SDCC 2008: Glen Murakami on BEN 10: ALIEN FORCE
left to right: Greg Cipes (Kevin), Dwayne McDuffie, Dee Bradley Baker (Aliens), Tramm Wigzell
left to right: Glen Murakami, Ashley Johnson (Gwen),Yuri Lowenthal (Ben), Greg Cipes (Kevin)
Producer Glen Murakami (TEEN TITANS) was in San Diego to promote "Ben 10: Alien Force."
Here's the panel description: "Ben 10: Alien Force and The Secret Saturdays Sneak Peek— Join über-cartoon-creator-genius Glen Murakami and his crew as they discuss their hit new Cartoon Network show Ben 10: Alien Force. It's your chance to get the inside story on all the new alien heroes—and, of course, all the bad guys! Accompanying Glen are story editor Dwayne McDuffie and voice talents Yuri Lowenthal (Ben), Ashley Johnson (Gwen), Greg Cipes (Kevin), and Dee Bradley Baker (Aliens). And that's just half the excitement! Jay Stephens will also be on hand to talk about his mysterious and cool new show The Secret Saturdays."
The panel was moderated by Cartoon Network producer, Tramm Wigzell. "Ben 10" viewers may actually recognize him as the inspiration for J.T., the meeker half of the J.T./Cash pair. (Parenthetically, Cash is based on producer, Sam Register.)
The creators are currently working on the third season of "Ben 10" Alien Force", so it looks like the new series received a vote of confidence from Carton Network. There are also plans for a live-action "Ben 10: Alien Force" movie.
The panel discussed the shift from "Ben 10" to "Ben 10: Alien Force." Glen Murakami imagined "Ben 10: Alien Force" as "Scobby Doo" meets "X-Files," citing the strong mystery-meets-sci-fi nature of the program. He also likened it to the "old school 70s teen character driven" shows.
The team was asked why so many scenes take place in the dark, and Murakami mentioned that he likes shows that take place at night. It had the element of teens sneaking out and getting into trouble. It also added to the air of mystery.
The creators talked about "Alien X", an alien transformation from the opening credits. It's the one alien form Ben hasn't used, and there's a reason for that. This alien is so powerful, Ben is afraid to use it.
The team was also asked about the nature of Gwen's "magic," and how her current energy-based abilities didn't coincide with that. DcDuffie mentioned that "the characters on the show don't always have perfect knowledge." The creators are "way past the second season" now, and explained that the "knowledge of their powers and who they are" will change as the series progresses.
Many episodes contain information that will pay off later on. The creators stressed that "there are no filler episodes." Each episode contributes in some way to the mythology. It's all important. They will also re-introduce some characters from the previous "Ben 10" series, and we will see what became of them. We will also see old and new Plumber kids in future episodes.
The creators gauged audience interest to see if fans wanted to see what happened while Kevin was in the null void. They did. The team said they talked about showing Kevin's null void time.
The panel was opened up for questions, and children were encouraged to come up and ask questions. Let me tell you, these kids are smart! They asked better questions than most fanboys.
One kid asked what Alien Xs powers were. The creators gave a vague answer, and the kid relented "now, how about a real answer?" So impressed, the creators mentioned that Alien X can stop time.
Another kid asked why the futures seen in "Ben 10" didn't coincide with what we see in "Ben 10" Alien Force." The panelists mentioned that those were possible futures, and the episode "Paradox" begins to show how the future is ever-changing.
Another kid asked why Kevin doesn't use his absorbing powers like he used to. The creators mentioned that there is actually a very good reason why Kevin doesn't absorb energy. They also mentioned that Gwen is pure energy, and playfully wondered if that could cause problems for the would-be couple....
Greg Cipes and Ashley Johnson had a lot of fun fielding questions about the Kevin-Gwen relationship. Cipes mentioned how Johnson has become his default "animated girlfriend" in Teen Titans and another series as well. Johnson mentioned that Gwen is just waiting for Kevin to actually ask her out, and mentioned that in real life, she herself wouldn't be so patient to wait on a guy.
Yuri Lowenthal was asked what his most difficult role was. He cited Superman, since its such an iconic character. Yuri was very much in "Ben 10" spirit, wearing a replica of Ben's famous green jacket to the panel.
The panel also showed a sneak peek of "Secret Saturdays." Creator Jay Stephens explained that the show is largely inspired by family adventure series in the 1960's, like "Jonny Quest" and The "Herculoids." The show itself features a mom who specializes in mysticism and a dad who is a scientist, and a kid who believes in both diciplines. As the series begins, the kid begins to accompany his adventurous parents in investigating secret paranormal and super-science mysteries. It looks pretty entertaining from the preview clip.
Two of Ben's aliens at the Cartoon Network booth!