The Comic - Ty Templeton


Below is a boatload of questions from almost every issue; Ty Templeton was kind enough to answer all our questions for us and then some!
 
ISSUE 01

Burchett kept Scarecrow in shadows. Was that intentional? What plans did you have for his character?

Keeping him in shadows, absolutely, was intentional. We hadn't seen his unhooded face on the TV show since his transformation and I liked the mystery. I had a story in mind about an accident and a murder trial that caused him to change his costume, but that's clearly one we won't see.

You destroy Arkham in this issue. Is that a nod to the destroyed Arkham in RETURN OF THE JOKER? Were there other deliberate nods in the series to past episodes and series?

Yes, that's a deliberate nod to Return of the Joker, which was our last touchstone with the series when Batman Adventures (volume 2) launched. (We got Mystery of the Batwoman in the middle of our run, but that was still in our future while we were plotting issue #1). I was planning to return to destroyed Arkham a couple of times during our series, and using it as a set, and referencing ROTJ specifically.

And...the police against Batman? Why bring in that plotline idea?

Not the police...it was the Mayor. Big difference. In my mind, the cops were very conflicted about catching Batman, but it was their job, so they went about it. Cops do what they're paid to do, no matter who's in office. I was more focused on Mayor Penguin than Batman vs. Cops, but it made for a couple of interesting scenes and stories when we started writing the series. Also, it re-enforces the idea of Batman as vigilante, rather than Batman as weirdly dressed cop. Some of the best comics and issues of the show feature Batman escaping from cops.

Also, why the choice for Back-Ups?

The long answer or the short answer? The long answer: Dan Slott wrote an issue of Gotham Adventures (#58) that I asked if I could ink. I had just finished a long graphic novel project, and I wanted something relaxing to do, and I find inking very relaxing. I had a ball on the issue, and the editor liked it. So, since I had written and drawn the Batman Adventures book, but had never been its inker, I asked the editor if she was into having me ink the book on a semi regular basis while Dan wrote it. She thought that would be fine, but she wondered, since I was willing to work on the book as an inker, was I willing to write or draw it? Well, Dan had been slated to write the book, and I had no interest in taking his job, and Terry Beatty was already inking the book, so I didn't want to take his job, we sort of came up with this idea that I would write HALF of the scripts, and pencil HALF of the stories, and end up inking none of them, oddly enough.

Originally, the half writer status meant I would write four issues, then Dan would write four issues, etc. I was asked to write the first four, and Dan the second four, with me drawing Dan's issues, and Rick Burchett drawing mine. But after a week or two of talking on the phone with Dan, we didn't want Dan to be left out of the relaunch first issue, and came up with the backup story idea. We thought we'd launch with a 38 page issue, and the backup story seemed like an easy fit. We found out a day or so later that it would be a regular 22 page issue, and I lobbied for the backup story to stay intact, and to continue the concept into each issue. That way, Dan and I would write EACH issue, and no one got left out.

When I was a kid, my favourite comics (Detective, Action, Adventure, Our Army at War) all had two stories per issue (sometimes three) and I was trying to revive that idea. I'm still a huge believer in the two story per issue format, and am committed to trying it again somewhere else. Dan and I used to complain about how little room you had in 5 pages (or 17 pages, when you're trying to tell a complex story), but I grew to LOVE the format of the five page story. It's like a comic haiku in its own way. I used to do these weird TWO PAGE stories for the Christmas holiday issues over the years, so five pages is a luxury.

ISSUE 02

Why bring in Julie Madison?

Dan asked for that. He had an idea for doing something with a new Bruce Wayne love interest and I suggested Julie, Silver or Julia Pennysworth (three love interests from the comics not seen in the animated universe.) Dan and I decided on Julie primarily cause she was retro. I actually regret she was discarded so easily.

Obviously you're fond of The Riddler. What makes him an appealing character, and what inspired your plans for his character?

