Zelda Linked Green is an animated web comic featuring characters from The Legend of Zelda series, as well as some characters that are completely original. The comic series has been running for over a decade, but will be coming to an end later this year. We caught up with series creator, Landon, to discuss his thoughts on the future of The Legend of Zelda and Zelda Linked Green.
ZELDA UNIVERSE: The Zelda community has changed a lot over the last ten years. Zelda Linked Green has been online for that entire time, but I’m sure many members of our community are unfamiliar with the project. Can you explain a little bit about the project for newcomers?
LANDON STREET: Certainly. The Zelda Linked Green project was designed to give the community a Zelda animated series. The point was that there has been no “animated series” from Nintendo since the 1980’s cartoon show, and I felt that The Legend of Zelda had great potential to be an animated show that spanned many episodes and gave screen time to many characters. It was made for Zelda fans who wanted a serious Zelda show where you care about the characters and you want them to succeed.
ZU: For a long time, a common argument from fans against a Zelda animated series has been the “disaster” of the 1980’s cartoon and later, the three Zelda games for the Philips CD-i (which Zelda Universe loves with an undying passion). It’s been over 20 years since an official Zelda animated series has been attempted. Do you think it’s time for Nintendo to try again? What do you think they could do differently?
LS: I wasn’t there when the 80’s show was created; however, reading the interview from Jonathan Potts he said something that made me reach a conclusion of what happened. He said that no one from Nintendo came to see how things were going, and that includes the Super Mario Bros. Super Show as well (which may explain why those episodes were mostly themed around parodying everything).
In the ’80s, Nintendo handed out their licensing and didn’t follow up on it until well after they had been making episodes. My conclusion was DIC was in a difficult spot because after having the rights to make the cartoon, they weren’t really given direction of what to do with it. Jonathan Potts came up with the “Excuuuse me princess” line on his own and the DIC team had to fill in a lot of the blanks themselves. DIC did what they thought was best and what was popular at the time, along with other cartoon shows they worked on. I have a feeling they were hoping for someone at Nintendo to help them with a direction, and I think that’s why the episodes are the way they are.
I think the same thing happened with the CD-i games; it was given to a team that wasn’t given much input from Nintendo, and not much time, and even though having a blank canvas is great, it still needed some direction and management.
I definitely think it’s time for Nintendo to try again. I know many don’t agree with me, but it’s difficult to know how the end product will turn out if they don’t try; if you don’t try then how do you know it’ll be good or bad? Even if they try again and it’s bad, that doesn’t mean they should stop trying. It’s been decades and what a Zelda series could be now shouldn’t be judged by the past. If there’s no trying, then we get nothing.
As far as what they can do differently, I believe some of the problems with the ’80s cartoon and CD-i games were the lack of vision, and lack of direction. From the get-go, you need to have an idea of what it should be, what it feels like, plot points, that sort of thing. There needs to be a director that knows exactly what he wants to do and what needs to be done; the team that works on a new Zelda series should be individuals that know the material and is passionate to do it justice.
I think it is possible to pull off and all it needs are the right people.
ZU: So, what inspired you to begin making these animations?
LS: I had a couple of inspirations. I was a big fan of animation as a kid, and I was also a big fan of Zelda. I got the main idea to do a Zelda animated show from Pokémon actually. I have a personal beef towards Pokémon because in 1995 to ’96, Pokémon had just come out and it was getting a lot of attention. When I heard about the announcement of Pokémon getting an anime, and then later a movie, I was scratching my head as to why other Nintendo mascots weren’t receiving the same. There’s never been a Metroid, Star Fox, Zelda, movie or TV show and I guess my patience ran out in 2003. My mentality towards it was “If they’re not going to make one, then I’ll make one.” I know my series aren’t official, but it probably is the closest you can get to a Zelda animated series in a serious tone.
ZU: While watching your series, it doesn’t take long to realize that the story has a noticeably darker tone than not only the previous Zelda animated series, but also a darker tone than any of the games in the Zelda series. Do you want to see the story of The Legend of Zelda take a darker tone than it has in the past, or do you think the games belong in a different category?
LS: I think like a lot of people around my age we grew up with Zelda, and in that process we also “grew up” and there are fans that would like to see Zelda become darker.
