EDITOR’S NOTE: Before you all scream at once, “WHAT THE HURM IS THIS POOPIN’ CRAP?!?! WHERE THE FIG ARE MY AICN COMICS REVIEWS!?!?!?! Just to let you know, you are not going crazy. Yes, this is Wednesday and AICN COMICS: SHOOT THE MESSENGER is usually our Monday feature for interviews, previews, and news, but due to personal issues, the column was delayed until today. Our regular comic book review column was also delayed this week for the same reasons. Next week, the world will return to normal and you’ll get your weekly dose of @$$Hole Reviews as usual next Wednesday. But instead of taking a complete bye week, we wanted to give you something to Talkback about. If you like what you see here, be sure to check back every Monday for more interviews, news, and previews in our weekly SHOOT THE MESSENGER column. Enjoy!
What’s SHOOT THE MESSENGER?
Well, AICN COMICS: SHOOT THE MESSENGER is your weekly one stop shop for comic book news that’s dropped in the previous week. Thanks to Newsarama, CBR, Wizard, etc. for reporting it as it breaks. Click on the links for the original stories. This column cuts the crap to run down all the vital information for those of you who don’t follow it as it comes in, and serves it all up with that special ingredient of @$$y goodness. It’s also the place for interviews, previews, and special reports.
Hey folks, Ambush Bug back again with three big Q & @’s for all of you putting the messenger in your sights this week.
AMBUSH BUG INTERVIEWS DC EDITOR JANN JONES
Let’s start off with an interview I did with DC editor Jann Jones. Jann is the brainchild behind such comics as TINY TITANS, BILLY BATSON & THE MAGIC OF SHAZAM!, the upcoming SUPERGIRL: COSMIC ADVENTURES IN THE 8th GRADE, and of course, the reason this interview came to pass in the first place, Keith Giffen’s AMBUSH BUG: YEAR NONE. Jann has re-energized DC’s kids line and played a huge part in putting the fun back in funny books. Jann was nice enough to answer a few of my questions about her role as editor, what makes things funny, the formation of the DC Kids line, and of course Ambush Bug. Throughout this interview, Jann and DC were nice enough to give us a preview of AMBUSH BUG: YEAR NONE #2. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge them. Enjoy!
JANN JONES (JJ): Well as you know, Ambush Bug is the epitome of pure awesomeness. For me, it was a chance to work on one of the characters that got me back into the comic book world. Oh and the fact I would get to work with the original team of Keith and Robert sure didn't hurt.
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): Let's start out right away with Ambush Bug. You were one of the loudest voices in getting this miniseries underway. What is it about Ambush Bug that prompted such an effort to get him back into comics?
BUG: Ambush Bug has been Keith Giffen's baby from the get-go. Was there any doubt that Keith would come back to do it? Is it possible to write a good Ambush Bug story without Keith's participation?JJ: I honestly would not have done the project without Keith's involvement, even his blessing would not have been enough to do this book without him. Keith and Robert are the heart and voice of Ambush Bug. An Ambush Bug book without them would be like Christmas without any presents.
BUG: Ambush Bug has gone through a lot of permutations since his inception. He's been a comic foil, a villain, a depressed downer, a snarky observer, and occasionally a hero. What version of the Bug is your favorite?JJ: Hmmmm, do I have to pick one? I think all of those things make the character so cool. I think he is best as an antidote for what's going on in the universe around him. But personally, I would like to see him as a Tom Jones singing his best version of "What's New Pussycat".
BUG: Ambush Bug is one of those characters I would love to see interacting with pretty much any character. I'd love to see how the Bug interacts with Hawkman or Guy Gardner or Batman or even Vertigo's Sandman. After the miniseries, is there any chance for an ongoing series for the character or is Ambush Bug best served in small doses?JJ: Ummmm, who says you won't see all of the above in the hilarious romp known as AB: YEAR NONE!! And as much as I love the Bug, I think he is best in small doses. For me, I like not having him around all of the time. That way when he does show up, it feels special.
BUG: What can we look forward to in future issues of AB: YEAR NONE?JJ: Well, I can tell you that a certain Senior Coordinating Editor makes an appearance, two words - Darkseid karaoke, about a million Omacs, a really villainous sock and the recipe for Ma Hunkel’s world famous meatloaf….. what more could one want?
