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CHARACTERS ENGAGE: AN INTERVIEW WITH JEFFREY SCOTT ON WRITING CHARACTERS Interviews Jeffrey Scott: Can Characters Have Universal Appeal? Interviews Jeffrey Scott

Characters have powers! They have the power to make us care, laugh, and even make us love them. In short, they have the power to engage us. Characters also drive entire industries such as animation, games, toys, and children's publishing, to name but a few.

At Characters Engage we feature great characters and artists, as well as industry news, topics and discussions.

CE:  As the grandson of Stooge Moe Howard and son of writer, comic book artist, director, producer and pioneer of 3D comics Norman Albert Maurer, Jeffrey Scott comes from a family that has American movie and comic book history written all over it. As someone who was born with storytelling practically in his blood, was there ever any doubt in your mind as to what you wanted to be when you grew up?

JS:  I knew as a kid that I was going to be in the creative arts.  I did some acting as a child, wrote a screenplay, inked comic books, created some gift items, and a piece of fine art (an American flag made of a 117 crisp new one dollar bills that’s hanging in the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library). But I didn’t focus on writing until my dad asked me to be his assistant story editor at Hanna-Barbera.  I thought “Learn to write and get paid $500 a week?  You bet!”  So I got a priceless apprenticeship from dad, learned how to write premises, outlines and scripts, and six months later I was given the “Super Friends” series to write and edit.

Jeffrey on the set of "The Three Stooges Meet Hercules"

CE:  Pac-Man, Jim Henson's Muppet Babies, Spider-Man, Dungeon's & Dragons... your list of animation writing credits would fill this entire page (for a full list, please click here). After having worked on such a wide variety of character-based properties, have you developed a Jeffrey Scott way of approaching new characters? 

JS:  Yes, I have developed the “Jeffrey Scott” approach to writing characters.  But I’m afraid to say that no other writer in the world can use it.  You might say it’s my mind.  That’s because my secret is to “become” the character.  I first absorb all I can about the character and then I just write from the character’s point of view which is now mine.  So I love writing for Superman because while I’m doing it I’m the guy ripping holes through walls and grabbing the villain by the throat!

Jeffrey as Moe in a Verizon SuperPages commercial with actors Pat Thomas & Bob Caso

CE:  Some years ago you exec. produced and wrote "The Three Stooges Live-Stage Show" at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, worked on "Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling" and you were recently a series developer on an upcoming major cartoon series, which is based on one of the biggest names in Hollywood. How do you develop characters that are modeled after well known public figures? Are there any special challenges in creating, developing and scripting characters that are based on real people?

JS:  I just do what I wrote above and become them.  It was especially easy for the Stooges.  Having grown up with Moe as my granddad and watching and hearing him for 23 years, it was easy to become his character.  And it didn’t hurt that I have his genes. 

CE:  What do you look for in a property when considering new writing offers?

JS:  MONEY!!!!!!  Oh, and secondarily, I look for elements that will lead to good storytelling.  That’s the most important factor of any project: Do the characters, goals and world lend themselves to telling dozens and dozens of stories?

CE:  Thank you, Jeffrey Scott. If our readers don't already know Jeffrey's great book "How to Write for Animation", we recommend it highly.