Was Carl Macek a good story teller?

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Was Carl Macek a good story teller? was created by Peter Young

Some Wikipedia entries portray Carl Macek as someone who devoted his life to Robotech. His ANN-cast interview and the (unfortunately no longer accessible :( ) interviews on the Robotech site showed him a more down to earth person. I prefer the real Macek over 'Saint Carl'.

Having said that: he was a good media marketeer and he had a talent for editing. I think his decision to adapt anime to American tastes was a sensible one. The series he edited reached larger audiences in the Western world than series that maintained the original Japanese voices. Of course, that could just be my taste. The difference between the Japanese taste and my own is too large for me to bridge. I would like to pint out that the edited English versions of for instance Dragon Ball, Gundam Wing and Teknoman were successes as well - other followed Macek's example.

So much the praise.
Now the criticism.

I think his talent as an editor was not matched by his capacity for story telling. Based on hints of what 'Sentinels' would have been if his original ideas had been carried out, I'm not sure I would have liked the result. The changes made by Jack Mackinney or the comic book creators were usually for the best.

What do you think?
2 years 2 weeks ago #24128

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Replied by Alpha Bravo on topic Was Carl Macek a good story teller?

This is surely an interesting topic, which I myself have mused over in days gone by.

The decision to combine the three independant stories into Robotech was merely out of necessity; otherwise none of those shows had enough episodes to fill US Syndication. He did the best he could with the material he had to work with.

On to the Sentinels... here is where things get questionable. The original trilogy had numerous "McKinneyisms" in the novels, which had no basis in the animation... but that doesn't mean they weren't Carl's ideas. The animation available didn't facilitate those as being part of the story in the original series, that's the only FACT of the matter. Surely a lot of what people blame McKinney for, Carl had something to do with as well. Judging by The Sentinels, this becomes rather likely. We've got completed novels and comics, which were based on his notes for the television series, the storyboard and progression of which were pretty much completed. Had the television show aired in its entirety, I'm sure it would have been extremely similar to the novels.

This brings us to the biggest question of all... how much did Carl have to do with End of the Circle? Again, McKinney gets the blame, but I can't help but wonder how much of that came from Carl's own imagination?

In the end, though, it's more satisfying to remember him fondly, which is what I will continue to do.
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2 years 2 weeks ago #24131

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Replied by Peter Young on topic Was Carl Macek a good story teller?

Last spring I disvored Jonathan Schwitzer a.k.a. Captain JLS 's old Roboblog Chronicles. Episode 5 was a film he made from various drawings and footage telling the story of what would have been episode 8 of Sentinels. This in turned inspired a series of vlogs on Sentinels. I put in episode 5.5., it goes on untill # 7.5



I assume that fans have been discussing for years which of the three possible variations - scripts, novels, comics - is the better one.
But I do not think that every suggestion by Macek would have been wise.

For instance: Scott Bernard being dr. Langs's godson and therefore on the RDF-III. For one, it contradicts 'New Generation". The opening episode clearly suggested cott never been on Earth before. And then there's the episode with Jonathan Wolfe, when they were supposed to interact for the first time. A teenager among the RDF-III might have been standing out from the rest of the crew and how likely would it be for Wolfe, being part of the SDF-III hig command, not to have known about the godson of the mission commander?

For two: having ONE kid among the crew demands explanation why Dana and Bowie were not on board as well. Surly it would have been more plausible and realistic to have none of them or all of them among the mission.
Personally, I consider the Scott being tied to Lang personally too far fetched: a too conscious effort to tie the three generations together.

Macek also intended for Rick to mentor over Jack Baker the way Roy Fokker mentored him. The comic book instead gave Baker a best freind among the crew his own age. The latter makes more sense to me:

1) The distance in rank between rookie Rick and squadron leader Roy was smaller than between rookie Jack and overall SDF-military commander Rick

2) Roy and Rick went way back - Rick never met Jack untill he applied for the REF

3) We only SEE the conversations between Roy and Rick in Macross. Who says Roy wasn't guiding other young recruits as well? Episode 1 clearly showed Roy as an instructor to new pilots. In the 'Miss Macross'-episode he also was on friendly terms with Max and Ben. Roy was clearly a commander who wanted to get the best out of those under his command.

With Rick, the bond was stronger because they had been friends before joining the army. But had he really given Rick more attention than others, they both would have lost popularity among the rest of the squadron. Surely Roy would have known better.

Max' speaking out for Baker after the test makes more sense to me. Max' position among the REF is more like Roy's among the original RDF. Rick's position is more like Lisa's was.

