Q.Hey Alex, Thank you so much for doing this AMA and creating such an awesome show.
What are some of jokes and stories you really wanted in gravity falls but weren't allowed to include?
A.Oh man, we have TONS of jokes and ideas that are either too dumb (we censor ourselves) or too awesome (we get censored by the channel) to make to TV. One gag I always wanted was this one episode where Dipper is eating a box of pentagram shaped graham crackers called "PENTA-GRAHAMS" with a little cartoon Satan saying "Don't Sacrifice Flavor!TM" I guess the S&P department thought people would be freaked out by seeing Satan on their TV. The jokes on them though, because Satan is imaginary and morality is relative! sound of a Casio Keyboard going Ta-daa!
Q.One of the best things about Gravity Falls is the sibling relationship between Dipper and Mabel, and how it's more than just "sibling rivalry" for the sake of plot. You mentioned in an AVClub interview, "when I started working with writers, when I started having to pitch the show, and everyone guessed the tone wrong and assumed they’d be hating on each other, I had to come up with a “10 commandments” of how Dipper and Mabel act around each other." Do you have that "10 commandments" list written up, and can we see it? Thanks
A.Haha yeah! I usually do a pass on Dipper/Mabels dialogue to try to make sure they feel like the characters I know for the most part. I never actually wrote out 10 actual commandments, but here's a few rules I find myself going back to with the writers:
1) The kids LIKE each other. No matter how much they get on each other's nerves, this never changes.
2) Mabel's not stupid. She's a ham! There's a big difference. Mabel's love of goofing off is a natural force of her personality, but she can still understand when people she cares about need help or are in danger. Don't just make her a catchphrase machine. She really cares about the people around her. (Secret: Mabel's secretly jealous that her brothers better academically than she is)
3) Dipper's smart but he's not a "WALKING CALCULATOR" There's a lot of kids shows featuring a character who is "the brains." You know the guy. Thick glasses, nasal voice, often starts every sentence with "According to my calculations!! SNORT!" Pretty much every kids show stereotype can be traced back to the BK Kids club. This one would be IQ:
The point is, Dipper is better academically than Mabel, but he's also able to laugh at himself. He's a real kid. He has insecurities. He has things that he loves. I try not to pigeonhole these characters into "ONE TYPE" They lose their humanity if you do that. (Secret: Dipper's secretly jealous that Mabel's better socially than he is)
4) They've known each other forever. They should occasionally finish each other sentences, they should recognize when one of them is about to do something they always do, they should reference past inside jokes, they should get instantly angry at each other and then instantly make up, the way people who've known each other forever do.
5) They get more close in unfamiliar situations (because they need each other) and less close in familiar situations (because they dont as much) The entire summer is an unfamiliar situation, and its helping them bond.
6) Dipper wants to grow up too fast. Mabel doesn't.
Q.So how's prison treating Gideon? Any plans to break out soon?
A.Gideon was furious about being sent to prison. As a town celebrity whose used to having rose petals thrown wherever he walks, he figured he could use his silver tongue and chubby cheeks win over the jury. Unfortunately, the jury included Manly Dan.
Since the town was founded by a mayor who was legally insane (Quentin Trembley the Third, Esquire) its arcane charter laws are equally insane. Woodpecker marriage is legal. The "Finders Keepers" law allows whoever holds a physical deed to own that property (created by Trembley as an experiment to create a new form of government called "GimmieOcracy") and children can legally be sent to ADULT PRISON.
Luckily for Gideon, the prisoners of Gravity Falls love his psychic act, are more forgiving than the townsfolk, and have been looking for a leader...
Q.I know he's their great uncle and all, but what made Dipper and Mabel's parents send their kids to live with a wanted criminal?
A.Dipper & Mabel's parents dont know Stan as well as they think they do
Q.Alex, you rock you do but can I know WHY IS STAN SO EFFING CONFIDENT TO WALK AROUND IN HIS BOXERS
A.Stan's an old man, and when you're old you've earned the right to basically do whatever you want. This is why Joe Biden is allowed to spill applesauce on his shirt on TV and we find it adorable!
