Interview
Greg Weisman
Greg Weisman: I also wonder if the X-Men as a concept—and I do like the two movies, particularly the second one—is something that gets old as you get older. In other words, it's got this great metaphor for racism and this great metaphor for teen angst and everything, but I remember Chris Claremont building to that graphic novel that he did with Brent Anderson [God Loves, Man Kills] and by the end of it the X-Men have proven to the world that they're decent folk, and then you go back to the monthly book and it's like it never happened. And you're like, wait a minute, I want this to evolve!

Emru Townsend: It's the same thing happening now in the comics too.

What I find in X-Men going back to the Lee/Kirby days, is they would constantly be doing this. They'd build to a point of acceptance, then yank it back based on nothing. Sometimes they would do a story that justified yanking it out like that—Magneto would do something horrible and everyone hates mutants again—but oftentimes they'd yank it back just because they needed to yank it back. And then they'd build and build and build and yank it back again! And what that means is that if you're an ongoing reader, at some point—this is Greg's theory on comic books—at some point you're just going to get frustrated, because it just begins to feel repetitive.

And you have to stop.

And you have to stop. So I stopped.

I definitely agree with that. It's the same problem I run into. They don't really grow at any point. I was just reading New X-Men recently, and they'd just recently gone right back to the humans against mutants thing. You've got Scott and Jean, and they actually allude at one point to the fact that they're older now. You know, they said they'd been doing this for a long time, they're finally in their thirties or forties or something like that, but they're now older. And I thought wow, that's really refreshing, showing they've aged and their perspectives have changed. But meanwhile, in another X-Men title, it's gone. That sort of perspective on things—that they've been doing this for a long time, their perceptions are different—isn't the same anymore. And I kind of missed that.

Again, for me, that's one of the tragedies of the DC universe, which was that they had a built-in reset button with those multiple Earths, and instead they've made a hash of it. Marvel had a problem, and it wasn't a problem for years because Marvel was so young relative to DC. Spider-Man went to high school, went to college, went to graduate school. It was a little slower, but it didn't feel that bad because he hadn't been around long. But now Spider-Man's, what, forty years old? I don't mean him, I mean the comic. What was it, 1964, '69?

Something like that. I always thought it was '66. [It was 1962. —Ed.]

The point is, it was the '60s, so it's 34 years old minimum, and probably more than that, and at some point you begin to go, okay, where is he? What's he doing? And it's one thing for a cartoon show to say, okay, we're starting over, we're putting him into college, or for the movies to do that, but the only way they're able to do that [in comics] is by these very artificial means, and it's frustrating. It's frustrating to me, because I don't mind the notion of characters getting older. I like it. I'm interested to see who would be Batman after Bruce Wayne—not that kid in Batman Beyond, because he was Spider-Man pretending to be Batman. I've got my opinions on the subject of how it would work, and there are certain characters where you go, he's the only one. Some of them don't age or don't age as rapidly, there are all sorts of tricks you can use. But I like the notion of time passing. When I wrote Captain Atom for DC comics, we had time passing. Captain Atom turned 50 years old. Now, he had missed eighteen years of his life so he still looked like he was 32, but we had his fiftieth birthday in there. And we said that three years have passed or four years have passed or whatever, and my intent was to let the characters age in human years.

I've always wanted to see that in comics. I've always liked to see them get older at some point.

That's one of the things I like about [live-action] TV, because they're forced to do it because their actors age.

I was just reading an article in Written By where they were talking about King of the Hill where they were saying, we don't have to age the characters, this is a great thing. And I'm thinking, no it's not, really.

What's interesting is they did age Joseph on King of the Hill. Bobby's friend Joseph. Because he started off as a little kid like Bobby, and then he shot up over one summer and his voice changed—literally, different actor, they got an actor to play him instead of the actress who was playing him before—and they made a big deal about it, and they even made a big deal about the fact that Bobby hadn't hit puberty yet, and this kid had. And that was fine—not fine, that was fun—but they don't want to change Bobby, so Bobby is forever this [age]. So they aged him up to a point. Now they're stuck, they're frozen, because if they're not willing to move Bobby, nothing happens.

I've had this conversation with people saying, well, would you really want to see an adult Bart Simpson? And I'm like, yes! Because every episode where they do their flash-forwards, where Lisa nearly almost Mandy Patinkin in England or whatever, it's so much fun and it's so much more interesting, because God, haven't we seen every permutation of what Bart could do as a ten-year-old? What could he do as a sixteen-year-old?

But Rugrats did that recently with All Growed Up.

I've got nothing against the show, but I wasn't a big Rugrats fan, so I didn't pay a lot of attention to All Grown Up, but I applauded just the idea that they would do that. I thought, that is great. I am so happy that they did that.

And you know, you could actually even have the series in parallel—or not necessarily in parallel, but you stop one series and then continue it a little bit later, instead of the gradual aging, which I understand would be a little bit tricky for a lot of writers to deal with, because we're used to compartmentalizing people's ages and relationships. But even just jumping ahead every so often, stopping every once in a while. If they did X-Men, stopped, and then jumped ahead to when they were older...

The truth is, if you did it subtly the audience wouldn't notice until it was too late [laughs]. What I understand is, on an economic level in animation you don't want to be redesigning the model every week for a character. But on the other hand people don't grow every week. So if you simply, every season, said, okay, I'm going to take Brooklyn's model and change it slightly... But we didn't between the first and second season because that was one year and the gargoyles would only age half a year in one year and I didn't think he would age that much in half a year. But when did "Future Tense," that one episode set in the future, we made him a much bigger guy, he clearly...

He had his growth spurt.

He had his growth spurt, he was taller, he was broader. And that's how we saw his character aging. And Lexington was still a small, skinny guy but he was also taller than he was before, except in one off-model scene. And Broadway had gotten slimmer. He had outgrown some of the baby fat. He was tall already, but we changed those models, we aged those characters. And yes, it's easy to say because that's a one-shot, but the truth is that was my plan, to sort of continually move forward. But also to continually introduce younger characters.

Right. Sort of force people to grow up.

Yeah. I can let people grow up because I'm going to keep introducing new characters on the other end so that a young audience feels like there's someone for [them] there too.
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