Friday, September 22, 2017

Heart of Steel, Part One, Act One (Part Eight)

With this posting, I finish off Act One, just in time for tomorrow’s big event at The Comic Bug.

I didn’t know how to stage the sequence where Batman is being strafed by the convenient anti-aircraft gun in the back of Randa’s convertible. My director, Kevin Altieri, suggested I stage it like flack from a World War 2 movie. Problem solved. One of the joys about working with Kevin is that he would direct us to think in terms of inspiring sequences from classic movies and TV. 

I also had difficulty staging the cliff-hanger climax, where Batman crashes into the surf after having been shot down by Randa; I couldn’t figure out how to draw it. So I went to my generic fall-back position: when in doubt, go oblique. It seemed to me that it worked pretty well, and Bruce (Timm) and Kevin let me get away with it.

Don’t forget: tomorrow afternoon the renowned Batman expert Londyn Jackson will be hosting a panel discussion on the 25th anniversary of The Batman Animated TV Series. On the panel will be Kevin Altieri, the director I worked with on the series, and myself, storyboard artist on the series. This exciting event will occur at The Comic Bug, in Manhattan Beach, California, USA, from 1 to 4 PM. Afterwards, I’m told Kevin and I will be signing whatever you place in front of us. I will be offering my services drawing commissioned sketches ($30 per character, $10 for each additional character). In addition, I will be bringing copies of the storyboard to “Heart of Steel”, Parts One and Two. Part two, act three is especially interesting because it climaxes in an extending fight sequence between Batman, Barbara Gordon and Terminator Batman. This amazing piece of action cinema boarding was entirely excised from the episode-as-animated for lack of time.

A splendid time is guaranteed for all. And of course, Henry the Horse dances the waltz.

Heart of Steel, Part One, Act One, (Part Seven)

Here-in I present  pages 61 through 71.

I find the characterization of Robot Briefcase really interesting; She isn’t homicidal, uses no more force than necessary to accomplish her goals; in this case, keeping Batman at bay. Her economy of action appeals to me as well; in post #6, the way she casually flips open the false bottom, revealing the mini-rocket launcher underneath. This little robot is definitely too cool for school. 

I was actually rather sad when she self-immolated. It speaks rather poorly of Batman that he didn’t give her remains a second glance.

Speaking of economy, I was all about that during this sequence; I didn’t want to dick around getting Bats off the roof and into airborne pursuit. Hence, I have him drag out and unfold the Bat Glider with a few terse movements, ending on an almost geometric composition of the fully unfolded contraption. We cut away without wasting time showing Batman putting on the glider, getting airborne. I don’t recall if the script was written thusly or not.

On page 66 we re-introduce the woman of mystery (Randa) seen obliquely in the episode opening. I’ll have more to say about her in subsequent postings. At this juncture, I will merely point scene A89 which starts with a close of Randa’s hand, holding a palmful of the pilfered Waynetech microchips. The scene holds and Randa deposits the chips into a small bag, cinches the bag shut, walks through frame under the camera, into the near distance, exiting camera right. We hold briefly on her footprints  then pan up to the roadside cliff, near which is parked Randa’s convertible. Immediately, Randa walks back into frame, the vertical pan acting as a quasi time-wipe.  All in one shot. (You may now applaud).

Tomorrow, Saturday, September 23! The Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach, California, USA! Me, Brad Rader! Kevin Altieri! Appearing on a panel discussion celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Batman Animated TV Series, moderated by Londyn Jackson, of the History of Batman! So much excitement! I’ll be doing commissioned sketches as well! (I can’t speak for Kevin, but he also draws quite admirably and will probably draw for you if you ask nicely).

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Heart of Steel, Part One, Act One, (Part Six)

The fight between Batman and Robot Briefcase literally heats up in this section (pages 51 through 60) as RB’s primary weapon seems to be its laser eye-beam.

I was allowed to stage the elevator-drop action beat. It wasn’t in the script, and Bruce Timm was going to cut it when I pitched him my roughs. I pleaded with him to let me keep it; it was something that I’d always wanted to do, and it didn’t slow up the story. Also (I may have pointed out), it give R.B. a chance to escape to the roof without having to fight Batman the whole way. I handle the transition to the roof quite economically, I think; we pan/truck in from Batman climbing out of the elevator to a hole cut in the stairwell doorway (having already established that RB can do that very thing, then we match-dissolve to the full moon overlooking the roof, pan down to the roof entrance (with a similar circular hole cut there-in) the door opens, Batman steps onto the roof. And is immediately halted by a warning laser burst. Reverse angle o.t.s. (over the shoulder) Batman and we see RB, backlit with it’s eye glowing red.

Come see me on Saturday. I, the storyboard artist on this episode of The TV Animated Batman TV Series, and the director of this episode, Kevin Altieri, will be celebrating the 25th Anniversary of said series at The Comic Bug, in Manhattan Beach, California, USA. I will be displaying my copy of the storyboards to this episode and Heart of Steel, Part Two.

Heart of Steel, Part One, Act One, (Part Five)

In this post, I’m presenting pages 41-50, in which  Batman (finally) arrives at the party. 

When I was starting out as a professional artist in the early 80’s, Mark Evanier gave me the useful tip that one should take special concern with how characters are first presented in a story, citing as an example the introduction of Indiana Jones in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”: we’re 10 minutes into the movie before we get a good look at him, and then it’s staged for maximum drama and impact.

In the present case, Batman’s introduction seems to be staged more for droll humor than impact: Robot Briefcase is waiting for the elevator, the doors open, ta da, here’s Batman. I can’t take full credit for it; I’m pretty sure it was that way in the script.

I had fun drawing Batman as he plays tug of war with R.B. I went “off model” drawing Batman’s muscle-cuts as he strains to restrain the errant tech-entity. I would be curious to see how it looks, animated.

Only two days until my appearance, along with Kevin Altieri, at the Comic Bug, in Manhattan Beach, California, USA, on Saturday, September 23, between 1 and 4 PM. We’ll Kevin and I will be on a panel, discussion the Batman Animated TV Series on the occasion of it’s 25th Anniversary. We’ll be screening and discussing the first episode, “On Leather Wings”.  To generate interest, I’m posting, in serialized fashion, the storyboard to the episode “Heart of Steel”. I already posted my boards to “On Leather Wings” last year, and see no utility in repeating it when I have so much more material to cover.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Heart of Steel, Part One, Act One (Part Four)

Come see me on Saturday. I, the storyboard artist on this episode of The TV Animated Batman TV Series, and the director of this episode, Kevin Altieri, will be celebrating the 25th Anniversary of said series at The Comic Bug, in Manhattan Beach, California, USA. Hopefully, I will be displaying my copy of the storyboards to this episode and Heart of Steel, Part Two.

At the time I storyboarded this sequence, I was deep in the throes of my initial  love affair with the films of RKO horror producer, Val Lewton (Cat People, The Body Snatcher, I Walked With A Zombie, The Seventh Victim). I was also heavily into the comics styling of Alex Toth. What appealed to me about both Lewton and Toth was their oblique minimalism, showing things by implication. Anything that could be withheld was. That is on display on the first shot of this sequence, where we see the robot briefcase’s shadow in the just-cut opening to the R&D vault; before it enters frame, we diagonally pan up to a close  up on the lockers. RBC’s eyeball head pops into view and goes to work with its laser eye.

Speaking of droll minimalism, I get a chuckle out of Bruce Wayne’s escape from the Security Guard’s room.