Tagged: Sci-Fi

Emily S. Whitten: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – The Interviews!

Whitten Art 131001-1It’s stating the obvious to say that the modern Marvel movie machine has managed both to churn out a slew of awesome, successful movies, and to not fall into the trap of assembly-line production – in other words, that the movies, while they’ve built on each other beautifully and gained momentum with each new release, are all pretty unique and true to the characters and storylines they draw from. But how does that translate when Marvel tries to move such epic stories, in both scope and character, to the small screen? Pretty well, it turns out, with Joss Whedon and co. running the show.

The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot aired Tuesday the 24th, and proved that it is possible to tell small screen stories against the background of the current Marvel cinematic series. In fact, it gives the opportunity to tell larger stories with less – as in the pilot, where the plot builds on the fallout from The Avengers and the Battle of New York. Without showing the grand, epic event, the show is able to easily reference the new state of the world for both S.H.I.E.L.D. and ordinary citizens. Watchers who have seen the movie will instantly understand the world-building at work; and even those who somehow missed the movie will easily pick up on it and understand why as the series begins, S.H.I.E.L.D. is finding its place as “the line between the world and the weirder world.”

That weirder world could not be in better hands than those of Joss Whedon and his team. The pilot is an excellent blend of Whedon show elements that we know and love – witty banter, engaging characters (including women!) kicking ass and taking names, cameos of actors from previous Whedon projects (Ron Glass! J. August Richards!), and a mixture of action, adventure, wonder, mystery, and heart; and the Marvel canon and characterization that Marvel fans live for. The S.H.I.E.L.D. character we’ve come to love from the movies, Coulson, continues to be characterized as an endearingly geeky guy, and yet is now developing into a leader as well; and the new characters, like Skye, Ward, Fitz, Simmons, and May, are already, in one episode, fleshed out enough for viewers to care about what happens to them next.

We also get to see glimpses of the Marvel cinematic universe in elements such as Maria Hill’s appearance, and the involvement of the Extremis virus. There are little Easter eggs for Marvel fans (like the almost-but-subverted-at-the-last-second Spider-Man quote); and references to people cosplaying as their newly discovered in-world superheroes, the Avengers. And most interestingly, from the very first, we are introduced to a take on S.H.I.E.L.D. that’s not entirely heroic – a S.H.I.E.L.D. that exists in the gray area of trying to protect Earth’s inhabitants from danger, and running the risk of becoming the invasive danger that people may have to fear. There’s an obvious analogue to the real world’s decreasing respect for privacy, and it’s accompanied by a serious (and seriously depressing) take on the current real-world economy and our displaced, unanchored work force of unemployed or marginally employed adults. Despite those themes being pretty darned depressing, I was happy to see them tackled head-on, and will be interested to see where the writers go with that next.

Speaking of the writers, at SDCC this year I sat down to chat with the writers and cast of the show, and now, I get to share those chats with you! (And although sadly my battery died too soon, I can also share a couple of short video clips of Joss Whedon and Clark Gregg, along with newly-uploaded clips from the Psych press room, I Know That Voice panel, and more.) Enjoy!

Jeff Bell (executive producer, showrunner, and writer) and Jeph Loeb (head of Marvel Television and executive producer)

The characters feel like broad archetypes at this point – the loner who doesn’t play well with others; the badass woman; the geeky pair…how quickly will we see them be fleshed out, or see other sides of them?

Bell: That’s the whole point of the TV show. We can’t do what a Marvel movie does every week, because we don’t have 250 million dollars a week. We’ve got good chunks of money to tell stories, but most of the stories are going to be about the characters. And arcing those characters out; finding relationships – who likes who, who doesn’t like whom, and why; secrets between all of them. So…I think no one’s exactly who you think they are, and we’re building that, hopefully for a long period of time.

Loeb: I also think that one of the things that makes our show different from the movies but still within the Marvel universe is that it’s about the intimacy of the characters on a television show. Television once upon a time was ‘being invited into your living room.’ It’s gone to the next level. It’s now on your laptop, on your tablet; and guess what, now it’s on your phone, which is the most intimate thing; it’s touching your face. So let’s hope that those people, when they touch your face, actually are people that you love and are complex and have all the richness that you know from shows that Joss has done in the past, and that all the people who are involved with this have done in the past. It’s the fun of it.

With the movies and all, when did this show start coming into production? What was the process?

Loeb: We started Marvel Television three years ago, with our partnership with ABC Studios and ABC; we knew we wanted to have a show that would make a lot of noise; and obviously there were some things we hadn’t developed, because that’s a process – but it was really right after The Avengers that Marvel had a conversation with ABC, and we had this idea for a show about S.H.I.E.L.D.

Bell: Wait, whose idea was it?

Loeb: (pointing to Clark Gregg) It was that man’s idea.

Bell: He said, “You know what would be cool? If I’m not really dead.”

Loeb: True story – Clark and I were at a signing, because Clark actually appears in our animated series, Ultimate Spider-Man, as Agent Coulson, and he turned to me at one point and said, “I have a secret: Coulson lives.” And I said, “Yes.” And he goes, “On television.” And I said, “Yeah I know. But people don’t know you’re dead yet, so we need to do that part first; and then I think we can probably talk to the network about it afterwards.” And Clark said, “Okay, as long as that’s the plan.” But to give credit where credit’s due, none of this would have started without Joss, Jed, Maurissa, and Jeff, who came up with a spectacular pilot, and an arc out for literally about 100 episodes, that enabled everyone at Marvel to get incredibly excited about it, and produce a show that is worthy of the pedigree of the movies and everything else that we do at Marvel.

Since the rights to some Marvel characters like Spider-Man and the X-Men are with other studios, will we be seeing any of that on TV at all?

Loeb: Only in animation. Obviously the Marvel universe is a vast expanse of characters, but I think the fun of this show in particular is that Jeff and Jed and Maurissa and Joss have created, in Coulson and Ward and May and Fitz and Simmons and Skye, really memorable characters who will now join the Marvel universe in a very major way.

In the development, were there ever any elements that Marvel wanted that ABC was not excited about?

Loeb: This has been an incredible partnership. I know it always sounds like, “Ooh, silver clouds…” but Jeff, talk about that first day, when you guys came in and told the story to the network.

Whitten Art 131001-3Bell: Well here’s what’s nice, because traditionally, Marvel skews to a lot of guys. And ABC kind of skews more female. And then there’s Joss, who’s like the perfect Venn diagram of what you want in a show. So it’s great to see Joss’s version of a Marvel series – because ABC’s interested in emotion, and Joss is interested in emotion, and so it’s really about keeping that as our bulls-eye, and then finding different stories around that. But ABC loves that part of our storytelling. And then if we can do that against the giant, epic scope of a Marvel canvas, with superheroes and things from other places, and cool gadgets from S.H.I.E.L.D. and stuff like that, it’s just a different way to tell emotional stories. And so it’s been a great fit.

How much of the first season is planned out? Are there overarching themes we should know about?

Loeb: We know where we’re going. When you go in to talk about a television show, your initial order is the pilot plus twelve episodes. So you always have to have a plan for that, and so we go in and talk about what we will do for that; and then if successful and there is a back nine, you should have ideas for that as well. So we went in with that, and also a sense of what a second season would be, and right now we’re shooting episode two, and prepping episodes three and four. That’s where we are in the cycle.

How much of a procedural is this going to be?

Loeb: The show is about investigating the weird, the unusual, the strange, and the phenomenal that are in the Marvel universe. It is about a team that assesses that threat. Sometimes that threat is something that they’re going to have to take care of; and sometimes that threat is something that needs to be protected from somebody else that wants to exploit that sort of thing. The show enables us to tell stories that are in straight-ahead procedurals; but also there are all different kinds of things that you’ve come to know from your Whedon shows.

In the movie, S.H.I.E.L.D. responds to several disembodied voices that happen to be a real menace; are you addressing that here?

Loeb: Our plane is a mobile command unit that Director Fury has sort of allowed Coulson to do; and so we tell those stories. There are times when we will connect with big S.H.I.E.L.D. I’m not saying that we will connect with Director Fury; but we will tell stories within the entire S.H.I.E.L.D. universe. They’ll be international, and go all over the planet. Sometimes it’s just us; sometimes it’s big. But going back to your procedural question – it’s not a body of the week story; but we are trying to do standalone episodes the way we did on Angel and Buffy, that had an emotional element to it, and you find metaphors within it that allow you to tell the stories that reflect who your characters are. Sometimes that’s procedural, yes, but the way we break them, really, is about the emotional lives and what kind of story we want to tell.

What’s really important about the show at the end of the day is that you have that feeling of epic adventure and at the same time, the human spirit. You want to be able to be invested in these people and the show. I think that what is so remarkable about the pilot, and then it’s carried over, is that there are moments of great humor, moments where you’ll get teary-eyed, and then there are moments of like, “Wow.” If you can capture that at 8:00 on a Tuesday night, you’re doing kinda okay!

Bell: Coming up with stories, the words we have up on the wall are: funny; sad; wondrous; beautiful – and if we can get all four of those into an episode? We’re really happy. But Marvel is very aspirational; it is optimistic – our characters are enthusiasts; they’re not cynics. They’re excited about science, about history, about the world – and so we try and show that.

Are you going to pull from the canon stories; for example, something like Civil War where S.H.I.E.L.D. played a big part?

Loeb: The Marvel universe is the Marvel universe – and it’s like with everything else that we do, whether it’s publishing; games; the animation world; the cinematic universe; and now the television universe – it’s all one world. Sometimes certain things aren’t going to line up exactly along the way. This is obviously one that is tied in more to the cinematic universe. But there is nothing that would stop us from doing any kinds of stories, as long as it is something compelling, and emotional, and fun.

