The 'Ben 10' Interview

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Cartoon Network’s original show “Ben 10” is the perfect blend of superhero excitement, science fiction fun and animated action. Developed from a concept from the comic book/multimedia creator collective Man of Action (Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, Duncan Rouleau and Steven T. Seagle) by cartoon industry veterans Sam Register and Tramm Wigzell, it has mesmerized younger audiences.\ \ \

Zadzooks offers an exclusive Web interview with Mr. Wigzell that not only concentrates on “Ben 10” but his role at the network and excellent reading habits. \ \

What is your job title? I am the Director of Development at Cartoon Network and I am the executive in charge of production for “Ben 10.” \ \ \

What is the show about? A 10-year old boy named Ben Tennyson who finds a powerful weapon that attaches to his wrist and allows him to turn into 10 different alien beings from different worlds. The device, an Omnitrix, is powerful enough that an army outfitted with these weapons can conquer any planet in the universe. Of course, on earth, these are great super powers for Ben, and with help from cousin Gwen and grandpa Max, he travels the country and uses the powers to fight evil. \ \ \ What is the genesis of the show? Man of Action pitched the idea to Sam Register and myself. We had just been working on “Teen Titans” together and were looking for an original superhero idea, something that was not based on a pre-existing comic book or movie. They pitched us an idea that was not quite the same as what it evolved into over the development process but it was still the core idea of one kid turning into ten different heroes. \ \ \ What are some of your duties with “Ben 10?” I read all scripts and give notes. I also attend story arc meetings, look at storyboards and rough prints . I am very involved in making sure the show keeps its freshness but retains its history for the fans. \ \ \ What happens in the third season? The bigger story involves … I can’t give it away. Season three has a spookier edge to it, real fun stand alone episodes and includes a glimpse into what might be. \ \ \ What other shows have you worked on at Cartoon network? “Justice League,” “Teen Titans,” “The Batman” and “Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi Show.” \ \ \ Why did “Teen Titans” go off the air? We all felt like it was time to end the show. It ran for five seasons, which is a long time for an action show. Generally, these types of shows have a really short shelf life. What made Titans work so well is it was so character oriented and each were ones that viewers wanted to be around and enjoy their humor . \ \ \ What comic book did you read growing up? I loved superhero books and still love superhero books. \ \ \ When I was kid, I read the DC lineup {emdash} Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, all of those characters. It also did not hurt that “Super Friends” was on at the time. Marvel was also very exciting especially when I became a pre-teen and found the resurgence of the X-Men. \ I think the art and writing in comics right now is really amazing. I am currently a huge fan of JSA and I think Geoff Johns is a fantastic comic book writer and I am a real big fan. I am also really digging DC’s 52 and am a huge Astro City fan. \ \ \ I am also really enjoying that all of the silver age books are now coming out in trade paperback, I have buying Metamorpho, Metal Men and Kamandi. I love that stuff so much.\ \ \ What is your method behind the cartoon hero madness? In a way what we are trying to do [at Cartoon Network] is develop silver age comics that never were. We’re trying to capture the time when DC and Marvel were doing weird takes on super heroes. \ \ \ I grew up in the Star Wars universe and what appealed to me is that a big hairy weird thing or strange robots could be good guys. \ \ \ If we looked at our shows like comic books we are not comic book no. 27 of a 4,000 issue storyline with the gate fold cover you put in a box and never touch again. \ \ \ We are the comic book you rolled into your back pocket while riding on your bike or it was sitting on your bedroom floor with a piece of pizza on it because you loved what took place between those pages and that is all that you needed. We want all the episodes of our shows to feel like that. \ \ \ Will kids come back to reading comic books? I am a fan of the art form and I am believer that it is something kids can get into. You never know when things get trendy or cool, so you never know when kids will get comics. It can become really big again. I think it will happen and that will be a great thing. \ \ \ Superhero movies are big right now. What kind of impact does that have on the superhero cartoon? There are so movies that already cover guys in tights great, we have to create shows more dynamic than ever. We never forget the fact that we are making cartoons and our shows must have a unique enough visual style and a big enough budget idea that it would be very difficult to produce as a weekly live action series. \ \ \ What are you future plans at Cartoon Network? I have nine shows in development right now and they are all very much in the spirit of “Ben 10” and “Teen Titans” with different kind of takes on superheroes.\ \ \ - Joseph Szadkowski

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About the Author
Joseph Szadkowski

Joseph Szadkowski

A graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in communications, Joseph Szadkowski has written about popular culture for The Washington Times for the past 17 years. He covers video games, comic books, new media and technology. 

 

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