Fisch Explores "The Brave and The Bold"

This November, the comic book version of the hugely popular animated TV series "Batman: The Brave and The Bold" relaunches with a new series and a new creative team. Noted child psychologist and kid-friendly comic book writer Sholly Fisch will write the renamed, "The All New Batman: The Brave and The Bold" and the title will feature the art of Rick Burchett.

Aimed at an older audience than Fisch's recently cancelled "DC Super Friends" ongoing series, the aptly named new series promises to be braver, bolder and battier. Fisch, who has worked for years as a content consultant on "Sesame Street," has written several titles for DC Comics the past decade, including "Scooby Doo," "Looney Tunes" and "Cartoon Network Action Pack."

A long-time fan of Batman, Fisch told CBR News that he is thrilled to be writing a series starring the Caped Crusader and that if he went back in time and shared the news with his childhood self he actually might not be working on the title at all because his head would have exploded.

He also shared news that after the recently announced appearances of Superman and Shazam! in the first two issues, he will next feature The Flash and Wonder Woman. And guess which one is married to Batman for an issue?

CBR News: In the "All-New Batman: The Brave and The Bold," you get to write the Caped Crusader as the lead each and every month. Are you a long-time fan of Batman?   

Sholly Fisch: Having grown up in the '60s and '70s, I was a kid at the height of Batmania. I wore my Batman mask, built models of the Batplane and Batboat, collected Batman trading cards, and slept in Batman pajamas. In fact, I have a vivid memory of crying at a friend's house when his mother wouldn't let us watch a new episode of "Batman," starring Adam West, while we ate dinner.

So, yeah, you could call me a long-time fan. I'm very grateful to my "All-New" editors, Scott Peterson and Chynna Clugston-Flores, for giving me the chance to write Batman every month. It makes my inner five-year-old very, very happy.

What is it about Batman that you think generates so much interest from young fans? I mean, he doesn't have Superman's strength or Flash's superspeed, to them isn't he just a guy with gadgets?

He's just so cool. For me, I guess it's always been that he knows everything, can do anything... but he's human, which makes him more attainable. Personally, I wasn't born on an alien planet like Superman - or at least, that's what my mother tells me - and although I really was struck by lightning once, I didn't walk away with super-speed. But give me 20 years of training and focus, plus a few million dollars, and maybe - just maybe -- I could be the Batman.

Batman is known as the Dark Knight. How do you write a comic for kids if your main character is so dark? Do you have to lighten him up?

Well, yes and no. There have been so many incarnations of the character over the years that it kind of depends on what your reference point is. Since this series is based on the "The Brave and The Bold" TV show, I'm following mostly in the same vein and falling somewhere in the middle - more straight than, say, the camp Batman of the '60s, but a whole lot lighter than Frank Miller's "Dark Knight." Like the show, I expect that we'll probably mix up the stories he appears in a bit, with straighter stories in some issues and more over-the-top stuff in others.

How closely will the stories in the comics relate to the episodes of the show? Will any of the TV episodes be re-told in the comic?

I have watched a whole bunch of episodes to get the style down and work out nuances, like characters' speech patterns or the details of their relationships. In fact, I was just re-watching videos of a few episodes the other night, to get myself in the mood as I was getting ready to write the next issue.

But the "all-new" in the title is no lie. The stories will all be new, not retold from the show.

It's been revealed that your first two issues will feature Superman and Captain Marvel!, certainly two of DC's most powerful superheroes. Can you share any details about the stories in terms of what threat they're up against and why Batman needed to tap into these two specific superpowers to have justice served? And can you tease which other superheroes we'll see featured in the months ahead? OK. I'll admit it. I really want to know is when we'll see Aquaman because in our house, he was our favorite character during your run on "Super Friends.   

Sure. No plans for Aquaman to show up immediately, I'm afraid. But I did stick him in a Batman costume a few months ago, before the relaunch, and I also have an idea for a nifty little underwater story a little further down the line.

In general, I'm trying to find stories and angles that we haven't seen too many times before, especially when it's a hero who has a lot of history with Batman, like Superman. In the first issue, Superman pulls Batman in to help him solve a mystery - but it's a mystery inside the Bottle City of Kandor. The second issue is our holiday issue, with Batman and Captain Marvel trying to free Gotham from the grip of the Psycho-Pirate's 'holiday spirit.' After that, we've got things like the Mad Hatter and Mirror Master teaming up to drag Batman and Flash through the looking glass. Not to mention Batman and Wonder Woman - married!

