Friday, May 23, 2008

News - 05/23/08...

The Hellboy II Spot From American Idol!

Universal Pictures revealed a new TV spot for Hellboy II: The Golden Army during the "American Idol" finale last night and you can now watch it online using the player below or in High Definition QuickTime here (1080p) and here (720p)! The Guillermo del Toro hits theaters on July 11.

Indy Jones Satisfied in Theaters

The traditionally lucrative Memorial Day weekend should be quite good to Steven Spielberg and George Lucas as their Indiana Jones franchise returns to the big screen with the first new adventure in 19 years. Featuring a good deal of CG effects work by Industrial Light & Magic, Paramount’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull began rolling out today at 12 a.m. and is poised to dig up a ton of treasure over the next five days.

In Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, archeologist/adventurer Indiana Jones is lured back into action when learns of a Soviet plot to solve the mystery behind the Crystal Skulls, real-life artifacts that have been baffling scientists and historians for many years. Harrison Ford returns in the titular role and Karen Allen reprises the role of Marion Ravenwood from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Filling out the main cast are Shia Labeouf, Cate Blanchette, Ray Winstone, John Hurt and Jim Broadbent.

Less-than-enthusiastic word-of-mouth from preview screenings of Kingdom has been largely offset by supportive critical response. The fourth installment of the iconic adventure series has a lot to live up to, and most reviewers report that it holds its own despite its flaws. The use and perhaps overuse of computer-generated effects seems to be a sticking point for a number of critics who pine for the days of good, old-fashioned stunts and practical set pieces that graced the earlier chapters.

The pic’s opening spells bad news for Disney/Walden Media’s The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, which has earned approximately $63 million since opening at No. 1 last weekend. The return of Dr. Jones should also put some rust on Iron Man’s gears. The fellow Paramount summer blockbuster enjoyed a hearty $31 million second weekend after breaking $100 million domestically in its debut. With an estimated $436 million in worldwide receipts earned over just two weeks, the superhero flick set the bar high as the film to beat this summer. Indiana Jones and Batman Begins sequel The Dark Knight are shaping up to be the most worthy challengers.

Entity FX Gets in The Spirit

Entity FX, a visual effects studio with facilities in Santa Monica, Calif. and Vancouver, British Columbia, has been tapped to complete 170 visual effects shots for the Odd Lot Ent.’s and Lionsgate’s upcoming movie based on Will Eisner’s classic comic book series The Spirit. Directed by graphic novelist Frank Miller (Sin City, 300), the CG-heavy super sleuth pic is scheduled to hit U.S. theaters on Dec. 25.

The Spirit is the story of police rookie Denny Colt (Gabriel Macht), who lets the world believe he is dead so that he can combat crime and clean up the streets of Central City as a mysterious, masked vigilante. From the shadows, he tracks The Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson), a cold-blooded killer who murders anyone unfortunate enough to see his face. The film also stars Scarlett Johansson, Eva Mendes, Sarah Paulson, Stana Katic, Dan Lauria, Jaime King, Paz Vega and Louis Lombardi.

Like the filmed adaptations of Sin City and 300, the flick is being filmed mostly against green screens so that the digital artists can create a unique world for the actors to inhabit. Brought onto the project by The Orphanage and visual effects supervisor Stu Maschwitz, Entity contributed extensive digital backgrounds and other CG elements. The studio is also working on effects for the sequel The X-Files: I Want to Believe. Other recent credits include Superhero Movie, Into the Wild, Rush Hour 3, The Air I Breathe and Miami Vice.

Universal Gets Toonz’s R.L. Stein Toon

Universal Studios Home Entertainment Family Productions struck a deal with independent Indian producer Toonz Animation to acquire R.L. Stine's Mostly Ghostly, an animated feature from the mind of the Goosebumps author. The family adventure is slated for release on DVD this Halloween season.

