John Picacio
John Picacio
Wraparound cover illustration for the anthology FAST FORWARD 1, edited by Lou Anders (Pyr)
Wraparound cover illustration for the anthology FAST FORWARD 1, edited by Lou Anders (Pyr)
Wraparound cover illustration for Jeffrey Ford’s THE EMPIRE OF ICE CREAM (Golden Gryphon)
Wraparound cover illustration for Jeffrey Ford’s THE EMPIRE OF ICE CREAM (Golden Gryphon)
Cover illustration for Frederik Pohl’s classic GATEWAY (Ballantine/Del Rey)
Cover illustration for Frederik Pohl’s classic GATEWAY (Ballantine/Del Rey)
Cover illustration for Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s classic A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ (HarperCollins/Eos)
Cover illustration for Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s classic A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ (HarperCollins/Eos)
Triptych composing all three covers of Jeffrey Ford’s forthcoming WELL-BUILT CITY trilogy (Golden Gryphon)
Triptych composing all three covers of Jeffrey Ford’s forthcoming WELL-BUILT CITY trilogy (Golden Gryphon)

Just a reminder to tune in to Sci Fi at 10:00 p.m. tonight to catch this week’s episode, Broken Ties. Jason Momoa acted his heart out in this one, giving his best performance to date, so be sure to check it out. The episode also offers nice moments for fans of the Sheppard-Ronon friendship, explores certain aspects of the wraith feeding process, focuses on Teyla’s struggle to reconcile motherhood with her off-world exploits, and even gives a glimpse of a more sympathetic Woolsey. It also features one of the most beloved guest stars in Stargatedom (so far as the crew is concerned), Mark Dacascos, who reprises his role as Tyre, the former Satedan last seen in season four’s Reunion. Despite an incredibly busy schedule (and I’m sure he’ll fill us in on what he’s been up to), Mark will be doing a guest spot here sometime next week. Starting tomorrow, once the episode has aired, I’ll start gathering questions for Mark and gather them over the next couple of days. So if you have a question for Mark, let’s hear it.

Speaking of guests – today, we’re joined by uber-talented illustrator/artist/designer John Picacio. A quick glance at some of John’s work (pictured above) goes to show why this multiple award winner is a recent finalist for the Hugo Award in the Best Professional Artist. Anyway, his art speaks for itself and John, well, he speaks for himself as well as he tackles your questions and comments about his work.

Before turning things over to John, I’d like to dedicate today’s entry to birthday individual Mercie as well as birthday site SFSignal (www.sfsignal.com) that is celebrating five years of scifi success. Ion cannons and cake for everyone!

The mailbag bats clean up once again today. And, over to John…

Hi, folks – Huge thanks to Joe for graciously offering me this forum, and thanks to all who submitted questions. I tried to answer everyone’s questions the best I could. If anyone has further questions, feel free to ask, and I’ll try to respond in the comments. Before we get started, here’s a quick bio for those who don’t know me.

I make my living illustrating covers for science fiction, fantasy, and horror books. I’ve illustrated covers for books by Harlan Ellison, Michael Moorcock, Robert Silverberg, Frederik Pohl, Jeffrey Ford, Robert Heinlein, Graham Joyce, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., Joe R. Lansdale, and many, many more. I’m currently one of the finalists for the prestigious Hugo Award in the Best Professional Artist category (fourth consecutive nomination). I’m fortunate to have won the Locus Award, the Chesley Award, two International Horror Guild Awards, and the much-coveted World Fantasy Award, all in the Artist category. COVER STORY: THE ART OF JOHN PICACIO, a big, 200-page hardcover collection of my work, was a 2007 Hugo Award finalist. (Still available: Dreamhaven Books has signed copies. http://dreamhavenbooks.com/picacio.php. So does Bud Plant: http://budsartbooks.com/prod.cfm/pc/CVEHS/cid/14) Recent highlights include Ballantine/Del Rey’s major trade paperback edition of Michael Moorcock’s ELRIC: THE STEALER OF SOULS, featuring cover and interiors by yours truly (available now), and the cover of Lou Anders’ forthcoming anthology FAST FORWARD 2 (available October). For more info, please visit http://www.johnpicacio.com/index2.html and for the latest updates, http://johnpicacio.com/blog.html.

Onward toward some answers….

AMZ writes: “Hey Joe, thanks for asking John Picacio to do a guest q&a because I have some questions for him I’d really love answered.
1. I’ve noticed a lot of your work involves faces of people, often combined with or obscured by other elements (Fast Forward 1, Gateway, Ghosts of Columbia, The Empire of Ice Cream). I was wondering if there is a particular reason or interest you have in showing faces. What is the significance? Do you feel the face says a lot? Or is this just some giant coincidence that I’m reading way too much into?

 

 

I’m not sure there’s a deep philosophical meaning here, but even back in grade school, I’d draw little images of my classmates’ faces in the margins of my notebooks. I just liked drawing them. I suppose faces are amongst my favorite things to draw and paint. They intrigue me. As a design element, I think faces are really powerful on a book cover, and they seem to jump off the shelf, so that might be part of the reason as well, seeing as much of my work is for book covers. Sidenote on this subject: I’ve never been a smoker and I don’t really enjoy being around it, but despite that I always wanted to do a series of drawings that showed that moment when smokers spark up a cigarette. I always thought that split-second flash of light illuminated their faces in very telling ways – sometimes the light washes away their creases and blemishes and reminds what they looked like in a younger, more innocent time, and sometimes the light really accentuates their shadows and edges, and foretells what they’ll look like at the end. I have no idea how that directly relates to our discussion about faces in my covers, but it just passed through my head again, so I mention it here.

2. Could you please outline the basic process you take to create cover art? I would guess each artwork is different, but is there some steps you normally take before getting started on visual elements?
 

 

Reading the manuscript, start to finish, if it’s available to me….highlighting key passages….that’s the first step in the creative process. If the manuscript is not available to me (for example, if the book is still being written), I still gather as much information about the story or novel as I possibly can. Research is essential. For me, it’s a lot of fun. I’m trying to not just literally represent something, but understand its themes and values, and try to express those in an intriguing, evocative way on the cover. I’m trying to get to the essential heart of the book or article. Part of the research stage is listening to what the art director and the various arms of the client have to say as well. From there, I’m doing little thumbnail sketches for myself. Sometimes I write a brief that says in a few sentences what I think the cover might be about. It’s a private thought on paper, just for me to stay on target. Generally, that’s the way process starts before I move into the earnest stages of drawing and painting, which are a whole separate discussion.

3. Do you think cover art is as appreciated as it should be?
 

 

I think that depends on who you want to have appreciate it, and what you want it appreciated for. I think it’s maybe appreciated more than ever by genre collectors and fans of the field. There’s been a growing number of cyber-discussions about cover art in recent months, and that’s a very good thing. I hope readers and professionals continue to exchange views about it because that will only raise the bar for the better.

On the publishing side, there was a time when cover illustrators weren’t even CREDITED with their work, which is absurd. Today, cover illustrators generally are at least credited for their work, whereas I find that a lot of the pre-90’s paperbacks and novels sometimes didn’t print the credit, and that was especially the case with pre-1970’s books. I think knowing who created the art helps foster an appreciation (and a marketplace) for the art itself in professional sf/fantasy work. From a professional standpoint, history shows that back in the 1950’s when the Ballantines were first building their publishing empire (now owned by Random House as Ballantine Books), they entrusted avant-garde artists like Richard Powers to create ground-breaking covers for their sf books, and they were rewarded with greater critical awareness, and booming sales of those books. Powers’ covers of the time were very modern and anti-traditional (i.e. anti-pulp, at a time when pulp dominated the book racks). Basically, the Ballantines had the courage to allow an artist to work outside the box of the existing marketplace tropes, and it both expanded the readership of the field and made a lot of money for them. These days, I don’t think publishers owned by multinational corporations are as willing to take a chance on ground-breaking artists like Richard Powers, unless they’re guaranteed in advance that it sells well, which means they’re usually chasing the tail rather than heading it. If you notice, when the Ballantines were working, the editorial department dictated the game to the marketing and sales department. Nowadays, that equation seems inverted. Today, marketing, sales, and accounting departments seem to dictate the final creative say to the editorial department, especially in terms of cover art. I don’t think cover art is better for it. Today’s audience is far more sophisticated than marketing departments currently envision. I’d like to see cover illustration in sf/fantasy be more proactive rather than reactive to the latest fads in movies, gaming, and tv (no offense, Joe). J

Another related thought — there’s another shift that happened around the early-90’s, right around the time when Chip Kidd and the Knopf design staff was making a big splash with their Random House covers. I think an unfair stigma was placed on illustration as being an element that “limited” a book to a genre audience, and publishers therefore relied more and more on stock photography and in-house designers to create covers. In the process, they lost sight of the full potential of original drawings and paintings to sell product in the marketplace. Kidd’s a smart designer, but I often wonder if he perhaps helped spread that stigma in interviews because it glorified designers like him, at the expense of illustration. The fact is, publishing still thinks this way today and I think it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that stunts the growth of ideas, profit, and outreach. Somewhere along the way there, publishers generated this self-fulfilling prophecy that illustration limited audiences. Perhaps it’s just a nice story that helps them cut costs and save in-house jobs? The fact is, there are dozens of examples of illustrators who didn’t limit audiences, but instead transcended time and context, and expanded audience and profit. The list is long and diverse – try J.C. Leyendecker in the 1910’s, Norman Rockwell in the 1940’s, the aforementioned Powers in the 1950’s, and Dave McKean in the 1990’s, to name only a few off the top of my head. We’re talking about revolutionary cover artists of their time with huge critical and commercial impact that exploded the growth of their publications beyond the existing audience. So if it’s possible in those eras, why say that today’s mainstream audiences aren’t sophisticated enough to embrace progressive, original illustration?

Sorry for the long answer, but it’s a nuanced question that merits an even longer, nuanced response than I’ve given. Enough for now though. Let’s take a step back, and look at what we’re all sharing right here at this second – we have the busy and beloved executive producer of STARGATE: ATLANTIS opening his personal forum to a book cover illustrator….think about that….so from a personal standpoint, I’m very appreciative of the friends and audiences that continue to find my work, and yes, I think the circle is expanding, thanks to people like Joe Mallozzi and others like him who think outside-the-box.

4. What kinds of things influence or inspire your art?
 

 

Whew…..those answers are constantly in flux. Hopefully the following offers a snapshot of what’s in my head at the moment. Of course this is likely to phase into something else tomorrow, and at the end, the snapshot includes manuscripts I’m working on for current cover jobs. Here goes — Posters of revolution and protest….John Berkey spaceships….the writings of Andrey Tarkovsky….the art of Dean Cornwell….the art of Gustav Klimt….the art of Francis Bacon….the music of Boxcar Satan….the music of Arvo Part…. the DARK KNIGHT soundtrack…a jagged leaf I found on the ground today….a spectral swirl that I saw in an oil puddle yesterday….a cloud formation spinning off of Hurricane Dolly….Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar on fire….ancient Celtic design….Gothic buttresses….Mark Chadbourn’s AGE OF MISRULE; Dan Simmons’ MUSE OF FIRE; Jack Skillingstead’s ARE YOU THERE; Mike Resnick’s STARSHIP: MUTINY; and Michael Moorcock’s ELRIC: THE REVENGE OF THE ROSE. This list subject to change completely tomorrow.

5. What do you think is the best thing about your job?
 

 

For one thing, that last sentence above is part of it. I love the diversity of the work itself — simultaneously illustrating covers for science fiction, fantasy, horror, and places in-between.

I guess if I had to really nail it down though….it’s the collision of my vision with an author’s words, and how those things birth an illustration that might not have existed otherwise. What I mean by that is that when I read a manuscript, it’s naturally going to filter through my own way of seeing the world, and something fresh and new comes from that, not just a visual regurgitation of the author’s words, which would be pointless. Of my own illustrations, my favorite ones usually have a higher degree of surprise for me, in that I might not have expected myself to arrive at a certain solution in months prior. I like when I know I’ve turned a corner and evolved, and wish it happened more often. Examples of these are the covers of Frederik Pohl’s GATEWAY; Lou Anders’ FAST FORWARD 1; and Jeffrey Ford’s THE EMPIRE OF ICE CREAM (which coincidentally seem to be amongst AMZ’s faves as well).

6. A lot of your covers are quite dark, both in terms of colours and content. Is the tone derived from the book, the author, the publisher or a combination of this and more?
 

 

It depends which images you’re looking at. You have to remember that a lot of my early work was commissioned by the horror side of the publishing industry and I’ve also done my fair share of dark fantasy covers as well. So those two genres are going to naturally demand a darker tone. If someone said that my general sensibilities also leaned toward darker tendencies, I’m not sure I’d argue, but overall, I’d have to say that I appreciate drama, tension, contrast, and texture. I once explained to someone that in order to see the beauty of light, you have to understand the dark, and I think that still holds true. Although some of my illustrations may appear “dark”, I’d say my outlook in life is a hopeful one, at the end of the day. I don’t really have an explanation for why my stuff looks the way it does. I just do it and it comes out that way. J

7. I’ve occasionally picked up some books because of their covers, only to be disappointed by the stories within. I was wondering, how important do you think it is to have a connection between the cover art and the written story? Do you have a say in what you do and don’t work on?
I’d also like to say thanks for coming by to Joe’s blog for a q&a. Since seeing Fast Forward 1 I’ve admired your work and I’m always on the lookout for it.”

