The MotU Universe
Interesting stuff concerning the world of He-Man
Ok, so here's the first batch of reader comments on the "Grayskull" novel and its adapted characters...
You have clearly put in a lot of work. Much of it extremely original and interesting with a thoughtfulness and care that a lot of story tellers in comics, cartoons, movies and books just do not display. Striving to make He-Man look like a human being rather than a action figure for example. The designs of Stratos and Orko out of costume are also excellent touches (I liked that you didn't try to give Orko legs or a tail but just a stump. It actually looks like that may be the way he really is disrobed.)
However with such a clear understanding and love of the MOTU universe and for storytelling why take the step of including certain aspects of the cartoon (ie Granymyr, Orko) but completely disregard others (She-Ra for example, or Randor as a good leader)? Some characters are fluid progressions from that we are familiar with such as the Sorceress, Duncan and King Hiss. But other characters are such radical departures as to be different characters with familiar names. Effectively new characters. Hordak is not a mystical entity. He's a technocrat not a demon called Hordak. The same for Adora or Zodac (changed from cosmic enforcer to captain of the Royal Guards. That is a bit of a drop) cool drawing though.
I in no way question your creativity or imagination (which I have really enjoyed) but I think you do not have the courage of your convictions. Why not just create your own characters for this storyline, claim them as your own. You have evolved so far away from MOTU as not to affect your story at all but, I feel make it stronger. With your abilities you can come up with your own names as you have with the origins.
You clearly have the creativity and energy required to create something truly spectacular. Use He-Man as a basis to start your own original work, just as He-Man was based on Conan but became, in my humble opinion something greater. Perhaps you can too. I feel you are already nearly there. I wish you luck."
Thanks for the compliments, David. My idea was indeed to change some of the characters in the traits I did not like, and also as a consequence of the technology removal. I don't think it's lack of courage that drove me to use the MotU characters instead of my own (see my "Twilight" comic, with obvious influences on MotU yet featuring my own characters), but rather love for MotU characters, definitions and ideas along all of its eras. There are characters I fully enjoy right as they were (like my all time favorite characters, Skeletor - not much change there, right?), others I liked some of their traits but not all (Like Zodac - and I do enjoy the "cosmic enforcer" concept - but the figure design, which I love and wished to maintain, was not, IMHO, that of a "cosmic enforcer". Thus, having Teela a traveler, I needed a new captain of the guard, and I though my "human" Zodac would fit it well.), some where I had to adapt the concept to add depth to the story (like the polemic Randor - I could make the whole royal family strong, honorable and brave - and cliché -, or I could give them weaknesses and quirks and make it more realistic and enhance storytelling.), and finally those characters I did not like or wouldn't fit my vision of MotU (Mekaneck, Rio Blast, Roboto).
I'm Uwe from Germany. By chance i see your Page. And ... your Page is more than interesting - it's realy good! Than i was 8 years old, i be know Master toys.
And in your an any other Sites it's immortal.
( Sorry for my terrible english :-) )"
No probs with the bad English, I got the message. :) Thanks!
"Hi. I am very intrigued with the idea of resurrecting Masters of The Universe as a dramatic series focusing on the interpersonal and public lives of the characters. Being a child of the 80's myself, the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe show was one of the all-time best. It's a shame that there hasn't been any type of touch up or face lift to the series. In your stories, I love the way that you create the main characters as being real persons whose lives can't always be comitted to one cause. I love the fact that you show how Adam is a prince but is driven with the soul of He-Man although he questions his loyalties as one permanent being or the other. The series as its' being written is a lot like the Hercules and Xena shows but with more passion and adventure.
Personally, I would love to see how this novel will turn out. Because I am African American, I have always seen He-Man as more of the all man. The theory that all men came from one place and therefore He-Man is a resurrected symbol of all men. I actually see He-Man as more of a spiritual symbioses of power and justice, but I love how you've intertwined the idea all together. Good Luck."
Thanks a lot. You clearly got my objectives - to add depth to the story, make the characters more human, and the inspiration on Hercules and Xena. Along with the fact that I've always also seen He-Man more like a concept of the "Ultimate warrior of justice" rather than a super-hero.
"I find your ideas to my liking! A change towards what I believe to be better!"
Thanks a lot! :)
I've been reading the posted chapters of the "Grayskull" novel, and to sum up my essential feelings about it: Plot is very good, the world is believable, but the characters... The characters need work. While a few of the minor characters are interesting (Particularly your versions of Randor, Marlena and Adora), the major characters are, I'm sorry to say, not.
Yes, I KNOW I'm being mean here, but these characters have the potential of being so much more than you make them out to be. You're obviously a skilled writer and artist, and I fully believe you're capable of making the characters of the story more unique and personality-driven than they are now.
I'll sum up my major gripes about the characters:
All the main characters are so damn noble and self-sacrificing, not to mention they are all "among the best there are" at what they do. Why do ALL fantasy heroes have to be so incredibly good at what they do, right at the start of the story? It gets repetitive and tedious, and it objectifies the characters, making them less human.
