This week marks the release of a new collection of animated shorts from DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation. Anchored by a new adventure featuring Matt Ryan as John Constantine, the collection explores several exciting and previously unseen corners of the DC Universe.
Last week we caught up with several of the creators who have contributed to this new collection, including The House of Mystery writer Ernie Altbacker. Neil chatted with Ernie about returning to the character of Constantine following on from Justice League Dark: Apokolips War and plenty more.
GYCO: Hi, Ernie. How you doing?
Ernie Altbacker: Oh, great. Great. How about yourself?
GYCO: We are calling back to an absolutely huge moment of Constantine’s from Justice League Dark: Apokolips War. Was that a moment which you had wanted to revisit after the making of Apokolips War?
EA: It was a moment that I didn’t know that I really wanted to [go back to]. It was done, right. I mean, as you know, the writer gets on far earlier, and leaves the project earlier. So I will forget stuff that’s coming out. And then all of a sudden, [Warner Bros.] will announce something, and I go, oh I wrote on that. After Apokolips War we had the pandemic and I was prepping, I was writing [Constantine] right before or during the initial stages of the of the pandemic. So in 2020, and so here we are now and it’s coming out. Jim [Krieg] came and said, hey I want to do one of the shorts and we have permission to do a House of Mystery. I want to make Constantine the lead. So I’d like you to write it since you’ve, you’ve kind of written this character before. And, and we can also make it a coda to the 16th 16th film continuity. And I was like, Oh, yes, I want it.
GYCO: I know that you said Constantine is one of your favourite characters to write for, so what was it like getting the chance to unlock him a little bit more, focusing on him and dive a bit deeper into his psyche this time around?
EA: I’ve said I’ve said a bunch of times that Constantine is one of these bastards with a heart of gold. Usually because he does some sort of huge a**hole move. He’s not a sympathetic character, you could be Chaz, his really good friend and suddenly he is eaten by a demon because Constantine is off doing something else or just getting drunk. This was a unique opportunity to try and get sympathy for this bastardy character and I relished that.
GYCO: Amongst all of that chaos and the kind of horror of it all, there’s still an emotional connection through Zatanna. Was that something that was important to still include in it to help bring that sympathy to the character?
EA: A major subplot line was the Constantine and Zatanna relationship. Like, why can’t these crazy kids be together? Right? There was a little more of it in Apokolips War but you got to juggle plotlines of Lois and Clark. So in this one is it’s mostly Constantine and the main subplot is Constantine’s attempt to see what his alternate lives would be. It wouldn’t have fit anywhere else, you wouldn’t got a chance to even do it.
The full interview is coming very soon to the latest episode of our podcast.
The shorts collection is available now from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Blu-ray and on Digital Download.
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