Weisman Discusses “Young Justice: Invasion” Blu-ray, “Rain of the Ghosts” Book Series

The World’s Finest caught up with Young Justice executive producer Greg Weisman to briefly chat about the Warner Archive release of Young Justice: Invasion, a two-disc Blu-ray title collecting the final twenty episodes of the acclaimed animated series. Weisman answered a few quick questions about his involvement in the bonus material slated for the Young Justice: Invasion Blu-ray release, and also talked about his acclaimed book series Rain of the Ghosts. Young Justice: Invasion, now available for pre-order, will be available starting Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 for $24.95US from the Warner Archive. Rain of the Ghosts and Spirits of Ash and Foam: A Rain of the Ghosts Novel are both currently available for purchase from retail and online outlets.

Please continue below for more from Weisman…

The World’s Finest: Young Justice: Invasion is the first Young Justice home video release to feature proper behind-the-scenes bonus content. Is there any prep work that goes into bonus features (the commentaries and featurette) on your part?

Greg Weisman: Maybe there should be… but no. [Producer] Brandon Vietti and I have pretty decent memories for this kind of thing, and it’s just so much fun to watch the episodes again together and spend some time with great people like [actors] Jason Spisak and Stephanie Lemelin. So we just show up and run with it.

WF: Do you pull out notes and information to prepare yourself for both the commentary and the interviews?

GW: Not so much. We all have more stories than we could fit into the run time of any commentary. We’re not worried about running low and needing crib sheets.

WF: Is it exciting to get to share some of the experience in making this show, and relive it with colleagues?

GW: Very. We had such a blast making Young Justice, and so loved the folks we were working with, that getting to revisit the series in any way is a total joy.

WF: All 46 episodes are now out on Blu-ray. Does it feel like this kind of closes a chapter for you, that Young Justice is put to bed for the moment?

GW: Not at all. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic that the show is available in full now in a format that does it justice (no pun intended), but I think that Brandon and I would both jump at any chance to work with these characters and in this universe again.

WF: Did recording extras for the second set somewhat aid in that – getting a chance to put your final words on the property…for now?

GW: The key words there would be “for now,” because I’m not a big believer in final words. Never the end…

WF: Outside of your animated work, you’ve been keeping pretty busy with your Rain of the Ghosts book series, with the second installment released earlier this year. With the holiday season upon is, can you tell us why these make some solid gifts ….and particularly who for?

GW: Well, I’m biased, of course, as I’m very proud of these two books, but I think both Rain of the Ghosts and Spirits of Ash and Foam would make fantastic gifts. These books deal with some of the same themes and concerns that series like Gargoyles, The Spectacular Spider-Man, W.I.T.C.H. and Young Justice have dealt with. So if you or your friends or family like any of those shows, I really think they’d like these two books. In addition, they are – technically – YA novels, so if you have kids, teens, etc., (girls or boys) who love a great yarn with interesting and diverse characters, then the Rain books could be just the thing. Finally, any student of mythology should find interest in how I’m taking the myths of the pre-Colombian Taíno people and bringing them forward into a modern fantasy/horror/action context.

WF: The Rain of the Ghosts book have a pretty wide appeal to them, even outside of the marketed pre-teen/tween group. For those who haven’t tried the books because they think they’re “just” for the younger set, what do you say to them?

GW: Again, I always write primarily for myself. It’s the only way I can prove out my passion for a given project. So if you’ve enjoyed my previous work on television or in comics, odds are you and I share a common sensibility. And if so, then you’re sure to enjoy Rain. The characterization, the plotting, the mythology, the backstory, the environment should all work for a younger audience, but I don’t believe in writing down to kids. So there’s plenty of meat on these bones for an older reader to sink her or his teeth into.

WF: Do you have any further comments on the new Young Justice: Invasion Blu-ray release, and anything to add about Rain? The Blu-ray and the book sure would make a solid one-two punch for solid entertainment. Why are both worth checking out?

GW: We’re very proud of Young Justice‘s second season. We told a powerful story, introduced a bunch of new fan favorite characters and took a big step toward adulthood for our Season One cast. Plus each episode is simply jam-packed with content and can easily hold up over repeat viewings. And, of course, I feel the same way about Rain, and am really hoping that more of my Young Justice fans check it out!

For further details on Rain of the Ghosts and Spirits of Ash and Foam, including purchase information and readers reviews, please click on the respective artwork below for each title.

If you want to see further installments of Rain, please support these titles!

Young Justice: Invasion arrives on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection, the Warner Bros. Home Entertainment specialty label, and will be available starting November 18th, 2014 for $24.95US from the label. Please note the release then goes wide to all major online outlets starting December 2nd, 2014. The collection is currently up for pre-order through most online retails outlets.

Check out the The World’s Finest Young Justice subsite for more information on this fan-favorite series. Stay tuned for additional news and updates right here at The World’s Finest.

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Batman: The Complete Television Series and Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham are both now available to own from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Warner Bros. Interactive, respectively. Click on the links below to discuss these new releases!

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The World’s Finest Questions Ty Templeton On “The Batman Adventures” And More

The World’s Finest caught up with artist/writer Ty Templeton to discuss his work on The Batman Adventures, the classic comic series based on Batman: The Animated Series, and a handful of other projects past, present and future.

Winner of the Joe Shuster Award for Outstanding Writer, nominated for countless others, and inducted in the Canadian Hall of Fame, Templeton’s career spans a multitude of mediums, characters and publishers, working on everything from Batman and Superman in both comic and animation form, to writing and drawing for The Simpsons, Vertigo Comics and assorted independent publishers. Even teaching classing classes to aspiring artists, Templeton has his hand deep in the comic and art community, both in Canada and abroad.

And now, DC Comics is releasing the classic The Batman Adventures comic series, featuring work by Templeton, in a new series of trade paperback collections, with the first volume hitting shelves Wednesday, November 12h, 2014. To find out what Templeton has to say about his work on that comic, and other projects, continue on…

The World’s Finest: DC Comics is reprinting the classic The Batman Adventures comics in a new series of trade paperback collections. Now, when the comic first started off, you had to start working on the comic before an episode of Batman: The Animated Series even aired. Can you walk us through how you managed to navigate such tricky waters to get that first issue out without having seen the show?

Ty Templeton: Well, that’s not strictly true. I’d actually seen the “On Leather Wings” episode when I was working on the first issue, and I think I saw two or three more before the general public did. It helps to be in the biz. Also, I had a set of turnaround and layout designs already from when I was briefly a storyboard artist for Lightbox Productions in Toronto, which worked on the first season of the show. It was the primary reason I was hired, was because I was already associated with the production before it made it to the air.

WF: And when you did see the first episode, did you think, in retrospect, you and Kelley Puckett (the writer) nailed it with your first opening arc?

TT: Again, the premise of the question is slightly off. And as an artist I’m never happy with what I do. I’d love to go back and fix all the mistakes in that first issue. There are plenty.

