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Hi Greg! I'm such a big fan of you and the spectacular team's take on Spider-Man. I grew up with Spectacular, (and young justice!) and it came back as a big inspiration in my life as an artist and writer after insomniacs fantastic games and rereading the classic comics from when I was a kid. You have created my favorite versions of these characters by modernizing them and giving them that classic feel in ways that blow my mind. Im a pretty classic spidey fan (i love lee/ditko/romita) despite being in my teens and I value cohesion like your take did. I have a question however from an aspiring writer to a professional;
If I think that a version long passed (yours) was the best version of something, what can I do to personally find a way to make my own take, despite having a similar mindset? Should I be afraid to be similar?
I would really value your opinion and again, thanks for your fantastic and inspiring work. Really hoping to see more of your stuff!
Well, first off, thanks.
Secondly, as a professional, I really wouldn't spend much time (even much idle brain time) adapting something that you don't own, unless you're (a) being paid to do it or (b) you have a reasonable hope of being paid to do it. And even for (b), I wouldn't recommend doing very much work until someone said, "Yes! I love where you're going with this. Let me pay you to go further." Instead, I'd recommend coming up with your own original thing. Blow us away with that. And then maybe will want to trust you to adapt something that is theirs, e.g. Marvel with Spider-Man.
But finally, to get to your question, I guess I wouldn't sweat it too much. If I adapt Lee/Ditko or Lee/Romita comics, I'm still borrowing from what came before. And I'm not stopping there, nor am I shy about "stealing" from any of the source material from any era. Because, that's NOT stealing. It's adapting. I'm sure my adaptation had many similarities with others that came both before or after Spectacular. Of course it did. We're all going back to the same source material. So how could it not?
Warning: This is going to deal with some heavy topics (specifically antisemitism), but I was encouraged to ask for your opinions. Please do not take this as accusatory, I'm just a long-time fan who's been thinking about some serious issues over the last few years.
When I watched Gargoyles as a kid, there was a villainous organization called the âAlu Minadi.â I later learned it was correctly spelled âIlluminati,â and that it was a staple of all sorts of genre fiction about secret societies, where it was largely interchangeable with the Freemasons. It was also commonly used as a metonym for any sort of behind the scenes string-pullers, what Angel would call âThe Powers that Be.â All well and good, until I was reading an article about Tim LaHaye, co-author of the Left Behind series. I found out he believed the Illuminati was a real, very dangerous thing. I learned that they were sort of a real group that disbanded centuries ago, but many people believe they still operate in secret. Worst of all, they are almost always at least implied to be Jewish.
I was horrified to realize that Nazi rhetoric about an international conspiracy of Jewish puppetmasters was so prevalent in popular discourse. Over the last few years I've seen more and more conspiracy theories enter the mainstream, and if you scratch the surface of any of them, there's almost always antisemitism underneath. Even truly absurd ideas like âthe lizard peopleâ are often just âwink and nodâ references to supposed Jewish conspiracies. The biggest right now is Qanon, which claims powerful people do all sorts of depraved things with kidnapped children. This is, of course, just a modern reworking of the ancient âblood libel.â Many of its adherents go beyond coded messages and outright say Jews (or possibly âZionistsâ) are behind it all. So now whenever I hear anyone talking about âthe Illuminati,â even as a joke, my antisemitism radar pops up. Sadly, it's usually right.