Sure I’d like to see a darker storyline for Zelda games, I don’t think they should be rated M, but I’d like to see another game that is similar to Majora’s Mask where there’s consequences for other characters that you get to know depending on your actions. I like games that make you think and Majora’s Mask is almost perfect in conveying that even with the power to time travel you can’t do a perfect three days where you save everyone and perform to satisfy their needs.
ZU: You’ve been making these web series for a long time. What has motivated you to keep going over all these years?
LS: I honestly don’t know. When I started Hero Returns in 2003, I was in the tenth grade, and when I made the first episode I showed it to my friends and they liked it. Many of them asked me “What happens next?” and I replied that it was just supposed to be one animation that I did for fun. I was encouraged to keep going, and the first 20 episodes or so I made up as I went. As I got older I started thinking about how to craft things together and I learned as I went on what to do and what not to do in terms of writing, storytelling, animating, ect.
When I started Seven Dark Sorcerers in 2009 I was still in college. I’ve graduated, and four years after I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree I’m still making Zelda animations. I’d like to say that I’m just that dedicated to being a Zelda fan, but I don’t think that’s it. I think a big part of it was I molded these characters into my own, and whether they were “Zelda” characters or not I gave them my mark of them being “my” characters and a big part of continuing is I want to see their story all the way through.
There were points where I quit the show, I announced I was done, and then I came back, and I’ve recently wanted to quit, but at the start of this I really wanted to be the guy who put their money where their mouth was. I’m also very patient, and very stubborn; in my day job I do things that are tedious and apparently I have a super human tolerance doing tedious things. I’ve seen many people make Zelda animations, better than I am, but I’ve made over 100 episodes and I look forward to someone breaking that record.
ZU: After spending so long developing these characters, is there one in particular that stands out as your favorite?
LS: I think my favorite character is Eclipso. This is a mild spoiler about the character but Eclipso embodies one of the questions I think about when a Zelda game’s story is over and what happens to Link and Zelda or other characters afterwards. His entire episode “The Tragedy of Eclipso” was to ask many questions about what happens to Link. Should Link and Zelda get together or not? And I don’t think there’s an answer. I think it’s an age-old question that is ambiguous; there is no clear answer and he goes through his life not getting what he wants and that’s a theme for him that he is that hero that doesn’t get what he wants in life.
ZU: Let’s talk about your latest series, The Seven Dark Sorcerers. This series has been ongoing since 2009. Did you have a complete story in mind when you started, or have you developed it one piece at a time?
LS: I’d like to say that I had it all figured out when I started, but no, I had to change a few things at the end. Everything up to Episode 30 I had set in stone for the story. In these next episodes (31-33) is where I changed major points and I rewrote what happens. The biggest reason for that is I thought the original ending was a good idea, and the more I looked at it the more I realized it wasn’t that great, it didn’t make much sense, but luckily these changes don’t detract from the story that much.
ZU: You’ve been promoting the final few episodes of The Seven Dark Sorcerers. What should we expect from the final pieces of the story?
LS: There’s been a build-up to this point in the story where one of the characters has opened a can of worms that will affect everyone and what the consequences are for revenge. These last few episodes are going to be large action pieces, and they’re going to include a lot of new characters from more recent Zelda games. In the story, this is the main character’s final battle, and it’s about how the heroes deal with impossible odds and how they fight together even though they know they have no chance.
ZU: With the story about to end, where do you recommend that new viewers begin? How much backstory is needed to get started watching?
LS: It depends on a few things. I’ve had friends that decide not to watch based on the quality of the show’s animation.
My recommendation is to start with the series Coolo Eclipso, as I think its story is solid. It’s not perfect, the animation quality is low, but I think it’s the story that really holds it together.
I don’t think you really have to watch the previous two shows to understand what’s going on, but I think it does help to know the context. There are original characters that are in the previous shows and I think is important to know who Eclipso is before watching this show.
The first of the final episodes of Zelda Linked Green was released earlier this year. Check back regularly for updates on the final episodes of this long running series. You can learn more about the series at its website.
We’d like to thank Landon for taking the time to talk with us, and for his dedication to bringing something so unique to the community for so many years.