BUG: Humor is such a subjective genre. In our talkbacks alone there were people who love the book and people who simply didn't get it. What type of reader do you think would be attracted to Keith's brand of insanity in AMBUSH BUG?JJ: Oh boy, don't I know that. AMBUSH BUG isn't for everyone but the people who do find him funny find him really funny. For me, the type of reader who would like Ambush Bug is the person who adores SPINAL TAP, can poke fun at themselves, finds Failblog.org incredibly funny, laughs at fart jokes, sometimes chews with their mouth open, remembers why they love comics and what still makes them great.
BUG: Although I could talk about the Bug all day, let's move on to some of your other comics. TINY TITANS. Can you tell us how that comic came to be?JJ: TINY TITANS and the all ages initiative came around because I forgot my nephew's birthday. Seriously, I am like the worst aunt ever. It was the last minute and I was scrambling around my office for something to send to him and I was having a tough time finding something from our kids’ line. The books were great for older kids but I didn't see anything he might enjoy. It made me want to do comics that could be given to anyone at any age.
BUG: I love me some TINY TITANS. What has the feedback been like for the book?JJ: The feedback has been amazing. It's been such a cool convention season because of all of the parents, aunts, uncles, boyfriends, and teachers who have sought me out to tell me just how much they love the book. I hear about how it's become bedtime reading, the only book someone's girlfriend will read and about kids getting caught reading it with a flashlight way past bedtime. I feel like I might be to blame for a generation of kids with bad eyesight.
BUG: TINY TITANS is DC proper's Teen Titans' favorite TV show. Are we ever going to see an actual TINY TITANS cartoon?JJ: Nothing would make me happier. I would sell my grandmother to make that happen. Really I would, do you know anyone who would take her?
BUG: BILLY BATSON AND THE MAGIC OF SHAZAM is another title you've spearheaded. What can you tell us about this story and why it was chosen to be a part of DC's Kids line?JJ: My first San Diego in ‘99, I discovered Mike Kunkel's HEROBEAR AND THE KID. It was pure magic to me and I couldn't stop talking about, reading it, giving it to strangers etc. I knew I wanted to work with Mike and it was Dan DiDio's idea to offer him Shazam. He knew that Mike could truly capture the innocence and wonder of these amazing characters. The story is about being a hero and the true meaning of being a family.
BUG: Not to rag too much on the mega-crossover events that are occurring at both Marvel and DC, but it's great to see books like BILLY BATSON and TINY TITANS come out unscathed from the crossover-itis most of comics have these days. That said, has there been any talks about a TINY TITANS/BILLY BATSON crossover?JJ: Not right now, I really want both books to establish themselves and stand on their own before we even think about doing anything like that. Although it would be pretty fun to see Principal Slade try to give Theo Adam a detention and I think Mary would really like Beast Boy Puppy!!
BUG: You've single-handedly brought back the fun to DC with these kiddie books. Was it hard to convince the powers that be at DC to give the line a chance?JJ: That one I really owe to Dan, without him these books never would have happened. Kids books have never been huge sellers but he has fought really hard to make sure that people knew how important it was for us to try.
BUG: There are movies and TV shows that are geared towards kids that, as an adult, I simply can't take. Then there are movies and TV shows like Disney and Pixar's films that are entertaining for everyone from ages 3 to 300. How do you walk the fine line between entertainment for kids and entertainment that all ages can enjoy?JJ: It really starts and ends with the talent that works on these books. I don't work with people who use all ages books as a stepping stone into the main line. I work with people who have children of their own but never forgot the wonder of what it's like to be a child themselves. And it has to pass the soon to be patented "does it make me laugh" test. People in the office always know when pages come in because they can hear my giggling in office.
BUG: I was at the Women in Comics panel at this year's WIZARDWORLD CHICAGO where you and other women in the comics industry talked about what it was like to be a female in this field. Could you elaborate on that experience and tell us what it's like to be a female in this industry mostly populated by guys?JJ: That panel was amazing!! I was so proud to be up there with so many strong talented women, it was a highlight of my convention season. Being a woman in comics these days is not so different from being a woman in most industries. I still get questions from men about if I actually read comics (I do) and there are still some men who have trouble dealing with a woman in authority but that happens less and less as I have established myself in my career.