WF: After the initial three issues of The Batman Adventures, you stepped aside for the most part, save for the odd appearance, but then came back basically full-time with Batman & Robin Adventures. That opening two-part story remains, personally, one of the best Two-Face stories ever (“It was Tuesday” – brutal). Did your artist approach change when it can to drawing these characters again, now that the animated series and comic were established?

TT: I was originally only approached to do three issues, it was meant to be a micro series to test the waters, but we came out of the gate with enormous sales. Sales so good they could not cancel the book, so it kept going. I was unavailable for anything past issue #3 so the wonderful Mike Parobeck came and took over and did it for the next twenty eight issues before I returned, first as a writer (Batman Adventures #32) then as a writer artist with Mike for a few issues when Kelly Puckett left, then as an artist with Paul Dini, then as the writer/cover artist for the rest of the series, stepping back into the artist shoes for the Dan Slott scripted issues because, well, who wouldn’t want to draw a Dan Slott script?!?

WF: While the three issues included in the new The Batman Adventures collection highlights your pencil work, you also wrote this title for quite a few years. Which did you find easier – getting the look of the show down, or the voice? Why?

TT: There’s not really an “easier” between the two disciplines, but I enjoy both and didn’t want to step back from writing when I had my hands on the character. I kept up with the covers because I simply couldn’t write and draw an issue every month, so it was a question of schedule more than anything that kept me from doing it all. When Slott came aboard near the end, and scripted half the stories, I could write mine and draw his and was quite happy with everything at that point (though I missed doing covers! What a selfish bastard I was on that series!)

WF: The Batman Adventures is considered one of the best unsung Batman comics of the 90s. Any thoughts on that? Was it because the series wasn’t enveloped in countless ongoing crossovers, or perhaps because it ignored the other bad practices that popped up throughout the decade, or maybe…because, simply, there was just great storytelling. Thoughts?

TT: If it’s unsung, it ain’t considered one of the best anything. It’s like being a tall midget, it doesn’t work logically. Unsung means unnoticed. We weren’t unnoticed, though … we won a bunch of Eisner awards and Fanny Awards during this period (I have most of ‘em on my wall), and were quite happy with the recognition and very healthy sales. At one point, Batman and Robin Adventures was DC’s best selling comic worldwide, as it was, by far, their most translated. We were in dozens and dozens of countries and outselling everything DC put out in Europe, except Gaiman’s Sandman book. There’s a pair of contenders, eh? So your contention that we were ignored is slightly off. But … the book was not particularly supported in editorial at the time, because DC was going through a real “identity crisis” of sorts at editorial, where they really didn’t like the idea of kids reading comics. Obviously, you need kids to have a new generation of readers every ten years, but I had constant requests to get off the book from editors telling me my career would be better if I did a more mainstream book. I was happy where I was (stayed there off and on for like fifteen years!) and was happy to connect to the audience. It was editorial that didn’t love us, and gave us no promotion, no reprint series, little attention when we won awards. We were only unsung around the DC offices, actually, not around the biz.

WF: Switching gears for a moment, you’ve kept yourself quite busy over the years, but you always seem to pop back on to a Batman book every once and a bit. Given this is Batman’s 75th, do you have any comments on the character’s enduring appeal? Maybe perhaps those 1980s Zellers commercials (laughs)?

TT: The character’s appeal is simple. His story is the ultimate metaphor for control vs. chaos, which is the basic story of existence. The living impose order on a chaotic structure, like the planet Earth for instance,, and Batman is the embodiment of that struggle. It’s not a coincidence that all of his best villains are centered around madness or temptation.

As to the Zellers commercials….my work animating and doing layout for those commercials was where I connected with Lightbox Productions in Canada, which is what led to them being part of the original set of animation studios working on Batman The Animated Series, where I was hired to do storyboards, and hooked up with the whole thing. So domino theory in action.

WF: Continuing this off-topic track – You recently worked on the Batman ’66 Meets Green Hornet mini-series. Is there any intimidation to working on such beloved interpretations of these classic characters? How….careful are you when approaching these characters from an artistic standpoint? Do you ask yourself how close you need to stay to their look while allowing yourself a little room to put some of yourself in there?

TT: No intimidation at all. I lobbied for the gig, and sent the editor likenesses of all the major actors and some of the villains as part of my lobbying. It’s what got me the gig, so I knew I could catch the actors well.

WF: Is it safe to assume you’ll be losing many, many days watching the new Batman: The Classic TV Series Blu-ray/DVD Collection? Any episodes in particular you’re eager to revisit?

TT: I’ve had a set of those episodes on DVD for more than a decade. It’s good to have connections! As a result, I went through a bunch of them again while doing this recent series. My favorites are always the ones with Penguin, by far. Though the Joan Collins/Siren episodes tickle me for some reason. Obviously I watched the ones with Green Hornet and Colonel Gumm a bunch of times lately.

WF: And swinging back to the topic on hand, any last thoughts on the new The Batman Adventures collection, particularly your issues included within? Given that it’s been over twenty years since these have seen print, is it humbling to revisit these early works?

TT: Humbling is the wrong word. I’m never a fan of my old work (and barely a fan of my current work), so when reprints come out, I confess that I don’t look at them. I get sent copies and I put them on a shelf in my house so there’s a copy if I need it, but I’m never comfortable looking at my work in print. It’s almost impossible to get me to read a printed copy of my work, especially if I drew it, rather than wrote it. I sometimes go back and re-read scripts I’ve done, but there are damn few of those I think I did just right, so I tend to see mistakes, rather than stories.

WF: Lastly, can you fill us in on your current works and list off, perhaps, some upcoming projects you can share with us?

TT: Currently, as of this writing, I’m on vacation! I just finished up the Green Hornet Batman series and am taking a delightful two weeks off before plunging back to work. I’m doing some small work on a creator owned thing at the moment, and, in theory, am supposed to start something with Dan Slott at Marvel this fall, but he’s been a bit overbooked and I haven’t gotten a script out of him yet. So I owe him a phone call about that…

The World’s Finest would like to thank Ty Templeton for his participation in this Q & A. To find out more about Templeton’s work, check out his Ty Templeton’s Art Land website.

The Batman Adventures – Volume One, a ten-issue trade paperback collection from DC Comics, hits shelves on Wednesday, November 12th, 2014 for $19.99US. More details on the The Batman Adventures comic book series can be found at The World’s Finest Batman: The Animated Series subsite.

Stay tuned for further news and updates right here at The World’s Finest.

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Batman: The Complete Television Series and Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham are both now available to own from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Warner Bros. Interactive, respectively. Click on the links below to discuss these new releases!

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Matthew K. Manning Discusses “Batman: A Visual History,” Animated Comics, And More

The World’s Finest caught up with writer Matthew K. Manning to discuss his latest project – the epic Batman: A Visual History tome – along with his thoughts on the classic DC Comics character and his storied past. Manning has a long history with DC Comics, particularly when it comes to the animated adventures of the World’s Greatest Superheroes, having written for some of the “animated” titles the last few years. And now, Manning is channeling all that history, along with his own love of the character and the mythos, into an epic hardcover release celebrating Batman’s 75th anniversary.

