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THURSDAY, JANUARY 18, 2007

LEGION OF SUPER HEROES' JAMES TUCKER -- PART 2

SHERMAN OAKS, Calif. --The Continuum today continues its two-part interview with James Tucker, producer of the Legion of Super Heroes animated series on Kids' WB!.

The Continuum: Talk about how much DC Comics is involved with the show.

Tucker: Well, they give notes. We send them our outlines, they give us notes on it. They have approval power over characters and stuff. And if there's something that feel that doesn't fit right with the Legion, they'll tell us. We've had a few instances where we had to change some characters around. And we've have some issues that deal with licenses. You would think that if Superman is in the Legion, then everything that is Superman falls into the Legion, too, but it doesn't work that way.

It was a challenging year, figuring out what we could and couldn't do. But it all worked out, and they've been great.

The Continuum: Is it safe to say, in today's animation, a second season of a show is usually better than the first?

Tucker: All things considered, yeah. I can't speak for anyone but myself...(pauses) I don't know if I can say that actually. Because the first season of Batman Beyond was dynamite, but through circumstances the successive seasons got a little watered down -- even though there were gems in those other seasons. But that first season was really stellar.

But with other shows, the first season of Justice League didn't hit its stride. In the second season, suddenly things were playing a lot better. And in Justice League Unlimited, it was great.

So, sometimes it does. Sometimes, it doesn't.

I definitely say for Legion it will because there are things we want to do and that we've talked about that I'm really excited about. I think setting up all the characters in the first season has been done. And that's something you can't get around. People just have to have patience with you. Hopefully, while you're building up these characters, you're telling good, interesting stories about them.

People only warm up to characters when they think they know them. And it takes a while, sometimes, to get to know a person. And sometimes, characters don't work out. You have to learn that this character is gelling better, so therefore you pull him or her forward, and that this character isn't, so you recede them.

The great thing about The Legion is that there are so many characters to pick from, if one doesn't work, you can re-shuffle them pretty easily without affecting the show. With Titans, those five characters had to work because it wasn't opened up to a lot of other characters until the later seasons.

With me, I could have gone that way with Legion. But I just thought that it says "Legion" in the title and you just have to have more than five characters. You just have to. And even if there's just cameos, the idea is that it's a legion of super-heroes.

On Justice League Unlimited, we didn't have to know every single hero you saw in the Watchtower. If you were a comic-book fan and you saw them and you knew them, that's fine. But if you were just a casual viewer, you could just look at it as a guy in the background who has a cool costume on. It was not important that you knew his back-story or anything.

The Continuum: You're hoping for a second season and you should know soon, but it definitely sounds like you will be back if there is one.

Tucker: Yes.

The Continuum: So you've been thinking about what you would do? I've heard stories are already being worked on.

Tucker: We have to proceed as if we're doing it. You have to be ready. You leave all that stuff up to the people in charge. You have to act as if it's happening and change course if it doesn't.

The Continuum: So you're excited about the prospects of a second season?

Tucker: I'm excited about the stories we've talked about and the direction we're taking with it. The great thing about Legion is that reboots are kind of built into the history of it, and I think Legion fans are flexible enough where if things are changed, it won't feel so radical. If we get our shot, things will change. That's what I like about Legion. You're not fixed to one specific continuity. It's open to change.

The Continuum: I just got a new HDTV and the first thing I saw on it was the "Timber Wolf" episode. It was really impressive-looking -- maybe because of the TV -- but I was also impressed with the backgrounds on that one.

Tucker: They were awesome. That was mainly Craig Robertson and Richard Kim, who were background painters on Justice League Unlimited. Everyone mentions that episode for the backgrounds. They're very colorful. It was supposed to be a scary story, but I wanted it to feel more alien, and I just thought their color choices were awesome.

I think that was one of the best-looking episodes of the six that are airing. There's more to come.

The Continuum: I think that with the look of the show, it must be challenging because you're creating whole new worlds.

Tucker: Yeah, there's no stock that we can use from Justice League that would carry over into this. In animation, especially in this building when you have five shows going on, if you need a cityscape, we have a computer, you can go it and say, "I need that city" and it's from another show. Static Shock used to use Justice League backgrounds.

With this, there's nothing. There were a few Justice League shows that took place in outer space, but not many. So we pretty much had to create it from scratch.

The Continuum: It's pretty much a certainty there will be Legion toys.

Tucker: I don't know how much I can say. Definitely, we were in talks for toys. That kind of talk starts the minute the show is green-lighted. I don't know if there actually will be toys, but there were talks and prototypes.

The Continuum: Judging from your office, you're someone who likes toys. Is there anything you want to see?

Tucker: From this season? Actually, I would like to see a Starfinger toy, but I know they're not going to do that. Just from the Justice League mold, if they do all the Legionnaires that we've designed, even if they've just been in a cameo. If they do like a three-pack where you have Superman and Lightning Lad as the mains and they throw in an extra one, that would be great.

The Continuum: Do you like being part of the DVDs, like the Justice League ones?

Tucker: Sometimes. The last few Justice Leagues, I was in the middle of production on Legion and my head was really scattered.

But I love the DVDs. You work on these and the excitement of making the shows and all the things that went into the making of them, there's a story behind every episode. We quickly forget the information, and I know there's lots of stuff that fans would love to hear or know about. You're on to something else and you don't have time to reminisce or think about. So I think as a document of our process...

We made Justice League to be a perennial classic. Hopefully, it will stand the test of time. It's the best animated action show I've seen. And I'm saying that just as a viewer; there isn't an ego involved at all. If I was a fan, I would have loved it.

It really needs to be documented, the process and what went into it. It wasn't easy. It wasn't an easy to show to do. There were lots of arguments and gnashing of teeth to get it there. So I'm glad we do have the DVDs to at least document what happened, even though we're only scratching the surface on a lot of them.

THERE'S MORE!: Tucker also commented on each upcoming individual episode in Legion's first season. Look for those comments soon here in The Continuum.



E-mail the Continuum at RobAlls@aol.com



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