I like that he's not evil, he's just ALMOST smarter than Batman, and that almost ness pisses him off. And he's the most clearly insane member of the rogue's gallery. I like that he needed medical help, and we got it to him. The "reformed" Riddler was my favorite character in the new version of Batman Adventures because you can almost root for him.

Why the decision to "evolve" Ivy?

Dan and I were brimming with ideas of stuff to do to all the characters, including Croc, Scarecrow, Two Face (Dan had some Two Face ideas that were WAYYY COOL!). Evolving Ivy came out of phone sessions with Dan until we both liked the outcome. The idea that she needed to breathe Harley's CO2 was Dan's bit. Pretty cool, no? A lot of the evolved Ivy stuff was Dan's, I think.

Were there any plans to come back to Talia? Her getting shot and healed and Bruce leaving without a "goodbye" were sort of left hanging. And what plans were in place for Ra's and Talia (I remember hearing of an "Oz"-type tale for good ol' Ra's)

Yes, absolutely there were plans. In fact, I wrote a script for Batman Adventures #5 that focused on Ra's in prison…the whole script, dialogue and everything, was rejected outright. I was told that we had finished with Ra's in #4 and it was time to move on to other characters. Well, the editor is the boss, so I wrote a different script for #5, which covered Bullock getting fired, and that turned out pretty good as well. Six of one, half dozen of the other. I'd love to have done the Ra's story too, but there's only so much room. Talia was slated to come back in the second year..sigh.

ISSUE 05

Why the decision of getting Bullock fired? Why bring in Phantasm, a decision which as many fans hated as loved it.

Bullock was going to be an interesting ongoing character of a private eye working for Bruce Wayne, and never knowing he was working for Batman. Dan was setting that stuff up for our second year, which turned out differently, since we knew we were cancelled as we started writing the second year's stories.

You'll have to ask Dan about Phantasm, that was his script. The Bullock stuff was Dan's as well.

ISSUE 06

Why bring in Matches Malone? Also...Sportsmaster. Is he an old-school villain or new? What's it like to be able to bring in all these new characters?

Sportsmaster is an old school villain. That was a fun story to write, since Sporty's dialogue was all sports metaphors. The basic fun of that story was that Batman spends the entire script tied to a chair. He never gets out, but he still kicks everyone's ass. Malone was Dan's bit. I think he likes the character since it's sort of close to a Moon Knight kind of riff, and Dan's a HUUUGE Moon Knight fan.


ISSUE 07

In the talkback you noted a typo in the back-up, mentioning Nightwing when the story took place in BTAS times. Do you find problems when distinguishing between TNBA, BTAS, and JL times? And...what "flashback/lost years" will you not be able to tell due to the series cancellation?

That wasn't a typo, that was a scripting mistake. And it's usually not hard to keep them all straight in my mind, I'm just human and I made a goof. As for flashback stuff...we had a story about Alfred's injury. We had a Scarecrow story, and at one point, we were going to do the "election" as a flashback.

ISSUE 08

The Matches Malone backstory? Amazing. I don't know where to start so I guess...just roll with it?

Glad you liked it. I noticed how much Matches looked like Thomas Wayne when looking at Rick's art for issue #6, and the story flowed from there. I didn't create Matches as a character (I think Denny O'Neil and Irv Novick did) but I retold his origin with a few twists. In the original O'Neil story, Matches is killed by a ricochet bullet, fired from his own gun (at Batman), but he's still a small time hood who becomes Batman's third identity when he dies. I find stories that focus on Batman's childhood or parents strike a chord with readers, since almost everyone has parents, and can identify with the pain of losing them.

ISSUE 10

Did Catwoman peek? Why the three outfits?

It's up to the reader, really, since we clearly don't tell you…but in my opinion, she probably did, since she's not good at impulse control, or she wouldn't be Catwoman, would she? In Dan's opinion, she didn't peek. The truth is, until we wrote her next appearance, I didn't want to decide if she'd peeked or not, I was going to "feel it" when I got around to scripting her next guest shot, which of course, never happened. The three outfits were a nod to the new Catwoman costume which was being done in the "animated" style (sort of) in her own book, which Rick and I both liked a lot.