All that said, what am I to do with shows I love that rely on such conspiracies? Of course, I'm not accusing you of antisemitism (I can think of several reasons that'd be ridiculous, starting with your own ethnoreligious identity), but I didn't know anything about you or any of the other creators when I first saw the show. There is some irony that the character obsessed with the Illuminati is himself Jewish, though I didn't know âBluestoneâ was a Jewish name at the time. Where I eventually came down is that Gargoyles has such clear anti-racist themes that it's hard to imagine anyone taking an antisemitic message from it. On my recent rewatch, I noticed the punks in M.I.A. were basically reciting Brexit talking points about immigrants ruining England, 20 years before Brexit was a thing. âGolemâ puts Jewish characters in the heroic roles and opens with what I now recognize as a pogrom. Also, the characters we see involved with the Illuminati do not appear to be Jewish. Malone is presumably Italian (though I suspect his wife was Jewish), the upper leadership in the comics are mostly from Arthurian legend so probably a mix of Christianity and paganism, Shari is Arabic, and Thailog is... Thailog. And they partner with a clear KKK analog, which I doubt any Jewish organization would do. Still, people do often take perverse readings of shows. I've seen people read white supremacist messages into My Little Pony of all things. And on rare occasions I've even seen people say that Gargoyles was trying to tell the truth about the âreal Illuminati.â
This all ties in to a bigger question of how much responsibility creators and artists have for the audience's interpretation. There are shows like The Sopranos and Breaking Bad that clearly condemn their villain protagonists, yet some fans still admire these âantiheroes.â Alan Moore has said fans tell him they identify with Rorschach, at which point he wishes he were somewhere else. I myself am worried the âsex traffickingâ plotline in my unpublished novel might contribute to harmful ideas. Sex trafficking is real, to an extent, but its reality is nothing like popular beliefs, and those beliefs were part of both the 80's Satanic Panic and its modern iteration, Qanon. These questions are enough to make me (more) neurotic.
I don't exactly know what I'm asking here, just getting out some thoughts I've been kicking around. I guess the question is: what do you think your responsibility is when making a show that mostly children watch? I know you were very concerned with your portrayal of gun safety in âDeadly Forceâ and managed to do it in a way that âconcerned parentsâ groups praised. There was also the need to avoid âimitableâ violence, hence Duncan getting killed by a magic glowing electricity bomb. Are there any similar conversations that take place around how conspiracy theories are presented? In the 90's, conspiracy theories existed, but they were more fringe. Today, they are much more mainstream, and you're making a show whose villains are âThe Light,â which is just an English translation of âIlluminati.â Even without the antisemitic baggage the name âIlluminatiâ has, I still worry about giving people more reason to be paranoid. I don't know how I would approach something like that, so I guess I'm tossing the question to you. Thank you for reading and for whatever response you have.
Let me start with one quibble: Angel used the term "The Powers that Be" as some equivalent to the Heavenly Hosts, not as an equivalent to a very earthly - if magically infused - Illuminati, as we had in Gargoyles.
Beyond that, I think you raise a number of good - or at least interesting - points.
Ultimately, I go back to something my former boss Gary Krisel once said to me. We had received one letter on DuckTales protesting an episode where Magica DeSpell used a magical circle, claiming we were promoting Satanism - that any use of magic in the show would be promoting Satanism. (The letter literally said, "Walt Disney would be rolling over in his grave if he saw what you were doing in his name." To which I wanted to reply, "Have you SEEN Snow White?") Gary said something like, "We're not going to give magic to the Satanists." Meaning, it's part of storytelling and fantasy and myth, etc. It's one of OUR tools as storytellers. And we won't give it up, neither to any one who wants to use those trappings to promote evil nor to anyone who wants to inhibit our creativity.
So along those lines, I come down on the side of "I'm not going to give Conspiratorial Villain Organizations to the Anti-Semites." And, as you noted, I hope it's obvious that I'm not an anti-semite and that neither is Gargoyles' Illuminati nor Young Justice's Light. (Q-Anon clearly is, though I know of plenty of Jews who believe in Q-Anon and don't see it (or only see a few bad apples using it for anti-semitic purposes). Go figure.)
Note: Most of what you're describing goes back to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a false text, blatantly anti-semitic, that has been used for over a hundred years to persecute Jews. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Protocols_of_the_Elders_of_Zion).
So, to your main question, what is my responsibility as a creator? I think it has to be the responsibility to, in part, reclaim the tools of storytelling and fiction from fascists and hate groups of all stripes - including but not limited to the anti-semites. I don't think it's always possible. You can't reclaim the swastika, for example, even though that predates Naziism. But I think magic circles and fictional villain groups still have hope. Of course, if you are going to use these things that have been, shall we say, compromised, you need to make it clear that you aren't feeding into the negative stereotype associated with the trope. Hence, Gargoyles' Illuminati is being investigated by a Jew and is comprised of mostly non-Jews, including many characters from Arthurian Legend.
