DC Comics: Creators Talk Transitioning Characters From Page To Screen

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From Bleeding Cool reporter Nick Kazden:

VP of Creative Affairs at DC Dan Evans led a panel full of people telling stories in different mediums with people's favorite DC characters. Everyone from legendary animated producer Alan Burnett to Jimmy Palmiotti, co-writer on Harley Quinn, was on hand to talk about how to make the DCU pop in multiple mediums.

Before he started the conversation, Evans showed the audience a quick trailer of the upcoming CW show Black Lightning. It looks like a solid addition to CW's current roster of superhero shows and a worthy representation of Black Lightning. Shortly after this clip, he mentioned that Burnett was retiring soon and showed off a quick recap video of the 30 animated features he's worked on in the last ten years.

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Burnett said Flashpoint: Paradox and Under The Red Hood are his favorites of the animated features he's worked on.

"Flashpoint, which I like because it seemed to have […] hundreds of easter eggs in it. There are characters you've never met, it's a different universe. It's sort of collages of different versions of characters."

As for Red Hood, Burnett likes it for a completely different reason. He said he liked the fact that it really only follows four major characters as Jason Todd makes his mark on Gotham City. He even went so far as to call it "one of our most cinematic" features.

A lot of people on stage thanked Burnett for his work on Batman: The Animated Series and credited the show with inspiring their love of certain characters.

"I was the kid who ran home to watch the animated series on Fox Kids," said Shawn Kittelsen, one of the story writers on Netherelm's Injustice games. So when he got the chance to work on these characters for the games, he said it was an extremely exciting opportunity.

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Even Palmiotti said he goes back to the animated series for inspiration. When he was first offered the job of writing a Harley Quinn series, he immediately thought of what Bruce Timm and Paul Dini did with her.

"My introduction was the animated Harley Quinn and that was pretty much all I knew when I was given the gig," he said describing why she is such a goofy character in the book.

Being a fan of something seems to be an important step in working on something related to it. Heather Reigner, one of the new co-showrunners on iZombie, said she was a big fan of the first three seasons.

"Rob Thomas' thing is that whatever is the most fun and interesting wins out," she said of the writing process. That loose, collaborative process is what leads to unique brains in the show for the zombie to devour. She signaled out the frat bro brain as her favorite one so far.

"It's so much fun to be in that room when fun dictates everything."

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Tony Daniels, the former writer and artist on Deathstroke, said he came to love the character through the work of Marv Wolfman and George Perez. Despite this, Daniels isn't shy to admit that their versions of the character are pretty different. Daniels laughed when he said he had Slade kill 13 people in the first three pages of a book because he wanted "to make up for all the blood that was not shed in previoius years."

"My version was a little bit more extreme compared to what we see from Marv and George, but I got Marv's blessing," Daniels said.

When asked if he was surprised to see Deathstroke pop back up at the end of Arrow season four, Daniel was blunt with his response.

"No I was not surprised. He's Deathstroke."

Making antagonistic characters likable isn't always an easy task. Kittelsen said the team used a lot of care and consideration when determining how to approach an evil Superman. While it's certainly a different version of the character, the team tried to preserve the core values of the character.

"People expected to see Batman and Superman punch each other the whole time but it really is a Justice League story," he said of Injustice 2.

John Semper Jr. is hard at work developing a world for the newest Justice League member: Cyborg. While the character may be set to explode in popularity due to his place in the Justice League movie, Semper knows how different the two mediums really are.

"One of the things I learned way back when I did Spider-Man: The Animated Series is there is a huge difference between what's on the printed page and how you translate it to the screen. The greatest complement anyone could ever pay me back then was saying that it felt just like the comic book."

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Semper described the character as working hard to enhance humanity through technology. While he says "tech is out of control for us," Cyborg is stages beyond that and constantly thinking about how to make things better.

"Like adding a meatball gun to his arsenal?" joked Evans referencing the characters weapon from Teen Titans Go!,

"That might be the best version of Cyborg actually," Semper conceded.

Here are a few highlights from the Q&A portion of the panel:

Burnett desciribed how they go about picking stories they know will perfectly fit within the 72 to 80 minute range.

"We have found over the years its the six issue story that works well for that amount of time. When we start getting into more than that we have to start pairing away from that just because of the time situation. I mean, you'll never get white on rice, but we like to stay as close to it as we can."

One fan was worried about the amount of dark or mature content, but the creators pushed back and told her to look at the big picture.

"I think what's wonderful about DC now is that spectrum of experiences," Kittelsen said talking about how many avenues there are to interact with these characters.

"Sometimes we see something and it has an appeal at the time, and the shows may seem darker but then you turn around and see something like Wonder Woman which I wouldn't say is dark in any way," said Evans.

As for that ending of Injustice 2, Kittlesen wouldn't say which one was cannon.

"That's been a really big question of which one is cannon, and maybe they both are," he said coyly. Does that mean Injustice 3 will have two potential story modes? Stay close to Bleeding Cool to learn more about DC media in the future!

About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.

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