Maurissa Tancharoen & Jed Whedon (executive producers and writers)

It’s clear in the pilot that Agent Coulson is in charge of things, and a key character; is that something you’re going to explore more?

Tancharoen: Yes; we’re highlighting someone you’ve only seen glimpses of in the Marvel cinematic universe, so I think yes, we’re giving him some authority, some swagger. He already had that, naturally. Now we’re just able to display it.

Jed Whedon: We feel like he’s a great company man; he’s the face of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Now we get to reveal more about that character. In every film, Coulson was expanded on a little bit. In Avengers he got some real meat. So now we get to dig in even further. And Clark is the perfect person to do that with. We love him very much.

It was great to kind of see Cobie Smulders in it for a second; do you envision her appearing now and then?

Jed Whedon: There are certain rules that we have to obey; but we are open to anything.

Tancharoen: Right – I mean, it is a goal to be able to pull people from what’s already been established, and bob and weave them throughout our series.

What’s the split of new characters created in the show, and people we might have seen in the comics, either in passing or as main characters? How much will be canon versus new material?

Jed Whedon: It’s a little of both. Right now we’re working from story first, and then there’s so much in the comic world, that a lot of the ideas we come up with, we can say, “Is there a guy that does that?”

Tancharoen: And the answer is yes. Always. That’s a good and a bad thing.

Jed Whedon: It works both ways; that makes it easy and fun.

When you’re writing stories for the season, how mindful do you have to be about weaving in stuff from Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: Winter Soldier, and the cinematic universe?

Tancharoen: We’re always communicating with what’s happening in the feature universe; and our goal is to complement one another, and weave our storylines in there, or maybe there will just be a little kernel that you see over there and vice-versa.

Jed Whedon: There’s lots of fallout from the films that we can play with, and we can lead into them in a way. We want to make it so that it’s more rewarding to watch both, on both ends. So if you’re watching the TV show you’ll get something in the movie or be like, “I know what that means.”

Who from the Marvel universe would you most like to weave in to the story?

Jed Whedon: Every Avenger.

Tancharoen: If we could.

Jed Whedon: We’re open to all those people.

Tancharoen: We joke about having an episode where the whole thing is like, “Oh, you just missed Iron Man. Aw man, Thor was just here! He had his shirt off.”

Jed Whedon: But we don’t want the show to become that, where you feel like you’re missing something. We want to exist on our own.

Tancharoen: And we’re hoping that people will fall in love with our cast of characters, and maybe not even have that expectation.

Jed Whedon: And then if it does happen, it will be rewarding, and not disappointing if it doesn’t.

How familiar are you with the comics – have you been readers for years? Are you still doing research by reading back issues?

Jed Whedon: There’s so much reading that we have to do; when we’re not working on the show, we’re reading.

How unreliable an authority figure is Coulson going to be? Is he going to be lying a lot? Will we see people challenge his right to be in charge?

Jed Whedon: I think we’ll figure that out as we go along; at this point, we can’t say much. …It will be cool, and stuff will happen.

What are you most excited about for the pilot, and how would you describe if to someone who hasn’t seen it?

Jed Whedon: Fun is what we’re going for.

Tancharoen: I think something that exists in all the Marvel movies is their humor. There’s tons of action and humor. That’s something that’s existed in a lot of Joss’s work as well. It always comes back to the humor, or there’s a really poignant emotional moment. We’re trying to do that on our show. Our cast of characters are all real human people. We’re dealing with the world post-what happened in The Avengers, so the entire population is going through this transition period of realizing that there are aliens, there are gods, there are monsters, and so I think a big part of our team’s job is going to be helping those people through it.

What’s your experience writing Coulson and the newer characters?

Jed Whedon: Coulson is really fun to write for. Fitz / Simmons is great – when you write a Fitz / Simmons scene, it ends up being too long.

Tancharoen: Because you just want to go on forever; even though it’s all science talk. The way they bicker and banter is fun.

Jed Whedon: And one of the things that’s very fun about this process is discovering the characters as we go. We just started shooting the second episode. Seeing all the things we’ve been discussing for months come to life is very rewarding.

Tancharoen: And we have a fantastic cast. They all embody everything we picture so well. We’re really excited for everyone to get to see them.

What are the greatest challenges of introducing new characters?

Tancharoen: We feel the pressure.

Jed Whedon: And when we don’t feel the pressure, people say, “How are you doing with all that pressure?” We have a duty to a lot of fans. But our approach is always to try to have fun, and try to make something that we would enjoy. We want to make something for everyone; but also something that, if we sat down and watched it, we would have to watch the next one.

Tancharoen: I think our goal is much like what Joss accomplished in Buffy – it will have stand-alones, with the mythology woven throughout. And every week there was a monster of the week or challenge of the week that was a metaphor for the emotional journeys our characters were going on. So hopefully if we do that successfully, and there’s humor, and there’s action, and there’s Marvel in there; hopefully the Marvel fans will be satisfied.

How challenging was the casting process?

Tancharoen: Very. We swept the world. We had casting offices in Australia, the UK, Toronto, Vancouver, New York, and Los Angeles, going at the same time. And Brett Dalton, who plays Ward, he read in New York, on tape, and we saw him on the tape and brought him in for a screen test. Chloe is somebody who we brought back several times.

Jed Whedon: The other thing I’ll say that was great is, we didn’t compromise. And we got our first choices in every category. That’s rare and you’ll see it when you see the show.

Tancharoen: And Clark at the center of them really works.

How hands-on will Joss be moving forwards?

Jed Whedon: He’ll be involved a lot in shaping stories. We’re in constant contact. But he does have other things on his plate that people are excited about right now…

Does he read every script?

Jed Whedon: Oh yes, and every idea is run by him, and so I’m sure he’ll come in at some point and write some more…

Tancharoen: Everyone will definitely feel his presence, even when he’s not right there.

Chloe Bennet (Skye) & Brett Dalton (Grant Ward)

Skye starts out not trusting the people in S.H.I.E.L.D.; and it seems like by the end she’s on board. Do you think that’s it?

Bennet: No! I don’t think that’s it. I think one of Skye’s biggest assets is being able to…she has really good people skills. She can fool people; she hides stuff very well. She’s a people person, she can get her way and manipulate things. I’m not saying she’s doing that – but what you see is not all you’re going to get with Skye.

How would you introduce your characters?

Dalton: Agent Grant Ward is a specialist. He’s highly trained in espionage, hand-to-hand combat, tactical operations, weapons…I could go on. This is a looong list. But he’s a lone wolf. He doesn’t know what it’s like to be part of a team. He’s used to being the solution; the entire solution. So I think what you’ll see is him figuring out what to do now.

Bennet: Skye is a computer hacker. Very good with computers. But she’s that rare case of computer hacker where she’s not Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and kind of weird. She’s a people person; she’s outgoing and she knows how to work both computers and people. She kind of stumbles into the S.H.I.E.L.D. world and mixes things up a bit. I think she’s like the last piece of this puzzle that Coulson’s putting together as a team. Everyone complements each other in their own little way.

Dalton: You have skills that none of us do.

Bennet: And you have skills that Skye doesn’t have. Skye and Ward balance each other really well, I think. They’re polar opposites, yet both really talented. He’s a lone wolf; Skye is an activist. She’s about bringing the people together; people uprising against something that may not be fair or just. I think they’re going to learn from each other, maybe. …Maybe a little more than learn…? I dunno…

Whitten Art 131001-4How much do you know about the Marvel universe? Do you recognize the references and Easter eggs?

Bennet: I’ve always been a fan of the movies. And then being cast, you’re like, “I gotta go read everything, now!” It’s really interesting. I’ve re-watched all the movies; and I get why fans are so loyal to the brand.

Dalton: And it’s an ongoing universe, too. The Battle of New York, that happens, doesn’t just disappear, like, “New York is just fine again!” in the next movie. It’s an ongoing, continuing universe, which is really interesting.

Bennet: With the movies and the show. The Battle of New York really does affect the pilot, and our characters in the show.

Dalton: There’s continuity between them.

Brett; in the show, you’re kind of the straight man. Do you hope you get to do more comedy?

Dalton: Well here’s the thing: I actually always thought Ward was hilarious. You know, he has little lines in there.

Bennet: And Ward thinks he’s hilarious.

Do you guys improv at all?

Bennet: You don’t have to with writing like this. Joss writes words; I speak them. You know, you improv the way you say things.

Dalton: The writing is just that good, honestly. And I’ve worked on other things where they give you that opportunity to riff, but they’ve just done such a good job with the writing.

Bennet: There’s a flow in what Joss writes, and the way the characters speak. It’s just easy, and it’s different, and it’s funny; and the timing – you can just read it when you see it. It makes it so enjoyable.

How much do your characters get to kick ass?

Bennet: Skye not so much, yet, uh…

Are you looking forward to that?

Bennet: Yes. I’m always saying, “You can let me do it! I’m fine; I’ve got six brothers! I won’t be worried about getting hurt!” I’m really looking forward to hopefully Skye being taught by Ward.

Dalton: Yeah, you know, I could see that happening.

Do you have a favorite Marvel character you’d like to see come into the show? Or a specific Marvel actor you’d like to work with?

Bennet: My favorite Marvel character is Jean Grey, and Jean as the Phoenix; I don’t know if that would be such a good thing if she came into S.H.I.E.L.D., unless it was as Jean Grey; but that won’t happen. But I think I wouldn’t mind Thor coming back. Not to do anything; just to come by and see me.

Dalton: I’m the hugest Robert Downey Jr. fan. He’s so good. Even if he was just on the intercom or something. Even if it was just his voice; anything. I’d love, love, love to work with him.

Bennet: If he was working, and I wasn’t working that day, I’d just come to set anyway.

