Larry DiTillio Interview
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Interview by Dave Newman - 2002

Would you mind me asking you some He-Man-related questions? Acouple are about specific episodes, and some others are just asking your opinion on characters.

Sure, but keep in mind you're asking me about a show I worked on about twenty years ago (makes you feel OLD doesn't it!). So forgiveme if the answers are not all that deep.

You co-wrote an episode with Antoni Zalewski called "The Gambler." I just wondered if you had any memories or opinions of the story itself, or the characters?

Actually Tony Zalewski wrote the episode and I rewrote it. Obviously Tony's last name would indicate some Polish heritage, but he's from Britain, though he has been here in America a long time. Oddly enough Tony is one of the few people from He-Man I do see now and again, usually at game conventions. The other of course would be Bob Forward, who got his start as a writer on He-Man. "The Gambler" script needed some work, so I am at least glad it turned out well with that effort. The name Melbrag rings a bell, but that's about all I can recall about the episode. I generally had fun with all the He-Man and She-Ra episodes I worked on.

 

What has been your favorite show that you’ve worked on?

My favorite show thus far? Well I don't have one; I have two - He-Man and She-Ra. And I'm not just saying that because you're a big fan of the show. I truly loved the experience of workingon those two shows, more than I have ever enjoyed an animation experiencesince. Sure it didn't have the best animation in town (I doubt any Filmation show could make that claim) and it was a little corny, but I truly believe I did some of my best work ever on those shows. No lie, frogeye!

Also, what are your opinions on these characters:

He-Man?

Let's face it, he's the big cheese on the show. Just a flat-out good guy, who can punch the lights out of a Sherman Tank, but prefers reason to violence. You don't really see heroes like He-Man anymore. He's maybe a little too fey in the guise of Prince Adam, but that part of it was kind of silly anyway, kind of like Clark Kent takes off his glasses and nobody knows he's Superman - Bloody right!

 

Battle Cat?

Kind of the opposite of He-Man, Cat was more fun in his Cringer mode. As Battle Cat he was just a ferocious sidekick, but as Cringer he never failed to make us laugh. D.C. Fontana who was the story editor of both the classic Star Trek and the first year of Star Trek: The Next Generation wrote the ultimate Battle Cat Story.

Orko?

Oh boy. Well Orko was the classic "kid" character and I am not too fond of kid characters. However as we wrote more episodes and Orko grew up some (particularly in the Trolla episodes one or two of which I wrote) I did grow fonder of the little guy. He was also decidedly weird and that I do like.

Teela?

A babe and I would say one of the very first feminists in cartoons. She was fun to work with, as she went against many of the female stereotypes in cartoons.

Man-At-Arms?

I really liked this character. I am fond of the old, wise warrior type and Man-At-Arms played that part very well. I also liked the relationship between him and his daughter.

 

Skeletor?

Do you know we once did a survey of the most popular characters on the show and Skeletor came in second, right after He-Man. There is no doubt he was a good villain, but frankly we overused him in the first season and he began to slide into something of a comic opera villain. I was about the only person at Filmation who realized this and that's why I began creating new villains for the series. Do you know we had to take out all his episodes in France? They thought he was way too scary for kids.

Hordak?

He was my boy. I was in fact responsible for most of the characters on She-Ra since I developed that show (where as most of He-Man was in place by the time I arrived on the scene). The real problem was trying to make him different from Skeletor, which is why I emphasized his technological prowess rather than the evil magic that was Skeletor's forté. I think in general he was more of a threat than Skeletor and he had a very perverse sense of humor (particularly where that poor sap Mantenna was concerned), which I liked.

Stinkor?

Lou Scheimer, the head of Filmation hated the name Stinkor and Lou had total control of the show by contract, control he never hesitated to use when he didn't want something in one of his cartoons. That was probably the last time any toy company ever gave away such control. Too bad.

Jitsu?

Jitsu was a second He-Man generation toy and it depicted an Asian. We never had Jitsu to work on until late in the Series. People were very nervous about depicting 'minority' characters, lest they be taken as a harmful stereotype. So Jitsu made one brief appearance and said nothing. He was the victim of political correctness, you might say.


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