Talking specifically about back when I was doing THE SILVER SURFER. At the same time, Michael Steven Gregory and I came up with another concept called TWO DUDES.
THE SILVER SURFER was cancelled after only one season on FoxKids because of a financial dispute between Fox and Marvel. TWO DUDES got a lot of action as a screenplay and even had a short life on the web as an animated gif series. (Told you this was “back when.”) The other day, though, I saw the cartoon above. Now I’m a subscriber.
Back in the late ’90s I did a little work in animation, creating projects like Fox’s THE SILVER SURFER, which I also ran – as much as a writer can run what is probably the only TV genre where writer-producers don’t get to call all the shots because the animator-directors are the official Big Cheeses – and supervising the writing on SURFER, SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED, DIABOLIK (a French series for all practical purposes although everyone wanted it to be more), and HBO’s SPAWN (a terrific series bujt the less said about it as an experience in my life the better).
As a result of that work (which you can get a quick overview of here), I’m often asked a lot of questions about the television animation process. One of the days, time permitting, I’ll write a nice long article on the subject. But until then I’m happy to use this space to answer the following question from Delia, who wants to writes:
I’ve been a secret fan of Saturday Morning animation for years and have always been amazed at the variation in quality. I’ve seen shows that obviously were intended for 8 year olds, like POKEMON, and shows that scaled upward in age past pre-teens and teens to the viewing group I’d call Young Adults, which clearly was the demo you aimed THE SILVER SURFER at.
Mostly I think of myself as an artist, rather than a writer, and I’m eager to learn what the opportunities are for nerd girl artists like me in animation. I’m familiar with some of the more advanced issues, such as ageism and sexism. (Whew, at least I’m young.) And I do know that there’s more to TV animation than Saturday morning these days. A lot more. But I’m still not clear on the actual stages that the art goes through for TV, nor do I understand who necessarily does what. And I really, really want to know what the Animation Director actually does. Can you help me out on this?
To which I have to wholeheartedly reply:
I love this question, Delia, for several reasons.
Because you remember THE SILVER SURFER, which was indeed intended for adults of all ages and not just tykes.
Because you seem to have liked it. (I fucking loved it myself.)
Because you’re a young woman who wants to work in animation and I don’t hear from many humans fitting into that calling. (Aliens, yes, lots of ’em, but humans, not so much.)
Because someone else has already answered this question wonderfully well, which means that I don’t have to strain my aging brain coming up with the answer.
That someone else is a friend named Will Meugniot, who really knows his stuff. Over the years, Will has been producer, director, writer, art director, storyboard artist, you-name-it on tons of animated TV including:
BIKER MICE FROM MARS
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
X-MEN THE SERIES
CAPTAIN PLANET AND THE PLANETEERS
THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS
And many, many more. (Did I say tons? Make it whole planets full of shows.)
And foremost, to me, he worked his talented butt off on both THE SILVER SURFER and DIABOLI
K. In the words of Stan Lee, “Wotta guy.” (I don’t mean Stan wrote this somewhere, I mean he came right out and said it with real feeling to me.)
More to the point in terms of this question, Will is part of a team that put together a terrific behind-the-scenes “Making of” video for the THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS DVD COLLECTION a few years ago, and which y’all can find on YouTube.
In terms of the matter at hand, these two videos should be very helpful:
TVWriter™ is more than just daily posts about TV, writing, and the collected obsessions of those of us who work here? It’s also the longest running, most complete site about the ins and outs, both creative and economic, of television writing on the web. We’re talking contests, workshops, and page after page of info based on Larry Brody’s 30+ year long career.
On other posts, we’ve talked about the People’s Pilot and Spec Scriptacular TV and screenwriting competitions, the various online workshops at what we call TVWriter University, our THE BASICS OF TV WRITING mini-site, and LB’s experiences working on various versions of STAR TREK with (and, sadly, without) Gene Roddenberry. Now we want to officially call your attention to another mini-site about a little phenomenon known as:
After a short retirement in the early ’90s, LB went back to running TV shows, trading in primetime network broadcasting (been there, done that, you know the drill) for children’s animation. Among the shows he wrote or ran are SUPERMAN, THE SILVER SURFER, SPIDER-MAN, SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED, and (the cult classic and very adult animated show) SPAWN. We hope you’ll take advantage of the info here and also that you’ll send in any questions you have on the subject so the boss can answer them here on TVWriter™.
You can find the ANIMATION mini-site by scrolling down the index to the right of this post. Or, if you’re in a rush, just place your cursor here and, you know, click.
Believe it or not, Galactus is NIGH is a Facebook page. Avowed mission: “our mission is to take as many pictures as we can with Cosplayers.” And they’re doing pretty well. The page opened July 12th, and as of this writing it’s gotten almost 300 pics.
We’re curious about the origins of this particular apocalypse. And whether LB’s SILVER SURFER animated series had anything to do with it. We probably should interview those involved. But that would take some, you know, effort. And, just between us, we’re, well, urm, we’re not journalists. (Fooled you, right?)
So if anyone knows anything about this, comment and let us in on it, okay?
Not the superhero I wanted to be, but know what? I’ll settle.
INT. BRODY HOUSE – DAY
LB is hunched at his desk, peering at his two 27″ monitors. He raises his right hand, palm up.
To me, my board!
Immediately, his shiny silver USB mouse pulls itself loose from the pile of notes, papers, pens, and a cool marble drink coaster on one side of the desk and flies upward, slapping itself into his hand. LB doesn’t even bother to look.