BUG: I keep on seeing more and more women at these cons and less of them being dragged along by their boyfriends. Why do you think female appreciation of comics is on the rise?JJ: I think that cons are much more integrated in the types of media that are involved. The typical convention is not just about comic books these days. Go to any show and you will find manga, movies, video games, collectibles and indie artists. There is so much more to see and do at these shows than there has ever been, it's not just for the die-hard collector with 57 long boxes in his house. And I also think that we are in a bit on a renaissance for comics, the better the books are the more people will want to read them male or female.
BUG: Editorially speaking, what do you look for in a good comic? Does that differ from the types of comics you would read simply for fun?JJ: I get teased because I never really wanted to be an editor, I was pretty vocal about that. After doing the job for two years I started to get the twitch to edit. I don't ever have to edit a book so anything I decide to work on had better be something I feel pretty passionate about. I make books that I would want to read. My personal tastes definitely run on the more independent side so I try to find a way to bring that sensibility to what we do in the DCU.
BUG: Editor is such an ambiguous title. Can you take us through a typical day-in-the-life of Jann Jones, Editor At Large?JJ:There is no typical day for me, I rarely even try to plan anything because things move so quickly around the office. I oversee our exclusive talent list to make sure everyone is working, deal with Ed Admin on talent issues, work with production to make sure everything is moving along smoothly, talk to the editors about scheduling, work with publicity and marketing to make sure they have the most up to date information, and then work on my five editorial assignments. I can tell you that every day starts with a really large diet coke.
You contacted me after reading my review for the first issue of AMBUSH BUG: YEAR NONE and that's when you agreed to an interview. How often do you read the review sites and do they (and the reactions in the talkbacks, messageboards, blogs) have any influence on your decisions as an editor?JJ: Well your moniker is AMBUSH BUG!! Your review was the one I was most anxious about. I will admit that I do read the sites, I have been known to check out the occasional message board and I google my books to see what the bloggers have to say. I appreciate how passionate people are about what we do. As an editor, I can't let it influence my decisions. The internet can be a deceptively loud place. I have to trust my gut and just do the best I can. I find if you try to make everyone happy you end up making no one happy.
BUG: You seem to be pretty successful in getting the comics that you like and want to see to print. You've also expressed your love for the Giffen/Dematteis JLI. Any chance of a JLI book under the DC kids banner?JJ: No, I don't think so. I wouldn't do it without Keith and Keith has publicly stated he doesn't want to revisit those characters.
Besides, I think Dan killed them all.
BUG: Since we're AICN and all about the scoops, can you drop any bombshells or hints about any other projects from you in the future?JJ: Well SUPERGIRL: COSMIC ADVENTURES IN THE 8th GRADE is going to be so much fun. I just got more pencils to #2 and it really is just so very cool. Landry Walker and Eric Jones are good people and they get what I am trying to do with the all ages line.
And I can't mention any specifics just yet but I did have some very exciting meetings in San Diego. My fingers are crossed that everything works out.
BUG: One last question...and I'm sure you've been asked this before, but you can be honest here. Are you a Martian, Ms. Jones...or should I say, Ms. J'onnz?JJ: Ohhhh, I am so not a Martian although I do love me some chocos.
BUG: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions.JJ: Thank you!
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, reviewer and co-editor of AICN Comics for over seven years. Check out a five page preview of his short story published in MUSCLES & FIGHTS 3 (AVAILABLE NOW at Muscles & Fights.com.) on his ComicSpace page. Bug was recently interviewed here and here at Cream City Comics about indie comics, his own artistic process, the comics industry, and other shades of bullsquat. Look for Bug’s follow-up this Fall in MUSCLES & FRIGHTS!
Next up we have Part One of superhero’s intensive sit-down with the makers of the new WONDER WOMAN Cartoon. Take it away, superhero!
SUPERHERO ON WONDER WOMAN CARTOON
AN INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR ANDREA ROMANO
Greetings, superhero here. The following is the first part of a three part interview I was involved in for the Wonder Woman straight to DVD movie that launches in February ’09. In part one I got a chance to talk to Andrea Romano who was the Voice Casting/Director for the project. In case you didn’t know Andrea Romano has been involved in every DC Comics animation adaptation all the way back to the original “Batman: The Animated Series”. But it’d be disrespectful of me not to acknowledge the fact that she has been a driving force behind so many more animated productions which fans may or may not know about. This woman’s IMDB page goes all the way back to stuff like “The Snorks” and “The Go-Bots”. Now that’s impressive.
