Saturday, June 11, 2011

Two Atoms Enter, One Atom Leaves

    While Cartoon Network is still holding off on airing new episodes, someone hasn't passed the word along to iTunes or Amazon, because they're releasing new episodes every week. Grab 'em before they notice their mistake! So this post is about episode 7 (listed as episode 6 with the online vendors), and if you want to avoid even the tiniest of spoilers, stop reading now (although the title is about as spoilery as this post is gonna get anyways).

     Still reading? OK then, here's the thing - Show 7 is our Atom episode, the one where we introduce Ray Palmer. But don't fret, Ryan Choi fans, he's in it too. But by the end of the episode, only one will be the Atom. I just wanted to take a moment to say that DC's been really good with giving us a lot of leeway in our show, but they did have a specific mandate for which Atom would still be our show's Atom at the end of the episode. All the same, thanks to DC for mostly giving us free rein.
    Also, for those who are interested in the behind-the-scenes kinda stuff, we switched the teasers for Battle of the Superheroes! with this show. So really, there wasn't quite so much of an Aquaman barrage in the script for this one, it just kinda worked out that way.

All art and characters ™and © DC Comics

Saturday, April 30, 2011


    As promised, here's an apology for Night of the Batmen! Not for the episode itself, which I think was a good one, and one I'm proud of. Also, I won't apologize for the fact that "The Ballad of Batman" is now stuck in your head forever, because that's what a good song is supposed to do. No, my apology is not for anything that was in the show, but something we left out.
    In the original script, from first draft all to the final version, Joker was accompanied by his cute but calamitous companion-in-crime, Harley Quinn. But as we started to get ready to board it, I asked James Tucker if he'd mind if I replaced her with one of Joker's previous sidekicks, Gaggy - which he obviously agreed to, because in the show, we did this -

    So to all of the Harley Quinn fans out there, I'm sorry I removed her from the show. But here's the thing - in an 22 minute episode with five guest heroes and six villains with talking parts already, there was no time to include Harley, except as a silent partner. And if you're gonna use Harley, you want her to have some dialogue - it's just out of character for her to hang around quietly in the background. Not so much for Gaggy. So while I don't regret swapping Gaggy in for her, I know she has a lot of fans who would have liked to have seen more of her in our show, and to them, sorry.

All characters ™ and © DC Comics

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The blog that ate itself

I meant to post something about Joker: The Vile and the Villainous! a while back, but I didn't want to post anything before it aired, because I couldn't think of anything to say that wasn't spoilery (even the title itself is a little spoilery for my tastes), so I figured I'd post something after it aired. But then I got really busy, and this is the first chance I've had to sit down and blog, so here we go.

So anyways, Joker: The Vile and the Villainous - this was the first story written for Season 3, and according to Michael Jelenic, the concept for the episode was inspired by none other than this very blog, specifically this post! So that was nice to hear.

We (Michael, James Tucker, Jim Krieg and I) blocked out the structure of the story over the course of a morning, then James left us with one unresolved piece of the puzzle - who would the Joker team up with? So spent a lot of time (most of a full afternoon) trying to come up with a partner for the Joker, running through a couple of candidates that weren't quite right, until James saved our collective behinds by emailing in from nowhere with the Weeper.

This Friday, Night of the Batmen!, our adaptation of issue 13 of the comic book - after which, another blog post, featuring an apology from me to one particular fanbase that's sure to hate me when they find out what we've done (or rather, didn't do)!

Image ™ and © DC Comics

Monday, March 28, 2011

Wow, you guys really like Superman, huh?

This is a little unusual - I thought the Superman episode was pretty good and all, but now that it's aired, the response has been pretty dizzying. It got some nice write-ups at Wired, io9, Topless Robot, Newsarama and even the Onion's A.V. Club (although they listed Dana Delany as the voice of Lois (it's Sirena Irwin) and misspelled Mxyzptlk - how can you misspell Mxyzptlk?), as well as an overwhelmingly positive response in the usual places. Still, it's weird how they all seem to make grim note of the fact that the show's in its last season - let's focus on the positive, people!

If we knew how much everyone liked Superman, we would have... well, we would have done what we did, since we didn't have permission to use him until now. Anyways, there are a couple of folks working up some annotations - check 'em out! And yes, Michael Jelenic does know about a certain website, which did provide some inspiration for the story.

