 2000

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Shade writes...

Are there any Gargoyle comics?

Greg responds...

There were. Marvel put out about 11 issues back in '95 and '96. I'm sure there are a few in back-issue bins somewhere. I was supposed to start taking over the writing of the comics, but the book got cancelled before I could.

Response recorded on August 02, 2000

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Anonymous writes...

do you know where i can find a picture of some neat looking gargoyles? like the ones out of a comic book.

Greg responds...

Nope. Have you tried comic books?

Response recorded on July 29, 2000

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Chapter XV: "Metamorphosis"

STORY EDITOR: Michael Reaves
WRITERS: Brynne Chandler Reaves & Lydia Marano

The first appearance of Anton Sevarius and the MUTATES: Maggie the Cat, Fang and Claw. Derek had appeared before, but this was TALON's "first appearance" as well.

In our original development, the Talon character was called CATSCAN. He wasn't Elisa's brother. In fact, he was sorta Sevarius. That is, he was the scientist who created the mutagenic formula. At first he works for Xavier (Xanatos), but later -- when he realizes that Xavier was responsible for the "accident" that turned him into Catscan -- he tries to hunt Xanatos down, forcing Goliath to actually protect Xanatos in order to save Catscan's soul. This version of Catscan was basically the inspiration of my good friend Fred Schaefer, who was a Disney Development Associate at the time. Part of the team. Oh, and Catscan was a solo act, there were no other Mutates. And he didn't have wings either. He fired some kind of radiation bolt from his eyes.

Later, we began to prep Derek for the Catscan/Talon role. I don't remember if we knew Derek's fate way back in "Deadly Force", when he was introduced, but we definitely knew by "Her Brother's Keeper". One of the reasons we made him a pilot was to give him some flight background to justify how quickly we needed him to learn to fly. This was emphasized HERE by putting him in a glider.

Anton Sevarius became a separate character obviously. Michael Reaves, I believe, came up with his name. At first, I didn't like it. I thought it was too cartoony. Now I think it suits him.

Rereading my memo, it seems I was thinking of Brent Spiner to play Sevarius. I hadn't remembered that. Of course, no one else could be Sevarius except Tim Curry. And Brent was a perfect Puck for us too. So all's well that ends well. (But can you imagine if somehow the rolls had been switched?) Tim has some great lines here: "...Or has that changed?" is one of my favorites. He's so hungry.

FYI - That's Jonathan Frakes voicing Fang's one-liner in this episode. We couldn't afford to hire a separate actor for one line. So Jonathan stepped in. Of course, later Fang was taken over by Jim Belushi. But I don't think anyone noticed.

Gotta love the Snidely Whiplash reference.

As I mentioned in my last Ramble on "Leader", Xanatos' plans were getting more and more sophisticated. Here we had two humdingers in a row. The one in "Leader" is just a lot of fun. This one is cruel. Throughout the story, we (I think) tend to believe in Xanatos' mea culpa and his outrage regarding the Mutates ("They'll crucify you. And if they don't, I WILL!!"). Why? Because he's so darn likable we want to think well of him. (Who was fooled? I'd like to know.) Also his story rings true. When he tells Sevarius, "I've been in prison before." We know he has. We believe he could take it again. It's that touch of truth amid the lies that makes him so sharp.

And Owen was complicit. On one level, that shouldn't be surprising, yet there's something of the Mr. Spock about Owen. As faithful as you know he is, you don't actually expect him to lie.

And frankly, the plan is SO complex. I hope it's believable when all is said and done. We made a real effort to make sure that it could have worked, that if it hadn't gone EXACTLY as depicted it would feel like there would have been alternative scenarios that would have generated the same result. Of course the master-stroke is Sevarius' death. Our S&P executive raised an eyebrow over that, as she finished reading Act Two. Fortunately, she was the type who finished the script before knee-jerking us with an objection. We got away with depicting a violent death on-screen -- because it was fake. (But who was fooled?)

We tried to play fair with a number of clues throughout. We used Xanatos' own security team as the "hired mercenaries" that Sevarius was using. Only Xanatos checks Sevarius' pulse. When Matt and Elisa are later investigating the scene, there's no body and NO CHALK OUTLINE either. They have no idea that anyone even theoretically was supposed to have DIED there. And Sevarius is SO OVER THE TOP. That should have been a stylistic clue. It was way fun to do -- and it took great acting on Tim's part to act that badly and still make it play.

