Steven Universe ended earlier this year, with an amazing finale season/epilogue that wrapped most of the plotlines up and delivered Steven and his friends into a hopeful future. New York Comic-Con hosted a virtual retrospective panel discussing the show and Chris McDonnell’s retrospective book, Steven Universe: End of an Era, with io9’s Charles Pulliam-Moore moderating a talk with Rebecca Sugar, McDonnell, Kat Morris, a writer/storyboard supervisor,/supervising director for the show, and Alonso Ramirez Ramos (a producer and director for Steven Universe Future).
You can watch the full panel, or check out a few highlights below!
Pulliam-Moore dove straight into the glorious nerdiness of the book: “The book clues you in to how organized the show was, but also how flexible the creators and artists were!”
- Sugar mentioned what she’s excited about: With the book coming out, a lot of our charts and organizational documents can be shared….they were so full of spoilers! But these are real process documents, so you can see how things ended up shifting. A lot of these ideas that didn’t fit earlier in the series ended up finding a home in Future, or in the Movie….these are more documents about what we were excited about.
- There was a heated debate about what Sugar called “Perfect Steven”—a large pink final form of Steven. The debate became about what a perfect Steven would even look like, and eventually the concept became the song “Change Your Mind”, and later, in Future, a physical manifestation of Steven’s toxic stress. There is a giant warrior version of Steven that focuses on his physical strength at the expense of other, vital parts of his Steven-ness.
- Because Steven Universe is so collaborative, it became almost a game to attribute the art as it was gathered together for the book.
- You want charts? This book has CHARTS:
- Chris McDonnell: Anything good in the book I have done that is good is because of the intense collaboration between the show team.
- Sugar spoke to the pushback against the show’s LGBTQIA content. The book allows her to share sketches she made while she was in those meetings, and to reflect somewhat more personally on the meetings, and what she needed to do to stay afloat mentally as she worked, which then fed into the discussion of mental health that became the focus of Steven Universe: Future. “I wanted to see media do things I’d never seen it do.”
- Alonso Ramirez Ramos: “The text is really profound. It’s the collective stories of everyone who worked on the show.”
- Sugar wanted to spend more time on Steven’s character flaw. “There was an aspect of his selflessness that was actually very destructive. We talked about it but we couldn’t really dive into it.” Which became a large thread in Future, when his aging-up allowed them to look at the effects of everything that had happened to him.
- Per Kat Morris: “Future is the real take on the fantasy.”
- The book also gives a peek at a long Eternal Sunshine-esque plotline featuring Rhodenite that was unfortunately scrapped. (Cause what the show really needed was MORE whimsical pathos.)
Steven Universe: End of an Era is out on October 13th from Abrams Books, and all of Steven Universe (including The Movie and Future) is streaming on HBO Max as we speak! Go watch!