Based on the first in the eight-book Mostly Ghostly series, the film chronicles the eerie adventures of 11-year-old outcast Max as he helps protect Nicky and Tara, sibling ghosts who live in his house, from the fume-spewing demon Phears. The voice cast includes Madison Pettis (Horton Hears a Who!), Luke Benward (How to Eat Fried Worms), Maiara Walsh (Cory in the House), Ali Lohan (Living Lohan), Brian Stepanek (Transformers) Kim Rhodes (The Suite Life of Zack and Cody) and Noah Cyrus, the younger sister of Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus.

Mostly Ghostly is directed by Hannah Montana co-creator Rich Correll and produced by Yvonne Bernard, Arthur Cohen and Steve Stabler. The screenplay is written by Correll and Emmy Award nominee Pat Proft, whose credits include Scary Movie 3, Scary Movie 4 and The Naked Gun series.

Stine's books, including The Nightmare Room, Fear Street and Nightmare Hour, have been translated into more than 20 languages and published in more than 30 countries. The Author been honored with a Children's Choice Award, three Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards and three Disney Adventures Kids' Choice Awards.

The Universal Studios Family Productions banner, which includes Universal Animation Studios, develops, produces and acquires live-action and animated family productions directly for the home entertainment and television markets. The group's properties include The Land Before Time, which has earned more than a billion dollars worldwide to become the most successful feature-length children's home entertainment franchise of all time, as well as PBS KIDS’s Daytime Emmy-nominated Curious George television series and a string of Barbie movies.

Chains Not Game for Boll’s Postal

When he’s not literally pummeling his critics in the boxing ring, film director Uwe Boll is cranking out modestly budgeted features based on popular video games. And while most of them have enjoyed fairly wide release in the U.S., his latest Postal, is only hitting a handful of theaters in select cities this Friday. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Boll blames political correctness on the part of theater chains since the dark comedy features jokes about 9/11, President Bush and Osama bin Laden.

While Boll feels Postal is his “best-received movie so far,” exhibitors largely passed on the pic, which producers hoped to get into at least 1,500 venues. Intrigued moviegoers will instead have to seek it out in about 15 theaters spread out across New York, Los Angeles and about six other localities.

A spokesman for the AMC theater chain said, "We carefully evaluate the movies that we choose to play in our theaters and elected not to put this film in our theaters because we feel is does not have potential for commercial success in the U.S."

A German filmmaker who currently resides in Canada, Boll has carved out a niche for himself in the realm of game-to-film adaptations with big-screen takes on Sega’s House of the Dead, Atari’s Alone in the Dark and Majesco’s BloodRayne and Microsoft’s Dungeon Siege. He has also been attached to adaptations of Eido’s Fear Effect, Vivendi Universal Games’ Hunter: The Reckoning and Ubisoft’s Far Cry.

Postal has screened at film festivals in Toronto, Montreal and San Francisco, among others. Boll is self-distributing the pic through his North American company Event Film. Vivendi Ent. holds home video and other ancillary rights.

Developed by Running with Scissors, the Postal video game as spawned a successful sequel, Postal 2, as well as several expansions including the multi-player Share the Pain and Apocalypse Weekend. More information on the franchise can be fond at

"Mighty Mouse" Lawsuit Brought Against Apple and CBS

Apple and CBS are on the receiving end of a trademark infringement lawsuit over their use of the term "Mighty Mouse" from Man and Machine (M&M) of Landover, MD. M&M is a manufacturer of waterproof computer accessories aimed at hospitals and labs, and began selling a waterproof mouse called the Mighty Mouse in 2001. CBS holds a trademark for Mighty Mouse as a cartoon character, but recently applied for a trademark for the term as it relates to a computer mouse and also licensed the term to Apple for its computer mouse.

MPAA rating for Wall•E

As expected, the upcoming Pixar film received a G rating.

The Iron Giant screenings on June 7-8 in the Bay Area

The Poop Presents film series has programmed screenings of Brad Bird’s 2D masterpiece The Iron Giant at the Cerrito Speakeasy in El Cerrito, CA. Organizers explain it was a challenge convincing the theater owners to play this film, “probably the most vibrantly shot 2D animated film”, again since its original screening “bombed.

Report on AMPAS’ Production Design panel

VFX World offers a short recap of last Friday’s discussion at the Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences about “The Art, Science and Psychology of Production Design.” The article highlights quotes from several of the participants including Ralph Ralph Eggleston (Wall•E) who talked to the audience about his experience at Pixar.

