With the one hour premier of "The Spectacular Spider-Man" on Kids WB! mere weeks away (March 8, 10 AM folks!), we here at Marvel.com pledge to bring you everything you need to know—directly from the peeps making the webslinger come alive. This week, we kickoff our inside looks at the brand new animated series by sitting down with series Supervising Producer/Director, Vic Cook.
Marvel.com: So, what drew you to the "The Spectacular Spider-Man?"
I am a big fan of the character, and loved the idea that in this show he would be in high school just like the original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko Spider-Man!
I also really loved the old 1960s animated show as a kid. This was an opportunity to define a new animated Spider-Man with a few retro touches, a new cool theme song of its own and one that truly makes use of the medium of traditional animation. With over-the-top Hong Kong-style action sequences and with every twist, flip and spin, this is a Spider-Man that moves, that is designed to be animated. I wanted to be a part of bringing a new classic Spider-Man to a new generation.
Marvel.com: And at what point did you become involved with the project?
In early 2007, to oversee the visual development.
Marvel.com: What does Supervising Producer/Director mean? What exactly is your role on the 26 episodes of "The Spectacular Spider-Man?"
For episodes 1-13, I am Producer and Supervising Director. Episodes 14-26, I am Supervising Producer and Supervising Director.
I co-developed "The Spectacular Spider-Man" for television. I meet with the writers at outline stage and add any notes I have at that point and also make director notes on the finished scripts for handout to the artists. I oversee the art direction and filmmaking on the series—working with the designers and painters to make sure the show has the right mood and level of detail for animation.
Additionally, I supervise the storyboard artists and episode directors to make sure the staging, acting and action is dynamic and cinematic. Although this is a TV series, I approach this as filmmaking, so every pose, every angle is all about the storytelling. The action is choreographed to be dramatic and over-the-top with a dash of humor when needed.
The storyboard is the blue print for the animation process that follows. My job is also to follow through in animation. I have gone to the studios overseas to direct them in how they need to approach this show. I am in daily contact with them from here as well. When the animation is completed, I work with the editors, composers and audio effects people in putting on the final touches to deliver the finished episode.
Marvel.com: Very cool stuff indeed. You mentioned you were a fan of the character growing up, just how familiar were you with Spidey and his history before joining the show?
I grew up a comics fan and on the Stan Lee/John Romita era of Spider-Man.
Marvel.com: With a background like that, what does it feel like now that YOU'RE the one directing the interactions between such classic characters?
"With great power comes great responsibility." It is an honor and great fun. These are such rich characters with real depth. Even the characters that seem like clichés have depth. The high school scenes have been both humorous with Flash [Thompson] and Sally [Avril] and dramatic with Harry [Osborn].
The Bugle scenes with Jonah [Jameson] are some of my favorites! Jonah is so fun to pose and act out. The scenes with Peter [Parker] and Gwen [Stacy] are sweet, but because I know what the future holds, it is also melancholy.
Norman [Osborn] is pure drama. The sequence when we first meet [Adrian] Toomes, Otto [Octavius] and Norman was great fun having the visuals so totally tell that story with one character literally towering over another character then having that dynamic change is pure cinema. Staging Spidey facing down the super villains is a blast. For us, this is the first time Spidey meets The Vulture, Electro or any of the villains. We get to see his first reactions and see him think on his feet figuring out how to deal with these super powered bad guys.
Marvel.com: Since the show's airing in the Saturday morning time slot, it clearly needs to appeal to children. But when you're working on it are you aware that many older fans will most likely be tuning in as well? If so, are there ways you layer the show to give them something that younger fans wouldn't key into?
Spidey from all angles
This show is for Spider-Man fans, that's why kids will love it, too.
We are contemporizing the Lee/Ditko era of Spider-Man when Peter Parker was still a high school student and when he first faced supervillains.
While each episodes story can stand alone, like the comic, the series as a whole is a saga. There will be true character development over the course of the series, we will meet supervillains before they become supervillains, Peter's friends grow and evolve.
Peter himself has a lot to learn about life and how to be a hero. Most of the characters in our series, even the most minor will be based on characters already introduced at some point in the history of the Spider-Man comics. And of course, this being Spider-Man, it will be fun, cinematic, there will be fantastic arachnobatics, cool action, over-the-top fight scenes, drama, humor and a variety of awesome supervillains. The supervillains will be at the same time classic, iconic and contemporized.
Marvel.com: You have a lot of experience directing shows that are based on rather established characters such as Hellboy, Buzz Lightyear and Tarzan. Is there something about characters who have a history built into them that draws you to them, or is that just the way your career happened to turn out?
Spider-Man has the
of a spider
These are iconic rich characters with interesting back stories. That's what gives any story its emotional center. It's always more fun for a director to have characters that you care about in a story that matters. Action scenes become more than just choreography when you approach it from the point of view of the character.
Marvel.com: When you're directing Josh Keaton, what is it you look for in his performance that is essential to Peter Parker/Spider-Man's character?
Of course, I want great acting and a range of emotions from Peter's insecurities to Spidey's cockiness and quipster humor. But what really needs to come through is attitude. It is so essential for the animators and storyboard artists when they pose and visually act out either Peter or Spidey. Whenever I listen to a recording of Josh saying "I am The Spectacular Spider-Man," I believe he really is!
Next Thursday, Feb. 21: Stay tuned for our interview with the voice of Peter Parker/Spider-Man himself, Josh Keaton!