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SDCC 2004: Animation All-Action Panel

San Diego ComiCon 2004
Warner Bros. Animation All-Action Panel

Comic-Con International once again offered the very best programming in everything comics related. No other convention in the United States boasts the amount of hours dedicated to the worlds of comic books (mainstream, alternative and web), comic strips, comic art, international comics and more! The Convention took place from July 22-25th. This year, Cartoon Network held a special panel on Teen Titans, Justice League Unlimited and The Batman.

“Warner Bros. Animation All Action Panel: The Batman, Teen Titans, and Justice League Unlimited – In a revealing panel and Q&A session, Warner Bros. Animation’s innovative and creative talent behind The Batman, Teen Titans, and Justice League Unlimited come front and center to unmask the secrets of bringing superheroes to life in a revealing panel and Q&A session. “

A Promo Card given out at the Cartoon Network San Diego Event.

Teen Titans

The Cartoon Network folks were out in full force at San Diego! Cartoon Network’s Sam Register served as Master of Ceremony throughout the proceedings.

First up on the panel: Teen Titans! The panel consisted of: Glen Murakami [Producer], David Slack [Story Editor], Tara [Raven] Strong, Ron [Slade] Perlman, Scott [Robin] Menville and Greg [Beast Boy] Cipes.

The presentation began with a music video of the theme song by Puffy Ami Yumi, where the group was inserted into the animated opening credits. They played the full theme, which is available on Puffy Ami Yumi’s album, NICE.

That was followed by a series of clips from past and present. I spotted Blackfire firing off a starbolt and she was wearing a tiara. This is no doubt from Season Three’s episode, “Betrothed”, where the team travels to Tamaran. I also spotted a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it glimpse at Brother Blood. From memory, he looked sorta like Derek Powers from “Batman Beyond”, but with a high-collared cape.

Then, we were treated to a few minutes from the episode “X”, which features the return of Red X. One of the Titans comments “I thought Robin was Red X”…. as he systematically takes down the team in Red X fashion. Robin demands, “Who are you?” and Red X answers, “If I wanted you to know, I wouldn’t have worn a mask.” Red X even says to Starfire, “I wonder why I never asked YOU out on a date.” But before Robin can subdue him, he disappears.

This is followed by a hilarious sequence where the Titans make sure Robin isn’t a hologram. Cyborg’s method of detection drew much laughter. Actually, the entire Teen Titans portion of the panel was very well received, eliciting cheers, laughs and applause.

Sam Register followed it up with some Q&A. He praised Glen Murakami for the unique vision and talent he brought to TEEN TITANS. He cited Murakami as a ‘triple threat’… someone who is artistic, has a mind for story, and the ability to direct.

Story Editor David Slack gave praise to Marv Wolfman, who helped created the Teen Titans characters. He also gave some hints at the third and fourth seasons. Slade will be returning for an episode, and he felt that they found a good way to bring him back. The third season arc focuses largely on Cyborg and Brother Blood. And the fourth season will focus on Raven.

With that last comment, Tara Strong added in her “Raven” voice: “Daddy’s coming.” That can only mean Trigon! Tara also mentioned that she originally auditioned for Starfire, who was described as a ‘grown-up Bubbles’ [from Powerpuff Girls]. Since Tara is the voice of Bubbles, she thought it’d be easy to become Starfire. Instead, she ended up with Raven. At first she gave her a more normal ‘Batgirl’ voice… but then discovered Raven was half-demon. That prompted her to try it in a gravel-y tone. And animated Raven was born!

Ron Perlman commented “it is nice to be working” in a deadpan tone. He had just heard that Hellboy II is a go. He said it’s nice to find some success after doing many movies that go to Blockbuster video shelves so quickly after being in theater. Or, in some cases, they go direct to that video shelf.

Scott Menville talked about his approach to Robin, saying that “this is not the old Robin”. And he did his best to make him cool.

Greg Cipes took some ribbing from Sam Register, who noted that Greg is most like his character. “Paint him green, and he’s Beast Boy,” Register noted. Register asked Greg which animal he’d like to be, and after much thought, he answered. “Um, a dawwwwwwg.” Then he changed his answer to ‘that bird thing with the big wings…’ before someone reminded him it’s called a pterodactyl. Much ribbing, all in good fun.

The Teen Titans panel concluded, but it really could have easily gone another half hour.

A Promo Card given out at the Cartoon Network San Diego Event.

Justice League Unlimited

Next up was Justice League Unlimited. The panel consisted of Bruce Timm, Dwayne McDuffie, Stan Berkowitz, James Tucker and Sean McLaughlin.

The new series looks very cool. They showed some scenes from the premiere episode, “Initiation.” We saw Supergirl, Green Arrow, Captain Atom and Green Lantern in action. The final scene – where Green Arrow is convinced to stay with the League – is priceless.

Oh, and you will see animated Vibe walk by. And Bwanna Beast. Talk about obscure!

Sam Register gave the highest of praise for Bruce Timm, crediting him with changing the face of superhero animation forever.

Bruce Timm talked about how they had two requests from Warner Brothers: 1. Make the show half-hour self-contained episodes and 2. rebrand it somehow. Rather than just swap Hawkgirl for Aquaman, they decided to open it up to tons of new heroes to fill out the new, larger Watchtower.