Q.Puma shirt or panther shirt?
Q.Why did the design on Stan's hat change midway through the season
Q.My question is:
Why you ackin' so cray cray?
A.Haha. Thank you! I love that people are into that joke! That was originally an inside joke between me and my friends. I would tell people "Did you hear about Raven Simone's new show, Why You Ackin So Cray Cray?" and literally everyone I told actually believed that was a real show. Why are YOU ackin cray cray, ManicTheNobody?
Q.Whats your perfect sandwich?
A.Grilled cheese. Cup of tomato soup. Served by the redheaded girl from Mythbusters.
Q.is searchfortheblindeye.com a legitimate site
A.Dude! I just saw that site recently and its pretty cool. It's definitely not affiliated with Disney, I can tell you that, but Im just as curious as anyone what "October 1st" means. I'm hoping it will involve lots of animated GIFs of cats.
Q.Whats the best trivia you can give on some of the major characters?
A.Mabel went to the hospital once for eating scratch and sniff stickers.
Dipper's favorite band is a They-Might-Be-Giants-ish nerd rock band called "The Bad First Impressions." But he secretly listens to Top 40 hits as well.
Grunkle Stan has been practicing the same coin trick since 1982 and still cant master it.
Wendy and Robbie met at a 5th grade birthday party. He pulled her pigtails and she punched him in the face, chipping his tooth. He remembers but she doesnt.
Soos's other role model besides Stan and his Abuelita is professional wrestler Terry America, who played the character Eddie Chicago in the movie "KICKBOSS"
Q.Hey Alex! Will there be any future merch out in stores for Gravity falls?! :D
A.FANS OF GRAVITY FALLS! I implore you. If you want merch, find a Disney store, drive to it, walk in, and physically ask for it. They keep track of every time this happens. For reals!
The more of you do this, the more likely merch becomes! I want it as much as y'all do!
Q.Everyone else's is so long, I'll try to keep mine short. This is a question that's strangely enough been bugging me for a while... How old is Soos, anyway?
A.Haha great question. Soos is based on my college buddy Jesus Chambrot. Jesus was of indeterminate age- we knew that he was a few years older than the rest of my friends at CalArts (I think he was in Pen Wards class) but we never knew how old for sure. We figured...maybe 20? 22? Then one day he took off his hat revealing he was bald. It was vaguely traumatizing for all involved. Out of respect we never asked him.
Im curious- how old do YOU guys think Soos is?
Q.In the final scene of Gideon Rises, does Stan say "I have them all" or "We have them all?
Q.predictions on this years nfl season?
A.Everyone suddenly stops playing, looks in to each others eyes, hugs out their problems, and gets ice cream
Q.If Robbie is a special blend of many hipster douchebags, then what is Lil Gideon???
A.A blend of many different marshmallow Peeps
Q.Are you sick of piles of owls constantly blocking your driveway?
Q.Are you Mr. Tumnus, the goat-man from the Narnia movies? Can you let me into the snowy wonderland that lies beyond your enchanted wardrobe?
Q.Do u know about Goilet the shipping of Gideon and a toilet? Also about the other ships? (Sorry)
A.I love you (insert original asker's name here. I don't want to put their name without there permission)
Q.You seem far more in touch with internet culture than most people in your industry: things like Lemon Demon being one of the people initially contacted as a potential theme song source, Paul Robertson contributing pixel art, bringing Matt Chapman on your team as a writer/VA and soliciting the internet for writing samples for potential people to bring to your team all indicate that you actually know what you're doing and that the internet isn't just a marketing gimmick for you. How do you think the internet is changing what it means to produce television?
