Today, the very talented Tom Konkle has taken time out of his busy schedule to do an interview with ScoobySnax.com. Konkle wrote several Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! episodes along with Jon Colton Barry, which include "Area 51 Adjacent" from the first season, as well as "Mysteries on the Disorient Express," "Scroogey Doo" and "Doo Not Disturb" from season 2. I personally thought all of these episodes, particularly "Doo Not Disturb" (which is my favorite of the show), were brilliantly written and Tom did a terrific job with all the episodes he wrote.
In addition to being a writer, Tom also was a voice actor for one episode of the series, in "Giant Problems." He voiced both the Leprechaun and the Irish Guy in that episode.
Throughout the interview, I ask Tom about his experience writing for Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! and how he became the talented writer and director he is today.
ScoobySnax.com: How did you get into writing?
Tom Konkle: I always enjoyed writing even as a kid. Sometimes I had such an elaborate imagination, the teacher would admonish me saying “Hey, remember your audience...” and lower the grade. This meaning remember you’re trying to write for fifth graders and it’s going over their head but I think she meant it was going over HER head. LOL
I did a lot of scriptwriting starting in college because I wanted to learn to create the blueprint for some of the short films and sketch comedy I wanted to do then. I enjoyed getting someone else’s script and learning what made their writing work. Seeing successful and unsuccessful writing is the best teacher in that you learn first hand what is done to make the characters work, dialogue, formatting the script and story structure.
I started getting paid to write in the early 90s and I think sometimes I wrote a lot to protect things I knew I’d be performing too. I would write material that I would perform particularly when I was doing sketch comedy much like John Cleese is said to do. I found out later I was doing that like the Pythons. I would write my own material and perform it to protect how it got executed. In that way I had a vision writing it I could execute. Also, like many film directors who also write like Christopher Nolan, I think in a very cinematic style as I am creating a script. I respect the written word and the structure as this is the blueprint for the work. I really applied this principle in my film noir feature Trouble Is My Business.
ScoobySnax.com: Before you began writing Be Cool Scooby-Doo!, were you a fan of Scooby-Doo?
Tom Konkle: I remember watching some of the episodes as a kid. It must’ve been towards the tail end of the original series into whatever ‘70s interaction was running and I enjoyed a lot of them.
ScoobySnax.com: How did you get involved with writing Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!?
Tom Konkle: My dear friend Jon Colton Barry was a fan of both my writing and performing particularly my sketch work, but he knew I also valued story structure and I knew what it was like to do voice acting for cartoons. Animation is dialogue driven with “anything you can draw” visuals so he invited me to start collaborating on season one and season two of Be Cool Scooby Doo. We really wanted to create a writers room together where we could cross pollinate ideas and make each other laugh and be inspired.
ScoobySnax.com: What is your process for writing an episode of Be Cool Scooby-Doo!?
Tom Konkle: First, I start with a bunch of big ideas for the overall arc of the episode story. We would talk about how the characters needed to act to be consistent, and what character development was needing to happen. There was always “breaking the story," which is basically being able to pitch it clearly enough that you get the go ahead to write a draft of it.
So coming up with the story beats and then secondary “B” stories underneath it and character development was first. I really work with dialogue and basically play all the characters in my head, or out loud if I get giggling and smiling, or liking where it’s going, and getting excited to perform the script out loud to see how it flows, so I can see it in my head. I was always about writing from one big, hopefully intriguing or fun, idea and working backwards from that.
ScoobySnax.com: You've written several episodes of Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!, including "Area 51 Adjacent," "Mysteries on the Disorient Express," "Scroogey Doo" and "Doo Not Disturb." Which one of those was your favorite episode to write, and why?
Tom Konkle: I think it’s a tie between Area 51, Adjacent and Mysteries On The Disorient Express, for very different reasons. I think they’re both interesting high concepts, but I had the most fun coming up with character stuff in Area 51, Adjacent and I think I had the most fun coming up with topping ideas conceptually in Murder on the Disorient Express. I also like the execution of them both.
ScoobySnax.com: From a writing perspective, do you have a favorite character to write for?
Tom Konkle: Definitely, Fred was a favorite because he was often the fool for the absurd. But Daphne had the widest arc of character possibility and had agency in the plots of the episodes. I also loved writing the villains.
ScoobySnax.com: Was it challenging to write for such an iconic show like Scooby-Doo, that's been loved by many generations of fans?
Tom Konkle: It was a challenge to honor it as it need be, while pushing it to be different but...just different enough that we don’t aggravate original fans of the series, by doing something so out of canon that it takes them out of the episode. We wanted to reinvent and respect. That was the real challenge in that we made the show we wanted to see, with a lot of people looking over our shoulders.
ScoobySnax.com: If you could work on any show or movie in the world, what would it be?
Tom Konkle: Current shows? Archer.
Movies? I have a lot of ideas for science fiction, adventure and film noir movies. I just wrote and directed a movie out now that is a 1940s film noir called Trouble Is My Business.
ScoobySnax.com: You were both a writer and a voice actor in Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!. Did you enjoy writing or voice acting more, and why?
Tom Konkle: It’s different parts of the brain. I love writing. I do act out my scripts as I’m writing to get dialogue right, but writing is solitary and not about performance. I love voice acting. I’ve been a voice actor for 25 years. I love executing characters, creating voices and the idea of entertaining an audience with my voice work too.
ScoobySnax.com: What was the most rewarding part of writing for Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!?
Tom Konkle: Laughing in the room with Jon, then seeing the episode come together and enjoying all the parts from animation, music, performance and the director working to get us back to what we loved in the script, and improve upon it as well.
ScoobySnax.com: Now that Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! has ended, what project(s) are you working on now?
Tom Konkle: I just released a feature film I star in and directed called Trouble Is My Business, which is available on Blu-ray, DVD and streaming worldwide. http://www.troubleismy.biz
ScoobySnax.com: Thanks so much again for taking the time to do this!
Tom Konkle: Thank you!
You can follow along with Tom's writing adventures on Twitter. You can also check out Tom's movie production company, Lumen Actus, at http://www.lumenactus.com!