In the following interview, resident blogger, Jason McConnell of thatguywiththeblog.tumblr.com and aangthenomad.tumblr.com talks to Giancarlo Volpe about his work and prospects on the recent cartoon, “Green Lantern: The Animated Series.”
Here’s a short intro/background for everyone. :)
A few weeks ago I got to interview one of my favorite animation directors (and directors in general), Giancarlo Volpe! Giancarlo is probably best known to the Avatar fandom as directing practically a third of the entire series, including fan favorites like “The Ember Island Players,” and “Appa’s Lost Days.” “Appa’s Lost Day’s” later went on to win a Genesis award, which is an award for individual’s in entertainment and media who support public awareness of animal rights issues. He also received an Annie Award, which recognizes outstanding animation, for his directing on “The Drill.”
Currently, he is a producer and showrunner of the new “Green Lantern: The Animated Series.” I was a little reluctant when I first saw the series. The animation was vastly different from the familiar 2D Bruce Timm style that we’ve seen in past DC animation. But I was quick to change my mind when I started on the series. Volpe masterfully combines the classic GL storylines with a fresh and compelling new premise that brings famous Lanterns Hal Jordan and Kilowag into the deep corners of space, where they discover a whole new set of villains previously unbeknownst to most of the rest of the Corp, like the Red Lanterns. The villains and supporting characters stem from more recent plots like the Emotional spectrum. The comical banter and tight dialogue that is familiar in all Bruce Timm productions is no stranger to this show and I believe is one of its strongest points. Many younger crowds have struggled with the recent surge of Hal Jordan. Many like myself grew up with John Stewart as our main GL from the JLA and JLU series, but I believe “Green Lantern: The Animated Series,” is a strong compliment and gratifyingly marvelous addition to the vast mythos that John Broome and Gil Kane created years ago.
One of my classes in the previous semester was taught by former DC Comics President, Paul Levitz! And one of our assignments was to make up mock interview questions for a person of our choice! Well I ended up getting in contact with Giancarlo and here is that interview!
JM: What initially drew you to this project? Was the GL mythos something you always had wanted to tackle?
GV: Initially, no. I wasn’t a huge Green Lantern fan. I had read a handful of comics when I was a kid, but that was it. It was decided before I was even asked to do the job that they were making a Green Lantern series to follow the GL movie in 2011. They approached me about producing because of my experience on Clone Wars. I was really wanting an opportunity to be a show runner, and this seemed like a great offer. So I knew I had to become a Green Lantern fan really fast.
JM: When working with someone like Bruce Timm who has established a legendary resume in 2D animation, how do you convince or work with him towards something that is entirely new for Warner Brothers?
GV: Again, that was another choice that was made by our Executive Producer, Sam Register. He knew that a lot of studios around town were making CG shows, and wanted WB to stay competitive. And what better way to assure high quality than to have Bruce Timm run the show? Bruce had some reservations because he had never done CG before. So it was a good fit – I could guide him through the CG process, while simultaneously learning how to run a show with one of the best in the business.
JM: The Green Lantern universe is a vast one, and along with the Hal Jordan storylines, there is quite a bit of material. How do you decide to hone in on a specific setting or storyline?
GV: A friend of mine told me about all the stuff Geoff Johns had written since he took over the title, including the color spectrums and all that. So I literally bought every volume he had written on Amazon and read them all. That definitely played a huge part in our inspiration. But we also read some of the silver age books as well. Sometimes the old stuff is the best way to figure out what the essence of a classic superhero is. Some of those story lines are a little corny by today’s standards, but the spirit was definitely there.
JM: Obviously animation directors and live actions directors face a lot of different challenges. Have you ever considered directing live action? And if you did want to, what do you think would be some of the challenges for you?
