August 13, 2017

SDCC 2017 Interview With ‘Steven Universe’ Creator, Rebecca Sugar

Cartoon Network returned to San Diego Comic Con with many of its shows both new and old. Steven Universe was a welcomed return I was lucky enough to do a round-table interview Rebecca Sugar, creator of Steven Universe, let’s find out what she had to say!

Comic Attack: Tell us about the Pink Diamond Murder Mystery.

The awesome Rebecca Sugar!

Rebecca Sugar: The episode with the Trial of Rose Quartz brings doubt in Steven, if Rose Quartz really did kill Pink Diamond. That’s really exciting since he’d accepted it and the responsibility but now it’s all different. He has a new thing he has to figure out.

CA: Are we going to see any new gem fusions?

RS: I can’t give you that! It’s spoilers! I mean, it’s definitely exciting since now we know Steven can do that. There’s a lot of possibility but we can’t talk about them yet.

CA: With the show being on for so many years and cultivating this huge and amazing fanbase, have you considered how this will all end?

RS: I’ve always considered how this will end. Since the very beginning, my theories have changed as time goes on. Steven is our viewpoint so we travel with Steven.


CA: Will there be flashbacks to the war between the Crystal Gems and Gemworld?

RS: Well, the show being from Steven’s point of view is, we only can learn of these things when he does. So he’ll learn more about his place and where his mother’s place was. And this has already begun and he’s certainly got a lot to think about and uncover.

CA: At Anime Expo, Takafumi Hori of Studio Trigger, who worked on animation in “Mindful Education” mentioned during a panel that he’d love to work again with you and it was asked if you were present and if at all possible?

RS: I was there but I didn’t want to take attention away from the panel. I was really excited about the stuff they (Studio Trigger) announced. I loved working with Takafumi and would love to work with him again.

CA: There’s so many emotional moments in this show, do you find creating these scenes cathartic and how personal are they?

RS: It’s very personal and it is cathartic, I also think they are necessary. In any work of art you can express these things and learn from them or you can ignore that and do it by accident. I’d rather learn from them and lean into the why of it to grow.

CA: You had a children’s book, The Answer, come out. Would you be interested in more written works for the series?

RS: Yes, I loved the children’s book format and want to return to that. Especially with the fairy tale themed story telling of the show. I’d love to do that again.

CA: Is there any part of the show that’s come out that you regret?

RS: Oh, absolutely. Even from the start. There’s so many things, but it’s not so much regret, it feels like growing up. There’s so many choices early on I’d do differently because I’ve learned so much from then. It’s not that I’d feel regret but see how much I’ve changed as an artist. It’s helped affect me to this very moment and all moments of the future.

CA: How do you balance the big story episodes with the slice of life episodes?

RS: I think a lot about when we’re writing, that both those aspects have equal weight. This is a show about humanity, so while it’s fun to write about the bombastic space adventure they have to be grounded in some sort of real, human feeling. So when we do stories about real human feeling, they are even more explosively close to that. I think the moments we’ve been most successful is when we can give those both equal weight like with Rose’s tape in Lion 3. It feels like everything I want to say with the show is there. That the smallness of these moments are huge and that the hugeness of those moments are small when you start to see them from the human lens.

CA: Do you think of the different audiences who watch this show from the kids to the adults?

RS: Yes! Absolutely! The show is designed to work on multiple levels. Because the show is from Steven’s point of view, there have always been things that he is not totally capable of understanding. From the beginning we’ve been writing two shows. A show that is very mature and the show that Steven understands, we had to have moments that went beyond what he could comprehend and what those moments actually meant for those who do. As the show has evolved and he’s matured the two shows have merged. He’s now become the most emotionally mature Crystal Gem by far, Garnet may be more so but it’s from a very different angle. I love that we have young fans and older fans appreciate the show on different levels because both those levels are there.

CA: What’s it like being a creator at Cartoon Network Studios?

RS: What I love about working at Cartoon Network is that they trust their creators to have a vision and fight for that vision. I’ve had so many opportunities to stand up for what I want to do with this show and for them to be so receptive and you don’t often get that with studios, it’s rare. It’s a very creator-driven network. I feel that and I feel like the staff feels that way too. It’s great.

CA: Have you ever gotten a note from the network that you didn’t agree with?

RS: That happens all the time. There’s always a back and forth. When I’m excited about something it’s part of my job to explain it to them. We’re trying to make the best possible thing we can make. It’s strange to be making a story that is so personal with a corporation that is so massive. Everyone has been so supportime and receptive of what we’ve been doing and very hands off for such a show.

CA: Is there anyone you haven’t worked with yet, in any role for the show, that’d you’d want to work with?

RS: My dream voice actors, I cast my two dream voice actors so my dreams have already come true. I wanted to cast Tom Scharpling, the host of the radio show, the Best Show, on WFMU in New Jersey. I used to listen to him when I lived in New York. I always wanted to cast Susan Egan, the voice of Meg from Hercules and Gina from Porco Rosso. I was hoping I’d get to work with them so when I for my own show I made them lovers! (Greg Universe and Rose Quartz) from there I was really hoping I could coexist with Patti LuPone (Yellow Diamond) so when she came on board I was very excited. Through doing the show I’ve met so many people who I didn’t know before. My cast is so amazing.

CA: You have a very diverse cast and crew. When we got to see Lars’ Filipino background, that was wonderful. How does it work in practice to get all these different aspects of each other’s cultures involved?

RS: We listen to each other! I think because we all come from different places we all have different stories of our childhoods so we try to bring them into the show.

CA: Are there any musical genres you haven’t done yet that you’re hoping to bring onto the show?

RS: Oh gosh! I’ve been thinking a lot about really goofy introduction musical numbers. I rewatched A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum recently, it’s so schticky, I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.

CA: Have you thought about spin-off potential for the show with Cartoon Network?

RS: Right now we’ve been very focused on the show itself that we haven’t been able to think of anything else really. I’d be excited to play in this world for as long as I can.

CA: What is your favorite fusion?

RS: Garnet! Sorry, that’s an easy one. I love Garnet.

CA: Of the new Gems we’ve met, which has been your favorite?

RS: I like so many! The team of Amethysts. I personally boarded that whole sequence.  To have their subtle differences. You could see where they came from in the Beta Kindergarten if you go look at the holes. The Off Color Gems, I especially love Rhodonite. Loved working with Enuka Okuma, her voice actor, she’s so funny.

CA: There you have it folks! Rebecca Sugar is just as excited as her fans for more Steven Universe, probably even more than them. Join me next time as we get to talk with Ian Jones-Quartey about his new show OK K.O.! See you next time!

Dr. Bustos


One Comment

  1. Iron_Matt

    Isn’t Garnett EVERYONE’S favorite though?

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