Friday, October 06, 2006

Tucker interviews in the news

There's an article out there, titled "'Legion of Super Heroes' soars onto Saturday-morning TV" and written by Bill Radford (who writes for the Colorado Springs Gazette) that has hit the Knight-Ridder-Tribune wire, with a nice interview with Legion producer and head honcho James Tucker. So far it only appears to have been published in two papers in the midwest, the Fort Wayne (IN) News-Sentinel and the Belleville (IL) News-Democrat. Radford, who has his own comic blog "The Gazette Comics Fan", wrote last month about interviewing Tucker.

From the interview:

"The thing is that the Legion is in a quandary, because they can't tell [Superman] everything he needs to know about himself or they will create a whole bunch of time-paradox issues. So it's kind of like they're letting Superman discover who he is on his own."
Phantom Girl, whose mother is president of the United Planets, comes from a privileged class but is determined to get by on her own merits. "When we were auditioning, I told the actresses to think of Gilmore Girl, not Valley Girl," Tucker said. "She's real smart, very resourceful."
Other Legionnaires will appear during the first season of 13 episodes, Tucker promises. "Realistically, we couldn't show every single Legionnaire who could be in the Legion at one time."

The future portrayed in "Legion of Super Heroes" is an optimistic one, sort of a `50s attitude with space-age trappings, Tucker said. "There's only so many ways to do the future, I'm finding."

Meanwhile, Tucker was also interviewed by Arune Singh of ComicBookResources. In a much longer article, "James Tucker spoke with CBR News about the hit series, the villains to come, continuity, and what to expect in the near future...of the future."

It's actually hard to select just a few quotes from this hugely informative interview. Among the topics:
  • The "near universal positive fan response" to the show, a nice surprise to Tucker.
    "I wasn't expecting the fan reaction to be so positive," Tucker told CBR News. "I was thoroughly prepared to stay away from the message boards for the duration of the series, but I couldn't help myself and peeked the Sunday after the premiere. One of the most gratifying things about the positive response has been the amount of parents who say they are enjoying the show with their kids. 'Legion' is the perfect property to do a light-hearted, child friendly take on and I'm glad we didn't over think the premise or mess around with the formula too much."

  • What it's like to be a member of the Legion
    "I suppose Legion is the idealized version of teenhood in a structured high school setting, which is something that was a particularly good fit for the kind of show KidsWB has wanted for a while."

  • What about RJ Brande and the Legion's origin?
    Tucker said that fans would get a proper origin story. "The origin to the team will definitely be addressed down the line. As I stated before, I wanted the audience to get to know the characters as people without all the background stuff up front."

  • An introduction to the characters, for those who aren't familiar with the cast. An interesting bit of insight into Brainiac 5:
    "Brainiac 5, in our continuity, comes from the planet Colu founded by Superman's oldest foe, Brainiac. He's aware of his dark ancestor and hopes to make amends by doing good deeds and forging a friendship with the Man of Steel before he realizes what their connection will be in the past."

  • What about all the other Legionnaires we've seen glimpses of?
    "For the first season, we'll be dealing with the core group specifically and develop their story arcs and toward the middle and end of the season you'll see more guest stars. At the point we start the Legion, it's actively growing,"

  • Bring on the bad guys!
    "I don't want to spoil any surprises by spoiling what villains we see," he said, "I will say that a couple are traditional Legion villains with slightly new spins. A couple are Superman specific villains created for the show who have their origins in Superman's past. Some of the villains are doppelgangers for Superman's rogues gallery."

  • How did the show come about?
    "When I was brought in during the middle of the last season of 'Justice League Unlimited,' 'Legion' was being developed for another network and Alan Heinberg [Of 'The O.C' and 'Young Avengers' fame] was doing the writers bible for it," explained Tucker. "Originally, we solicited outside artists to take passes on the characters. Eventually, I came up with the final look of the team after literally thousands of drawings. Hopefully, some of the original takes will end up as an extra on the DVD or perhaps I'll be able to put them on a blog. Ultimately that studio passed on the show and at the 12th hour we pitched it to Kids WB since they were looking for a Superman-centric show to tie into the 'Superman Returns' movie.

  • Why has the show hit a lot of the notes that hardcore Legion fans would want in such a show? Tucker is a long-time fan of the Legion.
    "For me, I started with the Cary Bates/Mike Grell era and stayed with it up thru the great Levitz run. I can't say any particular era appeals to me most, but the more traditional takes, especially the Shooter/Swan era, seem the most fertile ground for the kinds of stories we want to tell on the series."

  • Is this version of the Legion related to the one we saw in earlier episodes?
    "I didn't go into this show hoping to link it up with what we did in 'JLU,' because it needs to stand on it's own and draw in new fans who ultimately will grow into the 'JLU' version if they haven't seen it yet... I'll let the fans make the connections since they see things that we as the creators don't see."

  • About the animation style:
    "Ultimately you have to design the show based on what overseas studio will be animating it. You can't create a complicated or overly stylized show for a studio that's not used to doing that kind of show. So I knew that I couldn't stray too far from what was done either in 'Justice League' or 'Teen Titans.' ... I tried to fit my style somewhere in the middle and push certain things like the body proportions in different directions."

  • What about merchandise?
    Tucker told CBR News that action figures and video games are being "considered," but couldn't comment on specifics, or provide a possible timetable for rolling out these products just quite yet.

  • Just what does Tucker do on the show, anyway?
    "The job description of producer is a hard one to qualify," explained Tucker. "Just speaking for myself, I oversee and approve every area of the show including character designs, backgrounds, color, voice direction, scripts, editing and the final sound mix. This is of course taking into consideration the input of my three directors, the story editor and the network, all of whom have a hand in the process. Ultimately though, it's my responsibility to pull it all together."

  • Finally, why should we watch the show?
    "I think it's ultimately an optimistic, upbeat show about the making of the world's greatest hero and how he learns to fulfill his destiny with the help of teenagers just as amazing as he is. It's a classic coming of age story."

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There's a LOT more in the CBR story, so check it out.

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