GV: I would love to direct live action. In fact, I’m very interested and intrigued by fellow animators that have made the transition (namely, Tim Burton, Brad Bird, Andrew Stanton.). I would imagine my biggest challenges would be mostly technical : knowing what lense to use, what lighting set ups to call for, etc. But I’m kind of assuming that’s what the cinematographer is for. In animation you have incredible control over every single frame because any one can be redrawn (or re-rendered) later. I imagine I’d have to learn to live with a lot more things that aren’t exactly the way I pictured them, but probably work just fine anyways.
JM: What is the best experience or moment you’ve had in your career in Animation?
GV: There’s two of them. One was winning the Annie award for my work on Avatar the Last Airbender. I still think that is one of the greatest animated projects ever, and I’m not just saying that because I worked on it. I was so proud that the show got recognized, and that I was there to represent it. Another great feeling is how many people approach me to this day and say that Avatar changed their lives. They claim that it made them get in touch with their spiritual side, that it made them want to be better people. Words cannot describe how powerful an emotion that evokes. I am very lucky.
JM: Are there any specific career goals or projects you hope to develop in your lifetime?
GV: Absolutely. I am very interested in writing and directing my own animated features, and eventually trying live action (as you mentioned earlier). So far I’ve made my career fleshing out other people’s ideas, but I’d really love to say I came up with the whole universe from top to bottom. And I’m ready to go!
JM: After only one episode, GL was nominated for an Annie. Do you think that develops a lot of pressure to continue on a good path or is it more or a relief?
GV: I think it was great for morale. Anytime you work on a show, it involves a very long start up time where you’re working in a bubble. You don’t know if anyone’s going to like it. You just make a bunch of calls based off your own tastes and hunches. When GL finally got out there and we got so many great reviews, it was very vindicating. It made me feel like we were getting it right, and had nothing to worry about. As far as our future, the same care went into upcoming episodes, if not more. I really think we’re getting better at what we’re doing. A lot of us thought “Man, if they liked the premiere wait till they see what’s coming up!”
JM: You were also a director of Nickelodeon, and both that and Warner Brothers are the animation giants on television right now. Are there any major differences between the two companies in the way that the shows are run?
GV: For the most part, no.. But there are personality differences which are dependent on who’s in charge of the studio. I think for the most part WB is a little more “macho” than Nick was, namely because of their reputation of doing super hero shows. Nick also tends to have bigger budgets than WB, which can make things tricky. But GL got more than average budget (as CG tends to require) so I’m not complaining.
JM: What is your personal hope for the show? Is there a certain direction you’d like to see it take at some point? Or is there a certain storyline you want to explore?
GV: Our writer producer Jim Krieg and I were planning out a four-season arc. We really want to get all the lantern colors in the show, and all the earth Green Lanterns in at some point. So far we’re still waiting for a pick up, so I feel like we’ve only told half the story we set out to explore. It’d be great to finish the tale properly.
JM: You’ve done a lot. You’ve done CG with Lucasfilms, 2D with Nickelodeon and now with Warner Bros. What position or job title do you feel most comfortable in the field of animation?
GV: I’m lucky in that with each job I’ve gotten, I seem to have climbed another rung on the ladder. Show running is definitely a thrill because you get to come up with EVERYTHING from the basic concept all the way down to locking the final picture. It’s a truly complete storyteller’s experience. But it also means you have a lot more responsibility. Sometimes I long for the “simpler life” of just being an episodic director, but I’ve found every job in animation is pretty laborious. There is no easy gig. So if it’s going to be hard work, I’d rather be the guy in charge so I can at least have fun calling all the shots!
JM: Any hope of seeing a Daffy Duck cameo?
GV: Ha ha, who knows? There’s some wacky characters in the Green Lantern universe – namely, Ch’p the Green Lantern squirrel and Dextarr the Red Lantern cat. Anything’s possible!
There you have it! I hope you enjoyed this awesome interview. Thank you again to the wonderful Giancarlo Volpe for having this interview with me. On behalf of all the fans from Avatar, Star Wars and now GL, we are excited for all the great work that is sure to come from you!
Question for the readers: If you could have any character appear in the GL:TAS show, who would it be and why?
Thanks for reading!
