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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Aquaman Shrine Interview with James Tucker

With Batman: Brave and the Bold having aired its final episode on Friday, I thought it would be nice to talk to B:BATB Producer James Tucker one last time. James, gracious as always, agreed:

The Aquaman Shrine
: Many people still don't understand why a creatively and financially successful show like Batman: Brave and the Bold goes off the air. Can you explain a little bit why the show ended?

James Tucker: I don't claim to understand totally the ins and outs of how the business side of animation works. What I do know is that most crews on these type of shows get burned out after a few seasons. B:BB got 65 episodes which is a very respectable run for a cartoon series and I think it was time to move on. I'd rather leave people wanting more than having them get tired of the show.
TAS: You really plumbed the depths of "Who's Who" in the DCU (literally, in one case). Any character(s) you wanted to get to, one way or the other, that you never got to put in the show?

JT: I always remember answers to that question long after it's been asked. Off the top of my head, I'd say Ragman, Shade the Changing Man, Claw the Conqueror, Odd Man, Power Girl, Onyx, Swamp Thing, and maybe Animal Man. If you ask me tomorrow, I'd probably have a whole other list of characters.

TAS: Any chance B:BATB could live on in specials or DVD movies? I know at least several thousand people who would kill to see the B&B Aquaman get his own movie!

JT: My only regret about B:BB is that we didn't get a chance to do a DTV [Direct To Video] based on the show. I was hoping we would have done one after we wrapped up our 65 episode order, but that didn't happen. I don't know whether Aquaman will get his own animated movie, unless it's in the context of a larger Justice League story, which wouldn't be a bad thing. I think that's entirely possible.
TAS: I've said this before, but I think Batman: Brave and the Bold did more for Aquaman than it did for Batman. After all, how much more popular can Batman get? But I think it presented an Aquaman no one had ever seen before, which people really took to. Considering that Aquaman was in the wilderness in the DCU for so long, was there ever a bit of "See, DC? He CAN be popular!" over at your end of the WB conglomerate?

JT: We work with DC. There's no one up-manship on anyone's part. Our success is their success. B):) We didn't know that our take on Aquaman was going to work with the audience when we did it. We just took a chance and the stars were in our favor, especially in the casting of John DiMaggio as the Sea King! I don't think our take on Aquaman would really work in the comics totally, at least for any extended time. Comic fans, for good or ill, take their heroes very seriously.

Having said that, I am really digging Geoff John's use of character based humor in the new Aquaman book. It's a fun read that makes Aquaman embraces and acknowledges the fact that he'd been kind of allowed to become a joke over the years (not that I agree with that view) but then goes about showing how cool he's always been. The humor is subtle and there's an almost gentleness to the tone of the book that I enjoy. It really establishes a solid personality for Aquaman without making him overly gritty or changing who he's been basically since his creation. No Namor knock-off here. I think it's actually one of the best relaunches of the 52, or actually of any hero in the last decade.

TAS: Nicely said, and I agree! The last half season of the show got increasingly meta and self-referential. Was there ever any flak from anyone over what you guys were doing? Did anyone else ever say "Batman and Weird Al Yankovic--REALLY?"
JT: I think when the audience saw our first Bat-Mite show, most understood that the series was really about celebrating Batman as a pop culture phenomenon. That we were coming from the viewpoint that most of the adults watching would have an understanding of Batman as a fictional character and pop phenomenon and that the show was about spotlighting that. It was never intended to be a straight, noirish depiction of the character. Once everyone including the higher ups understood what we were actually all about, any second-guessing kind of evaporated and we were pretty much given the freedom to get as meta as we wanted. Although I think we got dismissed by folks as just a kiddie show by folks who just weren't comfortable with the level of humor we had in most episodes, the folks who did "get it" understood perfectly what we were trying to do and they came to expect our little meta surprises, and easter eggs.

AMS: Looking back over the run of the show, what are you most proud of? Are there specific episodes, moments, or something more general?

JT: I'm proud of lots of things about the show.

I'm proud that we produced a show that was truly suitable (usually) for all ages. I think it's very important that we made Batman accessible again to a younger audience while still entertaining older, knowing, adults and parents. The fact that parents tell me how much they enjoy watching the show with their kids is truly the thing I'm most proud of about this show.

I'm proud of the fact we made a show that I think was truly funny usually.

I'm proud that we broke the format that required teasers to be connected to the show. I think we were able to cram in a lot of entertainment into our 22 minute format with an action packed teaser and then a tight, well told tale that was totally removed from the teaser.

I'm proud of being able to expose the world to so many little known DC characters and hopefully grease the wheels for more of them to get their own shows in the future.

I'm proud of all the fans of the show who embraced and defended the show and understood we weren't crapping on the Batman legacy, but actually celebrating it.

Finally, I'm proud of the fantastic group of people I got to work with for three years to make this series. It was a close knit group of great people that I looked forward to going to work with every day of those three years.

The Aquaman Shrine loved Batman: Brave and the Bold pretty much from the first episode on, and I said repeatedly that it did more for the Sea King than had been done for him previously in decades. Thanks to B:BATB, Aquaman got introduced to a new generation of fans, and got his mug pasted on more merchandise than ever before. I can't help but think that had some small influence on DC's decision to make Aquaman more prominent in their universe again, setting the stage for what might be a new Golden Age for the character.

Thanks to everyone who worked on Batman: Brave and the Bold, and to James Tucker, who has been incredibly generous with his time, doing multiple interviews with the Shrine and giving us all some keen insights to how the show was created. Thanks for everything James!

1 comment:

Boosterrific said...

Great interview. I'm going to miss that show.