They sent a list to DC, and pretty much the whole list was approved. When asked if there was anyone they couldn’t use, they mentioned “Blue Beetle” because of an arcane rights issue. They did mention that Captain Marvel will be appearing though. They were very excited about that.

When asked about villains, they mentioned they will be going back to Apoklips, Circe and Ares will appear, Luthor will return, along with Amazo. And there will be a sequel to “Starcrossed.”

Also, they were excited to get comic book writers to do some scripts. Gail Simone will be writing a Green Arrow/Black Canary, Huntress/Question ‘double date’ episode. Warren Ellis is writing an Atom episode. And Darwin Cooke and Ron Zimmerman are also lined up to write some episodes.

A Promo Card given out at the Cartoon Network San Diego Event. 

The Batman

The Batman panel was next. Producers Michael Goghen and Duane Capizzi attended.

Sam Register introduced the series, and gave a nod to the classic Bruce Timm series as well, saying “Timm did the best Batman animated ever.” He also praised the new series as something new and different.

We were treated with a complete episode of The Batman, featuring Man-Bat. This is actually the fourth episode of the series, but the producers felt it was a good example of the series as a whole. The opening credits were vivid and striking, and the theme song from U2’s The Edge was moody and atmospheric. The episode itself dealt with the police investigation surrounding the appearance of Man-Bat. Detective Ellen Ying is led to believe that The Batman may actually be Bruce Wayne. Her fellow officer – long-time friend of Bruce Wayne – seriously doubts that is the case. In truth, Kurt Langstrom’s experiments at Wayne Enterprises – which transform him into Man-Bat – is the cause of the confusion.

The action is vivid and the animation is fluid. It’s definitely dark and edgy. But whereas the Bruce Timm series is psychological, The Batman is more action-oriented. The villains will be played as more evil, rather than played for pathos. The Producers noted that their version would see The Batman Rogues as more grotesque than sympathetic.

The voice acting is solid. Rino Romano plays a convincing Bruce Wayne/Batman. This Batman is younger than Bruce Timm’s. As such, his sense of humor is a bit sharper.

Reaction from the crowd was positive, although the shadow of Bruce Timm’s Bat still lingers. Someone called out “Bring back Kevin Conroy”. And when someone asked if Mark Hamill was voicing the Joker, and the answer was “no”, it drew response from the crowd. There was also crowd-concern over the revamped look of the Joker.

Because most of the time was spent viewing the episode, there was little time for questions. I think the series shows a lot of potential, and the talent behind the show is undeniable [writers from Gargoyles and Teen Titans, to name a few]. The character designs look solid so far. Give the series a chance this fall and see for yourself.

Will the real Beast Boy stand up?
Greg Cipes [voice of Beast Boy] with a costumed fan

San Diego ComiCon 2004
Bandai “Teen Titans” Signing Event

In addition to displaying their toy lines and upcoming DVD and videogame releases, Bandai offered “Teen Titans” talent signings sessions at this year’s San Diego ComiCon. In attendance: Glen Murakami [Producer], David Slack [Story Editor], Ron Perlman [voice of Slade], Greg Cipes [voice of Beast Boy], Rob Hoegee [writer and newly-promoted to story editor] and Amy Wolfram [writer newly-promoted to story editor]. The next signing session included Marv Wolfman [co-creator of the New Teen Titans and writer], Scott Menville [voice of Robin] and Tara Strong [voice of Raven].

Bandai America allowed you to meet the creative talent behind the hit animated show on Cartoon Network and Kids! WB and gave away free Teen Titans Go! comics for signings. A limited number of exclusive Bandai 1.5″ Robin (as “Red X”) figures were also given away.

The event was a tremendous success. It was very well organized and everyone got a chance to meet the creative team behind the show. They also gave away free t-shirts during the event with trivia questions. Many excited fans got a chance to meet the friendly staff behind the show. It was a pleasure to finally meet these guys face to face. Glen Murakami was even treating fans with impromptu sketches of the Titans characters!

Congrats and thanks to Bandai for a memorable and well-run event!

David Slack [Story Editor]
writer of “Apprentice” and “How Long Is Forever”

David Slack [Story Editor]
and Glen Murakami [Producer]

Glen Murakami [Producer] takes a brief signing break

Ron Perlman [voice of Slade] busy signing away

Greg Cipes [voice of Beast Boy] busy signing

Rob Hoegee [writer]
“Final Exam” and “Apprentice”, among others

Amy Wolfram [writer]
“Sisters” and “Terra”, among others

Scott Menville [voice of Robin] chats with a fan

Robin and Raven!
Tara Strong [voice of Raven] and Scott Menville [voice of Robin]

Marv Wolfman [writer and co-creator of the New Teen Titans series].
Marv also wrote “Deep Six”

The exclusive Red X figure! Given away free from Bandai
to anyone attending the signing event

Visit the Teen Titans Animated Series Guide for more information. Titans Go!

End of transmission. About this author:  Bill Walko is an author and artist and the man behind He's been reading and drawing comics since he was 5 years old and hasn't stopped since. Read more from this author