Harry Bardwell-How does it feel to have worked on a geek loved show like Captain N?
Fil Barlow-I was in LA when Executive Producer Richard Raynis was developing the pitch to Nintendo, originally he called the show "Paperboy" after the game. Paperboy was to be the main character, I made him a skinny awkward kid, there was no dog and no other human characters, I designed and colored a six foot poster with Paperboy surrounded by Nintendo game characters including Kid Icarus, Megaman. Although not requested, I added the Eggplant Wizard and King Hippo who I knew would be fun characters to have in the show. Like most animation studios, DIC did it's seasonal layoffs just in time for Xmas, nice huh? My Visa was only valid as long as DIC employed me, so I had to return to Australia.
I was dead broke when production on Captain N began. I worked via fax. The artists that I had trained on Alf and Alftales were now my Supervisors and I found that they had reworked my original character designs from the pitch art without my input, basically dumbing down what I was trying to do. For example Megaman looked fat and dopey, I had him cute, and alert. I had nothing to do with any of the new human characters, or that dog, I wasn't even sent their designs. Only the Eggplant Wizard and King Hippo looked like my original designs. After a few episodes I was off the project, my enthusiastic Supervisors kept all of the juicy new character assignments for themselves, and the work just dried up. Phone calls were no longer returned and I was back to being broke. The show was never aired in Australia so didn't get to see how it turned out.
I felt like the show should have been better, but I was unable to get involved even though I started the ball rolling.
HB-Can you go into detail about the thoughts behind the different uniforms that the Extreme Ghostbusters(EGB) had, such as Kylie's uni-tard thing and Eduardo's polo and vest, or the reason the other guys seem to be wearing pants/shirt vs. the traditional jumpsuit? Also was Eduardo's green polo shirt suppose to have buttons?
FB-I think the lack of traditional jumpsuits was more my doing than anything, Eduardo and Kylie looked edgier and better when in their street clothes. Plus Kylie just looked strange in a jumpsuit her head ended up looking so huge.
I learned to avoid buttons in animation design. It's just a minor detail that can cause continuity problems, they can shift, pop on and off or not be colored right and flash. Anything that avoids retakes is a good idea I think.
HB-Personally do you like the Real Ghostbusters, or Extreme Ghostbusters better, or no preference?
FB-Of course I like my designs better ;D I wanted a slicker look than RGB which I think I achieved. I just found some artwork that Richard asked me to prepare for the Real Ghostbuster character designers back in '87, it has Janine as I would have designed her. Back then I had a pretty critical eye and came down pretty hard on the designers for their sloppy shapes, such as the noses of the original team, especially Ray. But the designers were veterans so there was definitely a generational gap when it came to style and taste. XGB was my chance to put my version out there.
I designed the main cast for XGB from Australia and so I wasn't clued in to much of the behind the scenes back at the studio in Culver City. I realized that most of the artists at Sony were new to animation, having come from Image comics, especially the storyboard artists. So I wanted a fairly simple style to make it easier for everyone get up to speed.
I'll give you a bit of background into how I arrived at the XGB style.
After the DIC lay offs most of the artists ended up either working on Batman at Warners or Dreamworks in the feature division. As I said before I ended up stumbling around in Australia trying to make ends meet and working on my personal project Zooniverse. The original six issue series I did of Zooniverse in '86 got the attention of Director Kevin Altieri who showed it to Richard Raynis who flew me over to work on Alf. So after the batman series ended, Kevin became the Director on the feature animation of Gen 13. It was '95 when Kevin asked me to help on character design. Kevin wanted Bruce Timm's Batman style which I was completely unfamiliar with. I designed Caitlin Fairchild and a number of other characters as best I could but I found it hard imitating a style without enough reference. However it got me exposed to a simpler style which I personalized for XGB, I didn't want to lift Bruce's style so I made my own design choices. Also Richard Raynis wasn't a fan of the simplicity of the Batman style, he loves detail, the more realistic the better, which is why all the props had to be designed like they could function, luckily I didn't work in the prop department.
HB-Speaking of EGB, how did you come about the individual looks for the team? I've read a fair bit about Garrett, but I don't know much about the others, and why was it decided to give Egon long hair or change his glasses?
