P:R Approved: World’s Finest Interviews YOUNG JUSTICE Lead Character Designer Phil Bourassa

Note: We love great super-hero designs, and we love to hear from the artists who do them. The gang over at World’s Finest got the rare opportunity to speak with the Lead Character Designer for DC’s animated series Young Justice, Phil Bourassa. Bourassa has worked on everything from Static Shock, Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman, Ben 10, and several of Marvel’s direct-to-DVD animated features, and his work on Young Justice has been the pinnacle of his career so far.. Here’s an exercept from that interview by World’s Finest:

WF: What are your goals with your character designs on Young Justice and what would you consider your goals? Even with all of the different DC Animation shows over the years, this is easily one of the more complex-looking series to date. How do you balance that with trying to make these designs easier to animate, etc.?

PB: I have several objectives when it comes to designing for Young Justice. First, as a general rule – and this applies to everything I work on – the look, feel and tone of the design has to suit the story and the world in which the story takes place. That’s pretty broad and it sort of includes the mechanics of the drawing style fitting the type of action, staging and storytelling that the work requires. I don’t just design for design’s sake. Everything has to work in a practical way so the animators and board artists can do what they need with models in order to tell the story.

Specifically with regards to Young Justice, I am also trying to balance in equal measure the need for innovation and visual evolution of classic characters, with a deep reverence for the tradition and history of the DC universe. I think in some ways a thoughtful and respectful update of a classic actually preserves the spirit of a character more than dogmatically adhering to a dated look that is past its prime. After all, we want new generations to fall in love with these characters the way we did, and sometimes that means giving them a makeover or a new coat of paint, as long as in doing so we don’t lose what is fundamentally true for each character. Obviously, it’s a case by case basis and I try to evaluate each character individually. As far as complexity goes, I feel that as long as the theory and the mechanics of the designs are sound, the animators can handle anything I throw at them. On top of a solid foundation, detail is fine as long as it’s not superfluous.

Bourassa goes on to speak in depth about the redesigns of Aqualad, the Joker and others. You can read the entire interview at this link.

10 comments on “P:R Approved: World’s Finest Interviews YOUNG JUSTICE Lead Character Designer Phil Bourassa
  1. Recently the best redesigns of comic-book characters have been done in animation (Spectacular Spider-man, Wolverine & the X-Men, Young Justice), adapting them to the animated style. I like Robin, although he is more Tim Drake than Dick Grayson, Kid Flash, ¡GUY GARDNER!

  2. The comic book format is not prone for good cohesive design.
    With it’s very short production schedules, ongoing storyline, changing writers and artists, it is really close to improvisation.

    As this guy keeps saying in the interview, streamlining is a lot simpler when you have the entire context to think of, in other words: the end simplifies the means.

  3. @DaniSpite- Agreed! This show has had some great improvements to classic looks. Kid-Flash and Robin are two of my favorites. Also really liked Aqualad, SportsMaster, Cheshire, Queen Bee, and Bane. This guy did “Crisis on Two Earths” as well and his Crime Syndicate designs were awesome.

  4. Also loved his Justice League Doom designs. Bane, Mirror Master, Malef’aak and Cheetah were great designs. Also really liked his Understated Joker in YJ.

  5. I’ve seen some episodes and the character design it’s great,totally in line with the original characters.
    I only dislike the Joker who looks like a sort of androgynous emo and Captain Marvel who seems a bit too bulky to me

  6. There’s some very good design work on the show. So much so that I wish they would just spin off a Justice League series already. There have been some missteps (Aqualad foremost among those, though the character concept is as much to blame as the character design), but a very attractive series overall.

  7. William Hodge: The designs on this show are fantastic.My only complaint is that Robin should be Tim Drake.This way they could have done their take on Nightwing.

    I bet the door’s still open on that–and based on his current work, I’d love to see Bourassa’s take.

    Also, even though DC finally gave Martian Manhunter pants a few years back, it’s good to see his version, which looks even more cohesive.

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