Friday, July 21, 2017

Batman/TMNT Adventures - Behind the Scenes - Part Three...

This is Part Three in a series of highly spoilery behind-the-scenes looks into our Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures miniseries.

For Part One, click here.

For Part Two, click here.

To read the trade first, you can pick it up here.

To see a picture of a baby chicken wearing a tiny hat, click here.

Okay, now that that's out of the way, on to issue # 3...

By this issue, the Ninja Turtles and the Batman Family have finally teamed up and are having a bit of downtime in the Turtles' sewer lair. When Robin attempts to name all the Turtles, he gets Mikey's name wrong. Michelangelo corrects the Boy Wonder in this panel:

Mikey is purposely mimicking Michelangelo's statue of David here. Originally, I thought it would be funny if his groin was covered with a black censorship bar. IDW, Nickelodeon, and DC didn't really agree. I can't blame them since this is an all-ages book and all, but I still like that gag...

Next up is the scene in the Turtle van:

This was the first scene I thought up when brainstorming for this series. While Batgirl is originally annoyed with the Mikey for rocking out to a song obviously based on Vanilla Ice's "Ninja Rap," on the page following this one, Batgirl lets her hair down and sings/screams along with the song. That's the power of the Vanilla, right there.

Originally, this song was supposed to be "Turtle Power!" by Partners in Kryme from the original TMNT movie. However, there are rules against song lyrics in comics, so we had to make up our own song. Wingnut is a Batman-like character in the universe of the Nick TMNT cartoon, so we went with a mash-up of sorts.

Now on to issue # 4...

This issue starts with an East Village crowd attacked by the Scarecrow's fear gas. On the far left of the panel, I can be seen fleeing the scene in absolute terror, abandoning my wife Dorothy who's right behind me. On the other side of Batman is series editor Bobby Curnow, and on the extreme right of the panel, is our artist extraordinaire Jon Sommariva, also leaving his wife and child in the dust. When it comes to Scarecrow's fear gas, it's every man for himself.

Up next is my favorite hidden bit in the series. During the Scarecrow fear gas sequence, Batman experiences a glimpse of what Gotham City would be like without him.

We see the Monarch Theatre in the background, the infamous movie house connected to the alley in which Bruce's parents were shot before his eyes. The Waynes saw The Mark of Zorro that fateful night, and since Batman was the target of this Scarecrow plot, I thought it'd be fun to leave off the rest of the title of the movie on the marquee, suggesting Batman is the "mark" in the Scarecrow's con game.

Later on in the issue, Donatello discovers one of the Mad Hatter's beacons. It was Jon's idea to include a little white rabbit on each device, giving another clue to the readers.

By the end of the issue, we see the story's mastermind. One of my favorite villains from Batman: The Animated Series, the Mad Hatter seemed like the perfect character to want to escape the reality of Gotham City into the "Wonderland" of the TMNT's New York. If you look closely, you can spot Turtle ally Usagi Yojimbo in the background, along with a famous video game character. I'm not saying that Jon hid that video game character in every issue, but I'm not saying he didn't either. Better go back and check, just to be on the safe side.

Next time we'll cover issues 5 and 6.

In the meantime, let's check back on that adorable baby chick.


To be continued...

Friday, July 14, 2017

Batman/TMNT Adventures - Behind the Scenes - Part Two...

Now that the trade paperback is available in comic and book stores nationwide, time to jump into Part Two of a behind-the-scenes look into our Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures miniseries. Plenty of spoilers ahead, so make sure you grab a copy of the book before going any further!

To read Part One first, click here.

On to issue # 2...

The issue begins with Harley Quinn staging her getaway from Arkham Asylum. There's a little hint about Harley's character with the "Caution: Slippery" sign ("Slippery When Wet" didn't quite seem appropriate...), and then we get right into her best Scooby-Doo impression. This sequence was actually a page longer in the original script, but had to be trimmed in order to make room for a longer sequence later on in the issue.

When we first see Joker, he's reading a book by Mark Hamill, who the world knows as the iconic Luke Skywalker and the legendary voice actor of the Joker on Batman: The Animated Series. The original title on the book was to be Make 'Em Laugh, an homage to one of the great B:TAS episodes. Unfortunately, it had to be changed, as like a dozen real books exist with that title.