I also personally believe it's patently obvious that there is no real world equivalent to the Light or the Illuminati. The world is too damn disorganized for me to believe that ANY one organization is secretly running things. Or if they are, they're doing no better a job than the actual governments they are theoretically trying to supplant. I mean, what's their goal? Just to make everyone miserable? If so, then maybe they're doing just great.
Hey Greg, how do you plot seasons and specific episodes, do you set end goals to achieve in the story or do you begin to plot and see where the story flows naturally?
Um, both. Go through the ASK GREG ARCHIVES for more detailed responses. But we use index cards with events marking tent poles in our stories, and then fill in with more index cards until every season, every episode, every scene is fleshed out fully.
I'm a big fan of your work - particularly on Young Justice and The Spectacular Spider-Man...I was wondering
1. If there's a possibility of the Young Justice comic series returning anytime in the future? As I've been re-reading them recently and forgotten how great they were in expanding the world you've created!
2. What advice would you give to an aspiring writer starting out...particularly in the TV and comics business?
1. Nothing to report, but I'm still hopeful.
2. Please check out the WRITING and WRITING TIPS sections of the ASK GREG ARCHIVE.
(Sorry if it's been answered but I did search the archives, and your answers about plotting YJ have been very illuminating.) Are there any books or guides to plotting a series? There are plenty of books about "how to write your pilot" and such, but I haven't had any luck finding suggestions for how to plot a series.
I would think there are, but I haven't seen/read any. My method has been trial and error, learning by experience.
Hi Greg. I'd like to ask for some career advice.
1. I would love to write for animation. Besides writing as much as possible, what steps should I take that would make me a better writer for this art form?
2. I love animation, but cannot draw nearly good enough for any type of decent storyboarding. Is this something I need to fix in order to write for animation? I'm good at describing what I want to see, but I'm worried not being talented at drawing will hurt my chances.
3. I'm curious on your stance in terms of writing CAMERA ANGLES and TYPES OF SHOTS in the script. Traditionally, I've been taught to leave that to the director as much as possible. How do you tackles this when you write?
4. In action sequences, how detailed do you go? Do you give a general description for the director or an actual play-by-play. For example, is it more: "they trade punches, parrying each other until Clara gets an opening and hits Harry across the face." OR "Clara goes for the uppercut, but Harry leans back and dodges, then attempts to sweep her legs. Clara jumps over the kick, then grabs his shoulders, and head butts her opponent. She makes up for the previous miss with a fist to the face." (Just came up with that, so obviously not the best examples but hopefully that suffices).
4. What should I do to get hired on a show? I know that connections are key, but as someone who has no connections, what's the best thing for me to do? I have a spec of another show and a pilot for an original series. I'd love to be a writer's assistant, but that also comes about through connections. I have occasionally messaged a creator on social media and asked if there was any opportunities on their show, but I know that's hardly a good method to pursue a career. Any guidance on this aspect would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for taking the time to answer these fan questions.
1. Sebastian, I'm going to refer you to the ASK GREG Archives on "Writing" and "Writing Tips" and "Biz, The". No offense, but I've answered this basic question so many times, it's kinda pointless for me to right it up again.
2. I can't draw stick figures well.
3. When I began in animation, we used to do much more directing in our scripts, as opposed to live action scripts, where you are advised to stick to Master Shots. Nowadays, we limit that calling of shots and angles, etc., to specific needs, e.g. we need a close-up on that light switch being turned off or a wide shot to reveal who is in the room or a tight close-up on a character's lips turning up into a cruel smile, etc.
4. I go for the specifics, because it expands page count. And page count equates to time. And if you're script is too long, you'll have to cut. So we try to get an accurate sense of time in the script, even if the board artists chose to choreograph the fight a bit differently.
5. Pre-pandemic, my first question would have been, "Where do you live?" And if your answer was anywhere other than Los Angeles, my second question would have been "When are you moving to Los Angeles?" Now, all the old rules are out the window, at least for the time being. I'm not sure what to recommend. Some of the advice in the archives should still be helpful. Otherwise, we're all just going to have to wait and see what happens, post-pandemic - assuming we ever get post-pandemic.