I wasn’t sure if I was going to make a post about this. It is a sensitive subject, but there has been so much gossip, and frankly rude postings about it that I wanted to put my two cents in.
I first heard about this rumor when one of my good friends sent me a link to a gossip organization. Of course, I dismissed it. But now apparently it has gained steam and Raven herself even went to her twitter to say the following,
“I’m living my PERSONAL life the way I’m happiest. I’m not one, in my 25 year career to disclose who I’m dating. and I shall not start now…My sexual orientation is mine, and the person I’m datings to know. I’m not one for a public display of my life…However that is my right as a HUMAN BEing whether straight or gay. To tell or not to tell. As long as I’m not harming anyone. I am a light being made from love. And my career is the only thing I would like to put on display, not my personal life. Kisses.”
My first thoughts is why she would respond to such gossip, which leads me to believe that there may be more to the story. But that is as far as I will go in speculating. As a devoted fan of Raven’s, I will absolutely respect her right to privacy. But I do want to say this. She can be straight, gay or a damn penguin and I will absolutely continue to respect her. She’s been a role model for me since I was in middle school/high school, growing up and she will continue to be one. She’s fierce, she’s fabulous and she’s a great comedienne. Love is love, and she obviously knows that. I would never lose respect for her because of something like this. I hope people will not badger her about this, obviously the media right now only believes in the black or white straight/gay concept. God forbid there is something like bisexuality or maybe just attraction in general. But alas, those are too liberal a concepts for the world as of 2012.
Keep being awesome Raven!
So, back in the early 2000’s when Mario Tennis was still relevant, it was one of my family’s favorite video games to play together. In fact it was the ONLY game I could ever get my mom to play. My dad was hopeless. He couldn’t even figure out how to play Wii Tennis even though there are no buttons to use…
But my mom had a knack for Mario Tennis on the N64. When we went to my cousin’s house for holidays, we’d all play before dinner. And I noticed my mom got EXTREMELY competitive. This gif is kind of an idea of what she’d scream at my cousin or me. (substitute Carol for Jason).
“Stay on your side of the court! DAMMIT JASON,” she’d scream at me! I couldn’t believe this. Was my mom legitimately getting this intense over Mario Tennis? Yes. Yes she was. (I’m glad we never played Mario Kart together).
Fastforward a few years later to the release of
Mario Power Tennis.
I believe it came out on a school day. My mom said we could get the game because she was interested in playing too. I didn’t take her to be serious. I’d only seen her play video games those few times, years earlier.
Later after finally finishing my homework, I could finally play! It was only 9PM and I was 13 years old, so I could stay up late! As I approached the basement, which housed my gamecube, my Mom opened the door and ordered me to bed. She informed me that I had a long day ahead of me the next day. I didn’t… I was so disappointed and looking forward to playing, but when Mom gives an order, you FOLLOW IT. Fast forward twenty minutes of me lying dead awake in bed. I can’t sleep. Dammit. Wait. Is that laughter I hear?
“JESSE STAY ON YOUR SIDE OF THE COURT!”
OH HELLLL NOOO. I throw off my blankets and rush downstairs to find my brother and my mother in an intense battle of Mario Power Tennis!!
They were in a contagion of laughter and I couldn’t help but laugh as well.
“What is going on here?” I demand to know. My mom turns, and instead of yelling just breaks into more laughter along with my brother.
“We were wondering when you were going to come downstairs!” my brother said.
I joined them in Mario Tennis, thinking I’d enjoy the night, and that I’d enjoy one of the few times I get to play video games with my mother but DAMN. THAT WOMAN IS THE WORST TEAMMATE EVER. Can you say BOSSY?
I never played video games with her ever again.
But damn, I still love the woman!
Fast forward to now, and I’m trying to convince her to play Michael Jackson: The Experience with me. She refuses… even though she is a huge Michael Jackson fan. Well, I have ALL summer to convince her.
My mother and I at the Michael Jackson Immortal World Tour (which we also attended with one of my bestest friends Ali!)