Here's where we get a bit sneaky. When the portals originally appear in Arkham Asylum, if you look closely at the back of Harley's neck, you can see Mad Hatter's beacon. It's just a small circle in the image so readers don't notice it too much, but artist Jon Sommariva and I realized that for the sake of continuity and the later explanation of the beacons, the device had to be in this opening scene.

Issue # 2 also includes an homage that almost no one seemed to notice. This panel is a tribute to the original cover of TMNT # 1 from 1984. Notice Jon's "K.E. was 'ere '84" scratched on the stone underneath Batman.

In Part Three, we'll dig into issues #'s 3 and 4 a bit, so make sure to check back. And don't forget to nab your trade paperback of Batman/TMNT Adventures in the meantime. You can order one here if you'd rather stay home and patiently wait by your computer for my next update.

To be continued...

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Batman/TMNT Adventures - Behind the Scenes - Part One...

To commemorate the July 12th release of the trade paperback collection of all six issues of Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures, I thought it would be fun to share some behind-the-scenes info, as well as a few of the "Easter eggs" artist Jon Sommariva and I hid throughout the series.

If you haven't read the series yet, stop now. This post contains a whole lot of spoilers. Come back after you've read the trade. If you don't, I'll know.

I'll know.

Let's start with issue # 1...

When Batman: The Animated Series first debuted, every episode was prefaced by a beautifully rendered title card, listing the name of the episode, the writer, and the director. So when I learned I'd be writing this series, one of the first things I did was ask my editor, Bobby Curnow, if it'd be possible to keep that tradition alive and start off every issue of Batman/TMNT Adventures with a similar title card. Bobby liked the idea and pulled some strings, and the result were Jon's awesome title pages, each rendered in the spirit of the classic Batman show.

Issue # 1's title card.
When it came to introducing the characters, I couldn't resist going with an homage to the 1989 Batman film.

Can it be called an Easter egg if every single reader immediately caught the reference?

Growing up, that movie played a huge role in my life, as did the original TMNT cartoon series. So it seemed only fair to include a nod to a line from that show's infamous theme song.

Bonus Fun Fact: Before Chuck Lorre got famous for taking cheap shots at comic fans in The Big Bang Theory, he co-wrote the lyrics to the original TMNT theme song. We owe him a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.
When we meet Two-Face in the series, he's occupying a house that is half immaculate, half destroyed. He's also watching an episode of Pretty Pretty Pegasus, an in-universe cartoon made famous thanks to Teen Titans Go!

The inspiration for Two-Face's hideout came from this issue, a favorite of mine as a kid:

Or is he not carrying it far enough, Batman? Ever think of that?
Two-Face talks about portals mysteriously popping up in Gotham City and taking villains to the TMNT universe. For those eagle-eyed readers, we give away the villain behind the plot right from the start when Two-Face says, "We went down the rabbit hole," an allusion to Lewis Carroll's books, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. Batman fans know these books as the main inspiration for the villain... the Mad Hatter.

And here's Jervis Tetch's empty cell in Arkham Asylum, just for good measure:

Finally, as Issue # 1 draws to a close, we see famed Arkham Asylum guard Aaron Cash walking with another employee of the asylum, Dr. Bridget Fitzpatrick. Fans were puzzling over this character, wondering if she'd showed up in the Batman: The Animated Series universe before this issue.

Actually, Bridget was a character from an earlier Batman story I wrote, one published in Batman: 80-Page Giant 2010. The villain in that particular tale was Calendar Man, and I wanted to include an Easter egg about the holiday Leap Year. To do that, I came up with Bridget Fitzpatrick, named after St. Bridget.

According to lore, St. Bridget had complained to St. Patrick about how men were the only sex allowed to propose marriage. St. Patrick opted to grant women the right to propose to men one year out of every four, henceforth a Leap Year tradition.

So when it came to giving Cash someone to chat with in the Arkham Asylum hallways, an Easter egg from 2010 became an even harder to decipher Easter egg in 2016.

