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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Aquaman Shrine Interview with James Tucker - 2010

Once again we're talking with Brave and the Bold Producer James Tucker!

our chat in November 2009, James generously offered to do a follow-up interview with the Shrine about the "Aquaman's Outrageous Adventure" episode, which aired last Friday. So let's get right to it!:

The Aquaman Shrine
: How did the idea for this episode come about?
James Tucker: We knew after his appearance with The Atom in "Journey to the Center of the Bat" that we loved how Aquaman came together as a character on the show, so we knew we wanted to use him right away in second season. I actually don't remember who's idea it was specifically to do the road trip, but I'm a huge fan of road trip movies.

As usual, the original pitch was a lot more complicated and we dropped a subplot which had Fluke the dolphin following the family on their trip. We also toyed with the idea of them travelling incognito. But that felt too logical. What I like about this show is that the average person isn't that phased by seeing superheroes.

TAS: Nice to see another of Aquaman's old foes, The Fisherman, make his B&B debut. Did you figure this was an opportunity to work in another character from the DCU rather than, say, using Black Manta or Ocean Master again?

JT: Originally I believe Black Manta did show up in the script in a fantasy sequence, but we ended up changing it to just a voice over in Aquaman's head which I think works better. I wanted to show the audience that Aquaman has more rogues (not many more unfortunately) than just Black Manta and Ocean Master. Plus The Fisherman was the villain in the first Aquaman story I ever read as a kid, so I knew I wanted to use him as soon as we had the story break.

TAS: Aquaman's Rogues Gallery is, admittedly, a bit thin once you get past Manta, Orm, and the Fisherman. Any other villains of his you'd like to work into the show eventually?

JT: Um, there's always the Flying Fish and Torpedo, Magneto and Claw. I think that was their names. Feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken. I know he's had more recent ones but they seem a lot more complicated than the earlier foes from the silver and bronze age. After that, we'd probably have to start using the rogues of other heroes. Aquaman's in dire needs of some new, good foes! It would be fun to create some new ones for him if he ever got spun off into his own show.

TAS: You guys could probably do wonders with the Flying Fish! The Chevy Chase "Vacation" movies seem an obvious influence on this episode, but with Aquaman literally bumping into one hero after another as he crosses the country, there's a "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" feel to it, too. Did that movie help inspire this story at all?

sgJT: Actually, that movie didn't influence story really, even though I love it. The movie that was running through my head was actually Munster, Go Home! of all things because the Aquaman family kind of reminds me of the Munsters in that they don't think of themselves as different from anyone else. So they think of themselves as just an average family when of course, they're not. I like that aspect of the show and I'm glad we didn't make a big deal about them walking around in their costumes, which to them are just their everyday clothes.

TAS: That never occurred to me, but now that you say it it makes perfect sense! Who had the brilliant idea of doing the Super Friends-esque title cards, complete with that show's sound effects?
JT: I think the title cards stemmed from my desire to do an episode that was structured like an old Hanna-Barbera super hero show. Like Space Ghost where you had 2 segments with Space Ghost separated by one with Dino Boy.

I've been wanting to do an episode like that for two seasons and we almost get close but never do it exactly the way I have in mind. Anyway, that idea evolved into the idea of separating Aquaman's team-ups with the heroes by using title cards ala H-B superhero shows, specifically Superfriends.

AMS: From listening to 10,000 Simpsons DVD commentaries I have a general sense of how a weekly animated show is constructed, how things are mostly a group effort all along the line, but I am wondering about two great little bits of detail in the show: first, when Aquaman leans on the bumper of the RV, it creaks down under his weight, because of course Aquaman is very strong.
Second, the choice of Arthur Jr.'s outfit, which I thought was a genius touch. Who came up with those little details?

JT: I can't remember if that bit of business was in the original storyboard or not. I vaguely recall the storyboard had Aquaman leaning on the bumper and then adding a note to Ben Jones, the director, to have bumper give a little, but normally that's the kind of funny, character oriented bit that Ben adds to all of his episodes with no prompting from me. My favorite bit is when Aquaman is in the saloon and the waitress hands him his drink, he gives her a quick wink. Little things like that go a long way to establishing the humanity of the characters we do.
[Regarding Arthur Jr.'s costume] That was my call. When we were beating out the story, Arthur Jr. was supposed to be a lot more emo and Wednesday Addams-ish than he ended up, and that 80s Aquaman suit always seemed a bit emo to me, so when I designed Arthur Jr.'s look, it was a no-brainer to put him in that outfit. Also given the fact that Arthur Jr. died in the comics, I thought it was a morbid touch to give him that emo demeanor.
AMS: Regarding the idea of Aquaman being spun off onto his own show--can I just officially go on record with a "Yes, please!" to that idea? (I know this not really a question!)