For once the script came in a tad short. So the board artist added the bit where the gargoyles break out of stone and we see the debris rain down on the people below. Pigeons fly off into the night. (Just a little touch of realism.) Very nice.

I was never too fond of Elisa's Zen Master joke. Still, in the comic book story I wrote before the Marvel comic book was cancelled, I created a Zen Master character. (Just compulsive I guess.)

My original plan for Gen-U-Tech was to abreviate its name as G.U.T.S. As in the company that twists yours up. (The full name is Genetic Undiscovered Technical Systems.) Instead it became Gen-U-Tech, which is probably better. But I can't remember who made the change. The script has plenty of GUTS references in the descriptions. But it may have escaped my notice that it has none in the dialogue. And the logos designed all read Gen-U-Tech, not guts. I wonder if Frank & Michael were slyly protecting me from a mis-step?

I like the conflict between Brooklyn & Broadway here. All the interplay with the trio is very well handled, I think. Were people really rooting for Brooklyn & Maggie to wind up together?

Not our best animated episode. Both the modeling and the animation leave a bit to be desired. Derek's ears look mid-transformation long before he's hit with that dart. Makes me cringe, but I guess if the audience isn't expecting him to get changed, they don't notice the subtle pointyness to the ears, until after the contents of the dart are revealed. But on a second viewing...?

Maggie Reed: "I'm from Ohio." As if that should explain EVERYTHING. I love that line.

"Morgan Reed", by the way, was one of our may early names for what eventually became Elisa Chavez, Elisa Bluestone and finally Elisa Maza. (I never waste anything.)

Observations from my daughter Erin:

1. "I like the click of their boots." [Erin complimenting the foley during the recapture of Maggie in the alley.]

2. "His hands ARE tied!" [My clever Erin catching the irony. Elisa says "My hands are tied." Brooklyn responds, "Well mine aren't." But then he turns to stone, prompting Erin's observation.]

3. "Hudson and Bronx always stay home." [Erin commenting on our proclivity for leaving Hudson & Bronx behind at the castle or clock tower when Goliath and the Trio go off. It is kind of a rip.]

Another great series of endings and false endings.

Xanatos tells Owen to bring him the "best geneticist on the planet."

The gargs arrive and fight the Mutates. Elisa arrives. Xanatos asks her to "stop this senseless violence". [Ahh, what a lovely bastard he is.]

Maggie makes the accurate observation that Brooklyn wants her to stay a monster. And yet despite that incite, she clearly still believes that both she and Brooklyn ARE monsters. She's as bound up in appearances as he is.

Talon names himself. It's kinda odd. But I think it works.

Elisa declares war on Xanatos. And for a split-second it registers on his face. Something has actually given him pause.

And then Owen brings in the best geneticist. I still wonder if it's immediately clear that this "new guy" IS Sevarius. He looks SO different. And Tim wasn't using the hoky accent anymore. Was anyone else confused, even momentarily? But anyway, it's another stunner Xanatos Tag. Did your eyes bug out? Or did you know by this time?

And finally, back to the Tower. Brooklyn is in a funk. But Elisa...

This entire episode is obviously a direct sequel to "Brother's Keeper". Right down to the end. In the end of that one, Elisa can do nothing but stare sadly out at the snow. But we're past that now. Now she cries. Xanatos doesn't wind up with the Mutates, though he correctly predicts there eventual return, but this is his clearest victory yet. The Mutates blame the gargs. Talon still believes X is his best chance at a cure. And he has an emotional and physical weapon against Elisa and the gargs. I was proud of us for ending a "cartoon" on such a relatively down note. Can't always have happy endings. How many people were surprised we ended it that way?

That's it. Comments welcome...


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Siren writes...

1.)Did you read any of the Marvel comics of Gargoyles?\
2.)Were they true to the series, in your opinon?
3.) I happened to like Venus a lot. What did you think of Goliath and Elisa's daughter...And then kissing Goliath?

Greg responds...

1. Yes.
2. Fairly.
3. Creepy. And Not cannon.

Response recorded on April 04, 2000

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Garglio writes...

Me and another friend learned that the comic books stop even though there is a title for the next upcoming comic at the very end of #11. I also learned you worked closely with the editor. Could you tell me why they chose to leave us hanging rather than finish what they started?