 

 

I really appreciate that last statement. Thanks. As far as there being a connection between the cover art and the written story, it’s important to me. Most publishing folk will say, “the main job of the cover is to sell the book.” I don’t disagree with this. However, I feel like that’s one vector, and an equally important vector is the art’s ability to be true to the integrity of the book in some meaningful way. If you find the point where those two vectors intersect, that’s where I want to be. Some cover art makes a successful sales transaction for a book, but then readers find that the book has nothing to do with the art. OK, great – the publisher made a sale right now, but at the expense of a reader who is now turned off to that author and tells their friends? Not good for the client. So that’s why I think trying to find the intersection of those two vectors is where it’s at, especially for the long haul.

As far as having a say in my assignments – I’m fortunate that the answer is ‘yes.’ I do pick and choose, and I’m grateful that I can afford to do that.

Wolfenm writeS: “Dear Mr. Picacio ~
1) What is your medium of choice? Judging by the vibrancy of the colours, I would guess acrylic. What brand of paint and types of brushes do you use, and do you have any special tips for working with them?

 

 

I do my underpaintings in greyscale oils (Rembrandt and Winsor & Newton brands, mostly). The colors are done in acrylic for the most part (Liquitex brand). The greyscale oils and the acrylic colors are merged digitally via Photoshop. So the ingredients are all drawn and painted by hand, non-digitally, with traditional materials, but their juxtaposition has the possibilities of the digital world. Sometimes I paint completely traditionally as well, such as the triptych cover paintings for Jeff Ford’s WELL-BUILT CITY trilogy, which are part of a larger mixed-media assemblage. For brushes, it runs the gamut. I’m all over the place with those. My wife even gives me her old unwanted makeup brushes and I’ve used those to paint with. My favorite brush is a traditional #4 Round from Princeton Art & Brush Company. As far as special tips, I’d say don’t be afraid to use unusual items to apply paint and try different textures. Brushes aren’t the only ways to apply paint. Try sponges, leaves, sticks, rags, your fingers, etc.

2) I’ve noted that many covers don’t really resemble the characters/places/events at all; it’s been explained to me that this is because the authors rarely are allowed to be involved with the cover-making process, and that the artist is typically only given a paragraph description of the characters and scene wanted by the publisher. Is this typical or atypical of your experiences?
 

 

Unfortunately, that’s not uncommon. Sometimes it’s the simple fact that books have to be solicited so far in advance and in fact, authors are still writing the books. However to generate orders, publishers need covers to sell a book that’s still being written. That’s fairly common. In general, I try to read whatever parts of the book that I can get from the publisher, even if the book’s unfinished. In addition, I always do my own research as well. Readers can tell when a cover makes no connection to the book, and everyone loses in that scenario. Good covers don’t just have to be literal interpretations. They can be abstract interpretations or even evocative ones, and still have a powerful connection to the story.

3) What was the easiest cover you’ve ever done? The hardest? The most frustrating? The most fullfilling?
 

 

Easiest – They’re never easy.

Hardest – The hardest ones tend to not be because of difficult clients, but because of my own expectations for what’s possible. As a result, some of my favorite pieces are ones where I had to grow, evolve, or surprise myself in order to accomplish the job. Sometimes the idea comes immediately, and the execution has to evolve slowly. Other times, the idea takes forever to find its way, and the execution has to come together in short order. (A few that come to mind — FAST FORWARD 1; THE EMPIRE OF ICE CREAM; SHELF LIFE; GATEWAY; and more recently, THE WELL-BUILT CITY triptych; SON OF MAN; and FAST FORWARD 2, which all happen to be amongst my favorites)

Most frustrating – A cover I’m working on right now for a book by a well-known author….the book is profoundly deep and wonderful, and it deserves a great cover and I’m having trouble reconciling its scope and wonder in a succinct image. I’ll get there, but I’m frustrated that the idea hasn’t fully coalesced yet. It’ll happen (and it’s probably best not to give specifics beyond that).

Most fulfilling – Several over my career, but two from the last 12 months would be the cover of Lou Anders’ forthcoming FAST FORWARD 2 (Pyr), and the triptych I did that will form the three covers for Ford’s forthcoming WELL-BUILT CITY trilogy (Golden Gryphon Press). I’ve also got a soft spot for the cover of James Tiptree, Jr.’s HER SMOKE ROSE UP FOREVER because it won my first Chesley Award, and the cover of Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ because it’s an honor to do the cover of a classic book like that. That CANTICLE art has been so well-received that many foreign editions now use it for the cover.

4) What advice (and warnings) would you give an artist who wants to get into doing covers?
 

 

Advice – run your own race. If you look just like your heroes, the best you’ll ever be is a second-rate version of your heroes, which does no one any good. It’s okay to start off wearing your influences heavily, but work toward finding your own way of seeing, and make that your foundation above all else.

Warning – be wary of any client (comic book companies, gaming companies, movie companies, etc.) that demands to own all rights to your work in perpetuity. Avoid clients that demand those terms. If it’s work-for-hire dealing with trademarked characters, the company will own all of your work, but make sure you’re compensated appropriately before signing any contract. For work dealing with non-trademarked characters, a few companies try to get away with that because new talent is often desperate for a break. That’s why most established pros avoid them. Go work elsewhere with clients that don’t demand that. The only sensible reason to agree to that is if you’re getting double the normal fee, or some commensurate trade-off. Again, just “getting exposure” is not good enough.

5) How did you get your own break in the industry?

 

My story’s a little unconventional. I graduated from the University of Texas with a Bachelor of Architecture degree (1992), and didn’t have formal art training. My dream back then was to work in comics, so I started writing and drawing my own comics and self-publishing them. At that point, I didn’t have any interest in doing anything other than my own comics. However, the covers I created for those comics eventually caught the attention of a publisher named Mojo Press and they were looking for a cover illustrator for a 30th anniversity edition of a book called BEHOLD THE MAN by Michael Moorcock (published 1996). It was a book, not a comic, but I took the job because I knew Moorcock was a legend. I did the cover illustration and design, plus interior illustrations for that book, and simply put, I fell madly in love with being a book illustrator. That job changed my life, and from that point forward, I left comics behind and looked for cover jobs with small press book publishers and started building a portfolio. I spent a lot of years sending out promo postcards to hand-picked clients and took a lot of expensive trips to New York City, knocking on publishers’ doors and getting polite rejections. All the while, I was working dayjobs in architecture offices, until I finally jumped off the cliff in 2001 and quit architecture, and committed body and soul to being a fulltime freelance illustrator, even though I had no backup plan and almost no savings (not recommended unless you have a tough stomach). I just kept hacking away because I wanted to work in this business more than anything else. Being an artist meant everything to me, and it still does.

Sylvia writes: “Question for John Picacio
How do you put yourself into a “frame of reference” to design book art?
How many versions?
Do you present a number to the client for choice?
Do you “choose/recommend” based on the book?
How long do they give you to present a design?
Which begs the question, how long would you prefer?”

 

 

Wow, Sylvia….that’s a heckuva question. I’ll try to answer in one pass.

Hate to say it, but as my wife will attest, my mind never really shuts off from art. The faucet’s running 24/7. Everything I do probably in some way informs my current work, if only subconsciously sometimes. Even if I’m doing things that aren’t drawing or painting, the work is “on” in the back of my mind all the time. It’s in the blood.

Some cover ideas arrive in one sketch; others arrive in fragments and it takes several generations to get it right. It varies from job to job. I try to make as many decisions as possible before I start throwing ideas at the client. That decision-making is just as important as the drawing and painting in my mind, and it’s part of the reason they’re paying me. Time and budget have a lot to do with how many sketches a client gets. If a client pays less money, or if the given schedule is razor-tight, they get less preliminary work.

As far as how much time is given, it often depends on how organized a client is. If you’ve got a superior publishing client like Pyr, they generally don’t wait until the last minute to commission cover art. Their schedules generally give at least eight to ten weeks for working out the cover, sometimes more, and that includes the time it takes to read the manuscript and/or research. Some clients are less organized and expect things in a rush. As an illustrator, you learn to adjust to each situation and weigh them all accordingly. That said, it’s probably no surprise that Pyr’s covers look as good as they do across the board, and get so much acclaim. And that’s also why Pyr’s editorial director Lou Anders has the rare distinction of being one of the few editors to ever be nominated for a Chesley Award for Best Art Director.

Travis writes: 1. Do you prefer to work on a Wacom tablet using digital programs like Painter and Photoshop, or do you prefer to use more traditional methods using Oils and Acrylics?
 

 

I’ve never used a Wacom tablet because I don’t like the drag of plastic on plastic. I like Photoshop for the way I can composite traditional materials in interesting ways, but as a drawing or painting tool, it doesn’t hold much interest to me, nor does any other piece of software. I definitely use traditional pencils, oils, and acrylics for that. It’s more fun to get my hands dirty. That said, there are plenty of folks that do terrific work using straight digital means, and I’ve got no problem with that. I’m just not one of them. I’m definitely more of a hybrid between traditional and digital.

2. Do you prefer freelance or working for a company? How much creative control do you generally get with your work that you do for clients?
 

 

I love the freelance life. It’s got long, tough days and nights, and doesn’t have the built-in cushy benefits of a company job, but there’s no substitute for controlling your own destiny. Going freelance full-time was the best move of my life. As far as creative control, I’m fortunate in that most of my good clients know that they’re hiring me just as much for my head as they are for my drawing hand. So I get a lot of creative control with most jobs. I also try to be careful with the rights granted in my contracts, so that I own the copyright, as well as other significant rights, to virtually every work I do when I’m done.

Terry writes: “How much of a story does he read before he does the artwork? Does he instead rely on a story summary and if so, does that come from the publisher or the author? Does he ever confer with an author on a cover? Has he ever received feedback from an author that surprised him? Finally, I was astounded by some of the artwork on his website. Does he sell original artwork to indvidual buyers?”
 

 

I read as much as I can get from the publisher. I always ask for the full manuscript so I can read it all, if it’s humanly possible in the time given. Sometimes the only thing that’s available is a story summary because the book is still being written. Sometimes only a few chapters are available for the same reason. Sometimes the deadline is so razor-tight that there’s no time to read the entire book. Unfortunately, these things occur. In general, the best way to really understand the heart of a book isn’t via marketing copy hype, but to do due diligence and read the book. Most publishers prefer the illustrator not confer with the author, which is probably because it allows them more control over the process. In most cases, publishers aren’t contractually obligated to please the author with the cover, so discussions between author and illustrator are discouraged, even though logically it would seem that the author’s input is a valuable one. On the rare occasions that I have sought out an author, it’s usually with a specific question in mind, but not so much for them to give a blessing to my work. One of the most memorable author interactions I ever had was with Lucius Shepard when I did the cover for his TWO TRAINS RUNNING. He sent me a memorable email and I printed the following in my art book COVER STORY: THE ART OF JOHN PICACIO because I thought it was amazing. Lucius Shepard: “The hobos, among the most miserable of society’s folk, derive strength from the trains, I think. From the association with these big monsters, they derive the power to mythologize their own desperately seedy lives—which is how we all get along. So, in retrospect, I guess I’d say that the title also refers to that process, the human process of taking the hard truth and making it into something more bearable.” As far as original artwork, a few are available, and I’ll do a blog post about it after I get back from the World Science Fiction Convention. I’ll soon be announcing the availability of signed prints of my work as well. Check out http://johnpicacio.com/blog.html for more details soon.

Trish writes: “My seven year old daughter draws constantly. She has great attention to detail and usually expresses herself through her art. I feel my love of drawing was squashed by my art teachers in high school. I am afraid of this happening to my daughter. Yet I recognize the importance of a solid foundation. Any suggestions on how to find a great art teacher?”
 

 

Tough question, when you’re asking a guy with almost no formal art training. Here’s what I’d say – encourage her early and often. It doesn’t matter what she’s drawing as long as she’s drawing. Personally, my advice might be to wait until she’s old enough to ask for formal training rather than giving it to her too early. Let drawing be fun in these early years. Believe me – if she decides that a pro career is what she wants, she’ll go after it. The advantage you have is that she’s discovered drawing early and positive reinforcement right now means a lot. Visiting the art section in bookstores and museums is an excellent idea while she’s finding her way. The only other thing I’d say is if there are certain media or stimuli that she likes that encourage drawing, then let her explore them. For me, a big childhood stimuli was superhero comics, but it was a starting point. I started to idolize certain comic book illustrators and comics were something that inspired me to draw more, until I was able to process more diversity. As far as finding a great art teacher, I think the best one for her right now is life, which means anything that excites her. Once she defines her own creative interests some more, then it’ll be easier to find a teacher that plays to her strengths, rather than vice versa.

