Paul Dini and Bruce Timm have been interviewed for an article that recently appeared in USA TODAY. The link is here, and the full text is below:
Timm and Dini's 'Batman' influence lives on in new toys: A new collector's line of 6-inch action figures based on "Batman: The Animated Series" and "The New Adventures of Batman" arrive in November.
Paul Dini is clearing off shelf space these days for some Bat-blasts from his cartoon past.
A new collector's line of 6-inch action figures based on Dini and animator Bruce Timm's Batman: The Animated Series and The New Adventures of Batman shows from the 1990s are being released from DC Collectibles in November, just in time for the holiday season.
The toys (priced at $24.95 each), which include a first wave of Catwoman from the earlier Batman series (1992-95) and Batman, Two-Face and Mr. Freeze from New Adventures (1997-99), will be on display this weekend at Toy Fair in New York City.
"A lot of collectors have had kids now and they're sharing the shows with the kids for the first time, so now is really a good time to bring out these figures," says Dini, a writer on both series as well as a producer alongside Timm.
Timm recently saw models at DC Entertainment offices in Burbank, Calif., and noted their "deskability."
"You'll have guys 26-35 â€” and girls, too, presumably â€” just putting them on their desk at work," he says. "They have a coffee mug, a plant, and here's my Poison Ivy figure in the plant."
The line of figures will take designs from the original artwork models. Timm's animation style was used in small-scale toys in the '90s when the series aired on Fox and more recent superhero lines, too â€” it's an amalgamation of classic Disney cartoons like Sleeping Beauty, the comic-book influence of artists Jack Kirby, Wally Wood, Harvey Kurtzman and Dan DeCarlo, some stylistic tricks Timm picked up working on Mighty Mouse cartoons, and Alex Toth's Hanna-Barbera designs for Birdman and Space Ghost.
After the first couple of seasons of Batman, Timm and Dini moved on to do the Adventures of Superman cartoon, and when they returned to Batman, Timm found himself influenced by other animators working on the show.
"That inspired me to go back and redesign everybody on Batman and push it even further and make it simpler and more angular," Timm says.
"I will readily admit that some of the character we designed in the revamp weren't as successful as others, but I think 80% of the characters were vastly improved on the second go-round. The new Batman design was killer (and) the new Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn and Mr. Freeze were all really crisp and really cool. They lent themselves much better to animation than the old style, which was a little bit rubbery and more balloon-y."
For the younger generation of the time, both shows were an entrÃ©e into Gotham City's resident hero and his stable of bad guys, but they've remained timeless with today's parents introducing their kids to the 'toons via DVD and Netflix.
Timm admits that he and Dini cherrypicked bits and pieces from every version of Batman they liked, from the 1989 Tim Burton movie to the 1960s Adam West TV show to decades of comics.
"We had the luxury of looking back over the 50 years of Batman and it was the best R&D lab ever. We could see what worked and what didn't, what kind of worked and what we could improve on," Timm says.
Many of their character improvements are still used in comics and other media, such as Dini's eco-terrorist take on Poison Ivy; a Two-Face story that the Dini holds up "to anything as good on primetime TV"; and a tragic backstory for Mr. Freeze.
"In the comics, they never did anything with him other than he was the gimmicky freeze guy. He was kind of a joke," Timm says. "Anytime they trotted him out, people would just go, 'Oh no, that was the old Adam West show. We don't want people to be thinking about that. We're trying to be serious about these comics.' "
But Timm and Dini gave his villainy a sense of poetry â€” in the cartoon, Freeze's wife died following a cryogenic accident, and "he's literally cold inside, supposedly dead to emotion," Timm says.
"It was a 'cool' take on Mister Freeze, and that was the template on how we treated all of the characters."
Dini adds that they had a lot of encouragement from Fox and Warner Bros. to have fun and do their best. "It's your turn â€” forgive the pun â€” at bat. This is your chance to do the Batman you want to do.
"When you have a character who's as rich as Batman and there's such a varied and colorful world and so many creative people who were just itching to do a show like this, it couldn't help but be something unique."
Arguably one of the '90s animated series biggest successes was Harley Quinn, Timm and Dini's femme fatale whom DC Comics put into their titles and has become one of the most popular characters in the DC Universe.
"We've been stealing from them for years so it's only fair," Timm says with a laugh.
"They've taken a lot of cues from what we did on the animated series, but at the same time everything we did on the show, the DNA came from the comics."
Timm recently met current Batman comic-book writer Scott Snyder at an Emerald City ComicCon in Seattle, and Snyder told him what a big influence the cartoon was on his world view.
"At first I was taken aback," Timm says. "I don't really think of it in those terms, and I read his comics and didn't really see a lot of Batman animated influence. But what it is was he was of a certain age when he watched that show, and it had a level of depth and dramatic heft that possibly other versions of Batman didn't have."
The new toys are a way for adults to relive that superhero nostalgia from their youth, according to Timm.
"People will always want for their birthday or Christmas list Batman in whatever is accessible to them, so you'll have kids asking for Lego Batman sets," he says. "But later this year when these come out, a lot of dads will be asking, 'I want the 6-inch Batman or animate Two-Face because that's going to look (awesome) on my desk at work.' "