~Jason aka thatfunnynerd
So my friend Barbara, that I had a picture with earlier’s tumblr name is “gobytheshadow.” For some stupid reason, for the past year I thought it was “goby the shadow,” not “go by the shadow,” like it’s supposed to be.
But why. Do you guys ever do this??
I mean, I hope someone sees my name and doesn’t think it’s “that fun new york nerd,” as opposed to “that funny nerd.”
The following is a piece I wrote for a class in my freshmen year of college. I’ve recently re-edited it to see if it would still work. nevertheless, this was a memorable experience and i hope you get the same joy out of it while reading my short story. enjoy.
The Spelling Bee
By Jason McConnell
I spaced out and didn’t even notice the continual incorrect answers. More and more people went to the back aisles with the rest of the losers. This continued until there was just me and one other kid.
“Today, one of these two young men will be the Salisbury Summer School 51st Spelling Bee Champion!” the announcer exclaimed. His voice rang through the chapel and complemented the acoustics of the building. I looked over at Connor, the other contestant, and also one of my best friends at the summer school.
When we stood up and walked towards the stage, I whispered into his ear, “I told you so.”
You know, I’d imagine most people would want to climb Mount Everest, or see the beautiful savannas in Africa, but ever since I was little, I’d always wanted to be in a Spelling Bee. Maybe Akeelah and the Bee had created unrealistic expectations about how my spelling bee experience would go down.
I’m not necessarily a geek; I don’t get straight A’s. I guess winning a spelling bee just seemed simple enough, kind of like those physically demanding game shows that always seem so easy to the viewer.
Most spelling bees end before high school, and by tenth grade I’d forgotten about my insignificant goal. But then the opportunity came to go to summer school. Not the summer school where Ricardo, G Blaze and Romeo flick paper clips at you. No, the summer school where the 1% send their snot nosed kids. Too bad, I wasn’t as rude as the rest of the student body; I might’ve had more fun manipulating people in those five weeks of hell.
It was the first time in my life that I would be away from home so long. My mom said she would try and convince my father to let me come home. The five weeks felt like forever. I’d even planned to escape at one point and catch a bus home.
So while I endured this bloody hell of a summer, one of the classes was a vocabulary class. The teacher informed us that one or two of the best students in each vocabulary class would be selected to compete in the annual spelling bee. I was honored enough to be chosen to compete. And by honored, I mean I was the only one in my class who cared enough to actually be in the Spelling Bee.
Okay, here we go, the start of the Bee.
When it was my turn I felt my heart pounding against the inside of my shirt. The sweat sinking down my neck seemed to soak my shirt and shrink it, making it hug me closer. Had I made sure to put on deodorant? Sweat stains in this shirt would be awfully noticeable. Why had I picked this shirt? I carefully got up from my seat in the chapel pew and made sure not to trip and fall on my face in front of a few hundred people. I tried to breathe slowly like my mother always taught me if I started to hyperventilate.
“Okay Jason, your word…” the announcer began. I was convinced it would be something like “logorrhea” or even “Connecticut” which seemed like an impossibly unrealistic spelling, but somehow the word worked.
“Vibrant,” he said.
Vibrant? Had his old ass said “vibrant?” That’s right! G Blaze isn’t the only one with gangsta wit!
“Vibrant,” I started, “V-i-b-r-a-n-t. Vibrant.” That was easy! The announcer proclaimed it correct and I sat down in my seat with more confidence than before. The words varied in difficulty, but people were being knocked out much quicker than I had thought they would be. I don’t recall my second word. I remember it sounding like diarrhea.
“Exorbitant,” was my next word. I struggled in remembering whether it was “exorbinant,” or “exorbitant.” I racked my mind; searching for a place I had seen the word before. Aha! I remembered! We went over the word in my 8th grade English class once, while reviewing other useless English words we’ll never use.
One week before The Bee
It was so hot outside that my eyes began to tear. I’d gone into some kind of trance and the day seemed to shimmer. I barely heard him call my name. “Jason!”
