Recently, Zack Whedon took time out of his busy schedule to sit down and chat with Josh Green about his career, Dr. Horrible, and what’s to come.
Josh Green: You are a third generation television writer, as well as the brother of the famous Joss Whedon. Have you always wanted to continue the Whedon family tradition of television writing?
Zack Whedon: I always knew that I wanted to be involved in the entertainment industry in some capacity or many different capacities but I didn’t become interested in writing for television specifically until I started working for David Milch on Deadwood. That was in 2003 when that show was just getting started and when many interesting things were happening on TV in general. HBO and FX were doing very cool original programming and I saw a place where I would want to work someday. My grandfather, my dad and Joss all worked or started in sitcoms so I sort of fought my comedy inclinations as a very weak and insignificant form of rebellion against my family tradition and I am still in the throes of that “rebellion” today.
ZW: Jed, Maurissa and I had made some video things when we were living together which Joss saw and laughed at. Then in the middle of the WGA strike he mentioned that he wanted to do something for the internet since we had so much dang free time. He had the title and the characters worked out already. So then we got together at his office and made it happen.
JG: How did you, Joss, Jed, and Maurissa decide who would write certain portions of the script?
ZW: We outlined the whole story together and figured out where the songs would go and what they’d be about and so on. At that point we all just pointed to things and said, “I want to do this.” I pointed to the parts that weren’t songs.
JG: As soon as Dr. Horrible went online, you wrote the first of three online prequel webcomics on MySpace Dark Horse Presents. The first one starred Captain Hammer, and the others starred Moist and Penny. Were those the first comics you had ever written? Also, do you treat writing comic books differently than screenplays?
ZW: Those were the first comics I’d ever written and it was very educational and loads of fun too. They differ from screenplays in that I get to be very detailed about everything that is happening in the frame. If I did that in a screenplay I’d get punched in the face by the director. I like writing them for that reason. I like figuring out how to cover an action in a few panels and deciding which moments deserve real estate on the page, what image you want to leave on and so on.
JG: How did you get the Dr. Horrible webcomic gig? Is it because you’ve been a long-time comic book reader like your brother, Joss? If so, what are your favorite comics of all time? Are you still a regular reader?
ZW: I got the webcomic gig because Joss and Dark Horse are best buds. They wanted to do something to tie in with Dr. H and Joss suggested I do it. He knew that I was a bit of a comic fan and that I was unemployed so I was perfect for the job. I was never an avid comic reader but I dabbled. Joss exposed me to almost all of the comics I read as a kid. He gave me lots of Frank Miller and some Alan Moore, which I loved. Recently I’ve been trying to read more and catch up on everything I missed out on because I’m insecure about my limited comic knowledge. Of everything I’ve read recently Y: The Last Man is my favorite. I loved it so very much.
ZW: It the depicts the first of Dr. Horrible’s many embarrassing encounters with Captain Hammer. It’s a small story but you get a little glimpse into Horrible’s origins which is nice.
JG: Will the one-shot be drawn in a visual style representative of the web series? Also, tell me about your collaboration with artist Joelle Jones.
ZW: I think it is representative of the web series. Obviously we don’t have the budget constraints of a filmed show so the action is amped up a little. The collaboration with Joelle has been fantastic. I love her style and her take on the characters. She did a really beautiful job. As detailed as I was in the script Joelle brought a ton of visual elements to the page that never would have occurred to me and which improve it greatly. She’s awesome.
JG: Recently there was a new Dr. Horrible segment that aired during the Emmy’s. How’d this come together?
ZW: Neil, as producer and host of the Emmys, told Joss that he wanted to do a Dr. Horrible bit which was very generous of him. So we gathered and threw around ideas eventually settling on what we did. We considered a musical number but the show already had a musical number and we didn’t want there to be too many songs in the broadcast. Luckily we were able to work around the astoundingly busy schedules of Neil, Nathan, Felicia and Simon and get them all in it. It was fun to see them all in costume again and it reminded us how much we loved working with all of them.
JG: Joss has let it be known that you all have started throwing around ideas for the Dr. Horrible sequel. Is there hope that it will be released sometime in 2010?
ZW: There is hope for that but what is “hope” really? It’s possible but it’s also possible it will take us a teensy bit longer than that. Whenever it happens it will be cool. The title alone will set your mind racing. Of course I can’t tell you what that is unless you promise not to tell ANYONE else… Okay? Yeah? Dr. Horrible 2: Rise of both the Silver Surfer and the Golden Army.
JG: Are there going to be any more new webcomics or print comics released before the Dr. Horrible sequel?
ZW: Yes. We will do at least one more web comic and the idea is to have it lead into the sequel in some beautiful fashion but what that is remains a mystery to me.
JG: Thanks for your time, Zack!