A.I think mainly this has to do with the fact that I'm young and a nerd. I definitely think the main thing the internet is doing is making content creation more of a meritocracy. Oh- and working with/being friends with Matt Chapman is literally a dream come true. It also gives me a reason to checka-checka my Emails more often.
Q.Short question: Ideally, how many seasons would you like to do?
A.Originally I thought three. That may be too many though. Perhaps 2 and a movie. Im more interested in quality than quantity. But I suppose anything can happen
Q.Will there be episode commentaries on the Gravity Falls: Six Strange Tales DVD set coming out later this year or if that is a feature we will have to wait for down the line when a full season/series set is eventually released? Any details you can say about the upcoming DVD set?
A.The DVD thing is pretty frustrating. I sent like an 8 page letter to the folks in charge of merchandise basically BEGGING them to do a full season blue-ray with commentary and the works. (Because that's what I would want if I was a customer)
Their response was: Too pricey. A 20 episode set with features is at least 5 times more expensive to produce than a 6 episode set, therefore it needs to sell 5 times as many units or they'll never make a profit. With the DVD market in a lag its hard for them to convince Mickey to shell out the dough for this experiment.
I'll continue to campaign for it, but truthfully there are only a few things that can increase the likelihood of a full season set
1) How well the first DVD sells. If it does well, they see theres an audience
2)How many people go to the Disney store and physically ask for Gravity Falls DVDs. Believe it or not, they keep track of every time someone does this. If enough people do it it makes it into their business reports and they respond with merch. It sounds crazy but it actually works.
3) How popular the show is (ratings)
There wont be commentary on this one, but it looks like there will be a cool little Journal #3 booklet, which is kinda neat. Trust me dudes, if they every give me the chance or put me in charge of it, I will give you the DVD of your dreams
Q.You're show has been called "The My Little Pony for straight people" by Oprah Magazine. How do you respond?
A.I'll ask Lauren her thoughts on this.
Q.I am curious to how long the show spans. Are the events Gravity Falls (aside from time travel, flash backs, etc.) all set during a single summer? Hopefully this doesn't count as a spoiler, but will we ever see Dipper and Mabel return south for the winter? Or would that technically ruin the fact the show is called "Gravity Falls" and not "The Mystery Twins and the Cipher"?
A.The show is meant to take place over the course of one totally insane summer. I know that my summers as a kid FELT endless, so the "length" of the summer in Gravity Falls is more emotional than logical.
Assuming they dont get eaten, pulverized, shrunk, cast into another dimension, blinked out of existence by a time anomaly, turned to stone, or trapped in a painting, the kids will be returning home at the end of the series.
That being said, we may get to see hints of their non-summer life in flashbacks in the upcoming season
Q.Any chance we'll see the full unaired pilot at some point in the future?
A.Oh lord I hope not. That thing was a mess, haha! That would be like showing you awkward photos from my high school prom. We all have dark horrible secrets. That 11 minute Flash pilot was mine.
Q.How do you think of all the TV shows? They're hilarious, especially "Baby Fights"
A.Haha, thanks! Nearly every single one of those was written by me. I love TV because its a caricatured version of reality. So a TV show ON a TV show should be a caricature of that caricature. Its a fun chance to write the really dumb jokes that would break the reality of the normal show.
I have a hunch that the next series I pitch will heavily involve more of that kind of nonsense.
Q.if you ever had smile dip, what do you think you would see?
A.700 Reddit Questions that I have to answer in only 2 hours
Q.If there was one guess star you could have on the show, who would it be?
A.John Stewart. He's my hero man!
Q.Is there anything, looking back, that you regret about how season one went, that you would change if you could?
A.Oh man tons and tons of things. I would have done more mystery episodes for starters. And I would have spaced out the Wendy/Dipper stories a bit more, and probably done one or two less of them.
The thing about TV is you have to work FAST. You dont have time to go back and change things even if you want to. This is exhilarating and fun, but it can also be maddening.
