Q & A & A
Batman Beyond was my first in-house storyboarding job. I was brought on to the Superman crew, worked on one episode, and then it was announced we would be switching over to a “young Batman” show. (It was rumored this was at the request of the toy company looking for ideas for new toys. As I recall, not many Batman Beyond toys were actually produced …) I remember a list of possible show titles going around … the favorite at first was “Batman Tomorrow” But that was going to be a problem with advertising: “Watch Batman Tomorrow next week!”
The best lesson I learned (or worst lesson, depending on your point of view) was to punch up the script. My favorite example of this was on an episode called “Plague.” The young Batman teams up with Stalker to track down False Face. The clues lead them to a hidden Kobra base in a warehouse. We had already done several warehouses with boxes and palettes. I wanted to do something more unique for the introduction of the Kobra baddies. I talked it over with my director and we turned the warehouse into a hi-tech, James Bond villain type facility with lots of cobra imagery. I thought it made Kobra seem like a bigger threat … and more cool.
Explaining the image at right, which is the old Bruce, Terry (the young Batman), and Max: In the 2nd season of Batman Beyond, one of Terry’s classmates figures out he is the new Batman. Max became a big part of the show, helping him in both his personas. I really liked Max and had fun drawing her. I know it is too obvious and not really in her character, but I wanted her to become Robin to Terry’s Batman. I got this request from Monti to draw the Terry Batman and Max together. I threw in Old Man Wayne just for fun. (I never did get the hang of drawing him. I had a lot of fun with that character … even though he does spend a lot of time sitting at that big computer.)
This Spider-Man looks really young, and reminds me a bit of Mark Bagley’s work on Ultimate Spider-Man (a newer version in which Peter Parker was again in high school). Do you like Peter best as a kid/student, or as the young adult he is today?
I was working on “Spectacular Spider-Man” at the time. This design is my attempt to come close to Sean “Cheeks” Galloway’s designs. I enjoy just about every incarnation of Spider-Man. I loved him on “Electric Company” when I was in pre-school. I loved “Spider-man and his Amazing Friends” when I was in elementary school. I loved the Spider-man movies with Toby Maguire. (Well, maybe not the third one so much …)
[I was gonna say ... Awesome casting on Gwen Stacy, though.]
Anyway, I like him in school, out of school, married, not married … as long as he knows that “with great power come great responsibility.” I do get tired of the same old villains, so I was really thrilled with J. Michael Straczynski’s run on Amazing Spider-Man. He came up with a new mythology for Spidey and introduced lots of cool new villains. I really was blown away by how he used Spider-Man to address the real-world nightmare of the 9/11/2001 terrorist attack.
I liked the early JMS issues, but actually trying to graft that mystical crap onto Peter’s all-science origin? And then the later stuff? Nnnno thank you. Bonus question: Your favorite Spider-Man artist?
That’s a tough one. I think Spider-Man has brought out the best in many artists. Of course, the man who started it all, Steve Ditko probably deserves the top spot. (Although I have heard in some places that Jack Kirby did the cover for the first Spider-Man story.) Of course, John Romita really defined Spider-Man at the time I started to read. (I think he was doing the art for the daily newspaper strips at the time.) Other Spider-Man artists I love: Ross Andru (especially for the Superman vs. Spider-Man cross-over), John Romita Jr. (especially for his issues with J. Michael Straczynski), and I am totally addicted to Humbero Ramos, the current Spider-Man artist.
John Romita Sr. for the win, in my book. Okay, next: What am I looking at? The image file is named “Comrade Hero Crowd.” Are you now or have you ever been a Communist?
This is a character named Comrade Hero created by James Hansard for the “City of Heroes” game. He has commissioned several artists to do pin-ups of his character. In fact, it looks like there is a comic book of him now.
Anyway, I wanted to try doing a propaganda poster. I found a good one with Lenin and had Comrade Hero take his place. Am I a communist? I think in a perfect world, that would be great … everybody together for the common good. In reality, humans are flawed and communism doesn’t seem to work that well. (Although, this democracy thing is going off the rails a bit too …)
This Superman/Lois wedding image is fantastic. I’d love to see it colored (hint). What do you think of DC’s recent image to reset history so that Clark and Lois are not married–aren’t even a couple–anymore?
I am behind on my comic book reading. I have only read the first issue of Action Comics … and I liked it very much. Of course, I expect Lois to end up with Clark at some point … it just has to be. If they kill Lois in issue 2, I will be very upset.
[Spoiler: They didn't.]
The funny thing about the “New 52″ is that many of them don’t feel like “new” comics … they seem to require some knowledge of the history of these characters. But, for some reason, Action Comics DOES feel new and fun and cool, so yeah…I’ll keep reading.
Bonus: How’d you feel when they did the same thing to Peter Parker and Mary-Jane Watson?
I don’t even remember what exactly happened to Spider-man. It pissed me off and I stopped reading. (What? Stopped reading Spider-Man?) I feel pretty protective of stories I liked (such as Peter and Mary Jane getting together), so I don’t really like newer stories that re-write history or break relationships I have enjoyed. (But I am a hypocrite … I love time travel stories and changing past and future …) Sometimes the changes seem cynical. (“We need to appeal to young, single readers, so our characters should be young and single.”) I realize Superman and Spider-Man will probably fall in love with Lois and Mary Jane and get married again. And after a few years, they will re-set everything so they can do it all over again. Sometimes I like Hellboy the best … he is a character totally controlled by the creator. His journey through the comics seems very natural and “real,” a progression I can believe in.
