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Backstage - Interviews - James Tucker

In this exclusive interview, James Tucker, Producer and Lead Character Designer for the acclaimed Batman: The Brave and The Bold discusses the remaining second season episodes of Batman: The Brave and The Bold, what’s coming for the third and final season, thoughts on censorship, the video game, and much more.

Please note that some of these questions were asked before the September 2010 premiere of the two-part “The Seige of Starro” Batman: The Brave and The Bold episode.

The World’s Finest: Does “The Siege of Starro” set-up future stories for the series? What can we expect in the coming weeks on Batman: The Brave and The Bold?

James Tucker:
After the Starro story is done, we get back to our usual anything goes type of stories. We have a great Flash family story coming up that explores the idea of legacy heroes, which is one of the aspects of DC characters that I love. On other shows, we’d shy away from saying there was more than one version of any of the characters, but on Batman: The Brave and The Bold, I love the idea that we’re embracing the whole geeky DC universe of multiple characters with sharing the same name! The Flash story was a lot of fun and will feature an Outsiders teaser where they’ll finally appear in the traditional costumes comic fans know and love.

After that, we do our take on The Doom Patrol. It will be a treat for Doom Patrol fans because almost every scene has some bit of Doom Patrol trivia in it. We were really pleased with how it turned out. Also, the teaser features none other than Batgirl (Babs) and her first encounter with the Caped Crusader.

I’m not exactly sure of the order of the shows that follow since they’ve been finished for quite a while now, but they will include our adaptation - and I use that term very loosely - of “Emperor Joker.” It doesn’t have anything much in common with the comic book story other than Joker gets magical powers, but it features the return of Batmite to Batman: The Brave and The Bold. And, yes, The Joker sings!

Our version of the Birds of Prey debuts in an episode titled “The Mask of Matches Malone.” The teaser has a character who’s a personal favorite of mine: Black Orchid. I always thought she was really cool visually, so it was a blast to bring her to animation. And, yes, there is a song in this episode as well.

WF: It has been stated that Batman: The Brave and The Bold is about to get very weird and very strange, with some very wacky episodes coming this season and next. Beyond the set of new episodes set to air this fall on Cartoon Network, any hints on what we can expect beyond that? Care to expand?

JT:
I think “wacky” was too strong a word. “Hi-concept” would be the word I’d prefer. The episode that most typifies that will no doubt be “Batmite Presents: Batman’s Strangest Cases” since it’s a huge departure from a show that makes taking huge departures the norm. Basically, Batmite hosts an episode and screens his favorite lost gems of Batman lore. So we start with an adaptation of the famous Mad Magazine Batman parody Batboy and Rubin. We basically translated the story panel for panel and it’s a lot of fun. Non-comic fans may not ‘get’ it at all, but we did it anyway.

The next segment features a Batman done in the style of the ‘60s Batman manga produced by Jiro Kuwata. Basically, we did a “What if this Bat-manga had been made into an anime series in the mid ‘60s?’ We tried our best to recreate that look of a ‘60s anime show.

Finally, one of my more early memories of Batman on television was the Scooby-Doo Mysteries that featured Batman and Robin. So, after I got tired of Michael Jelenic’s constant nagging to do a Scooby-Doo appearance on Batman: The Brave and The Bold, we decided to create our own version of classic Scooby-Doo featuring the Dynamic Duo. We even added another very special guest star that I won’t name right now. This episode took almost as much work as “Mayhem of the Music Meister” but I think the finished show was worth it.

WF: With a set number of episodes remaining, meaning you know how many episodes you and your crew have to play with, does that change how you’re going to approach them? Can you now set-up a specific “final episode” of the Batman: The Brave and The Bold, for example? Perhaps you’ll make sure certain episodes are told? Any you can share?

JT:
I have mixed feelings about series finales. Shows with locked down endings can limit their timelessness with viewers whereas a show that doesn’t have a definite end can be almost immortal in the minds of the public. When we knew we probably weren’t going beyond Season 3, we knew there were certain stories we wanted to tell before we ran out of time, such as a Superman-themed episode as well as a “Trinity” episode [with Wonder Woman and Superman], and even though we’re close to recording our final episode, I still get ideas for episodes that I wish we had more time to do. But I never say never, so who knows? I may still get a chance to do them down the line.

