Since the 70's and up until today, Will Meugniot has worked as a producer, director, storyboard artist,
story editor, writer, comics artist and much more. Some of the shows he has worked on are
some of the absolute biggest fan favorites like:
The Incredible Hulk (storyboard director in 1982-1983),
Infact, Will Meugniot's first producing job was supervising the Jem song sequences and commercial animation. On Jem he was the storyboard director in 1985-1987, producer in 1986-1988, storyboard artist, and the creator of the Jem Main Title.
He did some of the most memorable storyboards for songs like "Who Is He Kissing", "Jealousy", "Who Is She Anyway?", and toy commercials for the Jem Star Stage and Rock Backstager, Jem dolls, Misfits dolls.
I got the chance to speak to him and took the chance to ask him about some of those mysteries that we Jem fans have been trying to figure out.
An interview with Will Meugniot:
Most Jem fans agree Jem was beyond most other shows, the stories, the music, and the animation! Jem had beautifully designed characters, the largest wardrobe of any cartoon, the most imaginative music videos with great camera angles and clever transitions between scenes. Was it Hasbro who expected you to beat what had been done in animation before, or was it just the outcome of putting a lot of talented people together?
"A combination of both. Marvel had assembled an amazing art staff, and Jem was lucky to have some of the best of them. Plus Sunbow really wanted to do a superior show and helped those of us who were interested in doing something different than was normal through the studio system. When I first started designing titles and music videos for the Sunbow shows, there was a fair amount of resistance at Marvel to employing such radically new camera and story-telling techniques."
Keith Tucker did several storyboards. Who of the other storyboard artists were most active on the music videos, and who did you work most closely with?
"Vicky Jensen of Shrek was my main board artist other than myself, but Keith, Boyd Kirkland, Larry Houston, Frank Paur, Barb Rausch, Romeo Tanghal, Mike Vosburg and Warren Greenwood were my other regulars. All of them went on to produce, direct, or have careers as print artists."
Were storyboards, like the ones for the music videos, made for the entire stories of the Jem episodes?
"Yes and no. Everything was storyboarded for the series by very good artists. But supervising the music videos allowed me to focus on 2 minutes of animation a week, while Jim, Gwen and the episodic directors were responsible for 18 minutes a week. I had the luxury of more time proportionately to polish the songs."
For the very first airing of Jem, the original 15 short segments, production numbers 4041-4044 have appeared on model cels, followed by "A", "B" or "C". But the 15 segments were turned into five episodes, so was there a 4045?
"Itís been a long time since we did Jem, so Iím not 100% certain of the first season numbering. However, there were 15 short segments made, so it would be logical that there was a 4045 a,b, and c."
When the original 15 short segments of Jem were made into five episodes, many edits were done and new scenes were added. Even the Starbright episodes, which were some of the most well made episodes, received alot of re-animations. Why was so much effort put into remaking them?
"Sometimes simply cutting the episodes together would make for odd art and story continuity. Sunbow was committed to doing a better product, and the reanimations reflect their desire to do a good show. Additionally, we were on a tight schedule doing the short episodes, so some of the changes were for retakes which were called, but arrived too late to be included for the first broadcast."
Can you give any clarity about the missing episode production number "5205-27", which would have followed the episode "Glitter And Gold"? Was there any unfinished episode?
"Iím afraid I canít. After finishing the videos for Glitter and Gold, I was assigned another series which was in trouble and needed a fast re-design and reworking, and then took another couple of months away from Jem to co-produce and direct Marvelís X-Men pilot. I came back to Jem around episode 30."
Some Jem fashion model cels and animation cels, have shown up that never made it into the cartoon, but were mentioned in scripts. How come material came as far as being made, but not used? Was this common?
"Again, this is from a long time ago, but Iíd guess some of the fashions were created to showcase the Jem toyline and as items got dropped or added to it, theyíd be used or not in the episodes."
How does Jem rate to you among shows you've worked on, and would you consider working on a new Jem series?
"Iíve been lucky enough to work on a lot shows I loved. Jem was my first producing and directing assignment, and had one of my favorite crews with whom to work. It is a favorite, but I also feel passionate about my work on X-Men, The Real Ghostbusters, Captain Planet, Spydogs, and my favorite, Exosquad, which I like best because I had the most control during its creation and production. Iíd consider working on a new Jem, but doubt Iíd be offered the series. Iím 60 now and suspect the studio would want to go with someone younger who had a better feeling for current pop culture. When we did the original series, I was one of the few people I knew who was watching MTV and studying how music videos were filmed."
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