Batman: A Visual History – now available to own – is a massive hardcover collection which offers something new even for the most diehard of Batman fans, Manning promises. He dives further into the book, his past work, and his own personal influences, in the Q & A below…

The World’s Finest: First off – tell us about Batman: A Visual History Why is this massive tome worth adding to the bookshelf? And, secondly, why are you the perfect person to write it?

Matthew K. Manning: This particular Batman books is about as thorough as you can get. We start in 1939, and tell the character’s history from a real-world perspective month-by-month up until 2014. Not only do you get a bit of behind-the-scenes history here and there, but it’s essentially a complete summary of all the Dark Knight’s important adventures throughout his entire career. There’s not a book on the shelves that’s ever attempted quite this level of detail.

As for why I’m a good fit for this book, well, I mentioned on my website that I’ve been training for this book since the 5th grade, and I really wasn’t exaggerating. The Tim Burton Batman movie hit theaters back then, and it forever changed my life. I’d always liked Batman when he appeared on Super Friends and such, but I never really sought out the comics until that movie debuted. Since then, I’ve read over 10,000 Batman-related comics, and really enjoy every era of his history. I’ve also been lucky enough to write a dozen or so comics for DC about the Caped Crusader, and plenty of books on the subject. But none quite like this. I co-wrote a book called The Batman Vault for Running Press, but that was more of a general overview with great little pull-out “artifacts.” My book The Batman Files for Andrews/McMeel was a faux scrapbook/journal written by Batman himself about his entire history, told through the character’s voice. It dealt with his fictional timeline, rather than the real world one. So this book is unique in that it shows how the character’s history has changed and evolved with the times.

WF: You’ve commented this is the book you were born to write. Can you expand on that and tell us about how influential the character has been on you and why he’s a pivotal part of your life?

MM: Like most kids, I grew up a fan of superheroes. I was also fascinated with newspaper comic strips, and really wanted to write and draw them. Back then I started reading a few Marvel Comics, but didn’t get truly immersed into the superhero world until the ’89 Batman movie. It was a great time to be reading comics, with recent hits like Batman: Year One and The Dark Knight Returns still on the shelves, and I was completely hooked. From there I branched out to the Outsiders and the Justice League, and eventually back to Marvel to see what Spider-Man had been up to. But really, those hours spent reading the likes of Denny O’Neil, Frank Miller, Grant Morrison and the like really influenced my worldview and my own personal morals.

WF: Why do you think Batman has remained so enduring all these years, and has been able to amass such a history? There are many other comic character who have been around for roughly the same time, but what makes Batman so…predominant among them?

MM: Firstly, I think kids can identify with Batman’s origin. They understand what that particular pain would be like. And both kids and adults are fascinated with the idea of a person literally being as good as he can be. It’s something we all wish we had the willpower to do, and like Batman, we want to be our personal best without the use of powers. Plus, there’s the simple fact that he looks cool. He’s fun to draw, so he attracts the best artists. And that makes for some great looking comic books, which in turn constantly attract readers.

WF: Can you walk us through your process for creating this book? The research, the writing, deciding what stays and what goes … how big of a project was this for you?

MM: Unlike past volumes of DK’s chronicle series, I attempted to write this one solo, so that meant a lot more work. The hardest part was the outline. It was a process of going through every single issue of my Batman collection, and flipping through hundreds of issues I haven’t read yet. There was an attempt to record the debut of every new Batmobile, Batwing/Batplane and costume, as well as every major and minor villain and supporting character. After the outline was finished, the rest was just reexamining those stories and trying to fit in all the important details in the limited space available. As it happened, a deadline change caused me to have to give up writing the 1960s and hand that chore over to the capable Matt Forbeck. I would have loved to handle that one as well, but I was content with just supplying the outline for it. All told, the book took at least a half a year to write.

WF: When some folks see these types of books, the “ultimate guides,” etc., they usually scoff at them because they assume they already know everything that’s going to be in the book. How is this book different? Why is this book a must-read for fans?

MM: I doubt there are many people that will know all the information in this book. It’s more than a summary of a handful of major story lines, and even I learned plenty in the course of writing it. This covers everything from the debut of Batmouse to an obscure future Batman of New York City from the old Hex title. There’s plenty of new info for diehard and casual fans alike.

WF: The animated adventures of Batman have played a huge role in the character’s popularity? Can you give us an idea of how you handle their importance and role in this month-to-month breakdown of major Batman events?

MM: Unfortunately, because of licensing issues, we weren’t really able to get into the movies or TV shows here. Those would require separate negations between DC and DK. While they shows and cartoons are mentioned here and there, this book remains mainly about the comic books themselves. Which is probably just as well. It’s already 350 pages as is…

WF: Now, you’ve been a part of the animated comic lore, having contributed to some of the popular DC “animated” comics. Care to run through some of your favorites with us?

MM: I absolutely love writing those types of titles, so it’s hard to pick my favorite. I really enjoyed my first issue of The Batman Strikes (# 10), the tie-in title to The Batman cartoon. We were able to tell the story through flashbacks in an interesting way, really adding to the mystery of the issue. Also, my final issue of Beware the Batman (# 6) was a lot of fun, as the entire story was told from Alfred’s point of view, like a first-person shooter video game. It was an interesting experiment that I think really worked thanks to the very fluid and lively work of the artist, Luciano Vecchio. And while not an animated comic, I was really happy with how my Calendar Man story ended up in Batman: 80-Page Giant 2010.

WF: You’ll be appearing at New York-Comic-Con, starting up later this week. Can you give us a rundown of your schedule and appearances?

MM: I’m signing this particular book at the DK table on Thursday (October 9th) from 5-6 and on Friday (October 10th) from 5-6 as well. I’ll also be at the Insight Editions table on Saturday (October 11th), signing The World According to Joker from 3-4.

WF: Before we wrap this up, can you tell us about your next related project – The World According to The Joker?

MM: Insight’s new “World According to” series are essentially small “advice” books written by the title character. They include lots of great paper pull-outs and the like, and have been extremely fun to write. My first book for them is out now, titled The World According to Wolverine. The World According to Joker is out on October 30th, but I think they might have advance copies of it at the New York show. It’s written entirely in the Joker’s voice (except for a guest spread by Harley and notes from Dr. Arkham), and gives you all the twisted advice you can every need. You can even spin the wheel of death, to decide which way you can kill Robin. I’ve also written two upcoming “journals” for Insight, which are essentially blank journal pads, with a short Batman and Joker story starting each one off.

WF: Now, to bring this to an end, can you give us one last reason to run out and pick up Batman: A Visual History, now available online and retail outlets everywhere?

MM: Without this book on your shelf, you may never read about the most Earth-shattering team-up between Batman and Superman in the history of comics: the day they went to a bar and drank milk. That story actually happened and was even penciled by the great David Mazzucchelli. But you have to read the book to find out when…

Special thanks to Matthew K. Manning for his participation in this Q & A!