A few issues down the road, I'm also hoping to do a flashback story that I've wanted to write for ages: the time a young Batman encounters his first super-powered hero, and it might not be the hero you expect.

Are these all done-in-one stories or does the title have a larger ongoing mythos or overarching storyline?

When I was a kid, I used to get terribly frustrated by continued stories, because I could never be sure that I'd be able to get the next issue. With that in mind, the stories in "The Brave and The Bold" will mostly be done-in-one, but I'm sure there will also be some bits of continuity that carry over from previous issues, or from the TV show.

What does Rick Burchett bring to a title in terms of his presentation of these iconic characters?

Rick's drawing the first issue now, so I actually haven't seen much of his "The Brave and The Bold" art myself yet. But I love his cover for #1, and his past work on things like "Batman: Gotham Adventures" shows that he's terrific at animated action, character bits, and touches of humor - all of which pretty much sums up the new "The Brave and The Bold." I'm really looking forward to working with him and seeing what he does with it all.

Of course, I also kinda feel like I should apologize to Rick in advance when I write a panel like "Batman and Black Canary are overwhelmed by an army of hundreds of Joker robots."

You've just completed a 29-issue run on "Super Friends," a title I know you loved writing. In terms of feel and more importantly age target, how will these two series differ?

I did and do love "Super Friends," but "The Brave and The Bold" and Super Friends are geared toward somewhat different audiences. "Super Friends" was very intentionally designed to be "my first super-heroes" - an entry point for very young kids to get hooked on reading in general, and reading comics in particular. The stories in "Super Friends" were written with that audience very much in mind, even though I also threw in plenty of cameos and in-jokes for the comic fan parents who read it with their children.

The audience for "The Brave and The Bold" is somewhat older, just like audience for the TV show. That means I can build a little more subtlety into some of the stories and the relationships between the characters. There still won't be anything in "The Brave and The Bold" that would be inappropriate for a young kid to see, but the tone is closer to the Batman/Flash race that I wrote for "The Brave and The Bold" before the relaunch, or the Batman/Elongated Man/Detective Chimp team-up I wrote for "Justice League Unlimited" a few years ago.

Were you sad to see "Super Friends" come to an end and/or does new title fill the void?

Naturally, all of us who worked on "Super Friends" were very disappointed to see it end. But, realistically speaking, we had a good, healthy two and a half year run, which is much longer than I ever expected when we started, and we had a lot of fun along the way. I wouldn't say that "The Brave and The Bold" takes its place, because they're different sorts of series, but the new book opens up opportunities for whole new kinds of fun. For instance, apart from my love of Batman, I'm a huge Captain Marvel fan - my collection at home includes over a hundred of the old Fawcett comics, a couple of C.C. Beck sketches, and an original page of art from the 1940s - so I've been dying to write him for years. I was thrilled when I got to write him for a few pages before the relaunch, and yes, it was in a Batman costume, just like Aquaman, and even more so now that I can feature him alongside Batman for an entire issue.

If I could go back in time and tell my younger self that I'd get to write a Batman-Captain Marvel team-up someday, my tiny little head probably would have exploded.

Finally, I know you have a long history working with and for children through your work in books, comics and television, primarily on "Sesame Street." How important are comics in developing reading skills and perhaps more importantly a love of reading in today's youth?

Hugely important. In my secret identity, I've got a Ph.D. in developmental psychology and I've spent nearly 25 years working in educational media for TV, web, magazines, etc. A big chunk of my work has consisted of doing research with kids to find out what they learn from that sort of stuff. The short version is that tons of research - both mine and other people's - has shown that educational TV and other media make significant contributions to kids' learning literacy, math, science, and all sorts of things. Why wouldn't the same be true for comics?

When I was growing up, my family had a running joke: If there was anything my parents didn't realize I knew, I had probably learned it from a comic book. Comics played a big role in motivating me to read, and in learning spelling and vocabulary. Not to mention teaching me all sorts of random facts about history, science, and so on. Did you know that mercury is the only metal that's liquid at room temperature? So I truly hope that all of the adult "The Brave and The Bold" fans out there enjoy the series. But if it can inspire some kids to read, that's even better.

"All New Batman: The Brave and The Bold" #1, written by Sholly Fisch and featuring art by Rick Burchett, is slated for a November 10 release.

"Batman: The Brave and the Bold" from Warner Bros. Animation, airs Fridays at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT on Cartoon Network.

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