JT: From your mouth to WB's ear. I'd be happy with just a Aquaman special or even a DTV.

AMS: I don't want to ignore the opening segment, which featured one of the show's most unlikely team-ups: Batman and Enemy Ace! Are there characters in the DCU that you want to work into the show solely for the challenge of figuring out an organic way Batman could meet them? Sometimes it seems like the show goes out of its way to find the most unlikely guest-star possible.

JT: In this show, Batman can appear anywhere and anywhen, so no DC character is really off limits if we really want to team Batman up with them. I think people are used to this aspect of the show and actually look forward to it. Sometimes it just comes down to whether you're a fan of the guest star or not. I don't think we go out of our way to explain how Batman ends up with certain guest stars, but I do think it challenges the audience to fill in the gaps with their imagination a bit, but I don't think that's a bad thing as long as what is presented is entertaining. It's basically my job to decide what's going too far and sometimes even I get too conservative.
Michael Jelenic, the co-producer of the show, and I had a long...debate...over whether Batman should wear the aviator scarf and I was dead set against it because that seemed like going too far. Now it's one of my favorite visuals from that show.

AMS: Finally, any chance Mattel will make a Mera/Arthur Jr./RV set? I'd buy ten.

: Now that Mattel has that great collector's site, Matty.com, anything's possible. They're really open to doing limited runs on fan favorite stuff these days. Not so much because they make tons of money from them, because they don't, but they love this stuff as much as we do. They really are fans of the show and of DC superheroes in general. So I would say sometime down the line they may end up doing Mera and Arthur Jr. If they can do the Wonder Twins, than the field is wide open!

From talking to other Aqua-Fans over the past couple of days, it seems the opinion concerning "Aquaman's Outrageous Adventure!" is nearly universal: it was a total winner, unarguably Aquaman's best TV appearance ever. The episode managed to combine superhero adventure, laugh out loud moments, and moments of genuine characterization, not to mention about a dozen other characters and Super Friends-style title cards!

"Aquaman's Outrageous Adventure!" felt like a pilot for an Aquaman spin-off show, it was such a strong episode. Chalk up yet another winner for Brave and the Bold, and I thank James for taking some time out of his busy schedule to talk Aquaman with us again!


Unknown said...

As always, Rob, an excellent interview!

And thank you for your time, James, and especially your work on the Brave and the Bold series! Also count my votes in for more Aquaman, and maybe a special, DTv or series!

Andy Luckett said...

Great interview, as expected, Rob! All my questions were answered.

Thank you, Mr. Tucker, for a fantastic episode in a fantastic show!

As Glenn says above, I'd love to see more Aquaman, whether that takes the form of a spin-off show, special, DTV, or anything (but of course the spin-off show would be the most appreciated). I'm also gratified to hear that Mera and Arthur Jr. figures may be upcoming (and, I hope one day the Fisherman).

Randy said...

Rob, it never ceases to amaze me the great lengths you go to make this blog great. Another wonderful interview.

Count me in for the Aquaman spin-off and a figure assortment of Aquaman, Mera, Art Jr and the RV. Especially if it was the smaller scaled versions. I have the Aquaman/Black manta set and the Batman/B'wana Beast sets.

Bubbashelby said...

Put me down as a "yes" for an Aquaman spin-off too!

This was hands down one of the funnest and funniest episodes yet. The Fisherman especially was a real treat to see!

Thanks James for taking the time to interview with the Shrine!

David J. Cutler said...

Great interview, Rob. I won't hold my breath for an Aquaman spinoff show, but hopefully B&B continues on for many more seasons and many more team ups with the king of the sea!

IADW said...

Awesome interview Rob, and add my thanks to James for taking time out to talk to us Aquafans directly! It's good to see Arthur get some prime-time spotlight!

I loved the Munster family comparison too! That would've been one of the furthest from my mind, but now I've read it, I doubt I'll forget it!