Reality maven Mark Burnett ventures into animation

The Hollywood Reporter announces that top reality producer Mark Burnett (Survivor) has signed a deal with popular online animation Web site Liquid Generation to develop cartoon TV comedies-both original and based on existing content. Under the pact, Mark Burnett Prods. will produce Liquid Generation’s first three TV projects, including originals “Witness Protection” and “Rapper in Chief.”

PiQ Magazine June '08

Vol. 1 Is. 3

Fulfilling the entertainment interests of the contemporary anime fan one article at a time, the latest issue of PiQ Magazine recently hit the tracks, ready for June 2008. A magazine that hopes to merge the interests of moviegoers and videogamers, reviewing content that stretches across home video, the silver screen and much more, PiQ Magazine is an entertainment magazine with roots in anime fandom.

The June 2008 issue, currently available, "goes under the hood" by dedicating its cover story to the recent film release Speed Racer. An animation-adaptation that blends superb film direction, quality visual effects and memorable throw-back after memorable throw-back, Speed Racer was a project with a past, a pas that the editors of PiQ Magazine take time to explore. Also in this issue are a variety of spotlights on up and coming summer movie releases (The Dark Knight, Hellboy II, The Incredible Hulk).

PiQ Magazine dives back into the manga/anime culture with a feature article on josei manga, with contributor Johanna Draper Carlson. In an article that defines and introduces this shoujo genre for adults, the topic of "Shoujo for Grownups" is discussed with a flair that indicates a changing trend in western consumer interest for graphic novels could soon change in favor of more sophisticated manga.

Elsewhere, the June issue pokes and prods into even more interesting material, such an in-depth look at the Bjork music video "Wanderlust" and a check-in with Japanese role-playing game publisher Working Designs.

Also of note is the magazine's discussion with industry translation specialists Frederik L. Schodt and Jared Cook, which profiles "the ins and outs" of their industry-moving efforts in manga/videogame translation, "and even look at what happens when translations go bad."

In terms of content reviewed for the magazine's third issue, PiQ Magazine covers the recently profiled anime comedy Lucky Star, the PlayStation Portable game R-Type Command, Asian film Wakeful Nights and others. Other notable items include features on Final Fantasy Tactics A2, Ninja Gaiden II, an interview with Joel Bergen, Jared Hedges, and Alex Muniz (writers of FUNi's The Shin-chan Show), and a spotlight on the highly anticipated romance anime Emma, due this summer from Nozomi Entertainment.

About PiQ: PiQ Magazine (, a publication of PiQ, LLC, is devoted to anime and genre entertainment and bringing the best coverage to readers every month, including product reviews, feature stories and interviews with creators and entertainers, as well as columns by industry experts, examinations of fan culture and insider perspectives and opinions.

Crew 972 Fuels Irma’s Car

Alex Orrelle, the owner of Tel Aviv-based animation studio Crew 972, conceived this short film below, titled Irma’s Car, which is a clever comment on the recent invasion of sub-compact cars. JP Vine, an in-house director, handled the art direction, and the short was brought to life in a combination of Flash and 3D.

Birdo Gives Flight to Resfest Promo

For last year’s Brazilian Resfest event, Birdo Studio was called upon to bring the official festival poster to life. The Resfest team had commissioned Rafael Grampá to illustrate the poster, which featured a bird grasping an onion-like vegetable. The Birdo team, lead by animation directors Luciana Eguti and Paulo Muppet, then animated this promotional short below in Flash, and then Eguti composited the final assembly in After Effects. Animation was handled by Gustavo Teixeira and Rafael Gallardo.

For a high-resolution version of the short, head over to the Birdo site.

Parker Animates New Cereal-ized Short

College University’s Mike Parker teamed up with over a year ago. His latest collaboration is on Cereal Mascot Therapy Session, which he animated and provided the voices of Sonny, Trix Rabbit, Snap, Crackle, Pop and several others. Click below - there’s a prize inside:

WHV Announces New Combo DVD Release Featuring "Batman Beyond," "Batwoman"

Warner Home Video has announced that a new combo release featuring Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker and Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman will arrive September 2008.

