Comic-Con's DC Showcase Original Shorts panel featured auspicious guests including Executive Producer Bruce Timm (DC Universe Animation) was joined on stage by producer Alan Burnett ("Batman Beyond"), writer and producer Greg Weisman ("Gargoyles" and "Young Justice"), writer of the Jonah Hex short, Joe Lansdale, and actor and voice of Jonah Hex, Thomas Jane ("Hung"). Jerry O'Connell, the voice of Captain Marvel in a new short, surprised the panel and crowd to say a quick hello to everyone before running off to another panel.
While the panelists tried to get the sound working for the premiere of the animated "Jonah Hex" short, fans were able to get a quick look at possible upcoming animated properties from Warner Bros and DC Comics. Things like "The Legend of the Guardians" preview, "Lord of the Rings" animated preview and a Jonah Hex motion comic were all visible on the DVD menu screen until sound problems were finally fixed.
After the problems and introductions, the panel moved right into showing the "Jonah Hex" animated short to the cheering and excited crowd. Very reminiscent of the monthly DC series currently written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, the short features Jonah going up against a murderous prostitute and her gang of thugs. No magic powers or unbelievable weapons, this was a pure Western in animated form. The short is written by Joe Lansdale of "Jonah Hex: Two-Gun Mojo" fame.
Besides Thomas Jane, the animated short features the voice talents of Linda Hamilton ("Terminator 2"), Michelle Trachtenberg ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), and James Marston.
The other shorts on the DVD collection are "Green Arrow," written by Greg Weisman; "The Spectre," written by Steve Niles; and "Superman/Shazam! The Return of Black Adam." The Superman/Shazam! team-up will be 22 minutes long, and will only be available on the compilation DVD, which is out November 9.
Asked why he got involved in the project, Thomas Jane said, "I like these stories where we deal with real people. Jonah is a real person to me. I was dying to play this character in film and thankfully God smiled and I didn't get the part." Laughs erupted from the crowd as they realized he was talking about the recently panned "Jonah Hex" live-action film.
Joe Lansdale revealed that the genesis for the script was simply that DC gave him a "Jonah Hex" comic book and told him to make it a 10-minute long feature. He complimented the voice actors, "Everybody in it was just perfect." The only problem, he said jokingly, was that "They get off the horse on the wrong side." The southern accented, horseback-riding writer laughed off the mistake, but it was a funny inconsistency he couldn't help but notice.
Alan Burnett followed up on Lansdale to add that they got all the writers they wanted for the features, every one.
When asked about his "Green Arrow" script, Greg Weisman told the crowd that back in 1985 he wrote a script for a four-issue miniseries featuring Black Canary and Green Arrow. The series was set to go into production until Mike Grell began his groundbreaking run with the archer, making Weisman's story unusable. When he got the call for the short, he couldn't resist asking if Black Canary could be a part of it, and luckily for him, DC said yes.
A quick clip of "Green Arrow" was shown to the audience, it featured in the archer in classic form, using various gadget arrows as he protected a small little girl from hired killers. Before the clip was cut short, Merlyn the villainous archer was shown.
The panelists were then asked what DC Comics characters, obscure or otherwise, they would like to bring to the animated screen:
Bruce Timm: "Blackhawks."
Joe Lansdale: "Tomahawk."
Greg Weisman: "Captain Atom or Red Tornado."
Alan Burnett: "Deadman."
Thomas Jane, looking surprised that he was expected to answer, said, "Raggedy Ann."
One fan wondered why the animated movies, specifically the full-length films like "Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths," were so short, just barely over an hour. Timm answered simply, "Economics. Longer than 70 minutes would cost too much."
Another fan wanted to know why Aquaman was always left out of the animated features and TV shows. The panelists did not give a definitive answer, but Weisman made sure to mention that Aquaman, Aqualad, and Mera would all be appearing in "Young Justice." It was also mentioned that Dwayne McDuffie was just saying in another panel that he wants to write the script for an Aquaman feature.
In reply to one fan, it was revealed by Timm that "Kingdom Come" will not be animated, "I would like to....but no."
The last question of the panel was for Thomas Jane, asking the actor what he would say to Josh Brolin if given the chance to say anything. A dumbfounded Jane jokingly responded, "What time is it?"