start, I should probably inform (warn?) you that as a He-Man
and She-Ra fan predominantly, most of my questions
will be narrowed to that field. So, for the fans that will
end up reading this in the future, could you give a little
background information, what your job is, exactly, and what
you did on He-Man and She-Ra?
was a staff writer at Filmation, that is I was paid a weekly
salary to work on whatever projects Filmation was doing.
Naturally the bulk of my time was spent on He-Man
and then She-Ra. I wrote 15 episodes of each show
and also rewrote episodes by other writers as was needed.
I worked for Filmation for two or three years and then moved
over to DIC to work on Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors.
In addition to He-Man and She-Ra I also
did about nine episodes of Fat Albert and the Cosby
Kids, as well as a lot of development on shows Filmation
was trying to sell. I did the bulk of the development work
on She-Ra when Mattel decided to finance it.
there any shows in your past that stand out as your favorite(s)?
and She-Ra certainly. Then I would say Babylon
5 and Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future.
your episodes of He-Man and She-Ra often
introduced new characters. Was there a motive for this?
Many of the characters you created, for instance, Light
Hope, Sea Hawk, Huntara, Lord Masque, and Granamyr, had
appearances that differed greatly from the stock character
styles. Who designed them, and did you have any input into
their appearances or voices?
were several motives. The greatest was what I call "the
Skeletor syndrome". As fans know most of the He-Man
episodes had Skeletor and his henchman trying to pull off
some scheme to rule Eternia and He-Man and company foiling
it. This was okay at first, but after 65 episodes became
rather tedious. Indeed we had fans writing in to say they
were sick of seeing Skeletor getting beaten all the time
and could he maybe win one now and then? Of course no way
was Filmation going for that. In addition, Filmation had
sold the rights to He-Man overseas and in France
they refused to show episodes with Skeletor (claiming that
he was simply too frightening a figure for small children
- this was a cultural thing). So Filmation realized they
needed new adversaries. Hence I began creating some new
characters with different motives and ways of working to
keep the stories interesting. These new characters were
all designed by the animators and directors and I didn't
have a great deal of input on the designs (outside of the
descriptions I wrote of the characters). Filmation liked
to keep its units separate from each other, so writers didn't
have much "official" input on character design.
However unofficially I would often speak with designers
and artists as to what the character might look like.
a question that's been debated to death on the He-Man
list, but I'd be interested in your take on it: Who, in
your opinion, was a better love interest for Adora, Bow
or Sea Hawk?
question, it was Sea Hawk. Bow was too self-absorbed and
immature for Adora.
you keep in touch with the voice actors and/or animators?
had virtually no contact with the voice actors and limited
contact with the animators.
there any stories you wanted to do and couldn't, or things
that you wish you could have changed on the show?
first thing I would have changed is the terrible animation.
But this was a Filmation standard, it was limited, it was
cheap and it relied heavily on stock footage rather than
new footage. Filmation was just about the last company to
do all its animation in the United States and it wasn't
easy for them to remain competitive when even Disney was
sending the work overseas. In fact it is a tribute to Lou
that he even tried. As for stories, I can't recall any that
I desperately wanted to write and wasn't able to.
were your favorite characters, or anyone you found really
interesting/fun to write?
had a perverse fondness for Ram-Man who was simply the dumbest
character ever but somehow was lots of fun to work with.
And I quite liked both He-Man and She-Ra, though since I
had more of a hand in creating She-Ra she was probably my
favorite. And of course Granamyr was my absolute fave since
he was all my creation and I have a large affection for
dragonkind. Sea Hawk I liked simply because I loved pirates.
I liked Skeletor too, he was a great villain, if something
of a boob at times.
were there any characters you really didn't like?
I'll admit it, Orko was not my favorite guy, though I learned
to kind of like the little guy after awhile. Loo-Kee I absolutely
detested and despised forever.
came up with the idea of Loo-Kee, and were the end morals
required by some law? I know many of them were only loosely
connected to the episodes, if at all.