Andrea Romano (AR): Yes, I was so excited to do a project that had a major female character because so often the action shows are all male cast, so it was a pleasure first of all to do a show that has many females in it, which made me really happy. And this was a slightly different Wonder Woman than I’d worked with before in that it was really kind of her origin story as she comes into the world of humans and off the island paradise that she lives in, so I needed someone with a voice that has strength, because clearly she’s got physical strength, but also an innocence, you know, a naïveté she had to have. So as I was, this often happens on things I’m casting, you can often tell what things I’ve been watching on TV, or what films I’ve been watching, series and things because those tend to be the actors I bring in because I’m aware of them. And I’d just watched “Waitress”. So I saw Nathan Fillion and Keri Russell giving those beautifully sensitive performances. So then it became no-brainer, let’s see if they want to work together. I believe they have a good chemistry together and I’m sure their experience working together was fun, so let’s see if we can get them to work together on this one. Unfortunately they couldn’t actually perform together. I had to record in separate sessions and in separate cities on different months I think even. But that’s a common thing that I do that the actors aren’t actually available at the same time, so I have to just make sure I get continuity in the performances. Then there’s that fail-safe in the end which is ADR, when the picture is done. So we’ve recorded the track, then we’ve animated, then it comes back married and we look at it and say you know that we have to fix that - he’s shouting and she’s really quiet. And they’re standing next to each other so we have to go back and balance that out and re-record that, so that’s that fail-safe to make sure I get continuity. But yes, it was an interesting challenge to cast Wonder Woman because I needed that strength and the innocence. And you know she’s kinda ignorant, you know about the ways of mankind, but she can’t sound stupid. So the difference between ignorance and stupidity, you know, she can’t sound dumb and she needs to be innocent and ignorant and then she’s got this guy who hopefully, Steve Trevor, who you hope doesn’t take advantage of her. Although there is a great scene, and I hope I’m not telling you too much, but where he takes her out and they have a couple of cocktails. And of course he’s trying to get her drunk, and she can’t get drunk because she’s Wonder Woman, right? And so there’s a great line that makes me laugh so much every time I hear it, where as the scene progresses and we cut back in time, and time progresses you can hear him getting a little bit more (mimics the sound of a drunk person) and of course she’s completely ignorant…nothing’s affecting her at all and at one point he leans over and says “you’re beautiful”. It’s just great!
But before I get to the interview I have a couple of thank you’s to throw out there. First, I need to thank Sleazy G. It was Sleazy who tossed me this opportunity and I can’t thank him enough. I didn’t think this would be as fun as it was and I gotta thank Sleaze for getting me into this. It was the highlight of my time at SDCC this year.
Next I have to thank my pal Kevin Murphy. Kevin Murphy is a journalist by trade and when he found out that I was being given this chance he encouraged me to go and do it. Not only that, but the guy actually gave me one of his old tape recorders. To keep. Now if that’s not a good egg I don’t know what is. Be sure to check out Kevin’s website at www.kevmurphy.net. Thanks for the encouragement, Kev. You are the man.
The last, but by far not least, person I must give thanks to is my wife, Amy. Amy did all the hard stuff for this interview in that she sat down and transcribed the whole damn thing. I type about as fast as a retarded chimp with broken knuckles and my beautiful wife stepped up to the plate and did all the hard work. They don’t make women like that anymore and I just want the world to know that if there is a Wonder Woman out there she is my wife.
One more thing. To give credit where credit is due I have to let everyone know that this interview was what is called a round table interview. I was one of four other people asking questions so I have to give them their due here. The other interviewers were: Matt Hazuda from toonzone.net, Janet Hetherington of best-destiny.com, Derek McCaw of fanboyplanet.com, and a gentleman from Wizard Magazine whose name I can’t remember because he never gave me his card. But he was a nice guy and I hope he forgives me for not including his name here.
In any case, here’s the interview. Hope you all enjoy it!
SUPERHERO: Were there any particular challenges you had casting the role of Wonder Woman?