As a writer and creative, you've been responsible for some of my most cherished childhood and adulthood favorites. Given your experience, I wanted to know what one's approach would be when they come up with a story that they could see manifesting as an animated series? Do you flesh the whole story out as if writing a novel, or do you try and create episodes on paper and tell the whole story; is the process entirely different altogether? I would love your insight on this sensei. Thank You
Are we talking about selling or producing? They're two very different processes.
I read somewhere that you legally can't be exposed to ideas, or something like that. Does this mean you cannot read fanfictions, browse the Tumblr tag etc? How does it impact you and/or the creative process?
1. It does mean that. (See the ASK GREG Introduction, Paragraph 4, for an example.)
2. It doesn't.
I'm an aspiring writer. But mainly just as a hobby. Yes I know, writers who write for fun will likely never become accomplished writers.
Bit of dark humor aside, um. I seem to be stuck in a creative rut.
For the past seven months I've made up ideas for superhero stories. Yet, every time, I get quite far into the creative process, and my mind just disconnects. I end up lacking motivation to write, I scrap the idea, and I start over.
I was wondering if you had any advice from writing Gargoyles, or really anything else, that might be able to help me out of this cycle I find myself in time and again.
My main advice is to write every day. EVERY. DAY. Think of it as a muscle that you have to exercise and build up over time. Some days you may only write a sentence and get stuck. But the next day you write another sentence. And the next day, you cross out the first sentence but write two more. Etc. You work the problem.
More advice is to break every notion down on index cards. Keep adding cards. Pull cards, but never destroy them. If you cross something out, only put a single line through them so you can still read what you wrote. (You never know when an old, formerly-rejected idea may prove useful.) Then once you have your cards feeling right, you write it up as a prose document.
How do you plan out a story Spider-Man?
I'm not Spider-Man.
But basically, there's no difference in planning a Spidey story than planning a story for any show. It involves a lot of index cards, moving beats around until it gels.
Lately I've been thinking of a villain trope that is decades (if not centuries) old. The maniacal laugh or the evil laugh. When used properly, I love it. When not, it can be hammy, over the top, and out of character.
Several of the villains you've written over the years have used it, and many haven't.
Off the top of my head, Thailog comes to mind first. And I wouldn't want Thailog without it. Granted, I sometimes wonder where he picked it up. It definitely wasn't from Xanatos. And while Sevarius might be hammy, I don't recall him doing it.
Hyena also has a maniacal laugh, and given her name (and personality) it definitely suits her.
The Archmage had a maniacal laugh.
Demona laughed maniacally three or four times. But it's not a trait we normally associate with her.
And let us not forget the Green Goblin in "Spectacular Spider-Man". I think he was the only villain on the show to have one. Likewise, I recall Nerissa doing it on "W.I.T.C.H." at least once.
The Joker aside, I do not recall any of the villains on "Young Justice" doing it. Any of them. Maybe I'm misremembering, it's been a while since I watched through the show, but I am struggling to remember and coming up blank.
Which leads to me to ask. Is the maniacal laugh a dated relic? Especially as we expect supervillains to be more sophisticated in our dramatic fiction, superhero or otherwise.
For example, in "Transformers", the classic Megatron used to laugh maniacally all the time. All the time. More modern takes on Megatron have done away with the maniacal laugh.
I love it, don't get me wrong, but should villains still be doing it. If we ever get more "Gargoyles", I definitely want Thailog to continue doing it. But, had Thailog made his debut in the year 2017, would I still want him doing it?
You have gotten the chance to create your own great supervillains as well as write many of the classic and iconic supervillains. Right now, what are your thoughts on the villainous laugh?
I haven't exactly studied this issue.
I use it when it feels right in terms of character and situation. Obviously, some characters have more of a sense of humor about what they do than others.
Not all villainous laughs qualify as "maniacal" in my book either.
I would never outlaw the practice, but I think I do use it sparingly, both to avoid silliness and to make it special if and when we do use it.
Hey there greg i fiorst want to say that you're a writer I admire deeply and try to emulate you my writting. One dream of mine is seeing you writing a full Superman series (m,y favorite superhero). I know silly, but I fee like you would be fantastic
Onto my question.
