Part two reveals where the show would have gone
We pick up our conversation with Green Lantern: The Animated Series producers Giancarlo Volpe and Jim Krieg and find out where they would have taken the show had it continued and what they two are doing now. For part one of the conversation click here. Both parts are a transcript of the Green Lantern: The Animated Series retrospective interview we conducted for episode 64 of The Podcast of Oa. Thanks again to both Giancarlo and Jim for giving us some of their time.
MR – I want to do something kind of fun. Now I don’t want you to tell what you were necessarily going to do. You guys introduced the concept of the multi-verse in the “Steam Lantern” episode where Hal got blasted to another dimension where they had the whole steampunk thing going one. So out there somewhere, there is another alternative Earth where I was given a few billion dollars by Bill Gates for all the work I do with technology in education and I bought Cartoon Network. I greenlight the to show for five seasons. So right now on Earth Myron it would be near the end of the second season. So where would we be at the end of the second season? What would happened during the second season had you had a chance to just do one. It doesn’t HAVE to be what you were going to do, you can make up some something on the fly if that’s safer.
JK – We talked about this more than you can imagine, like it is a very funny job where you get paid to have the conversations you had as a twelve-year-old boy, anyway, you know! Certainly we were in a go to the parallel universe. I don’t think it’s spoiling too much to say we are definitely in the see of Alan, the original Green Lantern. Because we set him up in the “Steam Lantern”….
GV – That was probably one of the biggest unresolved things of the first twenty six – that we hinted towards this character that did absolutely nothing for that particular story because we wanted you to anticipate him coming later and then we didn’t get to do it.
JK – GC had a good take on Kyle Rayner as being a fan boy of Green Lantern that in turn becomes a Green Lantern! That was a really good one, and we were gonna do John Stewart, you know, and I think what’s fun about it as we were just go and do it do it like the comic but do it slight spin on it, but still try to be really be respectful to the core of these characters, but still have fun.
GV – That was a personal goal is that we kind of wanted to roll out a new Earth GL every 13 episodes. So, like, John Stewart was up next and Kyle probably would’ve come in the back thirteen or something. And at that time there was no Simon Baz. Maybe if we would’ve had an additional season we could have…..
MR – Well I greenlit it for as long as you want to do it so…
BG – It’s Planet Myron, so he can do whatever he wants, as scary as that is!
JK – We were gonna do more Sinestro. That was a real conscious decision to start Sinestro as a Green Lantern who is pretty bad-ass, but he’s morally questionable. I think by the end of that episode there is a little line brow raise on Sinestro! If his name is in the and is pencil thin mustache isn’t enough of a hint something else is going on there! We certainly wanted to play that out and honestly, I mean, and GC – your mustache is not pencil thin! I think we would’ve, is it too much to put a spoiler to say we would’ve tried to do a version of Blackest Night?
GV – I think some it was kind of the plan right? The first thirteen was a Red and the back thirteen was the Manhunters / Aya problems then it was going to go Yellow and then Black. That was the broad strokes of it.
JK – I’ll tell you, it’s funny is when you start the cartoon you think we have all the money in the world. We can do anything we want, and then they say, “but you can only have one extra character per episode!” What!? “You can have four new props and one new location”, and it’s just like making a live-action show! But what we were kind of giddy about is the idea that you can take every character that you see is an asset and each one is expensive to make, but you can you can kind of re-paint them. You can make them look slightly different, so for a kids’ show Green Lantern had a pretty high body count. So all those dead characters were available to come back as Black Lanterns – which would have been both creepy and cost-saving!
MR – It was great that you mined the history for things like Chaselon and Ch’P. That was a lot of fun but the fan reaction, the biggest fan reaction, was for Razer and Aya I think you guys had the freedom of being able to do what you wanted with those characters because they are not part of canon, they aren’t the same kind of corporate assets. You can do with them what you want – were you guys surprised at all with the fan reaction over those two characters in particular?
GV – I had a feeling they were gonna go over well because of the fact that Jim and I couldn’t stop talking about those two in the writing room and I often felt like the guy who like, “um , can we steer this back to Hal because he’s the star of the show, right?!” I felt like we had to constantly remind ourselves to do that, but we wanted to tell stories about Razer and Aya. There was something about it that there was chemistry there even in the writing room. Like, what did you think Jim?