SUPERHERO: As important as it is to get people like Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion to do this, how important do you think it is to have these well known faces being these voices when it used to be the journeyman voice over actors that were the ones getting these things?AR: I don’t feel that it has to be a celebrity at all. I am of the mind that it should be the best actor for the role regardless of who they are. Whether they’re well known, never been heard of, whatever. I don’t think that the people going into a video store to buy a property like Batman or Superman or Wonder Woman are going to look at it and say “I won’t buy that because there’s no celebrity in it.” I really don’t. I think they’re going to say, oh it’s Wonder Woman and I want my daughter to watch Wonder Woman, or whatever, or I want to watch a Wonder Woman or a Justice League or whatever. Or they’re familiar with the source material. They know Doomsday or they know whatever. Umm, so I’m very much of the mind that it should be the best actor. Now the thing about celebrities is, when I have to get approval from a group of people, say this many people, if I say to them I want to hire James Arnold Taylor, a brilliant , wonderful voice over actor, really good, they go “Well, I don’t know who that is”. If I say I want to hire Nathan Fillion they go “Oh, I know who that is”. So there’s, you know what I mean, it’s easier because they all know who it is and they can say ok, yes, let’s go there. So it has its positives and negatives. I don’t like to cast celebrities strictly for celebrity’s sake. I like to cast the best actor for the role and I’m willing to fight for the rank and file actor to get them in there to do it. And certainly I fill up the rest of the cast with the rank and file actors. I’m sure you guys are aware of it where there’s this sort of gratuitous celebrity casting where somebody like in “Kung Fu Panda”, Jackie Chan has 3 lines. Ya know, it’s like well that’s a waste of his wonderful talent. Why don’t you give him some, some meat to it? So I don’t believe in that at all. I believe let’s get the right guy for the role and the Screen Actors Guild allows me to hire 1 actor for 3 voices. And not every celebrity can do 3 voices. You find some guys that are really versatile and are really good, but you go to rank and file animation voice actors, the Rob Paulsens, the Maurice LaMarches, the Jeff Bennetts and they all, ya know can give you sound 1, 2 & 3 that each sound completely different, that like, are speaking right next to each other. And I need those guys, I need those guys to fill in my cast so that, umm, I’ve got all the roles filled with versatile people and when I can I like to put those guys in the room with the celebrities and watch the celebrities’ jaws just drop as they watch these voice over actors do what they do. They are so impressed with what those guys do. And then there’s the mutual admiration because the voice over actor admires the on camera actor’s work as well.
SUPERHERO: Since you need a strong voice to be Wonder Woman herself, who do you cast as the antagonist or the villain in the movie to counter that strong voice?AR: You mean, Ares, the voice of Ares? Alfred Molina. Alfred Molina who just couldn’t be a more wonderful man. A brilliant actor as we all know. We watched him do remarkable work and he told me a great story, this is always fun too, this is one part about hiring celebrities where you get to hear great stories about...whether you’re hiring Mark Hamill tell “Star Wars” stories or you hire whomever. Alfred Molina was telling me about, it was Christmas time when we were recording him and someone had sent me an enormous basket of chocolate. So I brought it into the recording studio and said, “Please everybody help me because if I eat this chocolate, because if I take it home, I’ll eat it all myself”. And of course I was reminded that he’d done “Chocolat”, the movie, and he said that they shot that scene where he gorges himself, you know just gorges himself rather with chocolate, remember the scene I’m talking about? He told me the property master told him he ate 2 lbs of chocolate. They had to shoot that scene several times – 2 lbs of chocolate. So you get really cool stories from actors when you’re taking a break. But he’s just got this strong wonderful voice, so versatile. You know he can do Shakespeare and he can do, you know, just this simple modern contemporary thing you want him to do. He’s got tremendous versatility in his voice, he’s you know of course the British accent falls trippingly off the tongue and his American accent is excellent. And so we just had a great time, he was a joy. Do you guys know the cast, the rest of the cast? Where you given that information? Ok, I’ll tell you. I had to write it all down. So you know Nathan Fillion and Keri Russell, Alfred Molina. Then Virginia Madsen plays Hippolyta, so Virginia Madsen plays Keri Russell’s mom, essentially, Hippolyta. Rosario Dawson, who is such a comic book fan and was so enthusiastic about coming to play and that’s where celebrity casting is really fun. It’s like hiring Samuel Jackson, he’s a fan of comic books. He’s a fan of this stuff, so that kind of