Collectively known as Man of Action Studios, the team of Duncan Rouleau, Steven T. Seagle, Joe Kelly and Joe Casey, serving as Supervising Producers on “Ultimate Spider-Man,” have worked together in the world of animation for years, creating such shows as “Ben 10” and “Generator Rex.”
But beyond their work in animation, each member of the creative quartet has a long history in the world of comics. With the premiere of “Ultimate Spider-Man” only a few short weeks away on April 1, Marvel.com will chat with each member of the group on their past work, the transition from comics to animation, and what it’s been like chronicling Spidey’s new animated adventures.
Steven T. Seagle’s career runs the gamut from writing award-winning comics, graphic novels and video games to creating hit animated TV series and evocative and provocative stage productions. One of his specialties includes crafting engaging work for kids that speaks to all-ages, such as in the newest animated flight of fancy of a certain web-headed wallcrawler.
Marvel.com: Steven, what's the single greatest joy of the animated medium for you as a writer/producer?
|Screenshot from "Ultimate Spider-Man"|
Steven T. Seagle: I definitely enjoy the voice recording sessions. That moment where we go from the words we wrote on a page to the words coming from actors is a really cool corner to turn in making a cartoon. Similarly, seeing the change from written words to storyboard drawings is also very fun. So much energetic art shows up in the storyboards that you never really see in that exact way in the final cartoon. And seeing those rough boards turn into fully realized and scored animation--amazing!
There are so many talented people bringing something new to every step that it's hard not to be excited by each phase of the animation journey.
Marvel.com: There've been several exciting Spider-Man shows before this; what will distinguish “Ultimate Spider-Man” from its predecessors, in your opinion?
Steven T. Seagle: “Ultimate Spider-Man” is a very different show from any Spidey shows that have come before it. The first thing that makes USM unique is its point of view. We're doing some unthinkable things with point of view in this show that have never been seen in a Spider-Man show before--and I'm not just talking about camera angles!
We're also going big for jokes in this series. Spider-Man has always had an irreverent side and we're using that not just in his character, but also in his worldview. The cast of this Spider-Man world is different than any previous young Peter Parker has ever had to deal with--in good ways and bad--and they are a lot of fun. And certainly the visual take is not one you've seen before. This New York City almost breathes with life it's so cool.
Marvel.com: For people who are familiar with the mainstream Marvel Universe Spidey titles and the Ultimate Universe counterpart book, what would you tell them to expect in the animated series?
Steven T. Seagle: People unfamiliar with the world of the Spider-Man comics will have no problem slipping right into Pete/Spidey's world in this show. We've kept all the things we know and love about Spidey, but placed that in an entirely new context. So no advance studying is required! Everything will be introduced as we go and built on from there. As for what to expect? Jokes, gags, cool villains, amazing powers, high adventure and great stories.
Marvel.com: Speaking of great stories, what “Ultimate Spider-Man” episode or episodes are you most looking forward to?
Steven T. Seagle: There's a great one early on with a certain Green-Skinned guest star that is really--hang on, our big boss man Jeph Loeb just stepped in--what...? I can’t talk about that yet? Why can't I talk about that yet? Okay, apparently I can't talk about that yet. And when you see it, you'll know why!
|"Ultimate Spider-Man" premieres on Disney XD April 1|
Marvel.com: Wow! Okay, is there anything from your stage experience, or even video games, that you feel will aid you in your work on “Ultimate Spider-Man”?
Steven T. Seagle: Working with live actors on the stage has given me a pretty good ear for fine tuning performances from our live actors during voice record. Most of the heavy lifting there is done by our amazing voice director, Collette Sunderman, but I still get to polish jokes and line reads now and then. And definitely the action in this show is crazy at times, which is not unlike the kind of scenarios Man of Action has written in our various video game projects over the years.
Marvel.com: You've done a lot of creator-owned comic book work; what advice would you give to an independent comic creator who wants to work on licensed material like an animated show? How do you channel your creative energy into such properties?
Steven T. Seagle: Well, the big, big difference is that on my creator owned comics work I can do whatever I want whenever I want because it's usually just me and an artist working on the project. The only people we have to make happy creatively are ourselves, and I love that freedom. But to work on something like “Ultimate Spider-Man” is extremely collaborative. Our writers room to crack stories is about 10 people. Then there are six to eight studio people giving notes. Then it goes to a director or two and four or five storyboard artists, and our head of production, Eric Radomski, and so on and so on.
By the time an episode is done it's probably had about 100 hands on it or more! So the job in this world is to make as many people happy as possible without messing up the story and character along the way--which is always tricky, but that's what we Man of Action guys do!