Dalton: Yeah, it’d just be like, “Why is everyone on set today…?” And I’d say my favorite Marvel character is The Punisher. Good ol’ Frank Castle. Because he’s just a guy with a ton of skills; he doesn’t really have a superpower – he just has guns. And vengeance.

Bennet: He’s like Ward, almost.

Bennet: What about Spider-Woman? Spider-Woman was in S.H.I.E.L.D.!

Iain De Caestecker (Leo Fitz) & Elizabeth Henstridge (Jemma Simmons)

The writers just said you are their favorite characters to write; do you think your characters have a long history together, and have you been told about that?

Henstridge: We know that we’ve come up together, and trained together. It’s wonderful to play with that dynamic, and know that your character has a relationship like that to explore. That’s really exciting and fun.

De Caestecker: They’ve kind of got that weird dynamic like a brother and sister, where they argue furiously about things, and at the same time, they really depend on each other; especially when they’re out of their comfort zones. I think they see each other as a source of security.

How were the characters described to you when you first got involved?

De Caestecker: Well, we were only given a scene to audition with at first.

Henstridge: And I think because the script was kind of written, but not locked, my audition was very much like, “Come to us with your version of what these lines mean to you, or what you envision for the character, and then play with them. And at my audition they got me to do the character, just to kind of see what that would be like; so it was wonderful to be in a process that was still so fluid and flexible.

Science nerds in Joss Whedon shows have a tendency to turn evil. Do you see that happening for you?

De Caestecker: I don’t know what’s going to happen there.

Would you want to play a villain?

Henstridge: There’s such a fine line between good and evil; and so, you can be one or the other with the same intentions, the same common motivation to do what you think is right. So I think that anyone could do good or evil.

What’s your impression of their relationship with Coulson?

De Caestecker: I think there’s probably a side of him that really scares them. I think they’d probably try to avoid him as much as possible; but, at the same time, I think they are very conscious of what they do and how good they are at it. So when they achieve something that they think is really great, they’re really quick to tell everyone, and they’d be very quick to let Coulson know.

Henstridge: Yeah; and I mean, he’s sort of the father to us all; they desperately want to impress him, but he keeps raising the bar. So it’s that kind of, “Oh, my gosh, I can’t get up there,” and then they work together, and they come back and are like, “We made it!” and he’ll go, “Okay, well now it’s here!” It’s that kind of back and forth.

I think the thing about the team that Coulson’s tried to pick is that on the surface they already specialize in what they do, but one of the main focal points is them overcoming things that scare them, and situations that they’ve never found themselves in, which is kind of the biggest challenge for them.

How would you describe the characters to those who don’t know them?

Henstridge: I would say that Simmons is a biochemist. She’s incredible at what she does, with lab work, and figuring out samples, and she’s come up very quickly at a very young age, and hasn’t really had much social interaction, other than with science.

De Caestecker: Fitz specializes in engineering. I suppose he’s responsible for all the gadgets and things you see in the show; the technology. But yeah, he’s similar. I think they’ve both found themselves being locked away too long in the lab, so when they’re actually put in these situations, a lot of their insecurities and fears come out.

Clark Gregg (Phil Coulson)

In the movies, especially Avengers, it felt like Coulson was the audience surrogate. And in the TV show, you’re the one who kind of controls the ball. Does that change how you see the character?

Gregg: Well, I was pretty sure I was dead. I was really sad. Because I really dug being this guy. Especially as every different writing and directing team came along and added to the chain letter of who this guy was, and I got to find out. And that’s been kind of the weird, funny acting game that goes with this guy, is, “Oh! Oh, I’m that.” And that was never more fully realized then when Joss kind of took what was clearly there, and of course he’s got the trading cards; of course he’s got a monstrous embarrassing man-crush on Captain America. It all makes sense – of course he does. And so I loved being the fan avatar there; because I love this stuff. I loved it when was a kid. I’m a huge sci-fi nerd. I was a bit of a Marvel nerd when I was young; and to get to be that guy meant everything to me. So I was really sad the day I had to go in there and get shanked by that Asgardian bastard!

So when I got a call saying, “Listen, you may not be 100% dead”? I was well and truly stoked. But I had to make sure that it didn’t undermine The Avengers, and once Joss explained to me where he thought he was going on that, and it was so ridiculously cool and dark, I was in. That said, I had to kind of take the writers out to dinner – although I made them pay – and say, this is the deal: when I’m playing this guy, I always have to sit down with whoever it is and go, “Who am I now? What am I doing here?” And to go from bleeding out on the floor of the Helicarrier to putting together a fast-response S.H.I.E.L.D. team in this pilot – that’s a different Phil Coulson.

To a certain extent, I think he’s pretty limber, in terms of his ability to do stuff; and Director Fury has tasked him to what I think is probably the most pressing concern. It’s an interesting choice by Director Fury. He’s going to take this guy who’s been the kind of diva-wrangler; the guy who is, like, managing the green room at Coachella for the Avengers, and put him in charge of  this very fast-response team that he gets to pick himself, using really weird instincts of his own. To deal with a world after The Avengers, where we’ve gone from knowing about Tony Stark and his bitchin’ suits, and maybe a little Hulk and Abomination in New York, to wormholes and Chitauri invasions; and everybody wants a piece of that. So it makes perfect sense; you get to keep the spectacle of those movies but put it in a smaller human context, as represented by Coulson in the movies – the people who can bleed. And that’s a perfect recipe for a TV show.

When I got the second script, I thought it was going to be a bunch of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents trapped in an elevator, because there wouldn’t be any money left after the pilot. So when I got that, and it’s more spectacle – if I survive a season of this, it’s going to be really amazing to see.

How much are we going to see of Coulson’s personal versus professional life?

Gregg: He’s a wonderful dancer. We’re going to see a lot of his dancing. And if know Joss, there will be a musical episode. But I’ve seen the episode I’m shooting now; I’ve seen the pilot. Other than that, I don’t know. I’m so impressed by how Marvel takes what happens, and then exploits it right the way all the fans would want them to – Joss being a key part of that. The fans wanted Coulson back to life – it happened. As a fan, I saw The Avengers, and I thought, “Man, they’re going to be pissed that he’s still alive, and he’s going to be pissed about his cards!” We’re going to probably have to find out about this cellist; so I’d be shocked if we didn’t go down those roads. But I’m just speaking as a fan now.

Seeing your likeness in the Spider-Man cartoon, does that amuse you?

Gregg: It amuses me to no end. To see him in the comics; and the fact that they so politely make me fitter and better-looking in all of my comic appearances; it’s really nice of them. I can’t compete with a lot of people I know at the San Diego Comic-Con, but I was into comics. So to see myself get drawn by various people kind of kills me. If I could get Jim Starlin to draw me someday, I would die.

Is Coulson going to be a little bit evil, or compromised?

Gregg: Evil’s very relative. There are people who thought he was evil at times in the movies, and I never thought so. I thought it was pragmatism.

Do you think the situation makes Fury look more manipulative?

Gregg: Yes; Coulson being alive makes Nick Fury more manipulative; but I’m not sure we know the whole picture yet. I wouldn’t leap to judgment on Director Fury. A lot of people have gotten into trouble rushing to judgment on Director Fury’s motives. I know there’s an answer to what Coulson’s doing here, after we saw him in such bad shape in The Avengers. We certainly get one hit of information in the pilot, but I think it opens a whole different can of questions.

What can you tell us about the relationship between Coulson and the team? Does he have a favorite?

Gregg: All I know is what I know from the pilot – he picks them, and some of them make perfect sense; others are really surprising. And just as it’s up to you to guess which of the Avengers he liked most; I think he’s going to be like a good crazy uncle – you’ll never know which kid he likes the best.

It seems like Coulson’s relationship to authority is changing. How does that affect how you play the character?

Gregg: I think you can’t have happen to you what happens to him in The Avengers and not have it change you on a very deep if not cellular level. I think he’s in a state of flux. I think everything’s up for grabs at the moment.

Ming-Na Wen (Melinda May)

Did you read Marvel comics as a kid?

Wen: I read some; I read a lot of fluffy comics, and the newspaper; but for me it was later, as I matured, that I got really into it. Because all of the stories – you realize it’s fantastical, but at the same time, it always dealt with the human emotions – the vulnerabilities. Especially with Marvel characters. They’re always struggling with something; they’re always in pain. And weren’t we all in pain, growing up? We can identify.

What’s your favorite trait or characteristic of your character?

Wen: I just love how Melinda May is always kind of cool. It’s nice to be that. It’s nice to be able to walk and feel confident and strong and just feel like at any second, if anybody messes with her, she’ll be able to handle the situation. Me, in the meantime…no, no, I do the same! That’s right! …When I’m in my garden.

You obviously get to kick some ass in the pilot.

Wen: Well, you know, when they showed the trailer, and they showed my fight scene, I was like, “Oh, okay – I think the bar’s been raised quite a bit now.” I love it. It’s a great way to stay in shape, and it’s a great way to kind of flex the guns every so often. I see how guys like to do that.

Given that your character is such a badass, why does she not want to be in the field?

Wen: I think that’s what’s so mysterious about her. There’s some sort of history in her character that is making her reluctant; and it will slowly be revealed. I think she has a history that I can’t wait to have revealed, and I believe she has history with Coulson. You know, they’re both vets; they both worked hard to get to Level Seven, and I can’t imagine S.H.I.E.L.D. being such a huge, huge force, so I’m sure their paths crossed. I mean, there’s a reason why he’s recruited her, and I think it’s because he wants somebody there who’s got the experience.

What’s the coolest thing about playing a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent?

Wen: Wearing that badge! That’s pretty badass, just to walk around with that badge. And this whole experience has been amazing. Every day, I’m really thankful.

So which relationship that your character has are you most interested in seeing developed?