Q.Alright, this'll probably get me the axolotl of non-specific doom, but I suppose someone has to ask (If no one has already. Dang that's a lot of questions). Anyways, sometime earlier this year a supposed image supposedly leaked, supposedly revealing who'd written the journals. Supposedly. Many assumed that it would be formally unveiled during the season finale, but obviously that hasn't happened. Taking into consideration that it appeared to be a shot from a fully-animated sequence, it's impossible(?) for it to have come from season two due to how early in production it was at the time. As it stands, I see only three possible explanations for this anomaly:
It was indeed truly the one who wrote the books, a genuine leak from the finale. After the leak, however, the finale was rewritten/reanimated to remove it for some reason, possibly to rewrite the now-spoiled surprise.
It was a fake image made by the production crew (or possibly even an incredibly talented fan) to throw us off for shits and giggles.
A.You ask a lotl of questions. I defer you to my lawyer:
Q.how hard is it to include the secret little ciphers into the show?
A.Not hard at all! It something I always wanted to do if I had a show, and I'm lucky Disney lets me. I write all of them myself, usually minutes before we actually lock picture on the show.
FUN TRIVIA! The original cipher at the end of Dreamscaperers was "Next Weelk: Xyler and Craz's Bodexcellent Radventure"
Q.Do you have any future infomercial ideas for Bobby Rezobbi such as the Ceiling Fan Pants? I really wanna know.
A.Bobby Renzobbi once sold a really cheap tennis racket called "WHAT A RACKET!" which had overly tight strings that popped and blinded a few people resulting in lawsuits. He is always days away from prison
Q.Hi Alex, big fan of the show. Thank you for doing this AMA.
In the final scene of "Gideon Rises", does Stan say, "Finally I have them all" or "Finally WE have them all?"
Do you have any demographic information about Gravity Falls' viewership? I'm curious to know how many adults watch it.
Can you give us a time frame of when Season 2 will premiere? Or, failing that, can you tell us how much progress has been made on Season 2?
A.Time for some real talk guys. Its gonna be a LONG FREAKING TIME for season 2. Like in the ballpark of a year dudes. I KNOW! I know.
Hopefully y'all will love it and agree it was worth the wait. I wish I could give it to you sooner but these things take time man! Such is the cost of quality. Animation is slow.
The good news is that in the meantime I expect Disney to start the merch train up a little bit. Also we made some Gravity Falls SHORTS which will be airing on the channel sprinkled here and there across the break. I think they'll start somewhere in October.
I know it sucks dudes. I hate to be the bearer of bad news. But I'd rather y'all hear it from me than go insane waiting forever without knowing, cause the never announce this stuff in any official way on networks.
Q.Hey Alex, appreciate you taking the time to do this! Anyways, I've always been curious about how you and the team have tried to "push the limits" of what Disney Channel will let you guys put on air. We've heard a lot about some things that hadn't or had just barely made it into final episodes (fish being punched, "burn the child", etc.), but I'm curious if there was anything you guys weren't allowed to put in the season finale episodes. I'll admit there were a few things that surprised me in the final version (deer teeth, picture of Kennedy in Bill's "lots of things" sequence), but surely there has to be more!
And a bit off topic, I've been looking everywhere for those Gravity Falls posters they were handing out at Comic-Con (seen here) to no avail. Is there any chance we could see these up for purchase later on? I'd love to have one hanging in my room!
Thanks again for doing this AMA! Best of luck to you and the crew in your future GF endeavors! =)
A.I talk about this a little in my podcast with JG Quintel: http://www.nerdist.com/2013/07/nerdist-writers-panel-97-jg-quintel-and-alex-hirsch/
Trying to make a comedy on a kids network can sometimes feel like trying to paint a picture while a chimp constantly hits you in the head with a wiffle bat. In this metaphor, the "chimp" is a "network censor" and the "bat" is "arbitrary concerns which justify their job position." I will say that there is a slow castrating effect which happens to your creative spirit when you have to censor yourself so much in your work over the course of multiple years.
