Hey there gang! Eugene Son is a busy man; he’s a longtime comics/pop culture fan and he’s got a terrific job. He writes for the Marvel Super Hero Hour animated series, the new Green Lantern animated series, the upcoming Ultimate Spider-Man animated series, the hit Cartoon Network series Ben 10, as well as for the younger readers comics Marvel Adventures, The Marvel Super Hero Squad comic and the Ben 10 comic from DC. Eugene was kind enough to answer some of our questions. Our correspondent Tony Wolf chewed the fat with Eugene via the interwebs, and here’s the interview!
TONY WOLF: Hey Eugene. What are you working on at the moment?
EUGENE SON: Hey, Tony. I’m writing on the new Ben 10 series for Cartoon Network and the upcoming Ultimate Spider-Man animated series for Marvel, in addition to some other fun tv and comic book projects that I’m not allowed to reveal yet.
TONY: Ooooh, mysterious secrets! Comics fans love those. So you’ve written a lot for kids’ comic books, like Super Hero Squad for Marvel, Cartoon Network (Ben 10), Marvel’s “Adventures” line) – do you find that writing for children’s properties calls for a different world or different style of writing, aside from the obvious fact that you deal with less ‘adult’ subject matter?
EUGENE: I’ve been lucky in that I approach kids’ comic books the same way I approach kids’ television – which is don’t think of it as kids’ material. Kids know when they’re being pandered to and talked down to in television. Plus bad kids’ television grates on moms’ ears and mom changes the channel. So the easiest thing to do is write stuff that I would enjoy as a kid, as a teen, as an adult, and as a geek. If the stories are clever and smart and you hit that right spot, adults will enjoy it along with the kids.
TONY: What’s “Nerd Corps”? I saw that on your list of your projects and was curious… Tell us about that.
EUGENE: “Nerd Corps Entertainment” is a fantastic animation studio up in Vancouver, British Columbia. Headed by the amazing Ace Fipke, they’re the team that did shows like Dragon Booster, Storm Hawks, League of Super Evil, Hot Wheels Battle Force 5, and they just announced a new Max Steel series. I was lucky enough to get to work for them on Storm Hawks and another upcoming series that they’re producing.
TONY: Sounds very cool. What’s the pitch behind Generator Rex, and what’s it like working with the Man of Action production team?
EUGENE: I wasn’t there when Man of Action pitched Generator Rex, but it was loosely based on a comic book they had done years ago called, “M. Rex: King of Machines.” Eventually Man of Action developed it at Cartoon Network with crazy-talented supervising producer John Fang and uber-talented story editor Rob Hoegee and it became Generator Rex.
As for Man of Action, I got to meet and hang out with them during the first Ben 10 series, but my first time working with them was on Generator Rex. Working with them is an absolute blast. Individually all four guys are full of great ideas, then you put them all together and there’s always an abundance of great ideas and concepts. Plus all four are terrific nice guys – funny and great to hang out with.
TONY: Every aspiring writer out there wants to know – how did you first break into TV writing? And what’s the weirdest job you worked before you started writing professionally for TV and comics?
EUGENE: I entered screenwriting contests. Mostly the bigger prestigious ones (avoid the no-name fly-by-night screenwriting contest scams that have proliferated online). One year the animation studio Klasky-Csupo sponsored a pair of screenwriting contests and I was one of the winners.
I sent the winning entry around to a whole bunch of agents. One of them hip-pocketed me, introduced me to the right people, and eventually I got hired.
I didn’t really have a ‘weirdest job.’ I worked in tech support, which leads to weird stories, but the job itself was pretty normal.
TONY: What was your first comic, and when did you really start getting into comics? What inspired you to be a writer?
EUGENE: My first comic book was G.I.Joe #16. A kid at school had an extra beat-up copy and gave it to me. Started really getting into comic books with either Avengers #269 or Uncanny X-Men #207. The whole late 80s/early 90s.
Not sure what inspired me to be a writer. I was a natural story-teller. Ever since I was a little kid, I liked to tell other people what I saw. If you want to get psychological, I can also point to some events from my childhood but I don’t want to bore you. Let’s just say that reading and watching stories, then making up and telling my own stories kept me relatively sane through some tough years.
TONY: You’ve written for the new Green Lantern animated series, GI Joe: Renegades, Marvel’s Avengers cartoon – which was the bigggest fanboy geekout for you to write for?
EUGENE: Tough question. Green Lantern was special, since it was both the first Green Lantern series and a Bruce Timm series. Avengers was special, since one of my first ever comic books was an Avengers with Kang and I got to write an animated Avengers with Kang.
