Because fans should be critical, too

Announcement: New Page for Research Material

While I have no delusions of this re-vamped Avatar: the Last Airbender retrospective becoming some kind of professional thing (i.e., no MLA citations), as I’m amassing all of these articles and interviews, I figure it would be a good idea to create a specific spot on this blog where it can all be collected and viewed for easy reference, by myself and anyone interested who’s interested. There is a lot of great stuff out there and more seems to pop up every other week (just two weeks ago, Nick Animation’s Youtube channel posted an interview of co-creator Bryan Konietzko and co-composer Jeremy Zuckerman discussing the music of Avatar and The Legend of Korra).

Hopefully, if time allows, this new page will be implemented by the end of this week, and all this great material can slowly be compiled onto it. Who knows, maybe some people would like to contribute to the reference pool with interesting articles and/or interviews they’ve come across themselves. Rosemont, a long-time follower, frequently links me interesting articles and posts relevant to Avatar and animation in general (including just recently linking an article on the declining quality of Disney animated features up to Moana).

In the meantime, I’m busy with this and other projects (and my day job, ugh). So stay tuned and thanks once again for your patience. And Happy Valentine’s Day!


10 responses

  1. Ian

    Awesome! I’m really looking forward to seeing what new insights and discussions can be brought to the table by discussing avatar and korra side by side. Thanks for the update Marshall as I was starting to wonder how things were progressing 🙂

    February 15, 2017 at 12:26 am

  2. Rosemont

    Good luck with your day job and your research, and again, thank you for the lovely shout-out.

    February 15, 2017 at 2:46 pm

  3. Rosemont

    Something really interesting about villains, Doug Walker and Lindsay Ellis made videos around the same time on the subject of the declining quality of Disney villains:

    They seemed to really get to the heart of why certain types of villains don’t work, depending on the context of a film’s story. The comments on their videos liked to bring up the villains of Disney’s recent TV shows, which seemed to fit the bill of the classic, evil-for-the-sake-of-evil mold, such as Bill Cipher & Lord Dominator. I’d say that the former is more effective by virtue of being connected to the main characters through their relatives plus gradual buildup, while the latter is weak due to a nonexistent motivation, botched timing, and a minimal connection to the hero except as a pawn in his matchmaking scheme (until the very end of the show).

    March 2, 2017 at 11:18 am

  4. Rosemont

    I don’t know if you’ll cover the typical cartoon sitcom format again, but this video on the Simpsons’ decline and the disconnect between the writers and the audience’s attachment to characters seemed interesting.

    March 7, 2017 at 7:42 am

  5. (Sorry if this is a repeat, I can’t see if the comment is going through)

    I can’t find a super official source, but Aaron Ehasz apparently had a very different vision for “The Last Airbender”. There was apparently a possibility that it could have gone for another season or two. The hope was to explore the post-war world and develop some of the characters (and their relationships) more.

    Interesting tidbits:
    -Iroh’s past would have been explored
    -Toph and her parents would have more resolution
    -What happened to Zuko’s Mom would be known
    -The origin of the Avatar would have been revealed (Ehasz had a different idea than what we saw in “Korra”)
    -There would be other Airbender survivors somewhere in the Fire Nation
    -Surprisingly, the writers wanted Zuko and Katara to have a relationship together, whereas Bryke wanted Aang and Katara. Apparently the Nick executives stepped in, because a decision still hadn’t been reached.

    Honestly, reading the “What Could Have Been” is super painful. It strengthens the speculation that “Korra” would have really benefited from having Aaron and Elizabeth Ehasz back*. One commentator somewhere even noted that Bryke didn’t write or direct most (or a plurality) of “The Last Airbender” episodes, so we fans may have given Bryke a little too much credit and had the wrong expectations for “Korra”, where Bryke had more freedom. The parallels with “Star Wars” are upsetting.

    *I’m still looking around for this, but these were some ideas that the Ehasz’s contributed to:
    -Toph and Azula being girls
    -No Toph, Aaang, Katara love triangle, when Toph was a boy (Aaron Ehasz said he would have removed the love triangle in “Korra” season 1)
    -Zuko’s entire redemption arc
    -Iroh not being a secret agent of the Fire Lord (maybe Iroh’s story as we know it)

    (I don’t know Elizabeth Ehasz’s contribution, but I suspect it was just as important because of the great episodes she wrote.)

