Interview with Larry Brody
Who is Larry Brody?
Larry Brody is currently the head writer of the Silver Surfer Animated Series. He wrote or helped write every Silver Surfer episode and he's recently been selected to write all of next season's episodes. And, as you will soon see, he is one of the biggest Silver Surfer fanboys you've ever seen, but many of his views might be a lot like your own.
How long have you been a reader of
the Silver Surfer?
I started reading Marvel Comics in 1961, with the first issue of the FF and was in fact an early member of comics fandom and a Marvel letterhack. Even won a No-Prize back in the days when Flo Steinberg personally mailed the notice to the recipient. So I've seen the Surfer from the beginning, all the highs and lows.
When did you first get interested in the Silver Surfer?
His first appearance excited me, not because of his powers or his board, but because of the way he came around and helped the FF fight Galactus. It showed a strength of character you didn't often find in comics.
What was your favorite Silver Surfer story?
That's easy. The graphic novel by Stan Lee and Moebius--because it's about something big. It deals with the relationship of the Surfer to people's ideas of God and religion. I don't have a favorite Surfer comic story, because, to be honest, I always felt he was being mishandled. I loved the way Stan had him suffering for the violence and sins of all mankind in the early issues of the Surfer's own book, but I thought he was completely wasted on Earth. He belonged on a cosmic scale! Later, when he became a spacefaring superhero in his various incarnations the stories became trivial and inconsistent. For awhile there I saw him as a guest star in his own book.
When did you first decide you wanted to write the Silver Surfer Animated Series?
When the Vice President of Fox Kids, Sidney Iwanter, asked me to do it. I had always been a primetime writer and producer. I'd produced Baretta, Police Story, The Fall Guy, Mike Hammer...a whole group of police and detective shows of the '70s and '80s. Police Story was the NYPD Blue of its day, and we won an Emmy for Best Drama. Then I got tired of all the politics and of constantly apologizing for how bad TV was. I quit and moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I taught college and wrote poetry and lived on my ill-gotten gains. Then I ran into Sidney at a friend's birthday party and we hit it off. When he offered me the Surfer job I saw it as a challenge--to finally take a Marvel superhero and turn him into a television series properly. To write something I would have wanted to watch back when I was a fan.
Who were your favorite inspirations in writing the Silver Surfer? And why?
I was inspired by Shakespeare, the Bible, Jack Kirby, and of course Stan Lee. The first three because of their majesty, which the Surfer definitely embodied. The last because of his courage in revolutionizing comics back in the '60s...which the Surfer also embodied.
What do you believe was your greatest accomplishment on the series? And why?
So far, the greatest thing we've accomplished in the Surfer series (and I say "we" because I include animator-producer Roy Smith and Foex exec Iwanter) is aiming it entirely at adults. The official line is that we're doing the show for teenagers with the idea that their little brothers and sisters will also watch and buy the toys. But we're really doing the show for ourselves. (This isn't to say that we haven't had to compromise with the powers-that-be...but we've fought--and are still fighting--the good fight.)
Everyone is thrilled about seeing Thanos with such a major role in the first season, what differences will there be in his character and the way he is introduced?
Actually, Thanos is one of the compromises, for better or for worse. "Death" is a forbidden concept on Fox Kids. In fact, it's a forbidden word. So instead of loving and worshipping the woman who is Death incarnate, as he does in the comics, we bent things a little and have him feeling that way about Lady Chaos. Since destruction is okay to talk about and present, we've put it out there as the ultimate chaos. So Thanos strives for destruction and its accompanying chaos in order to impress his true love. We've also changed Thanos' origin because the concept of him--and other characters--coming from Titan seemed too small. In our universe there's no reason for Thanos to come from a moon in the Earth's solar system. Instead we've created the Titan system, out somewhere in space. Oh, and we've also changed Mentor from his father to his brother. It began, I'm embarrassed to say, as a typo no one caught, and now we're stuck with the "fact."
What differences will there be in some of the other characters?
We've changed the origins of a lot of the characters we're using to support the Surfer. Nova, for example, becomes the Surfer's replacement herald because she has a genetic predisposition for "finding" places. Beta Ray Bill comes from a planet that the Surfer saves and is in no way related to Thor or the Thor mythos because Thor doesn't exist in our universe. Drax has a brain injury but isn't "retarded," because we found his comic book stupidity excessive and demeaning. Pip has no cigar because the network won't allow anyone or anything to smoke. The plan was to find something else to put in his mouth, but that got lost somewhere between discussions and the drafting table.
What is your favorite episode of the
first season? And why?
I love them all because they're all great. (But my favorite one is when the Surfer and Nova end up on the Skrull homeworld and we learn the facts behind Skrull reproduction. It's true, we do. I like it because it's the most science-fiction like of the episodes.)
Who was your favorite character to write? And why?
The Silver Surfer is my favorite character, naturally...because he's me--as I want to be. (I'm not talking powers here but in terms of his moral/ethical nature.)
What plans do you have for the second season and the Skrull and Kree War you introduced early on in the series?
Plans? You want plans? That stuff is confidential. But the Kree-Skrull War will definitely continue, with the Surfer playing a larger part. Larger than either side wants him to play. (Who says this isn't the Marvel Age of Hints?)
Lastly, is there any chance at seeing a Mephisto?
The first season was Thanos' turn as the main man of evil. The second season begins with the Surfer finally ridding the universe of him and ends with Mephisto becoming our major threat. Unlike Thanos, however, Mephisto isn't interested in conquering the universe. He just plain wants to corrupt the Surfer, just as he did in the early books. But now here's a question I'll throw out to you and those who come to this page: Since we can't show Mephisto as a demon or devil (it's another network no-no), how should we explain and present him instead? I'm always open to suggestions, and while we can't give screen credit, etc. for the idea we use, it could be--just could, mind you--that whoever submits it will find himself an important character in at least one episode of the show. Any takers?
To receive more information about Larry Brody, check out his homepage at http://www.tvwriter.com
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