Wen: I think because it’s such a new team, her reaction to the young kids is going to be interesting. I think that’s probably very new for her; and what her role is. Because right now, I sense that her role is to sort of be a protector of them. But then again, not knowing what kind of missions they’re going into, it could just be that they’re really annoying to her. There might not be these life and death situations; so it’s going to be interesting to see. But for me – definitely her relationship with Coulson, and how that develops.

How aware were you of Joss’s previous work, and specifically his penchant for badass warrior women?

Wen: Don’t you love him for that? How can you not watch any Joss Whedon, as a woman, and as a geek girl? You know – the Buffys – he taps into that, and I don’t know why, but God bless him. He’s a geek god, and every day I went to work for the pilot, I was just like, “I’m speaking Joss’s words! He’s in the same room with me!” He’s like a rock star to me. So – yeah – I had to stay very professional.

What’s your favorite of his past shows or characters?

Wen: Buffy definitely is one of my top favorites. I grew up with that; and that was such an amazing ensemble of actors. And he always had the humor, mixed with everything. And how cool is it to have J. August Richards in the pilot?

This character is so mysterious that it’s a bit different than some of his other characters. I think over time, that will bleed in, where you start to really understand her, or warm up to her. She becomes more humanized, with the experience; that’s how I feel. I don’t know where it can go, because there are some other shows where if a character is this way, they stay that way for the duration; it’s expected of them. And I think with her, she starts off being really tough and not very talkative, and hopefully over time when she starts making connections with people, she’ll develop more.

Joss Whedon (executive producer, director, and writer)

These guys are a lot more like Wolfram & Hart than they are like Angel Investigations; how do you turn guys like that into the underdogs?

Joss Whedon: That’s something we’ve been joking about since the beginning – they’re a ragtag group of faceless bureaucrats who control your every move! And that’s honestly a conflict that we open with, by making Skye a member of the team. On some level, we’ll be having our cake and eating it too – which is a delightful phrase for hypocrisy! And on some level, hopefully we’ll be able to broach the issue in a way that’s not trivializing – but if we’re dealing with it as writers, and the audience is dealing with it, then the characters need to as well. You know, sometimes S.H.I.E.L.D. will be the thing that makes it better, and sometimes S.H.I.E.L.D. will be the thing that makes it worse. It’s a very gray area; and that’s part of what makes it exciting.

Who’s your favorite new character of the series?

Joss Whedon: Well, I love all my children equally! Honestly, I really do love all my children; it’s a great show. But Fitz / Simmons, because of my boarding school days, I have particular feeling about. We did not write them to be British – but they sure ended up being that way! I guess it’s okay to call them my favorites because there are two of them; so they have double power.

At what point will they turn evil?

Joss Whedon: Oh, they’re already evil! They’re scientists – and they’re British.

As you’re working on the show, how much does you helping on the show impact your work on Avengers II, or how much do you keep that separate?

Joss Whedon: When it’s movie time, it’s movie time, and everything else has to fall by the wayside. It will require enormous focus, and always does, to do both. The good news is sometimes when you’ve been thinking about one thing all day, the way I relax is to think about something else. “Oh, a different puzzle!” Sometimes you’re like, “Uhh, more work;” and sometimes you’re like, “Oh thank God! A completely different set of problems.” So I will do as much as I can, but I have surrounded myself with people who are extraordinary at doing it when I’m not around.

Will we see the Hulk?

Joss Whedon: Yeah, we will totally see the Hulk, because it’s super cheap. We could do that on a television budget; if you don’t mind that he’s South Park Hulk.

Speaking of the budget, how will you be able to sustain the level of spectacle?

Joss Whedon: We’re not really about the level of spectacle. Obviously we want to have some big episodes, and for me, it’s like you’re opening a comic book – “I want to see something cool!” But you’re opening it because you love the people who were in it last month. It’s about these six characters. One of the things that I loved about Avengers was that Marvel’s very dedicated to building spectacle from character. And they weren’t afraid to have two people sit around and talk; for a while. And for the show, I want there to be episodes that are very intimate, where very little happens; because the emotional consequences are ultimately the only thing that ever matter, no matter how much shit you blow up.

And on that note, hope you enjoyed these awesome interviews, and until next time, Servo Lectio!





FlyWhile growing up, I among the last generation that got to watch classic black and white and early color horror films day and night. Before talk and game shows became cheap fare, New York stations would run movies before dinner and throughout the evening. Some were cheesy, even to my pre-adolescent eyes, but others were just downright scary. Among the latter was the effectively creepy The Fly. 20th Century Home Entertainment has just released this beloved classic on Blu-ray and it has been nicely transferred to enthrall a new generation.

Of course, many of the readers here probably only know the fun and weird remake by David Cronenberg, which does nicely stand on its own, but the original is well worth a loo, too.

Released in 1958, it was one of Fox’s truly great horror/sci-fi offerings after decades of inferior efforts. The film is based on the forgotten George Langelaan short story of the same name which first appeared in the June 1957 edition of Playboy. Fox quickly snapped up the rights and assigned the script chores to Shogun’s James Clavell. Despite its brevity, he whittled away elements of the story and focused squarely on the doomed Andre (David Hedison, pre-Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea), a scientist cursed by his own lab work.

Told partly in flashback, the movie has Helene Delambre (Patricia Owens) recount how and why she killed her husband Andre as her confession to her brother- in- law Francois (Vincent Price) and Inspector Charas (Herbert Marshall). Essentially, Andre was building a transporter device and of course decided to test it on himself without any assistance or witnesses. As he stepped into the beam, an innocent fly also entered the streaming energy and, well, things happened.

There’s a sense of creeping menace as the film slowly unfolds its tale even though it somewhat telegraphs that clearly some body parts got mixed up. But it also builds up a nice sense of tension until the big reveal, when the cloth covering is removed and we see the giant fly head where Hedison’s handsome face should be. It’s a measured approach, letting things build without a lot of melodrama or screeching violins. We’re sold on believing this tale thanks to Owens’ strong performance with a nice turn from Price. Hedison is underrated here considering how much he has to do without speaking or having his face shown.

Of course, that’s saved for the great final shot, which horrified me as a kid and still brings backs strong memories.

Fox gets credits for the fine transfer of this CinemaScope classic, retaining some of the color and sprucing up the rest. The sound is similarly strong, letting the sound effects come through nicely. The new edition also comes with an interesting and amusing Commentary with Actor David Hedison and Film Historian David Del Valle. There’s a repeat of Biography: Vincent Price from 1997 (44:03); Fly Trap: Catching a Classic (11:30), which explores not only this but the two unnecessary sequels; Fox Movietone News (:54) recapping the film’s premiere in San Francisco; and, the original Theatrical Trailer (1:59)

Emily S. Whitten: Warehouse 13 Interviews – The Final Season

Whitten Art 130827I love Warehouse 13. It’s clever, it’s fun, it’s steampunky, it’s got tons of awesome historical references, and it’s full of great characters and relationships. Sadly, it’s now coming into its last, and shortened, six-episode season – but that’s not slowing the cast and crew down one bit! I got to talk with some of them at SDCC, and they shared both some retrospective thoughts on past seasons, and a bit of what we can expect to see in the final season! So read on for details!

Aaron Ashmore (actor, Steve Jinks)

Hi Aaron! Tell us what you can about the new season.

We’ve got a great way to wrap it up; and if you have been watching Season 4, Paracelsus has taken over the Warehouse, so we obviously have to deal with that. There’s also an issue with Claudia and her having a sister, and that’s a big thing that takes up a big part of the six episodes. And then our finale is the best; I was told that they wrote ten episodes, but only got six, so in the last episode, they basically jammed five episodes into one. So it’s a really compact, really cool finale. I’ve read it; we got to read all of them, which is not usually the case with TV; so we know how everything’s ending, and it’s really good. But I’m not going to tell you guys how it ends.

Are we going to see Claudia’s evil sister Claire on screen? Are you going to get to interact?

Yes, we do get to see that storyline unfold, and it’s definitely interesting. It’s not maybe exactly what people think it’s going to be. As per usual, there are always a couple of layers to it.

There’s been a lot of relationship upheaval in the last season. Is it going to be a happier time again this season?

I think like any family – and that’s really what the dynamic is – there are always tough times, but absolutely I think we will wrap up with everything being well; but we have to get through a lot of stuff to get there. So by the end, I think, yes, families usually work it out and we will; but there’s definitely some stuff to get through.

What’s your favorite artifact you’d like to see come back, or would want to own?

I would like the metronome that brought me back to life. It’s my favorite one because it let me come back to the show, which I was very grateful for, but I also think it was very interesting because we got to really see how using an artifact in the longer term affected everyone. And there’s I guess the astrolabe, where you get to see the long-term effects as well. But I don’t know, it’s kind of cool, a little metronome; I can put it on my fireplace or something like that.

What have been some favorite moments from the last five years?

It was one of my first scenes. I got on set, and I was with Saul and Allison and Eddie, and basically everybody was having so much fun, and they were improvising so much, and just riffing off of each other; and I was like, “holy…this is going to be a blast. Because these people are so into and passionate about what they do.” Because sometimes you go to set and people are just like, “Meeeeh.” but everybody was so into it, and that was probably one of my favorite moments, because I was like, “Oh wow, I think I’m going to actually get to be on a show that I’m going to really enjoy doing, and that everybody is so engaged in,” and that’s just not always the case; it’s really not. So…you know, it’s always funny when Eddie takes his shirt off, that’s always a bit of a giggle, and he enjoys that. But pretty much the whole thing. We really do have a good time together. And it’s sad that it’s coming to an end, but the show got 64 episodes, and I got about 30, and as a show, to go to four or five seasons is pretty good.

Are we going to see new characters even with the condensed season?