How do you manage to keep us guessing with so maby questions. I mean whenever you answer a question there seems to be another around the corner.
How do you acomplish that? I mean most writers when they answer the big questions, theres nothing else to. Yet with you whenever you answer something a new question rises.
Thank you greg
We just think of our series as real worlds, with on-going issues. Nothing ever ends, so no answers answer everything. The characters keep moving and advancing on all fronts, including the heroes, villains and supporting cast. Once you keep that in mind, it's harder NOT to raise new questions as you go...
hey mr greg weisman i was just wondering were you aiming a little older and just had to keep it appealing for kids
We talking Young Justice? Gargoyles? Shimmer and Shine? Every series is different in its demographic targeting, sometimes even from season to season. In most cases, we tried to target multiple demographics simultaneously by writing in layers.
Can you tell us the meaning of the colors of the index cards you use to plan your shows?
It changes from show to show, even from season to season. And on YJ S3, because of index card shortages of specific colors (this happened, believe it or not), it changed more than once DURING the season.
As an example, in YJ S1:
Green - villains
Red - Justice League
Blue - The Team (hero stuff)
Purple - The Team (teen stuff)
Yellow - Stuff where a specific date matters (like holdays)
White - Stuff that we're laying pipe for but will not objectively reveal to the audience at this time
The following needs saying, so I'm taking time out from my very packed weekend - not to procrastinate, which would not be unusual - but to write up something that I think is important.
But first, some backstory...
I'm not particularly smart about very many things. I am in many ways a bear of very little brain. Ask anyone. I use an iPhone 4.0 because I literally believe that I don't have the brain space to deal with upgrading. I'm a slow reader. My dyslexia makes math difficult as I am constantly transposing numbers. I'm afraid of change. Etc., etc., etc.
But one thing - maybe the ONLY thing - I am smart about is STORY. Now, I've studied story for decades and decades in small ways and large. I also believe I have an innate gift for story. Like a great pianist, the gift itself would have been wasted without years of study and practice. I've had and done both.
What that means is that - when it comes to story - I have often (not always, but quite often) considered myself - with no modesty and tremendous arrogance - to be the smartest person in the room. In any room where this is a topic of conversation, but especially in any room where story was being professionally discussed. (You can see why - with an attitude like that - I'm so popular with animation executives and the like, and why I've been fired from so many jobs.)
Even on the many, many occasions when I have felt that I am among peers who understand story as well as I do, I never felt like they understood it better than I. As good, yes. Differently, sure. Stylistically, of course. But not better. I never felt anyone knew story better.
Oh, I've made mistakes, missed opportunities, slipped up, ad nauseam. I'm human and have never claimed perfection. I've collaborated with some brilliant and wonderful people. The list is nearly endless. But none of that ever shook my basic feeling that when it came to story, I was as smart or smarter than anyone in the room.
All that changed with YOUNG JUSTICE.
So let me state it for the record: when it comes to story, BRANDON VIETTI is the Smartest Human Being in the Room.
I'd love to tell you - BELIEVE ME, I'd love to tell you - that he learned all this at my ancient knee, and that if the student has surpassed the master, the master can at least take some satisfaction in that. But that, dear readers, would simply be a load of crap.
From Day One of YJ, as witness Kevin Hopps could attest, Brandon Vietti knew story, understood it deep, the way I do. And he was smarter about it than I.
The ultimate example of this dropped this past Friday.
Episode 307 of Young Justice: Outsiders, entitled "Evolution."
SPOILERS coming, so if you haven't seen the episode then please go watch it first before reading any further.
Like all YJ episodes this season, Brandon and I broke this story together. A pretty even 50-50 collaboration. There were certain things I wanted specifically to see, like the Cave Bear. Certain things I had researched such as that in (actual documented non-DC Comics) mythology, Nabu was the son of Marduk. And there were certain things that BV wanted in there, like the meta-human kid that Kalibak sacrifices. Certain things he had researched like The Art of War by Sun Tzu (a.k.a. Vandal Savage, a.k.a. Genghis Khan, a.k.a. Marduk, a.k.a. etc.)
