12th Level Intellects: Expectations for “Justice League”

James Strecker and I recently debuted the first episode of our new podcast 12TH LEVEL INTELLECTS, named after the DC Comics term for a cosmic genius, and an offshoot from the fan theory discussions of the same name we recorded for the WATCHTOWER DATABASE. We focus the conversation specifically on niche topics relating to DC Comics and DC Animation. Adam Mullen composed the intro music.

We hope to release an episode every other week where we discuss relevant news, comic book recommendations, and dive into a random topic, the first being our expectations for the upcoming JUSTICE LEAGUE feature film. Listen to the episode embedded below via YouTube or find us for streaming on Soundcloud.

NC Comicon Oak City 2017

I joined Jarrett Rutland in Raleigh, NC over the weekend of March 18th for the two day NC Comicon Oak City event to promote the all-ages ESCAPIST COMIX brand. We worked a table in Artist Alley where we sold copies of the first four issues of ROBOT SAMURAI PENGUINS, and first issues of new releases LITTLE PREACHER and DARK PLOTTER, along with extra swag like stickers, high quality prints, and T-shirts. It was a great success and so much fun to get feedback directly from fans.

NC Comicon

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Jarrett has been building his line of books over the last two years, but I came onboard as the Marketing Director only a few months ago to help with the technical aspects, hone in on the branding such as the name and logo, and develop an online presence, primarily through Patreon for monthly crowdfunding and ComiXology for digital sales. I’ve also started writing an upcoming series that will be announced down the road, but I can say it has a very exciting premise. I’ll come up with a fun Project Codename whenever I discuss the development process in a later post.

comical comics creators @nccomicon #artistalley #escapistcomix #comics #comicon #ncart #kidslit

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As this was my first convention on the other side of a table, I learned all about the patience required by artists when waiting for crowds to both arrive in the morning and leave in the afternoon. Comic conventions are always colorful, exciting, but sometimes overwhelming events, especially when high profile creators are involved. I briefly said hello to Neil Adams, known for his work on characters like Batman, Green Arrow, and Green Lantern in the 1970s, also had my issues of MOTHER PANIC signed by artist Tommy Lee Edwards, and picked up multiple signed copies of the BATMAN / TMNT ADVENTURES #1 Director’s Cut as gifts.

Attending discussion panels is also a fun element, and I found myself at two this time around. One was an action choreography panel from BEAT DOWN BOOGIE, the Raleigh based YouTube channel known for MARIO WARFARE, and the other was a discussion by the BATMAN / TMNT ADVENTURES team of Matt Manning, an Asheville based writer and friend who I had previously interviewed about the book for the WATCHTOWER DATABASE, and Jon Sommariva, an Australian based artist who had flown all the way to Raleigh to meet Matt in person (after completing the 6-issue mini-series together) and hang out with their publishers at IDW Comics.

While on the topic of Jon Sommariva, I commissioned him for a sketch on a blank cover of Superman / Batman #30. As the cheapskate I am, I couldn’t afford two characters, so I compromised for the oddball Composite Superman mashup villain whose face is half Superman, half Batman, as a way to cheat the system.

NC Comicon was an incredible event. Since they hold two per year, Oak City in March, and Bull City in October, I have no doubt I will surely return soon enough.

WDb // History of the Supersuits

I recently provided research and narration on another video essay through the WATCHTOWER DATABASE channel on YouTube. The DCAU has such a rich history after its long run of various interconnecting animated series, and Superman appeared more often than anyone, aside from perhaps Batman. THE SUPERSUITS is a follow up to similar THE BATSUITS video that went online last October, and provides an excellent look into the evolution of Superman’s design over the years using explanations and evidence provided from the animated series themselves.

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.

S.T.A.R. Labs Confidential

When The CW launched the new seasons of their superhero shows last fall, YouTube channel host Zizzoro aka Brian Day and I reviewed each premiere. First we talked about THE FLASH, which was fun because the first episode was adapted from a familiar comic book storyline called FLASHPOINT, written by one of my favorite writers Geoff Johns. Zizzoro and I dive into the similarities between the episode and its source material and speculate on the future of the current season.

Next we talked about the season 5 premiere of ARROW where we discussed the new villain Prometheus (one of my favorite comic book villains, an Anti-Batman), last season’s death of the Black Canary and her potential return, and whether the temporal tampering of the aforementioned “Flashpoint” will also affect ARROW which we’ve already seen some evidence in regards to John Diggle’s child.

Although I haven’t followed the show in full, in the review on SUPERGIRL’s season 2 premiere, Zizzoro and I discussed the presence of Martian Manhunter and a new Superman, the change in networks from CBS to The CW, Supergirl’s love life in the comics, how her relationship with Jimmy Olsen might evolve, the virtues of Calista Flockhart as Cat Grant, and the possibility of more crossover episodes.

To round out the discussion, Zizzoro and I discussed the season 2 premiere of LEGENDS OF TOMORROW. This show has always had the most potential to explore the vast corners of the DC Universe, and with somewhat obscure characters like Firestorm and Vixen on their team roster, there’s no arguing that they do. This season saw the introduction of the Justice Society, one of my favorite superhero teams from the WWII era, as well as a new incarnation of the Legion of Doom.

I had a great time geeking out about DC TV on S.T.A.R. Labs Confidential and welcome the opportunity to do so again with Zizzoro or another host.  I’ve also been known to conduct interviews, so I’m sure there will be many more to come.

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.