law was the "Nadel/Scheimer" Law. Arthur Nadel
was the chief producer at Filmation, basically Lou's right
arm. Both Art and Lou felt all cartoons should teach some
moral lesson. Now He-Man had been castigated by
a lot of "watchdog" groups (you know, a bunch
of adults who band together to foist their brand of morality
on the public) for it's violence (which as you know was
really tame compared to things like G.I. Joe and
Transformers) so when She-Ra came around
Art and Lou decided to add a "moral lesson" at
the end of each episode. I think I can safely say that every
writer who ever worked on the show HATED that stupid moral
lesson. Me most of all. While I had no problem with teaching
kids something, I felt if the episode did indeed make a
point than that was enough. And in fact when I wanted to
use Loo-Kee to really say something important, it was always
rewritten without my knowledge or consent. The example that
comes to mind is a show I did about prejudice in which one
of Twiggets has to team up with a Troll, trolls being abhorrent
to Twiggets. It was simply about racism and this was apparent
in Loo-Kee's comments about not judging people on how they
looked or what race they were. When the episode finally
aired Loo-Kee said something about "getting enough
sleep at night" or "eating your vegetables"
or something. That was one of my worst moments. If you wanted
to teach lessons, teach important lessons, not fluff about
eating your damned vegetables. I really felt betrayed on
of the episodes dealt with things that no other cartoon
at the time would come close to, and "House of Shokoti"
is generally regarded as the most frightening story of either
series. Was there ever any censorship on such episodes and
really don't recall any obvious examples of censorship on
the shows. And I will admit I way pushed the envelope with
"House of Shokoti." I was a big Lovecraft fan
and wanted to do a straight horror episode of He-Man. It
started out as a single episode and then because the animators
liked it so much, it was bumped to two so we could amortize
the cost. And to give them lots of credit, they did a grand
job on it.
have often noted the similarities between She-Ra
and Star Wars (Horde Troopers/Stormtroopers, Adora
& Adam/Luke & Leia, Sea Hawk/Han Solo, etc.) Was
this intentional, or are we seeing connections where none
this I would have to say, it's a little bit of both. I too
was a Star Wars fan and was influenced enough to
create a storyline involving a Rebellion against a vast
technological Empire. And yes Horde Troopers were just like
Stormtroopers but let's face it, they were cannon fodder
in both instances, so who cared? On the other hand, it was
Mattel who demanded Adora be Adam's sister, so that was
out of my hands. And Sea Hawk was never meant to be Han
Solo, though there are some similarities.
were the influences on the storylines for the series? On
that same line, how was it decided that Hordak and the Horde
would become She-Ra's main villains, when their
toys were a part of the Masters of the Universe
main difference between He-Man and She-Ra
was that Eternia was obviously ruled by the good guys, while
Etheria was firmly in the hands of the bad guys. This is
what made the storylines so different. She-Ra was always
up against a greater power with lots more resources, He-Man
and his crew were pretty much more in control of the planet.
We also wanted to do more stories on She-Ra that
had a good amount of "girl appeal," so we had
more romantic relationships going on, more group activity,
more magic and less battle (though not too much less). I
sometimes fancy that She-Ra kind of paved the way
for Xena many years later. As for why Hordak and
company became the She-Ra villains, well it was
simply because they were there. Mattel was more concerned
with the heroine/hero figures in She-Ra, rightly
thinking that they would sell better than the villains.
So as Hordak was available at the same time She-Ra
needed a crew of villains, Mattel just said well make them
the villains. It actually worked out pretty nicely.
were the shows headed at the time of cancellation? Were
there plans to introduce the Snake Men or He-Ro, had the
of show biz life, when a show gets cancelled it is almost
literally erased from your mind. Same thing happened with
Beast Wars, once we heard Beast Wars was
no more, we just let it go. Also you know pretty quickly
when a show is coming to an end and it generally happens
before you even start thinking about a new season. Filmation
was already on to Bravestarr and I was headed for
DIC when the He-Man/She-Ra era ended.
He-Man was to be "resurrected" today,
how would you like to see it handled (artists, art-style,
writers, etc.)? Any network preference (Fox, KidsWB, syndication)?
we saw what happened when He-Man was resurrected
many moons ago - It stunk! And it quickly got the oblivion
it well deserved. If by chance I was asked to work on a
revival (and I never was asked to work on either the revived
cartoon or the abysmal live action feature film) I guess
I would probably shoot for a show much like Hercules
or Xena, fast-paced, innovative, with real characters
and stories that stemmed from the characters. As for the
venue, frankly, not one of these pseudo-networks are any
different. Nor are the networks. What makes a working situation
click is executives with imagination enough to leave good
writers alone to do the job they do. This you seldom get
but on occasion it does happen and then you just love doing
say you could do to He-Man and/or She-Ra
what you did to Transformers with Beast Wars:
Make a new show set in the future, using new and/or old
characters. What would you change? What characters would
kind of answered this above but let me babble on a little
more. I definitely would bring back the big duo He-Man and
She-Ra, perhaps working together, along with the characters
I liked, such as Granamyr, Sea Hawk, Huntara etc. Some of
the real "toy" characters like Beast Man I would
probably leave out in favor or more sophisticated characters.
