Before I broke into comics, animation was an equal love. And when Batman: The Animated Series debuted, I was in my senior year of high school. The designs, the moody darkness of Gotham and its characters, and the writing; all top notch. It was the beginning of my obsession with the show. And from there it grew into more animated series with Superman, a return to Batman, Batman Beyond, and the Justice League shows. This great long continuity that they were able to establish. It was something I wanted to be a part of.
So with portfolio in hand, I not only was trying to break into comics but also animation. I'd go with friends to the WonderCon conventions (at that time, held in Oakland) in order to sit in on portfolio reviews, most of them centered around Warner Brothers. I went to art school for a year in Los Angeles, taking life drawing, storyboarding, and animation clean-up classes. I was just bound and determined to get my foot in the door if I could. Driving around to every animation studio in the greater LA area to drop off my portfolio and get tested on some shows. But with all things creative, it was a tough go. And while I got to test on a few of them (the last one I'd test on would end up being Batman Beyond coincidentally), it never worked out. But comics came along and nabbed me. But I always thought, one a these days, it would be fun to revisit those shows I had loved. The way they told their stories was a huge influence on how I wanted to craft my own writing.
Fast forward to many years later. I'd get the chance to ink Dustin Nguyen at DC on two projects that would involve some of those writers/producers I had admired so greatly at WB. Alan Burnett wrote a run of Superman/Batman that started Dustin and I off on the paths we would take throughout Gotham at DC. And from there, we'd get a chance to work on stories written by Paul Dini on our run of Detective Comics and Streets Of Gotham. But I couldn't help but have that itch to do more. To write in addition to inking.
Our editor knew this and gave us the chance. When the opportunity presented itself, Dustin and I were able to pitch in on a couple issues of Streets Of Gotham. Deadlines were catching up with all of us, and it was a matter of seeing if we'd be able to script off of Dini's outlines. It was one of the most fun but hectic few months we'd have. Probably a milestone in how much we managed to juggle. Not only was Dustin drawing (and I inking) the Streets Of Gotham issues, but we'd be scripting them, and finding the time to do the art for a larger sized Detective Comics issue written by Denny O'Neil (Dustin provided pencil breakdowns and I was doing ink finishes to try to alternate between the current look we'd been achieving and then a more animated throwback style to the flashback in the story). And against all odds, we managed to get everything in on time. Kudos to our editor, Mike Marts, for sticking in our corner and not having any doubts.
After that the talks continued. We wanted to write and do the art for a project all ourselves. Streets Of Gotham was wrapping up and Batman Beyond had already launched and was a success. They were looking towards continuing that. But the real trick was, how that might happen. There was talks of us taking over Batman Beyond, or making a Beyond Brave & The Bold style book. But eventually it resulted in us doing Justice League Beyond which is sort of the nice way of blending all of that. You have Batman on that team, but then get to flesh out the future Justice League from what was presented in the show, and eventually add to it. And so, that's what's happening right now. Justice League Beyond starts out as a digital release and then is collected into print with Batman Beyond Unlimited.
When we pitched Justice League Beyond, I was ambitious. I didn't want to just come up with one large story, I wanted to plan out a few years worth. Even if all of it couldn't happen, they could see the scope and how things are setup. We could always insert new ideas or rearrange things. But I wanted a plan going in so if things were successful, we wouldn't be scrambling. Especially on a series that as it would turn out (and we didn't know at the time) would evolve into a weekly release sort of comic. By the time the very first digital chapter came out, Dustin had already finished drawing the entire 120 page opening arc. And I was on the last issue of inks. This in addition to the Beyond: Origins that would be interspersed in the arc itself.
And that's where things stand. I'll be covering more about Justice League Beyond as we move along, especially since that and the Arkham stuff have been keeping me busy. Planted firmly in Gotham, present and future.