The first half of our exclusive conversation with the producers
My apologies for the delay in providing a transcript of the Green Lantern: The Animated Series retrospective episode of The Podcast of Oa. It’s a pretty time consuming task, but I’m glad to be able to finally publish the dialog for fans who could not listen to the podcast and wanted more detail than the bullet points that some websites published. So here is part one of the wonderful conversation we had with series producers Giancarlo Volpe and Jim Krieg. Part two of out conversation continues here.
|Giancarlo Volpe, Jim Krieg|
Myron Rumsey (MR) – For Green Lantern fans March was not a good month of last year when we got the announcement that Green Lantern: The Animated Series had been canceled, or essentially, not renewed. We’re about a year on and we’re delighted to do a little bit of a retrospective. Joining us for this episode of The Podcast of Oa are the producers of Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Giancarlo Volpe and Jim Krieg. Guys, welcome to the show!
“The movie did so poorly that there are a hundred million Green Lantern figures with Ryan Reynolds’ face on them that are going to fill up the Grand Canyon!” – Jim Krieg
|The anticipation for the film led to the creation of the show, but its performance indirectly to its lack of renewal as well.|
“Yeah you know the ratings could have been sub-average, but if the toy sales were through the roof, they wouldn’t have cared.” – Giancarlo Volpe
JK – Our show lived within the inhalation “oh my gosh, they’re going to make a huge movie for millions and millions of dollars and let’s do a show” and the exhalation of, “this is a huge flop and should never happened!” So our entire, all twenty six episodes happened in that little pause in between those breaths.
“I don’t think they ever would’ve said yes to a show before the movie existed, especially because our show was so absurdly expensive.” – Jim Krieg
GV – Our counterpart over at Disney was Tron and it was the exact same scenario. Everyone was like, “Tron is back and we are going to reboot this franchise. Everyone’s gonna love it, and were also gonna make this show and it will continue the momentum” and it was almost the same thing, the toys didn’t really sell well for the feature, the feature was kind of mixed reviews. I don’t even now shared all twenty six of Tron.
BG – So in your opinion, if the show maybe came out before the movie or, let’s say, had much of a window after the movie do you think that we might still be talking about the show or the show might still be in existence? Like maybe a year or two before the actual movie?
JK – Right!
|The line of McDonald’s Happy Meal toys|
GV – It’s quite engaging, Jim, some times I forget to even say anything!
BG – Actually we’re going to take that part where you say “I hate girls” and keep looping it wherever there’s an “um”!
“I think that the Warner Brothers and Warner Brothers animation and Cartoon Network would have been happy to keep making them if we could’ve supported it with the toy line.” – Jim Krieg
MR – Now you guys saw that Stu Snyder is stepping down as the head of Cartoon Network?
JK – I just heard that just a little bit ago. I don’t think that this was his call. There’s no reason to dislike him him. I mean you honestly can’t even dislike the people make the movies. Every time you make something it’s like you hope and pray that it’s gonna be great, and sometimes the pieces just don’t gel together. What looked good on paper, just all the sudden you get that cut rough cut together and you go “ooohhhh”. Nobody set out to make a bad movie. It just like it didn’t happen the way they wanted it to. Everybody wants to make more stuff. They don’t want to hurt your feelings. They don’t want to take away the things you love. It’s just the economics of the industry.
|The GL:TAS Blu-ray sold out 3 times on Amazon.com|
MR – The exciting news that came out this week was the Blu-ray announcement – that’s coming out on March 18th. I was the first one to break the news – I was excited about that!
JK – You beat the Drudge Report!
MR – I beat Warner Brothers, too! It was the same way with Giancarlo’s Justice League Adventures!
GV – Do you kind of go on Amazon and look for new movies!?
MR – It was interesting because you’ve been talking about a top-secret project and you and Warner Brothers’ PR guy were talking about it on Twitter and that’s you’d be able to talk about it publicly soon. I always check the Sunday ads and I saw that Justice League Adventures in the Target and felt that the timing was about right. With the Blu-ray I had seen a similar conversation where they asked you and Josh (Keaton) about doing the panel at WonderCon and of course I starting thinking of why they would be asking you guys to do a panel for the Archive Collection? My first thought was that they’ve been releasing a number of things recently on Blu-ray so it makes sense that maybe they’d be announcing Green Lantern: The Animated Series on Blu-ray. I stopped to check Amazon for something different and because I’ve searched on so many Green Lantern things it just showed up on my recommendations and I’d already written most of the article based on my hunch.
JK – You’re like the Lois Lane of Green Lantern!
MR – The NSA tried to recruit me back in my college days, but I turned them down!
GV – It was kind of a surprise, I mean, actually now that’s out, I have a friend who’s still at Warner Brothers text me and say, “hey, rumor has it that Green Lantern might get a Blu-ray soon”. I kind of didn’t believe him, but I thought “no, that show is so dead to them!”
