|Backstage - Interviews - Ben Jones
First up, explain to the readers your role in Batman:
The Brave and The Bold in as much detail as
As a director, my job is to oversee an episode from the
storyboard stage through to when it gets shipped
overseas for animation, then to help tinker with it when
it comes back.
WF: "The Rise of the Blue Beetle" is both the first
episode of this series you directed, and the first
episode of the series. Did you find it difficult to have
to direct an episode that basically introduced the
premise and format of the series on top of finding a
directing style for this series?
Actually, for a premiere episode, this one was
relatively painless. James had a lot of very specific
things he wanted for the show from day one. Fortunately,
most of the crew has worked together before, so we could
all start knowing what the others were capable of.
Story-wise, there is a lot to introduce, but weíre going
on the assumption that people already know who Batman
is, so that partís done. For most of the other
characters, weíre really just focusing on their
interactions with Batman, so that streamlines their
introductions as well. Since most of the show is
filtered through Batmanís perspective, we can introduce
new concepts quickly by just putting them onscreen and
letting the audience know whatís going on by Batmanís
reaction to them.
WF: Batman: The Brave and The Bold seems to
work on a system of three rotating directors - you,
Michael Chang and Brandon Vietti. How do you decide
which episode to do? How does your directing style
differ from Chang's and Vietti's?
Sometimes a director might request a story with a
certain character, but often the realities of the
schedule make that impossible to work out. For example,
I was looking forward to directing a story starring my
favorite character (the Red Tornado), but the script
wasnít finished in time, so it went to Brandon, who did
a great job with it anyways. Outside of any special
requests, itís just a standard rotation.
As for how my directing style differs, I seem to have
been pegged as ďthe weird oneĒ, which I think is meant
to be complimentary.
WF: What did you look toward for inspiration in this
series, such as Dick Sprang's work? Did your previous
directing work come into play when it came time to start
directing for this series?
The 50ís and 60ís influence is predominant, but weíre
trying to draw from all kinds of sources, including more
modern comics, other animated shows, and some
live-action stuff, in order to keep it from getting too
As far as my previous directing, there are things that
Iíve leaned on a bit in the past that donít work
stylistically for this show, so Iíve been forced to pick
up a few new tricks, which is always good from an
artistic growth perspective.
WF: If I recall, "The Rise of the Blue Beetle" isn't
the first premiere episode you've directed. You also
directed the Legion of Super Heroes episode "Man
of Tomorrow." What was your experience like working on a
more light-hearted Superman series, and how does that
James Tucker series differ from this one?
Legion was fun for me just because it was the Legion of
Superheroes, who Iíve liked since they guest-starred in
Justice League of America #147 (yes, I did have to look
that up). That was a trickier premiere to direct simply
because it was originally written as a two-part episode
but got compressed into one episode, so a lot of it had
to be cut.
As far as differences between the two series, Batmanís
been a little easier in that thereís more of an
established basis for animating Batman. I know it seems
at first like weíre veering pretty far from whatís been
done before, but at least we have that as a foundation
to build from, whereas with Legion we had to make up a
lot from scratch.
WF: You've also worked on Justice League: The New
Frontier, Justice League, and Teen
Titans, other DC Animation properties. Why do you
think DC Comics has been so successful in translating
their properties from page to screen?
I think it boils down to the characters Ė some of them
have lasted almost 70 years through various permutations
and are still instantly recognized worldwide, so there
must be something to them that people respond to.
WF: And now, to swing this back to Batman: The
Brave and The Bold, after "The Rise of the Blue
Beetle," what other episodes will we see you directing
I donít think I can give out too many specific details,
except to say that I will be directing every third
episode, and seem to have randomly landed a lot of
episodes with Green Arrow. Down the road, there will be
a Bat-Mite episode written by Paul Dini that Iím really
looking forward to, and after that, an episode that has
an element I have wanted to do since season three of
WF: Outside of Batman: The Brave and The Bold,
what other projects are you currently working on?
Iím afraid that Batman hasnít left me a lot of time for
other projects (heís very demanding). That might change
now that the second season (or at least my part in it)
is coming to a close, but thereís nothing specific
mapped out yet.
WF: Any final words on Batman: The Brave and The
Bold - or specifically, any final words on "The Rise
of the Blue Beetle" - as we head toward the premiere?
Hopefully, the show will speak for itself Ė everybody,
please check it out!
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