From the Comments:
Angeline wrote: I have a question about pitching spin-offs, which is related to a rumor that has been flying around the Darkwing Duck community for a long time. Apparently, the rumor is that after the Darkwing series ended, you pitched another spin-off to Disney starring Gosalyn as the hero, long after Darkwing has retired. The pitch was apparently rejected because Disney didn't think kids would be interested in a female as the main action role. Is this true?
Sadly you have to deal with the fuzziness of my memory. Years after Darkwing, THE DISNEY AFTERNOON syndicated block ceased being viable because the market had changed so much. Fox created its own kids block which took the strongest stations away from Disney. Fox notably turned to Warner Brothers for content who created their own classics like Tiny Toons and Batman. Later, Disney reinvented itself as ONE SATURDAY MORNING, a very Nickelodeon-like slate of shows.
I did a few sketches that revisited some of our DA characters but with a non Disney design style. One was Gosalyn as Quiverwing Quack, her Hawkeye/Green Arrow/archer hero alias. There was no big presentation. Just a testing of the water that never got past a hallway discussion.
I believe I posted that Gosalyn drawing, to the horror of the Disney Afternoon fans, in response to a similar question. Fans of the DA shows really want more of the same show done the same way and prefer a tight continuity. But I was attempting to see if there was room for the Disney characters in the new Nick-lite world of Disney. There wasn't. It had nothing to do with a female in an action role.
Very few executives left at Disney understand how big the Disney Afternoon was. But that was almost twenty years ago. It only matters if you are working nostalgia into your business plan, like snagging adults to share their childhood experiences with their kids.
Angeline continued: And a general question about pitching: If one cartoon does extremely well on television, is there a higher chance execs will be open to another cartoon related to it? (either with some of the same characters, or placed in the same universe). Or does it go the opposite route, where they're looking for something fresh?
Anything can happen. It's up to the network. But generally, a network would rather have more episodes of a hit than a spinoff. You can't get much bigger than SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS yet I haven't heard of a Patrick series in the work.
Obviously, live action television doesn't feel this way. Look at the number of CSI, Law and Order and NCIS shows. And the Star Trek heritage is made up of variations on a theme. But even in those cases, the original franchise is widened. There may be guest appearances by the "original cast" but mostly the spinoff shows are made with new characters with new personality dynamics. This is closer to your suggestion of placing a show in the same universe.
Batman is a character that is constantly reinvented in animation. That's mostly for merchandising reasons. A new take on Batman with a fresh design sense allows for a whole new line of toys. Luckily for us, WB takes care to make sure the series themselves are well made. I've enjoyed them all.
So in general, development executives are looking for "the next SpongeBob" or "the next Phineas and Ferb," phrases animation writers hear far too much. If there ARE plans for a studio to revisit their library for ideas, the initiative comes from within. You're much better off coming up with a new idea of your own.
But you can certainly be inspired by the shows you love. SECRET SATURDAYS was pitched as JONNY QUEST meets THE HERCULOIDS, although the series is a long way from that. What is it you like about your favorite? Can you take those attributes and adapt them to a modern show in a different setting?
If I was creating Darkwing Duck today, I'd probably be more influenced by the flood of current superhero movies than the Silver Age of comics. I'm guessing it would be a completely different show. On the other hand, BATMAN: BRAVE AND THE BOLD does a great job of mining old comics. In any case, write for today's audience not the audience that made a show a hit in the last century.
Thanks for the column idea, Angeline! -- Tad