And together, we created a pretty kick-ass story for the episode. I don't actually remember the day of the week, but for the sake of simplifying the story, let's say we finished breaking/building the story with index cards all neatly pushpinned into my office bulletin board on a Monday. Monday evening. We both felt pretty good about it, or at least I did, and we left for the day.
Tuesday morning, he comes in and says, "Something's missing."
I tell him he's crazy. There's nothing missing from 307. Nothing. It's a great damn episode. Maybe one of our best.
BV says no. Something's missing.
I say, "What? What's missing?!"
BV says, "I don't know yet. Something. Give me a day."
I roll my eyes in as pronounced a fashion as I possibly can and say, fine.
Wednesday morning he comes in and says, "I want to add a character."
I'm resistant. "It'll mess up the works, I tell him."
But he explains, and of course, he's right. Because Brandon Vietti is the Smartest Person in the Room.
The character he wants to add is Olympia. Olympia Savage. (I take credit for the first name only.) That's right. In our first version of this story, Olympia simply did not exist.
Try to picture "Evolution" without Olympia. Be honest. It's still a solid story. A few of the actual things Olympia does, we had Cassandra doing. But otherwise the plot remains almost completely unchanged.
But not the ending.
With Olympia in the story, the episode isn't merely a solid YJ episode. It's not merely a great YJ episode. To my mind, "Evolution" transcends YJ. It is a phenomenal, even revolutionary twenty-plus minutes of television.
And I tried to talk the guy out of it.
Of course, BV's contributions don't end there. He wrote the script, too, which is fantastic. And if you knew how much he contributed to every facet of production it would humble you. It humbles me, and as you can see above, I'm NOT a humble guy.
But screw all that. I'm not talking about pretty pictures, or color, or sound, or music or even dialogue.
This post is ONLY about STORY. And when it comes to STORY... BRANDON VIETTI will always be the SMARTEST HUMAN BEING IN THE ROOM.
I bow to his greatness. And trust me, I do not do that lightly.
To be honest, he's so good, it's pretty damn annoying.
But it's an honor to be his partner.
What is the hardest decision you've ever had to make, storytelling-wise?
The next one?
I've heard a lot about the "core truth" concept you and your team use in your approach to characters.
Are some of these core truths secrets, or would you tell us any that we ask?
I don't think they're secrets because we put it all up on screen. But my inclination is to let our interpretation stand on its own, influenced by each viewer's own interpretation, as opposed to explicating everything in writing here. Still, I don't mind talking process. I'm not going to go down a laundry list of characters, but if someone were interested in one specific character as an example of the process, I might - depending on my mood and clarity - answer this kind of question once or twice.
From what I understand, a lot of people tend to forget that what makes a character strong (metaphorically-speaking) is how he or she deals with his or her problems. Most seem to think that "strong" in the metaphorical sense means that they are tough and flawless, when in reality it is the exact opposite.
What do you think? Am I off course or am I on the right path?
I definitely think you're correct.
Hey Greg, theres something I would like to ask your opinion about.
You see comics have been notorious for being hard on average people to get into. You should know that your cartoons have been much more influential than whatever it's publised on printed form.
For millions of people when they think Young Justice they think of earth 16 and when they think of spiderman they think of spectacular.
Say Teen Titans Tv show' has Starfire as a cute alien and naive girl wich is among the best female characters ever in my opinion. While on comics she is a dumb bimbo with hardly more personalitybthan a brick
Comics on the other hand are harder to get into and well you might jot agree but the quality is much better in cartoons such as yours. I would rather watch young justice that get into the continuity mess that comics are.
It would seem that every continiuity reboot that tries to make things simpler just makes things worse.
In your experience what would you do to make comics as approachable as tv shows are?
Well, I'm going to start - without going point by point - by NOT agreeing with everything you've stated above. Some comics have issues. Some are both accessible and very well-done. In general, I'm really liking DC's REBIRTH, for example. I'm reading all of it - trying to keep up. I don't love every series, let alone every issue, but generally, I think they're doing a pretty darn good job. I'd particularly recommend Wonder Woman.
And I think there are plenty of crap television series, as well.
It's all about execution. Plenty of good comics series. Plenty of good television series. Plenty of lousy examples of both. But I'm glad you like YJ and Spectacular.