Pauline writes: “Hi John I looked at some of your work and found it awesome to say the least. Hope my questions aren’t too predictable or puerile so here goes.
1. Not being familiar with how things work within your chosen field, can I ask you, do you read the book cover to cover or do you talk to the author to you get inspiration?

 

 

Thanks, Pauline. I think I’ve covered this one above in some detail, but yes, for the vast majority of jobs, I read the book first.

2. Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?
 

 

I suspect it was always in the blood. As mentioned just now, superhero comics were a big thing to me as a kid. So I’d have to say those were a huge influence. Like I mentioned above, when I did the cover of Michael Moorcock’s BEHOLD THE MAN, it was literally a life-changing experience, so I’ve always said that without Mike Moorcock, I’m not sure that I’d be doing this right now.

3. Are you given free reign when coming up with an illustration or do you produce a couple of ideas for publishers and authors to chose from?
 

 

I’m not sure that I’m given free reign, but I take it anyway. Here’s what I mean by that: as a professional illustrator, I’m hired by clients to perform a service, which is creating the best cover I can for them. Hypothetically, if I had to select a doctor to operate on my heart, I would trust his expertise or I wouldn’t let him operate. I wouldn’t tell him where and how to make the cuts, or how to sew me up. So I take the same attitude when I do a cover. I trust that I know how to do my job better than my client, and expect that they understand the same. I listen to the input of all parties concerned and then my ideas come from the intersection between how my head works, what the client needs, and what the book says. I’ve never looked at myself as a hired set of hands because my ideas are as valuable to my finished work as the physical execution, and clients are hiring me for both.

4. You have a degree in Architecture what made you change your mind and chose art?
 

 

I was good at architecture and could’ve eventually made a lot of money doing something stable. I liked architecture a lot. But I loved illustration. So I chose what I loved over what I liked, even if what I liked wasn’t necessarily stable. I think it’s worked out well. My days in architecture were definitely numbered after working on that first book cover job, BEHOLD THE MAN.

5. Is there any author that you haven’t illustrated a cover for but you would like to?
 

 

Jorge Luis Borges…..I’ve always wanted to be hired to illustrate a cover for his book DREAMTIGERS. Alan Moore would be a dream. China Mieville is a great author, and I’d love to work on one of his books someday. Same with Ted Chiang. Maybe Jonathan Carroll. My wife’s all-time favorite author is Stephen King, and for her sake, I’d love to do a King cover someday.

6. Have you ever done an illustration and been totally blown away by it yourself, if so can you tell us which one it was?
 

 

Tough question. I don’t get blown away by myself. With every job, I see my faults more than anything. I’d say though that I knew my cover for Frederik Pohl’s GATEWAY was something special when I finished. Same with the cover for A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ by Walter M. Miller, Jr. Both books are major science fiction classics and I knew both had never seen covers like I did for them. I’m proud of that.

7. Ever been shot down in flames by a publisher or author who disliked your art and if so do you get somewhat vexed or do you nod and go back to the ‘drawing board’ so to speak?”
 

 

Actually, way back in 1997, I showed my portfolio to a head guy of a particular publisher, and he completely torched my work and dismissed me. It wasn’t just professional; he was on a power trip, and got personal. Fast forward to 2007 — he phoned and asked to commission a cover from me. He didn’t remember he torched me a decade earlier. My schedule was booked solid, but I took the job and kept it professional, remaining silent about his treatment a decade earlier. Before I could even read the first sentence of the manuscript, his company abruptly closed down and he was unemployed. Karma.

Any further questions – feel free to comment below or email me directly. Thanks again, everyone – and again, many thanks, Joe!! J

 

The mailbag:

Rose writes: “I’m just curious why you decided to go in a different direction for Atlantis. I’m not saying that a McKay/Keller romance is necessarily a bad thing but it seems like a pretty risky venture.”

Answer: By and large, our interest in a possible storyline rests on its potential to develop as-yet-unexplored facets of our characters. We ask ourselves “Is this story worth pursuing?” and “Why?”. In the case of this (or, in fact, any romantic arc), we also have to ask ourselves whether it is “good” for the characters involved, be they McKay, Keller, or Ronon. Does the storyline allow us to flesh out their characters by placing them in atypical situations? Can the storyline give us a glimpse of the characters at their most human and vulnerable states? If the answer is yes, then that particular storyline will get the go-ahead. One of our aims over the past couple of years has been to focus on the relationships between the various members of the expedition. In real life, friendships form over time. But, occasionally, so does romance.

Thornyrose writes: “Could you re-list the scheduled guest bloggers, and when questions for them will be taken, and/or about when they are going to appear on the site?”

Answer: I’ll give you the heads up as we get closer to their various appearances. For the guest authors, simply check the right-hand border. Robert C. Cooper is presently working on the fan questions I sent his way. Starting tomorrow, I’ll be gathering questions for Mark Dacascos. Some time next week, it’ll be questions for Stargate Atlantis Director of Photography Jim Menard and Production Designer James Robbins.

Sandra Lee writes: “Who does the promo photos for SGA?”

Answer: Sci Fi.

Squall78 writes: “I read an article that MGM wants a new series and a pair of new movies here…http://www.straight.com/article-154772/new-dvd-stargate-continuum

What does this mean for SGA or is this article just taking info out of context? It seems MGM has approved SGU and 2 new movies. Any clarification would be appreciated.”

Answer: It’s no secret that MGM is very eager to do Stargate Universe, the second Stargate spin-off. Now, it’s just a matter of finding a home for the potential series. Given that Stargate: Continuum looks like it’ll follow Stargate: The Ark of Truth’s lead and blow away projected sales estimates, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that MGM would want to do a couple of more SG-1 movies. The Atlantis season 4 dvd box-set is also selling well, so it’s hard to imagine MGM not wanting to do another season. But this decision rests with the network.

Gracey writes: “Thanks Joe for recommending “Old Man’s War” I loved it and when finished went right out and bought “Ghost Brigades.” They didn’t have “The Last Colony.” Did you read all three? Do you normally read an entire series, or maybe just the first couple?”

Answer: Hey, Gracey, I’m pleased to hear you’re enjoying Scalzi. He’s a terrific writer and most of those who I’ve recommended him to have loved his books. Yes, I read Ghost Brigades about a year after reading Old Man’s War. The Last Colony is on my to-read list (which, if you haven’t noticed, is very, very long). In general, I prefer to read the first book in a series and then take a break before picking up the second.

AutumnDreamPrincess writes: “Any chance of an episode somewhere down the line wherein one or more of the characters exist entirely within the distorted landscape of their own minds, conducting unfathomably profound psychoanalysis?”

Answer: Marty G. pitched something very close to this, but it never got past the “submitted for your consideration” stage. Maybe in season 6?

Tuskin writes: “I noticed in some season 5 pictures on gateworld that Sheppard has gone from using a Beretta as a sidearm to a Colt (Possibly 1911) is there a reason for this?”

Answer: Off the top of my head, I don’t know why the change was made. It was either a decision by our armourer Rob Fournier, or one made by the actor who may have preferred the feel of the Colt. The latter was the case with the P-90’s that are not only compact and easy to carry, but much more production-friendly given they expel shell casings straight down rather than off to the side (where they can potentially ping off neighboring actors).

Brendan writes: “I did notice that in some episodes of Atlantis there are some references to the 60s Batman TV show and various references to other shows and movies, who usually thinks of them and includes them in the episodes?”

Answer: All of us are big fans of 60’s t.v.

Zoniduck writes: “If you did want to use something from that nanotech article for a future story on SGA, would you be prevented from doing it because of any legal concerns since you found out about the article from someone on your blog?”

Answer: Nope. The subject of nanotechnology is one that has been well-mined in contemporary SF fiction. In fact, we touched on the medical applications of nanotechnology just last season in Miller’s Crossing.

Davidd writes: “Joe, before you actually begin writing an episode script are all of the other writers involved in the development of the basic idea, then you just write it? Or do you come up with the storyline and write it all on your own?”

Answer: Although the scripts are written individually, the formation of the story and its various beats are a team effort. Someone will pitch out a story, we’ll offer suggestions, then that person will go off and work on a beat sheet. We’ll all weigh in with our suggestions, then they may go off and flesh out the beat sheet into a proper working outline. From there, after another round of input, it’s off to script. Different writers prefer different methods however. While we all pitch out initial ideas to the room and rely on the other writers for suggestions/criticism, I prefer to head off and write up a fully detailed outline as a next step. Carl usually proceeds to a beat sheet first and then a revised beat sheet. Alan will go to a beat sheet, then outline. Marty G. always prefers to have everyone in the room to help break his story. Of course, there are always exceptions and someone who usually goes straight to beat sheet may prefer to have all of the writers in the room breaking the trickier stories.

Helia writes: “Hi, can you please tell us whether or not we’ll hear anything about the Tria this season?”

Answer: We will not.

SusantheTartanTurtle writes: “*I don’t understand the ratings system for TV programmes. What does the number – 1.35 (or whatever) actually mean?

And what is a good score and what is a bad score?

*I saw the second episode – does nobody put the lights out in Atlantis – it looks pretty glowing in the dark, but what a waste of ZPM power.

*When Carson fell out of the freezer whould he not have just fallen forward instead of to the side?

*In the 100th episode – is there any chance of Lulu (or Mars) doing a cameo as a sniffer dog of some kind. The dog could lead Colonel Sheppard to the suspect – or the mess hall.”

Answers: 1) 1 ratings point = 1.1 households. The 1.35 for our premiere indicates that approximately 1.5 million households tuned into the 10:00 p.m. telecast of Search and Rescue. Those are same-day viewers. The show averages a 30% bump from households that DVR or Tivo the show. So, all in, almost 2 million households saw the premiere. Is that good enough to get us a sixth season pick-up? Only the network knows. 2) Given that the city is powered by ZPM, turning off those lights isn’t going to make that much of a difference. It’s like unplugging your electrical appliances when they’re not in use. Sure, theoretically you would be saving some energy, but enough energy to warrant going through all the trouble? 3) Carson’s fall. Sure. Forwards, backwards, side to side. 4) Lulu is holding out for her own t.v. series.

JimfromJersey writes: “ I just received BREAKING NEWS email from SyFy Portal: “Brad Wright announces that a third Stargate movie is in the works”

So is this aforementioned breaking news Project Terzo or Project Twilight?”

Answer: Zoniduck already pointed out that Terzo is third is Italian. So, to answer your question – yes, Project Terzo refers to the third Stargate movie that Brad has already started work on.

Masterchief writes: “hey Joe I was wondering why did you get rid of the old table in the conference room?”

Answer: Honestly? Because it was a pain to shoot around and the new table offers the directors the opportunity to shoot more dynamic conference room scenes.

Thornyrose writes: “Great pics, and can’t wait to see what the final shot of Woolsey’s digs look like.”

Answer: You’ll get a peek at Woolsey’s quarters in tonight’s episode.

Cat1 writes: “did Katie decorate Rodney’s room? I thought the plants were meant to suggest that. After all, Rodney’s looking after the turtles – is he also looking after the plants?”

Answer: Yes, Katie certainly helped with the decorations.

Chelle db writes: “So Joe, what’s been the most difficult episode to produce this season?”

Answer: For me, Whispers was certainly the most involving episode I’ve produced in years.

Shirt ‘n Tie writes: “Does The Carl Binder Memorial Theatre have a restaurant???? What are today’s specials??”

Answer: It’s always schnitzel.

5) How did you get your own break in the industry?

100 thoughts on “July 25, 2008: With Special Guest – Award-Winning Artist/Illustrator/Designer John Picacio

  1. Wow Awesome illustrations!!!! I admire John’s work.
    I am a day late on this comment, but I am a fan of spoilers, I think I may be in a minority, but…. the pic of Sam on the midway station and the green screen, I had no idea. As Jacob Cater would say, “Holly Hannah”, for some reason, I was so disappointed. Is it hard for an actor to be “motivated” when working with green screen? But please I like spoilers, so keep ’em comin’

  2. Re: the McKay/Keller thing– I completely understand wanting to flesh out the characters but so far all I see is Keller being kind of a jerk to both Rodney and Ronon and Rodney risking seriously pissing Ronon off. Actually, it makes Keller less andless likable by the episode.

  3. Hy Mr Mallozzi.Want to thank u for the great job u are doing in keeping our dreams alive with Stargate Atlantis.
    I have one little question.
    Does Michael get killed in The Prodigal or we will see him in season 6 maybe :p ?
    Thanks

  4. Thank you for the answers, Mr, Picacio. I didn’t ask any questions myself, but found it all very interesting and informative. Your work is stunning.

    I’m into fingerpaints myself. You think I’m kidding, don’t you?

  5. John: Great to see you hear. Once again the Book Club participants ask great questions. Very much enjoying your answers. Hi Joe!

  6. Hey Joe, if an actor presents an idea, like Joe F. did for Outcast, are they involved in the writing or do the just pitch an idea and leave it to the writers? Are they consulted about the script? Thanks for your time

  7. Gah! I never did get a chance to formulate a question for John. What gorgeous work, though. I gave serious thought, when I was a preteen, to going into illustration or cartooning. I sort of wish I’d followed through with that a bit more.