Greg responds...

Marvel imploded. The book may or may not have been selling wonderfully, but there was a plan for me to take over the writing and keep it going.

But Marvel was having all sorts of problems unrelated to Gargoyles. They basically cancelled nearly all their licensed titles in one fell swoop.

Thus issue 11 was sent to print before anyone knew there would be no issue 12.

Response recorded on January 25, 2000

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Airwalker writes...

Do you currently read any comic books?

Have you done any comic book work recently?

Greg responds...

No. I gave them up cold turkey in 1996. I was already down to very few books. Bone. Cerebus. Maybe a couple of others. But it was getting too hard to find the books I liked. And many had been cancelled, discontinued or rendered unreadable.

As I'm sure you know by now, I did write a JUSTICE LEAGUE/CAPTAIN ATOM/GARGOYLES story that was just published. But that's it.

I'd love to write comics again, but no one's busting down my door, and I don't have the energy to initiate a hard sell of my own.

Response recorded on December 30, 1999

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Airwalker writes...

If Gargoyles was to come back in a sort of comic form, which of the following formats would you prefer and which do you think would be possible to put out without getting cancelled within a few months:

- A regular as usual 32 page Monthly comic book for 1.99

- An Archie Comic-like digest that would contain various short illustrated Gargoyles stories for about 3-5 dollars

- A full monthly magazine with a few illustrated Gargoyles stories, a few Gargoyles text pieces and some other various materials ala historical exploration material on various elements in the Gargoyles universe (Pendragon, Easter Island, etc) for about 6.95 or so

- An every few month's Trade paperback containing a whole storyline and a short text piece ala something like Usagi YoJimbo Trade paperbacks for 15 dollars.

Greg responds...

Well, I'd go for any of the above. Whatever we could get. (Though the last options seems impossible from a deadline stand-point. Are you sure those Trade Paperbacks aren't gathering together previously published stories.)

I guess it's no secret I'd love to publish a magazine akin to your third option. I guess that would be my first choice. Offering the most flexibility.

As for what would survive cancellation. I'm afraid I've been out of comics (both as a professional and as a reader) for too long to pretend any expertise.

Response recorded on December 30, 1999

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Robin Wynn writes...

ok...a couple more comic-related Q's!

1)What steps would one have to make to try and get the comic back (with a different comic co. preferably. Image has always been my personal fave!)?

2)If, by some miracle, we managed to get the comic up and running again, would you be willing to join up with whoever did the new comic?

thanks again.

Greg responds...

1. I don't know. Most comic companies would not be interested in paying for the license of a series that isn't currently producing new material. As for which company? I don't really care, as long as they can deliver the book on a schedule with solid or better art and decent production values. I'd love to have Dan Raspler at DC Comics as my editor, but that's probably a longshot.

2. God, yes. I'd definitely want to be the writer, if not the writer/editor. It would kill me if someone else got the job.

Response recorded on December 29, 1999

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Robin Wynn writes...

hi greg. thanks in advance for answering my Q's!! I collected the gargs comic up until it was droped. My questions are about that:

1)why was it dropped? I've heard different things varying from "it just didn't do that well" (though it did very well at the comic book store i go to) to "marvel's going bankrupt and had to drop a whole bunch of comics and gargs was just one of em..

2) The next comic was supposed to be *goes to get the last comic to see the exact frase* "The Day the Sun Kissed the Earth" What was that going to be about? It had me riveted the moment I read that,and I couldn't wait for the next one. Imagine how ticked I was when i found out there wouldn't be any more of them.:(

3)Could you (either here or in future ramblings) give a brief discription of some of the plot ideas you had for future issues?

4)Who was that mage in the last issue who resurected Venus? What were his plans for her?

thanks again!

Greg responds...

1. I'm not really qualified to answer this question, but Marvel was going through some tough times then and they had a mini-implosion, with the first casualty being there licensed comics, of which GARGOYLES was one. That much is certainly true. But whether or not the sales of the comic were any good is something I just don't know.

2. I don't remember, that title doesn't ring a bell. I was scheduled to take over the writing chores within a couple of issues. (I had already written one story.)

3. All this stuff I give out here at ASK GREG, might have shown up in the comic. I wasn't going to discriminate between it and the tv series.

4. I have no idea. Wasn't writing or editing the book then.

Sorry....

Response recorded on December 29, 1999


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