EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Bruce Timm Talks Animated Spectre

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Bruce Timm Talks Animated Spectre

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Bruce Timm Talks Animated Spectre

Over the years, DC and Warner Bros. have been pretty innovative in bringing various comic book characters to animated life, starting with Batman: The Animated Series in the 1990s and continuing right through to the current made for DC animated films, the latest of which, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, reaches stores in February.

by Edward Gross

Accompanying the Justice League film is the first installment of “DC Showcase,” a series of 10-minute shorts featuring characters that aren’t generally featured in leading roles. Things kick off with The Spectre, which producer Bruce Timm discusses with Voices From Krypton in this exclusive interview.

VOICES FROM KRYPTON: What’s your feeling about doing these DC Showcase shorts?

BRUCE TIMM: They’re a blast. It’s great, because we can play with these oddball characters who wouldn’t commercially support making a full length feature with them. I wish the business model was such that we could do that, but now we get to mess around with these more off-trail characters and have fun. In a weird kind of way, the Spectre is perfect for a series like this, because those original Fleischer/Aparo comics this version is based on, were really simple, straight-forward little standalone stories. You don’t have to expand it and make it bigger than it is: bad guys do a crime, Spectre shows up and kills them in horrible ways. Ten minutes of that works great.

VOICES FROM KRYPTON: You brought up Jim Aparo, and that’s the first thing that popped into my mind when I watched it: those Spectre comics from the 1970s.

BRUCE TIMM: That’s exactly what we were going for.

VOICES FROM KRYPTON: Tell me if I’m wrong here, but the opening of the film feels like a Dirty Harry movie, from the music to the staging of the death.

BRUCE TIMM: Absolutely. That was Joaquim Dos Santos’ inspiration, to do the ‘70s vibe through the whole thing. Not just the music, but the costuming, the architecture, the cars and everything else is very much rooted in the 1970s. He carried that through with the score, which is a cross between Dirty Harry and Suspiria. It’s perfect.

VOICES FROM KRYPTON: After watching it, of course, I started thinking to myself, “I want more Spectre.”

BRUCE TIMM: I know. I’d love to do a whole series of shorts. Of course – and this is a trap even the comic fell into – after six or seven issues of it, you kind of go, “Okay, I know where this is going.” We probably won’t have to worry about that. You know the tricky thing about doing these is that each one of them has their own set of characters and locales and its own mood. Each one takes a lot of preproduction. For a 10-minute short, it’s a lot of work; you have to do almost as much work designing the thing as you would for a long form. But so far it’s been fun.

VOICES FROM KRYPTON: Did these shorts present any particular challenges?

BRUCE TIMM: The biggest problem was figuring out how to tell a satisfying story in 10 minutes. It’s literally half the length of a standard half-hour episode, and we didn’t want to make each one non-stop action. We wanted to make sure they had a beginning, middle and an end and a little bit of character development. I wouldn’t say it was worrisome, but we did kind of struggle with it in the beginning, wondering if that would be enough time to do a satisfying story featuring any of these characters. We’ve seen the first two at this point, so far so good.

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