Interview: Robert and Shawn Lamb

BookGateway (Scott Asher and David Mason) had a chance at Comic Con Nashville for an interview with the former Filmation storyboard artist and writer/ director Robert Lamb (He-Man Masters of the Universe, Ghostbusters, She-Ra, Fat Albert, BraveStarr, Darkwing Duck) and screen writer and author Shawn Lamb (BraveStarr, Allon series). We spoke to them about Shawn’s book series and their history from Filmation to current. I know you (Shawn Lamb) are in to the book and just started a new series. Is that right?

Shawn Lamb: The most recent series is the children’s books (the King’s Children). An offshoot of [the Allon series.]

Allon1_cover_424x646BG: It’s not an adaptation…

SL: No, no. Because the younger siblings want to know what the older siblings are reading… And I had some of the older siblings say that their younger siblings play Allon. So what I did was take the characters from the series that are teens, starting as teens, in the books and this is when they are children. The same characters…

Robert Lamb: Same places, but stand along stories.

SL: It’s just kid misadventures. They go some place they shouldn’t have. Their parents told them not to. He (Robert Lamb) illustrates them because our daughter left so he had to match her style.

BG: (To Robert Lamb) I think you’re qualified.

SL: He (Robert Lamb) calls these the deleted scenes between books two and three.

RL: Because the oldest Nigel is an infant here (in book 2) and a 16 year old there (book 3).

BG: So there is a skip there between 2 and 3.

SL: Right.

BS_PROMO_01RL: (To Shawn Lamb) Which one of these books is actually referenced?

SL: All these stories are referenced in the series.

RL: “Remember when we were kids and we did this?”

BG: So this was back story…

SL: Yes. These are for 8 to 10 [year olds] – chapter books.

BG: So how many books are going to be in this series?

SL: These three.

BG: The nine of [Allon] and the three of [the King’s Children]. What’s next?

SL: I’ve had some fans ask me about the Guardians. The Guardians are the immortal characters . They represent… they have an angelic type quality. And of course, there was a great battle before this. Of course, they fell. They were banished from Allon. So they go, “how did that happen?” So I’m kinda toying around with a trilogy about the Guardians prior to this because there is like a 500 year gap.

RL: It won’t be called “Allon.” It would be “The Guardians of Allon.” And we would not put them in the numeric series.

SL: Yeah. I’m getting a lot of questions about that. “What happens she-ra-imagewith this Guardian…”

RL: Instead of using the Arabic numbers, I’d use Roman numerals.

BG: So [Robert Lamb] is like, “Let’s make sure this fits my art style!” She will write it but I’m gonna do the covers, k?

SL: [laughter] He does all the covers.

RL: I do all the typesetting. Right now, I’m a graphic designer and illustrator. The film work is done. I’m now doing stuff that pays the bills. Creative work. I still enjoy doing it.

BG: Did you guys both work at Filmation?

SL: I did freelance. I did BraveStarr.

BG: Just BraveStarr?

SL: That was the last series I got in.

RL: In fact, I think I was just finishing up She-Ra when we met…

SL: It’s almost… it’s gonna be 30 years soon!

BG: Congratulations!

RL: Yeah, so I was on staff. I went back from writing to storyboards because I got in to too many technical arguments with the head hemanwriter who said, “Nobody cares. It’s just kids.” Cause I’d say, “We established a character did this in this episode what do you mean they can’t do the same thing in this other episode?” He goes, “Well it ruins the whole thing.” If a person can teleport then you can’t trap him in a ditch. He can teleport out. “No one’s gonna notice.” I kept butting heads too many times.

BG: I think you’ve been proven right at this point with the kids when they grew up and are now taking everything apart.

RL: I tell you I have been inundated with questions over the last ten years, “How come this, this and this and was there a master plan?” I go, “No there wasn’t a master plan.” There was something like eight scripts in production at the same time. Four in house. Four freelance. And the in house writers would talk to each other. “I want to do this with this character. Did you do anything with this character?” And you could do that. The outside guys were just writing, you know, off the cuff.