Warner Home Video describes the release as follows:

"The Clown Prince of Crime is back with a vengeance in the first-ever Batman Beyond movie - Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (Side A). Standing in the way of the fiendish Joker is a new Batman for a new generation, Terry McGinnis. Get ready for heroic, eye-filling adventures as the Caped Crusader shuts down his archrival's crime spree - and unravels a great mystery surrounding the original Batman, Bruce Wayne. Also in this dynamic DVD duo: Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman (Side B). An unknown masked crimefighter prowls the night, but when her actions cross the criminal line, it causes Batman to wonder not just who is she,but is she an ally? The suspense and excitement won't end 'til the mask comes off!"

The double-sided DVD will contain the exact same bonus materials found on the previous Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman and Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (Edited) releases. For further product detail, click here for more.

The DVD will hit shelves on September 2nd, 2008, and retail for $14.97 MSRP.

"Legion of Super Heroes - Volume Three" DVD Announced

Warner Home Video has announced the new Legion of Super Heroes - Volume Three DVD for a September 2008 release.

Legion of Super Heroes - Volume Three will hit shelves on September 9th, 2008 and have a SRP of $14.98. The collection will include five episodes from the animated series. Further details will be released shortly.

World's Finest Interviews Ethan Beavers on "Teen Titans Go!" and "JLU" Comics

Having worked in both comics and animation, Ethen Beavers is privy to what it's like to work on both sides of the fence. Add on the fact that he's worked on a wide array of DC's "animated" comics, then it becomes obvious that Beaver's has done his fair share of animated-themed work. The World's Finest has sat down with Ethen to talk about his animated comic work.

The World's Finest: First off, tell us a little bit about yourself. Your background, your previous work, all that great stuff!

Ethen Beavers: I loved to play with clay as a child- I think they call it sculpting when you get older. I made cowboy dinosaurs. The clay got in the carpet, so clay was outlawed. So then I started drawing. I've been drawing ever since. I started looking for work in comics in 2003. Since then I've worked on Justice League Unlimited, Ben 10, TeenTitans Go!, Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century, Samurai Jack, Clone Wars Adventures, and Indiana Jones Adventures. I've worked mostly at DC and Dark Horse. I have a tiny bit of experience as a Storyboarder in the animation field. I ink almost all of my own work.

WF: Before we go any further, you have a new comic coming out! The last Wednesday of April 2008 sees the release of Teen Titans Go! #54, featuring your artwork. Anything you'd like to share about that issue?

EB: Just that I'm OVERJOYED that Tom Palmer at DC let me have a crack at Titans Go! before it got cancelled. Titans was on my list of "Comics I'd like to draw before I die."

WF: Now, many fans recognize your work from the past issues of both Justice League Unlimited and Teen Titans Go! you provided the artwork for, but many don't know that you also did storyboard work as well for Justice League Unlimited. What are the major differences you see in drawing a comic book and working on a storyboard?

EB: First off, I only worked on part of one episode on the last season of JLU- I'm not really an animation guy. But my sense of the difference between story work and comics is this: In Storyboarding, a scene must be explained in as much detail as possible. The characters move and the background moves, and the lighting changes, and all that must be explained in detail to the animator- the person who draws the 24 frames per second. In comics you do not (and should not) explain everything. A great deal of action takes place between panels, and the readers must imagine that action for themselves. In comics you're only drawing the most telling "snapshots" of a scene. The medium of comics allows for the unexplained because we can stop at any time to reflect, figure it out, go back or whatever. Furthermore, comics force the audience to participate- to fill in those blanks, which is always a benefit to any art form.

WF: As a sort of follow-up to the previous questions, how did you try to remain faithful to the Justice League Unlimited animated series when working on the comic, and is it difficult, while working on the comic, to keep it up to date in the changes in the animated series, design-wise or even story-wise?

EB: The comics and TV shows were working with the same characters under the same title, but in the comics, each issue was a stand alone 20 page story. The TV show was full of two part stories and the series had running story threads that lasted entire seasons. As far as design goes, you do have to figure out the style of a particular show/book, which is challenging, but I actually enjoy figuring out character designs. A lot of really talented guys design those characters, and learning how they put a design together is helpful to my own development as an artist.

