WonderCon: Greg Weisman Spotlight Panel

Sun, March 4th, 2007 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Chris Evans, Contributing Writer

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Cover to "Gargoyles" #1

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"Gargoyles" Promo

Greg Weisman is the fan favorite creator of "Gargoyles," and on Saturday at WonderCon, he sat down with Slave Labor Graphics' head-honcho Dan Vado to discuss his past and future work with "The Gargoyles."

The panel started off with a laugh as Greg sat down in front of his mis-spelled name, although there is always a chance that 'Greig Weisman' simply never showed up for his panel.

At Vado's questioning, Weisman went in depth into the evolution of "Gargoyles" as he explained to fans that the series was originally pitched as a comedic cartoon starring little gargoyles up to no good. Many of the gargoyles we now know and love were in the original pitch in one form or another. The characters and story were evolved into an action drama, and further enhanced until it was eventually picked up on its third pitch.

David Xanatos was originally a goofy Captain Hook-like nemesis with an assistant named Mr. Owen (as opposed to an assistant simply named Owen). The initial leader of the pack was Dakota, but it was later decided she would work best as a villain and thus her name was changed to Demona. The character of Brooklyn looked like Lexington and was named Amp. Lexington looked like Brooklyn and was named Lassie. There were more insights such as the Broadway character originally being a girl, Hudson being a couch potato named Ralph, and Elisa's ethnicity and job changing periodically over the course of development.

Even though the series pitch was finally realized as an action drama, there was still a factor missing and that was the character of Goliath. It was Tad Stones (creator of "Darkwing Duck" as well as "Helloboy: Sword of Storms") who suggested adding a 'Beauty and the Beast' element to the story and thus the noble Goliath was born to be the Beast to Elisa's Beauty. Weisman prepared a long, in-depth pitch for Disney and still, the show was turned down. As Greg put it, 'a post-mortem breakthrough' occurred and he was able to rework his pitch to present. He learned a big lesson in the industry that short, precise pitches work best as opposed to long, in depth pitches that may bore the executive listening.

Greg further detailed how Disney was actively looking for a franchise with a built-in audience, and were seriously considering buying Marvel during its bankruptcy fiasco of the 90s. Greg convinced Disney to let Gargoyles be their franchise, Disney's version of the Fantastic Four, and he set out to create a large universe filled with more than just Gargoyles. Thus, during season 2, 'pilot episodes' were written into the series starring many new characters that would presumably get their own show. Such spin-offs included "The Bad Guys," "Pendragon," "Time Dancer," and many others.

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Greg explained his exit from Disney and "Gargoyles" as a misunderstanding that led to the work environment being unproductive, bordering on unfriendly. The split came when Jeffrey Katzenberg was ousted from Disney, and as a friend of Jeff, Greg was assumed to only be loyal to him and thus was not needed in the now Katzenberg-less regime.

Soon, newer information was revealed as fans in attendance began to gather the courage to ask their own questions.

When asked what his most challenging "Gargoyles" episode was, Greg replied that they were all challenging at one point. Although he specifically mentioned that the episodes "The Mirror" and "City of Stone" were tough.

Asked if Disney was hard to work for, Greg responded that at the time of the show it wasn't hard. He was an ex-executive at Disney, so he was primarily left alone as it was assumed he knew what he was doing. Plus they were given the freedom to show violence, just as long as they showed the consequences of the violence. He also added that a show like "Gargoyles" would never be made by Disney today due to 'explicit' content.

A question that gained laughs by all in attendance was, "Why all the Star Trek people!?!" Greg responded that Jonathan Frakes (Commander Riker on Star Trek: TNG and the voice of David Xanatos) and Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi on Star Trek: TNG and the voice of Demona) were simply perfect for their parts. It was explained further that auditions were only held at the show's creation and there was no time during the season to hold auditions for more actors. The only recourse for getting new voices was to look to friends and acquaintances. When a deep voiced actor was needed for the role of Goliath's clone, Coldstone, Michael Dorn (Worf) was the first actor to come to mind and was immediately called upon to lend his voice. This occurred throughout the show as more and more voices were needed.

Finally, some new information was slowly revealed as fans began to ask question on the new "Gargoyles" comic book. One fan asked about Disney's involvement on the comic book series. Greg replied that Disney only has final approval over what is printed and the only other contribution they may give to the series is slowing it down. For example, Disney changed all of Hudson's Scottish dialogue in the first issue to just straight English. Greg changed it back immediately and sent it back in for approval with no further problems, apparently the Scottish accent wasn't a big enough deal for Disney to follow up on.

On a related note, it was revealed that issue number 3 of "Gargoyles" has been ready for weeks, yet Disney still has yet to sign off on approval.

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Another fan asked if New York was always going to be the setting for the series and Greg responded, "Yes!" He wanted the most modern city (in the U.S.) to be the home of the medieval Gargoyles.

One fan asked if Disney was to blame for the long wait between issues 1 and 2. Disney didn't help the situation, but the main reason was that the artist was working a second job at the time and could not devote all his energy to the project, luckily for the fans, David Hedgecock quit his day job and he is now fully focused on the series.

The fan asked another question relating to the third season of Gargoyles and its place in continuity. Greg believes season 3 was such a big change in tone and style that it has no place in Gargoyles history, besides the fact that he had almost nothing to do with that season's stories. He also said the majority of fans did not enjoy the season and are happy to see it stricken from record. The only carryover will be the first episode of season 3 ("The Journey"), which has been reworked as the first few issues of the "Gargoyles" comic. The story originally written by Weisman was drastically edited for television becoming a new entity entirely.

It was also announced at the spotlight panel that a new bi-monthly series taking place within the 'Gargoyle' universe will be out soon entitled "The Bad Guys." The plan will be to have some kind of Gargoyles book out each month. Soon new books based on the other pilots will be announced as the franchise expands.

There was not a lot of Spider-Man animated series news as the show is still in development. Although it was said the show will be 2D with possibly some bits of 3D animation incorporated ("Futurama" was given as an example).

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