Exclusive Interview with JLU Writer Ken Pontac

[Date: May 2008]

By Adam Dechanel.

Ken Pontac is an American writer who has written for kids shows like ToddWorld and LazyTown, he also writes for the dark humor cartoon Happy Tree Friends. Ken also wrote issue #44 of the "Justice League Unlimited" comic book.

Superman Homepage writer Adam Dechanel interviewed Ken about his career, his work on the JLU comic book, and more.

The Superman Homepage would like to thank Ken for agreeing to do this interview, and for fitting it into his busy schedule.

Justice League Unlimited #44 Q: How did writing the issue come about?

A: I knew Dan Didio back when he was an executive at ABC, working on (among other things) my show Bump in the Night, and we later worked on a few of the same shows at MainFrame. When Dan moved to DC he put me in touch with Steve Wacker, who was editing the book at the time. I pitched a few ideas to Steve, and he liked my take on Mirror Master. I always enjoy looking beyond the surface of a character, because the most interesting stories are the ones that are hidden. I thought it would be nice to see what the Evan was like with his mask off, and what really motivated him to do crimes.

This was my first professional comic assignment, and I was pumped to write it. Imagine my disappointment when the Justice League Adventures show turned into Justice League Unlimited, and my book no longer fit continuity. It was slated to be the next issue on the shelves, and instead it went into a drawer. This was in September of 2003. I've waited four and a half years to see this book come out!

Q: Tell us a little about yourself?

My earliest memory is seeing my mother catch on fire during breakfast1, an incident that later became the basis for a Happy Tree Friends episode. Not too many years after that I was attacked by an organ grinder's monkey2. These events, and many others helped to shape my sensibility. I've had a lifetime love of comics, cartoons, toys, and all things childish. At some point people started paying me to make cartoons, comics and toys, so I figured I'd just be a Professional Kid for the rest of my life!

Ken Pontac was born in Glendale Memorial Hospital on May 22, 1957, or raised by electric eels in Peru, depending on whom you want to believe. His early childhood was colored by a series of incidents too remarkable and bizarre to recount fully in this brief text, but by the age of three the course of his life was to be set forever; young Kenny was determined to become the thirty-seventh president of the United States. The landslide election of Richard Milhouse Nixon in 1969 shattered these ambitions, however, and caused him instead to choose a career in animation.

Pontac has over twenty years experience in the animation industry, creating content for television, video games, and computer applications. A few of the cultural icons he has been involved with include the enduring green clayboy Gumby, the irascible green monster Mr. Bumpy from ABC TV's Bump in the Night, and the transmogrifying green gladiator the Blob from the hit videogame ClayFighter. Oddly enough, green is not Pontac's favorite color. Pontac has written scripts for animated television episodes that have been translated into a dozen languages and shown around the world. He directed the UPN prime time animated program Gary & Mike, for which his episode Phish Phry won an Emmy for Best Art Direction, and was nominated for an Emmy for his writing on the Discovery Kids series ToddWorld.

Pontac lives in Sausalito with a beautiful redheaded nurse and his crazy dog, Whistle.

Q: Are you hungry for more Justice League Unlimited, are there still stories you want to tell?

A:Oh, sure! I enjoy writing stories about groups, because you get some great interactions with that dynamic. I'd love to write a story with Superman and/or Batman in it, since those are the guys I really grew up with. With the large cast of Unlimited you can really mix and match the teams and create totally odd combos.

Q: Mary Marvel never made it to the show and had a questionable year in Countdown, are they trying to make her more popular or was that not on the equation?

A:It wasn't part of my equation. Remember, I wrote my issue over four years ago, and was never included in any big editorial meetings that may or may not discussed Mary's place in the DCU.

Q: Who is a character you'd like to explore further?

A:I always liked the Demon, and a while ago I sent out a pitch for a new Metamorpho story that I though was pretty cool. I'd also like to write a Beppo mini-series or graphic novel, because who doesn't love monkeys!

Q: What was your favorite episode?

A:I really liked the adaptation of For The Man Who Has Everything. It was a great comic book, and an enjoyable animated episode. I also really dug The Greatest Story Never Told, because that's just the sort of "what happens on the other side of the equation" story I enjoy writing myself.

Q: Now the show has finished what are the rules about writing for the book?

A:Beats me. Maybe if somebody asks me to write for the book again they'll tell me the rules.

Q: How closely did you collaborate with the artist?

A:Not at all! We never really talked, although I did write to John and asked him if I could get a couple of pages of original art. He was going to send me some pages after the book was printed, and four years later we've lost track of each other. (John, if you're reading this, contact me on my MySpace page.)

Q: Are there any future projects you can tell us about?

A:Well, the Happy Tree Friends video game will (finally) be released soon, so I'm hoping that we'll be writing and producing more HTF shorts (working on that show is a dream job). I have several animation projects "in the pipeline" (that's animation talk for "looking for buyers"), one of which is potentially a Really Big Deal. I also have some pitches out to Mad Magazine, thanks in part to the JLA gig. And if any editors out there are reading this, I'd love to write more comics!

This interview is Copyright © 2008 by Steven Younis. It is not to be reproduced in part or as a whole without the express permission of the author.



The Superman Homepage has had the pleasure of interviewing various Superman Comic Book creative people about their work.

Question and Answer Interviews:


Krypton Club Interviews:

Lois When “Lois & Clark” started production in 1993, there was an obvious relationship between the comic book people and the Hollywood people.

A trade paperback “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman”, was published, with Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher on the cover. It included reprints of comic book stories that were the inspiration for “Lois & Clark”, helping to define the characters. Comic's included are: The Story of the Century (Man of Steel miniseries #2), Tears for Titano (Superman Annual #1), Metropolis - 900 mi (in SUP #9), The Name Game (SUP #11), Lois Lane (in ACT #600), Headhunter (AOS #445), Homeless for the Holidays (AOS #462), The Limits of Power (AOS #466), and Survival (ACT #665).

A number of comic book writers and artists had roles as extras in the episode “I'm Looking Through You” (Season one, episode 4). Their presence was immortilized in the Sky Trading Card #34.

Craig Byrne, president of the online “Lois & Clark” fanclub The Krypton Club, carried out a series of interviews with comic book writers. The interviews are reprinted with permission of the Krypton Club.

Check the Television section of this website for some “Lois & Clark” Interviews conducted by The Krypton Club.