The massive Batman: A Visual History hardcover book is now available at retail and digital outlets everywhere for $50US. Published by DK Books, the visually stunning, definitive guide by Manning arrives in a slipcase featuring specially commissioned artwork by DC Comics artist Jason Fabok plus two original prints. Check out the The World’s Finest review for this book here.

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Interview With “Batman: The Animated Series” Soundtrack Co-Producer John Takis

After waiting over two years, the latest Batman: The Animated Series soundtrack collection from La-La Land Records has arrived. Collecting an abundance of scores over a massive four-disc set, Batman: The Animated Series – Original Soundtrack from the Warner Bros. Television Series, Volume Three includes some of the most sought-after music in television history. After two incredible collections, La-La Land Records has dug into the vaults once more to pull out more amazing work by Shirley Walker and her amazing team of composers. Involved in the soundtrack’s production is John Takis, producer for many of an assortment of DC Comics animation-based soundtracks for the specialty label. The World’s Finest caught up with Takis to talk about the scope of this release and the legacy of this monumental music. Click on the image below to check out the interview.

Complete details on Batman: The Animated Series – Original Soundtrack from the Warner Bros. Television Series, Volume Three are available at the The World’s Finest Batman: The Animated Series subsite. To discuss this interview and the soundtrack release, click on the link below.

Discuss the Batman: The Animated Series – Original Soundtrack from the Warner Bros. Television Series, Volume Three soundtrack on The DC Animation Forum!

Batman: The Animated Series – Original Soundtrack from the Warner Bros. Television Series, Volume Three is a four-disc set with over five hours of music 24 full episode scores, including the two-part epic crossover “Robin’s Reckoning” and “The Clock King,” “Dreams in Darkness” and more. The soundtrack CD release from La-La Land Records will be available to order directly from La La Land Records starting Tuesday, October 7th, 2014. The soundtrack will be available through the label’s official website and a host of specialty online retailers. Stay tuned for additional updates and news, right here at The World’s Finest!

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Christopher Jones Talks New “Parallel Man” Series, Working On Animated DC Comics Titles

The World’s Finest caught up with artist Christopher Jones to discuss Parallel Man: Invasion America, a new science fiction adventure comic book series from FutureDude Entertainment, and how his work on the Young Justice comic series – and other animated DC Comics titles – prepared him for this upcoming project. Jones has a long history with DC Comics, particularly when it comes to the animated adventures of the World’s Greatest Superheroes. And now, with Parallel Man: Invasion America #1 hitting shelves in comic book stores nationwide on October 8th, 2014, Jones is ready to take it to the next level. Continue on to the Q & A below to hear more from Jones himself!

The World’s Finest: First, before we go any further, can you give us a quick rundown on Parallel Man and why fans of your DC Comics work might want to check it out?

Christopher Jones: Parallel Man: Invasion America is a 7-issue mini-series about parallel worlds with a cast of great characters, lots of action and adventure, and a ton of cool gadgets and vehicles. The basic idea is that instead of a breakthrough that led to atomic weapons and power, another America breached the dimension barrier, gaining the ability to travel to parallel Earths. That America didn’t just win the war but dominated the globe, and by 2014 is known as the Ascendancy and controls an empire of 11 parallel Earths. As the Ascendency is about to move to annex our Earth, intelligence agent Nick Morgan goes rogue. He is being chased by Mackenzie Cartwright, who’s possibly my favorite character in the book.

For all the advanced technology the Ascendancy has accumulated from the worlds they’ve conquered and absorbed, their culture hasn’t really evolved since just after World War II because they’ve never really left their war footing. The Civil Rights movement never happened there. No advancement in the rights of women in their society. The general who created the dimension-hopping technology became president and founded a dynasty. The current Ascendancy president is his grandson, and his daughter Mackenzie Cartwright is his only child. She’s the heir-apparent in a man’s world, and serves as the only woman in an all-male military. Furthermore, she commands the Hellfighters – an all-black unit of commandos in the segregated Ascendancy military. It’s Mackenzie Cartwright and the Hellfighters who are sent after Nick Morgan when he goes rogue, in a chase that starts on our Earth and travels to the super-industrialized ChinaAmerica, to a world where the dinosaurs were never wiped out, and to a world where the only lifeform is a toxic fungus. And that’s just part of the first issue!

Each issue introduces new worlds and new characters, including the Scavengers – a group existing on the world that’s the dumping ground for all the undesirables from the Ascendancy worlds. We meet the Illinis Native American tribe on a world where Europeans never came to North America. And most importantly, we meet the Futurists – a group of scientists leading a resistance movement against the Ascendancy, trying to reclaim the technology they helped create from the imperialistic regime that is abusing it.

I think it’s all very cool and smart and exciting. The story is by Jeffrey Morris and Fredrick Haugen. Character designs are by myself with concept art by Eric Chu who worked on the new Battlestar Galactica, and the color on the book is by Zac Atkinson who I worked with on Young Justice.

In addition to the 7-issue comic, we’ve got games in development and are in production on a 12-minute pilot for an animated version which should be available online later in October. John Cho (Star Trek) is voicing Nick Morgan, Ming-Na Wen (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) is voicing Mackenzie Cartwright, and Lance Reddick (Fringe) is voicing Atlas, an AI assistant to Nick Morgan who becomes an interesting character in its own right. It all starts when issue #1 of Parallel Man: Invasion America launches on Wednesday, October 8th, 2014. It’s available for pre-order through Diamond now at your local comic book retailer, and will be available digitally on Comixology.

WF: How would you compare your work on Parallel Man to your previous works?

CJ: I’ve drawn different books in a wide variety of styles over the years. Many of the titles I’ve worked on in recent years which I’m best known for were based on animation properties (Young Justice, The Batman Strikes!, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes), and were drawn to resemble the show on which they were based. Other books I’ve done such as Batman ’66, Kolchak, and Re-Animator have been based on live-action films or TV shows. There I was trying to capture likenesses of lead actors and to evoke the look and feel of the show as much as possible. Other superhero comics I’ve done have been fill-ins or short one-off stories that didn’t seem well-suited for departing from what had gone before so I was just trying to draw versions of those characters that were rooted in what had gone immediately before.

So here, finally, is a chance to draw a comic that is it’s own thing. When I came onto this project there had already been some concept art done by Eric Chu (Battlestar: Galactica) and some vehicle design had been done, but I got to design all the characters from scratch, as well as uniforms, locations, props, all kinds of things. I’ve said that my Young Justice work was moving in the direction of being in “my own style” while still being anchored by the character designs from the show. Here now is a chance to see what my own style looks like unfiltered by other artists’ designs from an animated TV show!

And this is a sci-fi series about traveling to parallel worlds, so there’s been a lot of fun design work to be done in creating the different locations the story takes us to.

WF: Parallel Man is currently undergoing a bit of a media push, with games, soundtracks and merchandise. Can you explain to us the appeal of this character and why he deserves a little attention?

