Friday at Comic-Con International in San Diego, Sony Animation Manager Michael Vogel headed up a panel showcasing the new Spider-Man animated series due out on the Kids’ WB in March ’08.
Also in attendance were Greg Weisman, the creator of “Gargoyles,” the supervising producer of the new show, as well as Victor Cook (Director, “Hellboy Animated”), Sean Galloway (lead character designer), Craig Kyle (SVP of TV Animation, “New X-Men” writer), and Josh Keaton, the voice of Spidey.
The panel then featured some footage exclusive to Comic-Con International. The footage showed an obviously teenaged Spider-Man swinging through the city on his way to stop a robbery. The footage ends with a few ‘off-screen’ attacks by an assortment of classic villains. High-tech Dr. Octopus arms were seen creeping up behind the young hero, followed by a Lizard tail swipe and a few screaming pumpkin bombs. Sandman’s arm swings and misses, Electrico blasts and the Vulture’s shadow were next, and the footage ended with the black symbiote oozing across the screen.
Weisman said they are not skipping the formative years of the young Peter Parker, and are focusing on a young Peter still in high school. The show starts the night before his senior year, albeit four months after he gained his costume and powers. He’s learning the lessons that will make him a Spider-MAN.
Cook said the show has some Hong Kong flair as the characters’ movements are so quick, yet still appealing. Craig chimed in that it’s daunting to come onto a character that has been around since the ’60s and who has had so many animated depictions.
Kyle also said Weisman’s outline for the 13 episodes was “simply perfect,” when he first read them, “he brought new life to an old world.” They want this to be THE classic Spidey series that everyone remembers for years to come, they said.
Cook said Spider-Man’s designs and Peter’s designs took a little while to perfect, but it was Galloway’s designs of J. Jonah Jameson, Flint Marko, and MJ that sealed it for him as even the minor characters looked great.
Peter, J. Jonah Jameson, and Harry Osborne were shown, and looked much like their classic depictions, only hipper and in more modern clothing. A young Eddie Brock was shown, and is a close friend of Peter’s. Gwen Stacy was shown to loud applause as a “hot nerd” in glasses. The last model sheet was Dr. Curt Connors, featuring a metal arm instead of a simple amputation.
Josh said Peter Parker’s voice is basically his voice except when he’s Peter he may sound a bit more nervous and as Spidey, he sounds more wisecracking and confident. Weisman added that the auditions for the show were so intense as they went through 2000 auditions, but by the final audition Josh was unanimously agreed upon to provide the voice for their star hero.
Questions from the fans continued with a “Gargoyles” fan asking Weisman if the show will follow a similar formula of intricate plotting and various seeds being planted for future revelations. Jokingly revealing to the fan that Norman and Harry are related, Weisman said the studio knew what they were getting when they hired him. He also shared that Sony wants every 3 or 4 episodes to work as a stand alone DVD movie. Weisman said he will still be able to write one “Gargoyles” comic for Slave Labor Graphics each month.
He also shared that there are no plans to create a single new character, as 9 out of 10 times, there’s already a character from the comic that fits the role. He made mention of such people as Flash, Sally, Liz, Felicia, Coach Smith, and Mr. Warren.
Asked how the panel of full grown men will give an accurate point of view of a 16 year old boy, the panelists explained the whole theme of the show is about educating Peter, he has a lot to learn still. As a side note, Weisman added that in the show’s ‘bible’ he specifically mentioned that Peter is passionately in love with whatever girl is standing in front of him, a typical hormonal teenager.
The panel replied to one question saying there are no plans to reveal any more of the voice cast on the show, making a point to mention that Wikipedia’s current list of actors is wrong. But there will be some well-known voice actors announced later.
Asked if Spidey will use mechanical web shooters, the panelists took a quick poll to see what the fans wanted more, organic or mechanical. The organic web shooters won to loud applause that only got louder when they revealed it would stick to the classic form by having mechanical web shooters.
Victor Cook revealed that the show will be in HD format.
A young fan asked if there were any plans for the villains to team up against Spidey. Laughter was heard from all as Michael said it would be absolutely crazy if Spider-Man had to fight a group of six villains, downright sinister.
Another wanted to know if the show was going to depict Peter’s parents’ deaths. Weisman responded they might get to it down the road, if the show was picked up for more seasons, but that the really important death in Peter’s life is the death of his Uncle Ben.
The show ended with one quick question with a fan asking if Electro will be wearing “that stupid lightning bolt mask.” A simple “No'” from Victor Cook ended the show as the clip started to roll one last time.