Liking Hellboy best is a totally valid response.
You boarded the big fight scene at the end of the Warner Animation Wonder Woman movie. (For those not familiar, the storyboard artist lays out how the action will look on the screen, selecting camera angles, adding beats or entire events to the script. The director then makes added changes.) What was the hardest part of the scripted scene to do storyboards for?
The hardest part was trying to understand the layout of Washington, D.C., without ever having been there. If I was working on that again, I would definitely use Google Earth!
My favorite Wonder Woman scene is the big finale of the movie. The Blue-Ray also comes with my favorite episode of Justice League, “Paradise Lost.” In part 2 of that, I have Wonder Woman and Hippolyta fighting Hades and an army of zombies. It was a blast! (I must admit, the animation for the Justice League episodes doesn’t hold up that well on the blue ray, especially after just watching the movie which has really great animation! Still, they pulled off some really challenging action I called for.)
I haven’t figured out how to do it, but I’d like to do a Wonder Woman poster where she is deflecting a bullet back at cam. In the bullet, you can see a reflection of the villain firing a gun. Still working on that one…
Oh, hell, now I really want that poster.
Followup question: This image is insane–what possessed you?
I was trying to do a movie poster for the Justice League “Paradise Lost” episode. I was also trying to learn how to ink with a brush. Some of it is cool … but it is mostly a big mess. The line weights aren’t right … too many zombies … it is just kinda confusing.
Check these out: Shrinking Violet and a cute shot of Supergirl and Brainiac 5 … You worked on eight episodes of the Legion of Superheroes cartoon, unless IMDB is a liar. Are you a big Legion fan? What was your favorite part of the animated series?
Jeez, I forgot that I showed you those. That was a long time ago. I still love that run, too.
I loved that book. I loved it so much, I kept reading it long after I cared about it anymore. Most of the time when I read it, I wish Giffen was back writing it.
The Shrinking Violet image is based on the Legion of Super Heroes animated series designs. The Supergirl and Brainiac 5 is based on an episode of Justice League Unlimited, “Far From Home,” (Sadly, I didn’t work on any Unlimited episode … but I am a huge fan!) My favorite part of the Legion series was the designs … I really liked them, but couldn’t draw them quite right. I was hoping for a long run on the show that would introduce dozens of Legionnaires … oh well.
Like to draw Star Wars, do you, hmm? Slightly younger Yoda of prequels is this, yesss. Jumped around like a tick on a hotplate, did that Yoda. Liked this scene, did you, or horrible did you find it? (If the latter, how would you have boarded a Yoda action sequence?)
This particular Yoda is based on the action figure I had as a kid. It came with a cloth robe and an orange snake wrapped around his neck. I added the light saber. So … Yoda, to me, should always be a puppet. You either love the puppet or hate it. I loved it. I was not a big fan of the CGI Yoda … and definitely not happy with his fighting style.
There was a comic book series I really liked called “Star Wars Tales.” It had a bunch of short stories, some serious, some funny … it could be at different time periods, before, during or after the movies. My favorite is a short story in issue 6 drawn by Scott Morse. Remember at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back, a Star Destroyer sends out Probe-droids to find the Rebels? This story follows a Probe to Dagobah.
That is an awesome story idea.
The probe looks around, blasting some native wildlife … then it spots a little humanoid silhouette. Then the Probe-droid is sliced to pieces by a flying light saber. The saber returns to its owner, Yoda.
Really? When I saw the second movie, that’s exactly how I wanted Yoda’s fight to go–he doesn’t move, he just levitates the saber. It’s so obviously the right call. I could think of that, Scott Morse could think of that, but no one at LucasFilm?
Yeah, I thought, “Of course! Yoda would never have to move … he would just control his sabre with his mind.” I loved it.
You have way more sketches of DC characters (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman) than of Marvel heroes (Spider-Man, Iron Man, X-Men, etc.). Is it just because Warner Animation has kept DC heroes on your mind so much in recent years? (Yet you’ve worked on a number of Marvel shows, too …) Or are you just more a DC fan?
Ha! For a long time, I was more of a Marvel fan. Then I started to read more DC stuff … especially Swamp Thing, Animal Man and Sandman. Lately it has been more Marvel. (I love Captain America, FF, X-Force…) It goes back and forth. I am working my way through reading the “New 52″ … maybe I’ll be in the DC court again. Most of the time I stick with a writer or artist.
This Wolverine is based on the X-Men: Evolution designs. My favorite episode I worked on, “Grim Reminder,” pits Wolverine against Kitty Pryde. (My favorite issues of X-men had the fun loving, innocent Kitty hanging out with old man Logan. Later, in Wolverine’s own comic, they re-created this vibe with Jubilee hanging out with Logan. They even gave her a yellow trenchcoat, which to me, made Wolverine and Jubilee look like Batman and Robin. (You know…grim, drab, older hero with young, wise-cracking, brightly-colored sidekick…)
So DC is big in Iowa. Got it. Last question: What the hell is this?
This is Ashlee’s dog. Unfortunately, the photo I got to work from wasn’t very clear…so I just made a really cartoony dog and hoped. I think she liked it. I hope she liked it …
Thus ends our first enhanced interrogation of the artist. But wait–there’s a comments section right below this! Any questions?
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