FB-Richard and I went through a long process with the characters I was always trying to push the boundaries, he was often reigning me in. I dislike convention so I push to invent something new, get away from the norm. In order to answer this question I've been digging through my old conceptual sketches trying to remember where my head was at. I've uncovered some gems! If you only knew what I had planned for XGB luckily or unfortunately Richard rejected most of them. Richard really wanted a character in a wheelchair and I was pushing for it to be female, I called her Lucy, she was buff and a powerhouse, I have designs of her in a wheelchair and on crutches, but Richard wanted a guy so I just made the Lucy design male. She was part of a whole other team, the Exteme Ghostbusters that were too extreme for XGB. I found some funny and interesting stuff, designed before the characters had names, so I named them myself. They are like a Bizzaro team now. In this alternate version I was pitching the concept of a war, originally between ghosts and demons which Richard nixed, can't base a kid's show around hell. So I adjusted the concept to be a war between ghosts and ghouls I've just posted an image on my DA page of Egon as I envisioned him back then. He was basically a warlock with long hair having spent so long trying to stop the war from spilling over into our world that he had forgotten how to speak English. The ponytail is all that remained of this concept in Egon's final design. Kylie came from a goth witch character design I did for the original team. Roland came from a the Bizzaro XGB where Winston had a son who had dreads with the sides of his head shaved. His hair evolved into spiky cornrows, which were too extreme for the conservative character that he eventually became, so I just shaved V shapes into a rounded flattop.
HB-In (if I remember correctly) the opening title of sequence of Godzilla, Dr. Tatopoulos is sitting at a desk with a coffee cup with a "no"symbol on it, was that suppose to be a nod to Ghostbusters?
FB-That's a prop question, seeing as the prop artists on Zilla (HS) had all worked on XGB it makes sense that they dropped a few in-jokes, but I don't know about that cup.
HB-Were you responsible for the equipment redesigns for the EGB's gear (proton pack, ghost trap, and pke meter),if not do you know who was? Do you know the process behind it , i.e. how did you come to decide how each piece would look, or function.
FB-Again a prop question. Eugene Mattos was the Prop Supervisor on XGB and would be able to answer this question.
HB-I've heard a lot of people talk very highly of Roughnecks, and about how it got things closer to the Starship Troopers book (I haven't read it sadly, but I loved the show)than the movie, especially the powered armor. Did you go to the book a lot as reference or did you just design it from the hip so to speak? Also I read your description of the powered armor on your deviant art, do you really think that Halo stole your suit Ideas? I've thought it once or twice myself.
FB-I haven't read the book either, I was merely trying to make the film better and more logical, especially with the power suit design. Richard was giving me all of my direction it was his vision that I was trying to realize as faithfully as possible.
Stole is a harsh word, I merely posed a couple of questions for which I have no answers. I do know that Sony Exec Chris Lee was sending early rushes of SST to the team working on the first Final Fantasy movie. Watch the beginning of the movie and you might see some similarities.
HB-I see a small picture on your Artopia site of the Laughter Vampire Clowns from EGB, did you create them? (It was the first episode of EGB that I saw.)
FB-No those clowns were painted by Helen Maier she animated them here... http://www.loopdeloop.org/2012/01/helen ... se-dreams/
Helen has been my faithful inker and part of my Character Design team on all of the Sony shows up to SST. We are still working together after 28 years but now she is designing her own work and I assist her. The clowns you are referring to appeared in Episode 113 "Killjoys", I just looked at their folder! lol
HB-Its been long rumored in the Ghostbusters community that, for Extreme Ghostbusters, there were problems with DiC about rights to the old equipment, and character designs, is there any truth to that, and is that why the Ecto-1 looked so different, and why they blurred out the face of the mannequin that wears the old equipment in the firehouse.
FB-I don't know if there were any problems, as I mentioned I was in Australia at the time. However the franchise is owned by Columbia-Tristar (Sony), and not DIC which usually includes all assets. The coup was that Richard who had been a Director on Real Ghostbusters at DIC was the Executive in charge of Production at Columbia-Tristar on Extreme Ghostbusters a decade later. I remember something about DIC dragging it's heels on delivering designs, but I had access to old designs all along. I can only speak for my department, but I changed the style because I wanted to improve the show, not to move it away from possible litigation with DIC. The only design I kept untouched from RGB was Grundel, because drew it 10 years earlier, and there were no legal concerns.
HB-Last but not least (this is kinda a big one for me) Do you know of any plans they may have had if EGB would have ran a second season, as far as monsters or story arcs or anything at all?
FB-The Sony shows were designed as 40 episode blocks, only in rare cases were further blocks of 40 ordered. So nothing was ever planned beyond episode 40 for XGB.
Well there you have it guys, I hope you enjoyed it and be sure to check out some more of Fil's stuff at http://filbarlow.deviantart.com/ and some of his recent work at http://www.loopdeloop.org/tag/fil-barlow/ and his website http://artopia1.com/
Scrawny girls who talk to ghoulies really float my boat.Over 1,600 EGB screen shots