Just two things that, according to Captain JLS but I read it in other places as well, seems to have been ideas of Macek. With a series being a group effort, flwas like these might have been dropped after convserations with the rest of the creative team, but they seems to suggest that Macek might have been a better editor than a writer.

Mind you, most producers and directors of fame were simply putting on screen what others had scripted - so it does not make Macek a lesser person. But if Sentinels ever were to revived, I would not gamble on 'just do what Macek intended'.
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Last edit: 2 years 1 week ago by Peter Young.
2 years 1 week ago #24222

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Replied by Alpha Bravo on topic Was Carl Macek a good story teller?

Hey say what you will about Carl Macek but you cannot deny that he touched the lives of the 6 people here.
"Offers that are selected that the deposit paid the amount that we do not decide, or the pool, sipping mulled wine, and in addition you can play table tennis, there is one drawback, I do not have rights." - random spambot (translated)
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Replied by Peter Young on topic Was Carl Macek a good story teller?

Honoring his qualities does not mean one cannot point out his limits.

Mind you, he would not be the only one. Walt Disney was a marvel at movie animation, but he also decided to let his storytellers and animators make up the movies and the scenes, so he could concentrate on editing and producing. George Lucas, for years, had his wife pointing out to him weak points in his stories (especially concerning human interaction). After the divorce, there was no one he'd accept constructive criticism from - with the 1999-2005 Star Wars prequels as tragic results.

I don't like sentinels, I love it.
But it doesn't make me blind for tiny weak points (that might had been edited out before the final production).
One minor thing, however, probably would have been in the actual series.

I mean:

- nine years of planning and preparing

- Lisa expressing a child wish already in 'Macross Saga'

and she and Rick hold their wedding THE DAY BEFORE THEY LEAVE FOR TIROL???
2 years 2 days ago #24277

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Replied by Alpha Bravo on topic Was Carl Macek a good story teller?

Peter Young wrote: Honoring his qualities does not mean one cannot point out his limits.

Mind you, he would not be the only one. Walt Disney was a marvel at movie animation, but he also decided to let his storytellers and animators make up the movies and the scenes, so he could concentrate on editing and producing. George Lucas, for years, had his wife pointing out to him weak points in his stories (especially concerning human interaction). After the divorce, there was no one he'd accept constructive criticism from - with the 1999-2005 Star Wars prequels as tragic results.

I don't like sentinels, I love it.
But it doesn't make me blind for tiny weak points (that might had been edited out before the final production).
One minor thing, however, probably would have been in the actual series.

I mean:

- nine years of planning and preparing

- Lisa expressing a child wish already in 'Macross Saga'

and she and Rick hold their wedding THE DAY BEFORE THEY LEAVE FOR TIROL???


Don't forget, night moves are a Hunter's specialty.
"Offers that are selected that the deposit paid the amount that we do not decide, or the pool, sipping mulled wine, and in addition you can play table tennis, there is one drawback, I do not have rights." - random spambot (translated)
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Replied by Peter Young on topic Was Carl Macek a good story teller?

AB, this subject came back into my mind recently. It seems I have forgotten to share part of what made me wonder about Macek as a story teller.

When I became a Robotech fan, a little more than two years ago, I read on Wikipedia about the proposed and failed sequel attempts. One proposed by Macek himself was 'Odyssey', which apparently involved time travel.

Time travel is a very risky subject. It can work when it's the centre of a series (the main characters jumping from one age to another, having adventures and next week they start all over again). However, it can get ugly when introduced into an existing series.


It seldom affects super hero comic series. Any given character can have all sorts of adventures, so why not time travel. As long as you don't overdo it. To name an example: 'Days of Future Past (1979) was great, because it introduced the possibility of a future in which all went wrong. Bringing rachel Summers on the team, in the '80s, was less good: the dystopian futre appearing to become inevidable was rather depressing.
And it backfired early nineties: on top of using time travel to upgrade Cable (only created three years eralier) and Apocalypse (who would have been a class A villain) to all X-titles' most important characters (as if the Xavier-Magneto-antagonism no longer mattered?) the also had Bishop-Trevor Fitzroy (whose future has never been confirmed or denied being the same as 'Days of future past').
And the X-reality has been temporarily replaced with alternative realities thrice (Age of Apocalypse, House of M and apparently als by Legion a few years ago).
What works occasionally, often annoys when it becomes too much.

I can name an example were it worked: Babylon 5.
And J. Michael Stracinsky repeated it with succes in his (unfortunately short-lived) run on Thor.

But in most franchises, time travel is usually a 'desperate writer's last resort': you've run out of ideas so you send them into the future or into the past (like He-Man and Skeletor sent into space and the future in the mostly ignored 'third seeson', second half of the '80s)

As much as I loved James Roberts'work on IDW-Transformers, he lost me in 2014-2015, when he introduced time travel... and basically stated the entire Autobot-Decepticon-war resulted from it!!!!