The immensely talented Garry Brown handled the art chores for our story, "Every Day Counts." You can read it here.
Check back soon for the more insider info from issues # 2 through 6. And be sure to pick up the Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures trade paperback this week!

To be continued...

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Summer Reading with Batgirl and Spider-Man...

I've got two new books on shelves for your summer reading needs. What? Your summer is too jam-packed to get around to reading two whole books? That's okay. I've been told they'll keep until you can get to them. You should probably buy them anyway, though. Just to be on the safe side.

Batgirl: New Hero of the Night is my second book for Scholastic, as well as my second entry in their Backstories collection. This chapter book is perfect for younger readers, and tells Barbara Gordon's recently revised history, beginning with her New 52 adventures and heading into the current day. Everything you need to know about Babs is collected within these covers, so make sure you nab a copy or two for the heroic kids in your house.

The first book I ever worked on was an updated guide for Spider-Man for DK Publishing. That particular book was written by Tom DeFalco, and was in need of 16 new pages to keep the text up to date with Spidey's more recent adventures. I jumped at the opportunity, and have been lucky enough to write several books a year ever since.

After I wrote Wolverine: Inside the World of the Living Weapon and Iron Man: The Ultimate Guide to the Armored Super Hero, I got the chance to rework our entire Spidey guide to match the format of those DK books. The result was Spider-Man: Inside the World of Your Friendly Neighborhood Hero

Recently, I was able to rework my first book even further with the latest edition of Spider-Man: Inside the World of Your Friendly Neighborhood Hero. This updated version features new entries on the latest Spidey happenings, and updates our older spreads. We also get a chance to talk about some of the best new characters in the Wall-Crawler's life, including Spider-Gwen and Silk. It's on bookshelves now, so make sure you add it to your collection. Or you can wait another six to ten years when we update this one. But I wouldn't recommend it. Your Spidey Sense will be tingling long before then.

To be continued...

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Wonder Woman Weekend...

So you just saw the Wonder Woman movie and you're looking to find out more about everyone's favorite Amazing Amazon. Or maybe you want to beef up on Amazonian history before you get to the theater. Or perhaps you've stumbled onto my website because you were looking up the Matthew Manning who is a spiritual healer, and you're really confused about why he's going on and on about Wonder Woman.

No matter which one of the above categories you fall into (and let's be honest, most of you are from the last one), I've got plenty of Wonder Woman books and comics to get you up to date on the legendary Diana of Themyscira.

For those interested in the modern New 52 version of Wonder Woman, be sure to check out The World According to Wonder Woman, my book for Insight Editions. Illustrated by Paul Bulman, the book gives a little insight (pun very much intended) into Wonder Woman's thoughts on everything from working with partners to how to throw a good left hook.

And if it's advice you're after, you might want to read The Wonder Woman Way, a tiny little book I wrote that accompanies a talking bust in this great set. The Wonder Woman figurine says real quotes from the comics, while the book gives you the kind of sage advice that only an Amazon could give (or a 38-year-old man doing his best impression of an Amazon. Same thing.).

Now that you brought up gift book sets (thanks for that, by the way), I also wrote Wonder Woman: The Amazing Amazon, another tiny little book in a boxed set. This one tells a bit of the character's history and an overview of her world, the book packaged with a Wonder Woman Tiara Bracelet.

If it's history you're looking for, I also ghost wrote the first chapter about the life of Wonder Woman's creator, William Moulton Marston in the nice fat coffee table book entitled Wonder Woman: Amazon Hero Icon, otherwise written by fellow comic book historian Robert Greenberger.

If you have young Wonder Woman fans in the house, be sure to snag my chapter book Wonder Woman Wrestles Circe's Sorcery.

Saved for last is my favorite work starring Diana, a comic book collaboration with artist Georges Jeanty from Sensation Comics. In it, Wonder Woman squares off with a monstrous threat thanks to the machinations of her friend and fellow Justice Leaguer, Batman. You can download the digital version of the comic here. It'll only set you back a buck.

Happy reading, and enjoy your Wonder Woman weekend! I can already hear the bracelets clanging from here.

To be continued...

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Wonder Woman Way...