thing, then it feels right, and then it fits very well. So she plays Artemis, one of those Amazon warriors. Oliver Platt plays Hades for us. Oliver Platt, so great, what a wonderful actor. I just admire him. Have you seen him on, gosh, what’s the series where he plays the director? He plays an extremely gay director, God I can see it in my head, it’s...just do you know what it is…it is “Nip/Tuck”? He makes me laugh so hard, he’s just brilliant. I’ll tell you a great story about recording him. He was in New York, he couldn’t record for us in Los Angeles and as he was recording I’m hearing him over the ISDM line, a satellite hookup, and I keep hearing something and I said to him, “Oliver do you have a windbreaker jacket on? I need you to take that off cause we’re hearing it.” and he says “No, I just have a shirt on.” And as he continued to work I could still hear it I said Oliver you’re going to have to stop moving and he says no, no and takes his shirt off and records from New York completely shirtless! And we were supposed to have a camera and he was so grateful that we didn’t because he’s recording like half naked. But he’s such a great voice. And then David Mcallum is in the piece as Zeus. Plays Zeus for us. And he’s, I’ve worked with him…
SUPERHERO: Yea, you’d just picked him up as Alfred.AR: Correct, correct. And so, you know that happens too, you start working with an actor on one project and then for another studio I could be working on something and get him in over there because he was so good on the last one so you end up using the same actors for different studios and different projects and then all the other voice directors find out they’re working and it starts to get, it starts to grow out and everyone starts to use the same actors. But they’re all terrific. This is a beautiful cast I’ve assembled; it’s really a nice piece. I haven’t seen once inch of footage though, I haven’t seen one bit of the picture!
SUPERHERO: Not even the preview stuff they put on “Gotham: Dark Night”? It’s just the sketches and voices.AR:I think in the panel we’ll see something. I think they’re going to show some today. I hope so…it’s like yesterday at the “Batman: Brave and The Bold”? I saw footage. I’d never seen any footage of and was like “That looks great!” ‘Cause I work so far before the animation comes back. You know, sometimes it’s as much as 6 months. I’ve done the voice recording and then 6 months before the picture comes back and I’m already moved on to some other projects.
SUPERHERO: It must be difficult to do publicity now in July for something that’s not coming out until March (note--tt actually comes out in February-ish). At least it’s somewhat fresh in your mind.AR: It is. You know, I directed “AVATAR” for Nickelodeon, which is just great, a beautiful series. I loved it so much. And I finished my work on that maybe 3 months ago and the end of my work was to look at, it was ADR, so you spot the picture, you look at it and fix any dialog that doesn’t work. A lot of the footage was hand-drawings it was still pencil test, it wasn’t completed. And they had to call for a lot of re-takes, a lot of fire scenes. So when I saw it on the air last weekend it was like watching it as a fan, fresh and brand new. I had almost forgotten what was on it, which for me is the best way to watch it – as a fan, you know almost sort of trying to divorce myself from having worked on it and view it objectively as “how are the fans going to like it?” and fortunately for the most part they liked it. “Avatar” was a great series. I loved it. Do you know it? You were nodding your head.
SUPERHERO: Yeah, yeah I saw it and thought it was wonderful.AR: It was, wasn’t it. I’m sad it’s over. They only ever intended 3 books of 20 stories each, so 3 seasons of 20 episodes. And now, of course, M. Knight is making the live action movie of “Avatar”, so that’s amazing.
SUPERHERO: The third season aired?AR: It just finished, so you know it will be out on DVD and you’ll be able to get it.
SUPERHERO: As a fan of the Wonder Woman franchise yourself, what are you most looking forward to about the Wonder Woman movie?AR: I always love to see how it all fits together, because I work with it almost like a puzzle. I’ve got this actor’s performance and then down the line I’ve got that actor’s performance and then I’ve got this, so I love to see how it all comes together. And so that aspect of it, to me is special, like wow that really worked! My goodness it sounds like they’re talking to each other and they weren’t at all. So I like that. Again, I like a project that’s a female driven major character, that appeals to me. And, uh, the other thing is that I never know what the action sequences are going to look like. Because, although it may be described in the script that I work off of, it often changes considerably from the description to what they ultimately animate. Because, you know the animators have their, that’s their chance to shine because, let’s say a scene calls for this, but let’s add this and this and flip over here and do this and leap off that building and whatever. So I never know what that’s going to look like and so for me that’s really stimulating to see what the action looks like.
