Q&A Transcript with Alex Hirsch at MomoCon 2017
Question: Before you decided to make Bill the main bad guy, did you have another character in mind that would have been the villain?
Alex: Yeah, um that’s a good question. Uh, so, when we came up with the villain of the show, I knew that… I knew that Bill was involved. And I knew that Ford had disappeared due to some deal gone wrong with some villain next to the mystery of how Gravity Falls was all assembled.
Um, but, I didn’t yet decide that Bill was that character in the very beginning, y'know? I had always imagined it was some sort of evil character somewhere kinda hidden in the woods. I wasn’t sure I could go with the Bill idea cuz I thought it would be too much like Twin Peaks, but as we got further along the series we discussed it among the repairs and we were like, ‘none of our other villain ideas were as good.’ Bill, Bill was weirder than anything else we thought of. Um, I remember there were other ideas. Strange monsters and government officials; some kind of cthulhu– some weird crazy old man. But nothing was ever better than Bill, so it ended up sticking. Probably somewhere around, y'know, season one– midway through season one, we started thinking we might be– might be on point.
Q: Was Grunkle Stan ever aware of McGucket’s connection to his brother?
A: Oh, oh that’s such a good question. Wait, let me think about that for a second… Uh… lemme see… I don’t think so. I don’t think Stan was ever aware of McGucket’s connection to his brother. Because, by the time Stan traded identities with Ford, uh… McGucket had already gone off the deep end– Was already y'know, had already created the Society of the Blind Eye; had already lost his own memory. So Stan would’ve really only known McGucket as a local obnoxious fisherman.
And McGucket, probably somewhere deep in the back of his mind, was eerily just drawn to Stan in a way he just couldn’t put his finger on, because he thought maybe he knew him, but– I don’t– I think Stan was ignorant of that. Um, I think Stan… I think Stan looking through the journals probably should’ve put two and two together, but Stan’s not the best at book-learnin’. Uh, so… my guess is Stan wouldn’t have known despite that uh, that there’s a lot of tumblr art out there showing them as like the Scooby-Doo gang. I don’t think Stan ever really knew McGucket before.
Q: What episode do you believe came out the strongest and the most well rounded overall? And is it the same as your personal favorite episode?
A: Oh gosh. Um. That’s a great question. Hmm… I probably feel, personally, that the strongest episode is uh, “Not What He Seems” just because it’s such a dramatic episode. Like, we know– We’ve never had an episode that dramatic. But, when we first pitched it to Disney executives… they thought it was bad. [laughs] Um, Because it didn’t have a lot of jokes in it? Like, I remember normally when we’re pitching our episode, executives can usually gauge how good they are by how much people laugh. People didn’t really laugh for that one, because it’s really tense. So we thought, maybe we’d screwed up. But, when the animation came back we were like, 'Oh! It’s GOOD that it’s tense. Like, it worked!’ Um, So, I dunno if that’s my favorite episode, but I think– that’s the episode we should’ve won an Emmy for, and I’m still pissed we didn’t. [laughs]
In terms of favorite episode, like… I dunno. I think the first episode that I really felt that the show was really starting to feel the way I wanted it to– “Time Traveler’s Pig” in season one. Like, that was an episode where Dipper had an interesting story, and Mabel had an interesting story, and uh, felt nostalgic, and based around the summer, and had a big secret callback to even previous episodes, so– I just remember when we first just got that episode back in color, I was like, 'hey I think maybe I like how I’m making this cartoon show,’ so I think that has a particularly fond place in my heart, y'know.
Q: Is Disney bringing you to SDCC or NYCC later this year to promote the journal and other books coming out?
A: Right, um, yeah, Disney– Disney… Disney-general and me, have like– we’re divorced. Like, they kept the house, and the pets. Y'know what I mean? It’s… we don’t like get dinner or anything. But, the Disney Publishing department, separate from Disney Television, they’re really cool, and enthusiastic, and energized. And they wanna make new cool stuff. Um, so I think it’s possible I might be at D23 this year, and it’s possible I might be at Comic Con, but I don’t have anything confirmed yet.
