Interview: Character Designer Phil Bourassa Talks ‘Batman: Bad Blood’

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The world of animated superhero films is a vast and interesting machine. Batman, especially, has seen a lot of action in recent years and the new film Batman: Bad Blood is certainly no exception. It is a high octane and intense crime actioner, animated and presented in a way that will probably attract more adults than kids. I caught character designer Phil Bourassa on the red carpet at the premiere of the film and he dished on working on the project. Here’s how that conversation went:

What is it about animation that fascinates you so?

I love to draw, and it’s a great way to make a living.

For some people, sure!

Yeah, no, I love animation. I’ve always loved animation and comics, and I haven’t ever really wanted to do anything else. I guess I just love, you know, working on the DC stuff. I love being able to participate in a long, grand tradition.

As a kid, what were some of the first drawings you did? Like, superheroes?

Star Wars.

Oh, Star Wars!

But then right after that, it was like I was a huge Marvel comics fan, so I was super into Wolverine and Spiderman.

Now, grown up and looking back, and now working on, I mean, you might have a little bias now in DC vs. Marvel.

(laughs)

Would that be, no comment?

WB writes the checks. I know where I’m at.

Alright, alright. What are some of the most challenging things about animation? To draw, what is the most challenging thing, character-wise?

It’s always, it’s tough because it’s the art of economy, you know what I mean? So you have to be economical in every aspect, you know. And for me, I have to come up with a style that is not, that like a hundred artists have to be able to draw in the style and be consistent, and you have to always be very conscious of how to streamline your work and make it easy for other artists to understand. So that I think in itself is a challenge, you know? Providing other artists enough information to where they can keep it consistent.

And make it your own too.

It has to look like, ultimately, hundreds of people work on this drawing of it, but it has to look like it was one artist, you know what I mean? So that’s tricky.

Do you have any influences in your work?

Yeah, totally. I mean, I grew up on Disney and Japanese anime, and I was a big fan of the original Batman: The Animated Series, so Bruce Timm and those guys were an influence, but just tons of comic book artists, tons of manga artists and all that.

You ever consider bringing your talents to live-action?

Depends on what it was for. I really love, what I love about animation, especially for what I’m doing now, I get to see my work on screen. If I was working in live-action, it would be more of an interpretation, you know? So I wouldn’t be opposed to it, but that’s what I love about the medium. What I work on is hand-drawn animation, and so it completely reflects the way I draw, so I really like that.

Well, thanks for your time.

Thank you, my pleasure.

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