If you weren’t the least bit surprised to hear Batman would be the star of yet another cartoon series this summer, rest assured you’re not alone. “There have been times when WB has announced they’re going to launch into a new anime Batman or some other type of Batman, and I did think that maybe it was too soon,” Dave Bullock replies, when asked about the continual stream of shows devoted to the Dark Knight. “But the idea is that there’s always a new generation coming up and this is always that generation’s first opportunity to get to know the character,” the artist offers. “And from some of the test materials I’ve seen, this is hands down going to be the best Batman toon coming out of WB.”
Said toon, which debuted last weekend on Cartoon Network, is the sleek CG animated Beware the Batman. It marks WB’s second attempt using CGI to explore a DC Comics property, after 2011’s short-lived Green Lantern: The Animated Series. For Bullock, who has spent the majority of his career working on 2D hand-drawn superhero shows (Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Justice League and Teen Titans to name a few), stepping into the three-dimensional world of Beware required a bit of a learning curve.
“For us in the production department, it’s changed drastically,” he explains. “There’s been a lot of new technology implemented. We’re working with a program called SketchUp, (which allows you) to turn a vehicle or a location setpiece and plug it into a drawn element storyboard in a program like StoryBoard Pro. It’s a really nice advancement in recent years that we’re able to create these animatics and watch them and get an idea very quickly of how the episode is going to shape up.”
His personal challenge, however, has been adjusting to drawing storyboards on the digital Wacom Cintiq. “I know I fought that for a time!” he laughs. “I’ve spent quite a few years drawing on paper, so it wasn’t something I was ready to jump on board with, but after working with it for a while I see all the benefits.”
Bat-fans, meanwhile, have been a bit skeptical about the benefits of switching from 2D to CG animation. Bullock seems to think they’ll warm up to the new aesthetic once they get over the initial shock. “Some of the guys who’ve seen Batman in video games over the years may have an inkling of where some of this is headed,” he begins. “Players in the video game world have had the ability to see Batman’s cape fan open in CG as he glides into a pose. You’re going to see a lot of that sort of thing in this.”