Interview by James Eatock - January 2001
Here Larry DiTillio answers questions specifically relating to "The Dragon's Gift" episode from He-Man's season one.
In one of the first few lines in the episode, you touch upon Adam's playboy image. Was this something you likedabout the character?
Absolutely. Though this is probably a line whichfairly zoomed over the heads of our younger audience members. But such lines do play for older audience members and to my way of thinking this is what makes acartoon show acceptable for FAMILY viewing, i.e. something for the kids AND something for the adults. Besides we didn't want to make Prince Adam TOO Clark Kent.
In this episode, Adam's entranceinvolved he and Cringer tumbling into the throne room. Is it right to think that you loved using a comical moment to show Randor's embarrassment of his son?
YUP. This kind of slapstick fun always made King Randor crazy while at the same time made Prince Adam just a bit more lovable as a character.
Did you ever contemplate having King Randor actually touch the gift from Skeletor?
Nope. I really wanted Teela to have the greatest stakes in this episode so I stuck to Man-At-Arms. It also created some tension between He-Man and Teela when He-Man decides not to chop down Skytree.
Cringer's transformation into Battle Cat was amusing in this episode. Did you just think of it as you were writing that scene, or was that something that caught your eye?
Well we did Cringer trying to stave off the magic that turns him into Battle Cat so many times, we always were on the lookout for a new way to do it. This one just popped into my head at the time.
Where did the name "Weird of Crystal" come from?
I made it up. Instead of using weird as an adjective I used it as a noun, kind of like "The weirding way" in Dune.
You place the characters in a library, and again this happens in "House of Shokoti" Part 1. Did you like the idea of having the characters researching their mission?
I did but there was also more to it. In doing a kid's show you want to show things like reading in a very positive light, so kids will want to emulate their heroes and read a book. This is why I often had He-Man and friends turn to books in solving a dilemma. I did it in other cartoon shows as well.
How did you come up with the language for the Trolls of Darksmoke?
I was a roleplay gamer (Dungeons & Dragons, Tunnels & Trolls etc.) and often made up languages foruse in games. It was something I always liked doing. I wanted the Troll lingo to be kind of guttural, hence all the G's and K's. BTW - When I do make uplanguages, it isn't just gibberish, in my head I know what the characters speaking the tongue are saying so I can pace it for the voice actors and the director. Which is not to say that almost 20 years later I still remember what the words mean. But I can pretty well figure out what I had in mind from the context.
What was the relationship between theTrolls of Darksmoke and Granamyr?
They were his guards. I have a fondness for Trolls and liked having them be something more than just monsters.
Was it always your intention to have Granamyr appear at the very end of Act One so dramatically?
Of course. This was a BIG moment and I took great care with it, using almost an entire page of the script to describe all the detailsof his first appearance.
Where did the idea come from to have Granamyr constantly belittling He-Man? Was this already developed in "The Isle ofDarksmoke" game?
Granamyr had a very low opinion of the human race soit was very much in his nature to belittle He-Man. In "The Isle ofDarksmoke," he was much the same and was placed there so my players would come across something They absolutely had no chance of beating and thus were forced to negotiate. BTW - For those of you who are totally lost at this moment, "The Isle of Darksmoke" was a Tunnels& Trolls roleplay scenario I wrote for Flying Buffalo Inc. It was printed with a beautiful cover by Michael Whelan and I was very proud of it. I wrote it before I went to work on He-Man and when I decided to do a story about a dragon I simply borrowed the name from myself.
Where did Skytree come from? Did you just want something older than Granamyr that wasn't in any physical form?
Uh, trees are physical forms, yes? But to answer the question, I wanted something older than Granamyr and instead of opting for a monster I went for a tree. To me this was more magical and helped keep the tension going. If it had been an evil dragon or something of that nature, it is doubtful He-Man would have hesitated as he did with the tree. As for the name,you caught me stealing from myself again. It comes from an unpublished Dungeons & Dragons scenario I wrote called "Skytree and Stone Glade."
Okay, what is/was the exact age of Granamyr and Skytree? :)
Granamyr will be 2,051 on February 16th 2001; Skytree turns 20,075 on September 9th 2001.
Was Tullamore's Irish accent something that surprised you?
Not at all. He was written with the brogue, and namedafter Tullamore Dew a fine Irish whiskey.
Was Tullamore's incantation "ToraMcMorn" supposed to mean anything?
It is an incantation designed to trigger a teleportation spell. I suppose one could translate it as "I'm outtahere."
Skytree states that "A Man-At-Arms saved the forest from the Witches of Fire." Did you always try and insert Eternian history into scripts?
Yup. It was part of my style to always have this senseof great magical events occurring throughout Eternia's long history.
A lot of films nowadays have twists, butI still think that "The Dragon's Gift" twist (Granamyr accepts thegift of life) was very surprising. Did you always envisage this twist at theend? And do you consider it to be a twist?
It's definitely a twist in that the audience was neverused to seeing He-Man fail and he was willing to sacrifice himself as well. Iimagine there was a few tense moments for our younger audience there.
How did this story develop, and werethere any other alternative routes you nearly took?
My first assignment for He-Man was a rewrite of a script called"The Time Corridor." After completing it, I pitched about 6 more stories to Arthur Nadel and he turned them all down. Figuring I was finished, I went back to a heinous nine to five job until Arthur called me and asked me where I had been all these weeks. I told him I thought he was no longer interested in having me write for the show. He said nonsense, just because they didn't like the first stories I pitched, I shouldn't stop trying (this by the way was my first major lesson in living the writer's life -never take a rejection personally). So I came up with 3 more stories one of which was "The Dragon's Gift." The main premise of the story was that Granamyr was something He-Man couldn't defeat with physical strength. Arthur bought it and another of the three (and would you believe I can't remember that one!) and when I finished the first draft of it and turned it in, Filmation offered me a permanent job on He-Man.
I know Robert Lamb wasn't too keen on the final design of Granamyr, but were you?
Well, it wasn't quite how I envisioned Granamyr and I absolutely HATED the silly hat. I remember trying to knock it off his head and destroy it in one of the sequel scripts but no way would they let me get away with it. I did want something a little more majestic (much like the Chinese Dragon I wrote about in an episode of Conan the Adventurer later in my career). However Granamyr had a great voice and he grew on me.
Was it always your aim to bring back Granamyr again in "The Return of Granamyr" and "Disappearing Dragons"?
Yup, sure. Why wouldn't it be? If you have a character that good you always want to find another story to use them in. Besides I have a thing for talking dragons.
Is this your favorite episode that you have written?
I tend to shy away from the "favorites"stuff, but it would definitely fall into the category of one of my favorites.
Stupid question time: Who would win in a fight, Superman or Granamyr? :)
Hoo boy, that's a stupid question alright. :^) Only kidding. But the answer is obvious, since I also wrote two Superman episodes later in my career. Say itwith me now folks: what is Superman vulnerable to? Kryptonite and MAGIC. And since Granamyr wielded very ancient magics Superman would be a goner in anydust-up with him.
And that's it folks...