of the Night
In 1994, Disney released Gargoyles, their first (and only to date) animated action/drama series. Gargoyles was one of the few shows that rivaled the Batman/Superman Animated Series in terms of quality storytelling and animation. Additionally it has built a large and dedicated fanbase over the last few years. Now, for the tenth anniversary and eight long years after the last episode, Gargoyles is finally coming to DVD later this week, when the complete first season will be released. Earlier this week, Gargoyles creator Greg Weisman took the time to answer a few questions about the DVDs and the future of Gargoyles:
Blair Marnell: For some of our readers who may not be familiar with Gargoyles, can you describe the series?
Greg Weisman: Sure. Gargoyles is basically about a small group of tenth century, medieval gargoyles who had a spell cast on them a thousand years ago, putting them to sleep. But gargoyles sleep as stone statues. So by definition, they were frozen in stone. The terms of the spell were that the gargoyles would sleep “until the castle rises above the clouds.” Now, from the standpoint of the mage that cast the spell, that was like saying “until kingdom come”. But he didn’t count on modern technology and a very, very wealthy man who could literally move the castle up above the clouds. Having done that, our six gargoyles burst forth from stone and awake from a thousand years of sleep. They wake up in Manhattan in 1994 and it’s a brave new world. And they’ve got to make massive adjustments, make new friends and they make a bunch of new enemies and they’ve got a few old enemies hanging around too. It’s an action/drama, so it’s heavy on that, but it’s got humor, romance, pathos and just a little bit of social concern in there as well.
main character is Goliath, who’s the leader of the gargoyles. He’s a strong,
optimistic character who’s been through some tough stuff in his life but
basically believes that someday gargoyles and humans will be able to live in
peace together. He believes strongly in the gargoyle way of life, which is to
protect those weaker than you and to protect each other. With him are four other
gargoyles and a gargoyle beast. The other four gargoyles are: Hudson, who is an
elder statesman and was the leader before Goliath. Goliath looks to him as
something like a mentor. Then there are three younger, teenage gargoyles:
Brooklyn, Lexington and Broadway… they picked their own names. Finally there’s
a gargoyle beast named Bronx. Later in the second season, we introduced another
regular gargoyle, Angela, who is Goliath’s daughter.
Our other major characters are: Elisa Maza, a New York City police detective who befriends the gargoyles in the pilot and becomes their main human ally. Then we’ve got a number of great villains, but two in particular are recurring: David Xanatos, who is a billionaire industrialist who owns the world’s tallest building in Manhattan, the Erie Building. He’s the one who moved the gargoyles and their castle to Manhattan from Scotland. Finally, last but not least, Demona, who was once Goliath’s mate. They once loved each other but Demona has intense hatred for humans and is determined to destroy humanity. So Goliath and Demona, once in love are now completely at odds. In fact, by the end of the second season, it was clear that Goliath and Elisa, the human cop had fallen for each other.
BM: Can you talk about how the fans have kept the show alive
eight years after it went off the air?
GW: Almost from the beginning we had a great fan following for this series. I did two seasons of the show and after I left the show they did a third season for ABC called The Goliath Chronicles without me. But the fans have been there from day one and the show has never been off the air. If it wasn’t making new episodes, it’s been in reruns, first on the USA network and more recently on Toon Disney. So we always get new fans as well, but these dedicated fans, starting in 1997 began holding annual Gargoyles conventions called The Gathering of The Gargoyles (which can be checked out at http://www.gatheringofthegargoyles.com). These annual conventions have just been a load of fun. I’ve gone to every single one. And there have been other guests as well: voice actors, artists, writers… we’ve had huge turnout of cast and crew at various times at these conventions. These fans have just been truly faithful and have always kept the flame alive, largely on the internet, at these conventions and in other ways as well. That’s helped me keep my passion for the project alive. And I am passionate about the project. Always was and always will be, I think. But it makes it a lot easier to stay passionate when you know people want to see more. These fans have worked hard and fought hard to get the DVD set, which is being released December 7th, 2004, a few short days from now. It’s the complete first season and it’s the direct result of the fans pushing for it and because of their desire I have also pushed for it. Disney sort of turned around after a few years and said “you know, maybe this would be a good idea”. These fans are the reason this property is still in Disney’s consciousness.
BM: What are some of the features of the DVD set?
GW: The main thing it has is the first season, all thirteen episodes uncut. There have been previous VHS releases where the pilot episodes were cut down into a single movie. This will have all five episodes of the pilot uncut plus the remaining eight episodes of the first season, also uncut. The first five episodes have a commentary track by myself and my fellow producer, Frank Paur and Keith David, the voice actor who played Goliath. There are also a couple of mini-features, one is the original series pitch from 1993 that we used to successfully sell the show, both internally at Disney and to stations across the United States. So, you’ll get to see me looking a lot younger. [laughs] The second feature is a mini-documentary on The Gathering of The Gargoyles most recent convention in Montreal, Canada. Our convention moves to a different location every year. We’ve been in New York three times, Dallas, Williamsburg, Orlando, Los Angeles and in this past year we were in Montreal. Disney sent a camera crew up there and shot a whole load of footage and edited it down to a pretty cool little documentary where the fans, myself and Keith David all talk about the show and what it meant to us.
It’s a nice little package and I hope it does really well. Because I think if it does really well it means we’ve got a good shot at getting the second season out on DVD and maybe even original material down the line. I also think this may pave the way for other Disney Television Animated shows to go out on DVD, because there are a lot of great shows that are still unreleased, like Gummi Bears, DuckTales, Darkwing Duck, Talespin, and Aladdin.
BM: What do the DVDs mean to the future of the Gargoyles
GW: To some extent, I think this is a make or break opportunity for the fans of Gargoyles. If this DVD sells well, REALLY well, then Disney is going to see that they can make money on this property. And if they can do that, they’ll want to continue making money from this property. They’ll release more DVDs and potentially other things as well. There’s nothing I’d like more than to come back and do an original direct to DVD animated Gargoyles movie, or a series or one of the six spin-off sequel or prequel series we developed. I’d also love to do a lot of ideas and material that I’ve got in my head and on paper that we didn’t get to cover in the 66 episodes I worked on. I’d love to do Gargoyles novels or comic books. My background is actually in comic books, I worked for DC for years and years. I’d really enjoy doing a Gargoyles comic book. If this DVD demonstrates that there is money to be made here then I think that stuff has a good chance of all happening. Touchstone even has a live action movie in development, which is on hold at the moment, but again it depends on the DVD. This is a chance for the fans to prove to Disney in an objective way that they are ready, willing and eager to support Gargoyles.
The flip side of this, of course, is a little scary. Which is if the DVD doesn’t sell that well then Disney is going to shrug and sort of walk away from it. And it will be more difficult to get people interested in pursuing more stuff in the Gargoyles universe. I’m very excited about the DVD release and I’m crossing my fingers. I’m extremely hopeful but also a little nervous. If it does sell well, then the sky’s the limit.
This Has A “Stone by Day, Warriors by Night” Factor of Ten Out of Ten