JK – Well you know we we talked about that a lot – it was sort of like a giddy secret, like wouldn’t it be funny if these two really take off and you know when we pitched Bruce about it he said, “Do it, but don’t tell anybody.” Basically that the network might say, “no, no, it’s a boy show don’t make it, don’t put romance in, boys hate romance!” – that sort of thing. I don’t know if they would’ve done that or not but we did kind of put in a little bit at a time and kind of build up to it until, you know, at a certain point, making a show people stop paying attention to us because they’ve got a new show to worry about. But while we were starting it, it was so long ago, essentially right when Twilight was so popular. My wife, she’ll never hear this so I can say, I can tell you that she was obsessed – she was Team Edward, man! Razer is a gloomy, angry bad boy!
BG – Well, Jim, right now we’re patching in your wife…..
BG – Well, it’s funny, like I said I was just watching the animated series again and to be honest with you, when we were talking about the long form arc earlier you know the first main character you see is Razer and, you know, he’s the last. This is his and Aya’s story and I would argue that point that Hal definitely plays a very large roll in it, but ultimately it’s the resolve of Razer and Aya coming to terms with being somewhat organic as well as robotics. I think I think there is a little bit of brilliance, there.
JK – Well, you are very kind, and I think Myron said something correlating is very germane, which is that you can only do so much with Hal and Kilowog – they have their own existence in comic books. And you know we can’t kill them. If you change any DC property too much the Internet explodes and so having two characters that existence autonomously is really quite freeing and that it was nice to be able to give them a story with a beginning, middle and end.
MR – It was like to know if you look at shows like Star Trek and Babylon 5where Star Trek people go in the episode and out the episode pretty much the same way they can’t be tampered with and it’s the guest stars you bring on that things happen to, or the red shirts. Where as with Babylon 5 they treated it completely differently where the characters were almost secondary to the story, so when you wash from week to week you didn’t know if anybody was going to turn bad or was going to die. It’s that freedom of creativity and that’s reason you latch onto those characters because you truly don’t know what’s going happen to them.
GV – Well I feel like Game of Thrones and Sopranos really use that recipe very well right now where no one’s safe. I don’t know if kids entertainment will ever quite go that drastic but with little all elements of that it’s really liberating creatively that we can do whatever we want. I’m not saying we want to kill every character but just…
JK – Not every character!
GV – The one thing about the Razer/Aya thing when there was that moment in the Betrassus (“Heir Apparent”) episode where she asked if all her components are properly aligned and Razer says you look fine. And then there’s kind of this awkward pause before she says, “You also look fine”, and you know I remember that was Jim’s pitch or something. And in the editing room we added, we made the awkward pause long because I wanted to just to increase the romantic tension there, and when we showed that to Bruce (Timm) he kind of cracked up because he really loved it and then he said, “you know what? Make that pause even longer!” That’s when you knew he was invested. He really wanted to up that tension between the two the them so that’s the way it appears in the show. Bruce like doubled it!
JK – You know I’ll tell you if there’s some magic about Green Lantern: The Animated Series it’s because the entire crew we all making the same show and nobody phoned in and I know that sounds hokey, but I’ve never had an experience where everybody on the show really liked it, and the actors were excited to come in and do it and they were shocked when turns would happen in the the story and they would really root for their own character. Every board person and every designer just seems like they are all REALLY enjoyed the show, so they worked that much harder.
MR – We’ve got about ten minutes left and so I want to talk a little bit about what you guys are doing now to promote what you’re doing and let people know what work you doing right now. So Giancarlo your’re not with Warner Brothers anymore, you’re working for Riot Games is that correct?
GV – Yes!
MR – For people that might not know Riot Games by the name certainly know League of Legends. Now are you working on the game itself or what are you doing for them?
