BACKSTAGE - INTERVIEW - JIM KRIEG
Green Lantern: The Animated Series reaches its first season finale this weekend - Saturday, May 26th, 2012 at 10:00am (ET/PT) as part of the DC Nation programming block on Cartoon Network - with the episode "Homecoming." The writer of the season finale episode - Green Lantern: The Animated Series producer Jim Krieg - sat down with The World's Finest to discuss the season finale episode, the series in general, and perhaps a few secrets and surprises that viewers may not be aware of.
The World's Finest: You’re a producer for Green Lantern: The Animated Series . What was your goal when you first set out on this series?
Jim Krieg: Well, there are always multiple goals when developing a series. The first one for us was: let’s get Cartoon Network to order a series! Now, coming in with animation legend Bruce Timm, Giancarlo Volpe - who had just done an amazing job on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the high visibility of the character thanks to what was going to be, we all assumed, a huge blockbuster movie - you’d think it would be a done deal. But we still had to turn a very complex universe with a daunting history into an easy-to-understand, all-ages TV show that would be inviting to new viewers as well as comic book fans.
Also, along with all the obvious artistic and cinematic advantages to CG, there are some limitations as well, particularly on the amount of characters and locations. So, the “buddy cops in space” concept seemed to address a lot of those concerns. I pitched the space ship, ostensibly, because it becomes a “standing set”, or reusable location, but, more probably because I am a huge Star Trek nerd and this was my big chance to play with all those beloved old school geek tropes. I mean, come on, there’s clearly a bit of James T. Kirk in our version of Hal.
WF: What type of character beats, story ideas, etc., did you plan out, and – overall – what do you hope to accomplish with Green Lantern: The Animated Series ?
JK: Fortunately, Bruce, Giancarlo and I all shared a single vision to make this much more than just a superhero show (as much as we love those), I believe we all saw it as a chance to make something truly epic. We certainly tried. Only time (and the fans) will tell us if we succeeded.
WF: The main antagonists for the first 13 episodes at least are the Red Lanterns. Can you tell us why you brought them in to face off against the Green Lanterns? What kind of threat do they represent?
JK: During the development process, it became clear that Atrocitus and the Red Lantern Corps were the best villains for our show. But that left us with a problem: how do you do what is essentially a war show when your budget strictly limits the number of characters you can use? The answer is: The Rat Patrol!. This was a series set in World War II where four allied soldiers in two jeeps wreaked havoc on the entire German army in North Africa (which looks a bit more like Malibu Beach in the 60s) . Essentially, by isolating our Green Lanterns in Frontier Space, we made them the most important members of the Green Lantern Corps.
WF: As a semi-follow-up, are there any villains you don’t want to attempt? Perhaps some who are outdated, no longer PC, or just … too silly? What is your approach to how you want to tackle villains, both in the first thirteen episodes and into the future?
JK: I love the Silver Age stuff, so the just too silly villains are the ones I like best! I wanted to use Space Ranger as soon as he showed up in that first Conan O’Brien piece where Bruce creates the Flaming C. Our staff writer Ernie Albacker asked to do Lobo every week. And we originally talked about the Omega Men being the prisoners in #111. But, for various reasons, those cameos never materialized. But, clearly, outdated, un-PC or silly is not a problem, at least for me.
WF: Looking back at the first 13 episodes, what do you consider some of strongest moments of the show, and perhaps an area here or there where you think it can improve?
JK: Wow, that’s sort of like asking which of your children do you like the best. I like so many moments in the show, everything from the big action set pieces to the tiny moments of heartbreak. But I have to admit that it’s probably the lighter moments that stand out to me. We always try to include a bit of comedy in the scripts to lighten things up, but when the directors, storyboard artists, animators and actors run with that ball, it’s just a delight. The Razer and Kilowog “shaking hands” moment. Wog trying to stuff his head into that coffee cup of a Red Soldier helmet. Bumpy screaming like a little girl before he goes down for the count. The list goes on and on. Thank you, animators!
Anything I’m less happy with falls squarely in my lap. Apparently, I like my alien races to have a hidden agenda.
WF: What type of unexpected challenges did you come across when working on this show? Perhaps a story idea fell through, a voice actor wasn’t able to join the cast, an idea didn’t pan out, etc.?
JK: Story-wise, our batting average was astonishingly high. Usually, Giancarlo, Ernie and I would break a story, we’d pitch it to Bruce and he’d give us notes or, occasionally, just say “it’s cool”, which was huge. He only tossed out two pitches which, in television, is pretty amazing. As for voice actors, because of my Star Trek problem, I would have loved to cast any TOS actors, but it was not meant to be.
WF: Green Lantern: The Animated Series features a host of tributes and homages in nearly every episode. Care to fill in the viewers on some specific examples?
JK: Well, I’d much rather have the fans find them all, and then post them on Tumblr, but rest assured, the references are as plentiful as they are nerdy. For example, did anyone realize that #104, “Into The Abyss”, was a kind of Irwin Allen homage? It was The Poseidon Adventure meets “Trip Through the Robot”, one of my favorite Lost in Space episodes. There was also some of Disney’s The Black Hole and the creepy hatching eggs from Alien. And, honestly, I don’t there’s an episode that doesn’t contain several Star Trek homages. Try to find them all, kids!
WF: From the very first episode, it’s become clear that Green Lantern: The Animated Series has a very set tone and goal. How has the collaborative effort been like for this series?
JK: As you might imagine, for a fan like me, working on this show has been a dream come true. This is one of those shows where, inexplicably, the entire crew was on the same page and working beyond expectations to create something that we are all so proud of and a show we all… well, love. Let me just add that each and every freelance writer we had contributed something wonderful to the show and our staff writer, Ernie Altbacker, was invaluable.
WF: This weekend see’s the first season finale of Green Lantern: The Animated Series . Can you provide a little taste of what fans can expect for “Homecoming?” Just how intense are things going to get in this season finale?
JK: Well, it’s a pretty massive episode. It’s one thing to write it and another to see it all play out on a vast, gorgeous galactic canvas. When I watched it, my jaw was on the floor. But like the rest of the series, we tried to balance the epic set pieces with small, personal moments for these characters who, hopefully, the audience has come to care about.
WF: Giancarlo Volpe has stressed that fans tune in week after week if they want to see more episodes of Green Lantern: The Animated Series ordered. Do you have any words for the fans out there hoping for new episodes? What should they do to help nail down further instalments of Green Lantern: The Animated Series ?
JK: You know at the end of the original version of The Thing when the newspaper reporter gets on the shortwave at the North Pole and blasts his desperate message to the world? “Watch the skies! Keep watching the skies!” Well, my desperate message to the fans would be: “Buy the toys! Keep buying the toys!”
"Green Lantern: The Animated Series" airs Saturdays at 10:00am (ET/PT) on Cartoon Network, with encore presentations Sundays at 10:00am (ET/PT)! Season Two debuts later this year on Cartoon Network!