Is there some sort of prejudice against animation writers by live-action producers? For example, would the producers of the Flash hire one of the Young Justice writers to write an episode? Or, would their experience working in animation not be taken seriously, or might it even be considered a strike against them?
If this prejudice against animation writers does exist, I have to say I don't understand it. I mean... do you really have to be a genius to write an episode of the Flash, or Blue Bloods, or the Big Bang Theory? I can understand shows like Breaking Bad or Mad Men or Game of Thrones being fussy about who they hire to write, but the simple reality is that most TV is not on that level.
I don't think there are any consistent rules, and there are plenty of writers who've done animation and went on to work in live action. But, generally, yes, I think there's a prejudice against animation writers. I've certainly felt that way, anyhow, though I admit I'm biased. I tried really hard just to get my foot in the door at Arrow when it was first starting up. Couldn't even get an interview.
Hi! I'd like to ask you a question from a writing standpoint if you don't mind. When juggling a lot of plotlines, how important is it to develop relationships on-screen? On the one hand, obviously the main couples should be. But for the minor ones/background characters, I'm not sure if it's better to leave their relationship status static (which would be unrealistic for most) until I can properly develop something for them, or sometimes put them in side relationships based on chemistry even without much prior development. This would be provided that these relationships could be used to further individual storylines, just not important enough to warrant too much attention from the main plot. It's okay if you don't have an answer, but I'm curious if you do.
Every character should have his or her own life, even if you don't always have the screen time for it.
Will you ever consider teaching a writing class? If so, teach it on MasterClass! (https://www.masterclass.com) I would love to be a writer half as good as you! You could make Family Guy good!
Ignoring the non-sequitor attack on Family Guy...
I have taught classes in Writing for Television Animation in the past. I don't think I have the time now. And the internet largely scares me.
I found a tumblr post that talks about great characters with the link below.
I also remembered you answered a question like that.
"I believe they exist as fully as possible. I create backstories for them, whether or not those backstories will be revealed on screen or on the page. I make them real to me."
So for the actual questions:
1. What do you think about the tumblr post? I think "compelling" and "fascinating" seem too subjective.
2. What exactly do you mean by "exist as fully as possible"? I'm guessing you want to give as much of an image of a character as you can, but I'm also sure that's the main task of any story.
3. You also said that you want to make the characters seem real to yourself, but how do you make them real to the viewer?
4. This one might be redundant, so it probably doesn't need to be answered. But just in case, how do you make characters and stories that the audience can enjoy?
5. I also know you've said that you write your passion, but how do you know it will appeal to others? It all sounds like being hopeful.
1. Perhaps. But so is "relatable" and "sympathetic". They're directions to head not a detailed map.
2. It's not the main task to make of any story to make EVERY character in the story fully realized. My feeling is - within reasonable parameters - that it SERVES the story to have fully realized characters, who have their own backstories and motives that are specific to them.
3. I cross my fingers that if it works for me, it'll work for a substantial portion of my audience.
4. I write what I like, and cross the above-mentioned fingers. The alternative is pointless. If I can't get passionate about my story, how can I possibly expect anyone else to?
5. That's all it is. Honestly. See above.
You recently responded to another poster who sent you his review of YJ season 1. Your response made me question what the point of doing something like that might be. I mean... I understand the poster probably wants to feel that his opinion matters, but what kind of response could he or she possibly expect from you? Did he think you were going to agree with him? Was there ever a chance that you were going to say, "You have made some excellent points, and I will take them into account as I am writing season 3"?
So, my question is: does audience feedback or reviews ever effect how you YJ in even a general way?
Nope. Doesn't mean they don't have the right to express them. But Brandon and I have to follow our passions and instincts. Have to. We can't let either praise or criticism effect our plans. For starters, for every person who likes something, there's bound to be someone who hates it and vice versa. All we can do is write the show we want to see - and pray that enough people like our work to make it successful.
You often say that ideas minus their execution are subject to unfair second guessing and that you've learned this the hard way. Can you share the specifics of this realization? What story did you share that brought this about?
Lots of Gargoyles stuff. The first thing that comes to mind is Nashville's name. But there were all sorts of things.