Animated Shorts: Ben 10: Alien Force with Dwayne McDuffie

The new season of Ben 10: Alien Force is greatly expanding the mythology surrounding young Ben Tennyson and his particular...talents. 

For those who don’t remember, B10:AF is the sequel to the Cartoon Network smash hit Ben 10. Set five years after the original series, Ben Tennyson must again don the Omnitrix to protect the Earth from a new alien threat, the High Breed. These extraterrestrials are using mankind for their personal breeding ground, turning human beings into what Ben now calls DNAliens. As to why, only Glen Murakami and Dwayne McDuffie know for sure, and that’s because they are the executive producers of this sequel.

Being that Animated Shorts loves to drive Murakami crazy with questions, we thought we’d cut him a break and focus on McDuffie. It’s been a long time since Dwayne first broke into the comic book business with comic books such as Damage Control and the Milestone line. On the animation front he also has earned mad props for his writing/producing on such series as Static Shock, JL(U) and Teen Titans (on a side – Static - note, McDuffie will soon be shepherding the return of the Milestone Universe into the DC Universe). As it stands, B10:AF is part of Cartoon Network’s new action adventure block on Fridays, helping break network ratings records with Secret Saturdays, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and, soon, Batman: The Brave & The Bold.

This is what McDuffie said about the new season of Ben 10: Alien Force:

Newsarama: Dwayne, how did you get involved with Ben 10 in the first place?

Dwayne Mcduffie: Glen and I were working on something else, a totally new show, which we were developing for Cartoon Network. Then they asked Glen if he would do a revamp of Ben 10. Meanwhile, we were talking every day and I guess Glen thought if we were doing that, they should have me on.

NRAMA: Was the idea of Ben and crew being five years older already set?

DM: Yes. They had a lot of creative ideas and we went through them. I know they wanted to age Ben up. There were also certain other elements, [such as] Kevin being part of the team. That wasn’t set but we both liked the idea. We sort of mixed and matched between what they thought up and what we wanted to do. It was basically which things they wanted to do which we wanted to also do.

NRAMA: Was the DNAliens your idea? What are they anyway? Do they see Earth as a tremendous breeding ground for themselves?

DM: That was me and Glen. Now the DNAliens are humans that were transformed into genetic slaves of the High Breed.

NRAMA: I’m sorry, I meant the High Breed.

DM: That’s all right. We only started telling what’s really going on in the last two episodes. We’ve been slowly developing things. It’s been a journey of discovery and viewers are only starting to discover what the real plot is.

NRAMA: So is the High Breed the real plot or is there something even darker pulling the strings?

DM: The High Breed are the real plot. What they really are up to has not really been revealed as of yet.

NRAMA: Sounds like you’re building a monstrous story arc here.

DM: It’s a huge story arc. The first 26 episodes are one giant story. Episodes that look like they are one-offs aren’t. Either thematically or as far as works in progress every single episode builds towards the two-parter ending, which is probably in a way the most complex story I’ve done in animation.

NRAMA: So how long are we really talking about. Three season? Five season?

DM: Two seasons. 26 episodes. Then last 13 are just starting. By the time we get to the end of this run, it’s a complete story.

NRAMA: Are you hoping to do more or move on?

DM: Gee. I don’t know. There’s a PR person listening in and nothing has been officially announced. So I can’t really say.

NRAMA: So, overall, what has it been like working with Mr. Murakami? DM: It’s a lot of fun. We worked a tiny bit on Justice League. We work in the same building. We have always been friends. When we started working together we pretty quickly noticed that we had all the same references. Also, when we talked about story, his strengths countered my weaknesses and I like to think vice versa. It works out really well.

NRAMA: Moving back to plot. What has happened to Max Tennyson? Is he gone or will he be back?

DM: Max pretty much got finalized in episode 7. It’s sad, but it’s the only real way Ben could learn to become a leader in his own right. The only way for Ben to grow up and start becoming a man is to not have Max there to fall back on.