CJ: We’ve got a number of characters, actually. Despite the very singular-sounding Parallel Man title, even our lead character has two different aspects in this story! We are introduced to Nicholas Morgan (our Earth’s version of agent Nick Morgan). Nicholas is for from a super-spy; he’s a gamer geek who lives with his Grandfather Tobias, who has a connection to the Futurists and may just be the key to everything that is happening.

Parallel Man is packed with so many interesting ideas! The parallel worlds concept gives us so much to explore and has such limitless possibilities. So yes, we’re doing a 7-issue comic book mini-series to begin with. If it’s successful, we’d love to continue on from there. FutureDude is also developing a collectable deck card game and a mobile device/tablet game that are based on the concepts of Parallel Man and based on the look of the comic.

I also got to help develop and do storyboards for a 12-minute animation being produced as a pilot for the animated Parallel Man TV series we’d love to do. After years of clarifying that I worked on the Young Justice comic book but not on the TV show, I’d finally be able to say “Yes, I worked on the show!” The animation pilot will be available on-line in October, and a trailer is available right now.

WF: For fans who know you just from your animated comic work, why do you think they should give your work on Parallel Man a shot?

CJ: I think we’ve got a great-looking book with a ton of story packed into every issue. And if they liked my art on comics based on animated TV shows, here’s a chance to be a fan of the comic before the TV show happens! “Hey, I was a fan of Parallel Man before it was cool!” (Too late, it’s already cool.)

WF: Do you see a natural evolution to your artwork and storytelling abilities, looking at your older work to now? Do you tell stories differently (more panels, less, and so forth)?

CJ: So much changes depending on the needs of a particular project. The first issue of Parallel Man was already fully scripted when I came on board, with the rest of the series existing as an outline. For subsequent issues I’ve been doing layouts based on those outlines, giving me much more control over the visual storytelling. I’ve been trying to give the visuals a really cinematic flavor and have tried to limit the number of panels per page. Every time we go to a new location I try to do a big cinematic establishing shot, but it’s a real balancing act. We cover a lot of story in each issue and each page has to move the story forward.

But I think the projects I’ve done in the past have definitely had a lasting influence on my style and how I tell a story. My work has definitely become much more dynamic and expressive since doing so much animation-based work. A cartoonier drawing style I really think lets you focus more attention on the composition and design of a page. I like my action scenes to really move.

WF: How do you compare some of your earliest gigs to your current and upcoming work? Is it hard to believe just how far you’ve come in the last decade (give or take)?

CJ: It’s been a strange career trajectory if you go back more than a decade to my pre-DC Comics work. I started out drawing a lot of crime, horror and adventure comics. I really don’t have any professional superhero credits before the work I did for DC and Marvel. I was doing stuff like the Re-Animator movie adaptation, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and some other properties you likely wouldn’t know. The thing that got my foot in the door at DC were some samples I’d done for Warner Brothers Animation, which got me some fill-in work on Young Heroes in Love, a series DC was doing that was drawn in a fairly cartoony style. And that let to more and more in the same vein. And while I love all that material, especially The Batman Strikes! and Young Justice, I was getting to be known pretty exclusively for that kind of thing. It’s like getting typecast as an actor. You might be able to play more than one kind of role, but if that’s all you ever get offered, it’s all you’ll ever get the chance to do. So it’s exciting to get a chance to do something that’s removed from all that both in terms of visual style and subject matter.

WF: The Young Justice fanbase has been really loyal to the creators involved in both the television series and supporting comic. What is it about the characters and the fans that inspire such loyalty?

CJ: Aside from just being really well done, Young Justice offered strongly character-driven writing that with rich relationships between the characters. You saw those characters and relationships tested and changed by the adventures they had. That encourages a degree of investment in those characters from the audience you don’t often get in superhero material. Young Justice also had a remarkably large and diverse cast of characters – ethnic diversity and really strong female characters which is much rarer than it should be. When someone sees themselves represented in the cast of a show that’s huge. Young Justice offered a lot on so many levels. I was a huge fan of the TV show and was really proud of the work we did in the companion comic as well.

I really love the Young Justice fans. Meeting the Young Justice cosplayers and other fans as I travel to conventions continues to be such a joy for me. It’s really the gift from my association with that series that keeps on giving.

WF: Can you give us a rundown of your upcoming convention appearances? Let us know where we can find you!

CJ: Here are the rest of my appearances for 2014:

Cincinatti Comic Expo
September 19-21, 2014 – Cincinnati, OH

MCBA FallCon Comic Book Celebration
October 4, 2014 – St. Paul, MN

New York Comic Con
October 9-12, 2014 – NYC, New York

Grand Rapids Comic-Con
November 21-23, 2014 – Grand Rapids, MI

You can always find a list of my upcoming appearances at my official website.

WF: To wrap this up, can you give us one last sell on why Parallel Man: Invasion America #1 must be checked out when it hits shelves on Wednesday, October 8th, 2014?

CJ: The artwork is by my with color by my Young Justice collaborator Zac Atkinson. I think we’ve got some amazing world-building with a series jam-packed full of action and sci-fi concepts. And did I mention that the leader of the Futurists is a parallel world version of Carl Sagan, and that Carl’s real-world son Dorion Sagan is our scientific advisor for the comic book? It’s pretty cool stuff.

If you can’t find Parallel Man at your local comic shop, ask them to order it through Diamond. Otherwise, you can get it in digital form through Comixology! You won’t be disappointed!

Thanks for your time, Chris!

Parallel Man: Invasion America #1 is will be available at comic shops and for digital download on Wednesday, October 8th, 2014, from FutureDude Entertainment. The title currently is available for pre-order. Further updates on Jones and his assorted projects can be found at Christopher Jones Comic Art & Illustrations Blog.

Stay tuned for further updates right here at The World’s Finest!

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Interview With “Batman: Assault On Arkham” Character Designer Jon Suzuki

The World’s Finest caught up with Character Designer Jon Suzuki to discuss this work on the recent Batman: Assault on Arkham animated feature, the latest installment in the ongoing DC Universe Animated Original Movie line. The animated movie – which is now available to own on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD – features a story based on the popular Batman: Arkham video game series. Suzuki discusses process of working on an animated project, the surprising difficulties that come with and some of his favorite works, his work on the DC Universe Animated Original Movie and why fans should check out Batman: Assault on Arkham.

Click on the image below to check out the exclusive interview.

Click here to read the The World’s Finest review of Batman: Assault on Arkham.

Additional images, videos, details and more can be found at the The World’s Finest Batman: Assault on Arkham subsite. Click on the links below to discuss the new Batman: Assault on Arkham animated feature, its respective home video releases and other related topics.

Batman: Assault on Arkham Feature Talkback (Spoilers)
Batman: Assault on Arkham Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Talkback (Spoilers)
Batman: Assault on Arkham Soundtrack Talkback (Spoilers)

The direct-to-video Batman: Assault on Arkham animated feature from DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation is now available to own on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment distributes the latest installment of the DC Universe Animated Original Movie line. Stay tuned for additional exclusive content.

