Interview: Adam Beechen, Creator of Hench and Writer for Wild Thornberrys, Rugrats and More


128AAdam Beechen is the Creator of the comic book HENCH. In addition to his work with this and Justice League Unlimited, Beechen has written for Teen Titans, The Wild Thornberrys, Rugrats and Ben 10. caught up with Adam between conventions and projects to discuss his work in animation and comic books.

FGN: What was it like working on scripts for TV shows such as Teen Titans, The Wild Thornberrys, Rugrats and Ben 10?

Adam Beechen: As a freelance writer, you’re thrilled for the opportunity to work on any show, and you just hope you get to work on shows you know you’d love now or know that you’d have loved when you were a kid.  All of the shows you mention are programs that fit those criteria.  And all of them except Rugrats were just starting out when I had the chance to participate, so it was a blast to be even a small part of helping develop the sound, feel and style of those shows.


FGN: What do you think was your biggest contribution to these shows?


Adam Beechen: Coming in to a show being run by someone else, you’re just hoping to give them a script that meets their needs, that closely approximates their vision for the series.  If you can accomplish that, that’s a great contribution by itself! Sometimes, though, you get lucky and create a character that goes on to appear in other episodes, or write a line that becomes a catch phrase for a character.  For Wild Thornberry’s, I wrote Nigel’s exclamation, “Lord Nelson’s trousers!” which went on to become a staple of Nigel’s speech.


FGN: What are the biggest differences between writing a script for a cartoon and writing a script for a comic? Which do you prefer writing?


Adam Beechen: In television, you’re seeing the show in your head as you write, and transcribing that with the intention of putting across the flow of the action.  In comics, it’s more like you’re seeing the storyboards for the tale, and describing those. For me, comics are much harder to write, not just because of the adjustment I have to make in how I think about stories after writing television for so long, but because I grew up such a passionate fan of comics. I desperately want my stories to be as good as the ones I remember from when I was a kid.  I don’t think I’ve written one that meets those impossible standards yet, but it’s a lot of fun to keep trying.


FGN: You have recently published the graphic novel Hench. Can you tell us a bit about the premise of the series?  What prompted you to write Hench? What were some of your influences?


hench-300x476Adam Beechen: The first half of HENCH actually came out in 2004 from a publisher called AiT/Planetlar.  A few years later, I thought of a sequel and started work on it, but AiT wasn’t going to be able to publish it, so I had it completed on my own, paired it with the first story, and self-published them in a single volume through in 2012.  The story follows a super-villain’s henchman, and covers how he gets into the life, why he stays, and the toll it takes on him as a person.  It’s funny, scary, and a little tragic.
The idea came from a lifelong fascination with the thugs and hoods that I always saw in the backgrounds of comics, tough-looking guys with guns, and often hats and/or cigars.  Sometimes they were in costume, sometimes they weren’t.  I’d always single out one and wonder, “Who’s THAT guy, how did he get here in his life, and does he regret his decision right about now?”  Guys like the hood under Spider-Man’s arm on the cover of his first appearance, Amazing Fantasy #15.  Or the criminals Daredevil is leaping over on the cover of his first issue.  So I adopted that as a motif, sprinkling homage splash pages throughout the book, putting our characters in the positions of famous comic book covers, always pointing out “our” henchman, giving an identity to those faceless goons.  So you can say my influences were almost every comic I ever read!


FGN: Do you have a favorite Superhero or Super-villain? What has been your favorite comic book to work on?


Adam Beechen: I really enjoyed my first assignment for DC, which was the comic version of the animated series, Justice League Unlimited.  The book wasn’t bound by any continuity other than the television show, we didn’t have to worry about crossing over with other books, and each month I could tell a stand-alone story featuring any hero in the JLU.  When you think about it, “Unlimited” means pretty much anyone in the DCAU is part of the Justice League, so it was an opportunity to pick and choose whoever I wanted to write for.  I focused a lot on heroes that didn’t usually get the animated spotlight, like Black Lightning, Vixen, Vibe and Firestorm, to name a few.


FGN: What has it been like working with artists Manny Bello and Ethen Stevens? Who else have you worked with?


Adam Beechen: HENCH was the first work in comics for both Manny Bello and me, and his growth from the first page to the last page is amazing.  He put so much thought in to the book, and added so many key details that really stand out and reward repeat readings.
I met Ethen Beavers  at a convention through Larry Young, my publisher at AiT/Planetlar, and I loved Ethen’s stuff immediately.  It had a very “animation” feel, so when I had the opportunity to recommend an artist for Justice League Unlimited to fill in for Carlo Barberi, Ethen immediately came to mind.  We enjoyed the collaboration so much that when it came time to do the sequel, I couldn’t wait to see how Ethen handled the characters, and he did not disappoint.  Ethen brought a tremendous amount of mood to the story, really capturing the feel of the walls closing in on our hero.


Over the years, I’ve worked with some incredibly talented artists — I’ve been very fortunate.  Howard Chaykin, Jim Starlin, Norm Breyfogle, Eddy Barrows, Tim Seeley, Jamal Igle, Freddie Williams, Frazer Irving, Jim Calafiore, and the list goes on


FGN: Do you have any particular methods or rituals that you employ to get yourself ready to write?


Adam Beechen: I cry a lot and stare at my wall.  I exhaust every other possible thing to do before I sit down and write.  I’m a terrible procrastinator!


FGN: What have your experiences been like attending Comic Conventions as a professional?


Adam Beechen:  Nothing but wonderful.  I love meeting and talking with fans, yakking about comics with people who are as passionate about them as I am.  And Cons are a great opportunity to meet colleagues — Most of us work in solitude, so it’s great to be able to put names with faces.


FGN: Can you tell us what you’re working on now?


Adam Beechen: I’m the story editor and a producer for the new Transformers: Robots In Disguise cartoon that will be premiering on the Hub network in 2015.  I’m also working on two projects for DC that I’m not able to discuss yet, but I’m very excited about both of them.


FGN: Where can our readers follow your work and find your books?


Adam Beechen:  HENCH can be picked up on Amazon, and just about all of my DC work has been collected or is available digitally.  In terms of cartoons, you can catch my work occasionally right bow on such shows as Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. on Disney XD and Littlest Pet Shop on the Hub network.  Through Twitter, I put the word out whenever I have something premiere or about to hit the stands.  Readers can find me there @sonnova.

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