Update on the WATCHTOWER DATABASE

The Watchtower Database continues to grow and evolve! Despite being in the middle of a pandemic, we’ve been lucky to continue creating steady content, and a lot of that energy and excitement goes to my channel cohorts James Strecker and Mattie Washburn. Bi-weekly coverage on BATMAN: THE ADVENTURES CONTINUE digital comic book series by Paul Dini, Alan Burnett and Ty Templeton has provided a consistent topic for coverage, and time in the zeitgeist for this niche fandom.

In light of the “12th Level Intellects” podcast, we have also conducted interviews with various creatives who worked on DC Comics animated series, such as writer Eric Carrasco and director Sam Liu from JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. FATAL FIVE feature film, as well as director Dan Riba who worked on animated series like BATMAN, SUPERMAN, BATMAN BEYOND, STATIC SHOCK, and JUSTICE LEAGUE. Such an incredible opportunity to discuss the craft with these cartoonists, and we’ve got even more on the way. The Dan Riba video was only part one of three, and we also spoke with writer Randy Rogel about his work on BATMAN and ANIMANIACS.

Aside from interviews, I also worked on several other videos, particularly a preliminary reading list for BATMAN: THE ADVENTURES CONTINUE where I compiled various books that Paul Dini and Ty Templeton had worked on in the animated DC Universe, and was joined by Owen Likes Comics who handled the latter half of the video where he revealed some of the mainstream Batman comics that featured characters like Deathstroke, Azrael, and Jason Tood who were set to appear in the DCAU for the first time in BATMAN: THE ADVENTURES CONTINUE.

Near the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the Watchtower Database participated in the first At Home Comic Con. We spearheaded a panel with guests Chris Lord and Cameron Dexter from the Timm Talk podcast where we read through the script for THE NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES episode “Legends of the Dark Knight.” I was the voice of classic chummy Batman, Mattie was an excellent Joker, James Strecker was an A+ narrator, and the Timm Talk fellas were pretty funny too. At Home Comic Con was organized by Comic Drake, Matt Draper, and Owen Likes Comics, and featured many other prominent comics based YouTube channels, some you may even know yourself. I don’t know what you watch on the internet.

My most recent video essay was all about Batman and Superman aka the “World’s Finest.” I wrote a gigantic script tracing all of the team-ups between the two superheroes throughout the DC Animated Universe before their more regular meetings in the JUSTICE LEAGUE cartoon, which casual fans will recall was only three or four episodes, but I found many more obscure moments to relate.

Watchtower Database shares weekly free videos every Sunday on YouTube, but available earlier for supporters on Patreon. We have also started live streaming weekly on Twitch where every Tuesday, James Strecker reads an issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE ADVENTURES to determine its canonicity with the animated series, every Wednesday is a live video game played by me (usually for the first time, so it can be funny feeling it out in front of an audience), and Thursdays with Mattie Washburn, currently working through a reading of the BATMAN: RISE OF SIN TZU video game novelization. Good times are happening on the Twitch channel these days.

I have more video essays in the works right now; the history of Wonder Woman in the DCAU and the long road before her appearance on JUSTICE LEAGUE (timed to coincide with the release of WONDER WOMAN 84 in October), also an essay on director Tim Burton’s early influence and involvement on BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, another “Casting Call” episode spotlighting various voice actors in the DCAU on Elfrem Zimbalist Jr. who played Alfred and Tara Strong who has voiced Batgirl and Harley Quinn, and speculation on what the “Rann/Thanagar War” might have looked like in the DCAU, all leading up to a big livestream event to celebrate the channel’s five year anniversary on September 17th. Be sure to follow @dcauwatchtower on social media so you don’t miss that announcement and more!

LEGACIES #9 // “2019”

LEGACIES OF THE DCAU released another six-page issue in the “Anno Domini” storyline. Anno Domini translates to “the year of our lord” in Latin which is used as a reference to an ominous ‘dark king’ on the final page cliffhanger. The subtitle “2019” reveals the setting, an important time in the DC Animated Universe since it was the canonical final year that Bruce Wayne operated as Batman, as expanded upon in the previous LEGACIES issue “Prebirth”. The “2019” issue was written by myself Ted Kendrick, pencilled by James Strecker, and cover art by Rick Celis.

