J. Torres on TEEN TITANS GO!
J. Torres sat down with Animation Insider to talk about TEEN TITANS GO!
Animation Insider: How did you come to writing TEEN TITAN GO? Did you submit a pitch or did DC approach you?
J Torres:Editor Lysa Hawkins basically asked me if I’d be interested in working on the series and I jumped at the chance.
AI: How do you approach writing TEEN TITAN GO? It’s much lighter than, say, SIDEKICKS [note: J Torres wrote an independent comic book about young-heroes-in-training]. Is it a challenge to write for a younger age group?
J Torres: I guess it’s because I’m just a big kid at heart that I really enjoy writing all-ages material. It’s challenging in so many ways and might not be as easy as some people think because it’s “kids stuff” but I find it very satisfying work.
AI: How do you break down a typical story? Do you think in terms of ’3 acts’ like the animated series?
J Torres: Yes, usually I think terms of three acts. Sometimes I begin with the conflict, other times I consider the moral or message the story is going to tell. But in either case, I start with a character and consider how they would act in a certain situation or setting.
AI: You’ve mentioned that you’re a fan of the classic Marv Wolfman/George Pérez run on NEW TEEN TITANS. Do you plan to use any of the character beats from that run?
J Torres: We have to follow the cartoon’s lead in terms of guest stars and such. So, basically we can play with people like Aqualad, Dr. Light, Mad Mod, etc. at this point and anyone who’s appeared in the show. We are, however, introducing the Gordanians in the comic, and thus far they were only mentioned in one of the episodes of the cartoon.
AI: The animated series is similar to the comic in its character-driven stories. Whereas JUSTICE LEAGUE is more about cosmic menaces, TEEN TITANS involves itself in more personal stories. Do you look to the characters to ‘speak’ to you to tell stories?
J Torres: Definitely. I often re-watch episodes I have on tape to get the characters’ speech patterns, attitude, and such during the scripting stage. I find that really helps me keep everyone “in character.”
AI: How do you work in tandem with the TEEN TITANS animated crew? Are there any characters you can’t use? What’s involved in the approval process?
J Torres: I basically communicate with my editors at DC and the artist working on the issue. My editors are the ones in contact with the WB people. But I hope to meet some of the folks working on the show someday if just to tell them how much I dig what they’re doing.
AI: Writing comedy can be difficult. The animated series has a very specific comedic tone, with it’s visual sight gags and super-deformed images. How do you handle that? Do you write that in? Does the artist bring some of that to the table?
J Torres: Both. I provide some ideas for the chibi gags as well as some jokes and riddles, but ultimately it’s up to the artist to incorporate what they can in the pages as well as come up with stuff on their own.
AI: Undoubtedly, the style guide has laid out character descriptions and interactions. As a long-time fan of the comics, I’m surprised how much I like the re-imaged versions of these characters. And with that, comes some interesting new character interactions. For example, Beast Boy has become a foil to Raven, which is a relationship that would not evolve with their comic book personas. Are there any relationships in the characters that you’ve discovered?
J Torres: I’m sure everyone, including yours truly, is wondering about the Robin and Starfire romance and how it’s ultimately going to be handled on the show. We get to play a little bit with that in our February issue which, appropriately enough, has a Valentine’s theme. I’d love to explore their romantic relationship more, but we have to let the show lead the way in that department.
In terms of other relationships, there’s the buddy aspect to Cyborg and Beast Boy’s friendship and in a later issue I kind of examine how it affects the team dynamic when Robin has to play the leader and what happens when he has to pull rank on them. I’d also like to examine the relationship between Raven and Starfire more. I think “Switched” really set things up nicely for that.
AI: The show seems to incorporate a structure of ‘little morality plays’; That is, each episode has an observation or discovery about friendship, teamwork or honesty. Is that something you are incorporating into the comic book?
J Torres: It’s actually a kind of mandate we were given. And part of the challenge and fun of writing this series is trying to say something, teach something, and not just have the Titans fight the villain-of-the-week or send them off on random capers.
AI: Any hints of what we can expect in upcoming issues?
J Torres: Our first issue sees the Titans take on Gizmo, Jinx, and Mammoth. Issue two introduces the aforementioned Gordanians and sort of puts Beast Boy in the spotlight. In issue three it’s Cyborg’s turn to shine and Cinderblock poses a threat to some of Cy’s new-found friends, including a lovely young lady named Sarah. Issue four is the Valentine’s Day story with Robin and Starfire going on a date. Also be on the lookout for Thunder and Lightning, Dr. Light, and Raven getting an embarrassingly huge zit in upcoming issues…
AI: Sounds exciting! Look forward to it, J!
Visit the Teen Titans Animated Series Guide for more information. Titans Go!
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