Josh Hill said...

awesome interview, Rob! I enjoyed the previous chat you had with James, as well as this one. You can really tell he has a genuine affinity for Aquaman, and it makes it feel like we are hearing from "one of us" as opposed to some unreachable Hollywood type.

The Munster comparison was great, and as I've said before, I think this is the key to Aquaman's future success in comics. There needs to be a focus on his family again, as opposed to making him a brooding loner out on the seas.

As for his future in animation, I certainly would not mind a spin-off from THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD! That might be too much to wish for, but there's always hoping!

Unknown said...

Another fine job Rob! Good job on swinging the interview. I luckily caught the episode through pure luck and loved it. And thanks to Mr Tucker for doing it.

Mac said...

Thanks for getting us an inside look at this episode with James Tucker. It's great to hear why things were done the way they were especially with the Fisherman and Authur Jr.'s outfit.

I'd love to see Mera's character expanded in future episodes. Thanks to you Rob and Mr. Tucker for the fine work you both do!

Russell said...

Great interview, Rob, and great job on the show, Mr. Tucker! I'm not a huge cartoon fan, but I try to catch this show whenever I can, and I am definitely in-line to buy the DVD collection. If an Aquaman solo show is too "outrageous," how about B&B:Unlimited where not just Batman but GA, the Atom, Red Tornado, and, of course, Aquaman, teams up with various other characters? I'd totally buy that, too!!!!

Wings1295 said...

Awesome! Thanks for agreeing to an interview with Rob, Mr. Tucker. It was a great read.

I did notice the emo-look Arthur Jr. has in the photos I have seen, and it fits the dark 'history' the character has!

I haven't caught the episode (stupid me!), but have my DVR set for the repeat on Saturday. Can't wait, all I have read and seen makes me one eager Aqua-fan!

And count me in for an Aqua-spin-off & as a purchaser of a Mera/Aquaman Jr. set! Woohoo!

Orin's dad said...

Great interview Rob (as always), and thanks to Mr. Tucker for not only taking the time to do it, but for also being an Aquafan and getting Aquaman and family on the air so much with this show. This was without a doubt my favorite eposide of the series, and I'm looking forward to more Aquaman and family!

ktotheris10 said...

I haven't seen the episode yet (being in Canada), but I'm really looking forward to getting to it eventually. Seems like the consensus here is that it's the best yet! I love getting the behind the scenes look at what went into the show. Thanks you Rob and Mr. Tucker for the excellent interview.

Scott Bryan said...

I loved it! Thanks for doing the interview.
This episode made me want Arther Jr back in the mainstream DC Universe, only like this!

Joe Huber said...

Awesome interview as always. Count me in for an Aquaman spin-off.

I have to agree with Jack Roberts, I would love to see Artie Jr. back in the mainstream universe.

What I particularly enjoy in all of these episodes is the nod to past DC animation efforts. The waitress who served Aquaman his sarsaparilla looked suspiciously like the barmaid in the episode of BATS with Jonah Hex and Ras Al Ghul; I just haven't checked yet to see if they really were that similar or it was just my imagination.
Thanks again to Mr. Tucker, and Thank You Rob for providing this for all of us "Aqua-fans!"

Steve said...

Yet another great interview, rob! And thanks to James Tucker for his time and insights, as well.

I honestly wasn't too sure about the personality given to Aquaman when this show debuted, but it has since grown on me, and this was indeed an excellent showcase episode for the King of the Seven Seas. The addition of and focus on his faily were also a great touch!

Keep up the good work, all, and add my voice to the others hoping, asking, pleading, demanding more Aquaman in all available venues!

Sean Tiffany said...

This version of Aquaman should definitely get his own spin-off show. He is the most interesting I've ever seen the character in animation!

And seeing more and more of his private and family life convinces me even more so.

Aquaman Animated...count me in!

Doug said...

Another great interview from the Shrine!

Great stuff, as always, but even greater when we get to peek behind the curtain.

I'd like to add my voice to Aquaman catching a wave to the next animated series.

Marc Tyler Nobleman said...

Great questions, Rob, and they generated fun answers. Imagine the time before blogs when fans could not learn why a certain character was dressed a certain way or even used at all? I didn't like this Aquaman's hammy personality before this ep, but here it really entertained.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Even though I don't much care for this show (since we're getting this weaksauce as opposed to more of Bruce Timm's genius or something of equal caliber), I can't believe I missed this. An Aquaman centric episode...featuring Fisherman no less! Awesome.