Teen Titans, LXG, Hulk, Illuminati, X-Men: Comics2Film wrap for July 14, 2003

Mon, July 14th, 2003 at 12:00am PDT

TV/Film
Rob Worley, Columnist

TEEN

TITANS

When "Teen Titans" bows on Cartoon Network this Saturday fans will

get a DC Comics animated show unlike the ones they've grown accustomed to

starting with the dark "Batman: The Animated Series." Bright, colorful

and bursting with spastic energy, "Teen Titans" is heavily influenced

by anime and geared towards younger viewers.†

Cartoon Network has provided C2F/CBR News with this Q & A session with Glen

Murakami, producer of the show, who talks about crafting a new kind of cartoon

superhero series.

Q: What types of stories are you trying to tell?

Glen Murakami (GM): We're trying to tell stories that kids can relate to - by

using problems that

real teenagers have. For example, we'll deal with things like sibling rivalry

and bullying, but not in an "after school special" kind of way. Our take is that the Teen Titans are real kids who just happen to have superpowers.†

Q: What does each character bring to the group?

GM: Robin is the leader - the brains of the operation. Cyborg is the backbone;

he

provides strength to the group - physically and emotionally. Beast Boy is the humor. Starfire is the positive energy of the group. Raven is not exactly a

pessimist, but she definitely provides balance.

When we started creating the show, the first question we asked was: "What

are the characters' flaws?" Once we knew what the characters' limitations

were, we knew how to play them off one another. As a result, all the characters

are funny. It's not like we said that Beast Boy is the funny one and he's the

only one who cracks jokes. They're all funny, but it's within their own

character. Playing the characters against each other is where you get the

conflict and the humor.†

Q: What are some of your influences for the show?

GM: Anime has been a big influence on the show - everything from

"Speed Racer" and "Kimba the White Lion" to the work of

creators like Osamu Tezuka, Ishinomori Shotaro and Hiyao Miyazaki. The series

"FLCL" was a major influence.

I'm from a generation that grew up watching anime shows like "Battle of the

Planets" and "G-Force." I think my generation, and the kids

growing up today, will be familiar with some of the style and techniques we'll

be bringing to U.S audiences on "Teen Titans."

Having worked on series like "Superman," "Batman: The Animated Series,"

"Batman

Beyond" and "Justice League," it gave me a clear example of what had been done in

this genre, and that we were going to try to move in a different direction.

Illustrators like Bob Peak and Coby Whitmore have been big influences on the

loose, painterly style we have been using for the backgrounds. And our story

editor, David Slack, has referred the show as a superhero version of "The

Breakfast Club." There's some truth in that.

Q: How will you balance the "Teen" with the "Titans"? What

types of "teen issues" will they confront?

GM:

Every good story is what its metaphor should be. Instead of getting very

specific, we tend to choose stories that everyone can relate to. We think that

everyone can relate to being bullied. You don't have to be a superhero or a

robot hybrid to know what that feels like. Same thing with sibling rivalry -

it's a universal problem.

We make the show fun, though, and it's about superheroes doing their thing. And

that's how it avoids becoming an after-school special. We're not hitting the

audience over the head with anything.

Q:

How does "Teen Titans" compare with other animated shows? What about the music?

GM:

The look of "Teen Titans" is different than any other superhero show

created for an American or western market because no other show has been so

heavily influenced by anime. We use some "super-deformed" kind of

takes, which I think of as a Japanese equivalent to a Tex Avery approach.†

The fact that there is such a strong element of humor in "Teen Titans" makes it

different than most superhero shows. But our humor is not ironic at all - we're

not mocking our characters, we're just incorporating humor into their

interaction, keeping it true to the way that real teens would react.

Musically in "Teen Titans," we're doing anything and everything that is

appropriate for the feel of the show. The music will vary, in some cases, for

every show or even within a specific show. One time it might be jazzy lounge

music, and, in another, it will be techno, to help with the mood or feel of the

show. I don't feel like this show will ever be traditional musically in the way

we were with Batman or Superman.