Who's with Jim Gordan?

The woman in bed with Jim is Sarah. We were going to bring Sarah in later, but it was a toss away moment since I had Jim waking up in bed, I asked Rick to draw a pair of female legs in the bed with him, just to tweak fans.

ISSUE 11

Again...more Riddler. How far along was his storyline planned? In the first 4 issues, you intertwined four stories into a larger arc. Beginning this issue, you start the same idea. How do you approach something like this, making the storylines come together?

The Riddler "storyline" was played by ear as we went along. I knew I wanted him "reformed" and no longer a criminal, but still a thorn in Batman's side. The second and eleventh issues are both variations on the theme, "how is a reformed Riddler still a problem for Batman?" Dan likes to plan stuff years in advance, but I'm a seat of the pants kind of guy.

ISSUE 12

You brought in two characters not seen since TNBA started -- Hill and Clock King. Any particular reason? Is there pressure in bringing these characters back to continue their storyline? Is there stress to do them justice? Also, putting Riddler in a coma...that must've been hard.

Riddler in a coma wasn't hard at all, since Dan and I had a GREAT story to wake him up. Dan suggested that a revived Riddler would have amnesia, and would have to solve the greatest riddle of all.."Who Am I?" That's such a cool idea, I put Riddler into the coma to set up Dan's script. Hill and Clock King were planned guest stars since issue #1. Since the backstory that ran through our first year was Penguin as Mayor, I always intended the former mayor, and his greatest enemy, to come into the story as minor characters. There was no pressure, that was Dan's and my idea from #1.

ISSUE 13

Batman's plan to get Penguin out of the office is ambiguous, and left some readers uneasy. Was that intentional, and if so, how does that affect his character? Is Batman losing his cool in his old age? :) And the Penguins "I'll kill Batman if it's the last thing I do!!" A hint to a future storyline?

The ambiguous ending was very much on purpose. First, in the real world, touch screen computer voting fraud is IMPOSSIBLE to prove forensically, so I wanted Batman to have that real world problem to solve. Second: Batman is a vigilante. He DOESN'T operate within the law and doesn't have to deal with the intricacies of proof and evidence. He's just out there protecting Gotham from bad guys, and Penguin was a bad guy Batman felt we needed protecting from. Greying the lines of morality to take down a bad guy is central to a good Batman story.

ISSUE 14

Your tale provides a great look into Bruce as a child, even giving hints to how far he'd eventually go with his training. What is it like, doing these old tales, exploring a time that has only a handful of tales?

Um..it's fun. Dan had an idea that for his very next set of four back-ups he was gong to do the stories of Teen Bruce Wayne. I wish he'd had a shot, he had some fabulous ideas.

ISSUE 16

The Ivy plot-twist--planned all along? This is a drastic character change, considering what many fans believe. Were you worried about overdoing the character changes, or worried about fan feedback?

Sort of planned all along. We weren't going to reveal it for a little longer if we'd not been cancelled, but yes, the Ivy in issue #1 isn't the real Ivy, and that was planned all along. Fan feedback? I was happy to see some folks were pissed and some folks were thrilled. That means you've written a provocative story that gets people talking. What better fun for a comic series than to have something happen the fans can argue about. If everything was always pleasing every fan, it would be a fairly "safe" comic, which I doubt would please every fan.


ISSUE 17

Obviously it wasn't planned, but Batman Adventures #17 and Justice League Adventures #34, both final issues of their respective series, start out with alley scenes of Bruce Wayne's parents death. Any thoughts on this?