Yes; though not really long-term reoccurring characters. We definitely will see some characters from previous seasons. And of course Mrs. Frederic; and Abigail will come back. There are a couple of other ones that I don’t really want to say, because it’s maybe more of a surprise.

Is there anything about the Warehouse and its history that you’ve wanted to ask that hasn’t been answered?

These guys have been really good about explaining when something happens in the show; there is usually an amazing explanation, or at least something that makes sense. So not really, because they’ve painted such a beautiful picture of the place and how everything works.

Is there anything you’d like to see more of for Steve?

I really liked, and would like to see more of Steve’s romantic side if the show kept going. I think it was really cool last year that they touched on that, and showed his ex, and really showed how…I mean, Jinks is a little cranky sometimes, a little sarcastic, and I think that episode sort of showed where that was coming from. If you’re trying to have a relationship with somebody, and any little thing that they say, you can tell when they’re lying – even normal people get jealous and have all these emotions. So I think that really showed, in a way, how that shaped him. I thought that was an interesting thing. I’d like to see a little more romance with him. Maybe we will, maybe we won’t; I don’t want to give too much away, but I think for coming in halfway through the show, they really fleshed out a pretty interesting character and gave him a lot of dynamics. Some of the Buddhist stuff I’d like to see a little more. There was an episode where Steve was focusing this portal thing that Leena used to do, and Steve’s kind of Buddhist side came into play a little bit. Just little things like that, seeing different parts of his personality being used in the Warehouse for different things, that would be really cool to see in the future – in my mind, as I’m writing fiction after the show ends – I’ll probably put that in there.

They had talked about a spin-off at one point, with H.G. Wells. What would you like to see as a spin-off?

I think the H.G. spin-off would have been awesome. I think that’s the perfect character, very popular and such an interesting character. It could have been a period piece, and I think that would be cool. But, you know, Claudia’s the caretaker, so maybe a flash-forward, even. So you could do something that jumps forward a few years. There are tons of different things that you can do. But I really liked the H.G. idea, I thought that would have a great one.

Allison Scagliotti (actress, Claudia Donovan)

What can you tell us about the evil older sister thing?

When we last left Artie and Claudia having that argument at the end of Season 4, we learned that Artie was keeping the fact that she’s still alive from Claudia. So that affects the Claudia and Artie relationship in that their father-daughter dynamic is being tested. Claudia is an adult now. She’s saying, “You don’t need to protect me, you don’t need to shelter me.” But at the same time, you learn as an adult that there are some things you can’t fix. And it was very important with this storyline for Claudia to encounter that. She’s had, in the past, the advantage of the Warehouse, when saving her brother Joshua, and bringing Steve back to life; and she really needed to put on her big girl pants and recognize that some things you just can’t fix. But we have this amazing actress, Chryssie Whitehead, who’s playing my sister; and we have so much in common, we’ve bonded so much already, I hope this isn’t too much of a spoiler, but we get to sing together – we get to do another coffeehouse performance in Season 5 – so I’m really excited to play through this very full arc in the final six episodes.

What has been the biggest challenge over the past five years?

The biggest challenge is just keeping it fresh. Because even though it’s a dream job, it’s still a job. To come to set and work long hours and sometimes be staring at a green screen instead of real action happening, is challenging. You’ve got to keep your imagination on point and flexible. But it’s been a real joy and a workout as an actor to just sort of let go and give over to it.

Are there any aspects of the Warehouse and the show that you would like to see explored in the last few episodes? Or that we will see explored?

Yes. And I’m not going to tell you too much more, but the phrase that Saul came up with that I think is perfect is “Unexpected by inevitable.” The finale of the show does such wonderful things to honor what we’ve brought to life about the Warehouse, and preserves its legacy, so you feel like this mythology is really eternal.

What is your favorite artifact?

My favorite artifact is the one that I will be taking home with me when the series wraps, and that is the metronome that saved Steve.

You’re going to have to fight for it, because Aaron wants it too.

Aaron wants it? Oh, no no no, he’s not getting it. I have dibs. Sorry, Aaron, love you, but; I’m the one who plays music on a daily basis; I’ll actually use it.

Did you Sharpie the bottom of it?

That’s a good idea. I’m going to do that. First thing I do when I get back to Toronto on Sunday night.

Have you read all of the scripts for the final season?

Yes, I waited until we had all of them. Because we’re shooting a couple of them out of order. And then I just read them straight through; like marathoning the show.

Are you happy with Claudia’s arc?

So happy. I am so incredibly satisfied with Claudia’s resolution and potentially not resolution. I think the fans will love it; I loved it; I cried when I read the finale; I think we all did. It’s just satisfying. It’s exactly what I wanted to see happen for my character. It feels very triumphant, almost.

Any final season hints you can give us?

Sure; we have a telenovela episode; maybe I tap dance at some point; we go to a Renaissance Faire. And Eddie’s already said it on camera, so I might as well say it here: “Pyka,” question mark? I don’t know…

Do you have a favorite historical figure, where you’d like to see an artifact of theirs show up on the show?

Some feminist artifact from Susan B. Anthony. Or Woody Guthrie’s guitar has got to be an artifact, right? I mean, talk about telling the stories of the people. I’m sure Woody Guthrie’s guitar could probably bring about a whole movement. That would be cool.

What were some of the biggest surprises in the last few seasons?

You know, I was really surprised when, in Season 2, they threw the possibility of caretaker at me. I did not see that coming from miles away. But as unexpected as that was, I like how unexpected that was. You have this sort of street rat computer hacker, who has the potential to be Mrs. Frederic. It’s cool. Overwhelming but great.

Are you going to wear the suits when you become “Mrs. Frederic?”

We’re still deciding, actually! If that happens – what will it look like? Because it will probably be in the future. I don’t know; watch and see what happens!

Would you like to see a spin-off with Claudia?

Oh, man; I don’t know if you could build a spin-off about the caretaker. Because what’s so great about the caretaker is how mysterious she is. I think it would be a little tough to hang a show on someone where the great thing about the character is how much you don’t know and probably shouldn’t know.

What kind of spin-off would you want to see?

Well there was talk for awhile of Warehouse 12, and going back and centering a show around H.G. Wells. You know what, oddly enough, I would want to see Artie’s origin story. I would love to see Artie’s early years. Like his first year at the Warehouse. I think that would be so cool. Come on, you’d watch that, right?

(Emily note: Yes, yes I would!)

Jack Kenny (executive producer)

What can you tell us about the new season? I know you can’t spoil everything…

Ah, no, what do I care? Eddie will tweet everything anyway! I will tell you that it’s going to be a jam-packed season, and I think we’re going to make the fans incredibly happy. Every character gets fun stuff to do. Every character, especially in the finale, learns something new about themselves; about another character. They all find some really cool resolutions in their lives, and yet we can still move on.

Pete and Steve go to a Renaissance Faire chasing an artifact; Pete, Myka, and Artie fall into a telenovela in an episode; we have a big bad coming back; we meet Claudia’s sister; we find out why she’s a fairly dangerous woman; and we have some really cool resolution with that.

Do we find out more about Artie’s history with that as well?

Yes, we see flashbacks to how it happened when he first met Claudia, and how that all happened. It’s so moving and touching, and it was a beautiful scene between him and the little girl. And we get some resolution with Claudia and her sister. And Allison’s gotten so close with the actress who plays her sister; they’re like besties – it’s really fun.

And then the finale; you know, we had come up with ten stories before they said we only had six. So when we found out, I went to SyFy and said, “How about we do five, with five big penultimate episodes, and then six is a clip show?” And they said, “What do you mean a clip show?” I said, “Clips you’ve never seen.” So we get to see the culmination of five amazing episodes, with scenes you’ve never seen before. Really big stuff. Stuff that could make an entire episode. I don’t want to spoil it, but every cool story you think we could do, we’re doing. And everybody finds a little resolution; and it’s incredibly emotional, and incredibly moving, and there’s a nice resolution to the whole show, and you get the sense that it always goes on. And everybody learns something cool about somebody else. It’s a really fun, great end. I’m directing it at the end of the summer, and I’m very excited about it.

So we started a fight over there – because Allison and Aaron both want to take home the metronome. Which artifact would you take home?

Well, I have Magellan’s astrolabe at home. I stole Magellan’s astrolabe, because that’s the coolest one for me. Really mostly because the prop is so cool. They made this amazing brass astrolabe. It’s really cool. They do amazing props. But I’m not as…to me, it’s what the artifacts do that’s the coolest. Like I was just trying to remember, like the episode where they fell into a video game – I don’t even remember what caused that. But the fact that they were in a video game was cool. Like the noir episode, too. It doesn’t really matter how they end up there; what’s fun is that they’re there. So to me, what’s fun is the world the artifacts create and hurl them into. That, to me, is what’s exciting and fun about the show. We get to go to all these amazing places.

Once the show ends, could you conceivably do more? Like a movie of the week, or a spin-off?

Yes – we could do that. Like I said, the end will have great satisfaction for everyone; and yet, not an absolute. It will be very satisfying and very moving and sad, but not absolute.

Does the story dictate the artifacts, or do the artifacts dictate the story?

It’s “A.” The story dictates the artifacts. Because to me, the hard part is the story. I’ve been saying, “Hitler’s microphone,” for years; but we can’t find a story that makes it work. You find a story about a radio disc jockey who’d wreaking havoc in a city, then it could be like, “maybe that’s Hilter’s microphone he’s talking into.” So it’s the story that drives you to the artifact. Where do we want to throw them? What’s the fun place we want them to disappear into next? Sometimes we’ll do a story that’s just about characters. Like doing an episode where Pete and Myka essentially run into doppelgangers of themselves. Not real doppelgangers, but a Secret Service couple that they had worked with before; and we just wanted to do a story where they see themselves in another two people; and I don’t remember what the artifact was. Because sometimes it’s the story that’s interesting. It was an artifact that caused you to drown in salt water as you were standing there, so the water’s coming out of you. It’s a really cool effect. Robert Duncan McNeill came and directed it. He’s a wonderful guy. I love Robbie.

