Bruce Timm


Influential character designer, producer and director Bruce Timm helped change the face of superhero animation when he shepherded "Batman: The Animated Series" (Fox, 1992-95) to phenomenal success. A frustrated comic book artist, he turned to animation, getting his career start as a layout assistant on cartoons like "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" (syndicated, 1983-85). Eventual...


Influential character designer, producer and director Bruce Timm helped change the face of superhero animation when he shepherded "Batman: The Animated Series" (Fox, 1992-95) to phenomenal success. A frustrated comic book artist, he turned to animation, getting his career start as a layout assistant on cartoons like "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" (syndicated, 1983-85). Eventually landing at Warner Bros. Television Animation, Timm lent his talents to "Tiny Toons Adventures" (syndicated, 1990-92), before being put in charge of the game-changing "Batman" series. Soon the doors to traditional comics opened as well, allowing the artist to contribute to several books, including the award-winning "Mad Love" issue of The Batman Adventures in 1994. Much in demand, Timm went on to helm "Superman" (The WB, 1996-2000) and "Batman Beyond" (The WB, 1999-2001). He further expanded the scope of the animated superhero landscape with the series "Justice League" (Cartoon Network, 2001-04) and direct-to-DVD movies like "Justice League: The New Frontier" (2008). As the live-action comics-to-film craze reached its zenith during the first decade of the 21st Century, Timm and his fellow animation collaborators enjoyed the satisfaction of knowing that it was their groundbreaking work years earlier that was largely responsible for paving the way for mainstream acceptance of the beloved genre.

Born Bruce Walter Timm on Feb. 8, 1961 in Oklahoma, Timm - who moved to California's San Fernando Valley at the age of five - was a comic book fan since childhood. Although he did not begin actively collecting comics until the age of 13, he would spend hours tracing superhero characters from the pages of books published by industry giants DC and Marvel. After graduating from Granada High School in 1978, Timm worked briefly stocking shelves at the local K-Mart, but soon followed his passion, landing a job as a yeoman layout artist at nearby Filmation Studios, even without the benefit of formal art training. Beginning in 1981, early projects for Filmation included the short-lived fantasy adventure series "Blackstar" (CBS, 1981-82) and "The Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam!" (NBC, 1981-82). He then moved over to Don Bluth Productions, serving as an assistant animator for the animated feature film, "The Secret of N.I.M.H." (1982). Over the years, Timm took jobs at a variety of animation companies, including a stint at Ralph Bakshi Productions on "The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse" (CBS, 1979-1982), a temporary return to Filmation for "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" (syndicated, 1983-85) and "She-Ra: Princess of Power" (syndicated, 1985-86 ), in addition to a brief stay at Marvel Productions, providing character designs for "G.I. Joe," (syndicated, 1984-85).

Although he had been finding moderate early success in television animation, Timm's first love had always been comic books. In 1984 he began attending San Diego's annual comic book convention in the hopes of impressing visiting publishers enough to land work as an artist. Unfortunately, his skills garnered him little more than small colorist jobs, and Timm soon found himself returning his attentions to animation projects. In 1989 he moved to Warner Bros. Television Animation, where he was enlisted to provide character designs and storyboards for "Tiny Toon Adventures," (syndicated, 1990-92). As rewarding as the work may have been, Timm still could not shake his desire to create something in the superhero genre. Then, in the wake of the massive success of Tim Burton's big screen interpretation of "Batman" (1989), Warner Bros. was eager to develop a cartoon series that would capitalize on the masked crime fighter's sudden resurgence in popularity. In a classic case of being in the right place at the right time, Timm was promoted to producer on "Batman: The Animated Series" (Fox Kids, 1992-95). Taking their lead not only from Burton's blockbuster film, but also Frank Miller's groundbreaking graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns and the 1930s Max Fleischer Superman cartoons, Timm and co-producer Eric Radomski imbued the show's aesthetic with an "otherworldly timelessness," setting it apart from anything else being produced at the time.

Dark, moody, and often violent, Timm's vision of "Batman" met with some studio resistance during the show's production stage, however, the nearly universal praise and strong ratings heaped upon it following the series premiere reassured all those involved. Exceedingly well written, sleekly designed, and cast with an impressive array of voice talent - Mark Hamill, Adrienne Barbeau and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. among them - the end result was a far cry from the stilted, childishly silly superhero offerings of the past, such as "Super Friends" (ABC, 1973-76). So popular was the new program that soon Timm was called upon to oversee the animated theatrical release of "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" (1993). Bolstered by his success, Timm went on to produce "Superman" (The WB, 1996-2000) which also featured a retro, art-deco take. Still eager for programming, especially from the goldmine of DC Comics, which it owned, Warner Bros. asked Timm to return to the Caped Crusader. He took them up on the offer, and with "The New Batman Adventures" (The WB, 1997-99), saw a chance to improve on his ideas and designs for the original, with even bolder visuals and faster-pacing. The new series prompted its own feature-length, direct-to video installment, "Sub-Zero" (1998), as well as a long-awaited crossover, "The Batman/Superman Movie" (1998). Rounding out Timm's efforts for the decade was "Batman Beyond" (The WB, 1999-2001). Set in the future, the show revolved around a retired Bruce Wayne training a younger replacement, and proved successful enough to merit the animated TV movie, "Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker" (2000).

Although he long insisted that the project would be almost impossible to pull off effectively - due to its unwieldy large cast of characters - Timm proved himself wrong with the debut of "Justice League" (Cartoon Network, 2001-04), featuring the superhero team of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and the Flash. Seemingly a glutton for punishment, he and his team upped the ante with the follow-up series, "Justice League Unlimited" (Cartoon Network, 2004-06), expanding the DCAU (DC Animated Universe) to a truly epic scale. Ironically, Timm's iconic work in animation opened the doors to traditional comics work, and over the years the artist happily contributed interior art and covers for projects from both DC and arch-rival Marvel, winning more than one industry award along the way. Shortly after "Unlimited" concluded Timm began producing a lengthy list of direct-to-DVD animated features for the Warner Bros./DC brand, including "Superman/Doomsday" (2007), based on the monumental The Death of Superman storyline from the comic book series; "Batman: Gotham Knight" (2008), an anthology of stories created by Japanese anime artists; and "Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths" (2010), an adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name. Other highly anticipated fan favorite projects such as "Batman: Under the Red Hood" (2010), "All-Star Superman" (2011), "Green Lantern: Emerald Knights" (2011), and "Batman: Year One" (2011), carried the busy Timm well into the next decade. Those not familiar with Timm had the chance to see his artistry first hand when studio lot-mate and late night host Conan O'Brien filmed a remote with him, during which Timm designed an over-the-top Conan superhero, "The Flaming C" for an obviously giddy O'Brien on the spot. The garter belt/fishnet stockings-sporting superhero was received warmly by both fans, earning a bit of Internet popularity after the remote aired on "Conan" (TBS, 2010- ).

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