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Sprung from the comics biz, Man of Ac­tion has flour­ished as an­i­ma­tion hit-mak­ers ready to ce­ment their sig­na­ture cre­ation Ben 10 as an ev­er­green fran­chise. By Tom McLean

putting all your eggs in one bas­ket.”

“We like the make-it-up part of things,” adds Sea­gle. “Usu­ally, when we sign on for a show that’s not our own cre­ation, we tell peo­ple we’re in for the bi­ble, the pilot and a sea­son—and that’s all we can com­mit to. And some­times we stay an­other sea­son just be­cause it’s fun, like with Ul­ti­mate Spi­der-Man.”

Man of Ac­tion may have only four mem­bers, but it has an ex­ten­sive sup­port­ing cast, in­clud­ing a list of about 40 writ­ers who they hire on to their shows and of­ten stay on after the group has left.

“We are a com­pany, so we have a weekly meet­ing where we go down ev­ery project go­ing on or where it is and what’s next and we get all that or­ga­nized,” says Sea­gle. “We have weekly cre­ative meet­ings on each show. So we’re just fig­ur­ing out, you know, do we have spring­boards to do, do we have get scripts to get through, do we have notes to go through. We spend an enor­mous amount of time just writ­ing emails say­ing, ‘Here’s what hap­pened in the last 30 min­utes on what­ever,’ so that we can func­tion like a mul­ti­headed hy­dra.”

Back to Ben 10 Long-es­tab­lished in an­i­ma­tion, Car­toon Network’s plan to re­boot Ben 10 and es­tab­lish it as an ev­er­green fran­chise last­ing gen­er­a­tions, proved an ir­re­sistible op­por­tu­nity for its cre­ators to re­turn and make the show ev­ery­thing they orig­i­nally imag­ined. “We were aware they were go­ing to re­boot it and we just said, we think we’d like to do that re­boot, ac­tu­ally, be­cause there is stuff we’ve loved about it that it moved away from and we want to move it back,” says Sea­gle.

“One thing we learned, even though the shows were great, is that if it’s go­ing to ex­ist as a sort of ev­er­green IP, ev­er­green brand all its own, you can’t age it up,” says Casey. “That was a mis­take, ul­ti­mately. The qual­ity, we can’t ar­gue with that. But Mickey Mouse never ages, Bugs Bunny never ages—all the iconic car­toon char­ac­ters, ag­ing is not a part of their DNA. It’s been a very con­scious thing and Car­toon Network agrees with us on this.”

Sea­gle says his 84-year-old fa­ther put it best when he called up after see­ing the char­ac­ter wield more than 10 aliens and said that was wrong for a char­ac­ter named Ben 10. “And I thought, you know, he’s right, ac­tu­ally,” says Sea- gle. “He’s Ben 10, he should be 10 years old and have 10 aliens. And so that’s kind of how we’re run­ning it.” Stick­ing with Comics

Don’t ex­pect the group’s lineup to change— ever. Their orig­i­nal busi­ness doc­u­ment “al­lows for some­body to leave and no­body else to join, just be­cause that elim­i­nated the need to have that con­ver­sa­tion ever,” says Sea­gle.

The group plans to fol­low its di­verse in­ter­ests, wher­ever that may lead. Sea­gle says he thinks they will al­ways have a foot in an­i­ma­tion and comics, but any­thing else is fair play, too. Kelly’s live-ac­tion movie I Kill Giants, adapted from the comics he co-cre­ated, is com­ing to the­aters this fall, and Sea­gle and Rouleau both have been writ­ing live-ac­tion TV on top of an­i­ma­tion.

Rouleau says the de­vel­op­ing world of VR and AR also is some­thing the group finds ex­cit­ing: “I def­i­nitely have an eye on that stuff, and I know that we’ve had these con­ver­sa­tions where we want to get into those fields as well.”

From left: Joe Kelly, Dun­can Rouleau, Steven T. Sea­gle and Joe Casey

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