Emmy-nominated, Harvard University graduate John Semper Jr. has been developing, writing and producing television and film for over forty years, with a special emphasis on children’s television and animation.
His extensive and extremely varied writing and story-editing (head writer) credits include multiple episodes of such classic and well-known animated shows as Scooby-Doo, Smurfs, The Jetsons (Hanna-Barbera Productions); My Little Pony, The Moondreamers (Marvel Productions); Duck Tales (Disney); Alvin and the Chipmunks (NBC Productions); and many others. He produced, story-edited, and wrote the Fraggle Rock animated series for Jim Henson Productions and he co-created the original, live-action Dog City, also for Jim Henson.
Mr. Semper is probably best known for his work as both producer and head writer on Spider-Man: The Animated Series, the hit action-adventure animated series for Fox Television, based upon Marvel’s pre-eminent super-hero character. He subsequently received an Emmy nomination for his work at Warner Brothers Television Animation as story-editor for the successful series, Static Shock.
He has also branched into writing comic books, handling a 19-issue story arc for Cyborg as part of the "Rebirth" of all of the DC Comics super-hero line-up.
Mr. Semper’s feature film writing credits include the live-action comedy Class Act, released by Warner Brothers. Afficionados of Japanese animation director Hayao Miyazaki have appreciated Mr. Semper’s English language scripts for the Disney-released feature films, Laputa: Castle in the Sky and Kiki’s Delivery Service.
Mr. Semper’s pre-school children’s television show credits include the puppet series Puzzle Place for PBS, for which he was also a co-creator, and the long-running, popular Jay Jay the Jet Plane on PBS, for which he served as writer, executive story-editor, and producer. Several of his stories featuring the Jay Jay characters have been adapted into children's books.
In the interactive computer software field, Mr. Semper has written for Disney (“The Hercules Interactive Storybook”), Knowledge Adventure (“The X-Men Cartoon Maker” and “The Spider-man Cartoon Maker”), Broderbund and LucasArts Entertainment. Mr. Semper also worked personally with George Lucas developing projects for the George Lucas Educational Foundation.
Mr. Semper indulged his love of Sherlock Holmes mysteries by writing and illustrating The Singular Affair of the Missing Ball, the first adventure in a new, full color picture-book series featuring the “world-famous” canine detective, Sherlock Whippet; his companion and biographer, Dr. Dogson; and, of course, the nefarious villain, Professor Murray R. Catty, notorious cat burglar of London. This humorous parody of Victorian “penny-dreadful” dime novels is a treat for readers of all ages who enjoy both Sherlock Holmes and absurd humor. Details are available at the Sherlock Whippet website where a selection of illustrations are on view.
Early in his career, he had the pleasure of directing animation icon Walter Lantz in a live-action and animated clip compilation short film that Mr. Semper wrote for Universal Studios/Walter Lantz Productions. The film, entitled, Walter, Woody and the World of Animation, played for one year in a special exhibit devoted to Mr. Lantz on the Universal Studios Tour. It was then released by Universal for sale on videocassette and a copy of the film was donated by Mr. Lantz to the Smithsonian Institution.
Mr. Semper also was a host and producer of the Experience Talks radio show on KPFK-FM Los Angeles and other Pacifica Network stations from 2012 through 2019. He interviewed guests such as actors George Takei, Kathy Garver, and George Chakiris; author Charles Phoenix; musician Jerry Lawson; and many more creative people.
Mr. Semper lives in the Los Angeles area where he continues to develop and write numerous projects for television and feature films. He is a member of the Writers Guild of America, The Animation Guild, the Motion Picture Editors Guild and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
IMDB has more information on many of his produced television and film credits.
While he was a student, Mr. Semper served a summer apprenticeship in New York with award-winning documentarians Albert and David Maysles as they worked on their seminal film, Gimme Shelter.
Before moving to Los Angeles, Mr. Semper taught filmmaking and film history at the New England School of Art and Design.
Early in his career in Los Angeles, Mr. Semper worked as a film editor at animation companies Ruby/Spears and Hanna-Barbera Productions, then as an apprentice editor on the feature film, D.C. Cab.