Backstage - Interviews - James Tucker

WF: The first question is one I have to ask Ė Why another Batman cartoon? How did this one come about?

We wanted to do something with Batman that hadnít been done recently. Batman in recent years has been really dark and tortured and angst ridden. We wanted to do something that brought him back to his earlier roots of a friendlier more approachable Batman. Everyone tends to focus on the Rogues Gallery and with this version; we had the chance to reintroduce a great cast of characters who have been overlooked. Also, this new lighter tone gave us a way to introduce younger viewers to Batman Ė the same way we were as kids.

WF: Can you explain to the fans your basic role in the production of this series?

As the showís producer, I oversee all aspects of production, ranging from show idea development, hiring and managing production to ensure the showís overall quality. I was very involved in creating the concept and really enjoy participating in the day-to-day activities such as scriptwriting, character design, casting, and directing.

WF: After watching the first episode, I found it to be fun, light-hearted, and in the vein of DC's Silver Age comics. Why take this approach to Batman, especially with the darker version sweeping both the cartoons and the big screen right now?

Again, we really wanted to create a show that was appropriate for younger viewers and still be exciting for parents and hard-core fans. This show is a great homage to the classic Batman of the 40ís, 50ís and 60ís. There is plenty of action, great characters and gadgets. The show feels familiar and is true to its roots, but the colors and style come across as new and fresh. The good news is that there are several versions to choose from - so there truly is a Batman for everyone at any age.

WF: How do you think this show will compare to not only previous renditions of Batman, but also your previous DC Animation work? How has working on this series differed than the other DC Animated series you've worked on? This seems to be a project that you have fully embraced and made your own.

Of all the shows Iíve worked on, this one has allowed my personal love of old school Batman to shine. I loved working on all the DCUA shows from Superman through Justice League Unlimited but, by our own admission, we didnít do those shows to be overly kid-friendly. Producing Batman: The Brave and The Bold allowed me to capitalize on the influences from my first exposure to the Batman 60ís show and cartoon. From there I got into the comic books and learned there was more to him than meets the eye. When I was a kid we had these great comic book collections called 100 Page Spectaculars which featured a new Batman story followed by reprints of Batman from the 30ís, 40ís, 50ís and 60ís. I had the opportunity to learn about Batman in all his different incarnations, and they all blended into one for me. So for this show, I drew from Batmanís whole history as a hero, not just the very early year or so when he was a dark vigilante who carried a gun or the last 20 years or so since Frank Millerís Dark Knight Returns. This show has influences from ALL of Batmanís history. So for me itís a dream come true to work on this version of Batman. It was a simpler, more lighthearted version of Batman that lead me to become a passionate comics fan and I hope this show will serve the same purpose for kids today.

WF: After watching the first episode, it seems like we'll be seeing two guest-heroes an episode: one in the pre-credit sequence and another during the actual storyline. Can you tell us who we can expect to see in the first batch of Batman: The Brave and The Bold episodes, and what plans you have for at least for the first 26 episodes?

You can expect to see Blue Beetle, Green Arrow, Red Tornado and Plastic Man. Each week there will exciting new guest voice actors and new partners for Batman to team up with. We are keeping most of these secret and you will have to watch the show to find out.

WF: What types of opportunities, or road blocks, has Batman: The Brave and The Bold given you for usage of certain characters that you haven't had in previous series, such as being able to use Plastic Man, for example?

The DC universe is huge! We have literally hundreds of heroes and villains to choose from. The hardest part was really deciding which ones NOT to use. We knew early on that the Penguin, Poison Ivy, the Joker had been core characters to our earlier shows. So to change it up, our first choice was to explore other characters like Clock King, Black Manta and Gentleman Ghost. Many of the characters we brought back have not been seen since the 60ís and 70ís, or outside of the actual comic books.

WF: Was it jarring to jump to Legion of Super Heroes to Batman: The Brave and The Bold, in terms of both jumping to a different network and dealing with a different array of characters?

Legion was a difficult show to produce for many reasons. I had some growing pains initially as it was my first time being a sole producer. So it was a bit of a trial by fire, but by the end of the first season I had come to love the characters and the shows had found their voice. I think we definitely found our groove by the time we completed the ĎSuneaterí two episode story arc. It was then that we were really clear on the shows tone and we really came into our own in the second season. Iím extremely proud of the episodes and think we explored some very daring themes in that series. Hopefully that creativity will get itís due on DVD someday. With B:TBATB, there was no learning curve. I have learned how to produce shows that are true to their artistic vision and how to be flexible when the inevitable hiccups arrive. This is the show I watched as a kid, only with better stories, animation and production values. We have recreated that sense of fun and excitement for a whole new generation.

WF: Now, not to veer off-topic, but Legion of Super Heroes fans are curious about a couple things in particular. First off, can we expect full-season releases for the two season of Legion of Super Heroes on DVD? Secondly, fans are wondering what your thoughts were when the series was let go after 26 episodes, and what plans did you have for the future seasons of the series?