Adam/He-Man is too much of a "Gary Stu" character. He has virtually no character flaws, and the ones he does have only serve to make him seem even more heroic somehow. It can be argued that the original He-man had a tendency to be like this as well, but his sense of humor, as well as the "clownish buffoon" role Adam adopted, always tempered this and made him more bearable. This Adam takes himself much too seriously to be a really endearing character.
Teela is treated as the "token girl" which all male-dominant fantasy has, and she doesn't seem to have much of a personality outside of that. Like Adam, she had no real character flaws to make her more human. Personally, I liked the headstrong "see no trees for the wood" Teela of the cartoon better.
Skeletor seems to be reduced to your typical "Dark Lord," spurting horrible clichés like "You dare defy me?!?" and calling his opponents "fools." The original Skeletor, while slightly dorky at times, had a unique personality in that he was a schemer and a "trickster" rather than just a pompous and powerful "Dark Lord," which he seems to be here.
Almost all the other characters fall into either an "okay-but-forgettable-traditional-fantasy-character" rut, or they get too little attention to develop. Even Frosta and Granamyr, two of the most interesting characters from the original series, come off as one-note personalities, the pompous "you dare to question me?" Granamyr in particular.
This story SCREAMS for a main character who, while good of heart, ISN'T the best at anything, who ISN'T extremely powerful, noble, brave and self-sacrificing... Orko fits this role perfectly, although Adora might be able to fulfill it as well. These two characters, while their roles have been minor so far, have already revealed themselves to be much more human than any of the other characters (apart from King Randor, who is VERY human). With so many pompous and powerful characters, someone should be around to puncture the pomposity a little. Cause MAN, this story is pompous!
A few of the characters, also seem to serve no purpose to the story at all. Orko, in particular, gets a lousy deal, and he desperately needs more material than he is given: To give him such an interesting background story (half-lifted off the show, but who cares?) and then NOT follow up on it in any way seems a waste. WHY is he so different from the Eternians, WHERE does he come from, and WHAT is he really doing on Eternia anyway? Hopefully, these questions will be answered in later chapters of the story, and Orko will be given somewhat of a purpose. If this doesn't happen, you would have been better off leaving Orko out of the series entirely.
All right, I've been mean long enough. ^_^ Like I said, my gripes are really about the characters (and Adam, Teela and Skeletor in particular), but story-wise, this is interesting. I REALLY like the way "He-Man" is incorporated in the series – no secret identities or anything, just a name seemingly meaning the "chosen one" or something to that effect. The plot seems interesting as well – a lot of nice mystery and hidden meanings here, and your Eternia deserves credit for being a very believable fantasy world with its own history. You've left in just enough information to make the world seem believable, and left out just enough information to avoid making it dull to read. I also like the treatment of Skeletor's henchmen: Although they're not as strong characters as they were in their original creations, it's nice to see that they aren't all hideously deformed. I liked Trap-Jaw especially!
- Avoid all the clichés, or at least use them more sparingly. The main characters do not HAVE to be the best and the bravest in everything, and they certainly don't HAVE to be incredibly beautiful. ^_^
- Develop Adam and Skeletor more. They're the ones who shape the story, and the "handsome, noble, skilled fighter" and the "menacing dark lord" personas they are in are too limited. Give them some purposes outside the battle. What does Skeletor do when he's not striving to take over Eternia? Does he have any friends? Is he able to say a full sentence without referring to how EVIL he is? Beings that are "pure evil" become dull after a while – look at the classic works of fantasy, like Lord Of the Rings. It's not a coincidence that the evilest characters, like Sauron, are not given major roles in the story. They're too limited to be able to bear a real role on their own, and giving them major roles as characters would have detracted from their evil and made them appear like less of a threat. All the really good villains, fantasy or no, have more to them than evil. Even Skeletor of the cartoon series did.
- Give the minor characters a purpose besides being "friends and allies." Zodac, Fisto and Adora could use more character development, and Orko REALLY needs more – if for nothing else, then at least to explain just what the hell this bizarre creature is DOING on Eternia, where he obviously doesn't really fit in. Maybe he has some secret mission that will influence the plot in some way? In the original cartoon series, there was a sort of "special bond" between Orko and the Sorceress. Maybe they're connected somehow?
Whew! Now THIS was a rant! Don't worry, I wouldn't have ranted so much if I hadn't seen the potential this story has. It needs a lot of work, but behind everything I sense a story that could really shine, if given the chance. So keep up the writing!
Whooa! Now this
is a comment! And really, my favorite one, because you really took some time
there on the reading, and came out with a pondered, thought, constructive
critic. And this is the kind of opinions that make me struggle to improve my
skills and make this story the best I can, this is the kind of feedback I've
always wished ever since I've started publishing this book online. The fact is,
I have to agree with you on a lot of what you've writtten. He-Man and Teela, the most obvious two,
do need character development. I guess I've stumbled on some things... I got
too tied up with the original He-Man to give him flaws, and dropping the Adam /
He-Man split personalities, I lost his quirks. Not that I think it's all that
extreme: He does have his own flaws, which are slowly being poured into the
story. In Teela, the change of her role
left an opening in her personality that I'm yet to fill. But on what concerns to
'the typical fantasy novel', I can't agree, at least entirely. Most of what I
read, or see, brings up the accidental hero that manages to succeed against all
odds (And Frodo from Lord Of The Rings is a good example amongst many). Here I
wished to make it the other way around; Adam is a very skilled fighter, even if inexperienced
and immature to begin with, because he trained all his life for it, and that
justifies his accomplishments along the story, making it, IMHO, more credible.