    Do I need to repost the questions for Alan McCullough I sent in too early? I believe I have the content saved on my computer or I could search through the entries to snatch it. (Hm. Is it the only question you’ve answered from me was when I obnoxiously posted the questions too early? Shall I call myself “thorn-in-side?”)

    Update: Totally found those question for Alan.

    Mailbag Question: [Yes, she really can be more obnoxious.]

    A question that’s probably been asked from the first season:
    Are we ever going to get any validity on Rodney’s health issues aside from his reminding his fellow teammates…and complete strangers of them? Not that I necessarily WANT to see Rodney go into a anaphylatic reaction or hypoglycemic shock, but I’m curious nonetheless. It’s that sick side of humans that make us shyly glance over at an automobile accident.

    At the end of the last episode, The Seed John obviously got injured by the creepy tentacle phalanges thing. I couldn’t tell, did the tentacle go through his body and come out the other side or did it simply jab him?

    (Ya ever write a question then answer it as you’re writing it? That’s annoying)

    There are so many types of adaptation out there. I often wonder what the potential of the human gene to conform or adapt to would be. Are there limits to the environment we can adapt to given enough time or is the information in our DNA limitless to eventually form protectors or adaptations to that environment? And if it is limitless (at least, given ample time) what new humans would be birthed from subtle changes in our DNA?

    I wonder if there is a possibility of examining humans who have, over the extent of time in the Pegasus galaxy, developed characteristics of physical difference to that of the original homosapiens. (Hm, actually…that term is a little off for this discussion as doesn’t the Stargate story claim that humans were sprung from Ancients as apposed to primates? HomoAncients, then?) Or is that something that is consciously being stayed away from in order to protect the integrity? Is that the right word? The integrity of Stargate’s reliance on a familiar face to alien culture as apposed to Star Trek’s take on the many subtle differences of each race in the galaxy?

    I quite like Stargate’s take on alien races, though. I like the fact that alien can be so familiar looking. It adds a dimension of what alien is past first impressions.

    Anyway, this was all babble. I’m not sure if anything of this was salvageable to read.

    Adios, Joe!

  8. i have a question for Mark Dacascos.

    What Drew you to the Character Tyre?

    Just wanted to say My mother loves watching you on the food network as the Chairman and any of the movies that you have done.

  9. As someone that has absolutely zero artistic talent when it comes to drawing/painting that was very insightful. I watch in awe at people with such a talent. I agree that it just has to be in your blood.

    Trish – Glad I can provide some global amusement 🙂
    I’d have a book filled if I logged all moments like that … or maybe even a trilogy …

    Joe – I hope you enjoy The Last Colony. Very different to the first two, but I thought it was a great book to give you more understanding of the politics of his universe. And for some crazy reason, I like knowing the politics behind things. It gives clarity to a lot of actions.

  10. hey Joe,

    thanks for answering my question. I certainly understand the decision to replace the conference table. the new one reminds me of the SGC. Woolsey probably just wants something familiar around him, instead of all the strange Ancient Atlantis stuff. to quote Shep: “Welcome to the Pegasus Galaxy”

    I like AutumnDreamPrincess’s and M. Gero’s idea of an episode that takes place in someone’s mind. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the ST: TNG episode “Frame of Mind” (Riker thinks he’s going insane when he can’t tell what’s real and what isn’t) which I thought was great. a similar concept for an Atlantis episode would be amazing in my opinion. ok so Project Terzo refers to the third movie. LOL I knew it. now what’s Project Twilight? oh well I guess we’ll find out soon enough… right? hehe. anyway thanks again and I hope everybody’s having fun at Comic Con

  11. Joe,

    Thanks for your answer to my question. Framed in such a way, a romance for McKay makes a lot more sense. I guess, sometimes, I get a little emotionally involved with these characters.

    Which means that the writers are doing their jobs. Or that I don’t have a life. It’s one of those two. *g*

    Best,

    Rose

  12. Hey Joe.

    I took a tour of Hatley Castle today in Victoria (trip got extended) and was wondering if you’ve ever been there?

    Thanks Joe.
    _____

    Question for Mark Dacascos:

    Hey Mark. I was wondering how long did it take for you to get your role on Stargate? From your first audition. Were you part of 3 top auditions for the role, or did you just get it with no other real competition?

    Thanks Mark!

  13. Hey, Joe!

    Thanks for the birthday dedication, and you can be sure that me and my friends are going to be watching the episode tonight! One of them said to me today that she is not sure if she should be ashamed to say she’s addicted to Stargate now. She was anticipating watching it all day at work today.

    Great guest blog by the way, even though I never gave any questions for it!

    Mercie

  14. Hi Joe, since I’ve only been reading your blog for a short time, I’m conscious of asking questions that you may have already ben asked but I guess I’ll ask anyway ( I hate being asked repetitive questions at work).

    1. Are there any Australian shows you have seen lately? Can I suggest Underbelly – it’s about Melbourne’s Underworld killings. (I’m not allowed to watch it as it’s banned in Victoria – my home state due to the murder trials currently happening.)

    2. Are you are trivia buff?

  15. Hi Joe!

    Thanks for allowing John to stop by and share his work and words with us. I am in love with John’s beautiful artwork! Wow – that is talent! Thanks for sharing insight to your work process and inspirations.

    Congrats, John, on your four nomination. I hope you win!

    @MK: Did you see how sweet and caring Keller was when she was telling Teyla about McKay talking to Statis!Beckett?

    Back to you Joe, the Host with the Most (Cool Blog):

    I hope Lulu holds out for a good deal for her “series.” She has a great doggie life ahead of her, so she doesn’t have to hop the Disney wagon or anything. 😉

    Oooooh, a third SG movie?! Yippee!!! I hope my li’l part – buying the movie/series DVDs and watching the series (repeatedly) – has helped convince those wacky MGM people that the SG franchise is worth keepin’! 😀 😀

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    eddy

  16. Just finished watching Broken Ties,,Wow that was really great. Jason did a fantastic job! Thanks for the bathtub scene (*blushes*) It was a good episode for Woolsey as well, atta boy! (liked the door not opening for him) What a wonderful job of writing, thanks Joe and everyone. I do enjoy my Friday night fix of Stargate Atlantis, I can go to sleep with pleasant dreams now. tiny bubbles,humming… 😉

    Is that the fake baby we saw in previous blog entry pics? very realistic!

  17. I loved Broken Ties. Absolutely wonderful episode. Jason was incredible and the team interaction was fantastic.

    Tell Mark Dacascos that he should petition to have you as a judge on Iron Chef. 🙂

    Tara K.

  18. “Blood Ties” rocks! Enjoyed the quiet character moments, but found Woolsey’s last seen too funny for words. I’m glad Teyla has made her decision and hope she can now live with it. The bath tub scene was cute…a bath tub in Atlantis, go figure!

    “Mr. Woolsey, permission to go off world?” There’s a Sheppard line that belongs in Stargate infamy!

  19. Broken Ties: yet another outstanding episode! Incredible acting by all, especially Jason and guest Mark Dacascos. Definitely Jason’s Emmy episode. And I am surprised by the kind and compassionate Woolsey. I thought it would take at least a half season for him to get that way. Also nice to see Teyla and family all together. And the scene with Rodney at the end, so funny! One question. Will it take a couple of episodes for Ronan to get back to normal, or does the process all take place between episodes. The way this season is progressing, if there isn’t a Season 6, Sci-Fi is out of their minds.

  20. Broken Ties all i can say i WOW!!! Loved Loved Loved

    One of the best so far this season. Please pass on to the cast they are doing a wonderfull job so far and who ever wrote this episode i think did a wonderfull job and deserves and award.

    Thought it was funny that the Baby cried in Mr. Woolsey’s arms , he definatly knows who he likes.

    Skye

  21. Thank you to Mr. John Picacio for the indepth and candid replies. Great stuff!! Thank you for dropping in!

    A surprise drop-in by Mr. Jeffrey Ford, Very Cool!

    Joe to you, writers, cast, crew – Broken Ties – fabulously written, directed, and acted! Have to watch it on the second showing (and DVR) – there was so much in this episode. So many scenes with strong emotion by the actors who are engendering strong emotions from the viewers. I am overwhelmed by the range in this episode. Brilliant! I agree – as Squeakiep said – Blood Ties ROCKS!

  22. The brother-in-law made me laugh tonight. He’s not an online fan and I’m mum about most online stuff so this comes pretty pure. He said, “Woolsey is the Col. Klink of Atlantis.” I almost spit out my soda. 😛

    I see SGA is using a zat-like gun now (I don’t remember seeing it before, though that means nothing). I also noticed Ronon got hit 3 times with it. Felt good, didn’t it? 😉

    suse

  23. This is about as good as a Friday can get. A superlong blog entry, with a great guest blogger, a mailbag, and of course Broken Ties. I’d like to thank Mr. Picacio for his participation I’ve had time to look over more of his work online, and I hope that he wins the Hugo for this year’s nomination. While I didn’t ask any questions of my own, I found others had covered any topics I would have brought up, and found his answers detailed and informative. I look forward to seeing more of his artwork in the future.
    About tonight’s episode. Spoiler alert for anyone happening to read this. First off, another home run for the series. The opening teaser was short, but successful in setting up the issue. Without going into a detailed review, some of the high points was the semi-crippled Tyre as an object of both loathing and pity, Woolsey unable to exit his own conference room, Lorne in his duty uniform( as long as we gals get that kind of eye candy I promise not to complain about all the women on Atlantis being so good looking) I really enjoyed the Teyla/Woolsey interactions. I think it was a testament to Teyla’s diplomatic and personal skills that Woolsey was so willing to open up in front of her at all. I can’t imagine him doing so with any of the milky way personnel, not while he’s still so unsettled as a leader.
    Nice sequencing between Tyre and Ronon as one overcame the addiction while the other became hooked. The fight sequence was terrific, and I’d buy the entire season of episodes just for the last couple of minutes. The payoffs on both Woolsey’s quarters, his idea of comfortable clothing, McKay’s tub finally revealed….all fantastic.
    My only real question about this episode is are we going to see repercussions of Ronon’s “turning” in later episodes? This has been a traumatic event that has got to leave Ronon questioning himself. Always so certain he’d never yield, and now he has to live with the knowledge that he broke. I do hope that we will see some sort of followup on this thread. Oh, and single favorite moment; Woolsey with Teyla’s baby. His reactions over the few seconds the scene took were priceless, and perfectly carried off.
    Thank you for the extensive mailbag; lots of good stuff in there. I’m hoping the ratings will continue to do well, and that we can look forward to another season at least. If purchasing the show from iTunes and Amazon help, I consider my money well invested.
    Finally, I just finished reading Timothy Zahn’s Last Train to Rigel. Pretty good book, done in first person from the protagonist’s view, and well paced. I offer it for your consideration as a future read for yourself or as a BotM candidate Thanks again for all the time and labor you’ve put in to keep us entertained and informed, on so many levels.

  24. John, I’m enormously impressed by your work. I especially have to mention the cover you did for The Empire of Ice Cream, even though I have not yet read the book. I’m an artist in wood and polymer clay, and your flowers in that piece strongly mirror what I have been trying to do in PC (not to mention that I have a particular affinity for nasturtiums; oh, and human faces).

    Consider me a fan.

  25. @ Mr Picacio ~ Thank you very much for answering our questions! I’m an artist too, and found your answers both fascinating and educational! 😀

    @ Joe ~ Brilliant job with “Broken Ties” especially the end! 😀

    Heh, for a minute, I thought you had tricked us, though, since McKay just *talked* about being in the bathtub earlier on. XD

    All around, you did a good job of showing how every side had it’s point, with Teyla’s situation and with going after Ronon; no one was exactly being unreasonable (not even Woolsey! ^_~).

    I like that Ronon got to see just how difficult things were for Tyre, firsthand. I like the double-twist of Tyre seemingly having betrayed the Atlantians, only to actually betray the Wraith. I figured he was going to blow himself up anyway — sad for him and for Ronon, yet it feels like the best end for him.

    I feel for Teyla and the difficulty of her decision. And I see Kanaan’s (and John’s, in “Quarantine”) point about her work with the team being for the benefit of her son and *all* children. But if a) she’d planned on having Torren, instead of him being an accident, and b) they didn’t need every person they could get in the fight against the Wraith? … Then I would *hope* she wouldn’t, ya know? (Even if, like John and Woolsey and Kanaan, I would *repsect* her decision.) Of course, for the sake of the story — and Rachel — I understand full well why she ultinatley has to stay on the team; I’m just saying that if I lived in that universe, I’d be rooting for her (and Kanaan, I’m not sexist) to take a safer job and leave the dangerous work to the childless people who want it … I do like that Kanaan is the stay-at-home dad, at least. 🙂

    Love the little conference-room door thing going on with Woolsey. I noticed him look at the doors funny in “The Seed” too, when he sat down. Is John messing with him, or is it that Atlantis doesn’t like him, or what? For that matter, is he supposed to have the gene?