WF: The Justice League Unlimited comic features a collection of characters that weren't overly showcased in the actual animated series. Do you like being able to tackle characters in the comic that you might not get a chance to in the cartoon itself? Like Space Cabby, for instance?

EB: I think It's great that the comics guys had the freedom to work on characters and stories that they believed in. On my second JLU issue I requested a Darksied and Orion story, and I got one! And the story that Adam Beechen wrote was smokin'. Let the creative people be creative!

WF: Justice League Unlimited also wasn't your only animated DC comic work. You also drew issues of Teen Titans Go! and Legion of Super Heroes In The 31st Century. How are you able to juggle having to adapt to a distinctly different art style when working on these three different series? What are the challenges it presents?

EB: It takes a little while to become competent with new styles, but after a while, you start to figure things out. for instance on Titans, I learned that Murakami's designs for the original Titans (Cyborg excluded) are actually pretty creepy from the neck down. They are very angular and thin, and they hunch a little bit. Without the heads on, the characters look a lot like zombies. In contrast, their heads are these huge, cute, Anime looking things. I never would have thought to put those heads and body types together, but the fact is they look great together! So I learn a lot with each new style and I have an opportunity to get better, and hopefully smarter, at drawing in the process.

WF: As a sort of follow-up to the previous question, between Justice League Unlimited, Teen Titans Go! and Legion of Super Heroes In The 31st Century, is there any title in particular you enjoy working on the most?

EB: I don't know if I'm into a particular title as much as I'm into particular characters. I love Samurai Jack, Superman, Batman, Orion, and Darkseid. Spider-Man is pretty cool, too. Obi-Wan Kenobi rocks.

WF: Your influences are cited to include Jack Kirby, Darwyn Cooke, Bruce Timm, among many others, and it actually comes through in your artwork. What do you find appealing about these artists and how do you think it translates to your own artwork?

EB: All those guys you mentioned are incredible, and Kirby is a true Super-Genius. What I like about their work is the simplicity and economy of the drawings, and the dynamic figures. If their work translates into my own work, it's because I really study those guys. Ultimately, I believe If you're going to study comics in an effort to increase your own skill, you'll learn more from studying Jack Kirby than any other single artist. Also, I like drawing the way those guys draw. It's fun and enjoyable to me. They all make really good comics.

WF: You have also done work outside of the animated DC comics, including work for Dark Horse comics, Speakeasy Comics and Image Comics. Care to fill us in on those projects and what you'd recommend for readers just discovering your work through the animated titles?

EB: I did a book called Mutation with George Singley- It's an all ages type book. George and I have some neat plans for the character, and hopefully we can find the time to get the thing done. One of the first comics I drew was a book with Mike Oeming and Dan Berman at Image. It was called Six. It's a psychedelic story about an alien agent who is searching for other agents who have been on Earth too long. These aliens become more like a humans the longer they stay on Earth. They also go a little crazy. Mike sold the rights to the property and a pilot was shot, but nothing has come of it since.

WF: As we wrap this up, let's look ahead to the future! Will you be doing any other animated comics in the near future? What other projects do you have lined up, both in the comic and animation world?

EB: I'm currently working on Indiana Jones Adventures #1 at Dark Horse. It's a 72 page one shot in digest format. I'm really excited about drawing Indy as well as using some of the techniques they used in the movies- i.e. silhouettes, drop shadows, etc. I just finished a neat little Samurai Jack story that will be appearing in an upcoming issue of the Cartoon Network Action Pack book at DC.

The World’s Finest would like to thank Ethen Beavers for his participation in this Q & A. To find out more about Ethen Beavers, please visit his gallery.


The Dragonball Scans Continue

ie has posted more magazine scans of characters from 20th Century Fox's upcoming Dragonball movie, opening in theaters on April 10, 2009. Included are photos of Justin Chatwin as Goku, Emmy Rossum as Bulma, Chow Yun-Fat as Master Roshi, Joon Park as Yamcha and Jamie Chung as Chi-Chi. They come from the July 7th issue of Japan's Roadshow magazine.