GV – I’m not working on the video game and why I think I may have Tweeted this. Let’s be honest like Riot didn’t hire me because of my game design skills! One of the things that is really interesting about League of Legends is it seems that everyone under thirty knows what that is and everyone over thirty doesn’t know! It’s this huge phenomenon and if you, the best thing I can say is if you go on YouTube and sort of watch some of the shorts they produced one is called Twist of Fate and another is the Jinx music video. They are dabbling in doing animation and storytelling so if that justifies my existence there make whatever conclusion you want!
“…if there’s some magic about Green Lantern: The Animated Series it’s because the entire crew we all making the same show and nobody phoned in and I know that sounds hokey, but I’ve never had an experience where everybody on the show really liked it…” – Jim Krieg
BG – Was there a Real Sports, I believe it was Reel Sports than did like they whole news story on League of Legends?
GV – I’m not surprised – that’s a huge thing with League of Legends is that they put a lot of money into E-sports. that’s what they call it, and it is these events that, and there’s playoffs and huge turn out worldwide to watch essentially ten players, you know, go against each other and prove who’s the best.
MR – And you of course did Justice league Adventures: Trapped in Time and you played a musical instrument on the soundtrack, too!
JK – I know in a bizarre coincidence, both Giancarlo and I play mandolin!
GV – Yeah!
BG – Really?
GV – You know, me and (composer) Freddy Weidmann would always talk music, obviously talk music when he’d come in and score for the show. I played violin when I was a kid and so did he. So we kind of commiserated on like how cool it was and also how embarrassing it eventually became literally. When we started to hit puberty and we wanted to date girls and like I don’t think this violin was really hoping the cause.
JK – So you went with the mandolin!?
GV – He abandoned the violin to play guitar which is admittedly a lot cooler I guess through and I just sort of abandoned it in general. It was like my dark secret, that I knew how to play violin and then many years later, I’m talking about five years ago, I discovered that mandolin has the exact same fingers and strings as a violin. So it was like, “hey, I can play this, too!” So when Freddy figured that out he was like, “We got to have you play on Justice League!” He came up with a good excuse to do that with a small little bit so I came over and very clunkly plunked something out and he edited it together so I sounded competent.
MR – And of course you are one third of the hosts a the Big Pull Podcast.
GV – Yes, that’s true!
MR – I’m a listener of the show and have been promoting it for a while. In the most recent episode there were rumors that the Justice League movie, I mean Batman/Superman, might not get made.
GV – It’s a scandalous thing to say! See Kurt’s a little different than me. Kurt (Mattila) has no problem saying bad things about celebrities on the show where as I’m a little bit more like “they weren’t so bad!” Like I’m always much more nervous about that. To make such a bold claim that that movie may not even see the light of day, especially if I was still working at Warner Brothers, I probably would’ve been very paranoid. I kind of, you know, legally distance myself from everything he says just for the record, but that aside, it’s an interesting theory and we’ll see in a year or two if he’s right or not.
MR – And Jim you wrote Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox.
JK – Yes I did – I wrote the screenplay. I just adapted it from Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert and a dozen other DC writers since it was an event company wide thing, but that was really fun and I was actually doing at the same time we were finishing up Green Lantern. That was a huge thing and I really enjoyed it. I hope I get to do another one. I have a couple of other Warner Brothers animation projects that are not, have not been announced, and I cannot talk about them.
MR – Like Shazam?
JK – Like Shazam! But they’re really fun. I am about apropos what GC just said – I am starting my podcast today. I am starting a Spooksville behind-the-scenes podcast and the ideas that like you can watch the episode of Spooksville and then I’ve done a commentary with the actors or I might bring in a director or the production designer, something like that, and we give you like behind the scenes stuff that when you watch it again with your DVR it’s like having a director ‘s commentary or something. So if you will look for me on Twitter and you can find that. Also there’s a new season of Spooksville which starts today. I’m as proud of this series as anything I’ve done. I really think it holds up with Green Lantern.
MR – Will this be coming out on video at some point? For those of us who don’t get cable.
JK – Oh, geez, I hope so. I hope it goes to streaming somewhere, all the other Hub shows are on.
MR – I know your’re a huge Star Trek fan – did you take on Spooksville because it was written by Christopher Pike?