    (Sources for the “What Could Have Been” below.):
    [1] A Tumblr Thread that seems to have excerpts of something official.

    [2] A Reddit Commentor Flofau mentions some of this stuff as well.

    March 27, 2017 at 2:16 am

    • After thinking about it, I know I have to take back what I said about giving Bryke to much credit.

      I may have met Bryan as a middle schooler (or some other artist who worked on the show and “Star Wars”. Unfortunately, I’m not sure which.). The artist was really nice and gave my summer school a cool perspective on art, martial arts and philosophy (I think he did this as a favor to his wife or fiancé, who had worked there. It was her last day before the two headed to the SF area (at least that’s what my memory says)). He also drew the older kids quick self-portraits. Because of this I feel it’s wrong for me to be disrespectful of someone who’s probably been nothing but kind to me (the show for sure and likely the class as well).

      My apologies to Mike and Bryan for saying they received too much credit. The reverse is likely more accurate. Unfortunately as a fan, it’s easy to forget all the effort people put in.

      April 26, 2017 at 12:23 am

      • The stuff which allegedly ties those Book 4 ideas together.

        Also, a resource for some more production stuff. I believe zephyrita interned at Nick during the production of “Avatar”. Unfortunately, she deleted/de-activated her account so this is more or less what we have of her old information.

        Be careful of just saving Tumblr links (or any links). Tumblr users seem to just disappear their accounts without a clear reason. To be on the safe side, it may be necessary to save the pages as pdfs (or re-tumble the stuff).

        Also Giancarlo Volpe’s Tumblr and Deviant Art page (some story boards from “Avatar”). I think he story boarded and directed a bunch of episodes [to his shame, “The Great Divide”. For the 10 year anniversary, he joked that “true avatar fans love every episode, including, no especially, “The Great Divide” ” (paraphrased)] He posted some other piece of story advice, Aaron Ehasz posted, in addition to the great characters photo. It should be on one of Volpe’s Tumblr pages. This advice was a little harder for me to understand.

        I think when our schedules ease up on us, my friend and I will try to chase down info about Book 4 (or info on the class people say Ehasz taught). If Aaron Ehasz really gave a lecture at Berkeley, I’m curious to know what he said. It’d be especially great if someone managed to record something since (unfortunately, smart phones were still becoming popular at the point), to the best of my knowledge, Aaron Ehasz does not seem to have given any official interviews. I’ve only found him on the record about “The Last Airbender” movie.
        (the Berkeley course should be real. It is a student led class so I don’t think the students can register to teach a semester class without actually doing so. If Ehasz taught, it should be a guest lecture.).

        April 26, 2017 at 1:18 am

      • Sorry, I think zephyrita’s Tumblr was just a holding site. Kataraandzuko is the one who said she(?) interned at Nick during production. I believe this is a transcript of a brief Q&A she had with Aaron Ehasz in Philadelphia. That was the closest I’ve come to an official interview with Ehasz.

        This is a second one, but I’m not sure whether it’s a rewording of the first or not. It sounds like it’s around the same time (I blocked Tumblr to try to be more productive so all I have is the link at the moment. Not sure if it’s the interview or not.).

        I’ll have to look for some of the other production info I stumbled upon later. I saved some links but navigating Tumblr is a pain. I should have just made my own Tumblr and reblogged everything.

        Also, the IP Bible of the Avatar pilot(?). This one is 9 pages. I think the one that guided the series was allegedly 65 pages long. I don’t think that’s available though.

        Sorry for all the info dump.

        April 26, 2017 at 1:42 am

  6. Sorry forgot to mention this in the previous comment. I don’t know how difficult it’d be, but maybe there’s a way to do an interview (online or in-person) with the Ehasz’s. This would arguably slant the reviews more towards the production instead of the story side, but maybe it can reveal something a la Mr. Plinkett. Your work gives me a similar feel for animation (in a good way).

    March 27, 2017 at 2:23 am

  7. Supposedly stuff from the original IP Bible (no idea if this is true or not)

    From Tumblr, one of the Nick Interns said Ehasz did want a Book 4 (this Tumblr is also a place where interview transcripts from Aaron Ehasz have come from). Trying to follow a lead on this, but not sure if anything will come of it.

    May 30, 2017 at 6:50 pm

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