You can view the scans here!

Greg Rucka on Batman Gotham Knight

Warner Home Video has provided us with this Q&A with Greg Rucka in which he discusses writing a chapter of DC Universe's original animated DVD, Batman Gotham Knight, in stores on July 8. You'll find more photos below the interview as well:

Want a nice, frank conversation? Corner Greg Rucka and pick a subject. He is anything but restrained, speaking freely and constantly exuding the kind of creative flashpoint from which arises his fascinating array of benchmark characters.

Raised on California's Central Coast, and schooled at Vassar College
and USC, Rucka brings a street sensibility to his work – which has ranged from nearly a dozen novels and several short stories to a daunting list of comics, non-fiction essays and, now, a segment of the highly-anticipated animated film, "Batman Gotham Knight."

"Batman Gotham Knight," the third film in the ongoing series of DC Universe animated original PG-13 movies, will arrive July 8, 2008 on DVD and Blu-Ray disc, and will also be available that day On Demand via digital cable and for download through broadband sites. The film is produced as a collaboration between DC Comics, Warner Premiere, Warner Home Video and Warner Bros. Animation.

Rucka will make the trek from his Portland, Oregon home to Wizard World Chicago this June to attend the world premiere of
"Batman Gotham Knight" and participate on the post-premiere panel. With Rucka joining producer Bruce Timm and fellow BGK writers Alan Burnett and Brian Azzarello on the panel (and quite possibly a few yet-to-be-announced special guests), it promises to be an extremely entertaining evening.

Rucka has already built an astonishing career, complete with his share of Eisner Awards for works like
"Whiteout: Melt" and "Gotham Central: Half a Life." His characters, most notably bodyguard Atticus Kodiak and "Queen & Country" series protagonist Tara Chace, have drawn a legion of fans into his literary wake. He's written for some of DC Comics' best-known characters, including Superman and Wonder Woman. Inspired by his graphic novel of the same name, "Whiteout" will come to theaters as a major motion picture later this fall with Kate Beckinsale in the lead role.

But Batman is the subject today – and Rucka is happy to share his thoughts. For his segment, entitled "Crossfire," Rucka brings to animated life the detectives familiar to fans of his "Gotham Central" comics – highlighted by the starring role of Crispus Allen. In the segment, which is the second chapter of the six-part film, the Gotham City police don't trust the mysterious Dark Knight – until they get a first-hand experience of his power and integrity while both detectives and super hero are under fire.

If you want to read a great Greg Rucka biography, or two, go to his website – It's worth the trip. What you won't read there is the following Q&A … and if you like that, there's even more interesting information, images, shout-outs and a brand new widget at the film's official website:

As this is your first time writing for animation, how did you feel about the translation of your words to the screen?

Greg Rucka answers:
It was dynamite, especially the final sequences of my segment. It was almost exactly what I was going for. What was really cool was to hear Kevin Conroy say stuff that I typed. I've written some screen stuff before, but I haven't written Batman for the screen before. That's cool on one level. But I love those Alan Burnett-Bruce Timm-Paul Dini animated series – I thought it was revolutionary – and Kevin was central to that.

As this film is produced in an anime-style, does the look of your segment come close to the way you envisioned that world?

Greg Rucka answers:
I try not to set my expectations to high or have any preconceived notions, because everything has to go through so many hands of creation.
"Batman Begins" did such a great job of building Gotham that that was the Gotham that I was writing. In that sense, it is the city as I imagined it.

My biggest gripe is the pacing of the dialogue – I think I heard everything a lot crisper in my head. Like during this one conversation between the two main cops, I was trying to achieve the unique relationship between partners, and the familiarity that comes when they spend hours at a time talking in their car. Instead it was very heavy and argumentative.

But the flipside is that I really like the segment, and the film itself is brilliantly done. In a way, this is just like writing a comic in that it's an entirely collaborative process. But trying to always be open to that collaboration and what it's going to bring is a hard part of the job.

Were there any particular visuals that struck you within your segment?