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Interview With “Superman: The Animated Series” Soundtrack Co-Producer John Takis

After much fanfare and boundless anticipation, acclaimed record label La-La Land Records recently released the massive four-disc CD set Superman: The Animated Series – Original Soundtrack from the Warner Bros. Television Series. Including the complete score to twenty episodes of the acclaimed animated series, along with a host of rarities, the soundtrack release features the knockout work of composers Kristopher Carter, Harvey R. Cohen, Michael McCuistion, Lolita Ritmanis and Shirley Walker, delivering some of the finest music ever recorded for an animated series. The World’s Finest caught up with Superman: The Animated Series soundtrack co-producer John Takis to talk about how this super collection came together. Click on the image below to check out the interview.

Complete details on Superman: The Animated Series – Original Soundtrack from the Warner Bros. Television Series are available at the The World’s Finest Superman: The Animated Series subsite. To discuss this interview and the soundtrack release, click on the link below.

Discuss the Superman: The Animated Series – Original Soundtrack from the Warner Bros. Television Series soundtrack on The DC Animation Forum!

Superman: The Animated Series – Original Soundtrack from the Warner Bros. Television Series is a four-disc set with over five hours of music and over 20 full episode scores, including the three-part epic crossover “World’s Finest” and Lolita Ritmanis’ Emmy-nominated score to “Little Girl Lost.” The complete CD set is currently available to own, and can be purchased through www.lalalandrecords.com and other select soundtrack boutiques. Stay tuned for additional updates and news, right here at The World’s Finest!

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Author Greg Weisman Discusses “Rain Of The Ghosts” Novel, Upcoming Signing Events

The World’s Finest caught up with Greg Weisman, co-producer of the recent fan-favorite Young Justice animated series, to discuss his new novel Rain of the Ghosts. Rain of the Ghosts is the first in Weisman’s new book series about an adventurous young girl, Rain Cacique, who discovers she has a mystery to solve, a mission to complete, and the ability to see ghosts. In the following interview, Weisman discusses the origin of his new book series, why fans of his animated work should check it out, and where readers can have the opportunity to meet him and receive a signed copy of Rain of the Ghosts. Continue below for more from Weisman…

The World’s Finest: To start things off, can you give us a spoiler-free rundown of your new book Rain of the Ghosts, and maybe toss in some back-story on what inspired you to write this tale?

Greg Weisman: Rain Cacique is a thirteen-year-old girl, who lives on San Próspero, the largest island of the Prospero Keys – known to locals as the Ghost Keys, or more simply, The Ghosts. Rain’s mother runs the Nitaino Inn, a bed & breakfast; her father, a charter boat service. And Rain, who works for them both, believes her life is destined to remain an endless cycle of making beds and cutting bait for tourists. She feels trapped. The one person who gives her hope is her maternal grandfather Sebastian Bohique, who gives her a precious family heirloom: a golden armband comprised of two intertwined serpents. Unfortunately, ’Bastian passes away shortly after giving Rain the armband, and Rain’s grief is overwhelming… which may explain why she’s starting to see dead people. But soon enough Rain learns (with the help of her best friend Charlie Dauphin) that the armband has granted her the power to communicate with ghosts. She has a destiny and a larger purpose. Not to mention two mysterious new enemies: the Australian mercenary Callahan and the Hurricane-Goddess Hura-Hupia. The former wants Rain’s armband at any cost. The latter wants to put an end to Rain’s quest, specifically at the cost of Rain’s life.

Rain of the Ghosts is a project I originally developed at DreamWorks, right after doing Gargoyles for Disney. It was chockfull of all the ingredients that I love about a concept: a rich, largely unknown mythology; engaging protagonists; dangerous, smart villains; a unique semi-exotic setting, and a driving story. We never got to do it as an animated series, but I couldn’t get the story and characters out of my head. Jeffrey Katzenberg at DreamWorks kindly sold the rights back to me, and over a decade ago I wrote a novel, which failed to sell. But after finishing Young Justice, I revisited the story, did a rewrite and sent it off to St. Martin’s Press. The result is the novel that just came out.

WF: This is the first installment of a planned multiple book series. How far along are you in the development of the ongoing story? Do you know how it’s going to end? And how does that present a challenge in approaching each book, especially when any installment could conceivably be someone’s first?

GW: I know the entire story in rough form for all nine books, and even for the start of a second series of nine books set in the same universe. Having said that, I don’t pretend to have every single detail worked out for books three through nine, and I like to leave myself open to discovering things along the way. I’ve completed the second book, Spirits of Ash and Foam, which comes out in July of 2014, and as I was writing it, two very minor characters began to take on much more important roles. In essence, they were telling me they weren’t going to be minor players anymore. And those kinds of voices – manifesting from the writing process or from my gut instinct or from some kind of parallel-world-telepathy or from wherever and whatever – are voices I always listen to.

It can be a challenge to have to set things up all over again. It’s much easier in a visual medium, where I don’t have to physically re-describe things like characters and settings: they’re just there on screen or on the comic book page for the audience to see. It never feels repetitive, for example, to see Superboy or Spider-Man or Goliath again. But in a prose novel, I have to make sure that someone who hasn’t read the previous book or hasn’t read it recently can get up to speed quickly. And yet I don’t want it to feel repetitive or boring for someone who has just put down Rain and picked up Spirits and doesn’t necessarily want to hear me describe Rain or Charlie using the exact same language from the previous book. But I like to think I found a path to walk that should satisfy all readers.

WF: Can you run us through how you came up with Rain of the Ghosts‘s main character – Rain – and why you thought a young protagonist was key to the story. Do you find it easy to write these young teen characters? Why?

GW: Well, I’ve been writing teen characters for quite a few years now. But Rain’s younger than most of the sixteen and seventeen-year-olds that I’ve been writing in The Spectacular Spider-Man and Young Justice. For Rain, I wanted a character who had all the drama of a teenager, but less of the cynicism. Someone who wouldn’t always feel the need to pretend that the amazing stuff she was seeing wasn’t amazing. In addition, I truly like writing female characters, and I’m a fan of diversity. You don’t see a lot of thirteen-year-old female Native Americans as leads in stories set in the present. This was a chance to try something that felt new to me.

WF: Rain finds herself in very specific, very intriguing surroundings. Care to walk us through why you chose this setting? It definitely falls along the works you’ve done before, a mix of realism and mysticism.

GW: One reviewer referred to the book as magical realism, which I take as a high compliment. The Caribbean is a melting pot in microcosm. So many cultures – dating back to before the Taíno people that were there when Columbus “discovered” America – make up its modern landscape. And much of the mythology of the region hasn’t really been explored in popular culture. Add in the fact that a kid who grows up in an inn, with strangers (i.e. tourists) constantly coming to stay at her home, also felt fresh to me, and the Ghost Keys seemed like a no-brainer.