    Looooved Rodney’s worried ramble about how he was trying to figure out how to find Ronon!! Loved the worried look he had while watching Ronon go through withdrawl (I’m sure he was remembering his own withdrawl in “The Hive”), and loved him chattering away at Ronon’s bedside about his piano lessons.

    Love that Ronon kept calling out for Sheppard — in a friend sort of way, of course. 😉 Still a McShepper here! Speaking of with, loved Shep’s line about not taking a bath with Rodney (are you trying to give we McSheppers a nosebleed, a la anime, by putting ideas in our heads?) and John’s comforting pat on Rodney’s arm as he left the wraith cell. Also love his midly sarcastic humouring of Rodney’s rambling plan in the cell (and the plan itself).

    Loved Mckay’s “I’m gonna go to lunch now …” and Keller’s “I’ll go with you…” when they realised that Teyla and Sheppard were going to have an uncomfortable talk.

    Loved that last montage, with Woolsey’s comfort clothes being a suit, and the home life of Teyla and her family, Rodney in the tub, and, most especially, John giving Ronon his sword, and the anguish on Ronon’s face after. Was he hugging the sword as a comfort reflex from his days on the run, or because he appreciated the gesture of trust on Sheppard’s part?

    Bravo to Jason Momoa for a knockout performance! He had me in tears, both during his yealling at Tyre for the man’s perceived betrayal of Sateda and withdrawl scenes!

  26. Hey Joe,

    Broken Ties was *excellent* tonight!

    Last week’s episode was, honestly, a disappointment. The plot was good, but the ep felt strangely edited, with odd pacing, weird scene cuts and more than a few character moments that just seemed wrong. (I still don’t understand why Carson didn’t say *something* about Teyla being back when he was revived. His last words to Sheppard were an impassioned “You bring her home, you hear?” and yet no acknowledgment of her when he wakes.)

    But Broken Ties? Perfect!

    – Remarkable acting by Jason Momoa. His you-betrayed-me scene with Tyre and his withdrawal scenes made me ache with sympathy. His withdrawal scenes in particular (Mark Dacascos’ as well) were so gut-wrenching they were hard to watch.

    – Fantastic writing and excellent kept-you-guessing plot. Or plots, plural. Teyla’s storyline held up well against Ronon’s.

    – Truly amazing sword fight.

    – Completely and utterly wonderful character moments! Love the buddy stuff between Sheppard and Rodney. (And Rodney in the bubble bath! Hope his computer tablet is waterproof. ;0) Great job making Woolsey a three-dimensional character and not just the by-the-book bureaucrat everyone thought he would be. (The scene with him and the baby was priceless! And he never got to say goodbye to his Yorkie… oh jeez. If I didn’t like him before I do now.) Heart-wrenching stuff with the team and Ronon, both in the Wraith lab and during withdrawl. Sweet vigil they kept. The characters make SGA and this ep made the characters.

    – Great montage at the end. Emotional, satisfying. Just…. great.

    Thank you for a wonderful episode.

    Question for Mark Dacascos: I’ve heard you’re a super nice guy. Is it difficult playing a not-so-good guy on screen? (I’m thinking particularly of your betrayal scene with Jason Momoa– the one in which he’s tied to the chair and is so very, very emotional. It was hard to watch. Was it hard to play?

    Again, Joe, thank you for a fabulous episode. It was everything I love about SGA. And next week’s. . . team danger! alternate universe! new bad guys!. . . I can’t wait.

    Lindsay

  27. Hi, folks — Wow, just stopped by to see what’s going on over here so far, and lots of traffic cruising through Casa Mallozzi on a Friday night. A few specific shoutouts so far:

    Michele, Kabra, Narelle, Eddy, Sylvia, Thornyrose, Wolfenm — thanks very much for the kind words. 🙂

    Mercie — happy b-day!

    Maggiemayday — Hey, there’s nothing wrong with fingerpaints! 🙂 If you look closely at a few of my works, you can see my fingers in the oils — whatever it takes to make the right texture.

    Jeff — Yeah, Joe’s created quite the forum here, hasn’t he? So I’m doing my part tonight…..hope all’s well over there with you. Wish you were coming out to Worldcon! We’ll catch up later.

    Green — feel free to ask a question here in the comments, if you think of one. Not too late, as far as I’m concerned.

    RebeccaH — very nice of you to say re: the flowers on EMPIRE. I’ve used Sculpey before and it’s fun stuff! Best of luck to you with your work.

    I’ll stop by and visit some more a little later….

  28. One more comment for Broken Ties, the music was perfect for the montage and emotions. Was this a selection of one of the classics? Or, was this an Joel Goldsmith original?

  29. Broken Ties…Nice! Jason did a great job, showing a great emotional range in the ep – from funny and teasing with Teyla in the opening scenes, to almost in tears when talking with Tyre during his capture, to the withdrawal scene (Wow! Did Jason hurt himself or break furniture during that scene, because it looked intense.)

    One thing, however, is that I got a little confused about who pulled the sword on the Wraith. I thought it was Ronon at first, so the rest of the scene between him and Tyre threw me as I was trying to figure out who was the “good” guy and who was the “bad”. I had to watch it again to figure it out.

    Otherwise, however, another great episode. Lots of nice character moments for all of the team members. And I LOVED the music during the scenes at the end. Was that an original score? Beautiful. And it so made those scenes. (Rodney in the tub – excellent!)

    I mentioned before that there was something about this season so far that felt different. I’m still trying to pinpoint exactly what it is, but I think a lot of it is the little character moments. There seems to be more emphasis on them in the eps shown so far – and it seems like its giving the actors more opportunity to act instead of simply reacting in order to move on to the next action scene. Not sure if you see it that way, but that’s my take. And I’m enjoying it.

  30. Green good question, I was wondering about the tenticle too.

    Jason did a great job in Broken Ties. I loved the entire feel to the episode. My laughs at the sheppard permission to go off world and the doors shutting with woolsey inside (I laugh as I write this). The baby in Woolsey’s arms and one of my favorite humorous parts of the show is sheppard saying to Rodney, I’m not gonna take a bath with you (lol lol lol). Then the emotional Ronan, bravo!

    Good news, my daughter may have succumbed to my Atlantis brain washing. She was home before me ready to watch the show. Sadly, I was detained by those who don’t understand my attraction to the show, so I ended up watching it at midnight as well.

    Thanks

  31. -Jason did an AWESOME job!

    -The sword scene at the end was very touching.

    -Thank you for the McKay bubble bath scene!

    -Woolsey is HYSTERICAL! He made me cackle out loud.

    -Mark/Tyre was outstanding—he did an excellent job.

    -Teyla struggling with her decision to return to work was done very well. I love that Kanaan is still around.

    -KAVAN!

  32. Broken Ties spoilers…
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    First – I was totally thrilled with Tyler Wraith! He did a fantastic job…even gave me chills a couple times. He did well balancing the creep factor with chilling menace and something like an air of casual confidence. It’s 1:30 am and I can’t think of the right way to explain it, except to say I’d worship him anytime. 😉

    Second – thank GOD there were a LOT of bubbles in that tub.

    Third – Woolsey. He totally saved me tonight. The baby! The DOORS!!!! 😆

    But it kinda stops there. You know what I hated, so won’t even bother you with it…

    Oh, all right…I will.

    I knew what was coming from the first time I heard about this episode – I was ready for it, TOO ready for it, long before actual spoilers slipped out. Another cliche ending. It’s unimaginative, and makes me expect more of the same every time I hear Wraith will be featured in an episode. Yeah, yeah, yeah…they’re the bad guys. 🙄 I get it. Still, I would have preferred not knowing what his fate was – or, at least being surprised somehow – but after watching 4 seasons now, I kinda know what to expect.

    And you can try to make them evil, but it doesn’t change how I feel; I still see a species doing what it needs to in order to survive, much like some species of ants capture slaves from other species and force them to work for the colony, even becoming dependent on their slaves for survival.

    So, the Wraith are the same – they need someone to work for them, praise them, serve them. Cool. At least you’re adding some depth, but now explain why they need this. It’s too easy to say it’s arrogance – if anything, I’d say it’s insecurity…or a need to fill some void in their society. Afterall, if you’re going to ruin the whole ‘gift of life’ concept, it would be nice to see a little more depth here than just ‘suck/puke/suck/puke/suck/puke – you’re my worshipper now!’. Give reasons why they need to do this – tell us their side of the story, too. Ugh. Too many questions, not enough answers…it’s still…’grrr! I’m gonna suck you!’ without adding real depth of character. Yes, I know…he was trying to impress…but WHY did he need to? Was he under the same pressure to gain acceptance as Tyre was under?

    You know…I’m going to go with that one. In my mind, Tyler Wraith had to jump through huge hoops to gain the approval of his own, just like Tyre was trying to jump though hoops to regain the Wraith’s approval. The Wraith only expected of Tyre what was expected of him. That would explain both how the hive treats their own (‘no sympathy for the fallen’), and how they, in turn, treat humans. They are only dishing out to others what has already been dished out to them.

    That makes sense to me, so I’m going with it.

    I’m tired, I better shut up now before I say something stupid. Well, stupider.

    Was it a good episode? Absolutely. Did it hold my attention? Absolutely. Did Jason do a great job? Absolutely. Did it leave me with a good feeling – or any sense of hope? Absolutely not.

    das

  33. Coucou Joseph♥

    Sa va?? Yééé!!! Merci encore pour ces information sur le saison 5 et pour avoir répondu a de nombreuse question =)!!

    OOoohh je n’ai pas vu qu’on pouver posé des question à John Picacio..mince -_-

    Je suis super fatiguer, hier je me suis coucher trés tard et ce matin je me suis réveiller trop tot, car je vais a un trés grand marché en bord de mer!
    J’ai m’intention de vous achetez une petite carte postal la bas, jespert que sa vous fera plaisir =)

    Question:

    1) Si Amanda fait un apparition, dans un futur épisode de cette saison 5, il serait possible de voir Samantha Carter en brune?

    Voila Joseph!! passez une bonne journée! Gros bisou!!

    Vous le savez, mais je vous le dit encore:

    JE VOUS ADORE!!♥

  34. I enjoyed “Broken Ties” tonight.

    I loved the story in the teaser about Ronon’s surprise party.

    In “Rising”, all the surviving Athosians moved to Atlantis and they lived there for three months before moving to the Mainland. That would, of course, have to have included Kanaan. So why would he, upon his return to the City from the Mainland, be scared of the shower? Presumably he bathed during those three months??

    Anne Teldy

  35. Hello,

    I’ve just finished watching Broken Ties and wanted to thank you and the whole team for a fantastic episode.

    Jason Momoa performance was fantastic and gave me shivers. The rest of the team wasn’t bad either 😉

    I liked how we saw a bit of everyone, from beginning to end. It gave the whole episode that special “team” feeling that I love.

    I liked the fact that Woolsey is a multifaced character.

    I think that the visual quality for this season is so far absolutely phenomenal.

    So thanks again for an hour of pure joy and entertainment 😀

  36. Hi Joe, thanks for another great episode tonight. Jason’s acting was amazing. I love seeing tough-looking actors (or actors who play those tough-guy roles) showing emotion like that – it really makes everything that much more touching.

    The music at the end of the episode was great too! Was that an original composition made for the episode (as opposed to a classical piece)? I’d love to get my hands on a copy… Any chance there will be an SGA (or Stargate compilation) soundtrack released for sale or mp3 download?

    The Comic-Con Stargate panels today were great too. (Lots of greats today, apparently). Really funny! I’m sure all the fans loved seeing RDA and the rest of the SG-1 team, and the SGA panel was the best yet. Robert Picardo was hilarious! Please thank everyone who participated on the panels for making it so enjoyable for us. The Stargate panels are the highlight of Comic-Con for me every year.

    A great day for Stargate fans!

  37. Broken Ties:
    things I liked:
    Jason did an outstanding job, especially the withdrawal scenes at the end.
    I like Woolsey more and more each episode, and particularly the thought that a suit and tie are his “something more comfortable” gear.
    The other characters all had their moments, loved the bathtub scene with Rodney, the Teyla/John “make a decision already” conversation and also Shep’s comment about taking a bath with Rodney (also a McShepper here).
    But, some things that drove me nuts were:
    The commercials!!!! I felt like I was watching an hour of advertisements with a little bit of a show slipped in here and there, just took me out of the moment, every time!
    And perhaps because of the incessant commercial breaks, the actual show seemed speeded up somehow, a little faster than real life should be. And so very dark at times, I honestly couldn’t see who was fighting who, or firing at what in the scenes where they were escaping the ship.
    But aside from those quibbles, I very much enjoyed Broken Ties.

  38. silver_comet wrote:

    Assuming the Wraith feeding process is always connected with the chest (since we haven’t seen something else?)

    Actually, in the Season 2 episode “Instinct”, Ellia tried to feed on Sheppard’s forearm. With her left hand.

    Trish writes: “Allie really wants to know a) when will Whispers air?

    Answer: Sorry, I don’t have a schedule handy, but I believe it will be airing sometime in mid-August.

    Going by the Sci Fi Channel’s schedule of upcoming Stargate Atlantis episodes (which can be found here), it appears “Whispers” will be aired September 5th.

