No Boundaries: An Interview With Eric Radomski
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AA: Batman has proven to be one of the seminal TV shows in animation history. What are you most proud of about your association with that show?

ER: The live-action movie had done very well and Batman was very much in the limelight, so I guess the biggest effort we made was to stand on our own. We didn't want to just rely on the success of the movie; we wanted to distinguish ourselves not only as [a representation of] the character Batman himself, but as an animated project. It was an opportunity to say we're going to do this differently. Speaks directly to what we just spoke about, artists/producers being involved in a project. I think the biggest accomplishment, whether we set out to do it or not, was that we proved that if artists/producers were allowed to handle a huge franchise show, we could deliver both visually and storywise.

AA: How involved would you be in the actual writing of the show?

ER: We didn't sit down and write them, but Bruce and I were very involved with a lot of the scripts. We not only pointed out the pitfalls, but also had a strong, secure writer in Alan Burnett to invite us into the process, and invite our opinions in, so that when we had an idea for a sequence in a show, or changes to story, it wasn't about fighting over it, or egos. It was about making it better. I think the ability to bring together the writers and the artists, and the crew in general, was one of the biggest accomplishments with Batman. We eventually created 85 half-hours in the first incarnation of the series, and subsequently they've done Superman and Batman Beyond, and they've held consistent. Really strong narrative and absolutely terrific graphics. It's a wonderful testament to a team working together, which is a rarity in animation.

AA: From a viewer's perspective, there's not really a whole lot to complain about, but from your perspective, if you could go back, what would you improve about the show?

ER: Without stooping to the levels of using foul language or showing nudity, I think we could have pushed a lot of the elements to a greater degree more adult, and I use that term very loosely because I don't think it has to be blood and guts but I think it has to be real for the audience to buy it. There were a couple episodes that probably spoke truest to the goal that we would have set for ourselves in terms of overall quality. We were fortunate enough to win an Emmy for part one of Robin's Reckoning. It was the back story of the death of Robin's parents, a touching story about a kid losing his parents. That took animated storytelling to a new height because it wasn't about selling toys anymore, and it wasn't about being wacky cooky, and it wasn't about Batman always winning; this was a story about the birth of a superhero, of Robin really making decisions in his life, and it was quite dramatic.

AA: It would seem then that the move you made to HBO was a real freeing transition in terms of the content that you were allowed to do?

ER: Absolutely, knowing that HBO was definitely interested in pushing their shows to an R-rating was music to my ears.

HBO’s Spawn -- animation capable of giving viewers a story in a single frame. © 1996 Home Box Office.

AA: What specifically took you there?

ER: Spawn was their first project they had optioned, and HBO had brought in Catherine Winder with the project. They originally subcontracted work out to an off-site studio and had gotten about three or four months into development and pre-production, but Todd McFarlane, who created Spawn, and the studio, which shall remain unnamed, had a real difficult time getting along because the material being generated wasn't up to Todd's standards. So Catherine made a suggestion to HBO, to bring the work in-house. She and I met somehow, and it was perfect timing for me because I was then directing Freakazoid and very anxious to get out of Warner Bros.

She gave me the Spawn comics and when I read them, I found Todd's writing in the books to be kind of sophomoric. Very young for the opportunity that he had. It's not all about ripping guy's heads off. You're talking about the Devil and there's nothing juicier than that. We wanted to get to the romance story; it's a guy who lost his life, wants to get back to his wife and he's got a kid. Can't ask for better drama than that. It was continually an education process to say, "Look, Spawn doesn't get mad and put his fist through the wall, he takes a moment here and there." That was really important to convey to Todd.

Most of the material that had been created by the other studio didn't work for my plan. I wanted to go for something much more dynamic, much more graphic. The material I had was very illustrated and not very animatable. It was even beyond manga, it was just so complicated. I had to convince Todd that I wanted to simplify, but to keep in mind the big picture of what I wanted the art direction to look like on the piece. As with Batman, I was fortunate enough to generate some material to be able to convince Todd and HBO that this is the way I think the show should look. Production moved along fine, and as we were tailing out on Spawn, Bakshi's Spicy came by and that was another juicy bit.


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