Interview for Toon Zone News: 25th April 2004
Justice League Adventures, the tie-in comic to the animated Justice League series, will guest star one of DC's most famous heroes when Robin, Batman's sidekick, teams up with the Justice League, courtesy of writer Matthew K. Manning.
Nowadays, of course, Robin might be best known for his leading part in the hit TV series Teen Titans. So Manning took the television show into account when he started writing Justice League Adventures #33. Nevertheless, he explains, "the character I used is clearly the Tim Drake character from the WB Batman series. I'm a fan of both cartoons, but I'm much more of a fan of the visual appearance, in both stylistic choices and costume design, of the WB Robin character." And it's his choice all the way, he says. "I've never had a situation where DC has told me I can't do something in one of my plots, so I think I'm following that creative mold pretty well.
"I've been a fan longer than I've been a writer, so I've followed the animated DC cartoons since the early days of the Fox Batman show. The animated versions of the characters do have more distinct differences in voice than their comic book counterparts. So obviously I pay very close attention to guidelines that the animators have set for the League."
This isn't the first time Manning has brought a major guest star into Justice League Adventures. He wrote #14, "The Angry Tide," a popular issue with fans for its inclusion of Aquaman. So would Manning be interested in writing a third story including a major guest star? "Well, if I do another issue of Justice League, I doubt I'll have much choice in the matter but to deal with guest stars," he says. "Since the format of the cartoon is changing, the book will have to change with it, and so hopefully, I'll get a shot to do some characters like the Question or Blue Beetle or my personal favorite, Metamorpho."
But it's not a taste for novelty that causes Manning to bring in new characters. In fact, he admits that he prefers dealing with established characters over introducing new ones. "When I write an issue set in the animated universe, I like to only deal with the characters that the various cartoons have introduced. I remember being annoyed as a fan when, say, Adventures in the DCU would introduce a character like Aquaman or Green Lantern into the animated universe, only to have that story negated by the episodes of the Superman cartoon that introduced those same characters, but differently. I don't want my stories negated, so I play with the toys that I'm given. You can still give the readers something new without having to reach into the regular DCU to do so."
But he does have ideas for future Justice League stories—"too many," he says. "And with the show changing format and plenty of new characters spewing out of that, I only think I'll get worse. Nothing's concrete yet, but I do hope I get a chance to return to the animated universe in the near future."
Interview Copyright: James McLean