Sunday, September 16, 2012


I have joined the world of Twitter. I opened an account for the sole reason of following news sources that interest me. I plan on posting news, information, thoughts and photos from the subjects that most inspire me: filmmaking, toys and science. In one way or another, these subjects influence every decision I make for my job in animation (directing storyboards, art direction, writing, etc.).

I invite you all to follow me on Twitter. This blog has been hard for me to keep up with because of the time it takes for me to compose an entry and how little time I have during the day. I'm hoping Twitter will be a quicker and easier format for me to share information that's insightful to my work or relevant to my interests while also maybe enlightening you to something new. I still plan on updating this blog with work relevant entries whenever possible so check back here once in a while.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Would you like to know a little more about the Young Justice Watchtower and Hall of Justice? Well, here's a little info about the thought that went into their designs. 


On Earth 16 the Watchtower is a secret place so I couldn't design it in a way that might imply the Justice League hauled up loads and loads of building materials from the planet and put the thing together. There are too many eyes on the League. They're famous. There's no way they could build a space station without someone finding out about it.

In order to acquire some orbital real estate that met some very specific requirements I figured the League would have to turn to their most trusted outer space connections, the Green Lanterns. This led to the idea of the Earth 16 Watchtower being a decommissioned Green Lantern base station. It was towed to Earth by Hal Jordan and John Stewart.

One clue to the Green Lantern origins of the Watchtower are the designs cut into the rising elements of the Mission Room floor. Those designs are basically Green Lantern symbols. Also, the entire station is built for beings capable of flight. We tried to reflect this by designing a lot of vertical spaces with stacked ledges that don't appear to be easy to get to for pedestrians. There are elevators for pedestrian visitors but they're not highly visible.

The Watchtower's structure was carved into the body of an asteroid. Through the sophistication of the carving, the design aesthetic, and the implied technology throughout I hoped to communicate at a glance that the structure had not been constructed by human hands. I say "implied technology" because clearly the Watchtower has gravity, atmosphere, and cloaking capabilities that hide it from ground based telescopes and radar but no technology is seen performing these functions. Humans obviously have no such technology so advanced alien technology is implied here. The only exceptions to the alien tech are the few pieces of Earth tech (Zeta Tubes, etc.) that the League added to suit their needs. I had hoped to find a place in the series to explain all of this but we had so many other story elements to manage in each episode that the Watchtower back story fell to greater needs. We did manage to mention that the Watchtower has no weapons in the 20th episode of season one (Coldhearted).

The Young Justice Watchtower wasn't my first Watchtower design. Back when I was directing on The Batman I introduced the Watchtower in the final episode of Season 4. I sketched out a domed version of the Super Friends Hall of Justice that was built onto an asteroid with some extra structures beneath it. I pitched the idea, everyone seemed to like it, it went through the design department and ended up in the show.

I always liked the domed Hall of Justice look from The Batman's Watchtower so it became a starting point when I began working out ideas for the actual Hall of Justice in the Young Justice series. I think everyone knows that the Hall of Justice from the Super Friends was inspired by the Cincinnati Union Terminal, a beautiful Art Deco structure. I wanted to capture the spirit of that classic Super Friends Hall but because the Young Justice Hall is a modern building it made no sense to use the original Art Deco design. I sat down with Dan Norton (art director for Thundercats) and explained my design ideas to him. He whipped up an amazing assortment of designs for the Hall and we quickly finalized the version you now see in the show.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Joe Kubert

Joe, through your amazing artistry and leadership we all knew you as one of the greatest legends of the comic book industry. When you opened the doors of your school to share your passion with others many more of us came to know you as a teacher and a role model. During my stay at your school and through the years that followed I was lucky to get to know you as an employer, a mentor, a friend, and even a father. Thank you, Joe, for being such an inspiration to me and to so many others. Thank you for everything. You will be missed.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Season Two

Hey, folks. Been awhile. Been busy makin' a show. But things are winding down now. Greg and I are reviewing the last storyboards and designs for the last episode of Season 2 right now. Once that's complete my work load will be considerably lighter which means I might actually get to post on this blog a little more. We'll see.