NRAMA: What about all those future lines in the original series? They had Max in them.

DM: What you have to also realize is all those time travel episodes was to a possible future. So, just because you saw a future on a past episode, that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Not to forget we now have a character, Paradox the time traveler, who we will meet again. He will clarify some of those issues.

NRAMA: I was going to bring up Paradox. What is it like working with David McCallum?

DM: He’s just a joy. I mean I was always a big fan of his from shows like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Sapphire & Steel. It was a real pleasure to have him in. Further, he’s just so charming.

NRAMA: Is Paradox inspired by Doctor Who?

DM: Absolutely! Glen and I both love those old shows and we thought it would be fun to wink at them a little bit.

NRAMA: So would you say your work on Ben 10 is done for the moment?

DM: I’m not sure how to answer that. Oh! You’re re-asking the question I couldn’t answer before! (laughs).

NRAMA: Well, just doing my job.

DM: Let’s just say if there is more Ben 10, I’d be happy to work on it.

NRAMA: Any projects we should be aware of now?

DM: I’m working on Justice League the comic right now. We’re also hard at work at reintroducing the characters I helped create, the Milestone characters. We’re starting a big storyline about them and a character who did get animated, Static Shock. They will be joining the DCU.

NRAMA: Nice. I miss reading about the Blood Syndicate, personally.

DM: Very soon.


In addition to making television history as the world's first prime-time animated series, The Flintstones offered viewers many samplings of fun, culturally relevant music throughout it's six-year run. On Sunday, Oct. 26, these classic animated musical moments return as Boomerang presents a day-long marathon of their musical episodes.

From 8:00 am to 11:00 pm, America's favorite Stone-Age families-Fred, Wilma and Pebbles Flintstone plus Barney, Betty and Bamm-Bamm Rubble-will "rock out" to prehistoric beats while they welcome

a number of celebrity guests, including Ann-Margaret (Ann Margrock) and James Darren (Jimmy Darrock).

"While not specifically a musical series, The Flintstones presented some of the catchiest TV tunes of the day," said Rico Hill, vice president of programming and scheduling for Boomerang and Cartoon Network. "So while fans of all ages can enjoy the family-oriented animated entertainment, this musical marathon also will illustrate the high level of tuneful creativity and talent that went into the making of these timeless classics."

The Flintstones premiered nationwide Sept. 30, 1960 on ABC and immediately earned a place in television history as the first animated situation comedy and the first cartoon series to be shown in prime time. Music has always been an integral part as more than a dozen episodes showcased a variety of production numbers featuring original songs. The show made television history when, in 1961, Hoagy Carmichael was welcomed as the first guest star on an animated series. This landmark event began a trend that carried through to other Hanna-Barbera series hosting animated celebrity guests, such as Scooby-Doo and The Jetsons.

The 7 1/2 hour block will be followed by an encore presentation so that music aficionados coast-to-coast can join in the fun. Highlights in the "Bedrock 'N' Roll" Marathon include:

• "The Hit Song Writers," 10:00 am and 5:30 pm: When Fred discovers that Barney is a compulsive poet, he seeks songwriting assistance from famed composer Hoagy Carmichael.

• "Ann Margrock Presents," 11:30 am and 7:00 pm: While working on the new Bedrock Bowl, Fred and Barney prepare an act for the dedication ceremony starring Ann-Margrock.

• "Surfin' Fred," 1:30 pm and 9:00 pm: Fred's quiet seaside weekend is interrupted by a national surfing contest. Fred gets caught up in the activities and must be saved by surf idol Jimmy Darrock.

• "Shinrock-A-Go-Go," 3:00 pm and 10:30 pm: Fred and Barney check out the new TV show, “Shinrock," hosted by Jimmy O'Neilstone. When Fred drops a bowling ball on his foot, Jimmy takes it as a new dance and names it "The Frantic."

NEXT COLUMN: We talk to the creators of Batman: The Brave & The Bold, which debuts on Cartoon Network November 14.

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