I hadn't read the last JLA, so it was not on purpose. I think any story with Batman in it that has some sort of cathartic ending, starts well with that iconic and cathartic beginning. It's simply basic story construction. In my case, however...my very FIRST Batman script (Batman Adventures #33) was about recreating the alley way murder (and originally contained a flashback), so I was "bookending" my writing stint on the series with a similar scene. I also "bookended" the bit with the Batsignal destroyed and restored in the first and last issue of this particular series.

The shot of Bruce Wayne and his parents is a great rendition of the cover to Batman: Year One #1--was this something you had planned, or something that Burchett did?

I'd have to check specifically, but I assume I suggested the pose in the original script and Rick did a fantastic (as always) job of drawing it. I've used that pose a few times in my own Batman Adventues art, and consider it an iconic image, like the shot of Wayne in front of the painting, or the grave, etc...

Obviously using the Joker in the final issue is a cliché you wanted to avoid; why use Joe Chill, and not, what some many consider to Batman's ultimate love and villain, Phantasm? Or was Joe Chill always something you wanted to do.

I used Joker in the issue before for just that reason. One last Joker story before I hit the road, for grins, you know.... As for Joe Chill...yeah, he was in mind for the last Batman Adventures story for years now. Every now and then when you talk to other writers and you say things like "If they ever let me write the last Batman story, I'd do such and such..." The moment I heard we were cancelled and there would be a "last" issue, I knew it would be a Joe Chill story. And the Phantasm stories were all written by Slott for this series, and I felt she was his character to play with. We BOTH plan to write at least one or two more adventures style scripts for the JLUnlimited book, if they'll let us, and the plan was to wrap up the Phatasm/ Red Hood over there. You'll have to ask Dan who the Red Hood was. It's his bit so I'm not allowed to reveal it…

The way Chill was constantly seeing Wayne's face was a great buildup to him removing Batman's mask to only see that face again. This was an excellent bit of writing. Did you always want to do that, or was that just something that came about and you thought "man, that'd be cool!"?

The scene with Chill ripping of Batman's mask was the first image of the script that came to me. It's a "left turn" from Bob Kane and Bill Finger's JOE CHILL story, where BATMAN purposely removes the mask in front of Joe. I wanted the opposite to happen, where Joe removes the mask in a fight. That was the first thought I had before I'd typed a single word. You could say the final scene was the inspiration for the story.

And, believe it or not, it almost didn't happen the way it was supposed to. Burchett originally misunderstood the staging of the scene and he drew the Batman mask in place for the last five pages of the story. When the finished art (already lettered and inked) got to me just before it was sent to the printers, I spotted the problem, and asked Rick to do some quick drawing to fix the art in time to get it to the printers correctly. Rick is a trooper, and he was more than willing to redraw the sequence to help send off Batman in style. I'm glad he did, too, cause the scene wouldn't have made much sense with the mask in place. Sometimes miscommunications happen, but Burchett saved the DAY!


Batman apologized to Detective Giella--something he has never even done to Gordon. Was this done because Giella had been assigned to the Wayne murder?

Yes. Absolutely. And there was another reason, although slightly more subltle. Batman's line: "I forget I can be frightening sometimes" is to set up the idea that people in Gotham are just a little afraid of Batman....except Joe Chill....who is only afraid of Bruce Wayne. I wanted a quick reminder that Batman can frighten people. But the apology was because this was the man that tried to solve the Wayne murder and never gave up. Imagine Batman's relationship to the man that hunts your parents killers, just like you do.

The ending of the issue felt like a finale, and, at the same time, continued on. This is similar to the season three finale of the show "24", where the main character, Jack Bauer, was showing going off in the end and simply "continuing the good fight". Did that show influence it at all, or have you not even seen the show?

Never seen the show. But I did want a sense that "Batman continues on" even if we're not there to read about him any more. The last line of the last OG Star Trek movie is, I believe "Second star to the left, and straight on til morning..." A quote from Peter Pan that suggests childhood lasts forever if we keep exploring the next unknown...I think that scene is a more direct influence for this Trekkie than the 24 show. (I hear 24's quite good, though...a number of my friends swear by it.)