Young Justice Season 2 begins airing tomorrow morning! We are very excited to share with you what we've been cooking up. We hope you'll be pleasantly surprised- unless you've been poking around the internet, discovering leaks and spoiling the surprises for yourself. Spoiled or not, I hope you enjoy watching the official premiere of Young Justice Invasion as much as we enjoyed making it.

The above image that many of you have already seen around online was the first pitch art I created back when Greg and I were pitching our Season 2 ideas to our bosses. It was really only meant to be rough pitch art but everybody seemed to like it so I polished it up a bit with the help of Peter Girardi and the next thing I know I'm seeing the image in packs of playing cards at San Diego Comic Con. At the time I drew this our cast had not been finalized and, of course, character designs were far from final.  I'm sure many of you guessed Robin and Blue Beetle from their distinctive silhouettes. That's Wonder Girl in the foreground. The rest I will leave to your imagination. Maybe at the end of the second season I'll fill you in on who they're supposed to be and why we did or didn't include them in the show.

Greg and I chatted about Season 2 with some really cool websites that have been kind enough to post about Young Justice. If you'd like to read about our thoughts on Season 2 then check out the links below. Some of our quote credits got reversed in a couple of the articles (a common occurrence in phone interviews) but you'll get some juicy behind the scenes info from us none the less.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Season One

Production on the first season of Young Justice has officially ended as of November 21, 2011, 14:38 PDT. We screened and locked our season one finale and sent it on its way to Cartoon Network. It felt kinda weird. Ending a season seems like a landmark to stop and appreciate- maybe eat some cake or something. But season two production is moving so fast that we blazed right through our finale screening only to hurry off to a season two production meeting.

Anyway, the finale turned out pretty awesome! It's JAM PACKED! If you blink, you'll miss something. So I'm telling you now, don't blink when you watch the finale because we definitely wrap up all our season one story lines and answer all of your burning questions. Or do we? Either way, I think you're going to love how we close out the season.

Hey, you wanna see our first season story wall? Here it is (censored to hide the plot lines of unaired episodes, of course).

This wall of cards is how we plan and track the season story arcs. I imagine this practice isn't all that different from other productions. I mean, I don't know how else you would keep track of so many multilayered plots and subplots that are further complicated by secrets and lies. Greg has gone the extra step of color coding the cards to make tracking certain elements a little easier for us. Yellow cards track the titles and timeline. Blue cards track the stories of our teens as superheroes. Purple cards track the stories of our teens outside of their hero lives. Red cards track Justice League stories. Green cards track bad guy stories. White cards... don't ask me about the white cards. I can't tell you what those are for.

I've been trying to answer some of your questions in the comments section but I figured I might as well post the answers here as well. Thanks for your questions. I'll try to continue to answer more of them and post more behind the scenes stuff as my schedule allows.

Q: When you build a character, are you trying to make them feel as real as possible? Or do you also keep in mind their symbolic role in a fictional work?

A: The goal for every character in the show is to introduce them in the most realistic way possible while keeping in mind their symbolic role in the DCU. A great example of this can be seen in the costume design sensibility for our heroes. The Justice League represents the classic American superhero so I wanted their costumes to be pretty close to their original designs established in decades of comics. But our young heroes are of a new generation and I wanted that reflected in the tailoring of their clothes which is why their designs are a little more modernized from what fans are familiar with. So that's just one example. As form follows function, design and writing follows character which includes any symbolic role any given character may hold.

Q: The animation on Young Justice is phenomenal. It seems that the two studios MOI and Lotto essentially alternate. Would it ever make sense to have 6 or 7 animation studios to speed up production or is that not how it works? Is there a "sweet spot" for the ideal amount of overseas partners to work with on a project?