    Shawna Buchanan wrote:

    Any chance we get to see Woolsey save the day? Because that would be fun.

    Depending on your point of view, Episode 5.12 “Inquisition” may fit the bill.

    Anne Teldy

  39. 1. Do you feel that TPTB of the Stargate franchise, have become the “Berman & Braga’s” so to speak of the Star Trek world? Meaning alot of negativity if their unhappy about the show’s directions.
    2. If SG Universe gets picked up, would you like fresh ideas/ writers as part of the show. With over 10 years of story telling do you think the franchise needs a reboot, similar to trek to keep it fresh?

  40. OMG Joe,
    I was moved with laughter, pain and tears watching Broken Ties. Jason Momoa’s depiction was stupendous. This has to one of the top ten episodes of all time in the SG Franchise. Please tell all the cast and crew that the performances, music, stunts, direction and editing beats were extraordinary. The last scene when John gave Ronan the sword was overwhelmingly painful and moved me so much I stopped breathing for a moment! I felt in my own heart the lost of his friend Tyre and I could feel the lost of his own strength, the beginning of doubts in his own mind. All of it was in his facial expression and body language! Astonishing! It will be fascinating to see how Ronan deals with this after effects of this pain and the realization that he is not invulnerable and human after all in the coming episodes.

    Woolsey’s warmth and sternness was completely balanced and lovable. I see an opening for Lulu to get a small cameo performance in the show since Woolsey talked with Teyla about missing his Yorkie. It would be a great spring board for her career! What’d say Joe… write in a small part for Lulu! Your fans would go crazy! And think of the potential, being able to soften up Woolsey even more in a private moment with his new puppy!

    Broken Ties was brilliant! BRAVO!!!

    With gratitude, Patricia Lee

  41. Oh what a great episode! congrats to Jason for his work on this one, It maybe anxious and stressed just looking at him, I also love how creepy he looked when tied up in the part when Sheppard goes to talk to him on the isolation room, almost like a scene from the exorcist LOL.

    I loved Mark Dacascos! so sad to see his character died but I guess it was the only way for him to try to repair the damage.

    to John Picacio:

    I envy you! I would have love to become an illustrator, but ended up going for web design, since your field is terribly hard to get into. congrats on your works!

  42. Hi Joe,
    Here are some question for Mark Dacascos:

    Your portrayal of Tyre was amazingly haunting and caused me to shout out loud, (“NO… he can’t die, not now”), when I saw in your facial expressions your decision to self sacrifice. The intensity of your withdrawal scene caused me to cringe in sympatric pain. Thank you so much for bringing such a great performance to my favorite show! I was sad to see your character die!

    My Questions:
    1- How do you prepare for such intense emotional scenes, such as the withdrawal?
    a. Where do you go in your mind?
    b. Is there a personal, real experience you draw upon to get that dark or can you just turn it on?
    2- I know you are an accomplished marital artist. I was wondering, for the fight scenes do you work out before a take to get your blood rushing? What kind of preparations do you go through before a big fight scene?
    3- I love Iron Chef, (I am Food Network junkie) and I was wondering; seeing that Joe Mallozzi is such a foodie, and great at writing about his dining experiences, would you ever consider having him as guest judge on Iron Chef? A show With Joe Mallozzi would bring hoards of new viewers to Iron Chef just to see his opinions of the meal being judged!

    Thanks again for creating such an amazingly deep, dark and yet ultimately sympatric character on my favorite show!
    Cheers
    Patricia Lee

  43. Mr. Picacio, I love your work! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us.

    Mr. Mallozzi, It was another great episode tonight, particularly for Jason, but also for all of the actors. Thank you very much!

    My one small quibble was the effect used in filming the action sequences in the Wraith facility. Just my taste. Can you tell us why it was used? Thank you

  44. I saw broken ties tonight. loved it when the doors closed on woolsey in the confrance room. It was allso a great shot when teyla handed the baby over to him and ran off.

    Jason was great in this episod.

    I was also wondering about the bath rooms and how close they would be in looks to earths. Mckays bubble bath answerd that . By the way do all the bed rooms have thier own bathrooms? Do they have Kitchens? Is thier a mall in the city to go shopping like on a cruse ship? Are any of the rooms made for family living?

    I was just wondering if this was suppose to be more like a out post or a real city. Like we think of a city.

  45. Joe,
    I was watching Window of Opportunity today and I noticed the Book…Latin for the Novice… and Pete said in the commentary that you actually have a PHD. Can you tell us in what is your PHD in??? And do you still have the book in your office?

    Thanks

  46. let John know for me he is a great artis. thank you for having him here and sharring his work. (i realy need to get my stuff out and start working on it again. i miss it. The house is empty except the cats so thier is no reason i cant get my grove back so to speak.lol…

  47. Thanks for answering my question about the Tria. Can you please explain though why we won’t be hearing about the Tria.

    From the expedition’s point of view, for the last year and a half there has been a partially functioning ancient warship out there way out of the reach of the Wraith. Would it not be better for the expedition, and Earth, to try and repair the hyperdrive on the Tria then build a whole new ship, as is the case with a 304?

    Thanks.

  48. Hi Joe!

    I wish I had Mr Picacio’s talent. What wonderful illustrations. 🙂

    Broken Ties? Loved it. I even shed a solitary tear at the end of the episode. 😳

    Jason did a wonderful job. I felt disturbed and upset at his withdrawal scenes. They were so well done, IMO.

    I loved Woolsey. He’s really settling into SGA so well. I think he’s making a fantastic leader, and I’m so glad you chose RP as AT’s replacement. Well done 🙂 Love that he still doesn’t know where he’s going, that a suit and tie are his clothes for relaxation, and he obviously has a way with babies too!

    I loved all the other characters here. Teyla was great making her mind up on her motherhood versus team decision. That was needed, and well done, I thought.

    Loved Sheppard giving her a little reminder that she needed to sort out what she wanted to do, and I adored it when Sheppard had to squirm and ask Mr Woolsey for permission to go off world! Hehe! Also loved that Sheppard said he wouldn’t be taking a bath with Rodney and loved the line about how creepy but different it would be if the wraith knelt before Sheppard. Did you come up with all those lines? There were so many good one’s in this episode! Why, oh why do I like seeing Sheppard on his knees in front of a wraith? It just never gets old for me 😳

    I liked the balance between the ‘A’ and very substantial ‘B’ stories this week.

    I must have missed out so much that I enjoyed, but my post is getting long-winded – AGAIN! So, excellent job all round. Great story, well exectuted, IMO. Season 5 is really hitting the spot so far for me! Thank you 🙂

  49. Joe,
    Only one word to describe “Broken Ties”…..WOW!!!!!!!! Awesome!!!!!!! O.M.G. !!!!!!

    Okay, more than one word.

    That was such a great episode, I don’t know where to begin my review. Jason really showed his acting chops in this one. I was crying with him.

    So many great scenes, specially Teyla/Woolsey talking about her return to duty, Shep/McKay in the cafe worrying about Ronan, Shep/Teyla discussing her return all were just perfect and I’m sure I’ve forgotten at least one other. The montages showing Tyre’s withdrawal with Ronan conversion along with the ending montage were equally wonderful.

    I know I sound like I’m gushing, but it was a great episode.

    Question: In the scene where the Wraith gives Ronan his sword, was that when Jason was supposed to cut his hair?

    Please, write more like this one!!!!!

    JoJo

  50. I LOVED the doors closing on Woolsey, great symbolism there.
    Jason was FANTASTIC my heart went out to him the whole ep.
    Rachel was also very good in this ep, I really enjoyed her scenes.
    I love the Woolsey character, I cant believe I didnt like him before.

  51. Broken ties was a great episode, yet i do have one major nit to pick, how is it that Ronan was fed upon by a wraith, when we’ve been told repeatedly that because of a certain gene, it is impossible for Ronan to be fed upon by wraith.

  52. “Broken Ties”…

    Couple questions:
    – When Tyre was shooting Ronon several times, why was Teyla just standing there? Even if she was unarmed, wouldn’t she have leapt to his defense, seeing as one of her teammates was being attacked? Maybe it’s just the way it’s cut, but it seems like she had several seconds in which to act and didn’t.
    – If Tyre could barely stand, like Ronon says, how did he carry Ronon all the way to another planet?

    Yay for McKay talking about his piano playing! I do hope one of these days we get to see a demonstration. And McKay in the bath was amusing. Actually, that whole last bit, just seeing everyone sort of relaxing was good.

    I loved all the Woolsey stuff. Him making Shep ask permission, the door not staying open for him, the Yorkie story, him with the baby…all so funny. Woolsey’s turning out to be really quite entertaining.

    Best line: “I’m not taking a bath with you.” And the way he delivered it was just so funny. (Though you know throwing in lines like that will only get all the McShep slashers going.)

  53. Thanks to both Joe and John for the q&a. I noticed both Jeffrey Ford and John Picacio have mentioned the forum that’s formed here on Joe’s blog, and I have to say the insights I get here are so valuable.

    John, I noticed towards the end of the q&a that you said:

    With every job, I see my faults more than anything.

    I find that with my own work as a writer and actor at times, and I wanted to ask you: how do you address finding faults in your work? Are you then determined to better yourself? Or do you believe that there is something unique about our imperfections?

  54. One more note on Season 5 as a whole. I think the best decision you and the other producers made was in keeping Kanaan alive and part of the city. Teyla was so concerned about leaving her child motherless. As a mom myself, I can understand this. Imagine if she was contemplating leaving her child an orphan if she were killed. There would be no way she could put herself in jeopardy.

    Having Kanaan part of the story (as devastating as it is to Shep/Teyla shippers) allows Teyla to be a part of the team without wondering who is taking care of the baby. His father is there for him.

    JoJo

  55. Thank you, John Picacio! Beautiful artwork, interesting interview. 😀

    And for Broken Ties, thanks everyone at Atlantis!

    Really strong episode, very powerful. A number of “wow” moments. Jason Momoa did indeed act his heart out; the scene between he and Tyre was particularly moving.

    This was one of those episodes that could have gone ten minutes longer (I know they can’t, but still…). The ending seemed quick, or maybe I just wanted more of it. What were the repercussions for Ronon, is it really over with and fine for him, what about from a psychological standpoint? Still, the quick scenes we got towards the end and in the montage were satisfying. It really said something that the first person Ronon asked for was Shepherd, good to see more of their friendship. Almost like brothers, it seems, and it makes the characters all the more compelling. The sword at the end also, very nice touch.

    Tyre…what a way to go. Got chills once I realized what was coming. Made sense for him, too, though I hated to see him go. Good character, good actor, I’ve really enjoyed him.

    Teyla…nice job portraying this difficult decision. Even though she’s made up her mind, I don’t think the doubt and worry will ever come to an end. I particularly liked her conversation with Woolsey.

    And dammit, look what you did, you made me like Woolsey even more this episode. Him getting turned around, trying to find a place on the ship. The suit, the wine, the music…LOVED that. I think part of it is Bob Picardo, too. Likable guy, it seems.

    It’s a rare thing when I’ll actually want to re-watch an episode of a television show once I’ve seen it. But you guys have got me re-watching Atlantis this season. Wanting to see the details I might have missed, appreciating my favorite scenes once again.

    So, yeah…thanks. 🙂

  56. Broken ties was awesome. Fantastic performance by Jason. All the guys really did a wonderful job in this episode. Can’t say I was impressed by the women though. Poor Keller is still a bit lacklustre and Motherly Teyla I find kinda boring. I’m not really sure why she had such a dilemma about going back on the team as she insisted quite vehemently in season 4 that Athosian woman still play a large part in the community, (and I would assume that also means defending it) when pregnant and I would think they would continue after having their children as well. I know priorites can change but I still can’t this this strong leader warrior Teyla wanting to stay at home in case she gets hurt. Not the Teyla I have seen for the past 4 seasons.

    Kanaan is still a wet blanket and I hope we will not subjected to him and baby each week. Its seems such a forced plot and the actors have zero chemistry.
    Woolsey is proving quite a symathetic character but I hope the team don’t end up walking all over him. The Sheppard/Ronon dymanic is becoming one of the best things about the show. They really have a great bond and it’s nice to see the two strong silent types gell so well. I hope we get lots more of this pairing in the future.

    Good comedic moments throughout even though it was quite a serious episode, and good use of all the characters, Though I was surprised at Teyla for biting Sheppard’s head off when he didnt tell her about the mission. Didnt she just say she didnt know whether she wanted to be back on the team. I found that a bit much from her considering the guy just went to the ends of the world to save her, kinda ungrateful.

    The action was very well paced and the Trye and Ronon scenes were outstanding. Gun tooting Sheppard was also as a sight to behold. So keep up the good work and look foward to the rest of season 4.

  57. Thanks for inviting these guys Mr M-

    John P I *really* like the illustrations for Gateway & Canticle, awesome, thanks for doing the Q&A! very interesting.

