LEGACIES OF THE DCAU // webcomic

A few years ago, artist and filmmaker James Strecker of JTS Entertainment was deliberating on the relaunch of the WATCHTOWER DATABASE, his fan-made tribute to everything regarding the DC Animated Universe (DCAU), a series of interlocking cartoons which began with the Emmy award-winning BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, and continued into SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, BATMAN BEYOND, STATIC SHOCK, and JUSTICE LEAGUE to name a few.

After seeing James’ designs for how characters may have appeared during the time period between JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED and BATMAN BEYOND, I proposed an ongoing webcomic on the lost years of the DCAU. This concept grew into the LEGACIES OF THE DC ANIMATED UNIVERSE webcomic, written by myself, illustrated by James Strecker, and hosted by the WATCHTOWER DATABASE.

Though the tribute website is still in development, the WATCHTOWER DATABASE has since become a hub for all fans of the DC Animated Universe on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. We’ve grown in notoriety from our recent interviews with industry professionals like Matthew Manning and Alan Burnett.

As long as our followers enjoy reminiscing about the DCAU as much as we do, I’m sure the content will keep on flowing. Over the last year, we have released three installments of LEGACIES with more to come. Find the issues linked below:

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WDb interviews ALAN BURNETT

Earlier this month, James Strecker and I had the amazing opportunity to conduct an over-the-phone interview for the WATCHTOWER DATABASE with writer / producer Alan Burnett, one of the main forces behind the DC Animated Universe.

We discussed Alan’s history in animation on shows like SUPER-FRIENDS and SCOOBY DOO! as well as fond memories from his time working on projects like BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, STATIC SHOCK, and BATMAN BEYOND.

It was such a trip to speak with one of the people responsible for some of my all-time favorite stories, most notably BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM, which I still believe is the best Batman film yet, animation, live-action or otherwise.

12th Level Intellects // recap

About a year ago, I participated in an extensive discussion with James Strecker on fan theories regarding the DC Animated Universe (or DCAU, if you will) which was a series of interlocking cartoons that began in 1992 with BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES and concluded in 2006 with JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED. The DCAU started one of the first shared universes, a concept that Marvel Studios has now popularized over the last decade.

Since the DCAU experienced such a lengthy run with spin-offs like STATIC SHOCK and BATMAN BEYOND, these versions of DC Comics’ classic characters were truly streamlined to the bare essentials that made them work without all the baggage of 75 years of comic book history. Because of this, some characters were occasionally taken into new, unfamiliar territory, such as the romance between Green Lantern and Hawkgirl as well as a glimpse into the twilight years of Batman’s career.

The DCAU never ceased to surprise even long term fans of the characters and the internet took it upon itself to push the realm of possibility even further. The aforementioned discussion on these fan theories became the 12TH LEVEL INTELLECTS podcast, a continuing segment featured on the WATCHTOWER DATABASE YouTube channel, named for a term in the DCAU meant to describe the smartest beings in the universe. That would naturally be the hosts of the podcast.

We’ve discussed various ideas such as whether the Teen Titans belong to this universe, if Gear and Brainiac bonded to create a lineage in the far future, if villains such as Harley Quinn, the Scarecrow, Penguin, or Lock-Up ever had children, and the possibility that the Justice Leaguer Warhawk was actually the son of Hawkman rather than Green Lantern, among so many more discussions to come over the next few months.

Our biggest success was the Harley Quinn video, linked below, which went viral shortly after the premiere of David Ayer’s SUICIDE SQUAD. As of this writing, the video has gathered over 160,000 views on YouTube and countless comments debating who was actually the father of Harley’s children. Expect additional installments of the 12TH LEVEL INTELLECTS podcast at least once a month as it does take a moment to splice together such a video essay.

VIREALITY // feature film

VIREALTY is a feature film by James Strecker, a filmmaker from Eugene, Oregon who produces a comedy sketch channel on YouTube called JTS Entertainment. The film stars actors James Strecker, Nicholas Rylands, Joe Scott, Jon Freeman, Scott Steele, and Will Violette with an original soundtrack scored by Adam Mullen of Musica Atomica.