Greg Rucka answers:
The image of Batman coming through flaming wreckage was pretty much exactly as I wanted it. I really was trying to get the psychological impact of seeing this man, who maybe isn't a man if you don't know, coming through the flames – literally a walking, talking, burning bush, standing and staring the villain down. If somebody was staring me down from the middle of flames, they could have anything they want. I think the animators executed that really well.

I also really like this moment when you're in the squad room and you see the Batman silhouette through the dusted glass – because that was an image that I clearly had in my mind when I wrote it. You see what the detectives are seeing – not the Batman, but a shadow of the Batman. That visually goes to the trust issues.

Was there anything you definitely wanted to incorporate into your segment?

Greg Rucka answers:
I wanted that revolutionary moment for Crispus Allen, that moment of understanding of exactly what Batman is in the context of Gotham. I won't give away any spoilers, but in that moment, that came across really well, too.

Ultimately, getting to use Cris was just great. And it was especially neat seeing Cris get picked up in some of the other pieces I didn't write. In my 10 years of working for DC, there aren't a whole slew of characters that I created that have been given legs and moved into the wider world. So just seeing Cris in three other segments was kind of a hoot.

How were you approached and what made you say yes?

Greg Rucka answers:
It was pretty much a no-brainer for me. It's Batman, it's animated … if you've gotten to write Batman before, then you know – it's a thrill. It's really, really fun. Plus, I was asked to bring that Gotham Central segment to this film, and that appealed to me on so many levels – particularly to my ego, in the sense that I love that element in that universe.

That approach really gives the everyman element – the view from the street. Most of the time in comics, and even in animation, we're with the guy in the suit. And you forget what that guy in the suit looks like to everyone else.

How was the writing process for an animated film different than for comics?

Greg Rucka answers:
When you script comics, you can't script action – you can only script a moment of action. Writing for film or television or animation or live-action changes that. You can write a sentence that says "running across the road" and they'll actually run across the road. That's the most obvious mechanical element. When you write a comic strip, I tend to be very controlling of what the camera is doing. When you're writing for film, whatever the format, that's not really your job. That's the director's job. So it becomes a task of conveying what information has to be seen – what the viewer must know – and hopefully the director gets it.

What were you setting out to accomplish in your segment in terms of balancing the theme of trust with all the action?

Greg Rucka answers:
The action element is easier to accomplish because you know there's going to be a gun battle – I described some specifics, but I'm not going to script out the action beat by beat by beat. That would take 40 pages for 20 seconds of screen time. But the trust issue influences the writing at every level. My overriding thought was this: Gotham has no trust in the people it should trust, and that's had a tremendous effect on all cops, especially the few good cops who have tried to do right. Crispus Allen is one of the good guys. But what he wonders is that, in a world where the most reprehensibly corrupt group is the cops, how are we going to fix that by turning to a masked guy who doesn't have to answer to anybody?

Question: You've had some notable experience working on Batman – can you compare the differences in working on this Batman tale vs. the Batman, Detective Comics and Gotham Central comics?

Greg Rucka answers:
Almost everything I've written for Batman treats him as a fully established entity in that world. He's known and he's trusted. Every now and then there's a story line that tries to shake that up, but we all know how that'll end.
Gotham Knight fits very tightly in the gap of continuity between the two (live-action) movies, right between that moment of introduction in Batman Begins and his first major battle in Dark Knight, so I'm getting to write it fresh – to write characters who are seeing Batman for the first time. Those were rich moments.

Are there any rules for you in writing for Batman?

Greg Rucka answers:
This is my favorite kind of Batman – when you see him in short bursts. Chris Nolan really made that point in
"Batman Begins." For Batman to work psychologically, you can't see him coming. That's the essence of the character. If YOU are watching the movie, and he's about to leap off a building, sure, do a long sweeping shot of him and eat it up with a spoon. But if your point of view is that of one of the characters, nobody should see him for long. If you're in Gordon's POV, then he shouldn't get a good look at the guy. Batman is always goal oriented – he's not going to waste time. I think the key to writing Batman is to give him the fewest words possible, because he's there to get the job done.