Q: You've worked on other shows with superheroes - how is "Teen Titans" different?

GM: "Batman," "Superman" and "Justice League" broke new ground. No one ever tried to

portray superheroes in that way before. The style of storytelling was more

realistic, more filmic. We took a comic book story and told it in the style of a

movie.

With "Teen Titans," we went back a step and made it more like a traditional

cartoon. Also, "Teen Titans" will be more character driven. As in old

"Star Trek"

episodes, these characters are iconic in their own way, even though the audience

may not be familiar with their history in the comics. The humor and tension

comes out by contrasting these types against each other.

Q: How is Robin in "Teen Titans" different from the Robin we've seen in

"Batman?"

GM:

In "Teen Titans," we don't even really think of Robin as part of the

"Batman and …." team. I'm trying to treat him as a brand new

character that people have never seen before. He's the leader instead of the

sidekick. He's independent. He's not in the shadow of his father figure, nor is

he going to react in the same way Batman might. In fact, we'll never mention

Batman at all in the series.

Q: How closely will the TV series stick to the popular DC Comics series?

GM:

We've looked through the entire history of the characters - from the very

beginning - and tried to boil all of it down and condense it. We've tried to

take the best parts of each character through the years. Things have changed -

like the costumes and the character design, but not so much that a comic fan

would not recognize them. But the show will remain an entity unto itself.

We've focused on telling the story of the characters rather than dwelling on

their backstory. This is a show about the characters trying to find out things

about themselves. Throughout the course of the series, it will touch on where

the characters come from, but we won't be doing flashbacks. We try to create

situations where the rest of the Teen Titans learn about one of the team

members, in the way any real kid would.

When I was a kid, I didn't get caught up in origin stories too much. You never

questioned why the Three Stooges had different jobs all the time or how Speed

Racer got to drive the car. They just did. Once the story gets going, you get so

involved that the backstory just did not seem that important.

Q: What kind of audience do you expect "Teen Titans" to attract?

GM:

I think everyone will like it. The stories work on so many different levels. If

you want action, there's action. If you want humor, there is humor. But all the

stories are very strong and they are actually about something. They're about how

people feel and I think everyone will be able to relate to that. The Teen Titans

are superheroes, but their problems are not so far above the problems of anyone

watching that they will not be able to relate to it. The villains, in many ways,

are about helping the characters learn more about themselves.

"Teen Titans" makes its debut on Cartoon Network this Saturday,

July 19th at 9pm EST with two back-to-back episodes "Final Exam" and

"Sisters". Check out CBR's

review of the show. Then tune in for "Titans" on Saturday.

LXG BOX OFFICE

"The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" debuted at #2 this weekend

according to weekend estimates published by Box

Office Mojo. The comic adaptation took in some $23.2 million, falling in

behind "Pirates of the Caribbean."

"The Hulk" is still in the top ten after four weeks on the charts.

Big green grabbed another $3.7 million, bringing its tally to almost $125

million. This one is fading fast and probably won't be in the top ten next week.

In interesting "League" side note, Variety

reports that Patrick Swayze will next play Allan Quatermain on the small screen.

This won't be in some "LXG" spinoff, but rather a four-hour miniseries

remaking "King Solomon's Mines" for Hallmark Entertainment.

DC COMICS' AVI ARAD

Hit comic-based movies: Marvel Comics can make them. DC Comics can't. This is

the trend of the past five years. Today's Variety

contains an interesting article of DC/Warner Bros. plans to match Marvel's

big-screen success.†

Those plans could (and should) include creating their own version of Avi

Arad, someone who gets comic books and movies and is able to champion characters

on their journey from one format to the other.

"There is no reason why the DC stable of characters can't outperform

Marvel's," says "LXG" producer Don Murphy, who is involved with

many comic adaptations, including DC's "Death: The High Cost of

Living."

