Animated Shorts: Capturing Kirby in 'Hulk Vs.'

For all the battles Thor has fought, in all the nine realms, only one creature has ever been able to match his strength

In the extra content of Hulk Vs. there’s a sequence where supervising director Frank Paur holds up a pencil drawing of Asgard floating in outer space. This background shot hasn’t been colored, but the amount of detail is way beyond what one usually expects in the animation industry.

(Hulk Vs. Thor video gallery here) 

“With Thor, we really wanted the feeling of scale and grandeur,” said the supervising director and producer of the just-released direct-to-DVD set. “We put a lot of detail in that. The guys just ate all that stuff up.”

“That [sketch of Asgard] was Fedja Jovanovic. Usually what happens is I come up with an idea. Now I’m a fairly good background designer myself. I hand my idea to Fedja. Then he creates this look. It’s all rich in details. Then you bring Allen Cummings into it and he cleans all Fedja’s stuff up.

“That shot of Asgard we had, they were the team. They helped fill the world. We took a lot of care with them. The idea of Asgard, well I didn’t want this goofy little city on a rock floating in the middle of no where. I wanted us to see the edge of a vast continent floating in front of this giant nebula. Gods live on it, so it had to look like it went on for thousands of miles. If you go through the old [Jack] Kirby stuff, you see that. In fact, we do stuff you can’t see in a comic book. Being on the printed page prohibits them from doing that. We can give a better perspective of scale.”

In fact, Jack Kirby is critical to one’s appreciation of Hulk v. Thor. Paur is a tremendous fan of the legendary co-creator of the Marvel Universe.

“I’ve always been a huge fan of Kirby’s more cosmic adventures,” Paur admits. “When you look at Gargoyles, you would definitely see that blend of science and mysticism, the same kind of comedy and all that stuff. It’s all from what I remember from the Lee/Kirby team up. It had all of that. To me, that was the golden age of Thor. So it’s kind of fun trying to capture that feeling.”

Hulk VS. Thor Preview 2
Hulk VS. Thor Preview 2
the animated Thor

Unlike Hulk v. Wolverine, where Paur gave more latitude to veteran animation directors Kevin Altieri and Butch Lukic, Paur openly acknowledges he was all over Thor, with the assistance of relative newcomer Sam Liu.

“We did Thor here,” says Paur. “All the pre-production was done here. The stuff for Wolverine, we had Butch and Kevin illustrate the key stuff, then I had Jeff Matsuda come in and do key characters. From there, just some sample backgrounds and other things that we wanted. Then we gave it to Madhouse and let them take off with it.

“Thor was a bit different. It was a bit more traditional production where most everything was done here and then we only farmed out only what we needed to. The idea was, at least to me, that the backgrounds aren’t there to surround the character. They are part of the scene. I had some particularly strong ideas about how a scene is emotionally going to play, and the backgrounds do have an emotional impact. So I was very particular about some of the things I wanted. Sometimes the best way is to just show them.”

In fact, the entire production process may sound familiar to old school comic book fans. It’s the ‘toon equivalent of the Marvel Method - plot and art first, full story second.

Hulk VS. Thor Preview 1
Hulk VS. Thor Preview 1
“In more ways than one!” Paur agrees. “When we came up with the story, Sam and I started by drawing story ideas. Then Craig Kyle would come in and make comments, pretty much unifying it into a real story. Then when they were happy with the story, they brought in Chris (Yost). He would do the dialogue. He would write the script based on the stuff. In a way, this backwards from the way you usually do animation. It’s basically the Marvel process.

“The thing is, when we knew we were doing Hulk Vs., when we knew we were doing two separate stories, that kind of freed us. We realized we didn’t have to do the traditional kind of film. We could do it like a chapter or three from a comic book. Yes, you might be missing a couple of chapters from the comic book, but you do get all the essentials. That’s how we played it up.

“Now with Thor, we had more internal thought processes going on because it required it. With Wolverine, Wolverine is not far removed from a monster himself. After all, this is pre-X-Men Wolverine. Everything is guttural for him. It’s what he does and what he does best. Wolverine is not having the internal dialogue stuff.”

From there, Paur made it sound like he had an epic party.

Hulk VS. Thor Preview 5
Hulk VS. Thor Preview 5
“It was a blast! I mean c’mon!” said the Kirby fanboy in Paur. “We tried to throw as much as we could in there. Frankly, I’m surprised we managed to throw in as much as we did. That was the point. We wanted to bring in as many people as we could. When we did it, we decided to put it in Asgard because as far as I know, nobody has done that. We also figured we’d use Loki because that had to be done. Yes, we included Odin, but you can’t really do too much with Odin. We had to put him in the Odin sleep so he wouldn’t interfere. Then we said we had to have the Enchantress because she’s so hot. Throw in Sif because we had to have that love triangle going on. From there you have all these other characters you want to see, like the Warriors Three, on through the Ice Giants. We even squeezed in a shot of the Executioner in there.