VIREALITY is intended to be the culmination of every video James has uploaded to his channel over the last six years, bringing together all of the characters from his various skits in a parallel universe shattering epic. In fact, that all becomes a part of the plot when James himself discovers his YouTube content actually exists in its own plane of reality, though under siege by the evil warlord Goo’ghal, a not so sly commentary on the overreach of a certain tech company.

I provided edits for VIREALITY shortly after the first draft was completed and left enough fingerprints behind to earn myself a Co-Writer credit. VIREALITY probably went through four major edits or so with James and I trading PDFs back and forth with comments as we do with additional feedback and suggestions from Micah Dugan, Jon Freeman, and Will Violette.

An Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign was launched a few months later where James secured a little over $1,500 for financing out of a $6,000 goal, so roughly a quarter of the desired budget. James is gearing up for production on the CGI heavy segment that takes places in the digital world of “The Tube” and is still welcoming donations on his personal website.

Half of the film, which takes places in the “real world,” was shot last year over two weeks in Oregon. The actors in this segment were playing themselves, all recurring talent from previous videos by JTS Entertainment. These scenes are well into post-production with the more expensive and intricate segments of VIREALITY set in the digital world of “The Tube” prepped for 2017.

WDb // History of the Batsuits

I recorded the narration on this video last year for WDb, looking back on the history, design, and functionality of Batman’s costumes throughout animated television. WDb is short for the WATCHTOWER DATABASE, a YouTube variety channel regarding all things DC Animated Universe, which was a series of interlocking cartoons starting with the Emmy award winning BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES.

The video below was one of the first I contributed to the channel, so the sound quality isn’t as solid as I would prefer. Fortunately webmaster James Strecker’s editing skills are so natural and engaging, he could have substituted my voice with the sound of a lawnmower and still retained interest. All self deprecation aside, it actually is a pretty cool video and at the time of this post, at least 4,250 other people seem to agree. 102 of them even felt the need to thumbs up… not that life should be measured by your number of Likes, of course.

12th Level Intellects on TEEN TITANS

Over the last year, I’ve been heavily involved with the WATCHTOWER DATABASE, a specialty YouTube channel focused on the DC Animated Universe, a series of interlocking television shows that ran from the early 1990s with BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES to the mid-2000s with JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED. The DC Animated Universe (or DCAU, if you will) is notable for being one of the first major shared universes, a concept only recently made popular by Marvel Studios. The DCAU remains dear in my heart to this day thanks to its mature storytelling, top notch direction, and stellar A-list voice talent.

12TH LEVEL INTELLECTS, a term from the DCAU used to describe some of the smartest people in the universe, is also a series of podcast discussions by myself and webmaster / editor James Strecker where we nitpick certain hot topics from the DCAU. Most of the time, this entails dissecting fan theories. Around the end of July 2016, James and I were joined by Mattie Washburn, who is known for his comprehensive DCAU Timeline Tumblr page, for a special installment of 12TH LEVEL INTELLECTS where we discussed whether the TEEN TITANS animated series belongs in the same universe as the rest of the DCAU.

Despite differences in animation and whatnot, there was evidence on both sides of the argument. Though to be fair, we definitely entered the conversation planning to debunk the theory from the start. The three of us spoke for nearly an hour and a half, yet somehow James was able to dissect 15 minutes of compelling conversation into an interesting and highly informational video. At the time of this post, the discussion has gathered nearly 1000 views over the span of a week. Not too shabby for a such a niche YouTube channel!

SUICIDE SQUAD Podcast Review

Last month, I was a guest on JTS Entertainment‘s “Pleasantries” where I discussed SUICIDE SQUAD, the newest entry in DC Entertainment’s budding cinematic superhero universe featuring Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, Will Smith’s Deadshot, Jared Leto’s Joker, among an assembly of all-star actors.

Between myself and the host, James Strecker, being fans of the source material, we spent a lot of time nerding out over what was faithful and what wasn’t. It’s a lengthy conversation with a silly intro skit but fun times all around. I gave the film a 7/10 because I left the theater with such a sense of enjoyment, though as someone with an eye for cinema, I’ll be the first to admit there were problems with character development and pacing that deserved the scathing reviews it received from critics.

Personally, I suspect I’m too invested with the DC Universe to approach their characters objectively and without bias. For 2 hours and 10 minutes last month, I was simply happy to be alive in a world where I get to see characters like Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang, and Katana on the silver screen rather than the funny pages.