Teela was trained by the same person and had to be somewhat skilled in order to
be useful. She's not referred to as 'best' at anything, but simply 'skilled'.
And, in fact, I plan to bring up the 'see no trees for the wood' (nice catch!)
personality of Teela along the story, making her closer to the cartoon
character, as her
maturity increases. Even if characters are mostly referred as 'good-looking', an
epic 'must', I know, they're not presented as 'beautiful', at least not as an
overall. They have beautiful features (Teela's eyes) but are otherwise regular
good looking persons. Much like the original characters, I guess. Even if it
breaks a little of the realism, I don't want an ugly Teela.
Skeletor... some of his flaws (and the greatest one, I believe) were already presented in the story. He still is a schemer, and I'll work hard on that aspect, but he was hardly introduced yet. To give an idea of how he can be both 'the evil' and a schemer, see the 'Homecoming' comic by Emiliano Santalucia (http://free.imd.it/masters/) for my major, direct influence on him. I have SO MUCH stuff on Skelly to bring up, but damn, can't speak about it now. But yep, my version is grimmer and more towards the 'Dark Lord' concept than the original, even at the risk of sounding cliché or boring... It's the way I've always wanted Skeletor to be.
I won't comment much on the major character subject. Even if I tried to make it less obvious, He-Man still is the focus of the story. Orko will have his moments later on, but I can already state that he won't be all that important or have such a cosmic importance. He originally was, and will still be, the comic relief. Sorry to disappoint you there.
But don't think that, by the justifications I'm writing and by saying 'You don't know much of it yet' I'm not agreeing with your perspective or taking the arrogant position of 'my work is great and I know perfectly what I'm doing'. There is so much work that can be done to make this story better, and I just hope I may achieve some of the potential it has. It will never be a classic, that I'm sure of! :) The fact is that this is the very first time I'm writing a novel and it brings up the flaws of my very own inexperience, so I guess I've focused too much on telling the "How it begun", as in fact, all these chapters are still the origin of the characters, and forgot to develop the character's demeanors.
Your lines really made me think about the way I'm working on the story, and where should I try to enhance it, and undoubtedly, I have to start by an urgent "humanization" of the characters. Even though I do like some of the clichés, I may well ruin the story by introducing too many - I've got to keep them well balanced.
I was about to comment each single line you've wrote - I won't. Some things were already planned to be improved or revealed in upcoming chapters. Others weren't and your words were a great (and painful! :) ) help to make me think about them. Either way, I'll reveal my options in the book and not in these lines. I don't want to spoil the reading.
Thanks a lot! Your words were very helpful. I'll keep them in mind! ;)
They'll be back!!!
Oh yes!!! Finally!!! Mattel is finally going to fully invest on He-Man once more, and this is certainly great news for all the fans worldwide. The re-releases did so well that the company finally decided to continue their best-selling toyline, along with new re-releases. This means that people outside the U.S. will probably finally be able to get their hands on the re-releases without paying obscene amounts on the internet, as well as brand new characters and playsets coming up, and eventually, the return of the cartoon show by the hands of Mr. Lou Scheimer, the executive producer of the first series. I've been talking with Mr. Lou's assistant, Rich, lately, and Lou Scheimer Productions (LSP) is really, really wishing to produce a new He-Man and She-Ra series The negotiations with Mattel for this production are in the works. Don't tell me you didn't attend their letter petition? On the other hand, it seems that Mattel has hired the talents of The Four Horsemen, who usually work for McFarlane Toys, and a resin statue of He-Man has already been created, to be sold in a limited series at the ComicCon convention in San Diego. Once more, I have no chance of getting my hands in this item, but if you click here or take a look at the new Mattel site on www.MastersOfTheUniverse.com you may see why don't I worry so much this time... Which raises the questions: Will the new He-Man be true to the original, and is that the best choice, or there will be changes, and if so, will they really be for the best?
Gary Wolfchild, 09/07/2001
Mattel did what?!
As you probably already know, Mattel re-released ten of the first action figures, along with the He-Man / Battle Cat and Skeletor / Panthor two-packs. Great, isn't it? And some other releases are just about to come as well! It's really good news for us "He-fans" and opens up the possibility of having the series, toyline and all the rest back and continued. The only problem is, the release is a collector's edition limited to North America and Puerto Rico, which means we people from the other side of the ocean, and others, will have to keep on dreaming and waiting. My few own figures from childhood are, unfortunately, permanently lost, and this would be my chance to have He-Man home once more. Hope the people at Mattel will remember that He-fans and collectors are not only in North America. Anyway, you can read the article featured in the Dec/2000 edition of Previews magazine by clicking here.
Gary Wolfchild, 06/03/2001