Q: In the scene where Bill is trying to convince Ford to join him in the Fearamid, were there any other jokes or story beats that were considered?
A: Which episode specifically are you talking about? [Q: The We’ll Meet Again scene.] Yea yea yea, We had a– Every scene that you’ve ever seen in the show has a ton of ton of stuff we’ve thought of and had to cut for time or other reasons. Um, I remember there was definitely a version of that where Bill was a lot trickier. Like, he sort of more successfully lied to Ford about like: 'We’re actually going to make the world a better place. Though I present myself as this chaos lunatic that’s just my personality.' Like, 'here’s ways in which we’ll IMPROVE the universe.'
Um, but it felt out of character. We thought it was much more like Bill to just draw smiley faces in oceans and eat the sun and just– hope, that the force of his charisma could convince Ford that that was a good idea. But uh, I feel like– I feel like Bill can be really really tricky when he wants to, but by the time Weirdmageddon showed up he’s so impatient, and he’s so convinced that he won, that he was no longer like, this brilliant chess master he used to be. He’s like, 'alright let’s do it! Do what I want or I’ll eat your face.’ Like, no more– No more, like– He wasn’t as smart a tactician as he used to be, y'know?
Q: Was “We’ll Meet Again” always the song you were going to use?
A: Oh yeah, it had to be that. It was like… I think I’d just seen Dr. Strangelove recently around that time and it stuck in my head. It seems to me, if Bill has a taste in music, it would be, like, old timey music that ranges from either weird to obnoxious to obscure.
Uh, Disney wanted me to cut it cuz it cost them a bunch of money to get the rights, even though it’s so old, it still cost them money to get the rights. And I just… said, please. Over and over and over again. I would send an e-mail that just said, 'please.’ And send another e-mail that said, 'please.’ And I would send another e-mail that said– Yeah. [laughs] Eventually I wore them down that they’re like, 'alright we’ll spend thousands of dollars.’ [laughs]
Q: Are real comics coming?
A: You want comics? Would you read Gravity Falls comics?
[Alex leans his ear forward]
A: It’s a terrifying noise isn’t it, Michael? I was at a… Gravity Falls gallery, and like, they didn’t tell us how many people would show up, and it was like, THAT noise echoing from every corner. And uh like, I think I lost a year of my life. My hair started going gray, and it was like, 'oh my god, this is too much love! It’s terrifying.'
Comics. I would love to do Gravity Falls comics. Um, I have so many… One of the tough things about a half hour show like Gravity Falls is every now and then we think of an idea that we really liked, but it was too short for a half hour; 'oh that’s only five minutes of story’– Or it’s too specific and weird. And so I have tons and tons of ideas of the show that y'know we’d like to explore this character, we’d like to show this secret, this storyline. So, I’d love to do comics. But, that’s up to Disney Publishing, and I’m trying to convince them. So, hopefully, I’ll have something exciting to announce in not too long.
Q&A with Stan and Soos
Q: Is Dipper adorable or manly?
Stan: Dipper smells like baby wipes. Even if I cut off all my shoulder hair, and taped it to him, he wouldn’t be 1/10th as manly I am.
Q: What would you do if Mabel told you she had a date to prom?
Stan: I would… invite the gentleman over, have some coffee, tie him to a chair and interrogate him for 10 hours, and maybe throw him in the pit. [shrug] Hands off my neice, kid!
Q: What would happen if Soos met Giffany again?
Soos: Oh yea, I recently downloaded this couple’s therapy sim? Uh, I think she and I would have to talk about our issues and pass around a conversation pillow, and really work out these struggles. Cuz she’s got some problems, dude.
Q: Soos, why are you so perfect?
Soos: Yeah, uh, my grandma said that a whole bunch of doves flew down and formed the shape of a perfect angel over my crib. I dunno, dude I guess I was just born that way.