So the suggestion that the SDF-III would change back into time to cause the later events...

Giving that I've stumbled upon Robotech at about the same time as becoming disappointed in James Robert's Transformers-writing, I might have gotten a bit sensitive on the subject.

All I'm saying: don't introduce time travel into an existing series if you can avoid it.
It's often a sign of 'jumping the shark'.
There are examples were it worked for the better - but quantitavely speaken, those are rare exceptions.
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1 year 7 months ago #25911

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Replied by Peter Young on topic Was Carl Macek a good story teller?

I remembered this topic after stumbling upon thist article amonth ago. It suggests that something that annoyed fans about the 'End of Cycle'-novel had already been contemplated by Macek himself.

(for those who don't know what the above means: not just SPOILER ALERT, but something most fans had rather never read in the first place. Read the article at your own peril)

io9.gizmodo.com/a-brief-history-of-5-fai...h-sequels-1608968158
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1 year 7 months ago #25912

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Replied by Alpha Bravo on topic Was Carl Macek a good story teller?

Peter Young wrote: I remembered this topic after stumbling upon thist article amonth ago. It suggests that something that annoyed fans about the 'End of Cycle'-novel had already been contemplated by Macek himself.

(for those who don't know what the above means: not just SPOILER ALERT, but something most fans had rather never read in the first place. Read the article at your own peril)

io9.gizmodo.com/a-brief-history-of-5-fai...h-sequels-1608968158


I read all the novels when I was a preteen. End of the Circle indeed involved time travel; the SDF-3 went back in time and Minmay was revealed to be Zor's mom.

Carl Macek did a bangup job splicing the three series together, under the constraints of working with the existing animation; but going back and reading the Sentinels as an adult is rather painful. In that respect, I can surely see why HG decided to declare the Sentinels non-canon, but then they borrowed from it so heavily for Prelude to the Shadow Chronicles that it might as well have remained canon anyway.

End of the Circle in particular, you know something is bad when even kids feel dumber for watching/reading it. The Real Ghostbusters is a great example of this. The show started with terrific writing and voice acting. What kid didn't want to be a Ghostbuster when they grew up? Who was YOUR favourite? After a successful start, some suits at corporate came in and forced changes to the show, to make it more "kid-friendly". This involved, among other things, a primary focus on Slimer, who previously had been used sparingly as comic relief. The subsequent episodes were not nearly as good. This is not just my opinion, but the majority one, and may as well be stated as fact.

Consider He-Man. Or GI Joe. Or even Speed Racer. Those characters did not need to act like kids, in order to appeal to kids. They just had to be their adult selves, and kids saw them as role models. It appealed to them, without patronizing them.

Even at 13 years old, I knew End of the Circle was garbo. From the looks of it, Robotech: Odyssey was intended to be an anime adaptation of EotC.

A lot of people blame "Jack McKinney" for this, but like to conveniently forget that the novels were written from Carl's Sentinels notes. Even though the show never saw a full production run, most of the stories were already penned. Jack McKinney was simply following in the footsteps Carl had left for him.

(Footnote, Jack McKinney was actually a team of two individual writers).
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Last edit: 1 year 7 months ago by Alpha Bravo.
1 year 7 months ago #25915

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Replied by Peter Young on topic Was Carl Macek a good story teller?

Time travel stories are not always bad, but when introduced into an already existing series, there's a huge risk of it changing things for the worse.

I'll spear everyone a large essay on the similarities and the differences between the two. But within SF, there is a great disticntion between those who consider science - and therefore the rational human mind - the tool that will eventually solve all existing problems and those who just want to enjoy adventure and imagination. In a way, Star Trek can be placed among the former, Star Wars and Flash Gordon (and of cours Robotech) among the latter.

Fans of the first type can sometimes look down on the second type. Is 'the Force' in Star Trek not just a re-introduction of magic, religion and divine intervention. 'superstitions which mankind should leave behind'?

'First type-fans' probably won't like fantasy either, because those stories take magic and supernatural beings for granted. Especially the notion of 'destiny' must appal them: man NOT being able to decide his own future?

Me, I don't mind 'simple' adventure and imagination. But once time travel gets introduced, plots often get reduced to destiny again. This time not because of divinity orfaithut because of people purposely of accidentally becoming the cause of the stories's events.

I don't disapprove of it for philosophical reasons - it simply bores me.
Worse: once everything ends up being supposed to happen, the story end up dead.
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1 year 7 months ago #25940

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