“Then there comes the problem. What do you do with them? That’s where we came up with a way to effectively put them all in there in an animated form. It also helped that we were able to do it in a way where general TV standards didn’t apply. That’s a real opportunity.”

This isn’t the last we’ll hear of Marvel’s God of Thunder either. In the extra content is a long plug for another Kirby-inspired epic, entitled Tales of Asgard.

“That’s Gary Hartle’s show,” Paur explains. “I did do a little work on it because he’s such a close friend, a few storyboards here and there. Based on what I’ve seen, it’s going to be spectacular. That is, if my show gives you a taste for Asgard, wait until you see a whole feature-length movie of it.”

As for Paur? As you read this he’s flying off to Japan to work on his next project for Marvel. What that is he won’t say. No matter what, one thing he also acknowledges is we should probably see many of the same crew members from Hulk Vs in his next project.

“All I can add is everything is going great, or at least seems to be,” says Paur. “I also have some other development things going with Marvel. You know, it’s a very small business. A lot of the guys do this are all big comic book fans. I’m more of a Marvel fan because there’s more emotional development. I was a Marvel reader when I was growing up. As you know, first impressions are always very important.. We all have that kind of respect for these characters. So that we can make a living doing these things, carry the torch in many ways, even if it’s in a different format, it’s pretty gratifying. Also, that I’ve managed to keep all these wonderful, talented people together, it just makes my job easier. Marvel’s a lot happier because they know they have all this wonderful talent on these shows. They also try to keep us busy. It’s been a good run. ”

And fans will just have to acknowledge Paur has kept that run going with Hulk Vs.


As previously announced, Cartoon Network’s sister station Boomerang, will begin airing Glen Murakami’s much-beloved superhero series, Teen Titans starting Monday, February 2. The series will join Batman: The Animated Series and Justice League Unlimited as part of the network’s “Boomeraction” block.

As any fan knows, Teen Titans is led by Robin. Joining him are Beast Boy, Starfire, Raven and Cyborg. With every adventure, as the press release says, they fight for “freedom, justice and the last slice of pizza.”

"Now is a great time for young people to see they can accomplish anything," said Stacy Isenhower, SVP of programming and scheduling for Boomerang and Cartoon Network. "Teen Titans is a perfect fit for Boomerang as the show depicts young people accepting responsibility for their futures and the well-being of others."

They have also released the episode schedule for the first week. To wit:

• Feb. 2: "Divide and Conquer" - Cinderblock busts into prison -- and the Teen Titans show up to stop a jailbreak.

• Feb. 3: "Sisters" - When a mysterious alien probe shows up to haul Starfire away, sweet-natured Star has no idea why it came.

• Feb. 4: "Final Exam" - Before Slade will hire the new Hive Agents, he requires they pass one 'final exam' -- they must destroy the Teen Titans.

• Feb. 5: "Forces of Nature" - Dark ominous clouds blow in from the East, bringing Thunder and Lightning with them.

• Feb. 6: "The Sum of His Parts" - Cyborg's power cell is dying reminding him of something he doesn't like to think about: he's not completely human.


The new season of Xavier: Renegade Angel will air starting Thursday, February 12 at 12:15 a.m.

Xavier is from John Lee, Vernon Chatman, Alyson Levy and Jim Tozzi. He’s a self-absorbed wanderer who considers himself a wise master to anyone he assumes is in need of his help. He likes to think of himself as profound and pretty much spends most of his day looking for someone to force his wisdom onto so he can take credit for it later. At the end of day, he’s still a bird-beaked, hoofed, tennis-shoe wearing creature with mommy issues.

But that ain’t all. The second season will consist of nine new episodes, including one episode created and produced entirely by fans. Ongoing until March 28, viewers and fans are being asked to birth their very own one-minute episode of Xavier at It doesn’t matter what format they choose, as long as they are guided by the inspiration that is Xavier. The show creators will compile their top picks into a full 15-minute episode that will cap off the second season on April.


The Residents are pleased to announce the broadcast of the complete Bunny Boy Internet Series via YouTube starts immediately. Episodes 1-15 are appearing on YouTube sponsored by MVD - There will be three episodes posted per day starting on Monday and ending on Friday.

Then, during the week of January 26th, Episodes 16-30 will be added in the same fashion: three episodes posted per day starting on Monday and ending on Friday. In the same respect, Episodes 31-44 will begin on February 2nd.

On February 16th, a set of brand new episodes will commence: Episodes 45-47entitled Arkansas. The three-episodes-per-week schedule will continue until the series is complete.

The Bunny Boy is a man desperately reaching out for help in locating his lost brother. He has decided to create videos in his secret room, his personal sanctuary, and post them online in the hopes that someone will reach out and help him. The series is a vast psychological mystery, at once frightening and empathic. Viewers will feel apprehension and sympathy for this strange character as he disjointedly reveals clues to his brother's disappearance. The videos are also filled with the Residents' characteristic dark humor.

NEXT COLUMN: It’s the voice of Wolverine. Steve Blum finishes off our discussion of Hulk Vs….and does a mean Yakky Doodle while he’s at it. .

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