So I'm glad the show went over so well... I hope the rest of the season goes over half as well! And oh yeah, I guess Season One Part Two has been out on DVD for a couple weeks now, so go buy that if you haven't yet. And watch Bat-Mite this Friday at 6:30!

All characters ™ and © DC Comics

Thursday, March 24, 2011

New B:TBatB episode tomorrow!

Tomorrow night at 6:30 on Cartoon Network - this guy!

Sometimes we dig pretty deep into the deeper recesses of DC's library for some obscure heroes to team up with Batman, but this time we outdid ourselves... we went all the way back to 1939 to dig out a hero named... lemme check my notes here... Superman! Anyways, he'll be on the show tomorrow, so check it out.

Superman and Batman ™ and © DC Comics.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Bat-Mite Presents: Batman's Strangest Deleted Scenes!

Cartoon Network has announced airdates for a couple of new B:TBatB episodes, starting with Battle of the Superheroes!, which is actually the fifth episode of Season 3, airing March 25th. That's the one with Superman, but I can't say anything much about that until Warner Bros. decides to let some stuff leak out, so instead, I'll use this post to gab on at further length about Bat-Mite Presents: Batman's Strangest Cases!, which also had its airdate announced. And that airdate is...

April the First!

That's pretty much the perfect airdate for Bat-Mite. Well played, Cartoon Network!

But now that an airdate has been announced, I feel hesitant about posting any more B-MP:B'sSC spoilers. So that spoiler-filled Batboy post I was planning will have to wait, but I wanted to post something more than the news about the airdates, so here's the compromise - I'll post stuff from the Bat-Mite episode that never actually made it to the air. No spoilers in footage that isn't actually in the show, right?

Normally we don't have much in the way of deleted footage, but Bat-Mite has a knack for messing up our normal schedule one way or the other. This time around, when we finished the storyboard, we found that it was a couple minutes short of a full show, so we had to scramble to make some stuff up to patch up those gaps. We put back some of the gags that had initially been cut from the Batboy and Rubin section, James wrote the bit where Bat-Mite magically adds fight scenes to the Scooby section, I wrote a shark safety PSA, and James came up with one last thing - a commercial parody that we would have squeezed into the act break during the manga section.

First, a little history - for those who didn't live in Canada in 1987, you might have missed these department store commercials (although they were being rediscovered on the internet around the time we were working on B-MP:B'sSC).

They were directed by the amazing Greg Duffel in Toronto at his Lightbox Studio, with designs by the great Ty Templeton.

That's also Greg as the voice of Robin, by the way.

As a side note, these commercials eventually led to Greg's studio being hired to do some test animation that was used to sell a little show you may have heard of called Batman: The Animated Series.

So along with all of the other stuff, James wrote a script for our own fake commercial, and we whipped this little number up (pardon the crudeness of the drawings, I had to bang it out pretty quick)-

But then, a funny thing happened - when we added all the new stuff into the show, we were actually a minute OVER. So we cut the commercial, since it was easiest to lift out and also, it saved us from doing a bunch of new designs in an episode that already had to be completely re-designed three times over already.

That's it for now - the show will finally be on the air in a month, so everyone will be able to enjoy all the stuff's that's actually in the show, and I'll be more comfortable posting some more spoiler-heavy Bat-Mite stuff again. Superman news before that, hopefully!

Batman characters ™ and © DC Comics

Zellers logo and commercials ™ and © Zellers, probably

Zigglers logo and commercial ™ and © Warner Bros Animation, maybe?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Bat-Mite Presents: Batman's Strangest Comic Book Pages (Manga Edition)!

Sometimes people ask me how to get into animation. Mostly I encourage them to keep drawing, preferably from real life to get those fundamentals solid, and that's pretty good advice, I think. But the curmudgeon in me just wants to warn them away, because the truth of the matter is that animation is, by and large, a lot of work for very little reward.

By way of example, lets consider a sequence from Bat-Mite Presents: Batman's Strangest Cases! As a transition from Bat-Mite's lair to the manga section of the show, we had to come up with a few fake pages of a Japanese Batman comic, based on the old comics by Jiro Kuwata. Legal wouldn't let us just use scans from the originals, so we had to cobble together some fakes, made to look enough like Jiro Kuwata's art to be recognizable, but not enough to exact duplicates of the original.