Were you inspired by other shows for the finale?

Not really. We didn’t want to do anything sad. We didn’t want people to die. We don’t kill anybody. I think what we wanted to do is, honestly, we wanted to do something fun for the fans. It’s their last show; the actors will go off and work on other things; but this won’t exist again for the fans. I wanted the fans to go, “Oh my God, that’s so great. I’m so glad that happened. Yeah, I’m sad that it’s over, but boy do I feel like I got what I needed from that.”

What about a spin-off series?

I want to do the H.G. series, desperately. We had three great outlines for that.

Can you tell us what were some of the biggest challenges over the last five years?

Producing a television show is always a challenge. It’s always exhausting. I think the biggest challenge for me was, I’m so in love with this show that I wanted to be on set every minute. I actually have this big director’s chair with a desk on it, so I could sit there and work, and re-write scripts and do notes and stuff, and watch the monitor, and then run in and pitch jokes, and pitch story changes, and give emotional beats, and then go back and sit in the chair again, and the challenge for me was just trying to do all of that at once. Because I just love it so much. Like most show-runners don’t go to the set that much – certainly not all the time; and I just live on the set, because I just love this cast so much, and we have such good energy together – we come up with such great stuff together, that it was important to me to be with them a lot.

What were your favorite episodes?

I really love every episode so much. “The Greatest Gift,” the Christmas episode that was an It’s A Wonderful Life take-off, was a fav. Because I loved seeing the family that didn’t know they were a family become a family. That was, to me, the show in a nutshell; that these people are such a family, they can’t not be a family. Even when they’ve gone off like that, they come back together, and they work together. And that is, to me, the crux of the show. I loved the introduction of H.G. Wells, and the introduction of Steve, and of Claudia. Whenever you introduce a new character, it’s so much fun. I loved meeting Pete’s mom. That was one of my favorite moments of the show, was when Pete turned and said, “Mom!” I love surprising people, in a good way. And in a scary way. Leena’s death, to me, was incredibly moving. When Pete and Myka found her; or when she turned, to save Artie; any moment that has to do with these people loving each other. Seeing Pete so incredibly torn about whether he should believe Paracelsus that he could save Myka. That, to me, was the perfect example of who Pete is. He’s an adult, and he’s a ten-year-old boy, who’s scared that the person he loves is going to die. So “I’ll do whatever I have to do.” You know. I love this show.

Eddie McClintock (actor, Pete Lattimer)

What can you tell us about the upcoming season?

I can say, one word: Pyka. That’s all I can say there. As for the season, it’s just more of what everybody’s come to expect from the show. When I found out that these would be the last six episodes of the show, I said, “So what are you going to do? Are you going to kill us all? Are you going to blow us up?” And Jack was like, “Nah, we’ve done all that.” And Jack, because he’s such an amazing writer of relationships, and of the human condition; I think that he’s ended the show in a perfect way. I think that if you have a sentimental bone in your body, you’ll be pretty strung out by it.

What artifact would you like to take home?

I’ve already gotten dibs on a Farnsworth and a Tesla. …’Cause I can fetch like $1500 bucks apiece for those on eBay.

What have been some challenges over the last several seasons?

I think the biggest challenge that comes to mind is leaving my family; for the last year, I was in Toronto for nine months. I have two sons, a six and a seven-year-old, and it’s hard. Leaving my wife and my boys? They get to visit sometimes, but the boys are in school now. If it weren’t for Skype, it would be impossible. I will just put the Skype on, and not even necessarily talk to anybody. Lynn would just turn it on, and put it in the room, so I can hear them playing, and getting ready for bed, or having dinner, so it felt kind of like I was in the room. That was the biggest challenge.

Other than that, I mean, what challenge could it be? I run around with a ray gun, I get paid to pretend that I’m saving the world; my mom is a Starfleet captain – who’s on a new show now, called Orange is the New Black. We’ve had a lot of great guest stars – sci-fi icons. It’s been amazing – I mean, I’m from Ohio; I wrestled in college; I was destined to be the funniest ditch-digger in my home town. You know, my high school football coach took me out in the hall and said, “You know, college isn’t for everyone.” So I was not voted most likely to end up where I’ve ended up. So the fact that I have been so fortunate – I owe a lot to Jack, and Syfy, and my cast.

Can you tell us about a typical day on set; and have you ever pranked anyone on set?

For me, I show up, I turn on the news in my trailer, I get makeup and hair, have some breakfast. A lot of times before work I go to the gym; I have this trainer, he’s about 230 pounds – I have like, a 34-inch waist; he weighs 230, and his waist is 32. He kicks my butt every morning; because they make me take my shirt off; and I don’t want my one-pack to fall over. So I work out, go in, and after hair and makeup I block. Blocking is where we read the scene and decide where we’re going to go; and as we go there, someone from the camera department puts tape down so the cameras can know where we’re going to go, and anticipate where we’re going and move in unison. After that I finish hair and makeup and go back and shoot it; and then in between takes, I screw around on the computer, I talk to my friends, I tweet, and…I mean, it’s a vacation. It’s all a vacation. As far as pranks are concerned? It’s all one giant prank to me. If I’m not giving somebody a wet willy or a wedgie…

Have they ever gotten you?

Well, Jack is the king of cunning. He’s very cunning. And he likes to make sure that I don’t think that I’m too cool for school. So he smacks me down emotionally a lot.

What have been your favorite episodes to work on?

This season in particular, what comes to mind is the noir episode. So much fun, and to work with Enrico Colantoni and Missi Pyle was great. And the pirate episode – I thought it really embodied what, for me, a Warehouse 13 episode is. It was this great adventure, and the effects weren’t too sloppy. The Spine of the Saracen episode, too. It was the first time in my career that I’d had the opportunity to play that emotion; and so I kind of walked away from that going, “Okay, maybe I can do this.” There’ve been so many. I’m proud of the show.

Tell us, if there was an Eddie McClintock artifact – what would it be, and what would it do?

Ooh, that’s a good one. Um, Eddie McClintock’s binky. The binky would help me to be a better father. I know it’s not exciting; but as a parent, I’m always wondering, “Oh my God, am I doing this right? Am I ruining my kid’s life?” If there was something that would help me be the perfect dad, that’d be great. But there’s always a downside to an artifact, so I guess it would be, I don’t know, a lifetime filled with poopy diapers.

•     •     •     •     •

… And on that note, thanks to the Warehouse 13 cast and crew for some great interviews, and until next time, Servo Lectio!

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis and Cowards

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold and Going Batty


Man of Steel Blu-ray Boasts 4 Hours of Bonus Material

MOS_3DBD Combo_2D SKEW (7-30)Burbank, CA, August 19, 2013 – The fate of mankind is in the hands of one man when Man of Steel arrives onto Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD 2-disc Special Edition, 3D Limited Collector’s Edition and Digital Download on November 12 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. In “Man of Steel,” Clark Kent is forced to confront his extraterrestrial past and embrace his hidden powers when Earth is threatened with destruction.

From Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures comes Man of Steel, starring Henry Cavill in the role of Clark Kent/Kal-El under the direction of Zack Snyder.

The film also stars four-time Oscar® nominee Amy Adams (The Master, 2012), Oscar® nominee Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road, 2008), Academy Award® winner Kevin Costner (Dances with Wolves, 1990), Oscar® nominee Diane Lane (Unfaithful, 2002), Oscar® nominee Laurence Fishburne (What’s Love Got to Do with It, 1993), Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer, Christopher Meloni, and Academy Award® winner Russell Crowe (Gladiator, 1992).

Man of Steel is produced by Charles Roven, Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas and Deborah Snyder. The screenplay was written by David S. Goyer from a story by Goyer & Nolan, based upon Superman characters created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster and published by DC Entertainment. Thomas Tull, Lloyd Phillips and Jon Peters served as executive producers.

Man of Steel will be available on Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack for $44.95, on Blu-ray Combo Pack for $35.99, on DVD 2-disc Special Edition for $28.98, and as a 3D Limited Collector’s Edition for $59.99.  The Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack features the theatrical version of the film in 3D hi-definition, hi-definition and standard definition; the Blu-ray Combo Pack features the theatrical version of the film in hi-definition and standard definition; the DVD 2-disc Special Edition features the theatrical version in standard definition; and the 3D Limited Collector’s Edition features the theatrical version of the film in 3D hi-definition, hi-definition and standard definition, and also includes a limited release metal “S” glyph with lucite glass stand.  The Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD 2-disc Special Edition and 3D Limited Collector’s Edition include UltraViolet* which allows consumers to download and instantly stream the standard definition theatrical version of the film to a wide range of devices including computers and compatible tablets, smartphones, game consoles, Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players. 


A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth.  As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do.  But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.


MOS_3DBD Combo_Premium_BeautyShotMan of Steel Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and 3D Limited Collector’s Edition contain the following special features:

  • Journey of Discovery: Creating “Man of Steel” – This immersive feature-length experience allows you to watch the movie with director Zack Snyder and stars Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Diane Lane and others as they share the incredible journey to re-imagine Superman.
  • Strong Characters, Legendary Roles – Explore the legendary characters of the Superman mythology and how they have evolved in this new iteration of the Superman story.
  • All-Out Action – Go inside the intense training regimen that sculpted Henry Cavill into the Man of Steel and Michael Shannon and Antje Traue into his Kyptonian nemeses.  Includes interviews with cast and crew.
  • Krypton Decoded – Dylan Sprayberry (Clark Kent, age 13) gives the lowdown on all the amazing Krypton tech, weapons and spaceships featured in “Man of Steel.”
  • Planet Krypton – The world’s first exploration of Krypton and its lost society.

