QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS


First of all, welcome to WHAT TH--? Number 11. Frankly, I didn’t know if I’d get this far, but we’ll give it a few more weeks.

From SDelMonte@aol.com

Greetings and congrats on your new column. Like everyone else of my generation, I grew up with your work - indeed, the first really good comic I remember reading was ASM 200, and it's the comic I credit with hooking me for life.

Nothing better than opening a column with praise. I never get enough of that.

My question is two-fold. As a veteran of both comics and animation, you would have some insight into the similarities and differences of the two fields. So...
1) Did coming from a comic book background aid or hinder you when you broke into animation. (I still remember with some fondness your contributions to GI Joe and Transformers from that time.)
2) Why do you think we don't seem to be seeing the same efforts by writers now that we did back in the 80s and early 90s to move into animation? I remember so many major writers moving into animation to some degree, with you being just one example of someone who found new horizons as a result. Whereas these days, the only writer I can think of who's made the move is Dwayne McDuffie. (If anything, we're now more likely to see animation writers like Paul Dini move into comics.)

Alright! I can answer these. Or at least pretend to. First, I don’t think comics helped or hurt getting into animation other than the fact that I was a known writer. Nobody said at the time that because I did comics I couldn’t do animation, and nobody said because I did comics I could. They liked my writing and hired me as well as the others who started writing animation at the time. The trick of writing animation when you come out of comics is to understand the differences in the forms themselves. Comics are static images. Each panel is essentially a snapshot. Animation is constant movement. For example, in a comic you can have six balloons in a panel which shows to people walking toward a door across the room. There might be a hundred words in those six balloons. Because the comic panel is a frozen moment in time nobody questions the amount of dialogue used in this sequence.

On the other hand, if you are having two people walk across the room to the door you actually have to figure out how long that might take. If you time it either in reality (walk across the room) or in your head (one elephant, two elephant, three…) you will come to the conclusion that it will take them all of nine seconds. Which might come out to eight words. Ten? Twelve at most?
That’s just one small difference. The two forms may look alike but they are very different with very different needs.

Strangely enough, although I’m known for my super-hero work in comics (despite an eight year award-winning run on Tomb of Dracula) my best work in animation is my comedy material, especially Pocket Dragon Adventures, the series based on the wonderful art of Real Musgrave that I co-created and co-story edited. That was a great, fun show to work on.

As for getting into animation, I tend to think people expand to other fields after they’ve been doing the same thing for awhile and need to be refreshed somewhat. As much as I love comics – and they are the favorite thing I write, when I get the work, my work would become incredibly stale if all I did was the same thing month in and month out. That’s why in the mid-70s I did several novels. Then animation. Today I write theme park shows, animation, movies, etc. I am working on writing material based on movie stunts right now for a park in Madrid. Writers today do the same thing we did but perhaps they aren’t moving into animation but into more lucrative fields. Many writers, James Robinson, Neil Gaiman, etc. have done movies. Peter David has written many novels and even a play or two. We all have the need to keep trying new stuff. Dwayne, of course, created Static which is how he got the original call. The producers there told me his stuff was great, which I would have expected, since I always really enjoyed his comic book work.

Skip Young writes…

Mark Waid made mention that DC would still like him to do that "HyperCrisis" story. I think this would be an excellent opportunity for you to team up with Mr. Waid and do some kind of storyline like the title suggests. The ending of it would NOT change history, but at the same time it would come up with an explanation of how Power Girl can be Superman's cousin, how Kara Zor-el fits into history, the JSA and so forth. Does this make sense, is this something can be done? ...I don't know, but it would be great reading by two of the BEST writers in the business, and yes, I think you are STILL one of the best writers in the business. It would be great to even throw in Roy Thomas and Geoff Johns into the writing of this story. Can you imagine the potential??

I thank you for the nice compliment – so why aren’t you an editor? Of course, by the time I’m done with my answer you might not be complimenting me.

As I’ve made mention more than once, I’m not a big fan of continuity and I grow less a fan of it every time I see a useless footnote to a story. Were I given the power to change everything today, I would simply say that all books published from January 1st will start over with issue #1. If you want to bring back something from the past and establish it as new continuity, be my guest. If you want to forget something in the past, then you’re free to do that, too. At this point I’d also say I don’t care how many Atlantis’ there are in the DC or Marvel U. If the FF wants one Atlantis and Submariner wants a different one, go right ahead. I’m more interested in seeing great new ideas than in having everyone having to write one possibly boring vision. I want to see comics continue to expand outward rather than contract inward and that’s what I think company wide continuity does.

I don’t think it’s a big surprise that the major hits of the late 90s were Astro City and Alan Moore’s ABC line. Each creator put together his own new universe and wasn’t hampered with a million issues and the two million other writers that preceded them.

That said, I do think every title needs to be consistent with itself. Characters shouldn’t change nilly willy. I just don’t believe in company wide continuity. Never did. I got rid of the multiple earths to do away with that. Unfortunately, they got better.

Because of my belief in blowing up continuity, I would probably not make a good partner with Mark (like he’d need one anyway). I don’t want to explain why everything that’s ever been is still in continuity. I’d just write it there and leave it like that and never worry if it contradicts some other comic.

Sorry if that’s not the answer you were hoping for.

By the way, I know this is a touchy subject with fans and professionals alike and most of you will probably hate my view. But, what the hey! This is my column and I can play with it the way I want to.

From: "David N Miller" <millerdn@washpost.com>

Enjoying your column and will try to contribute some questions to same. Do you like/dislike the concept of kid side-kicks? Was one of CRISIS' raison d'etre was to get rid of all of them but Robin? Personally, I miss the Kid Flash and Wonder Girl costumes. But that's just me.

Did I really do that? There was, as far as I remember, no deliberate attempt to get rid of sidekicks in Crisis and at this moment I can’t remember killing any of them, though I probably offed a few of those short-pantsed freaks. Now, I never much liked Robin, which is why as soon as I got my hands on him I gave him a brain. And a personality. And long pants. I’m not a big sidekick fan and I don’t think teenagers need an adult hero to tell them what to do. Teens are pretty smart. At least I was when I co-wrote my first Teen Titans story way back in ‘68 or so. Never cared for Speedy, Bucky, Proty or any of them. I thought Stan Lee handled it best with Spider-Man and the Human Torch. Both were teens when they started out, but they were treated like the adult heroes. That’s what I tried to do with the Titans. But as for killing them off in Crisis, no –there was no company or personal decision to do away with them as a genre.

Well, that’s all the room I have this week. Please send more questions and I’ll see you all in seven.
-Marv Wolfman

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