SUPERHERO: Did you have to do a lot of research? Did you have to read any of the Wonder Woman comics?AR: I always have to do research because you know girls didn’t, back in my day, read comic books like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman. We read Betty & Veronica and the occasional romance comic books if we read them at all, you know it just wasn’t….now girls read much more. I see even just girls in hotels reading comic books and that was not the -du jour. So I always have to do research. And I always have to ask a lot of questions and plead ignorance - “You guys, can you tell me where this comes from and why are they talking about this?” and then what makes that good is that I become an audience member who needs to have things explained to and when I say the script didn’t make that clear then the writers know that they should add something to help anyone who, like Andrea, doesn’t know that history. And while they can’t go too deep into it but at least that reference to that point make sense to someone who doesn’t know Wonder Woman’s history. Doesn’t know, you know, what island she comes from. Doesn’t know who Hippolyta is, doesn’t know the relationship between Ares and Hippolyta.
SUPERHERO: Do you, having done the research before casting the role, do you see the designs for the characters before casting?AR: Yes, and I’m also told sometimes that the designs will change. And then I ask the question is it going to change considerably? Is she going to be older or younger? That’s the kind of thing I have to deal with. It doesn’t matter to me if the waist will be a little smaller or her bosom a little larger, that doesn’t matter. But what does matter is sometimes a character like Ares is he going to have big old massive shoulders, or is he going to be slight? Because that’s a voice type you have to be concerned with. What’s the physicality of that character and does the voice…now we all know there are big massive guys who have thin voices, but that doesn’t always work. You kinda have to have them sound like what they look like. Unless you’re playing the comedy beat and then you have a big beefy guy who talks like Mike Tyson, you know.
SUPERHERO: Holding that line of thought, since it is the origin of Wonder Woman as she enters into the modern world is there an evolution is the way she presents herself in her voice? Do you see an evolution there?AR: Not in her voice. In her knowledge, like in her maturity. That we see what happens. And yet she still maintains this kind of innocence that’s so endearing about her. Because you know Wonder Woman can be played really, you know she can be really strident and tough. And I wanted to keep the femininity most importantly. And there’s a growth and learning process that happens for Wonder Woman in the piece, but I would not say that vocally she changes terribly. The acting changes, the acting beats change, but the voice doesn’t change.
SUPERHERO: Have you found challenges over the years since BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES of recasting characters you’ve visited before in the cast?AR: It’s hard. It’s really hard. Someone told me the other day that I’ve cast Batman now 7 times! And I get the directive, my bosses say we want an all new Batman, all new Superman, all new…and sometimes I think, I have no other thoughts. I’ve asked every actor I think is appropriate for it to do it already or, and sometimes there are people who wanted to do it, but weren’t available during my production period, so I have to go back and check all my notes on my previous gig and say ok, for those who wanted to do and weren’t available, let’s go back and see if he’ll come play now. I like the continuity of going, like I love that in “Gotham Knight” it’s Kevin Conroy. I love that.
SUPERHERO: How did you convince him to do that?AR: The piece was created very interestingly, we did what was called a scratch vocal, which means we record the voices but it’s not with the actors who are ultimately going to really play it. Bruce and I played roles. I called in a bunch of my friends who are actors and said come in and just do the voices. Then we send that track over to Asia to be animated by the 5 or 6 directors that worked on it. And then almost like dubbing the film, we replaced the voices from start to finish with the real actors. So we knew that it was going to require actors that had that ability to match picture. Kevin Conroy has been doing that for me for you know 17 years, so we knew that. And every time we would come to Comi-Con every panel we would do someone would stand up in the question line and say, why is Kevin Conroy not every Batman that ever exists? And I have to say that to me he’s always Batman, he was my first and I think the most wonderful voice talent. But you know he’s a Julliard trained actor, he’s a really classy wonder…he brings such depth to that character and I’m not just talking about the depth of his voice, I mean the depth of this acting. And yet all that understanding of, you know when you interview Kevin you ask him about how he approached the character he talks about … his lost parents and I mean that’s a great way to look at it. He’s not just looking at it from the comic book level, he’s looking at from the Shakespearian level, that’s great. Umm, so that was a kind of a relatively easy sell and then when we said to the various people, that the powers that be that have approval, Bruce and I both said go with Kevin Conroy on this and let’s go to all the people and ask them if they’re ok with that and they all said “I’m very excited, yeah”. Our audience will like Kevin Conroy doing that role, it will appeal to them and then it’s easy to sell from that aspect.