So I spent a couple weeks coming up with these 6 fake pages -

-and then we sent it off to legal, who had some tiny changes. Next up, inks-

-so with the legal hurdles cleared, we got Craig Cuqro to colour the pages, and added a layer of aged paper texture from Bill Dunn. We also got some dialogue translated into Japanese by Toshi Hiruma (I can't remember what it says any more, sorry) -

 -and wrapped it all up in this cover, drawn by Lynell Forestall, inked by Robert Lacko and again coloured by Craig Cuqro and aged up by Bill Dunn -

All told, the whole process probably took about a month. Now watch it go by onscreen - 

And that's after we duplicated the cycle to extend it. So in a nutshell, we compressed a month's worth of labour into three seconds of screentime. So there's my advice for aspiring animators - always remember that animation is a medium that will drain years off of your lifespan and leave you mere snippets of footage in return.

And keep drawing!

All characters and art ™and © DC Comics

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Bat-Mite Presents: Batman's Strangest Spoilers!

I wasn't going to post anything about Bat-Mite Presents: Batman's Strangest Cases until Cartoon Network at least decided when they were going to air it for fear of spoiling things. But now that's it's aired in the UK, it's starting to spread, so anyone who wants to see it probably has. In the meantime, if you're avoiding spoilers, and even if you're not, our background supervisor Bill Dunn has started posting some of his paintings from the show. He's working chronologically, and so far he's only up to episode 2, so it's spoiler-free. Check it out here!

As for Bat-Mite,  just to be safe -


That should do it. The spoilers will be pretty light-to-non-existent here in the first B-MP:B'sSC post, but it will get spoilerier with each following post. The details are leaking out across the internet already, what with Paul Dini and Weird Al already tweeting about their involvement with it (plus, tweet-wise, I got a nice shoutout from superstar comic book writer Tom Peyer), so I'm assuming anyone reading this far has seen the episode.

First up we have a look at the posters on the wall in Bat-Mite's lair. These posters were all drawn by me, inked by Robert Lacko, and coloured by Hector Martinez. The first poster commemorates Batman's teamup with Sherlock Holmes. You might expect a nerd like me to use the cover to Detective Comics #572 -

- and know that I tried, but legal wouldn't have any of it. In fact, the closest that I could get to an image depicting a teamup between Batman and Sherlock Holmes is this -

Long time fans of the show will probably now ask, "Hey, why not just use a screengrab from Trials of the Demon!?" to which I can only say that the legal issues surrounding the use of Sherlock Holmes are complex, labyrinthine, self--contradictory and ever-changing. In short, I tried that too, and legal said no.

Next up we have the Elongated Man. I'm glad Paul Dini put him in the script, because I actually like Ralph Dibny. He gets written off as a Plastic Man ripoff, but like many characters that have been around for four decades before being needlessly slaughtered in a company-wide crossover, Ralph's character picked up a few interesting aspects over the years, like his status as the JLA's #2 detective, and his rare-for-comics idyllic marriage.  I also liked the running gag started in Justice League Europe (I think) about how all the other characters are kinda weirded out by his mystery-sniffing nose, so I tossed that into the poster.

The next three posters weren't called out in the script, but there was a lot of dialogue to cover and I wanted to keep Bat-Mite moving, so I had to make some stuff up for him to float past. Now, DC has a lot of detectives we could have used for these posters - Slam Bradley, the Crimson Avenger, Roy Raymond, Rex the Wonder Dog, and so on - but we didn't have designs for any of those guys, and this show was already pretty design heavy, so I just pulled three detectives from the characters we already had designed. Detective Chimp was a pretty obvious choice. You can see the tracks he's following transform from human to simian, so maybe they're tracking a victim of Grodd's E-Ray, or a were-ape, or something.

Our next detective is the Question - for his poster, I leaned more towards his portrayal in JLU than our show. I mean, he's still a detective and all in our show, but by that point, we'd only seen him tied up in a giant scale and breaking into Darkseid's lair on Apokolips. Here we have him sneaking around in a much more Earthbound environment, probably uncovering some nefarious underhanded crimes by a shadowy conglomerate. Or a 32nd ice cream flavour.

And finally, the Martian Manhunter helping Batman solve some sort of mystery on the moon. J'onn, of course, is a police detective in his civilian ID, and debuted in Detective Comics, so he's certainly qualified for the wall of detective teamups.

And that's that for that. Coming up, more B-MP:B'sSC posts, unless work gets crazy again, in which case, I hoped you liked this one, 'cause I won't have time for any more.

All characters and art ™ and © DC Comics, except Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes ™ and © don't even ask