The best way to combat this is to wear a wiffle-bat-resistant helmet (a methaphor for "stubborn-ness") to keep painting the best thing you can.
SIDE NOTE: I work with some really talented and lovely people! All artists will naturally be at odds with censors. This isn't personal! Its a battle as old as time.
Q.Despite this being long, these are questions taken from a group of people that simply have no intention of making a Reddit account.
Hello Alex. A community (or a big group of people) here. We've got some questions we took our time making up on the spot. It will be appreciated if you could answer most of them as we're (and the show) are about to go into hiatus and any fuel will keep us pumping.
Quick note I have not a single clue how to use this website and have only created an account on this when message spread about you doing an AMA last week. (Which was shamefully post-poned.)
Without delay, these are the questions I have been asked to post. Completely unedited.
-What is Robbie's last name?
-Are any of Mabel's sweaters based on actual sweaters your sister wore?
-Will the third wheel character be loud, angry, and have access to a time machine?
-Is Wendy's mom alive, or is she the only girl in a house full of boys?
-"What's your favorite David Lynch movie, and will it be referenced in a future episode of 'Gravity Falls'?"
-Is there an official layout of Gravity Falls, Oregon? Or is the town in a constant state of flux, a la Springfield, USA in "The Simpsons"?
-Any chance of a ducktective spinoff?
-"Is there any chance at all we might get the Labryinth episode Disney thought kids wouldn't get, in season 2 because that sounds awesome?"
-Names for the Lookalike Pines. We need them for... literary reasons.
-"How does Gideon get his skin so smooth?"
-I read that the teens would get more screentime in season 2 because of their positive reception by fans. Are there any other characters who are getting this treatment?
-Is there a character you didn't expect to become popular who did? Or vice versa?
Thanks for taking the time answering (or not).
A.1) It starts with a V. Beyond that you'll have to wait and see? 2) Indeed! Pester my sister on her TUMBLR and perhaps she'll show you 3) Whats a "third wheel character?" 4) Alas Wendy's mom is no longer with her 5) Mulholland Drive cracks me up with its insane-ness. I doubt there will be a psychosexual lesbian lucid nightmare Gravity Falls episode though! 5) Its fluxy but we're slowly putting a map together in our heads. My dream is to make a model train model of the town and put it in our lobby. 6) Better Call Saul! 7) Probbbably not. Not sure that joke could sustain 21 minutes. 8) Shmipper and Smabble. Enjoy 9)By stealing Wendy's moisturizer 10) All of em 11) Pacifica. Pacifica's terrible guys. She was invented to be the literal diametric opposite of Mabel. Anything you like about her is a projection you've invented haha. Because Mabel's so delightful Pacifica turned out to be a total terror. But dont worry, even Pacifica will have some development in S2
Q.You'll probably never answer this one, but if you could hang out with ANY character from the show, who would it be and why?
A.Bill. I'd have some questions.
Q.What is the inspiration for Bud Gleeful.
A.When I was 12 I took a trip to Florida and saw the same infomercial for "Family Auto Mart" about 100 times. I even remember the song to this day "If you want a deal thats great, call 2420328! Faaamily Auto Mart! I'll see ya here!" Bud is absolutely inspired by that great man
(Here is the commercial, found in reply comments: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X03iP0Uhmck)
Q.How does it feel to have a Wikipedia page?
A.Not bad! But I think the internet can do better. I WHOLEHEARTEDLY encourage all my fans to UPDATE/IMPROVE/VANDALIZE the everloving crap out of my wikipedia:
For starters, it doesnt say anywhere in there how I own a full size adult taxidermy buffalo which I insist people sit on when they take tours
Q.Two related questions:
Do you ever get pushback or negative feedback, especially from fundamentalists who might view your show as promoting the occult?
Ever going to have a canon LGBTQ character? We got plenty of discussion of straight sexuality already (Wendy and Dipper, Soos and that lost woman, Stan and Susan, Mabel and anything with a Y chromsome).