WF: The first 52 issues are wrapping up on Cartoon Network, with only a handful remaining to air over the next few weeks. What can fans expect in episode #52, and what is the episode title?

JT:
I’m not sure what episode will actually air, but the last one in the production order was “The Malicious Mr. Mind”. Obviously, it’s Marvel family themed episode. It’s a fun, action-packed episode befitting the featured characters and feature the introduction of The Monster Society of Evil. Originally I wanted to call it “Meet the Marvels,” but thought better of it given that they’re DC characters!

WF: Cartoon Network recently pulled the episode "The Mask of Matches Malone" due to re-editing the 'Bird of Prey' song sequence for content, and is slated to air said episode at a later date. Is this the first time this has happened on the series? What is your train of thought when you learn that an episode has to be re-edited to get it past BS&P? Will we ever see the 'uncut' version of this episode?

JT:
After the song premiered in Australia and was so heavily commented via the message boards online, I assumed there would be some changes to it before it aired here. As it stands now, only one shot was altered and I really think it’s an improvement. When Michael Jelenic wrote the song for the episode, our intention was to do a ‘Cole Porter’-type song, fun, sophisticated and with clever wordplay. So I see anything that adds to the wit of the song as an improvement. The new shot is just better across the board and I wish I had storyboarded it that way to begin with. When I think about the re-edit that had to be done on the first version of the Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker DTV based due to censorship, I don’t consider this a big deal. As far as if we’ll ever see the uncut version? Well, I have my copy.

WF: Would you consider doing a direct-to-video Batman: The Brave and The Bold animated feature? If so, what type of story do you think would be the best for it?

JT:
I would love to do a direct-to-video for Batman: The Brave and The Bold! In fact, I really won’t consider the series really finished until we’ve done one. I feel there’s still a good deal of juice left in the show and that there’s definitely room for a DTV. At the end of second season Michael Jelenic and I were talking about what we’d do if asked. At the time we were thinking using Superman and Wonder Woman for a direct-to-video but since then the rights have cleared, thanks to DC’s Legal department, and they’re are appearing in Season 3. We even toyed with the idea of doing another full-scale musical. At the longer running time, that would be fun. “Mayhem of the Music Meister” was just the warm up. And of course, I’d want to cram as many guest stars in it as possible. But as of today we have not been approached about doing a DTV. If the sales of the series volumes do well perhaps we will. Fingers crossed!

WF: Heading into the final 13 episodes, episodes #53 - 65, how far into production are you on them? When can we start to see them and do you have any specific goals in mind for these last Batman: The Brave and The Bold stories?

JT:
I just finished editing our second episode yesterday, on November 3rd, 2010, so the post production process is just beginning. I have no idea when they ultimately will see air. That’s Cartoon Network’s call. As far as any specific goals, we didn’t go into this season with an agenda. There isn’t a season arc, per se. With only 13 episodes to go, we just wanted each episode to be totally unexpected and different from the one that came before it. So expect the unexpected!

WF: To step off-topic for a sec, and to plug the new (and awesome) Batman: The Brave and The Bold – The Videogame, who from your creative team worked on the videogame? Did it eat into the show’s production? What type of hand did you have in the game? And…have you had the chance to give it a spin?

JT:
Well, I wasn’t involved with the game at all. I really was too busy producing the series. But we met with great team who produced the game at Warner Brothers Interactive and I knew it was in good hands. They totally understood the tone of the show from the start, so I totally stayed out of the production of the game. I know that Michael Jelenic wrote and Ben Jones and Mike Goguen, our directors, directed and storyboarded the online trailer for the game and it was hilarious. I love looking at it! And yes, I actually went out and bought a Wii, just so I could see for myself what kind of job they did and I was blown away. Absolutely loved it, and I’m not much of a video game guy, so that’s saying a lot. They totally nailed the feel of the show and in fact it felt like I was playing an episode of the series. I hope that even if we aren’t going to have a fourth season, that someone decides to continue making more of the games based on the show.

WF: To keep off-topic for a second, is it too early to ask for hints on the next Batman CGI animated series you are working on?

James
: Way too early!

WF: To wrap things up, can you give us one last plug for Batman: The Brave and The Bold? Why should we tune in on Fridays for it?

JT:
Tune into Batman: The Brave and The Bold because it’s good, clean, unpretentious, All-American (and the rest of the world and known galaxy) fun!

The World's Finest would like to thank James Tucker for participating in this Q & A.

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