Michael Halperin Interview

Interview by James Eatock - September 1998

Can you tell me some of your work on He-Man?

In 1983, before "Masters" became a series, Mattel had produced the action figures. Once they were on the market, children contacted the company because they were confused. Who were the good guys? Who were the bad guys? Where did they come from?

What was your job?

Mattel asked me to come in and create the back story (bible) for "Masters" that could act as a device for merchandising the figures as well as the premise for the TV series (Filmation had begun the process of designing the cartoon characters -- but they had no stories). I was Creative Consultant to the series during its first year (65 episodes) with the job of approving all story lines. I'm proud to say that I brought Larry DiTillio into the series. His Dungeons and Dragons gaming background proved invaluable as a writer. He was what I looked for in story creation. I worked with Larry on the development of the "Granamyr" story although it was his original idea and he deserves all the credit for a great character. I was intimately involved with Filmation. Although I had a contract with Mattel, my position was as liaison with Filmation. Meetings were held at least two or three times a week. I worked with most of the writers, Lou Scheimer, Art Nadel, etc.

Several stories in the bible become episodes. Teela's origins, for example, when she's discovered by Man-At-Arms after following Zoar (the Sorceress) into the mountains -- that's when we find out that Teela is the daughter of the Sorceress. They also did the story of Marlena's landing on Eternia, but skipped the origins of Evil-Lyn, Tri-Klops, and Beast Man (real names: Evelyn Powers, who was a brilliant chemist, physicist, and biologist; Dr. T. E. Scope, optical inventor who was the Hubbell of his time; Biff Beastman, Chief Technician who retreated to his farm when off-duty)

What are the main stories you developed?

I developed the story of how Prince Adam became He-Man; the origins of Teela; why Castle Grayskull existed in the first place; the "secret" of Castle Grayskull which I believe has never been revealed; how Queen Marlena arrived on Eternia; the topography and geography of Eternia; Snake Mountain, the abode of Skeletor; the origins of Evil-Lyn, Tri-Klops, and Beastman, etc.

How was the cartoon in fairness to your scripted bible?

The original notion behind "Masters" was to create a series more aligned with mythology and legend -- but who's going to argue with success? Regarding the sci-fi elements: they were part and parcel of the original notion. I would have preferred a more mythic environment. In addition, Adam was supposed to look like a seventeen year old boy. When he makes the change, he would become He-Man (muscles, armor, and definitely would not look the same). Economics changed that.

Any thoughts on She-Ra?

I had nothing to do with She-Ra and subsequent permutations of the series. Later, Mattel requested I help develop some other characters, but they never made it to reality for a variety of reasons. Many of them were research and development ideas.

What happened to Orko, or should I say Gorpo?

Yes, Orko was originally called Gorpo. Filmation created him because they had a deal with Mattel that they would have royalties on any characters they created which made it into the toy line. He wasn't part of the original bible. However, he worked because they needed a "court jester" type although in the original, Adam was the practical joker and prankster. Why the name change? There's a saying in comedy: "words with a K are funny -- Alka Seltzer, chicken, pickle." That's as good a reason as any.

Thanks for your time.

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