1992 SIBLING RIVALRY

This blog exists to celebrate an animated super-hero television series that we, with struggling humility and extreme prejudice, believe is among the best ever made; none better.  Were there others that, in their way, were just as good?  Batman:TAS must immediately be included in this discussion.  This is particularly crucial in any cataloging of the merits and failings of X-MEN:TAS since we were in effect “siblings.”  Both series were originally scheduled to premiere in September, 1992, on the Fox Kids Network.  Both were ordered and developed by the same two executives: Fox Kids president Margaret Loesch and hands-on producer Sidney Iwanter.  Both focused on popular comic book heroes.  Many of the same craftsmen (Larry Houston, Will Meugniot, Len Wein) worked, back and forth, on both series.  Hollywood is a small town, and animation is a smaller neighborhood in that town.  So of course we were not only aware of one another, we were competitive.  All that said, all I can conclude after 24 years is that we were different.  Batman:TAS had big budgets and long, comfortable schedules that we, in our low-priced rush to production, would have killed for.  We had an arguably more dramatic and flexible set-up (so many different interesting heroes, so many multi-part stories permitted).  They had superior, stunning animation.  We had slam-bang energy.  In fact Sidney once described his two most successful series as “Cool jazz versus a garage band.”  Amazing visuals versus compelling drama.  Few people know that the constant to the various animated Batman‘s successes is one man — Alan Burnett — who is still there at Warners, assuring the continuing quality of the various TV series and DVD movies.  By chance, Alan and I started out in the mid-’80s at the same place, “Hanna-Barbera III,” a tiny building across from the animation giant’s main offices.  After 30 years, if I were given the responsibility of producing a block of animated programming, my friend Alan would be the first person I would hire.  So it’s hard to think back to X-MEN vs. Batman as a contentious rivalry (though a blogger did, with the recent poll attached below).  For us it was more a case of mutual respect.

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