Well as I said, I had grown to love Legion of Superheroes. Michael Jelenic and I were very attached to the second season and had many plans for the 3rd season, so switching over to Batman was daunting at first. It wasnít until Sam Register specified that this show was to be based on The Brave and the Bold that I got really excited about it. With The Brave and The Bold, I was free to explore all the different types of ways Batman has been portrayed and create a broad range of stories. Iíve worked on shows with Batman as a character for most of my career but this was an opportunity to do something different tonally with the character that hadnít been done before.

As far as Legion goes, Iím not aware of any plans for Season sets. Weíve not been approached to do any supplemental features either. But it is a great idea. Unfortunately, that kids programming block ended before we could produce all of the great stories we had been developing. When the timeslot was sold off it pretty much ended any chance of us continuing with Legion series. As far as future story arcs, we would most likely have devoted time to Brainiac 5ís quest to redeem himself after the events of the season 2 finale. I personally wanted to introduce characters we hadnít had a chance to yet. Legion simply had too many characters to do justice to two seasons. Michael and I had also talked about Ferro Ladís twin brother showing up in an adaptation of ďThe Ghost of Ferro Ladí story, and I wanted to introduce Wildfire into the Legion as a replacement of Kell-El. Legions seemed to work better with a loose cannon of the team.

WF: And, for one final off-topic question, fans are still wondering if we'll ever see the Justice League Unlimited again! Has there been any new developments on the Justice League Unlimited direct-to-video ďWorld's CollideĒ feature, or on the property at all?

No plans that Iím at liberty to talk about. But it does come up periodically on our Ďto-doí list.

WF: Okay, let's get back to your current project - Batman: The Brave and The Bold! I have a fan submitted question that I'd like you to take a look at and reply to, if you can. Here it is: ďWill see Hal Jordan, Ray Palmer, Ted Kord and Ronnie Raymond? Or Spectre, Hawkman and Hawkwoman? What about Batgirl, Penguin, Joker, Catwoman or Riddler? Also, I would like to see a tribute issue #28 of the The Brave and The Bold 28 comic, with Batman, Hal, Barry, Diana, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman and Superman VS Starro! Is this possible?Ē I realize that's a loaded question, but, any response?

Hoo-boy. Yes, No, Maybe, No. No. No. No. No. No. Maybe. Maybe. Yes. No to the tribute issue, but Iíll have to research that since it sounds interesting. We donít have permission at this time to use Wonder Woman or Superman.

WF: Now, based on the available artwork, this show seems to feature a host of characters with an array of different designs from different eras of DC's long comic history. For example, we have the classic Green Arrow look, but we also have the new Blue Beetle design. How did you decide on a look for this show? What inspired you?

This show is not set in any particular era. The series was inspired by the 100 Page Spectacular comics of the Ď70s where different versions of the same character appeared in new stories and reprints, so you would read a story about Batman set in the 70ís but the back up stories were reprints from all the different eras. The fact that Iím using the current Blue Beetle with the original Green Arrow is purely a taste issue on my part. The Jaime Reyes/Blue Beetle was a character that tested through the roof with kids so that was a no brainer. And the lefty, bearded Green Arrow had appeared in both Justice League and the Batman, so I didnít want to go there again. I decided on the look of the show from trial and error. I hundreds of sketches showing possible directions the show could have taken before I settled on the one that just clicked. I had previously storyboarded and created character designs for a segment based on the 50ís Batman for a ĎBatman: The New Adventuresí episode called ďLegends of the Dark KnightĒ and it was the most fun I had ever working as a storyboard artist. So when this opportunity came around, I went back to that as an inspiration. I decided to try to attempt a thicker ink line around the characters to make them look more like old school comic book characters. This was something we contemplated doing on the ĎLegends of the Dark Knightí segment, but decided against it because the animation studios back then werenít nearly as versatile as they are now. In fact, it was a huge concern of ours when we asked the studios to do it since for so long we felt it was something that couldnít be done well in an action adventure show. Thankfully, the studios have been amazing and the animation weíve been getting back is the most consistent Iíve ever seen on any series Iíve worked on. For color design of the show, I worked with my lead BG painter, Bill Dunn, and Craig Cuqro, the character and prop color stylist, on a new brighter color palette for the show thatís exciting and pleasing to the eye.

WF: And, naturally, fans want to know Ė can we expect to see Batman's supporting cast and big-time baddies pop in? What about Bruce himself? It seems as though we're given a hint in the first episode in what we can expect to see, in terms of Batman's supporting cast.

Every week Batman will team up with his friends Blue Beetle, Green Arrow, Aquaman and countless others will get a chance to uphold justice and go on great adventures. Batman is still based in Gotham City, but for this series, he will travel all over the world, into outer space and even under the sea. The one thing to keep in mind is that while we donít see Bruce Wayne, we will hear him in voice over telling us what Batman is really thinking. Itís a fun way for Batman to show his sense of irony and humor.

WF: So, James, as we wrap this up, any final thoughts on Batman: The Brave and The Bold? What can fans expect when they flip on their television on November 14th?

Everyone can expect a lot of action and great animation featuring stories with some of their favorite heroes.

WF: Is there anything you'd like to say to the staff and readers at The World's Finest?

I have really enjoyed working on this series and it has a fantastic new look that fans and reviewers are excited about. We hope your readers all enjoy the show and be sure to go online and check out http://dcherozone.kidswb.com/ for more great stuff from Batman: The Brave and The Bold.

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