SUPERHERO: So is it hard at all to, say, tell the actress who did Wonder Woman from the Justice League that she’s not going to be doing the voice for this project?AR: Oh, it’s very hard. I’m a very actor friendly director. Having been an actress myself a thousand years ago I always want to be sure to protect the actor’s feelings as much as possible and actors are really sensitive people, that’s why they’re actors. They have a really strong emotional response to things, so I always have to be very straightforward to them and let them know that I’m working on another project. I’ve been told I have to re-cast it not because you did anything wrong. You didn’t do anything wrong. And when we do something that has to do with what we’ve done in the past you will be our Wonder Woman again. It’s not that you’re being punished, it’s really just that this is what I’ve been asked to do. And so they really do understand. It’s very hard. Also, every once in awhile, it doesn’t happen too much, but once in a while I’ll hire an actor that, it just doesn’t work. They don’t get the energy, they don’t understand it. Especially, if they’re strictly film actors because you know film is very small they do very small facial reactions, very small vocal reactions. Some actors whisper almost the entire time. When you listen to Paul Giamatti, many of his performances are – he barely ever raises his voice louder than this (lowers her voice), he’s a very quiet actor - beautiful, wonderful actor, I adore him. But umm, so I’ve had a couple of actors that I’ve hired that, not like Paul Giamatti, but I mean film actors who just didn’t understand the energy and it never, and as much as I’d push and push and push, trying to get them to go louder, bigger, louder, bigger, go too far! And they never gave more than this (lowers voice again). But stage actors do really well. They make the segue really easy ‘cause that energy is a little bit bigger, a little broader, they understand it, so they seem to make the segue into animation easier, so a lot of the TV actors or film actors who also do stage seems to make a nice easy path into it. But I don’t ever like to replace an actor, so when it happens I call the agent right away. Because you don’t want the piece to come out and the actor not to know they were replaced and they’re doing a screening at their house with the DVD and the whole family and say “Oh my God that’s not me!”. So I want to make sure that they know and I explain to them what the problem was and why it happened and you know try to handle it as delicately as possible.
SUPERHERO: Be sure to tune in next time for Part Two of this interview with the people behind the WONDER WOMAN Cartoon.Discovered as a babe in an abandoned comic book storage box and bitten by a radioactive comic fan when he was a teenager, superhero is actually not-so mild mannered sometime designer & cartoonist, Kristian Horn of Los Angeles, California. He's been an @$$hole for three years. Some of his work can be seen at www.kristianhorn.com.
AMBUSH BUG INTERVIEWS SECRET INVASION EDITOR TOM BREVOORT
Ambush Bug back again. Last but not least, I had a chance to pop off a few quick questions at Marvel Editor Tom Brevoort about the aftermath of SECRET INVASION and how it will change the Marvel Universe FOR-EV-ERRRRR!!!! We also have the world premiere of the American and International propaganda campaign those pesky Skrulls are putting out to communicate their message to Earth and its population.
To all of Earth. We are the race you know as Skrulls. We wish to offer you a few words about recent events. You have so much potential. You have so much to offer. Your future can be bright and without war, poverty, and fear. All you have to do is let us help. We come not as an alien armada, invading your lands as conquerors. We are here to help you. We can cure all that is wasting this world. We bring with us a message. One that can be easily translated into any language. Please share this with your brothers and sisters, for it is a simple message that can help us all in the days to come: EMBRACE CHANGE.
But first, a friendly message from your invading Skrull Empire…
With those simple words, and the actions that they entail, all can be resolved, and we can finally put an end to aggression, violence, and strife. Remember, He loves you all so very much.