WF: Whether it’s with Rain of the Ghosts or your assorted projects, how much planning goes into creating the world and its rules. Is it something you’re always conscious of when writing (so and so can’t do this because of this rule, etc.)? Does it help keep you in check and perhaps keep the story as grounded as possible, even with some of the otherworldly elements?

GW: As most folks familiar with my writing know, I’m big on both planning and rules. I have timelines for almost every television series I’ve ever developed (for example, the timeline for Young Justice is nearly three hundred pages long). The world of Rain of the Ghosts is no different. A document that I created for Rain and originally labeled “Cheat Sheet” because it was a single page of “reminders,” is now – after writing Spirits a whopping 169 pages long. It’s loaded with facts about the eight islands that make up the Ghost Keys, details about all the characters (major and minor, living and dead), and rules for how the universe works. Not all of this stuff is revealed in Rain or even Spirits, but, in success, the onion will be peeled away in layers across all nine volumes of Rain’s story.

As for writing each individual book, I plot everything out meticulously on many, many colored index cards. (Spirits of Ash and Foam required 693 cards.) But, again, I leave myself open to serendipity and discovery once I actually sit down to write. You never know…

WF: You stated plenty of times that kids aren’t given enough credit when it comes to understanding and accepting ideas some might see as complex. How does that drive your writing? And does that allow you the opportunity to explore more weighty issues – such as loss here in Rain, for example?

GW: Well, the main thing this belief does is free me up to write about what I want to write about and not worry whether or not my potential readership is going to “get” it. I do write on layers, so I believe that kids get as much as they need to get. And basically, I just don’t censor myself or my characters’ emotions. Death is a biggie, of course, and so are age-appropriate romantic entanglements – both of which can sometimes be difficult to explore in network cartoons. So it’s great to have the freedom to do that here. And even said age-appropriateness is set by the age of my characters, not by any arbitrary Standards and Practices idea of what’s appropriate for my readers.

WF: Rain of the Ghosts‘s narrator provides a genuine mystery to the reader, and is definitely an interesting take on how to tell Rain’s story. Without giving anything away, why did you choose this approach to the narration?

GW: The book is narrated using a First Person Omniscient (or nearly Omniscient) Narrator. That’s fairly atypical, but it seemed like the best way to tell the story. The narrator, whom the other characters know as Opie, has his own point of view, agenda, attitude and interests, all of which gain in clarity with each succeeding book in the series. Yet even here in this first book, the reader gets a few major revelations about him, including the fact that he’s omniscient about the present – the now – with that omniscience extending even to being able to read the thoughts of others. (In contrast, Opie cannot foretell the future, and his knowledge of the past, while extensive, is not encyclopedic.)

As for the why… part of the reason, admittedly, was the novelty of it. But Opie-as-Narrator plays into the mythology of the region and of the series. And he seemed like a perfect vehicle for exploring this new world I was trying to create in all its various facets.

WF: Can you drop any last teases for Rain, and where we could possibly see this story going to with the release of the second installment?

GW: As Spirits of Ash and Foam begins, Rain is on a quest in nine parts. She knows she’s completed the first step, but she has eight more steps to take. The second book begins to explain the rules of the world in more detail, introduces and/or develops more characters, and has a couple of new and dangerous opponents: a child-stealing Taíno mermaid and a murderous Taíno vampire that isn’t like any vampire you’ve seen before.

WF: For fans of your work on Young Justice, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Gargoyles, and even your upcoming Star Wars Rebels show, why do you think they’ll enjoy Rain of the Ghosts?

GW: I think for my fans, the things they’ve enjoyed about my past work includes the world-building of a cohesive and dynamic universe with its own mythology, populated by well-drawn characters that come in all shapes, sizes, races, ethnicities, genders, orientations, etc. Rain of the Ghosts – the book and the series it launches – has all of that and more.

WF: To wrap things up, can you fill us in on all the details for the signings/appearances you’ll be doing for Rain of the Ghosts? When, where – the whole nine yards!

GW: I have two signings coming up in the next few days:

On Saturday, February 15, 2014, I’ll be selling and signing copies of Rain of the Ghosts at Gallifrey One. For $10 you get a signed copy of the book and (while supplies last) signed copies of the original inspirational character designs (drawn by artist Kuni Tomita) for the animated series version of Rain that we developed but never made back at DreamWorks in 1997-98. Gallifrey One is at the Marriott Los Angeles Airport Hotel, 
5855 West Century Blvd., 
Los Angeles, CA 90045. And I’ll be signing at Christopher Jones’ table from 2pm-3pm, then again after our Young Justice panel from 6pm-6:30pm in Program Room B. And finally in the Lobby of the hotel from 6:30pm until I’m out of books or folks stop showing up. The 6:30pm signing is open to everyone, even folks who have not paid to attend the convention. For more information, go to http://www.s8.org/gargoyles/askgreg/search.php?rid=1132 or http://www.gallifreyone.com/.

Then on Tuesday, February 18, 2014, I’ll be doing a reading, discussion and signing of Rain at 7:00pm at Vroman’s Bookstore: 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, California 91101. For more information, check out: http://www.vromansbookstore.com/greg-weisman2014.

Thanks!

Rain of the Ghosts, the first installment of Weisman’s new book series, is now available at retail and digital outlets everywhere. Check out Ask Greg! for more details on Rain of the Ghosts.

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Exclusive Interview With “Justice League: War” Composer Kevin Kliesch

The World’s Finest caught up with Kevin Kliesch, who provides the music for the upcoming DC Universe Animated Original Movie Justice League: War, to discuss his work on the highly-anticipated animated feature.

Heavily involved in music from an early age, musician Kliesch has worked on a vast assortment of projects during his career. Composer for the DC Universe Animated Original Movie 2013 title Superman: Unbound, a small sampling of his recent assignments include ThunderCats, Tangled Ever After, TMNT, X-Men: The Last Stand, and The Muppets, among a host of others. Kliesch’s latest work can be heard in the new DC Universe Animated Original Movie title Justice League: War, the soundtrack of which is available to own February 4th, 2014 as a digital download and Amazon-exclusive compact disc. The soundtrack to the film Justice League: War features music produced, engineered, orchestrated and performed by Kliesch.

Click on the image below for a new interview with Kliesch as he discusses his thought on the Justice League: War animated feature and more.

Justice League: War – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack will be available to own February 4th, 2014 on compact disc or through digital download from WaterTower Music.

Want to purchase “Justice League: War – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack?” Check out Amazon and WaterTower Music to get your copy!

Check out the The World’s Finest review of Justice League: War. Additional details on Justice League: War are available at the The World’s Finest Justice League: War subsite.

Justice League: War hits Blu-ray, single-disc DVD, and Digital Download on February 4th, 2014 as part of the DC Universe Animated Original Movie line from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, in co-production with Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment. Additionally, the Justice League: War – Two-Disc Special Edition DVD streets on March 18th, 2014. Stay tuned for further updates and more here soon at The World’s Finest.

