Exclusive interview: The man behind the success of Ben 10, Tramm Wigzell
Ben 10 is a super-cool hero to millions of schoolboys (and dads!) across the world – a regular kid with superpowers that transform him from ordinary lad to an array of alien species that battle the baddies of the universe. So how did he come about – and as he prepares to launch the 10th series of the fantabulistic cartoon adventure series, what lies ahead?
In this exclusive interview, Parentdish caught up with Ben 10's genius creative executive Tramm Wigzell.
So, Tramm (nice name, by the way), for those of us who don't know, tell us about Ben 10.
Ben is a regular kid who discovered an amazing piece of alien technology called the Omnitrix when it crashed to Earth like a meteor. Wearing it like a wristwatch, Ben is able to use the Omnitrix to turn into a menagerie of alien species – from a 50-foot tall mega-being, to a 2-inch tall micro-alien, and all shapes, sizes and superpowers in-between.
He always keeps his personality no matter what he turns into, so it's funny to hear the attitude and vocabulary of a kid coming out of these aliens. He can't always control what he turns into a lot of the time either, so he gets the wrong alien for the job and has to use his wits to solve the problem.
How long has he been going?
Ben started his adventures when he was 10 years old and our newest series, Ben 10 Omniverse, features Ben at age 16. The original series premiered in the States in 2005 and, when you add up all the episodes of the four series we've made, we are about to reach our 200th episode in the overall Ben 10 saga.
It's been a lot of work, but it's been fun!
Who are his allies – and his foes?
Ben has many allies who help him both as a hero and in his normal life – his Grandpa Max, his cousin Gwen and his friend Kevin (who used to be a bad guy, but reformed). Ben's newest ally is Rook – an alien who has recently arrived on Earth and has a hard time understanding our culture. Ben and Rook have a very funny and cool partnership.
Alas, you can't be a superhero without running up against some super villains and Ben has quite the rogue's gallery – the evil space conqueror Vilgax, the crazy mad scientist Doctor Animo, the spooky monster clown Zombozo, and Ben's newest enemy, the space hunter Khyber, just to name a few. Luckily, Ben and his friends are up to the challenge.
How did you dream him up?
Ben was created by four brilliant writers and artists who are collectively known as Man Of Action. They pitched the idea to Cartoon Network in 2002. Man Of Action are very clever and imaginative creators.
We've been extremely grateful and humbled by the reaction the show has gotten worldwide and really thank all the fans for its success.
Who should Ben appeal to. My five-year-old son worships him – he has dozens of the figures and watches the show as much as I'll let him. But is he too young? Should he be watching Ben 10 in the first place? Does that make me a bad parent?
One of the true strengths of Ben 10 is its very clear morals. It empowers young boys to stand up to what's wrong and always do what's right, to believe in themselves.
It's about adventure and not violence for violence's sake. And it's always handled with a lot of humor and fun, especially in our newest series, Omniverse.
We've also learned over the years how strongly the series fires up the imaginations of our audience and drives them to be creative, as the hundreds of letters we've received containing original stories and designs have demonstrated. Ultimately, Ben 10 is a positive experience for our audience.
What's next for Ben 10? How many more adventures to come? And how long for?
The possibilities are endless! As long as the fans keep watching, we'll keep creating new adventures. We're all having more fun than ever working on the show and there are a lot of great surprises waiting for our audience in Ben 10: Omniverse. We can't wait to share them with the world!
• The new Ben 10 series, Ben 10: Omniverse will air on Cartoon Network on 6th October.