SHANNON MUIR’S ANIMATED INSIGHTS: VOLTRON – In Wonder About 40 Years from Fan to Pro

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ANIMATED INSIGHTS BY SHANNON MUIR – now called SHANNON MUIR’S ANIMATED INSIGHTS – takes you inside Shannon’s latest reflections on her passion for animation as a medium, and other animated insights about life. To catch up on all posts, check out the Animated Insights portion of the website!

Shannon Muir Broden with Wondercon badge

Here I am at the 2024 WonderCon in Anaheim, still surprisingly eligible for a pro badge. With all the policy changes, I really thought last time would be it. Though I am happy to learn that with those changes, librarians and educators can be considered pros as well. Since that’s where my journey seems to be headed next, that excites me.

Let’s be clear, though. It’s more than about bragging rights. It’s really about awe and humility and being in a constant place of not being able to fully get my head around how a TV show ended up changing my life on multiple points along the way.

I would like to take this time to share on a wider level an essay from my old fan site, unedited. It talks about why I made a fan site to begin with, but tells a lot beyond that.  Especially because it has several post scripts on it that illustrate the evolution of the fan site and my life.

As always, I remain forever in wonder.

VOLTRON: Why I’m Doing This

by Shannon Muir

Written in 1998… but still true in many ways today

I’ve always been a believer that when someone gives you something, you try to give back equally. And, in all honesty, I don’t know if this is a debt I can ever completely repay.

In 1984, I was a shy, introverted 13 year old girl who didn’t have much idea of what she wanted in life. I knew I liked to write and imagine, but I never really thought of making a LIVING at it. Then I discovered VOLTRON, and came up with an idea that moved me so much I wanted to write it down and share it.

That first simple premise for “Flight of the White Lion,” two typewritten pages long, was sent to World Events through my local affiliate. Even if it wasn’t used, I at least wanted to know what they thought. When I got back a form letter and a promo packet, I wasn’t satisfied with that. So, with some thoughts thrown in by my sister, we put together 22 episode ideas and sent them directly to Executive Producer Peter Keefe. For the first time in my life, I found something that moved me so much I wanted to fight for it.

What I got back was a letter from Head Writer Marc Handler, and it was his words that encouraged me to keep at writing for television and later for film. This encouragement motivated me to make contact with other professional writers, find my vocation in college, and has brought me more than I think I would have gotten if I’d walked any other path in my life.

So now it’s my turn to give back to the show that made me dare to dream. That’s why, several years ago, I approached Ted Koplar (owner of World Events Productions) about some new ideas to ressurect the series. This seemed timely since MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS would be out the next fall. I sent him a sample script for a VOLTRON show, but held on to my biggest ideas for later. He never contacted me after that. So the time still wasn’t right.

I believed that 1996 was the time to share those ideas with the world — and what I do here, with this site, is my way of saying ‘thank you’ to the show for its inspiration, by sharing all I’ve learned with others for whom the show has not passed away from memory… and to the new fans yet to come, especially with the news that new episodes of VOLTRON will premeire in 1998.

And maybe, someday, I can do something for Peter Keefe and Marc Handler too… thank you.

–Shannon Muir

May 2010 Post-Script: Peter Keefe passed away from throat cancer at the age of 57 on May 27, 2010. I’ve over the years somewhat downplayed his role in my story, instead often emphasizing Head Writer Marc Handler more. I don’t think it was intentional, but it didn’t make his involvement any less important. If he never made the initial decision to send my materials from St. Louis back to Marc Handler on the West Coast, the rest never would have happened. Thank you, Peter Keefe, for everything.

March 2011 Post-Script: On March 5, 2011, professionals in the animation community asked me to be the designated speaker about Peter Keefe’s life and the impact on my own life at the annual “Afternoon of Rememberance” co-sponsored by The Animation Guild, ASIFA-Hollywood, and Women in Animation. This speech was given twenty-five years to the month, if not the week, that I received the letter from Marc Handler that came about because Peter Keefe forwarded the materials my sister Lesley and I sent to him. As evidenced by statements on this site, I’ve often felt split by my “fan” side and my “professional” side, but after yesterday this is something I no longer feel. Standing in a group of professionals, acknowledging my own transition thanks to Peter’s Keefe’s action from one to the other, brought about a healing and wholeness of its own. It also didn’t hurt, I must admit, to immediately find myself followed up by Michael Bell (the voice of Lance) who had come to speak on another friend’s behalf and whom I hadn’t seen in the audience. It is an amazing life and I am glad for it, but I also know that if the rest of the fan community didn’t pick up the torch and run with it, things wouldn’t be where they are today for the industry as well as myself. Thank you all for your support. I can only hope that my message resonates with those who heard it, and those who will tell it, on how what they do as professionals can impact the fans they have today – perhaps, though in death, this is what I did for Peter Keefe, though it would have of course been preferable to be during his life.

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