Man of Steel DVD 2-disc Special Edition contains the following special features:

  • Strong Characters, Legendary Roles
  • All-Out Action
  • Krypton Decoded


On November 12, Man of Steel will be available for download in HD or standard definition from online retailers including but not limited to iTunes, Xbox, PlayStation, Amazon, Vudu, CinemaNow and more…

The film will also be available digitally in High Definition (HD) VOD and Standard Definition (SD) VOD from cable and satellite providers, and on select gaming consoles and broadband customers including Amazon, iTunes, etc.


*UltraViolet allows you to collect, watch and share movies and TV shows in a whole new way.  Available with the purchase of specially marked Blu-ray discs, DVDs and Digital Downloads, UltraViolet lets you create a digital collection of movies and TV shows.  Services such as Flixster and VUDU allow you to instantly stream and download UltraViolet content across a wide range of devices including computers and compatible tablets, smartphones, game consoles, Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players.  Restrictions and limitations apply.  Go to ultraviolet.flixster.com/info for details.  For more information on compatible devices go to wb.com/ultravioletdevices.  Restrictions and limitations apply.  Go to ultraviolet.flixter.com/info for details.



PRODUCT                                                                            SRP

Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack                                                         $44.95

Blu-ray Combo Pack                                                               $35.99

2-disc Amaray (WS)                                                               $28.98

3D Limited Collector’s Edition                                              $59.99


Standard Street Date: November 12, 2013

DVD Languages: English, Latin Spanish, Canadian French, Thai

BD Languages: English, Latin Spanish, Canadian French, Brazilian Portuguese, Mandarin

3D BD Languages: English, Latin Spanish, Canadian French, Brazilian Portuguese

DVD Subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish, Parisian French, Cantonese, Chinese (Traditional), Thai

BD Subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish, Parisian French, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese (Simplified)

3D BD Subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish, Parisian French, Brazilian Portuguese

Running Time: 143 minutes

Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and destruction and for some language


Shot in the Face Examines Vertigo’s Transmetropolitan

SHOT IN THE FACE coverSequart Research & Literacy Organization is proud to announce the release of its newest book of comics analysis, Shot in the Face: A Savage Journey to the Heart of Transmetropolitan, which is edited by Chad Nevett.

Published in 1997-2002, Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson’s Transmetropolitan became famous for its foul-mouthed protagonist, Spider Jerusalem, and his “filthy assistants.” But it’s also a long-form comics masterpiece, a sci-fi comic that succeeded despite the odds, and an examination of journalism and politics — and how they intersect (or fail to do so). This book explores all these topics and more, from multiple points of view. It also includes interviews with both Ellis and Robertson.

Contributors include Greg Burgas, Johanna Draper Carlson, Julian Darius, Sara K. Ellis, Ryan K. Lindsay, Patrick Meaney, Jason Michelitch, Chris Murphy, Chad Nevett, Kevin Thurman, Brett Williams, and Sean Witzke.

The book sports a cover by Kevin Colden and runs 164 pages. It retails for $12.99 in print and is also available on Kindle for $6.99.

About the Publisher: Sequart Research & Literacy Organization is a non-profit devoted to the study and promotion of comic books as a legitimate art form. It publishes books and documentaries aimed at making comics scholarship accessible. For more information, click here.

Pulp Fiction Reviews and the Scarlet Jaguar

Cover Art: Mark Sparacio

New Pulp Author/Publisher Ron Fortier returns with another Pulp Fiction Review. This time out Ron takes a look at The Scarlett Jaguar by New Pulp Author Win Scott Eckert.

By Win Scott Eckert
Meteor House
136 pages

Graced by a sensational, totally pulpish cover by Mark Sparacio, this little novella chronicles the second action packed adventure of Doc Savage’s daughter, Pat.  Well, not exactly Doc as created by pulp master Lester Dent, but rather his Wold Newton clone as envisioned by the late sci-fi author, Philip Jose Farmer.

For the uninitiated, Farmer postulated this fantastic idea that all the famous heroes and villains of the 19th and 20th Centuries for related by blood tracing their common ancestry to a dozen English men and women who had become exposed to a strange meteor’s radiation when it crashed by their carriages in a place called Wold Newton.  From that beginning these men and women became the originators of incredible heroes to include Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, the Shadow and the Spider, Captain Nemo, the Avenger, Phineas Fogg and the list goes on and on and on.  Well, you get the idea.

Whereas most of these fictional personages were licensed properties, Farmer could not use them in his fiction.  He solved this problem by giving them different names while clearly describing them so as to be recognized by readers.  Thus Doc Savage in the Wold Newton universe became Doc Wildman; he married and had a daughter named Pat.  Farmer had begun to write a Pat Wildman novel, “The Evil of Pemberley House,” but passed away before completing it.  That task was left to his loyal and talented protégé, Win Scott Eckert.  That book met with both public and critical success.  Now Eckert takes over the reins with this new tale and Pat Wildman couldn’t be in more capable hands.

Looking like a very alluring female version of her famous father, complete with a near perfect physique of a bronze hue and gold-flecked eyes, Pat and her British partner, Peter Parker own and manage Empire State Investigations using her inherited Pemberley Mansion as their headquarters. Soon after a very distraught young woman arrives on their doorstep asking their aid in finding her missing father, a British envoy to a small South American country, they are attacked by a bizarre menace that turns people into red glass and then shatters them.  Soon Pat, Peter and their client are winging their way to upstate New York where she plans on arming herself with some of her father’s powerful weapons before moving on to their final destination, the country known as Xibum.

No sooner do they land in the states then they are set upon by mercenary killers working for a twisted villain known as the Scarlett Jaguar.  Pat soon discovers this fiend has threatened to destroy the Panama Canal with his mysterious ray unless the entire country of Xibum is ceded to him by the British government.  Now their quest to find the missing dignitary becomes a deadly race against time.  Once in Xibum, Pat begins to learn long lost secrets of her renowned sire’s past adventures.  But can she take on his heroic legacy and save the day?

Eckert skillfully whips up a truly fun tale that blends both the sensibilities of classic pulp fare with some wonderful seventies James Bond touches that the savvy reader will recognize instantly.  It’s a heady mash-up that works extremely well.  “The Scarlett Jaguar” is a terrific new pulp actioner you do not want to miss.


ePulp Sampler e-Unearthed!


 A newly released action packed ePulp anthology unleashes 5 new tales inspired by the pulp magazines of the 1920s – 1940s. They are not for the faint of heart. Things will get intense and stuff on these pages can’t be unread.
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Get ready to explore strange worlds, visit forgotten pasts, and delve into parallel histories. Prepare to encounter an eclectic mix of heroes walking the line between life and death.
* Duck as Rurik’s blade carves demons in the Celtic landscape of dark fantasy.
As a rite of passage young Rurik faced a Demonhound. During his trial the creature’s flaming tentacles scarred Rurik leaving a mark coiling up his arm, shoulder and chest. After he triumphed in battle, Rurik carved a bone from the slain creatures body then sharpened it into strange looking sword. Now he patrols the badlands for more monsters and slays them with the very remains of their dead brethren. As the man grew so did his and legend.
* Witness the Dead Reckoner, a battlefield ghost looking for absolution in a weird war tale.
Anaxander Jones enlisted in the British Imperial Army when he was 18. That was in 1876. While assigned to the colonial troops in darkest Africa he found himself embroiled in the Zulu Wars. Armed with superior firepower and roman pride, the British war machine outclassed the savages toting spears and superstitions, but something misfired. Anaxander was infected by a Zulu curse, resurrected as the Dead Reckoner and damned to atone for the sins of empire. Now he’s yanked from battlefield to battlefield throughout history to witness the horrors of war, over and over again.
* Face Nazi occupation of USA with Wild Marjoram in an alternate history.
Wild Marjoram is a blonde haired blue eyed mechanic with a locket that holds the key to her past. This perfect Aryan specimen lives in hiding from the Nazi occupation. If they discovered her, she’s be condemned to the fate of a broodmare. But she’s not the type of girl to give up without a fight.
* Race through the Great Depression on an errand of mercy with Pandora Driver, a noir superheroine.
Pandora Driver was the relentless avenger of the common man. She sifts right from wrong in a realm where the villains were the local gentry and the heroes were outlaws. Pandora was a mistress of disguise who used sly audacity and an unstoppable Car-of-Tomorrow to unleash chaos into the halls of wealth and power.
* Fly across the universe with the Skyracos in a retro sci-fi adventure.
Skyracos are winged warriors who struggle to keep their humanity while executing unsavory missions on alien worlds. Though they hail from the planet Centrus, their technology is based in WWII with a hint of alien super-science. They operate on the frontier of the known and unimagined where they are forced to interpret crises and dispense justice on their terms, or so they think.
Whether you’re a nostalgian, dieselpunk, pulp fan,  sci-fi and fantasy aficionado, or ebook spelunker, there’s something in this collection for you to explore. However, I suggest you sample them all.
They ain’t Shakespeare. They’re  pure Pulp!

“ePulp Sampler Vol 1” is currently available on your favorite eBookstores. Download your free copy before it’s too late!

Barnes and Noble (*.99)
Google Play
Project Gutenberg


Pro Se Productions proudly announces the release of the first quarterly issue of its award winning magazine, PRO SE PRESENTS #19!

