Posts Tagged ‘Green Arrow’

byrneWith his latest Animated Adventures trailer for Firefly sparking flames of rekindled love for the short-lived Joss Whedon sci-fi western, artist Stephen Byrne has gotten a bit of a pop culture visibility boost with a multitude of websites praising his work while demanding his trailer become a reality. He takes it well, though, celebrating the outpouring of love with his own earnest gratitude and humility. A man of many fandoms (aren’t we all), Byrne infuses heavy doses of joy and energy into his work, bringing smiles even to the grimdark worlds of some more notable characters we’ve seen grace the big and small screens. I reached out to Byrne recently and he was kind enough to answer some questions about his work, fandom, and the “infamous” kiss.

 

Maniacal Geek (MG):  For those out there who may not be familiar with your work (i.e. those living under rocks and in caves), could you explain a little bit of your background as an artist and animator?

Stephen Byrne (SB): Sure, I studied animation in Ireland at the Irish School of Animation. I’m from Dublin originally. I studied there for 5 years and then did some work in the animation industry, before falling into games and now moving more into the comics industry.

 

MG: What was the first fandom that inspired you to make fan art? Was it the world itself that inspired you? The characters? Both?

SB: Power Rangers!! I was drawing Power Rangers comics at age 8. I think my tiny brain wanted to draw things and tell stories but didn’t really have the capacity to come up with anything new at the time, so I would draw out Power Ranger comics, which I was obsessed with at the time. I made like 60 of them! Still have them somewhere…

 

MG: The Animated Adventures of Firefly has gotten a huge response from fans, media outlets, the original cast, etc. What has surprised you the most about this outpouring of love for the trailer?

SB: Maybe Nathan Fillion retweeting? Although I was hoping for that because I know he’s pretty active on social media. Actually more the fact that he sent me a tweet that indicated that he found the whole thing quite meaningful. I look at it as a bit of fun, but the amount of comments and messages I got from people having intensely emotional responses to it was surprising, but that’s down to what Joss Whedon did, not what I did.

MG: You’ve done a few Animated Adventures trailers (and a tease for Harry Potter), but what’s the most difficult aspect of distilling such expansive worlds into videos that last less than a minute? What do you try to focus on?

SB: Uhhhhh it’s kinda all over the shop. I usually have a basic outline of what I want to do overall. I want to put in a few time-consuming shots that will be challenging to do. But then it becomes more like ‘what can I do quickly that will look shiny?’. Because I work full-time, the whole thing is pulled off in evenings and weekends over a long period of time, so it’s easier to do a spaceship with some zoom lines flying past than it is to do River doing acrobatic insanity.

 

MG: Gushy statement: I love the way you use lighting and bold colors in your work! So much is captured in a page or a headshot with the moods and tones you create. Actual question: Do you like to challenge yourself with technique? Was there ever a project that pushed you to change how you approach your art? Or have your style and methods been pretty solid and steady?star-wars-episode-7-5

SB: Thanks! Funnily enough, color used to be a trainwreck with me. I was like ‘grass is green, sky is blue’ and it all looked very garish. I was determined to figure it out but it developed over many years and is now probably the thing I get noticed most for. As for challenging myself with technique – always. Every thing I do is an attempt to improve on the last thing I did, in some small way. I’m always looking for improved approaches.

 

MG: Your fan art comics for Spider-Man, Star Wars, and the DC Trinity have caught a lot of attention as well, the Trinity comic especially for the “surprise” ending. Do you go in with the intention of subverting expectations or do these stories write themselves as you go along?

SB: The ending to Trinity changed halfway through. And it wasn’t even my idea. A friend in work said it would be funny if Batman was actually jealous of Wonder Woman. I was like ‘yep that’s way better’ and rejigged the story from that point, so it became a little longer, but better.

Star Wars Episode 7.5 was all built around the Jar-Jar reveal. That’s the whole reason I did it. I was thinking it would be fun to do something Star Wars-y. I had really enjoyed the new movie. And I was envisioning the story in my mind and I got to the moment when Kylo Ren turns around and I was like ‘wouldn’t it be interesting if it was some else?’. That was the moment I actually decided to go ahead and draw the thing. I have lots of ideas flying through my brain at any given time, but only a limited amount of hours to do them, so yeah, I do pick things that I think will get a reaction.

 

MG: And because I’m morbidly curious, what was the overall response to the SuperBat kiss? Did you experience backlash from the dark side of fandom? How does that aspect of fandom push you creatively?batman-superman-kiss

SB: Naw it wasn’t too bad. There were some commenters that were like ‘WTF? GAY.’ Very astute people. There were only a couple of vitriolic hateful comments, which I will delete or block or whatever. But I enjoy negative responses generally, because they are either rooted in some sort of fan outrage, which means they care about what I’ve done, or they are constructive criticism (less often) which means you can learn from them.

 

MG: You seem to live and breathe superhero and sci-fi genres with a good portion of your work, but is there a genre you haven’t really tackled that you’d like to?

SB: I’m a superhero comic nerd. That’s my jam. I could see myself doing an indie ‘real world’ comic but I think you can say more about the world and speak more honestly through a genre filter. I may get tired of it but it hasn’t let up in the last 20 years.

 

MG: Your first of two Green Arrow issues came out last week, so congratulations! What challenges and triumphs do you find working on mainstream books vs indie or creator owned projects? Any other DC characters you’ve always wanted to tackle?

SB: Challenges and triumphs: With mainstream books the schedule is tighter and the money is… Existent. Which is great. Lots of DC characters I would love to draw yes. Watch this space 🙂

 

MG: You’re also working on a creator-owned sci-fi book with Dan Slott. Any information you can give about it or is it still a bit hush-hush?byrneslott

SB: Nope I can’t say anything about that at all! Sorry! Except that it is gonna be AWESOME.