JK – Isn’t that funny! I talked to, that’s his nom de plume and I won’t tell you his real name, but when he picked that names like Star Trek was a huge phenomenon, but you had to be a little bit of a insider to get that reference. Whereas, like, ever since the JJ Abrams movie came out it’s like everybody knows who Christopher Pike is! Believe me there are a lot of homages to Star Trek in Spooksville and everything else I’ve watched throughout my life as well.
MR – I know you guys have to go. I just like take the time to thank you for joining us because I know you you’re probably not making any money off the show at this point so you guys coming on this podcast is just out of love for the series and what you did. We respect you so much for that.
GV – We’re just a couple of old guys, like, “remember the good old days!”
JK – I’m a fan, I mean it was great to work on the show but I’m a fan of the show. And, GC, it was awesome working with you, the actors, the crew, everybody was fantastic and I’m so happy that there is a fan base out there who who care about it as much as we did and I think on behalf of both of us we really appreciate that. So thank you to you fans out there!
GV – Yeah, the job ends and you know we could easily spent up the paychecks we got working on the job, but what continues is that legacy, that effect on fans and that means a lot that still, a year later, people are still talking about it.
MR – This conversation is therapy free me because when the announcement came out we were scheduled to record an episode and, I try to keep the show very family-friendly, but that episode was so expletive laced! Giancarlo listened to it and sent me a count of how many occurrences of each curse word there was! I was absolutely beside myself and Bill was like, “I’m just gonna let him go!” I’m the most mild-mannered guy in the world, but I was really beside myself and if you haven’t listened to it, don’t because it’s not my proudest moment!
GV – Yeah, I think YouTube did a study – like there was your rant and then there was like Tupac Shakur interviews right underneath that were like second place!
BG – Well, there’s West Coast Myron looking to take him out!
JK – Well I’ve got to drive my son to Lego robot camp so I have to hop off.
BG – Thank you, Jim.
MR – Thanks for your time, Jim.
MR – Giancarlo, I know you know how much I care for the show and our paths may never cross again so I hope you know how much the series meant to me. I wrote my little love letter to the show about a year ago and I stand by every word of it today. So, thank you.
GV – I really appreciate that. You know in terms of our paths crossing, what I love all social media is that we never have to make goodbyes permanent you know. We’ll keep chatting about whatever – a part of me wants to get back to listening to your podcast but I’m behind on my Green Lantern comics so it’s a little bit like a spoilers issue. But I always enjoyed listening to you guys.
BG – Well, thank you – we’re kind of behind issues as well! We’re very blessed to have you on the show and talk about the show and kind of give us insight that we just don’t get. We kind of just have to, I think as Myron was saying when he was going on his rant, I think there is a lot of it where it was like, “those stupid heads at Cartoon Network!” Because I think stupid heads was the strongest thing he said that night.
BG – I think it’s great to see that in all there are reasons, but in all I think when we look at twenty six episodes, you know that’s three or four movies of just wonderful Green Lantern material that you can watch over and over again that will stay with us for a long time.
MR – I’ll be buying it for the third time!
GV – First of all thank you for all the kind words and one of the things that I have always wanted to do in my career was do something The Lord of the Rings where it’s just like taking characters on this really epic journey. I actually did the math and twenty six episodes of Green Lantern is approximately as long as like the first thirty Lord of the Rings movies!
MR – Longer than The Lord of the Rings if you took out all the scenes of them randomly walking through the woods!
BG – It is a complete package. It is like you said, it’s a complete epic and that’s what’s so great about it and I look forward to watching it with my son as he gets older. He just looked at me the other day and said something that I thought was hysterical. He saw Razer because we watched the first episode and he said, “Razer’s a bad guy.” He’s really into the bad guys and superheroes and he’s like, “That guy bad guy”. I said, “yes, he’s a bad guy” and then we watched the last episode and Razer’s flying with the Green Lanterns and he’ battling the Manhunters and my son said, “Woa, now he’s a good guy?” I was like, “Yeah, there’s a long story between that – we’ll get to it!” But he started to get that concept that people can change.
GV – That’s awesome! What a crazy experiment to show someone the first and last episode of a season. At the very least they speak to his character arc.
MR – Well, thanks again, and hopefully we’ll talk to you again soon.