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.”