Greg Weisman is going to be a busy man this Saturday. Five, count ’em, five panels at the Long Beach Comic Con, which sounds like just the kind of show I’d love to go to if I didn’t live 2,500 miles away.
Weisman is one of the animation world’s preeminent producers. His credits include some of the most beloved shows of the last 20 years, including his own Gargoyles, but also more recent popular shows like DC/Warner Brothers’ Young Justice and Marvel’s Spectacular Spider-Man. And right now, he’s at work on the hush-hushest of animation projects, Star Wars: Rebels.
His shows appeal to many audiences, from kids to adult. And of course, he himself had his own favorites while growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, following the adventures produced by Filmation (my favorite) or Hanna-Barbera.
“As a kid I was a huge Jonny Quest fan, the original Jonny Quest, which I thought was great and still think is great,” Weisman, who is just shy of 51, told me this week. “I was a big Speed Racer fan back then, which I’ve found doesn’t hold up quite as well as Jonny Quest does.”
“I love Space Ghost a lot. I really loved the Herculoids,” he added. “And then I was desperate in those days for any cartoon that was considered, y’know, comic-book superheroes, whether it was DC or Marvel. … The Superman-Aquaman Adventure Hour. Later, the Super Friends. Marvel had various cartoons in the ’60s, in particular the Ralph Bakshi Spider-Man cartoon.”
Weisman followed that love into the field itself and made his first major splash with his own Gargoyles, which is being celebrated Saturday with its own 20th anniversary panel. (His full panel schedule can be found here.)
Gargoyles‘ roots may surprise you: It was inspired, Weisman said, by Disney’s ill-fated Gummi Bears cartoon — and Hill Street Blues, one of the greatest shows in TV history.
Gummi Bears, he explained, never got a fair shake because people confused it with Care Bears. But it was a show that had a rich mythology, he said.
Hill Street Blues?
“It featured a lead character, Frank Furillo, the captain of the Hill Street precinct and a huge cast surrounding him,” he said. “And for us Goliath the Gargoyle was our Captain Frank Furillo. And we had this huge, ever-expanding cast of characters, good guys, bad guys, oddballs, a supporting cast that sort of revolves around that central figure.”
Of all the panels Saturday, most intriguing to me is Young Justice. I asked him about the persistent rumors that the show, which was cut short before it could really reach its prime, will be returning in some form. Fans practically beg for it daily on Facebook, it seems.
Unfortunately, he had no good news to report.
“We hope to being it back some day, (partner) Brandon (Vietti) and I love the show, we both want to do more in some form or another,” he said. “Chris Jones and I did the companion comic book, which was in continuity with the TV series. We’d love to do more. We have pitched various versions, sequels, movies, more comics, to the folks at Warner Brothers, Cartoon Network and DC Comics and so far they haven’t taken us up on it. But if they all said yes, we’d all jump back on in a second.
“But there are no plans that I know of for them to do more with it.”
But he did say that if fans want to press the issue, they should vote with their dollars and snare the complete-season Blu-ray sets. The first one was just released and while the second one hasn’t been announced yet, it’s a pretty safe bet it’ll happen.
Weisman, a bona fide animation impresario, has also branched out into novel-writing, with two books out from a long-gestating project he’s been working on for years.
The novels Rain of the Ghosts and Spirits of Ash and Foam , are about a girl who lives in a chain of tropical islands on the edge of the Bermuda Triangle and the adventures that ensue.
The books will get their own spotlight panel, capping off Weisman’s busy Saturday.