I might decide that Hordak had conquered Etheria and He-Man
and She-Ra needed to get it back. Or I might go a completely
different way. I certainly would demand better animation.
you ever write "fan-fiction," stories based on
shows you watch/worked on? Do you ever read other peoples'
and no. AT the risk of incurring people's wrath I think
fanfic is a huge waste of time. If someone wants to take
the time to actually write a story why not create a story
out of your own imagination and experience rather than using
someone else's model? Once or twice I did happen to see
a Beast Wars fanfic and they were always terrible.
All they really had was the names of the characters, not
the feel of the characters, or an innovative story with
the characters. They read like poor Mad magazine
parodies of movies and TV shows. If you have the time to
write, look into your own heart and brain and find what's
there. But please don't subject the world to yet another
often worked pre-existing RPG characters or references in
your episodes, Granamyr and Masque from "House of Shokoti"
being the best-known of these, were there any others that
were lesser-known or more obscure?
is true that I was both an RPG gamer and author. Granamyr
came out of my Tunnels & Trolls scenario "The
Isle of Darksmoke" and Masque was from my Cerilon campaign
which began as a Dungeons & Dragons world and
which I later converted to my own system. I often used names
I liked in my RPG worlds in my TV work. Though outside of
those two I can't think of any at the moment.
abound that the She-Ra character was originally called "He-Ra".
Is there a story behind that, and the change?
rumor. She-Ra was originally called Hera, like the Greek
Goddess. But a copyright search showed that someone had
the rights to the name and they asked me to come up with
a new one. I thought about it and decided I wanted something
that was goddess-like and wanted the SHE to coincide with
the HE in He-Man. As I had just finished a big Egyptian
RPG scenario, the name Ra was in my head and when I put
them together, voila!
Granamyr know He-Man and She-Ra's true identities? I seem
to remember him saying something like that once, but I can't
recall for sure.
Granamyr knew most of the secrets of Eternia..
was Skeletor's mentor, but aside from the shape-changing
abilities, we rarely see Hordak use magic. Is he unskilled
in such arts, and taught Skeletor something else, or does
he just prefer technology?
will have to speculate since this relationship was never
really expanded upon overmuch. So I would say - Hordak was
basically a techno guy who used a bit of magic, whereas
Skeletor had more of an affinity for the eldritch arts.
In addition, Skeletor would need something other than technology
to best Hordak (since the master never teaches the pupil
everything) and chose magic.
was a more fun series to write overall, He-Man
is almost like the question above. I had a great time on
both series and wouldn't say one was more fun than the other.
They both were terrific. She-Ra was maybe closer
to my heart because I had a lot more input on it, but the
fun factor was the same.
there anything else you'd like to say, or would you like
to add to or amend a previous statement?
things: - a nod to Lou Scheimer. I got to know Lou pretty
well at Filmation and early this year was fortunate to see
him again. He always treated me great and in fact of all
the "bosses" I ever worked for, Lou was the best.
Oh he didn't pay great (mainly because he really couldn't
and still stay in business) and we didn't always see eye
to eye but Lou always loved the people who worked for him
and did his best to keep everyone feeling like they were
part of a big family at Filmation. This is a VERY rare thing
in a business where most bosses would sooner cut your throat
than do something nice for you. He was and is a great gentleman.
a similar vein, I would like to acknowledge Arthur Nadel
who unfortunately is no longer with us. I almost never agreed
with Arthur, nor he with me, and yet in retrospect he taught
me a helluva lot about my craft and he gave me and about
one-hundred other writers our starts in the crazy world
of show biz. We might not have always agreed with him, but
damn if we didn't love him anyway!
these two, there would have been no He-Man, no
She-Ra, and no fun.
advice would you give to an aspiring writer (such as myself)?
You need 4 things to be a writer - TALENT, DESIRE, PERSISTENCE
and LUCK. With those 4 things you can go wherever you want.
there is something else. Don't look to trends or fads or
"what is selling now" to tell you what to write
about. Your heart and your head are what informs your work.
must write the movie/TV show/book/cartoon/play etc., that
YOU want to see and your characters must come out of your
own experience and sensibility. That is all any aspiring
writer brings to the table - human experience and reflection
on same. Stories are always about human hearts in conflict,
so look for what makes you and those around you human.