I quickly perked up. “Uh what? Yeah?” I looked at my arm and a piece of paper was stuck to it. I awkwardly peeled it off.
“Class is over,” my teacher said.
“Oh…” I walked out with my friend Brandon.
As we walked towards the stairs I noticed that there was still a class in session. One of the teachers kept the students in. Connor, my eventual rival, was in the class.
“Hey Brandon, wait up, we should wait for Connor,” I said.
“Forget it Jason. That’s the advanced spelling class. Don’t you see what they’re doing in there? They’re spelling. Boring. B-o-r-e-i-n-g. It’s just a bunch of nerds spelling,” he said. I giggled a little bit. “What?”
“You spelt boring wrong.” He frowned and I broke into a loud laughter. Well he’d have the last laugh because he called me a nerd when I told him I’d be in the spelling bee.
The Day Before The Bee
“You excited for the spelling bee tomorrow?” I asked Connor. We were sitting in his room reading the final Harry Potter book, which had come out just days earlier. We were having a “readathon,” as we called it.
“Yeah totally! Aren’t you?”
“Yeah, heh. You know, I’ve always wanted to be in a spelling bee. Sounds nerdy, but I think it’d be a lot of fun!”
“Hey, maybe we’ll meet each other in the finals,” I suggested. “Maybe the two friends with battle it out!” I said the last part in an exaggerated tone.
Connor let out a snide laugh, “I doubt it. I’ve been studying all summer. Terry and I are the ones that are going to the finals. I’m sure you’ll do good though.”
I frowned. Terry and Connor were both in the advanced spelling class; they were the front-runners for the spelling bee and even the best spellers in their class. Even though I wanted to agree with Connor, his tone still bugged me. I really wanted to prove him wrong now.
But I apparently didn’t care that much. Ultimately, I only ended up studying an hour before the spelling bee, and that was only one sheet of words!
Connor shot me a phony smile, “You were right, Jason! We were the finalists!” He looked pissed more than surprised or happy. I’d proved him wrong, and at least gotten this far.
I stood on the announcer’s right and Connor on his left. “Let’s have a great finals,” he exclaimed. Connor stuck out his hand for me to shake. In these situations I’m usually so overwhelmed by everything, my mind becomes oblivious to a lot of things and I almost rudely walked past his handshake. Luckily, I noticed it and shook it. He was just playing me. The audience clapped politely.
The announcer motioned for me to go sit down. I sat down in the second row. Connor would be going first. The church quieted back down and the announcer returned to his stand. Connor stared at the end of the auditorium patiently waiting for his word. I on the other hand was not at all patient. I caught myself picking at my fingernails. Connor had a huge grin across his face. He was so sure he was going to win. And then the announcer spoke.
“This final round will be composed of words used in the actual Scripps National Spelling Bee.”
Did he say Scripps? The Scripps? I wasn’t that good of a speller! And I’d just gotten lucky with easy words so far!
“The first word is… fossiliferous.”
All was silent as everyone waited for Connor to spell. Connor held his hands together in front of himself.
“Can I have a definition please?” he asked.
The announcer flipped through his dictionary with his humungous glasses just like all the announcers did in the movies. I couldn’t tell if it was an act or he was just a dork. “Fossiliferous, meaning to do with fossils.”
Most of the church filled with giggles from the redundant definition. Connor made a nervous smile. It was not the definition he was looking for.
“Fossiliferous…” Connor began.
Here we go! This is it! He’s gonna start to spell! Was it sweaty in there? I pulled my shirt away from my neck. It felt tight suddenly. I was so nervous that I hadn’t remembered that if Connor got the word wrong, I would have to spell it. I didn’t even think of my own possibilities to spell.
“F-o-s-s-i-l….” he paused, and then continued, “i-p-h.” Did he say “p-h?” I actually wouldn’t have spelt it that way. It was then that I began spelling the word in my own head.
