One of the many things that I was excited for at the New York Comic Con this year was the opportunity to sit down and do roundtable interviews with the cast and crew of some of the upcoming DC animated projects. The first set of interviews was pertaining to the upcoming DC Universe 10th Anniversary Collection boxset on Blu-ray. This massive collection contains 30 movies up to and including “Batman & Harley Quinn” as well as the “DC Showcase” animated shorts, a collector’s art book and a ton of extra features. I recently received a DVD of all of the bonus material for review so look for that shortly.
Our first interview of the day was with Vanessa Marshall who not only voiced Wonder Woman in a handful of movies from this set but is also known as the voice of Hera Sydulla from “Star Wars: Rebels”.
Vanessa talked about how big of an honor it was to voice Wonder Woman and what it meant to her to portray her in a heroic way and as a role model for a younger audience.
I asked her since she’s voiced Wonder Woman for a few movies in the DC animated universe, what was the most fun that she had while recording for a particular movie?
“It’s interesting because Wonder Woman on (Justice League) Crisis on Two Earths and “Flashpoint Paradox” both of those films dealt with alternate worlds and it was interesting to see in “Flashpoint Paradox” Wonder Woman was actually quite evil but that was the whole point that the universe was flipped over and it changed everything around. It didn’t make a lot of sense that she was being so mean to Aquaman and to the children but it just felt counter to her but that was the whole point and what made it so fun.”
She also talked about being a fan of Wonder Woman in the comics long before she landed the role in the animated films. There were some discussions of favorite comic books and the role that got away but I couldn’t help myself and decided to change the subject and ask a question about her role as Hera on “Star Wars; Rebels”.
I asked Ms. Marshall that if they ever cast Hera Syndulla in the live action Star Wars universe if she would be disappointed if they cast someone other than her?
“No, I want them to do whatever is best for the narrative. I would be honored to play it but the thing is with Star Wars because it spans now over so many years it’s quite possible that the Hera that they would might be senile or she might be two years old, I mean different people have played Obi Wan and the narrative would be the most important thing so I wouldn’t be pissed off if they chose someone else. It’s also not really my deal…I’m more of a quite voiceover kind of person.”
Next up to our table was co/producer and writer Alan Burnett who has been working on the DC animated universe since “Batman the Animated Series”. Mr. Burnett is recently retired from the showbiz industry and is taking one more round of press tours to promote the 10th Anniversary Collection.
He talked about his reasons for retiring and he life without dealing with the grind of a grueling work schedule as well as the differences with writing for “Super Friends” as compared to “Batman:TAS”. I didn’t get a chance to ask him anything personally at this sit down but it was great to just listen to the stories from someone who has worked on animated television for most of his adult life.
Following Mr. Burnett was James Tucker who is the supervising producer/animator for the DC animated films.
He was asked how he ended up getting involved on “Batman: TAS” and the DC animated films as well as his favorite characters to animate.
I had the chance to ask him about the differences in animation and technology from when he started in the animation business compared to now.
“They still animated by hand but the actual coloring is done digitally whereas it used to be done by hand with paint and individual drawing and cells. From a pre-production standpoint, we actually do the storyboards digitally whereas in the past you would end up with a thick pile of storyboards. Now you do it all digitally and you can literally just animate it as you’re doing the digital storyboards. It gives you a little more freedom. I wouldn’t say it’s easier but even with technology it creates new problems and issues. I did animated originally as an up-and-comer where now a lot of people in the industry haven’t animated and there’s some information that you need that I think helps you as an animator to help you understand everything else in the process better and even if you’re a storyboard artist who hasn’t animated, you don’t quite understand what you’re asking people to do overseas. If you have this big elaborate action sequence that was hard to draw in still pictures, it’s still going to be twice as hard for an animator overseas to draw. You learn to be more responsible when you’ve animated before.”
He also discussed the opportunity and slight hesitation to revisit the “Death of Superman” two-part animated movies which is one of the next projects following the release of the 10th Anniversary Collection.
Jim Krieg, who is also a writer and producer for many of the films in the collection, sat down with us next. He had a display of the boxset and showed off the beautiful interior artwork and Blu-Ray sleeves. He discussed the collectability of the collection as well as VHS tapes and 8-tracks.
One of my favorite parts of the recently released “Batman and Harley Quinn” animated movie was that Swamp Thing was included and had a large role the outcome of the movie. I asked Jim if there were any issues or complications with his legal rights due to other studios having the rights to the animated series and the live-action TV show…and if not does that mean that we’ll be seeing more of Swamp Thing in the DC animated universe in the future?
“I was afraid that was going to happen, we really wanted to have that scene in and it’s pretty fun and we’re glad it happened. Swamp Thing also appears in the “Justice League: Action” cartoon and he’s voiced by Mark Hammil. All of those characters, unless there is some specific outstanding legal issue, everybody’s fair game now. So your favorite obscure comic character, your favorite deep cut, there’s no reason not to expect to see them. It’s such an animation boom right now that there are not enough teams to do everything that we would like to do.”
We then got a chance to speak to Jason O’Mara who voiced Batman/Bruce Wayne in a half dozen of the DC animated films including “Son of Batman”, “Justice League: Dark” and “Justice League vs Teen Titans”. He has also appeared on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “The Man in the High Castle”.
He mentioned that he was and is such a big Batman fan since growing up watching the Adam West iteration. He was also asked the obvious question of what it’s like to follow up voicing Batman after the great Kevin Conroy.
I asked him if he had the chance to work on any particular favorite Batman story, what would he want to voice Batman in?
“It’s tough to say because I got to play him in so many different storylines as well as his own stories, and I also get to do “Justice League: Dark” which is a whole other thing as well as “Justice League: Throne of Atlantis”, but I feel like I’m getting to play all of the stories that I would want to play with him. I’m a sucker for the original four villains and I would think that would be a thrill to do the New 52 Batman that is expanding that universe.”
It was now time to sit down and chat with the man that made the entire DC animated universe possible with the creation of “Batman: The Animated Series” and the shows and animated movies that followed…Mr. Bruce Timm.
He talked about some projects that didn’t get done in the first ten years and what to look forward to in the next ten years of the DC animated universe.
I mentioned the possibility of Red Rain Batman/Vampire Batman and he commented on the possibility of it happening.
“Red Rain Batman is an interesting idea. Here’s the thing about that, we’re just dipping our toes in the Elseworlds waters with “Gotham By Gaslight” which comes out early next year…if it does really well I’m sure that there will be a lot more interest in home video with exploring more Elseworlds with some of the other characters. Speeding Bullets was a really good graphic novel, Red Son was like that so (knocks on the table)…we’ll see.”
I also brought up DC holding the rights to the Masters of the Universe comic book property and what the possibility would be to combine the two universes much like they did recently in the comic book with “DC Universe vs Masters of the Universe” into an animated film. He was a little surprised that I remembered that he had worked on some of the Masters of the Universe mini-comics early in his career.
“Weirdly enough no, but I wouldn’t say that it’s entirely impossible. We have talked about doing more crossovers with other non-DC characters with Justice League and Batman and He-Man has maybe come up in conversation but no one was really like “oh yeah, we gotta do that”, but there’s nothing currently in the pipeline.”