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Gary Hartle: Directing He-Man's Fate, Part Two

In part one, Hartle spoke about his background and tackling the psychology of He-Man. Today, he tells us about Jackie Chan's influence, keeping track of a continuity more complex than pre-Crisis DC, and the perils of trying not to disappoint rabid fandom.

MS: So how long have you been working on this project?

GH: I worked all through summer. Not exactly sure, I think a year this December.

MS: Just looking at your art in this series you seem to be really into the Kung Fu style art. Do you like this style?

GH: When I worked on Jackie Chan, which this show takes a lot from, we had a lot of stuff in books, about movements all around us. So when we do the scenes we try to use leverage, like when you…oh, you didn't see Show 2 …

MS: Don't remind me, I feel bad already.

GH: (laughs) Well, the pilot was supposed to be a two parter, and they overwrote it a little. So we expanded it to a three parter, and that made show 2 a little short, so we ended up adding a little more to fill it out, and we used it all.

But there is a scene where Teela jumps up, runs the staff down Adam's back, and down to the knees and then flips him, and it's all an actual move.

Jackie Chan says it's all about the beginning pose, and the ending pose makes it believable. Everything in the middle doesn't matter. So everyone has a fighting style. Teela depends on intuition and leverage, so she tends to move before it happens. Man-At-Arms, he used to use a lot of martial arts, but now he uses smaller things to get the job done. He's our tech man.

And He-Man uses all that stuff but relies a lot on brute strength. We even get to see who trains Man-At-Arms, and I can't tell you much about that one, but we see the person who trained him.

MS: So we will get a back story origin for every character?

GH: For every character. Even Queen Marlena has a lot of things on her mind and we will see what they are.

After the first pilot, we had a lot of people write in and tell us how they noticed Trapjaw didn't have the jaw yet, or the mechanical arm. It's a challenging project because there are more than 200 characters in this universe, and we will be seeing some new ones also.

Everything is big: the explosions the ships, the weapons, so everything is in epic proportion, and it's sometimes killing us and the people overseas. It's like making a mini Star Wars. Its very hard to keep track of who does what and what goes where.

MS: You guys must have a wall with a huuuge chart on it.

GH: Yes we do… Sometimes the writers will forget that they have done something, but that chart keeps us all on track and true to what we've done in the past. Unless they are evolving. Like Teela, as you know, is The Sorceress' daughter.

MS: No I didn't really know that. I just remember The Sorceress has an orange eagle, and Evil-Lynn has a purple one, and all the bad guys have cooler stuff.

GH: (laughs) That's always the case with bad guys. The old show portrays The Sorceress as a mother figure, but in ours she is distant and doesn't speak much. And Teela keeps asking Man-At-Arms about her, who is she, where does she come from, and there is a scene where he then goes to Grayskull and storms in telling her "you have to tell her now" type of things, so it will be interesting.

MS: Where'd the inspiration for Grayskull's design come from?

GH: Mattel did, and we will have an episode showing how Grayskull used to be gleaming like Eternia, and how the pit used to have towns surrounding it, but it all fell during a horrible disaster.

We will have shows that will have you hopefully asking, so what happened here? Who is that? Where did he go?

MS: And you will say "Tune in next week for an exciting episode of…"

GH: (laughs) I want this to be interesting, and season 1 will show you the characters. Season 2 or 3 will be set up by season 1 and we will tear it apart.

MS: You really feel excited about this project.

GH: Yeah. I like working with the people at Mattel. They're interesting, and supportive, and everyone seems to be online with where we're going , and where they are going. It's a good partnership, which is not easy to do.

MS: Any foreseen movies?

GH: They had talked about it, because when we first were building it and scenes were coming together we were getting nervous that we had a hit on our hands, and when it got out there the rating just scooped everybody.

MS: At Comic con you guys put together a trailer with some music and various scenes…

GH: How'd you like it?

MS: I thought it was awesome.

GH: Most people after watching the preview pilot said they noticed how Skeletor used to always run away from battles, but now he doesn't do that. I personally think he's like our Darth Vader.

We had these two heroes running at Evil-Lynn, and you see her use this big force field and destroy the forest, and those heroes fly away at the explosion. Shas this lazy look in her eyes, and they fall behind Man-At-Arms, and she just says "Don't crowd me boys."

MS: How's Cringer not going to talk? Just meow?

GH: We try to just get Cringer to act out what he is saying, and hopefully you'll be able to understand everything he is trying to say like that. Think of him as Chewbacca. He doesn't say a word in English, but you know what he wants to convey, through body language etc. That's our Cringer.

MS: So no, "What did we learn today, Kids?"

GH: Not for the American audience, although that is in for I believe the other markets, and the DVD set.

MS: DVD set? When?

GH: They didn't tell me when they plan to have it, but it will have a bunch of special features. They made all the artists here collect artwork of everyone here with big heads and little bodies. Don't know if the fans would like that though, they want to see the heroes, not us.

Mish'al and Gary went off on a tangent about Star Wars and the Batman movies, then worked their way back to the topic on hand…

MS: So do you think people are harsher when rating TV shows, as opposed to movies?

GH: No, it's just the same. The problem with TV, and it will always be this way, is that we have a harsher deadline. We have to do things quickly, and overseas work is really hard with all the things they do. Disney animators would have something to compete against if overseas animators were left to really animate. We give them deadlines, and they do miracles by cranking them out.

And I don't think feature films would stand up to the pressures that TV has for its creators. And the great thing is that you have room for improvement next week, if you have the drive to do so. Look at The Simpsons. Look at the early years and how it progressed, because there was a will to do better.

He-Man was getting so much hubbub on the internet, and it just made the writers and myself work harder on making this series.

MS: Were you surprised at the fandom?

GH: Yeah. Before I started working on this I thought, oh, it's just another cartoon, but one of the guys at Mattel took me to the internet and showed me this site that was getting thousands of hits, and it made me nervous for a while. It was amazing, how the fans kept it alive for so many years. And we hope everyone comes and joins us in Eternia every week.

Mish'al Samman

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