JK – I saw it on your tweet. I was like “oh, really!” And then honestly my first thought was, “oh, I hope they let GC and I do commentary” but it’s too late. They are already printing them up at the factory. I was a little bit of a bummer, but it’s a thrill that it’s coming out as a Blu-ray. Maybe we’ll do a podcast for you where we do live commentary and it’s like play the podcast and play the first two episodes of the shower and we’ll talk our way through it or something.
MR – We actually did that where we did a couple of episodes of commentary – Bill and I tried it, but it’s not very engaging when it’s people who don’t know anything about the inside of the production!
JK – Believe me, GC (Giancarlo) and I are fascinating! We’ll keep you strung along for the whole 22 minutes.
MR – With Bill and I it was kind of almost, you know, Mystery Science Theater 3000.
JK – I think that will be the same for us too!
BG – Well we were just making stuff up for the behind the scenes, you know, like “we hear they’re heavy drinkers!”
JK – I will be the Crow T Robot!
MR – We of course threw in all the obscure trivial stuff that nobody cares about but me.
JK – We threw in a lot of that stuff. I think that you and hopefully most of fans picked up, like there is no episode that does not have references to Star Trek or Aliens or Braveheart. There’s always something in there for fans.
“Everybody wants to make more stuff. They don’t want to hurt your feelings. They don’t want to take away the things you love. It’s just the economics of the industry.” – Jim Krieg
MR – That was one of the things about the show did in particular made me fall in love it because you guys didn’t just say, “hey, we’re gonna make a Green Lantern cartoon to sell toys”, you really paid reverence to the material. You really took the essence of the characters and boiled them down and in short order made them very easy for people to understand that maybe didn’t have the history.
JK – Thank you! I’m mean it was tricky because it’s a big property with a lot of history and so you – that pilot is a challenge because you’ve got to lay all that pipe and do all that exposition so that people understand what’s going on and at the same time, tell an entertaining story. At least it was entertaining enough to bring some people back to the second episode which you could then do away with that and and have some more action and comedy and fun.
MR – It was really apparent, I mean you guys, and I’m not saying because I’m talking with you guys, but I’ve been a Green Lantern fan for forty years and I have to say this show is probably the best thing that happened to the characters in a long, long time. Just because it made it so palatable for people and like I said it paid reverence to all the things that came before it and the show was something that had more to it than being just a cartoon. We know Giancarlo worked on an Avatar: The Last Airbender and there is this kind of sensibility you guys brought the show. It was one of the first times you saw a superhero show that was not only episodic but you had the long form storytelling where there are true character arcs. People really latched on to these characters and cared for them beyond them being a digital creation on TV. I’ve been a cheerleader for the show since it started…
JK – Thank you – believe me we know that! It’s funny when I met GC I had just watched all the Avatars with my then eight -year-old son and was such a fan of the show and so we met I was like, “I want to do what you guys did on that show!” And there are little moments of it that are like totally ripped off of there. What’s the food planet one? I can’t remember what i’ts called! The fear one?
MR – “Fear Itself”
|Hal and Kilowog come to blows during “Fear Itself”|
JK – “Fear Itself” is so much like an Avatar episode, you know, they’re looking for food because they’re out of food.
GC – That ended up being a common story thread in Avatar! You know you mentioned that you liked that there was an overall arc for the series and a very vindicating to hear that because a lot of our bosses in this industry, not just at Warner Brothers, argue against that because they have evidence that suggests that episodes air better in reruns if they are not telling parts of a larger story. It’s one of those things that we really believed strongly and so we had to do a little bit of a hocus-pocus when we were pitching the show to say like, “OK this is going to be like this overall threat of these Red Lanterns, but don’t worry every episode will have the beginning, middle and end and it’ll be a tight, tidy little package and you’ll love it, and you’ll feel satisfied and everything!” You know, we did want to really take them on this journey and I think to me that type of story telling, and this is just my opinion, is why binge watching is so, feels so good. If you’re just twenty episode in a row that could be shuffled any order it’s not the same as if you’re watching Breaking Bad or, dare I put Green Lantern in the same sentence as that, it takes you on a journey.
JK – Well you know what I think that so that’s interesting because, you know, obviously, a network that’s going to re-run episodes has a different goal then a Netflix or an Amazon that you can binge watch them – they want people to see one and just be able fall into it. Although I mean anytime you pitch a show you’re doing a little tap dance, but I think it was sincere in that you should be able to drop in on episode six of Green Lantern and still enjoy it without knowing everything, without having seen the other episodes. The goal is that you love it so much that you’re going to go back and watch one through five to know what’s going on.
MR – You think that that’s part of the trick of storytelling is that you want to make your audience want to tune into the next one because it’s not disposable.
JK – Yeah, and at a certain point that will fall apart. You can’t watch episode twenty six, of Green Lantern and go, “wow, what a great show!”