This extra sized issue Is Jam Packed with The Most Pulp Goodness One Magazine Can Handle. Thrill to Issue 19’s Feature story as the skull faced horrific avenger, BROTHER BONES, returns in another tale from Ron Fortier. Kevin Rodgers delivers science fiction horror in SLAUGHTERSHIP while A. M. Paulson’s popular Dog Detective returns for a new tale of the Flatfoot with a tail.  Robert Kingett shares a provoking, well crafted essay on one of literature’s most popular characters and Jilly Paddock imparts her sci fi wisdom by sharing THE THIRD WORST THING THAT CAN HAPPEN ON MARS.  Aaron Smith’s popular Hockey Star turned Cop, Picard returns and joins Ralph L. Angelo, Jr.s’ Torahg the Warrior in his magazine debut. Ron Capshaw’s hero Alan Bolt opens this issue and is followed by the debut of Doll Face, a disturbing, intriguing character from the mind of Charis Taylor. PRO SE PRESENTS #19 is a breakneck, nonstop cyclone of Horror, Sci-Fi, Hero, Mystery, and just plain Pulp! Featuring a great Brother Bones cover by Rob Davis as well as stunning design by Sean Ali and Ebook formatting by Russ Anderson, PRO SE PRESENTS #19 makes Quarterly look GREAT! From Pro Se Productions.

Pick up PRO SE PRESENTS #19  in print for $9.00 on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/mwvoaur.  Shop Pro Se’s store at http://tinyurl.com/ksyo9q4.  Get the issue from Barnes & Noble at http://tinyurl.com/kx2ud96.  Also available in Ebook Format for $2.99 via Kindle at http://tinyurl.com/l4q6coj, for the Nook at http://tinyurl.com/kodsrdj, and for multiple formats at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/338963.

For review copies or interviews, contact Morgan Minor at MorganMinorProSe@yahoo.com.Pro Se Productions proudly announces the release of the first quarterly issue of its award winning magazine, PRO SE PRESENTS #19! 

Pulp Fiction Reviews Fuzzy Nation

All Pulp’s Ron Fortier returns with another Pulp Fiction Review. This time out Ron takes a look at FUZZY NATION by John Scalzi.

By John Scalzi
A Tor Book
301 pages

In 1962 the late H. Beam Piper’s well loved science fiction novel, “Little Fuzzy” was published.  This reviewer was a sophomore in high school and has fond memories of discovering that book via the recommendation of a fellow student who was also an avid reader of science fiction.  For those of you unaware of the book’s premise, humans have traveled to the starts and giant corporations mine alien worlds for their resources.  On one such planet, prospector Jack Halloway discovers a race of furry little creatures and befriends them.  When evidence indicates that the “fuzzies” might actually be sentient beings it establishes the plot’s primary conflict.  By interplanetary law, if a planet has aboriginal sentient life, then it is off limits to all who would attempt to harvest its natural resources to include the mining outfit on Zarathustra, lush alien setting for the book.

Part science fiction adventure and courtroom melodrama, “Little Fuzzy” ends when Halloway and his friends win their case convincing an Interplanetary Judge to declare the “fuzzies” sentient beings and thus the unquestionable owners of the planet.  The book was hugely successful at the time of its release and Piper went on to write sequels, several actually published after his death in 1964.  Beside these, other authors were hired to write new Fuzzy novels; these included William Tuning and John Smith.  The late Ardath Mayhar wrote “Golden Dream,” a novel telling the self-same story only from the perspective of the Fuzzies themselves.  In her book she even invented the fuzzies’ language; parts of which were used by Wolfgang Diehr who wrote two new Fuzzy novels.

We relate all this because my own connection with the series is a personal one on several levels.  After reading several of the sequels, we wrote the publishers suggesting how the original Piper book do extremely well if done as a childrens’ book.  In 1983 such a volume was produced; “The Adventures of Little Fuzzy” written by Benson Parker and beautifully illustrated by Michael Whelan.  The aforementioned Ardath Mayhar was our writing mentor at the time of her involvement with the license and we recall how happy she was with her efforts.  As most fans of the Star Wars movies know, it was the “fuzzies” that inspired George Lucas’ Ewoks and one of the TV network channels produced a made-for-TV movie loosely based on Piper’s though as I recall, no credit to that fact was ever stated.

Which brings us to “Fuzzy Nation,” John Scalzi’s rebooting (his own words) of this science fiction classic released in 2011.  Having experienced many television and movie “remakes” we have to admit to being really curious to see how such a thing would work with fiction.  How much does the new writer keep from the original and how much does he or she change?  All valid questions that filled my thoughts as we started reading page one.  What is obvious from the start is that Scalzi understands the essence of Piper’s plot, the tale he wanted to tell and yet he strips it down to suit his own style of writing; one we admire greatly.  Scalzi is one of those science fiction writers who, though knowledgeable about the science he is extrapolating, he never uses hard facts to get in the way of his story spinning.  Our protagonist is still Jack Halloway, the lone independent ore prospector, though now he’s younger and a whole lot less altruistic.  In fact he’s a lawyer who was disbarred back on Earth.  This not only adds a new element but of makes Halloway a logical champion when we get to the book’s courtroom scenes.  All the original “fuzzies” are back, pretty much as we remembered them as is the giant mega corporation gutting the planet Zarathustra.  Whereas the old supporting cast is gone and Scalzi has replaced them with his own creations, both good guys and villains.

Scalzi’s easy-to-read prose is one of his greatest assets as a writer.  Most of his books are intimate and he has an unerring way of pulling the reader into his tale; a result of truly craftsman-like pacing.  There are very few slow moments in “Fuzzy Nation” and we were unable to put the book down once we had reached the half-way point.  “Fuzzy Nation” is a wonderful book and worthy “rebooting” of a beloved sci-fi classic.  Not to overly repeat ourselves, H. Beam Piper’s cautionary tale of environmental mismanagement is at its core a David vs Goliath fable and there have never been any cuter Davids than “the fuzzies.”  Scalzi embellishes that fable for our times in a truly exciting and fun new interpretation.  This is one of those rare books we want to give to all my friends, you among them.  Go out and read it.  Now.

Interview With Steampunk Octopus Artist Brian Kesinger

LA-based illustrator, animator, and artist Brian Kesinger has just released his first book, Walking Your Octopus: A Guide to the Domesticated Cephalopod. I first came across Brian a few years ago when I was the judge for the WeLoveFine steampunk tee shirt art contest, where he submitted “Walkies for Otto”. He won that contest and thus started the Internet’s love affair with his adorable characters Otto and Victoria. Since then, Otto and Victoria have grown to encompass books, prints, shirts, and more. Brian was good enough to sit down with me for an interview on his new book, upcoming projects, and the very important question of “why the octopus?”

ComicMix: How did you get started in the arts?

Brian Kesinger: I was fortunate enough to born into a family of artists. The thing is they were all musicians! In fact I’m the only one in my family who couldn’t play an instrument. I was much more fond of drawing than practicing piano. My parents recognized this and were able to support my artistic endeavors all through school and that support has certainly helped make me the artist I am today.


ComicMix: How did all this Steampunk style art you started doing in 2010 come about?

Brian Kesinger: I had been drawing steampunk art before I knew of that term. Back in 2000 I was doing layout and background design for Walt Disney animation studios on the film, Atlantis. It was on that film that a grew fond of drawing submarines, gears and gadgets. After that I moved on to the film treasure planet where I continued my alternate history aesthetics that time with the mixture of tall ships and sci-fi. It wasn’t until recently that I started doing my own steampunk art and I think my passion for the subject matter stems from the education I had on those films.”



ComicMix: Can you tell us a little about the new book you have coming out?

Brian Kesinger: My book, walking your octopus: a guidebook to the domesticated cephalopod is based on two of my more popular original characters, Otto and Victoria. It’s not your typical storybook. It reads more like an owner’s guide to pet octopuses. (Think of a Victorian era “puppies for dummies”)
It’s sort of a satirical look at how we all can get a little carried away with how we raise our pets. It’s certainly inspired by my own dog Scout but also inspired by the ups and downs of raising two young children with my wife. My hope is that the book speaks to not only steampunk fans but pet owners and parents as well.


ComicMix: Why the Octopus?

Brian Kesinger:  I find octopuses extremely fun to draw. It is a real challenge inventing eight different things for them to do in every image. They are nature’s original multi-tasker and they certainly have captured the imagination of a lot of people. Along with the squid and other Cephalopods, octopuses seem to be a sort of theme animal for steampunk so when I set forth trying to render an image of a high class Victorian lady and her boutique pet the choice was obvious. What was not obvious was how popular Otto has become since I first drew him a year ago. He has inspired fan art, tattoos and I’ve even seen girls cosplay Victoria and conventions around the country! And for that I am so grateful and it keeps me drawing octopus.

Brian Kesinger's Tea Girls

ComicMix: What other things do you have coming up that we all should look forward to?

Brian Kesinger: Well my first love is movies. It’s why I have wanted to work in animation. So I have been developing several short film ideas and in addition to that I am in the very early stages of developing a full length feature of Otto and Victoria’s adventures. I would love to see a beautifully rendered steampunk animated film and I can’t think of any characters better suited for that than Otto and Victoria. Stay tuned for more details!

Annie Award-winning artist Brian Kesinger has loved to draw ever since he could remember. During his senior year of high school, Brian was accepted to the Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank, California as the second youngest animation hire in the history of the company. At just 18 years old, Brian became a layout artist and in his 16+ years at Disney Animation, he has worn many artistic hats from visual development to story artist. In 2011, he was honored with a prestigious Annie award for his story work on the hit Disney TV holiday movie “Prep and Landing.” Brian’s most recent film at Disney is the Academy Award-nominated film “Wreck It Ralph” – and if you listen closely, you’ll hear him lend his voice talents to comic bad guy, “Cy-borg.” Inspired by his love of gadgets and fantasy, his delightful steampunk characters celebrate Victorian sensibility and timeless beauty with a dash of geekiness thrown in for good measure. His original “Tea Girls” art is created with different kinds of actual tea – resulting in an innovative visual affect.