What's your attraction to Batman?

Greg Rucka answers:
Aside from the cool factor? I love the inherent tragedy of the man. The really good characters in Gotham are filled with pathos. Your heart breaks for them – and especially for Bruce Wayne. When Batman is made properly, and Batman Begins certainly did this, what you're seeing is a man who is driven by a fundamentally altruistic mission, even if it's for the most personal reasons. And it's a mission that he's doomed to fail at. Still, he doesn't stop. There was a line that I used in a Batman comic – and I've heard it echoed elsewhere – that Batman is on a fool's errand. Well, it is a fool's errand, but that doesn't make him a fool.

You have extensive experience within comic book arena – what made this your genre of choice?

Greg Rucka answers:
It was purely by accident. I'm a novelist, but I'm also a novelist who has always loved comics. So when the opportunity came, I was going to take it. I had written a couple of novels, and I had an idea of a comic – Whiteout – and as a result I was brought to the attention of Denny O'Neil at DC Comics. He had read my novels, and he asked if I had any interest in doing some Batman stories. I was in New York at the time, and I said "Hell Yeah!" On the flight back, I wrote the whole script for the first story. I typed it up when I got home, sent it off a day later, and they called and said "What do you want to do next?" And all of a sudden, I was in the clutches of DC Comics, from which I've never fully escaped.

Where else would you like to creatively venture?

Greg Rucka answers:
I've got an interest in everything – books, comics, live-action, animation. I've got two young kids, so I'm trying to come up with a good young kids story. If I've got it in me, I'd like to find it. I'd also love to do a project that involved the colonial period of American history – it's a period of such remarkable courage, and that appeals to me, maybe because of where we are in the journey of this nation right now.

As a writer, what do you see as the positives and negatives of the extreme passion of the comics fans today?

Greg Rucka answers:
The great thing about comics fandom is that it's immediate. I write a novel and it'll be a year before people tell me what they think of it. Comics fans react that day. Comics are in many ways like soap operas in that the fanbase rests mostly in the characters. Consequently, the fans can be prone to hysteria. With the prevalence of the internet, there's been this movement where everyone wants to be an insider, everyone has an opinion, and everyone wants to spread the information as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, a lot of times, the information is wrong or horribly incomplete. That's the huge downside. You have people reviewing the first 22 pages of a story arc that is going to span months, and that's like judging a novel on the first paragraph of the book. You can't judge the story before you know what it is – that's what I find most annoying. But at the end of the day, you also have to remember that these things don't exist without that fanbase – and they are devoted … and vocal.

As a comic book fan, and a comic book writer, is there a better time to be a "geek"?

Greg Rucka answers:
This is the summer of the geek. Go down the line of movies and look what's coming up, and it's going to be insane. It's truly fantastic and flattering to be a part of it. It's not often you get to have a role in something that is going to live and endure long after you're gone, and to have been a part of that legacy in any way, shape or form is an honor.

There have been so many different takes on Batman – how did you know yours was the right one?

Greg Rucka answers:
I don't. But it's the right one for me.

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Hans Zimmer and teaming up on Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

The Lion King and The Simpsons Movie composer Hans Zimmer revealed a very interesting bit of news in an August 2007 interview with which has been flying under everyone’s radar–until now! Talking about his upcoming projects at the time, Hans revealed that he was working with from Black Eyed Peas on the Madagascar sequel: “We’ve got a couple of tunes on the go. (…) This film takes place in Africa, and I’ve done a lot of things about Africa. And I said to him, ‘Look, let’s go on a road trip. Let’s go to Africa. Just with a little tape recorder, and let’s just see what happens. Let’s just meet musicians. Let’s just start jamming with musicians over there and see what happens.’ So that’s one of the loose ideas that’s just about to happen. And I’ve been tinkering around with some stuff and MP3ing it over to him and he’s just added stuff. I think he’ll make it really fun. (…) I got some crazy and outrageous ideas and even if only 10 percent make it, it’s still going to be crazy and outrageous.” The New York Daily News confirmed the following month that was indeed “working on the film score to Madagascar 2 [which was since renamed Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa] with Hans Zimmer.”

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