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Rich Fogel Talks "Justice League"!
By Jim Harvey
12-21-2001


Toon Zone was able to catch up with Rich Fogel, one of the writers of the animated series Justice League. Rich Fogel, as he explains below, has been apart of the animated world for quite sometime. Check out the interview:

Toon Zone: First off, could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

Rich Fogel: I've worked in TV animation for almost twenty years, starting off as a storyboard artist at Filmation. I did boards for Mighty Mouse, Flash Gordon, Shazam! and many other shows. After boarding for a few years, I got tired of trying to make bad scripts work. So, I decided to try my hand at writing. I sold some stories to Hanna-Barbera for the Smurfs, and I've been writing ever since.

Over the years, I've worked at Hanna-Barbera, Marvel, Disney, Ruby-Spears and Warner Bros. as a writer, story editor and producer. I was a writer/producer on Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears, and I co-wrote two Flintstones movies-of-the-week for ABC, I Yabba-Dabba-Do! and Hollyrock-a-bye Baby. I've also written for Muppet Babies, Ducktales, Winnie the Pooh and Pinky and the Brain. Over the years, I've been honored to win many awards for my writing, including two Emmys (for Batman/Superman & Batman Beyond), a Genesis Award (for Captain Planet) and a Prism Award (for Batman Beyond).

TZ: How did you get involved with JL, S:TAS and B:TAS?

RF: When the original Batman Animated series was in production, I was tied up working on other projects. But it was something I always wanted to do, because I'm a huge comic book fan. Then when the Superman Animated series was starting up, Alan Burnett brought me on to work on that. I've known Alan for many, many years, and, in fact, he gave me one of my very first script assignments when he was story editing Superfriends at Hanna-Barbera! Alan is a great guy, and is really one of the unsung heroes of Warner Animation.

I've been part of the Bat-team here at Warners for five years now, and it has been a wonderful experience. I really enjoy all of the talented writers and artists that I've been privileged to work with here. It's truly a close-knit group. After Batman Beyond wrapped, some of the crew went to work on The Zeta Project and some went onto Static Shock. Then Justice League got the green light from Cartoon Network. Alan was still busy on Static and Paul Dini was developing his own projects. Over the years, I've had a pretty good relationship with Bruce Timm, and I had some success in writing big-scale, epic stories such as Apokolips Now! and Legacy on the Superman Series, so I guess it just made sense that they turned to me with Justice League.

TZ: Do you approach JL scripts differently than S:TAS and B:TAS? What do you look towards as inspiration?

RF: Early on, we decided to make these all two and three part stories. There was just no way to tell a dramatic story in half an hour with this many characters. However, working on a bigger canvas has proved challenging. Each story is like doing a major motion picture. It has to be a big, important event to justify our audience's time and attention. And every story has to feel different. As we get on with the season, I think this will become more apparent. Some episodes are dramatic and suspenseful, others are more comedic and lighthearted. We focus on different characters in each story, so each hero gets a turn in the spotlight. Hopefully, there's something for everyone in the mix.

This has been an unusual experience because from Day One, all of the producers (Bruce Timm, James Tucker, Glen Murakami and I) were on the same page about what kind of show we were trying to make. We knew Justice League wouldn't be as dark and psychological as Batman. We wanted it to be epic, colorful and fun so the viewers would get that kind of "gee-whiz" buzz you get when you read a really good comic book. And the DC Universe is so rich. I find that I often go back to the earliest stories for inspiration. There's something pure and unadulterated in the ideas in those early comics. Sure, they're goofy! But there must be some reason why we loved them, and I go back and to look for those nuggets of cool ideas. Then I try to reinterpret them for our modern sensibilities. A good example is Felix Faust. In the original comics he was just another oddball sorcerer, but in the upcoming Paradise Lost story, he's really creepy (Of course, it helps that he is played by Robert Englund who played Freddy in the Nightmare on Elm Street movies!).

TZ: Are there any ideas or plots that you would really like to do, but haven't done yet?

RF: Tons! We're working on a Darkseid/New Gods story right now, and one with Amazo (How can you do Justice League without Amazo?). We'd also like to bring Aquaman back. And I'm trying to figure out how to adapt one of my favorite Silver Age Superman stories into a Justice League story. It's called "Under the Red Sun", and it involves Superman getting thrown into a post-apocalyptic future Metropolis where the sun has turned red, robbing him of his powers. We'll see... This is all speculation at this point because we're still waiting to hear about a pickup for a second season.

TZ: Any upcoming stories and characters you can tell us about? What can we expect from this season of JL?

RF: I'm excited about Injustice For All which features Lex Luthor and a bunch of other villains, such as The Ultra-Humanite, The Shade, Star Sapphire, Cheetah, Copperhead and Solomon Grundy. It's kind of a tip of the hat to the old "Legion of Doom" from Superfriends. At first, Bruce Timm resisted the idea because it was too Superfriends, but James Tucker and I convinced him that we had to do a story like this. Clancy Brown returns as the voice of Luthor, and he was just wonderful. We really put old Lex through the wringer.

Each of the stories we've done is different, and I hope that the variety will keep the series fresh and exciting for our viewers. It's been a lot of work and a lot of fun, truly a dream job. My advice to fans who complain that they haven't seen enough of their favorite hero yet -- Keep watching! The best is yet to come.

Originally posted on Toon Zone News.

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