 

I’d just like to say thank you, again, to Stephen Byrne for being gracious with his time despite his busy schedule.

Links to Stephen Byrne:

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James Rowe of Roman on the Rocks joins Sam for a session mostly dedicated to all things DC Comics and their properties including Batman: Arkham Knight, Batman v Superman, Arrow, The Flash, and Batgirl.

 

Batgirl

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During the Television Critic’s Association (TCA) event that took place on Sunday it was announced that Mari Jiwe McCabe, aka Vixen, would be the next DC hero to join the CW alongside Arrow and The Flash. Expected to debut in the fall, Vixen will be the first animated series produced through the CW’s digital platform, CW Seed, which is probably most well-known for featuring Jane Espenson’s web series Husbands. Marc Guggenheim, one of Arrow‘s executive producers and co-showrunner, will oversee the project as well as the Supergirl television show for CBS. At the TCA, the CW provided promotional material for the animated series featuring Vixen staring down from the rooftops with Flash and Green Arrow flanking her as well as some character background:

Originally from Africa, Mari McCabe’s parents were killed by local greed, corruption, and wanton violence. But the orphaned Mari refuses to succumb to the terrors surrounding her. Inheriting her family’s Tantu Totem, Mari can access the powers of animals — anything from the super-strength of a gorilla to the speed of a cheetah. As Vixen, she fights valiantly to protect the world from the threats like those that claimed her family.

The dossier neglected to mention Mari’s day job as a model or that she can only use the power of one animal at a time, but it’s not exactly the job of a flyer to delve into all the little details, though Guggenheim did provide some additional information about the direction of the series:

It’s a six-part origin story, but characters from “Flash” and “Arrow” are prominently involved. It’s in the continuity and the world…The other thing is, it’s a strong African-American hero who’s, like I said, a former Justice Leaguer. It’s set in Detroit, as a nod towards those Justice League [Detroit] stories. It’s done with the same love of the source material that we bring to everything.

Vixen_JLoA4There are, however, a couple of things worth noting. One, the art style of the promotional material is the same as the animation used for Warner Bros. most recent DC Animated features, Justice League: War and Batman and Son, as well as Justice League’s forthcoming sequel, Throne of Atlantis. I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of what appears to be WB’s new signature style for the DC Animated movies mostly adapted from the New 52. It’s just not my cup of tea, especially since I wasn’t all that into Justice League: War or the book from which it was adapted. I’d ask if that means Vixen, Arrow, and The Flash all take place in the same universe as the current DCAU, but then we’re getting into Cool World/Who Framed Roger Rabbit? levels of continuity. Probably best to just keep it all separate for now.

Secondly, if Vixen is supposedly in the same universe as Arrow and The Flash, as evidenced by the characters on the promotional materials, then why is Vixen – arguably DC’s most well-known black female superhero – being introduced in animation instead of live action? Assuming Grant Gustin and Stephen Amell will lend their voices when their characters eventually show up, can we also expect Mari to make her live action debut on either Arrow or The Flash? Guggenheim has apparently been fielding this question as well, saying:Vixen_dc-comics

We always say “never say never,” and if the character resonates with people, that would be wonderful. I would love to be in a position where CW said to us, “Hey, we want a ‘Vixen’ live-action show.” That’d be wonderful. We’ll have to sort of see how things play out.

It’s not exactly the most definitive answer and it still raises the question of why Mari can’t go the way of Barry Allen or even Supergirl? It’s not like we’re lacking for superhero content in media, so I’m pretty sure the viewing audience will accept anything at this point. I mean, people are still watching Gotham, right? Animation, however. has been woefully underutilized by Warner Bros. considering it used to be their bread and butter. I’ve seen other websites speculating that Vixen could be the CW’s version of The Legend of Korra, which dealt with far more mature storytelling than anyone expected for what was deemed children’s programming. Vixen wouldn’t necessarily have the same hang-ups since the viewing audience siphoned off from Arrow and The Flash would already have an expectation for more mature content. How far do they intend to push those boundaries? Hard to say. There’s still a brand to maintain with the DC properties, but, then again, this is the CW so we shouldn’t rule out anything that could potentially draw in the 18-35 demographic.

Vixen character bioVixen will serve the secondary purpose of introducing magic into the CW/DC television universe, but again, why not bring that into the fold on a live action show? Meta humans seemed like a stretch during the first season of Arrow, but by season two we were itching for The Flash spinoff. Why not do the same for Vixen? Normally, I wouldn’t push this since the news is so fresh, but with rumors also circulating that Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer, soon-to-be the Atom, may get a spinoff show as well, bringing Vixen in as an animated series feels like a very sluggish step forward.

Hopefully Guggenheim and the team working on Vixen prove me wrong. Really, I want them to succeed. Mari’s been sorely missed in the DCU. It’s been a couple years since she was last seen in the Justice League book and, aside from some guest spots and cameos on Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Teen Titans, it’s been over a decade since her last major appearance on television in Justice League: Unlimited (voiced by Gina friggin’ Torres!)

So, for now, let’s say I’m cautiously optimistic.

In this episode, Sam and Cara chat with Susan Eisenberg, the voice of Wonder Woman! The three talk about fan interaction through cons and twitter as well as the ins and outs of voice over work. Soap operas also come up!

P.S. The answer is Jodie Dallas.

 

Susan Eisenberg

Follow Susan @susaneisenberg1

Intro music: “French Kiss” by Mrs. Howl