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The World’s Finest Interviews “Beware The Batman” Artist Luciano Vecchio

The World’s Finest caught up with artist Luciano Vecchio to discuss his work on the monthly comic book series Beware The Batman, published by DC Comics. Vecchio is part of the rotating art team for the title, the fourth issue of which hits shelves this Wednesday, January 29th, 2014.

Beware The Batman, based on the Cartoon Network animated series of the same name, features stories based on the cartoon’s continuity. Vecchio has worked on a host of different projects over the past decade, including his own original works and comics inspired by popular DC Comics-based animated shows, such as Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series.

To find out more about Vecchio, his work, and Beware The Batman #4, continue on to the interview below…

The World’s Finest: So, off the bat, please tell us a little about yourself and your past work.

Luciano Vecchio: My name is Luciano Vecchio, 31 years old and I’m based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I’ve worked as illustrator and comic book artist for almost 12 years now, and most of my past work is comprised of original graphic novels for different publishers. My major works include the independent superhero saga Sentinels (by New York-based publisher Drumfish Productions); Cruel Thing, a trilogy of gothic horror and adventure for mature readers (by Norma Editorial, Spain); and The Interactives, about British fantasy in the Internet Era (by Markosia, UK). After that, Ben 10: Ultimate Alien was my fist assignment for DC Comics, and it was followed by many other animation-based books.

WF: Can you run us through Beware The Batman #4, your third issue on the comic series, and perhaps give us a rundown on the story and what you enjoyed about drawing it.

LV: This was my favorite issue to draw so far. It is very action-packed, fast and fun. Besides Batman and Katana, it features two of my favorite characters in the Bat-Family – Man-Bat and Barbara Gordon. In the story there is a second person turned into a Man-Bat, and that character I got to fully design. I love doing character and costume design, so developing this character in a way that fits the Beware aesthetic, and is unique and different from Kirk Langstrom (the first Man-Bat) at the same time, was what I enjoyed the most.

WF: Now, Beware The Batman isn’t your first “animated title.” You’ve worked on Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Young Justice for DC, and worked on a few Marvel Universe titles. How close are these “animated” styles to your own?

LV: Well, I grew up consuming mainly American superhero comics and Japanese anime, and my style developed as an eclectic mix of such divergent influences. I love the aesthetic of anime – the consistent lines, the minimalist details, the cell shading coloring, the expressionism in characterization. At the same time I’m passionate about the superhero genre – its characters, its myths. I think that a merging of both styles has become a trend in animation over the last decade. I remember when I saw the first episode of Young Justice, I was like “this looks exactly like what I aim to achieve with my own style!”. Little did I know then that I would end up drawing two issues of the series, but if I compare those issues to my earlier work like Sentinels or Cruel Thing, the essence was always there and I barely had to adapt my style at all.

WF: As a follow-up to the last question, do you find there’s enough familiarity between all these different “animated styles” that makes your work easier to do? For example, you can jump from Young Justice to Beware The Batman, two shows with very difference styles, with ease. Is this a benefit?

LV: Actually, in the cartoons and their spin-off comics, not only does the general style differ from one license to the other, but each character is uniquely different on its own and has to remain on model. And while that is a challenge, they were specifically designed by animation professionals to be easily interpreted and reproduced by many, many different artists. So while there is some familiarity between the different series, I think it is the quality of the designs and my training to reproduce them and make them “act” that makes the style-jumps natural.

WF: How has your work on the “animated” comics translated to other work? What other titles do you work on? Has there been an increase in demand for your work thanks to working on these books?

LV: I think the traits that could translate from these animated styles to my own style were always already there in essence: minimalism, expressiveness, dynamic narrative and a focus on “acting” and characterization.

Besides being one of the rotating artists on Beware The Batman, I’m working on Ultimate Spider-Man Infinite Comics for Marvel. So yes, so far there has been a constant increase in demand for my work, mostly in such animation-based comics, which I’m enjoying very much at the moment.

WF: When working on these comics, what type of reference materials do you receive? How much of a insight into the given show are you provided to make sure your work matches what’s on screen?

LV: It varies from series to series. I mostly get character model sheets and occasionally props and backgrounds references.

Young Justice was the most ‘close-to-the-show’ experience I had and I thoroughly loved it. The writer was one of the show producers and he made sure every little detail fitted and complemented the show’s continuity. I got references for everything – characters, weapons, technology, etc. Everything that had already been designed for the show and appeared in the comic script was meticulously planned out. It felt like I was part of the TV show and I really enjoyed it, and Young Justice still remains my favorite take on the DC characters.

On other series, artists are given more liberty as long as the characters are drawn in model and the comic reflects the cartoon. But I still like to do my homework, take lots of screen captures from the TV shows, study the tones, aesthetics, body languages and such, to properly translate them to the comics.

WF: Beware The Batman #4 – your next issue – spotlights Man-Bat, who has yet to appear on the series to date. Is there some intimidation knowing that your version of the character will appear under your pencil before the same character hits the cartoon?

LV: When I was drawing this issue, several months in advance, I didn’t know the airing of the episode would be delayed and the release order inverted, so there was not such intimidation involved.

WF: As somewhat of a follow-up, when it came to Beware to Batman and Green Lantern: The Animated Series, was it difficult to translate the CG designs into 2D models? Was there any difficulty in making sure your work still looked like the CG-animated versions?

LV: It was exciting and challenging. It required studying the 3D models and breaking them down to their structure and logic, to then be able to recreate and draw them in my own style. And doing my own translation from CGI images to 2D artwork inevitably led to a more personal take on the characters. The final result reflects the look of the show, but with my own style choices.

WF: To go off-topic for a moment, can you fill us in on where we’ll be seeing your artwork (outside of Beware The Batman) in the coming months?

LV: I just finished drawing issue six of Beware The Batman, which ships in March. Beyond that, Infinite Comics: Ultimate Spider-Man starts serializing on digital devices somewhere in the near future, with a very different and fun reading format, and in this case I get to color my own artwork too. Also, 2014 marks the 10th anniversary of my first published work, Sentinels (Drumfish Productions), which will be relaunched in a revised, colorized and digital version.

WF: Lastly, as we wrap this up, can you tell us why we should rush out and pick up Beware The Batman #4 on Wednesday?

LV: On top of the excitement, action, adventure, and Men-Bats, this issue reveals an important development for one of the supporting characters that we didn’t get to see yet on the show, and left me happily surprised as a longtime DC fan. I can’t wait to see what everybody else think about it.

A selection of Vecchio’s artwork can be found below, with more posted at the The World’s Finest Beware The Batman subsite.

Beware The Batman #4 hits comic book stores and hobby shops, in addition to digital outlets, on Wednesday, January 29th, 2014. DC Entertainment confirmed for The World’s Finest last week that Beware The Batman issue #6, drawn by Vecchio, is the final issue of the comic book. A statement from the publisher can be found here.

Stay tuned for further coverage on Beware The Batman right here at The World’s Finest.

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