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
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;
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,”
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?
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.
How does “Teen Titans” compare with other animated shows? What about the music?
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
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
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
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?
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?
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
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
“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.
From a press release:
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
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.
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
Fox is providing us with five copies of the 2-disc set to pass
on to you, the faithful reader.
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
has teamed up with Devil’s
Due Publishing to give fan artists a chance to see their artwork in
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.
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!