BG – Gee, I hope there’s more!
GV – There’s at least one guy that’s done that!
BG – This is a great start – what’s next? I can imagine you guys pitching it. It’s an animated series about nothing!
BG – I think you mentioned it, it’s kind of a new business model. Where long form storytelling is a lot more attainable to – a lot of people were cutting their cable cord and they’re relying on Netflix and everything so they are binge watching. I believe House of Cards that came out of February 14th and I think I was done watching it on Sunday the 17th. I sent my kids to daycare and I was like, “okay kids, it’s just me and Kevin Spacey for the next six hours!”
JK – It’ll be Interesting, but I is in some ways, all television is kind of leaning that way anyway with season long story arcs and I am currently working on a show called Spooksville on the Hub Network and I pitched it the same way – that they’re individual stories that you should be able to drop into and enjoy them. But like, but no, it’s a novel. It’s going to tell you – you’re going to meet these kids, you’re fall in love with them, and you’re to find out what happened at the end. You know it’s not just the Fugitive‘s one armed man that you’re never going to look to find. Yes, they did find him – that’s a bad analogy! A correct analogy is someday that castaways are going to get off of Gilligan ‘s Island.
BG – I think it’s – I was watching Green Lantern with my son and I was looking at it and I could walk away. I think Myron has been invested in Green Lantern for like forty years, so I’m more of a newcomer to Green Lantern and the character and everything, so I found those two seasons, the twenty six episodes, as it’s own little body of work. It told a complete story, even from the first thirteen episodes where you have a definitive end like you mentioned, and then you get to this final love story and it leaves a little bit with the blue ring at the end, but at the same time I felt like I got a substantial meal, I felt complete. You know, you guys complete me!
JK – I’m relieved to hear that because they I mean, we certainly want that to be the case, and in some ways a series doesn’t have to have that hard out to to be complete. I mean the Razer says what he’s gonna do, he’s gonna find her. I mean, that’s what happens. He’s going to find her – he might still be looking for her, I don’t know. He tells you the end and certainly his emotional journey is complete in that is gone from someone who’s angry and self absorbed to someone who cares about others. You know, about friendship and love. True love. I just want to throw something out there when you were talking about how we tried to incorporate all the history of the Green Lantern, I just wanted to mention that Giancarlo was invaluable. He is an incredible researcher and when we started on this journey he read everything! I read it growing up, but he read every Geoff Johns book there is. So I would I would come up with a story idea, like I wanted, the Betrassus one (“Heir Apparent”), I wanted to do like a Edgar Rice Burroughs thing – let’s do John Carter of Mars and sorta like a Flash Gordon and there’ll be a Princess and a trial by combat and GC was just like, “oh wait, there’s a comic, wait!” We just ran back to the office, he got it and then pitched it to me and then so it was really, it was really helpful to know, to have all that stuff accessed. We really did make an effort to, you know, to be careful about being respectful to the history of the Green Lantern.
|“Heir Apparent” pays homage to the comics history while providing an ode to classic science fiction adventure|
GV – Yeah and in the same token I was glad that Jim would bring stuff that was just a personal passion of his that we could combine with kind of comic book canon so that this show didn’t just feel like a reiteration of everything you could easily just read in the books. So somehow that combination of those two like really, really gave you this thing its own legs. I guess you know!
JK – Here’s a joke that I never got to do. positive. It’s a Green Lantern canon joke – I wanted to come in on the interceptor in mid-conversation with Kilowog and Hal where you got the feeling that they’ve been having this chat and Kilowog is confused and it’s like
(doing his best Kilowog impersonation), “So I don’t think this thing is translating right, what it’s telling me is a bow and arrow is like a stick with a string on it.”
And Hal says (doing his best Hal impersonation), “Yeah, yeah, but he was the BEST bow and arrow guy on the Earth!”
(As Kilowog) “And he could fly, into space?”
(As Hal) “No, no he would die if that happened.”
(As Kilowog) “But he was your partner, was he really strong?”
(As Hal) “Well he stayed in shape, but no, not really.”
(As Kilowog) “I don’t get it!”
BG – And that would have directly affected the Arrow show and you’d have a whole bunch of enemies!
“Razer says what he’s gonna do, he’s gonna find her. I mean, that’s what happens. He’s going to find her – he might still be looking for her, I don’t know. He tells you the end and certainly his emotional journey is complete in that is gone from someone who’s angry and self absorbed to someone who cares about others. You know, about friendship and love. True love.” – Jim Krieg
Make sure to check out part two of our conversation when we ask Jim and Giancarlo to tell us what the upcoming seasons would have treated us to. Thanks again to both our guests for giving us their time and support.
- Podcast of Oa Episode 64 – GL:TAS Retrospective(blogofoa.com)
- Green Lantern: The Animated Series Blu-ray Review(blogofoa.com)
- The Story Behind Green Lantern: The Animated Series(blogofoa.com)