But I guess I’ll go with G.I.Joe: Renegades. I was kinda obsessed with the toys and comics and cartoons as a kid, and I was kinda obsessed with the toys and comics and cartoons as an adult.
TONY: Was your first writing gig for one of the Turtles animated shows? Seems like you have some early credits for a Turtles cartoon in 2004.
EUGENE: Yes, that was the first gig. My agent also represents the amazing Michael Ryan, who was the head writer on Turtles. He needed someone who could jump in and write a Turtles on short notice. My agent sent over my sample, for some reason he liked it, and he gave me my first
shot. I ended up writing two episodes at the end of that fourth season.
TONY: Were there other geeks in your family growing up?
EUGENE: My younger brother programs video games, but he’s nowhere near as bad as me.
TONY: I saw on your Twitter : >> what I spent my Sunday building:
Tell us more about this. Do you make a lot of models? Can you make me one of Galactus?
EUGENE: Ha, it’s not a model. That’s my prized G.I.Joe U.S.S. Flagg playset. I rarely build it because it’s six-feet long and takes up half a room.
TONY: You wrote some Marvel Super Hero Squad episodes with the characters Thanos and Devil Dinosaur – were those extra-satisfying to write, as a fan? What was your favorite bit to write in a SHS ep.?
EUGENE: Sure. I did have to pinch myself a few times to make sure it wasn’t a dream that they were entrusting me to write up something appropriate for such amazing characters. On the other hand, the Marvel Universe is such a big sandbox with so many great characters. I would have had just as much fun if they’d told me to write a Big Wheel vs Unus the Untouchable fight.
My favorite bit to write? Tough question, but I’ll go with anything with the Mayor of Super Hero City – Stan “the Man” Lee. Not only is it just fun to be in the same room with comic book royalty, but he’s really funny with a terrific sense of comedic timing, and always willing to perform a bit – no matter how silly. There’re lines that I can’t believe he delivered straight-faced. And for someone his age, Stan Lee is ridiculously spry, energetic, and strong. We’d get tired trying to keep up with him.
TONY: What’s on your list of goals as far as your next writing jobs?
EUGENE: Oh man, we’d be here all day. The list of writing jobs that I haven’t done yet that I want to do is a very long list.
TONY: Okay: Here’s the BIG question, Eugene. What’s the one interview question you WISH interviewers would ask you?
EUGENE: “Who are you and why are you not wearing pants?”
TONY: Nice one. What comics out there now, or trends in the industry, are exciting you?
EUGENE: I love the stuff coming out of Marvel. Brian Michael Bendis on Avengers and Ultimate Spider-Man, Ed Brubaker on Captain America, Matt Fraction on Iron Man. I haven’t read Chris Yost’s Scarlet Spider yet, but it’s Yost, so you know it’s gonna be great. The DC 52 has been a hit, but the DC book I’m really looking forward to is more Adam Beechen on Batman Beyond. Can’t forget IDW – I’m eagerly waiting for Thom Zahler’s next Love and Capes, Larry Hama’s G.I.Joe: A Real American Hero is pure goodness, and what John Rogers is doing with Dungeons and Dragons is a punch-you-in-the-face masterpiece.
I can’t forget to plug Geoffrey Thorne and Todd Harris’ “Prodigal: Egg of First Light” which just came out in paperback. And if you’re looking for a great graphic novel for kids, check out Dan Santat’s “Sidekicks” about pet superheroes.
As for trends, I’m really optimistic about the integration and cooperation between NY and Hollywood. It used to be comic book companies did their thing and the movie/tv people did their thing and the two sides weren’t interested in working with the other side. Now it’s completely different. The comic book guys and tv/movie guys WANT to work together, and I think that’s good news for comic book geeks.
TONY: I know you’re probably sworn to secrecy about this project, but can you tell us any little tidbits about the Ultimate Spider-Man animated show?
EUGENE: I can’t really reveal anything too specific about the series until it starts airing (April 1st on Disney XD!), but we’re all really excited about the series. It’s the web-crawler we all know and love, but it’s unlike any previous animated Spider-Man we’ve seen.
TONY: Thanks again for talking with us, Eugene. It was a blast!
EUGENE: You too, Tony! Thanks for having me.
You can check out Eugene’s website at http://www.eugeneson.com/ and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/eugeneson !
Tony Wolf is an actor, singer, and voice-over guy. He’s also a pop culture fan and illustrator, and can be found at IMDB at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1061869/ and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tonywolfness . Plus, you can see his comedy videos and geek culture celebrity interviews on http://www.youtube.com/theactionroom .