“U-r…u-s. Fossiliphurus?” He completed the word with a questionable tone.
I saw the look on Connor’s teacher’s face. It was one of disappointment. The announcer then said, “I’m sorry, that’s incorrect.” Connor let out a sigh and looked to the ceiling and then sat down in the front row. He didn’t look at me as he sat down.
I got up from my seat and begged my feet to work properly.
“Alright Jason, if you spell this word correctly, you will be given a final championship word to spell. If you spell this word incorrectly, you will Connor will come back up and we will continue the championship round.”
Just give me the damn word, I thought.
“Your word is also fossiliferous.”
Without wasting time, I just spelt. “Fossiliferous. F-o-s-s-i-l-i-f-e-r-o-u-s. Fossiliferous.”
“That is correct!” The audience roared into applause.
A split second of relief washed over me until I realized I still had another word to spell, and that could go wrong. I looked down at Connor who was feeling really stupid and had his face buried in his palms.
“Your word is idiopathic.”
If I told you I think things through, I’d be lying. I do everything before thinking about it. And because of that I’ve been embarrassed many times in my life.
Years ago, four of my friends and I decided to take a picture of our fingers making a star shape, and one of my friends only had half of a forefinger because of a firecracker accident. As soon as I saw her finger I idiotically shouted, “Eww! What’s that?!” I still feel guilty about it and will still apologize to her.
With no time to waste, I spoke clearly and quickly.
Every time I spoke a letter I saw the word line up in my eyesight. I could feel my breathing more than ever. I knew everyone was staring at my lips, but had gone somewhere else.
I really can’t believe I was just blurting it out. Shouldn’t I have asked for a synonym or a word of origin? “h-i-c. Idiopathic.”
There was silence after I completed spelling the word. Even with a few hundred people in the chapel, the white noise was deafening.
“Jason McConnell, you have won the 51st Salisbury Summer School Spelling Bee! Congratulations!” The church erupted into applause and every stood up, cheering.
It was such a strange feeling. I had been in front of applauding audiences. At school musicals, people were already clapping when I would bow and at violin recitals, people clapped out of politeness. Here at The Bee everyone was clapping for me and just me. As my ego soared and I soaked up the fame I nearly jumped when the announcer put his hand on my shoulder and held his other hand out for me to shake. I ended up shaking so many hands I lost count.
Connor didn’t shake my hand. He didn’t clap and couldn’t even look at me. I saw how much our friendship meant. I’d like to think I wouldn’t respond the same way if I were in his situation. I shouldn’t let him ruin the moment.
In the moments of applause I just smiled. I smiled for what felt like a good full minute. After the applause died down, I sat in the front row to await announcements by the teachers. I couldn’t wait to tell my mom.
An hour before the bee
I had almost forgotten to call my mom to tell her I was going to be in a spelling bee! When she answered, it was so nice to hear her voice and not the answering machine. I had missed her a lot. “Mom, I’m going to be in a spelling bee!”
She talked to me and gave me some advice. “Don’t worry about Jason. I won a spelling bee when I was your age as well. It’s in your genes!” she jokingly said.
As everyone left the church and I shook more hands and received more congratulations, I also noticed from the whispers of some of the more obnoxious students.
“Have you been studying the whole summer?” or “What’re you a walking dictionary?” “Nerd.” “Nerd!” “NERD!”
Why was everyone calling me a nerd?! I’d only studied for twenty minutes!
Fuck. My. Life.
Hello citizens of tumblr. My name is Jason. And I’ve come to save you from your world of torment for all of 25 seconds before your attention span runs out.
You might know me from my other blog, thatguywiththeblog.tumblr.com, which is composed of pictures and fantasy art I like to reblog.
This purpose of this blog is to build my work and my passion for making people laugh through entertainment.
I will post about personal experiences, do reviews, interviews and even my own prose fiction! I hope you enjoy everything this blog has to offer.
Feel free to follow! It’s free!
~Jason aka thatfunnynerd
Tis me and one of my best friends Barbara!