Need a little friendly advice from Wonder Woman? Are you in the market for a talking bust of everyone's favorite Amazing Amazon? Or maybe you just like little toys that make you feel like a giant when you hold them in the palm of your hand. Well I can solve all three of those totally real, not-at-all-made-up problems.

Introducing The Wonder Woman Talking Figure and Illustrated Book set from Running Press. Inside this little box is not just a Wonder Woman half-figure that actually quotes from the comics, but this kit also contains my newest (albeit tiny) book, The Wonder Woman Way. Find out Princess Diana's thoughts on everything from marriage to wearing fierce red boots. It's advice you never knew you needed, available now in bookstores.

To be continued...

Monday, May 8, 2017

Batman/TMNT Adventures # 6...

This week marks the release of the sixth and final issue of Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures. While the main story was resolved last issue, this issue serves as an epilogue special, a self-contained story that sees the Turtles partner with not the original Batman: The Animated Series version of Batman, but the later New Batman Adventures version. In a story set months after the first five issue arc, the TMNT join forces with Batman, a new young Robin (Tim Drake), the grown up original Robin now called Nightwing, and a more seasoned and efficient Batgirl all to fight an alien invasion on a galactic scale. Plus, there's a cameo by nearly every single TMNT character who has appeared on the Nick cartoon.

Artist Jon Sommariva delivers another awesome pencil job this issue, and Sean Parson once again brings it all together with his inks. This issue also features the color art of Matt Herms, whose style is the closest we've gotten to the amazing painted art deco backgrounds of Bruce Timm's Gotham City since that cartoon went off the air. The result is one of the best looking issues to date, and makes me wish I was typing away at a sequel already. (Feel free to bug DC and IDW about that, by the way. We might just be able to make it happen!)

Jon Sommariva's original promotional art was turned into not just the IDW Convention Exclusive edition, but also a black and white retailer summit exclusive variant!

Now that we're all wrapped up, I want to be sure to thank everyone at DC, IDW, and Nickelodeon for giving me the opportunity to pour my toy box on the floor and bang my favorite action figures together. Editor Bobby Curnow at IDW, Joan Hilty at Nickelodeon, and Jim Chadwick at DC were great partners, and I really appreciate the level of encouragement they threw my way while we were working on this book.

Artist extraordinaire Jon Sommariva knocked it out of the park each and every issue, and his dedication to this project matched, if not exceeded, my own. I couldn't have been partnered with a better collaborator, and his ideas were key in making this book stronger with every issue. Likewise, Sean Parsons delivered crisp inks that made Jon's bold art even bolder, while retaining the art's lively qualities. There were several time crunches on this book, and Sean came through with flying colors. And speaking of tremendous colors, a big thanks to the aforementioned Matt Hern, and the colorist for the first five issues, Leonardo Ito. And last but not least, a heartfelt thanks to Shawn Lee, whose lettering was clear and precise, no matter how many changes we tossed his way.

And man, did we have some amazing covers on this book or what? Aside from Jon's great work, we saw the likes of Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird and Steve Lavigne, Jeff Matsuda, Ciro Nieli, Hilary Barta, J. Bone, Dario Brizuela, Derek Fridolfs, Rick Burchett, Billy Martin, Chad Thomas, and dozens more talented artists who helped bring way too much notice to our little all-ages story. It was the work of these guys that helped issue # 1 sell out before it hit stores, and draw enough attention to our series to see us nominated for Comic Book of the Year by the Diamond Gem Awards. For issue # 6 alone, we have variant covers by Sean Galloway, Ty Templeton, Valerio Schiti, and comic book icon Neal Adams. Not too shabby...

Neal Adams and Ty Templeton comic convention exclusives! High School Matt just saw his head explode.

And of  course, a huge thanks to you, the readers. You went from being a bit wary of another Batman/TMNT crossover so soon after the first comic book version, to becoming amazingly supportive of our different direction, tone, and approach to these classic characters. I've done a half dozen signings since issue # 1 was released, and I never get tired of hearing how this comic resonated with both you and your kids.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles # 6 hits stands Wednesday, May 10th. And look for the trade paperback in July!

To be continued...