    I’ll do a more detailed comment about the met-all-expectations & superbly done Broken Ties later when I have more time, but wanted to get this in
    Question for Mark D do you have formal martial arts training, if so in what discipline(s) and how long have you been studying? the sword fight was absolutely great, can’t wait to see the whole thing included in the DVD box set next year.

    thanks DD

  58. What wonderful contrast in last night’s episode…so many intimate moments juxtaposed against such a brutal storyline. Terrific performances by all–Jason’s being especially moving. (Thanks also for helping us warm up to Woolsey.)

    To John Picacio–really interesting read! I learned all sorts of things from this Q & A. Thanks so much! Simply beautiful illustrations.

  59. I just wanted to say that at first I was really concerned about Woolsey taking over, but that final scene in Broken Ties was absolutely fantastic with him and a large glass of wine and a massive stereo. That was epic, thank you very much for that. Woolsey is definitely moving up my list of favourite characters, albeit slowly.

  60. Hi Joe!!
    Loved Atlantis this week! Now on to question and comments for Mark Dacascos:

    Mark, loved your appearances on SGA. When is Joe going to make an appearance on Iron Chef America? What did you like best about working on the show SGA? Other than food and acting, what other interests do you have?

    Thanks bunches!!!

    Jen from Indiana 🙂

    PS Tell Alton Brown “Hi”. My oldest daughter and I are big fans! 🙂

  61. Broken Ties, it’s an alright episode I think, there’s better, there’s worse. On the character front it was done VERY well imo, Woolsey and Teyla were handled very well here, I think this was the strong point about the episode. Sheppard fed into both of their stories as well so his role was just as important there.
    Ronans story, a little less good, a bit more predictable I think. But given it was fairly similar to Reunion last year story structure wise (I.e. ending with all the team in a Wraith facility) it lost some of it’s originality that that episode had. There is also a problem I think when you put a character in the situation Ronan was in, given that by the end of the episode he has to be back to normal, it just means the story has to progress faster then may naturally be ideal. It’s nothing against the writing, just against this type of episode/story for me.

    I’m also going to ask a question, why is it that all Ronans character stories centre around Sateda or its people? Are we going to see a Ronan episode which doesn’t have one of those as it’s main focus? (Tyre’s story here counting as a main).

    I think it would also have been good to find out what the Wraith were working on at the lab to get an advantage over the other Wraith, and I’m surprised Sheppard didn’t ask either…

    But overall, good characterisation on Woolsey/Teyla, I think this was the highlight of the episode, Ronan’s story a second I think. It was alright, but didn’t strike as good as the Atlantis base moments. Good to see Kanaan again, hopefully we’ll see him more, as well as Teylas decision to rejoin the team, I hope that’s not the last time that is brought up, or her decision to anyway. Sheppards line ‘I think it would be really creepy if you knelt instead’ was really good as well, unexpected but probably one of his best lines.
    But 9/10 for the base character bits, 6/10 for the Ronan storyline, making about 7/10 overall.

  62. Hi Joe,

    I don’t understand why the doors don’t work for Woolsey when they work for everybody else? Can you please explain this?

    thanks

  63. Excellent Mailbag today Joe! 🙂

    Oh and can I just add a huge “Woohoo” for the news of a 3rd Stargate movie. 😀

  64. Broken Ties: a perfect combination of every character being themselves in the small ways that make it worth watching every week. McKay talking about Archimedes/Eureka and taking bath’s; Shepard saying “i’m not taking a bath with you”. Classic character banter that i honestly wished was there more of between McKay and Carter (when she was there). It reminds me of the Daniel and Jack from SG-1 towards the end of the O’Neil Character storyline. Great writing, it’s in the little stuff.

    Joe: he always delivers. And last night was no different, he is an amazing actor. i enjoy when you give him a “softer” side, like giving Ronan the sword at the end.

    Jason: wow! The end with him strapped down to the bed…wow, great acting! Great storyline! And the very end with him and the sword, amazing details. i also enjoyed the opening with him and Teyla; i enjoy that they have a close bond without having to over do it. I also enjoy that it takes several blasts to stun Ronan. The look on his face when he kept getting shot and he knew he couldn’t defend himself or Teyla from Tyre…a wonderful job by him.

    Teyla: the writers stepped it up from last week and making me love her character again. I was a bit worried last week with her being all “girly mommy” and far less warrior like. Great job giving her conflict and resolution the way that you did last night.

    McKay: My favorite character since i saw him in 48 hours (SG-1), and last night without him being really in the episode i loved what he did in that smaller part. The “Eureka” moment in the bath tub at the end was a nice treat to remember McKay is just that kind of a person.

    Woolsey: great, wonderful, amazing….love him on the show! The part with the baby and Teyla, he had a moment of showing here again that, “i’m not a bad guy”. And that he had a dog (can’t remember the breed) but lost it in a divorce and he was effected by this loss made him seem like a man with a very big heart, and less of an evil little IOA minion.

    thanks to the entire cast and crew for an amazing episode once again!

    *peace*
    Michele Blue

  65. Okay, you guys hit this one out of the park! Damn! “Broken Ties” was fantastic.

    Jason deserves a standing O for that performance.

    And you guys tricked me… when you said previously that Ronon does “serious damage” to Sheppard, I thought we’d see him beating the crap out of his best friend in this episode. Was that edited out or did I just assume it’d be this episode and that actually comes later in the season?

    Laughed aloud when Sheppard asked permission to go offworld, Joe F did a great job with that moment of humiliation. It actually came across as “cute” instead of derogatory for his character. I too, loved Woolsey being stuck inside the conf. room after everyone left and I too sensed it was simply the city “not recognizing him” at all. And his scenes with Teyla were all awesome.

    I also really appreciated the moment where John told Teyla straight out “don’t hang this on me”. I’ve been waiting for him to say something to that effect since Spoils of War. That was a very fair statement and very realistic especially under the circumstances and how she seemed to be trying to “blame” him for leaving her out and he was correct. She cant expect him to come to her for every opp to go off world and say “hey you want to come play with us or you staying inside today?”

    I thought the final scene where Sheppard brings Ronon Tyre’s sword was very powerful in its silence. I can’t help but think that both men were affected by what happened and I surely hope we get to see where that moment will lead. Besides being a John/Teyla fan, I’m also a John,Ronon friendship writer and I see some very profound and intense dynamics that can be focused on in any scene these two are put into together. And seeing as the J/T thing appears to have no hope in being explored any further I have turned my sights on this dynamic friendship and I sure hope it’s followed very closely and intimately between these two friends.

    Overall, I do believe I give this one very high praise for its drama, it’s humor and its very human moments between all the characters.

    Bravo.

  66. Question – I just got done watching Season 3 of Atlantis (decided to pick it up after the close of SG-1, I’ve been enjoying it) I was watching the special features and they were talking about the stunt where they blew out the windows. They mentioned that they hadn’t anticipated the glass blowing on the mat and thankfully were quick on the button to keep the stunt double from hitting the mat and getting shredded.

    So, my question is – how often are there close calls or that someone actually gets hurt? And are there back up stunt doubles?

    Thanks 🙂

  67. I absolutely LOVED the episode “Broken Ties”. This is the best ep of season 5 (so far — I’m hoping “Whispers” is even better!). Smooches to all involved in bringing this one to the small screen.

    Though I never thought I’d find myself saying this, I adore the character of Woolsey and SGA feels like the perfect place for Robert Picardo. I would love to see Woolsey and Weir (c’mon! get a different actress!) face off.

    Kudos to whoever came up with the idea to do the montage at the end of “Broken Ties”. That was phenomenal!

  68. OH! Almost forgot, favorite line, laugh right out loud moment:

    “You know what would actually be creepy and surprising is if YOU knelt.”

  69. After the additions of both Carter and Keller last year, I had really lost faith in your ability to add dynamic and interesting characters to SGA. My faith has been restored with the spectacular introduction of Woolsey. He’s already a fleshed out character, thoughtful, overwhelmed at times, sensitive (his Yorkie – I loved it!), and authoritative. Robert Picardo is briliant!! I’m looking forward to many more scenes between him and Joe Flanagan. I think they work well off each other.

    Sadly, the Keller love is just not there for me. One thing that’s particularly been bothering me in the last couple of episodes is Jewel’s odd phrasing choices. She halts and stutters out her lines with long pauses in between phrases that I find utterly strange. Toss in the querulous tone to her voice and it gives me the impression that Keller is in a perpetual state of confusion. Not what one wants to think about the head medical practitioner. Is this intentional? What’s the purpose? What am I missing here? Surely she isn’t being directed to portray the CMO of Atlantis as slow-witted?

  70. I sent this originally to JM’s email but I’ll post it out here, too.

    I’ve been a big fan of Mark Dacascos since I saw him in the film “Brotherhood of the Wolf.” He was incredible in that movie – a wonderful French period drama with a supernatural twist. I recommend it to everyone, subtitles and all – go rent it and watch it this weekend! Tyre was also a great character — I’m sorry to see him go.

    A couple of questions for Mark Dacascos:

    1. It seems that your career has mostly been focused on portraying characters with a martial arts flair. Tyre in SGA fits in with that, but I’d love to know how you went from Native American shaman/warrior in “Brotherhood of the Wolf” to “The Chairman” of Iron Chef America.

    2. Do you have any other projects that you are/will be working on?

    Thanks!

    Sparrow_Hawk

  71. You are very right. Broken Ties was an amazing episode! Very well-acted by Jason. My heart just broke for Ronon.

    And I can’t believe that you already have me liking Woolsey!! Picardo made me laugh in every scene he did. He is SO funny.

    I also love how Joe is playing John’s reactions. He alternates between trying to show respect and acting like a child. 🙂

  72. So we have another Sam/Pete scenario and the end of John and Teyla. 4 years of building up this relationship just to kill it off. I feel sorry for the John/Teyla fandom who have followed this pairing from day one and hoped you wouldnt put them through what Sam/Jack fans went through.
    GW seemed oddly subdued today and I think a lot of fans who are not even shippers are disappointed in the changes in Teyla and the whole Kanaan/baby arc.
    I don’t expect love to be easy but you have made it down right impossible, what a shame.
    Other than the totally disappointing turn of affairs with JT BT was a good episode and a wonderful performance by Jason.

  73. Mr. Picacio: Thank you so much for your advice about my daughter and her artistic schooling. I feel better knowing someone else is telling me I’m doing the right thing. Really, I can’t thank you enough for the encouragement! Erin, my daughter, thanks you to. 🙂

    Hey Joe!

    What can I say? You talked up Broken Ties and it did NOT disappoint. I honestly have to watch the show again all by myself with no kids, dogs, or husbands to distract me. There was so much in that one episode. I’m really impressed with Jason’s acting. I felt as if he really was going thru all of that. I found myself cringing. He was great!

    And I was so prepared to Hate Woolsey. Yes, that’s with a capital H! 😉 But you have made him even more likeable in this epi! Little things like Woolsey being ignored at the meeting and not throwing a fit about it, just taking it in stride, and then getting *stuck* in the conference room. It’s like you KNEW which of my heartstrings to tug on. Darn you! Carter’s been gone for only one epi and I’m already happy to have Woolsey there. *shakes tiny fist* Why do you have to be so talented???!!!

    My question to Mark Dacascos: First, thanks for stopping by and asking our questions! Second: Great performance in “Broken Ties”! You made me fall for Tyre; something I thought impossible the last time he ran into Ronon. My questions: Were you a fan of Stargate SG-1? Or any sci-fi? What would be your dream role? Again, thank you!

    Trish 😀

  74. I love Broken Ties to bits. So far two out of three episodes this season are among my top favorite SGA episodes EVER (5×01 and 5×03).
    Broken Ties was, IMO, perfect. Excellent balance of both the A and B stories, all the characters, both regular and recurring were great, and we got fantastic character moments. All in the same episode. I love all the characters: Ronon, John, Rodney, Teyla, Jennifer, Woolsey, Tyre and Kanaan were all fantastic. And it’s so great to see Kanaan being himself for the first time (I don’t count Teyla’s visions in The Kindred I as normal, since they were created by Michael). I’m very happy with the creative path you chose regarding Teyla, Kanaan and the baby. At least so far 😉
    Loved the music in the last montage. Any chance we get it as a DVD extra or available for download (legally, of course)?
    Thanks again for another wonderful episode.

  75. Bonne nuit Joseph!

    Je vais au lit!!

    Vous saviez quoi? Aujourd’hui le 26 c’est ma fête!! =D
    C’est la saint Anne et Anais ^^!!

    aller bisou, a demain =)

  76. Hey Joe,

    You gave Momoa great material to work with in “Broken Ties” and he did an awesome job. Congratulations to you both! Best episode so far. But I have a few plot questions I am curious about. Maybe some would be answered if I went back and watched the episode again.

    1. Why did this particular Wraith specifically want Ronon? It seemed like he wanted Ronon to lure the rest of the team so that he could turn them all into super-human minions, so why didn’t Tyre also nab Teyla in the beginning and get two birds with one stone? Maybe the Wraith just told Tyre that they wanted his old comrade and didn’t reveal the rest of their plan to him at the beginning?

    2. How does being pumped up on enzyme/Wraith life happiness make one susceptible to mind control? Tyre betrayed Ronon to get his fix, but Ronon wasn’t even in withdrawals yet to motivate him, or so it seemed.