"It just requires a person focused on making that happen," Murphy

continued. "That's difficult to find when instead of two people running the

company like Avi and Ike (Perlmutter), DC is owned by a monolithic media company

-- but it's not impossible."

To that end, Kevin Tsujihara, an executive VP for business development and

strategy for Warner Bros. Entertainment and DC president and publisher Paul

Levitz and head-hunting their own Avi Arad.

†Tsujihara told Variety, "we're going to hire someone soon."

In the mean time, Warner is looking to get "Catwoman" and

"Constantine" rolling this September and C2F/CBR News exclusively broke

the news that Neil Gaiman's "Death" movie has been green lit and

may also start filming by 2003's end.

ILLUMINATI

From a press release:

Illuminati

Entertainment- the first Hollywood management and production company to

focus on clients with backgrounds in comic books and video games - today

announced its plans for this year's Comic-Con

International in San Diego.

Illuminati will be located at booth #4024, where it will be selling copies of

the inaugural Illuminati Sketchbook. Totaling a whopping 68 pages, the

sketchbook includes artwork from all of the company's management clients-with

much of that artwork coming from new creator-owned projects that they'll be

formally announcing in coming months. The sketchbook is a limited edition of

only 500 copies, and is expected to sell out quickly.

That isn't the only isn't the only sketchbook the company will have on hand.

They'll also be selling standalone sketchbooks for most all of their

clients-including some clients who won't be attending the convention. All monies

generated by sales of these sketchbooks go directly to the artists, so fans

buying their favorite artists' books will truly be supporting those artists.

The company will also be announcing exciting new creator-owned projects from

some of their clients-including Dave Johnson and Ric Krause's "Dark

Ride," for which they'll be selling preview ashcans. Johnson is probably

best known as the Eisner-winning cover artist of "100 Bullets" and

DC's sell-out hit "Superman: Red Son," while Krause is a successful

screenwriter who's sold "Comeback" to Fox 2000 & James Cameron's

Lightstorm Entertainment and "Black Box" to Senator International

& producer Mark Canton. Both Johnson and Krause will be on hand to sign

copies.

Another highlight of Illuminati's offerings will be signed copies of the

premiere issue of Todd Dezago & Craig Rosseau's "The Perhapanauts."

Neither creator will be able to attend this year's convention, but Illuminati

will be selling most of the remaining signed and numbered copies of the

limited-edition debut at the convention-making it the last opportunity for many

fans to purchase the issue.

Additionally, all of Illuminati Entertainment's comic clients attending the

show will be spending time signing at the company's booth and promoting their

works. A complete

signing schedule is available online.

X-MEN:

EVOLUTION

The

Comics Continuum reports that a new Wolverine-like character will make her

debut on this season of "X-Men: Evolution."

X23 is created just for the show. She's a 14-year-old secret weapon developed

using Wolverine's DNA. In her debut episode, she single-handedly defeats the X-Men

and then lays in wait for Logan.

DD DVD GIVEAWAY

The

"Daredevil" DVD is due in stores July 29th, but Comics2Film and 20th

Century Fox are giving you the chance to claim your own copy for free!

Fox is providing us with five copies of the 2-disc set to pass

on to you, the faithful reader.

Just sign

up for our giveaway

at Comics2Film.com between now and July 27th for your chance to win.†

CALLING ALL FAN ARTISTS: G.I. JOE WANTS YOU

Comics2Film

has teamed up with Devil's

Due Publishing to give fan artists a chance to see their artwork in

print.†

We're looking for a few good pencil and ink

gurus to work up a faux cover for the "G.I. Joe" comic. The top three

entries will be published in the pages of upcoming Devil's Due comics.

We've

just launched the contest, so there's still plenty of time to enter. Click over

to the Comics2Film.com

website for complete details and official rules. Then draw that cover!

CBR News

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