Greg Weisman is someone many genre fans know from his work on classics like Garygoyles, to his superhero fair such as The Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice, and recently with Star Wars Rebels. Greg is also an accomplished published author and is soon coming out with a new comic, Starbrand and Nightmask this fall from Marvel.
Greg recently took some time and answered a few questions I had for him.
Jordan Cobb: First off, congrats on the new book, Starbrand and Nightmask. As big a comic fan as I am, I admit I never really heard of these characters, so what can you tell us about the comic, why these characters, and what are your plans for the book, what’s the direction you have laid out for it?
Greg Weisman: Both characters originated as part of Marvel’s NEW UNIVERSE in the 1980s. And a couple other versions have existed since. But Jonathan Hickman really introduced these new versions as part of his recent Avengers run, which led right into Secret Wars. Artist Domo Stanton and I will be picking up the threads of these characters’ stories, dealing with loose ends, taking things to their extreme. On the one hand, you have two partners – incredibly powerful heroes – taking their rightful place in the cosmic hierarchy, and on the other hand you have two friends, who are trying to get in touch with their humanity and so have decided to attend college. It’s that juxtaposition of the cosmic and the mundane that interests me, and I hope will interest readers, as well.
JC: How new reader accessible will Starbrand and Nightmask be??
GW: Extremely. You won’t ever have to have read a single other comic to understand what’s going on. What you need to know will be explained with clarity in the book itself. I’m not saying that having a past knowledge won’t enhance things. But it’s not necessary.
JC: Now you’re known a lot for you work for animated TV shows, plenty of them hugely beloved, maybe by myself as well. What is it about animation that attracts you as a storyteller?
GW: So many things. But mostly, it’s the incredible people I get to collaborate with, including brilliant artists, composers, actors, etc. Also, I love world-building, and the shows I’ve produced over the years have really given me that opportunity to build, explore and weave the threads of a larger tapestry.
JC: You’ve written on various shows from Kim Possible to Men in Black to The Batman to Jem. What made those and any of the other shows you’ve written on a project you wanted to be attached to?
GW: I was offered paid work to write them. I mean, look, all the shows you mentioned were a blast to work on, but at the end of the day, I’ve got bills to pay like anyone, so my resume is often (not always, but often) defined by who would hire me. That’s just the life of a professional writer.
JC: With established properties, how much research into the source material do you and your team put in for say something akin to Spectacular Spider-Man, Young Justice, and Star Wars Rebels?
GW: I did tons of research for all three of those shows. I really like to immerse myself in the worlds before I start creating. Often, it’s about refreshing my memory. For example, I had read those old Stan & Steve and Stan & John Spidey stories before I got The Spectacular Spider-Man gig. But I reread them all to really hone in on who Spidey and Pete are.
JC: For those that might not know, why is it that you and any of the other creators aren’t credited with creating Gargoyles on-air, I know plenty of fans are curious as to how that happened.
GW: It was Disney policy back then, for the most part. Gargoyles was created as part of the development process at Walt Disney Television Animation from 1991 – 1993, while I was Director of Series Development for the division, before I moved over to produce full time. While I was an executive, I wasn’t allowed to take a credit on the show. Other people contributed to Gargoyles creation, which is why I sometimes refer to myself as its co-creator. But no one who worked on that development would deny that the series was my idea, my baby and that I was the driving force behind it. In addition, I’m the one guy who was on it from its inception all the way through the post-production of Season Two. I only wrote one episode myself, but I was supervising story editor of all 65 episodes and handed out all the springboards to the series’ story editors and writers. In addition, I wrote all the SLG comics personally. So, yeah, credit or no credit, I do consider myself to be the Creator of Gargoyles. Now having shamelessly said all that, I want to emphasize that I could never have done it alone. Many incredible people worked with me both to develop and produce the series. Chief among those, I must give credit to my producing partner Frank Paur and our original story editor and head writer Michael Reaves. Neither were there for the creation of the series, but Gargoyles would not have been Gargoyles without the contributions of those two guys and many, many others.
JC: Television and comic books are both serialized forms of storytelling where you have experience in writing and I was curious if one feels different from the other and which do you find easier to write on a continuous basis?
GW: Comics provide a bit more freedom generally, but in terms of the writing itself, I don’t find one easier than the other. And both comics and animation are about collaborating with other talented people. However, from the standpoint of content, one half-hour television episode is about the equivalent of three issues of a standard length comic book.
JC: In relation to that, how different to you is writing prose and do you have any plans to write any more novels?
GW: Writing prose is different, as you need to do all the work yourself – no collaborators – but not only that, you have to put all that work into the actual words on the page. No writing blah dialogue and hoping your actors plus it for you. No counting on amazing artists to sometimes literally paint your settings. No depending on composers and musicians to guide your audiences’ response. That’s all on the author.
And, yes, I plan on writing more novels. I’ve written and published two: Rain of the Ghosts and Spirits of Ash and Foam. These are the first two books in what I hope will be a nine-book series. Both are available now, and I’m already researching the third book, Masque of Bones. At the moment, I’m also writing another novel based on a pre-existing property, but I’m not yet allowed to reveal what it is.
JC: Has there been any particular character you’ve really loved writing and any character you would love to write if you’re ever given the chance?
GW: Many and many.
JC: What would you say are your biggest influences into storytelling and what is your process like?
GW: My single biggest influences, for better or worse, are the works of William Shakespeare and William Faulkner. Ernest Hemingway and Charles Dickens were also influential. The television series Hill Street Blues was a revelation to me. There are tons of other influences too. But I think that covers the main few.
JC: Is there anything else you’re working on that you can talk about at this moment?
GW: Yes, I’ve just completed production on an unabridged full-cast AudioPlay version of Rain of the Ghosts, which will be available on Audible.com by the end of November. This features 20 actors playing 30 roles, has sound effects and nearly four hours of original musical scoring. I’m incredibly proud of this unusual project. Your readers can find out more at RainoftheGhosts.com or AskGregWeisman.com or by following me on Twitter @Greg_Weisman. They can also friend or follow me on Facebook.
Meanwhile, I’m also writing Starbrand & Nightmask and Star Wars Kanan for Marvel, and I have a day job writing on Season Two of Shimmer & Shine for Nick Jr.