    3. So Solen sits in a tavern all day and hears news. Satedans gossip. Okay. But how did he learn where Tyre had Ronon? Didn’t seem like anyone was passing by for Tyre to say, “Psst. Dude, I’ve got my old buddy tied up to a chair in a barn,” to.

    Though Teyla the dog was whining throughout the episode (as she does whenever SGA is on, oddly enough!) so maybe I missed some key dialogue to explain these things.

    Hope you’re well!

  77. I just want to say that I think everyone did a great job on Broken Ties. I don’t cry often while watching TV, but this episode made me tear up a bit. Jason was awesome.

    The funny bits in this episode were also really great. They were all scripted, I assume? 🙂 That’s one of the things I love most about Stargate, the ability to mix humour/action/drama for a really entertaining show.

    I love Stargate and I can’t wait till Tuesday!!

  78. Hey Joe,

    Broken Ties was an excellent episode and I think you topped last season’s “Reunion”. Woolsey is really great and I think he was a great replacement.

    I heard at Comic Con that SCI FI has plans to keep SGA around according to Chris Sanagustin from SCI FI. Does this mean a potential 6th Season? That would be awesome!

    Best,

    Squall78

  79. Really, really enjoyed “Broken Ties.” Jason really hit it out of the park acting wise and I liked that that Teyla’s still trying to work through the issues of being a mom and being on Sheppard’s team.

    One quick question – in the scene in the conference room at the end, JF takes a swig out of his coffee mug and makes a couple faces – did his coffee go cold or did his drink get replaced with something he wasn’t expecting? Inquiring minds want to know!

  80. Ditraveler, RebeccaT, Lorr54, Kanadra, Linzi, Gen, Drideboer, and Carolyn — thanks very much to all of you for the kind words. ‘Appreciated! 🙂

    AMZ — Good questions. I think art needs to evolve in order to maintain its potency, and so does someone who’s aspiring to be an artist. So I think constant self-evaluation is pretty vital. I’m not doing anyone any good if I’m resting on my laurels, so I think that’s the gist of where I’m coming from…..just trying to get better, really. I can see what you’re suggesting that an artist’s inherent flaws sometimes can be part of the charm of their work and there’s certainly some good truth to that. Thanks!

    Trish — You’re welcome…..good luck to you and your daughter!

  81. *waves*

    I’ve been remiss about posting… RL is a pain in the butt. Can I come back to the set and indulge in a bit of fantasy life. 😆

    Love the artwork, shame I’ve missed all the guest bloggers. 🙁

    Well, I just watched Broken Ties, and shame on you JM, you made me bawl my eyes out. AND I didn’t even have tissues, now my eyes and noes are blotchy, and it really isn’t a good look for me. But loved BT, the Woolsey scenes made me giggle… who would have thunk i’d have liked the man. 😆 And the character moments for Teyla, and Kanaan and the decisions she had to face. I loved the scenes with Shep and Woolsey, and the asking permission to leave, nice to see he’s still by the book!! And the little arguments, I can’t wait for more conflict… I hope there’s more between them, even if it’s just now and again… there will be some won’t there Mr M? *bats her eyelashes* And you know what? Jason knocked this one out of the park, he did a fantastic job, and I got all teary eyed and blubbed with all the team luff and caring. *sniff* Then Sheppard bringing in Tyre’s sword and putting it on the bed…. 🙁 that set me off again. Thank you. 😀

    I do love these little character moments, and loved the subtle jokes, especially the scene with Shep and McKay and the bath comment. :lol; But it would have to be McKay in the bath and not Shep!! Shame on you depriving the Shep thunkers, but i’m sure you’ll be adored by the McKay thunkers for that scene. 😛

    *hugs*

  82. Oh crap I meant to ask, that scene in the conference room, with Shep pulling tongues and a face at presumably cold coffee? 😆 Was that scripted or not? 😛

    Right I am going now. 😀

  83. Broken Ties…
    I love Stargate Atlantis. really do. But Broken Ties just sort of blew me away.

    From the scifi preview I was expecting a shoot ’em up, knock ’em down high action brawl like Sateda. Instead there was all this character work mixed in with the story and the action.

    To be honest, I didn’t think I’d like Woolsey in charge of Atlantis. The character has been a prick in everyone’s side every time he shows up and mostly I find him annoying. He has a redeeming moment here and there when you realize he’s not a bad guy just a whole lot afraid but I still have never liked him much. So, imagine my surprise last week when I really enjoyed the conflict he brought to the base and with Sheppard. It was really interesting and a great dramatic move.

    This week Woolsey became even more fascinating. He was given nuances of character that we really haven’t seen much of, especially in Atlantis. When Sheppard leapt up to go find the Satedan and then turned back I was just waiting for him to say, “Mr. Woolsey, may I go save Ronin?” like a 12 year old school boy or something. It was ridiculous and fraught with awkwardness and kinda brilliant.
    Then when the doors closed on Woolsey it was so sad, he was just lost and alone and I felt bad for him and holding Teyla’s baby full of sweetness and discombobulation and the suit and classical music (which I sort of loved) that gave him an air of sophistication but uptight without the grace sophistication can bring and putting books in a book case in his office creating a sense of home, personalizing his space in a way I never noticed with Carter or Weir and the moment with Teyla talking about his dog revealed this vulnerability and humanity; it was all so well done and almost instantly created a well formed character. I realize that’s a horrible run on sentence but there didn’t seem to be any other way to express how quickly and thoroughly this character developed. Some of the regular characters aren’t that deeply fleshed.

    Which begs the question – is Robert Picardo *that* much better of an actor or is the character that much easier to write or what did he do to get such good treatment? Or, perhaps the writers have just found your feet with weaving character moments into the action and the narrative (which I’ve noticed has been remarkably better since Be All My Sins Remember’d) and as the new guy Woolsey benefits from something of a fresh slate. Or maybe a little bit of it all.

    I still really enjoy seeing a woman in command of the base, if for no other reason than women of that caliber of leadership are few and far between in narrative. Still, I think Woolsey’s too good for the story to knock.

    And I know it wasn’t even his episode. Jason Mamoa did great work of his own. I don’t mean to overlook that. Everybody in fact, did great work on this episode. It was really well done.

  84. hi, joe,

    i’m hearing a bit of conflicting things about the 3rd movie prospects. is it that brad can’t make the 3rd movie *and* stargate universe? it’s one or the other?

    please clarifty. 🙂

    sally =)

  85. Compliments! „Broken Ties“ is a really good episode. I like emotional stories where I’m personally “involved” in. And it was interesting to learn more about the feeding process of the Wraith, although not everything is clear to me.
    About 20 years ago I was acquainted with a few junkies and so got a vague picture of drug addiction; and I know that Tyre’s behaviour at the beginning of the story is absolutely realistic. A drug addicted person will do everything to get his drug, including lying and debasing himself. He will do whatever his dealer tells him but he will never believe what his dealer says.
    Tyre and Ronon did believe what the Wraith told them. The Wraith brainwashed them. But how did he manage that? Only by making them addicted? I cannot believe that. How did he manage to turn them?

    Poor Woolsey. Not even the city seems to like him. 😀

    @dasNdanger
    No – I won’t serve that Wraith. The only Wraith whom I would have served would have been the Wraith of “Rising”. Well – up to now….Let’s see what the future will bring. 😀

  86. Just curious, are you a CFL fan? If not the league itself, an Alouettes fan or B.C. Lions fan?

  87. Broken Ties was great… but I get the feeling that the amount of time the Atlantis team spends inside Wraith holding cells is beginning to get ridiculous. I think we’re almost at the point where that event could be added an SGA drinking game:

    Take one shot whenever any member of SGA is put in yet another Wraith holding cell. Take a further one if someone who was their enemy but is now their friend busts them out.

    BYE

  88. Okay, firstly: kirk eastman said: when we’ve been told repeatedly that because of a certain gene, it is impossible for Ronan to be fed upon by wraith

    Actually, we’ve repeatedly been told – in the many times I’ve seen this addressed by writers/producers – that it wasn’t that the wraith couldn’t feed on Ronon, but that they were impressed with his strength and defiance – that’s why they made him a runner.

    Now to Joe – well done! That was a highly enjoyable episode, full of fantastic performances, some great lines and cute moments. I’ve heard almost nothing but uniform praise for it – even from people who normally blame you for the moral decay of the free world.

    Mark Dacascos and Jason Mamoa turned in fabulous performances – just wonderful. I thought Teyla’s situation was dealt with very well – especially enjoyed the baby being handed off to Woolsey (gotta love Picardo – he rocks!) John’s ‘creepy and unnerving’ line had us laughing out loud, loved it very much. Rodney in the bathtub – oh, Joe! You tease. Still, while we may only have seen his head and feet (and his bubble beard) our imaginations are quite satisfied. I loved Rodney’s concern over the idea that Teyla might quit the team, and that he was up all night trying to work out how to find Ronon. And his plan-spinning in the cell was gorgeous, too. (Yes, yes – I do love Rodney.)

    Also, I love the continuation of having a Ronon/Satedan episode around #3 of each season … it’s a special form of continuity on its own!

    Really, great job, Joe.

  89. I know you only have so much control but this statement from a Sci_Fi person at Comic COn has raised my alarm bells.

    “Answering about the future of the show on Sci Fi, Chris Sanagustin assured the audience that Atlantis will continue, if not as a series than in TV movies.”

    Would I like a SGA movie or two..sure…once the TV show is done. Though this is an assumption it sounds like they want SGA to end to make room for a thier new toys in Universe since the SG1 movies have been greenlit.

    Why cancel something that still doing well in the ratings and at this pace a SGA moive would be years away. I just don’t feel warm and fuzzy about this statment….

    I want a season 6 before having the show axed b/c people are juggling too many things in the air.

  90. @ noir – Not sure you’ll see this, but I’ll try…

    I love ‘Jimmy’ Wraith from The Rising. What makes him unique and very menacing is that he never spoke. The more they talk, the more they explain themselves (when supposedly they have no need to), the less fear-inspiring they become. I’ve just come to accept it because I know that part won’t change now – they’ve gone from being silent, to competing with Rodney in the boastful chatter department. I’ve lamented before that I wish they’d shut the hell up…they just seem more threatening when you have no idea what’s going on inside their pretty little heads.

    However, the problem with silence now is that it would keep them too one-dimensional. Middle ground would be to give them Clint Eastwood-style lines – short, hard-hitting statements that say a lot with only a few words… something like the keeper’s ‘all living things must eat’, or Steve’s ‘I am your death’…and, of course, Todd’s ‘naturally’. But that might become a bit much after a while, too. We want to know about them, but we also want them to be threatening and scary. It’s a hard balancing act.

    But there’s another factor. Now that we know more about them, they just aren’t going to be as scary as they once were…they are becoming familiar to us. I think that’s why it’s so important now to give them depth, otherwise – with the fear factor gone – they risk becoming too cheesy and boring.

    I’m trying not to whine TOO much. I just want more insight into these creatures, and less predictability. Not just the ‘facts’ (i’e’ Wraith have worshippers, gift of life feels good, etc.), but I want to know what motivates them – why they do what they do – and not just have it explained away as ‘they’re the evil bad guys’. I don’t want warm and fuzzy Wraith – I want them as they are, but with reasons for why they’re like that…and – hopefully – a chance to see that some are different, and not all ‘grrr…gonna eat you’.

    There was an opportunity in Broken Ties to explain the Wraith’s motivation, but it wasn’t done…so even though Tyler did a great job, the Wraith still comes across as one-dimensional. There was also an opportunity to surprise us – just like Shep would have been surprised if the Wraith bowed to him – but it didn’t happen. You know – doing something like that would be interesting, simply because it would make the Wraith more intriguing. That’s one reason we love Todd – he intrigues us because he doesn’t act like the rest. How hard would it be to show that other Wraith can think outside their slimy little box, too?

    One thing I DO want to know, however, is this (sorry, Joe – I just have no time tonight to read your latest blog entry – IF you covered this there, please forgive me): The scene between Tyre/Wraith in Broken Ties is JUST like the scene between Ronon/Todd in TLM – a human and a Wraith waiting for a team to escape through a gate, and then the human blows them both up. Was this done on purpose, Ronon’s end foreshadowing Tyre’s end? Or – are you guys just running out of ideas? 😉

    Busy weekend – will try to read today’s entry about the episode tomorrow, or Monday.

    das

  91. hey mark, i just want to hear if you ever come to denmark, thats would be great and it would be great if you could tell me what upcoming projects you are up to?

  92. Joe, I just read your response to a ratings question and I want to say you had some information wrong.

    You said “1 rating=1.1 million households”. That’s only correct if the rating in question is a “Total U.S.” rating. But, the ratings SciFi publishes and that you quote, are not “Total U.S.” ratings. They are “coverage area” ratings. This means they represent a percentage of SciFi’s “coverage area”. SciFi is not available in every U.S. household, so a 1 rating represents fewer households than 1.1 million. I don’t have the data on me right not, but I think it is around 900,000 households, give or take.

    Check with your SciFi rep and they should confirm this.

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