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.
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?
A:THE CASUAL BIO:
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!
THE OFFICIAL BIO:
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.
IntroductionThe Superman Homepage has had the pleasure of interviewing various Superman Comic Book creative people about their work.
Question and Answer Interviews:
- Interview with Christopher Priest about the Superman vs. Deathstroke story in Deathstroke #8 (November 2016)
- Interview with Sterling Gates about the 'Adventures of Supergirl' digital-first comic book series (January 2016)
- Interview with J. Michael Straczynski about Superman: Earth One - Vol. 3 - Writer J. Michael Straczynski talks to us about the third volume in the Superman: Earth One graphic novel series (February 2015)
- Interview with Jim Krueger - Writer Jim Krueger talks to us about his The Dark Lantern story in the Adventures of Superman comic book title (November 2013)
- Smallville: Season 11 Interview with Bryan Q. Miller - Writer Bryan Q. Miller talks to us about his work on the Smallville: Season 11 comic book title (October 2012)
- Supergirl Interview with Mahmud Asrar - Artist Mahmud Asrar talks to us about his work on the monthly Supergirl comic book title (July 2012)
- Superman/Batman Interview with Joshua Hale Fialkov - Joshua Hale Fialkov answers our questions about The Secret 3-part story in Superman/Batman #85-87 (July 2011)
- Supergirl Interview with Sterling Gates - Sterling Gates answers our questions about where Supergirl is headed post War of the Supermen (June 2010)
- Supergirl Interview with Sterling Gates & Jamal Igle - Adam Dechanel chats with the Supergirl comic book team about the Maid of Might (March 2010)
- Behind the Scenes of the Super Friends - Four part indepth look at the Super Friends comic book title with artists J. Bone and Stewart McKenny (February 2010)
- Interview with Landry Q Walker and Eric Jones - The writer and artist discuss Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade (May 2009)
- Interview with Elliot S! Maggin - Legendary Superman writer and novelist discusses his career (January 2009)
- Interview with J. Bone - Artist discusses Super Friends comic book (November 2008)
- Interview with Mark Bagley (September 2008)
- Interview with J. Torres - Writer discusses Legion of Super Heroes in the 31st Century #18 (September 2008)
- Interview with Jake Black (May 2008)
- Interview with Cary Bates (June 2008)
- Interview with Jack Briglio - Writer discusses Legion of Super Heroes in the 31st Century #14 (May 2008)
- Interview with Ken Pontac - Writer discusses Justice League Unlimited #44 (May 2008)
- Interview with Karl Kerschl (April 2008)
- Interview with J. Torres - Writer discusses Legion of Super Heroes in the 31st Century #13 (April 2008)
- Interview with J. Torres - Writer discusses Legion of Super Heroes in the 31st Century #11 (February 2008)
- Interview with Fabian Nicieza - Writer on Superman comic books (June 2007)
- Interview with Danny Fingeroth - Writer of the book Superman on the Couch (May 2007)
- Interview with Jesse McCann - Writer on the Krypto The Superdog comic books (December 2006)
- Interview with Matt Haley - Artist on the Superman Returns comic book movie adaptation (November 2006)
- Interview with Ethan Van Sciver - Artist on Superman/Batman (September 2006)
- Interview with Mark Verheiden on taking over the writing duties on Superman/Batman (April 2006)
- Interview with Matt Idelson on taking over as Superman group editor (March 2006)
- Interview with Jeph Loeb on Sam and Superman/Batman #26 (February 2006)
- Interview with Roger Stern (December 2005)
- Interview with Marv Wolfman (November 2005)
- Interview with Gail Simone (May 2005)
- Interview with Greg Rucka (April 2005)
- Interview with Brad Meltzer [Identity Crisis] (January 2005)
- Interview with Glenn Whitmore (November 2004)
- Interview with Jeph Loeb (September 2004)
- Interview with Karl Kerschl (September 2004)
- Interview with Ron Garney (September 2004)
- Interview with Greg Rucka and Matthew Clark (May 2004)
- Interview with Ed McGuinness (March 2004)
- Interview with Brad Meltzer [Identity Crisis] (March 2004)
- Interview with Mark Millar [Superman: Red Son] (March 2003)
- Interview with Min S. Ku (September 2001)
- Interview with Jeph Loeb (May 2001)
- Interview with Joe Casey (April 2001)
- Interview with Mike S. Miller (September 2000)
- Interview with Denis Rodier (August 2000)
- Interview with Grant Morrison (December 1999)
- Interview with Mark Millar [Part 2] (November 1999)
- Interview with Mark Millar [Part 1] (April 1999)
- Superman vs. Terminator - A Chat with Fight Promoter Alan Grant. (January 2000)
- Superman: The Dailies (1939-1940) Graphic Novel Review.
- The Rebirth of Superman (Part 1) - Superman is reborn... again.
- The Rebirth of Superman (Part 2) - Eddie Barganza on taking the character in a new direction.
- The Rebirth of Superman (Part 3) - Jeph Loeb discusses writing the Man of Steel.
- Lex Luthor For President - Forget Superman. An updated Luthor's new enemies are Gore and Bush.
- Superman: Last Son of Earth - Steve Gerbern Interview - The writer discusses flip-flopping the Man of Steel's origin. (August 2000)
Krypton Club Interviews:
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.
- Interview with Roger Stern (June 1995)
- Interview with John Byrne (June 1995)
- Interview with Mike Carlin (July 1995)