Edited to remove superfluous question
A.1) Personally? Never. The audience has proven to be as smart as I'd hoped.
2) I would LOVE to but I doubt they'd ever let me do it in kids TV. But man I would if I could.
Q.Thanks very much for holding this AMA, and even more, thanks for making such an awesome show for everyone to enjoy. I'm consistently impressed by each and every episode of Gravity Falls. Seriously, the amount of planning, hard work, and amazing talent that go into each episode really shows, and I'm confident that season two will be no different. Thank you for making something fantastic. And on a more frivolous note, thank you for one time tweeting a silly gif I made, too.
Two question I did have for the Mayor of Gravity Falls, the Sultan of Colossal Super Awesome:
Can you provide any insight into the way new episode releases were scheduled? Two hiatus periods within the first season seemed really odd. The show took a super long break just when it was gaining a lot of momentum, and I just can't reason why.
Any insight into reddit user /u/BlendinBlandin, who showed up around reddit looking for a calculator well before the airing of "The Time Traveler's Pig"?
A.About the Blendin thing, I've never been on Reddit before so this is my first time. For the other thing:
Thanks for asking about programming. I have to be careful in the way that I answer this because there's a lot of parties involved, but let me put it like this- there are TWO reasons the schedule was that way it was in Season 1:
1) THE SHOW IS HARD! Season 1 was a monumentally difficult undertaking, it was my first time making a TV show. We were also doing something that had never been done before on the Disney Channel- a script based 22 minute animated comedy with serialization. Given how many balls I had to juggle, I would occasionally drop one, meaning that we would be a month or two late on an episode. Entertainment is always a struggle between perfectionist artists like me and the people who pay the bills, and sometimes I would pull my end of that rope too hard. I have no regrets about how hard I worked or how much I cared, but I know we would have had less hiatuses if I was less specific with my vision
2) DISNEY'S PROGRAMMING STRATEGY-
I work with a lot of smart, hard-working folks at the Disney Channel. They give me an immense amount of support, understand the shows value, and want to make the show a hit as much as I do. That being said, we don't always see eye to eye on the best way to execute this mutual goal. Often episodes are held in order to be played during the seasons or events that the programming department has calculated will get the highest ratings. All channels do this, its their job, and I've been told it works.
Personally, I'm not that interested in ratings. If I had my way, we'd air the episodes as soon as we finished them. There was actually going to be an 8 month hiatus in the middle of season 1 that I argued down to 4. I always always want to get you the shows as soon as possible. But these are the compromises that come with working with big companies.
Pros and Cons, guys!
Q.Hey Alex! Bit of a random question, but what music do you like?
A.Stuff you can whistle along to
Q.Uh… I have one more question. Ah, mind telling us the production code for the dubious ones this list: http://bit.ly/1cEM4BG ?
A.I dont even know what a production code is. I'm an artist, man!
Q.Will dipper ever get journal 3 back or any other journal? When will the author be revealed? Will we see stan using the portal and what's in the other worlds? Are we gonna find out when and where all the monsters/creatures came from? When will season 2 come out? Will Blendin' Blandy, the time baby or Quinton trembly ever make another appearence? When is "The day that everything changes" gonna come? What effect will bill have on it? Will bill even be in that episode(s)? Whats your favorite secret easter egg? What does Quinton Trembly have to do with bill or the author? (bill was on the -12 dollar bill and the -12 dollar bill was in book 2) Did multiple people writhe the journals? Do stanley and stanford share bodys or did he say we in the line "After all those years, we finally have them all" for a different reason? Is stan in the secret society? When will we get introduced to the secret society? When will dipper and/or mabel find out about soos or stan? When will gideon make a reappearence? Whats really in hotdogs?
I just want to say thanks Alex a lot for doing this and here's to hoping he (or someone else working on Gravity Falls) doing another one soon!