"Rowdy" Roddy Piper Reported Dead at 61
This week, Warner Bros. dismantled a decades old cartoon-themed mural which in recent years served as the public face of the studios’ connection to DC Comics.
Cartoon Brew caught some photos of the removal of stories-high homage to the likes of Superman, Batman, Bugs Bunny and Scooby-Doo at the Warner Studio lot in Burbank. While the mural once held a “cartoon Mount Rushmore” featuring the likes of Fred Flintstone, since 2009 it has served as the most public expression of the company’s commitment to the DC superhero line.
Of course with a full DC Editorial office now in Burbank, it’s not as though Warners is looking to downplay its ownership of the likes of Batman and Superman any time soon. But with such a long-running cornerstone of the company’s cartoon pride coming down, what could possibly take its place?
In a new behind-the-scenes video from Rocksteady Studios, developers offer a look at one of the most anticipated new features of Batman: Arkham Knight: Dual Play Combat.
As Batman, players an team up with the likes of Robin, Nightwing or Catwoman, and then switch characters during combat, with the game’s artificial intelligence taking over as the Dark Knight. In this gameplay video, Batman partners with Nightwing to clear out a warehouse filled with Penguin’s thugs.
This fall has been particularly exceptional television adaptations: The Walking Dead season premiere pulled in more than 17 million viewers, while more than 8 million watched the first episode Gotham, making it Fox’s best fall drama debut in 14 years. More than 6 million raced to see The Flash pilot, giving The CW its highest ratings ever. About 5 million are regularly tuning in for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and nearly 3 million for the third season of Arrow.
It’s not limited to live-action series, either: 2 million people watch Teen Titans Go!, and more than 1 million tune in to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Nickelodeon.
On the big screen, all four feature films starring Marvel characters — X-Men: Days of Future Past, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 — each grossed more than $700 million each worldwide. So far, comic book movies have generated more than $3.8 billion dollars this year. While it’s unknown how many of those dollars are from repeat viewings, that’s still a lot of people.
Comic-Con International is spilling out of the San Diego Convention Center as Warner Bros. Entertainment takes over Bayfront Park for Lawn Con, a free pop-culture event for big and little kids alike.
Open to the public Thursday through Sunday, Lawn Con features lives DJs, a picnic area, and characters and replicas from Warner Bros. Animation, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Warner Bros. Pictures: enormous blow-ups of the Teen Titans Go! crew, ranging in height from 17 to 30 feet; a life-size LEGO model of Bag End from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, complete with Gandalf, Bilbo and others; life-size LEGO models of Batman, Robin and The Joker; and a replica of Scooby-Doo and the gang’s Mystery Machine.
Bayfront Park is located between the San Diego Convention Center and the Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel.
Warner Bros.’ oversized totes, considered the must-have accessory for Comic-Con International, are returning to San Diego — and they’re wearing capes. This year’s version is a backpack, rather than a traditional bag, so the capes make sense, at least visually. Don’t worry, though, they’re detachable, and can be worn separately.
More than 130,000 backpacks will be given for free to attendees throughout the convention, promoting Warner Bros. television series Arrow, Teen Titans Go! (complete with Beware the Batman cape), The Big Bang Theory, The Following, Revolution, Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries, the classic Batman TV series, the DC Universe Original Animated Movie Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, and the forthcoming films Godzilla, The LEGO Movie and 300: Rise of an Empire.
Each backpack features the official Comic-Con 2013 design on one side, and the Warner Bros. property on the other. Unfortunately, art wasn’t released for all of the backpack designs, but you can get a pretty good taste below.
Comic-Con International kicks off Wednesday with Preview Night.
Warner Bros. Television and TV Guide have teamed for the fourth consecutive year to produce a Comic-Con International special edition of the magazine, this time with a set of four flip covers that include Andy Kubert’s renditions of Superman and Batman.
The 88-page issue, which also boasts covers featuring The CW series Arrow, The Vampire Diaries and its new spinoff The Originals, and Supernatural, includes an overview of the 75-year history of the Man of Steel, an exclusive Arrow comic from DC Comics and the show’s executive producer Marc Guggenheim, a sneak peek at the DC Universe Original Animated Movie Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, and a look at Warner Bros. Animation series MAD, The Looney Tunes Show, Teen Titans Go! and Beware the Batman.
The special edition, which goes on sale July 17, will be available for free during Comic-Con at the Warner Bros. booth (#4545). You can see all of the covers below.
While comics fans may miss seeing new work from Joshua Middleton on comics shelves (the covers to Sword & Sorcery and Before Watchmen were nice!), there’s some consolation in knowing that although the artist isn’t actively illustrating comics he is keeping within the superhero landscape. Middleton recently posted some landscape designs he created for Warner Bros. Animation’s Green Lantern: The Animated Series, which he worked on for some time. What he’s revealed so far is his renditions of Oa, interplanetary headquarters of the Green Lantern Corps. In his brief post, Middleton explains some of the obstacles from an art direction standpoint to the Green Lantern concept and how he overcame them for his work on the series.
