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Comic-Con 2014: Producer Andy Heyward on ‘Stan Lee’s Mighty 7’

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Exciting things are happening in animation these days, enough for many to call it a new golden age. While we have great depths of story and envelope-pushing thrills, Andy Heyward, CEO of Genius Brands International, wanted more. Stan Lee's Mighty 7Heyward is a veteran of animation that, while 20- and 30-somethings today might not know his name, they certainly know his work. In addition to working as co-creator of the acclaimed Inspector Gadget series, Heyward served for many years as Chairman and CEO for DIC Entertainment, responsible for many hours of children’s entertainment with producer credits on dozens of shows like The Real Ghostbusters, G.I. Joe, Captain Planet, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Care Bears. Going above simple entertainment, Heyward has been the largest producer of FCC mandated educational informational programming for children, PSAs that many of us remember to this day. In 2009, Heyward co-founding A Squared Entertainment with his wife, Amy Moynihan Heyward, to produce “Content with a Purpose.” Today’s animations are great entertainment, but Heyward wanted to create “something with merit to it.” For that, he went to another master of media, Stan Lee, whom Heyward describes as “an icon and a special treasure.” Lee had recently begun a new superhero lineup with his Mighty 7 comics, a refreshing Silver Age response to the dark antiheroes that seem to populate many shows today. With Beginnings, the first of an animated trilogy launched on The HUB network in February, kids were presented with a show that featured super-powers, plenty of humor, and action that was carefully guided not to include weapons or imitable violence that might end up accidentally hurting someone on the playground. While designed for kids, Mighty 7 is carries a surprising amount of literary clout for adults. It takes superheroes in something of a meta direction, with Stan Lee stumbling upon a group of aliens stranded on Earth. Doing what Lee does best, he turns them into superheroes and invites them to live in his house with something of a “reality show” perspective on our modern multitasking life. Comics aficionados will catch references to superhero tropes, many of which Stan Lee himself is responsible for creating. The cast of voice actors is eyebrow-raising, including Terri Hatcher, Sean Astin, Christian Slater, and Red Hot Chili Pepper Flea as Roller Man, who turns into a giant ball. Dramatic plotlines include the struggles of the aliens to adapt to earthly life, roommate problems, and a Stan Lee trademark from the days of Hulk, evading the military. Heyward continues his incredible record of production with educational insight (Stan Lee shows how a contract works), making Mighty 7 something kids and kids-at-heart can watch together. Amazon

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.