SL: I was outside. But I also had an insider.

BG: I don’t know if you count as an outsider…

RL: But we tried as much as possible to maintain continuity and establish things and play off…

shapeimage_4BG: What did you do between Filmation and now?

RL: Actually I tried to get on at other studios but it just didn’t work out. And the Lord moved us here [to Tennessee]. We sold our house in eight hours! We didn’t have enough money for another mortgage payment. We put it up for sale, went to choir practice, and that night we had an offer on our answering machine.

BG: Very nice!

RL: You know, God speaks in a still small voice. But every once and while he shouts. And it was “Get out!” And he moved us here…

BG: From where?

RL: California. Los Angeles to here.

SL: His family is originally from Middle Tennessee. They’ve been here since like the 1790s.

RL: Our daughter was about a year old and we were kinda wanting to get out of LA but I loved working at Filmation so when that dried up we thought about it again. And when I wasn’t getting anywhere in ReturnGranamyr_SC_03-05LA I said, “OK, maybe it’s time to go here.” We came out here, checked out Nashville and Memphis – liked Nashville better. And I was getting some freelance offers. Well, OK, let’s see if we’re supposed to go. We will try selling our house… And also the reason was that we could live off the equity in our house for about six months in LA or two years here. And we did. It was tough.

SL: When we got here he did some freelance for Disney.

RL: The Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa (1992-1993) which was on ABC. A weird western about anthropomorphized cows with slogans like, “To err is human, to forgive bovine.”

BG: You ever try to go into the comic industry at all?

RL: I did not.

BG: What kept you out of that?

RL: I was more of a concept guy. I actually honed my illustration chops in later years by doing graphic design and illustration to the point where I was doing this (Allon book illustrations). At Filmation ReturnGranamyr_SC-0321we did this size (very small drawings of scenes on roughly the size of a third of a piece of standard paper). This is not a reduction. This is the actual size I had to do it on. And so they used to tell us, “If you wanted to draw go in to layout.” Cause then you’re doing full size. I was more interested in the staging and the thinking through process. So I would take a script and interpret it visually. In fact they now call the roll of storyboard, director. Because you’re really calling all the shots. The animation directors at Filmation actually did the timings and would instruct the animator on what they wanted for performances. They would revise the setup… After I moved here I worked for Brentwood Music, a Christian company… They were just making the switch from traditional layout to desktop publishing. It was not a good paying job but I went back to school and learned Photoshop, Illustrator and Quark Express. Which definitely gave me some skill set that I could use in more places than this (Filmation)… This was a limited skill set. Then built on that.

BG: Well whatever you did after this, you still had a part in our childhood so thank you for that… I mean it’s He-Man, Transformers, G.I. Joe and for me Robotech. And after that it’s everything else.

RL: She was a big Robotech fan! The thing that amazed me was that I had favorite shows as a kid but none of them really held to my adulthood other than fond memories. I was amazed at the way He-Man resonated that generation that as adults they are still big time He-Man fans! Some of them have whole rooms full of the toys!

BG: That’s a little much, but it’s on Netflix now so we can take our kids and watch through it again. It’s pretty fun.

SL: He is interviewed on the DVD, the special edition DVD. On Ghostbusters, She-Ra…

RL: Filmation’s Ghostbusters.

BG: I remember that. It was a little quirky. Is this the Ghostbusters with the monkey? The ape or gorilla?

RL: Yes.

BG: Thank you for your time. It has been great talking to you!

Check out Shawn’s book series website and Robert’s site. Storyboard pics taken from Robert Lamb’s website all rights reserved by him. Book cover pics taken from Shawn Lamb’s website all rights reserved by her.

@ashertopia is the Managing Editor of He is an avid reader and a lifetime learner. His favorite genres include science fiction, fantasy, as well as theology and Christian living. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

David Mason has been a comics aficionado since the late 80s and is passionate about the creators in the industry. David, his wife and six kids live in in Middle Tennessee. He loves Jesus and was wet t-shirt contest winner at Smyrna High School in back to back years (1997, 1998).