“One major problem from an art direction perspective, with Green Lantern: The Animated Series and anything Green Lantern in general, is the overabundance of green,” Middleton writes. “It can be difficult to come up with nice color palettes when everybody and everything in the scene is glowing green. Matters were not made better with the introduction of Red Lanterns, as we now had the world’s weirdest Christmas to deal with.”
Last month we posted shaky footage from a short from Cartoon Network’s DC Nation programming block called “Bat Man of Shanghai.” Featuring an anime-influenced Catwoman in 1930s China, it made me long for the return of DC’s Elseworlds imprint, in which creators reimagined familiar characters in different time periods and settings.
Now, just as the Elseworlds nostalgia had subsided, Cartoon Network has released a three parts of the series online — each spotlights a different character — showing us Bane’s ode to King Kong, Bruce Wayne’s transformation into Bat Man and a high-speed three-way fight.
Following a stint last year as an art director for Warner Bros. Animation’s upcoming Green Lantern: The Animated Series, artist Joshua Middleton announced this week that he’s joined the staff of Nickelodeon’s The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra. And he does so in fine fashion, with the beautiful illustration he created for the limited-edition poster that debuted at Comic-Con International.
The eagerly awaited sequel to the hit Avatar: The Last Airbender, Legend of Korra picks up 70 years after the original series, following the current incarnation of the Avatar, a hotheaded teenage girl from the Southern Water Tribe. The 26-episode series is set to debut in mid-2012. Check out Middleton’s full poster after the break.
Warner Bros’ animated adaptation of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman is so reverent and faithful toward the source material that the film, to a certain extent, feels like a pale copy of its inspiration.
That’s not necessarily a damning criticism. Bruce Timm and company took the right approach in attempting to get as close a conversion from page to screen as possible (to do otherwise would have pleased no one). But the comic itself is so rich in detail and episodic in nature that even a trim, streamlined version like this that still manages to hit a number of the right high points feels a bit flabby in comparison. Saying “the book is better” is a rather easy cheat for a critic — the book is almost always better, but I suspect that fans of the comic won’t be able to watch this without running a compare/contrast checklist in their head and find the film coming up a wee bit short. The good news is that those coming fresh to the material probably won’t notice anything wrong at all.
On last night’s show, talk show host Conan O’Brien visited his neighbors at Warner Bros. Animation and chatted with Creative Director Peter Girardi about various DC Comics characters, including “cowboy dandy” Bat Lash, Ultra the Multi-Alien and Captain Boomerang. He then worked with legendary animator Bruce Timm to create his own alter ego, The Flaming C. Check it out below:
A quick round-up of Comic-Con updates, additional announcements and interesting links:
• Warner Bros. Animation officially announced a DC Universe Original Movie based on All-Star Superman, the award-winning series by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. The direct-to-DVD animated feature, set for release in spring 2011, is written by Dwayne McDuffie, who calls the series “one of the greatest stories in comic book history.”
• ICv2.com has additional details about one of the more interesting announcements from the convention, Fantagraphics’ partnership with Disney to publish the complete Mickey Mouse comic strips by Floyd Gottfredson. The collections will be released beginning in May at a rate of two volumes a year. They will retail for $29.99.
• Tom Spurgeon rounds up the selections from the Thursday panel “The Best and Worst of Manga 2010.”
• I enjoyed Todd VanDerWerff’s coverage of Comic-Con for The A.V. Club, including his visit to Artists’ Alley, and this broader post in which he questions whether the convention is “worth serious news coverage.”
• In the midst of Comic-Con, the Los Angeles Times rolled out a look at digital comics and their potential impact on the industry. “Comic book stores have a very close relationship with their customers,” says author and critic Douglas Wolk. “But the old-school collectors are aging, and it may be that the print comic goes away eventually. There is an entire generation of readers who is not interested in physical copies.”
• Grant Morrison chats briefly with IGN.com about his newly announced series Batman Inc.
• Is it just me, or are the round-ups of convention “winners and losers” pretty much meaningless? I’m sure Snakes on a Plane was declared a “winner” of whichever Comic-Con it was promoted — 2006, maybe? — and we all know how that played out.
Peter David has announced he’s writing several episodes of Young Justice, the much-anticipated Cartoon Network series based on the DC Comics title he worked on for nearly five years.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to reconnect with the characters,” he wrote this morning on his blog, “even if there are some differences between the guys I wrote and the new incarnation. I would love to tell you all about my first episode, but I’m afraid that it’s … oh, what’s the word … Secret.
Fans of the DC Comics series, published from 1998 to 2003, will undoubtedly recognize the not-so-subtle allusion to Secret (aka Greta Hayes), the incorporeal “mist girl” introduced in the 1998 “fifth-week” one-shot Young Justice: The Secret. She, Wonder Girl and Arrowette joined the original Young Justice line-up of Robin, Superboy and Impulse.
We know from the sneak peek that the animated series will focus on a six-person team of Robin, Superboy, Kid Flash, Miss Martian, Artemis and Aqualad. However, in the words of producer Greg Weisman, that is “really just the tip of the iceberg.” The cartoon will feature a 16-member Justice League that mentors the teens plus, judging from the character sheets, appearances by characters like Speedy/Red Arrow and Mary Marvel.