“2019” occurs several months after the events of “Prebirth”, and centers around Superman giving a speech commemorating the ten year anniversary of the disastrous Near Apocalypse of ’09, a mysterious event involving Ra’s Al Ghul that was referenced several times in BATMAN BEYOND storylines. Page 3 even reveals imagery with my take on that crisis. One of the most fun aspects of this issue was dreaming up the Justice League of 2019. I included Superman and Big Barda as direct references to the team from BATMAN BEYOND, along with The Atom, Green Lantern, and Static there as nods to the far future as well. Starfire and Plastic Man were fun additions since neither had truly been seen in the DC Animated Universe before, though page 2 shows where all of the original Justice Leaguers such as Wonder Woman, John Stewart, The Flash, and J’onn J’onzz are during this issue.

Click the cover to read “Anno Domini: 2019”!

A few weeks after the issue, James Strecker and I recorded a behind-the-scenes video looking at the process of creating the issue. We broke down the scenes, identified the easter eggs, and called out elements that reference previous issues or set up future events. We have a lot of story to tell, and a few more chapters set in the year 2019, which is 15 years after the end of JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED, but 20 years before the start of BATMAN BEYOND. The core mission statement behind LEGACIES has always been to fill in the missing gaps between those shows. Check out the BTS video below, and click the link above to read the full issue.

Watchtower Database at ECCC ’19

The Watchtower Database met in Seattle during Emerald City Comic Con which occurred from March 14th through the 17th. The production team involves myself Ted Kendrick, James Strecker, and Mattie Washburn. Our YouTube channel is known for its video content such as the DCAU video essays, “Vanishing Point” timeline analysis show, “12th Level Intellects” podcast, “Legacies of the DCAU” webcomic, and “Graphic Content” comic book recommendation series.

We managed to conduct several interviews with writers and artists who were all loosely creatively involved in some capacity with the DC Animated Universe, the shared world and continuity that includes the likes of BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, JUSTICE LEAUGE UNLIMITED, and STATIC SHOCK. We made connections with Will Friedle who provided the voice of Terry McGinnis, the hero of BATMAN BEYOND, which should lead to an exciting upcoming interview. Stayed tuned.

The gathering was a productive and celebratory experience, essentially a creative summit for the content creators. My wallet whined after an excessive stack of signed comics, but my heart was full from a super-charged weekend with cherished collaborators. Our series of interview videos from the convention floor are available to view on the Watchtower Database channel and embedded below.

Mattie Washburn and I met previously when he visited Asheville while based out of Savannah, Georgia at the time. He recently moved to Seattle, Washington, and served as the home base while we all met at the convention. James Strecker, who lives near Portland, Oregon, and I had never met in person before, despite being podcast co-hosts, artistic collaborators on the LEGACIES webcomic, and longtime internet friends from a history of shared comic book message boards. It was apparently a moment to document, and I recorded the video vertically like a jerk.

12th Level Intellects: February & March ’18

The 12th Level Intellects keep on keepin’ on through February and March with new episodes of the podcast every other week, available on both iTunes and YouTube. James Strecker and myself are the usual hosts, but were joined by a few other folks in some of the segments this round, who you’ll be introduced to shortly.

Comics writer Matthew Manning joined us on the podcast to discuss his work on last year’s BATMAN / TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES ADVENTURES series, and some various stand-alone issues for DC Comics such as JUSTICE LEAGUE ADVENTURES, THE BATMAN STRIKES, and BEWARE THE BATMAN, as well as his sole artist credit drawing a necklace on Mera in on a random 1990s AQUAMAN comic. Manning is a local to Asheville, so I was able to visit his home, record in the living room, and check out his amazing collection of Batman memorabilia.

For episode #11, James and I go back to the roots of the Watchtower Database channel and discuss something specific to the DC Animated Universe. Particularly, we take a look at the Flash, and whether Barry Allen existed in this world when all we ever saw was Wally West in the superhero role. Personally, I lean towards no.

Nothing more notable for the 12th Level Intellects than its twelfth episode. Mattie Washburn was our guest on this one while he and James were at the Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, Washington. Unfortunately, my audio recording glitched, so James and Mattie navigate the main conversation themselves of what events happened ‘for sure’ between animated series JLU and BATMAN BEYOND. This episode goes out to all the fans who know the Plasma Rifle was invented in 2005.

While at ECCC, James and Mattie had the opportunity to chat with Phil Lamarr, the voice actor behind major DCAU characters Static from STATIC SHOCK and Green Lantern, John Stewart from JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED, as well as many other familiar voices in animation like SAMURAI JACK and FUTURAMA. While I missed the meet and greet with Mr. Lamarr, you can still hear me talk about upcoming movies and comics in the News and Comic Relief segments of the podcast episode.

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.