A: The more studios involved in a production the more you run the risk of inconsistent animation. First of all, as with any artist, it takes time to learn and master a new design style. Each animation studio takes about 3 episodes (give or take) to really master a new show's design style. So if you give 6 studios about 3 episodes to master a show style then you're possibly going to be looking at up to 18 episodes of wildly fluctuating quality and consistency. And even after each studio masters a new style you'll still be able to spot differences in style between studios. As with individual artists, each studio tends to have their own slight variation on any given style. I'm not sure that every viewer can see it but I can easily tell the difference (it's a subtle difference) between Lotto and MOI episodes. So for the sake of consistency and getting a series on model as quickly as possible I prefer to work with as few studios as possible. Right now I'm very happy with how well Lotto and MOI are synchronized with their interpretation of our designs so 2 studios is working out well for our series.

Q: Any plans to write an issue or so of the Young Justice tie-in comic?

A: Nope! That project is all Greg Weisman and Kevin Hopps now. I kicked in some ideas for stories at the beginning of the comic project like explaining character origins and the history of Mount Justice- stuff like that. That was back when Mike Baltazar and Franco Aurliani were writing the early issues and we were offering them some advice to help tie the comic in with the show. But otherwise the comic stories are out of my hands.

Q: Was the headquarters for the Injustice League a homage to the Hall of Doom?

A: Yes.

Q: I read on askgreg (also noticed it too when watching) that you intentionally made some character design changes like adding the armour/padding to kid flash etc. What was ur thinking behind this?

A: In our series, Kid Flash uses his speed powers to become a human cannonball. He's not invulnerable so he needs the armor and padding to protect himself while hurling himself into bad guys or even sliding to a stop (because our Kid Flash can NOT stop on a dime like some other speedsters can). Please see my earlier posting for more about this.

Friday, October 28, 2011


If you're looking for a fun Halloween themed movie to watch this Halloween night then you should check out The Batman Vs. Dracula. I directed the first third of the movie, Seung Eun Kim (The Boondocks) directed the middle third, and Sam Liu (Batman: Year One, Green Lantern: The Animated Series) directed the last third.

The Batman series ran for five successful seasons and I was a director on the first four of those seasons. It was difficult work to be the new Batman series following Bruce Timm's run with the character- big shoes to fill! But I was proud of the work our crew did in creating a new and unique take on the Batman universe that stands very well on it's own. We introduced Batman to a new generation of kids and reimagined his Rogues Gallery of villains in a really interesting new way. And we won an Emmy! That was cool!

The Batman crew has, of course, moved on to other cool projects in the animation world. The Batman Producer and Story Editor Duane Capizzi is now producing the Transformers: Prime series. Story Editor Michael Jelenic went on to produce Batman: The Brave and the Bold and is now producing the new Thundercats series. Producer Michael Goguen produced the Superman/Batman: Public Enemies movie and is now directing for Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Producer and Art Director Jeff Matsuda jumped over to Marvel to design the Hulk Vs. Wolverine movie and Character Designer Jose Lopez is now the lead designer for Transformers: Prime. Character Designer Jon Suzuki went on to work with me on Batman: Under The Red Hood as lead character designer and continues to crank out awesome designs for all the other DCU animated movies. And Character Designer Thomas Perkins has too many cool post-Batman credits to list so you should just check out his blog that I linked to his name to learn more about him.

You can watch The Batman Vs. Dracula on Netflix, download it from iTunes, or buy it from Amazon.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


If you'd like to know more about my role as Producer, Art Director, and Writer for Young Justice or if you'd like to know about the path I took to get to these positions then you might be interested in a couple of new online interviews with me that explain a little more about those topics.

World's Finest has posted an interview with me that focuses on the production of Young Justice and my role in it.

The Joe Kubert School website has an interview with me that highlights my experience at the school, my job with John Romita Sr. at Marvel, my career in animation, and my day-to-day duties on Young Justice.

Feel free to post questions about animation, Young Justice, or anything else in the comments and I'll try to respond as soon as possible.