Friday, June 28, 2013

Project Spotlight: 'Grayson: Earth One' by Hisonni Johnson

Filmmakers use a crowdfunding platform to finance a fan series centered around Dick Grayson, aka Nightwing, aka former Robin the Boy Wonder.  Sound familiar?  Sound like a(nother) post about Nightwing: The Series?

Well, you're wrong.

Kind of.

This is about a second DC Comics-inspired series, this time Grayson: Earth One from Hisonni Johnson.  But if you're worried that there isn't enough room in this world for two series about former Batman sidekicks (which, admittedly, is a weird thing to worry about), think again.  Grayson positions itself as being distinctly different than Nightwing, and if its first episode, available here, is any indication, its voice and style assure that it won't have any problem finding its audience.

Whereas Nightwing embraces its superhero roots, Grayson goes almost in the opposite direction, giving a gritty, "real world" look at Gotham City.  The series also gives an interesting twist in that Grayson was never adopted by Bruce Wayne; instead, we get a darker version of a young man who takes crime fighting into his own hands, having grown up on the streets of the city he tries to protect.

We get a glimpse at characters that will be familiar to comic book readers - Helena Bertinelli (a great, underutilized character), Barbara Gordon (obvious choice, as she and Dick have a history), Carrie Kelly (I -- wait, really?  Future Girl Robin?), and Victor Fries (an inspired choice for a Nightwing villain) - all similarly real world-ized.  Dick doesn't wear a costume, opting for tattoos and a stylized biker jacket (which I'm normally not a fan of for superheroes) that really work within the whole tone of the show.

Grayson's Indiegogo campaign is looking to produce season one - six episodes.  DVDs and digital downloads are standard fare for this sort of project, but you can also get walk-on roles and a chance to pitch ideas to the team.  It's a great way to get involved if you're as passionate about film, these characters, or this project as this team seems to be.

While Marvel has more or less dominated the recent film world of superheroes, DC has found pretty good success on television, specifically Smallville, lasting a respectable ten seasons, and Arrow, which has garnered its fair share of critical and commercial acclaim in a short amount of time.  Grayson: Earth One reminds me a lot of those series; it could easily find its way into a lineup with those similar shows.

By putting a unique spin on a familiar tale, Grayson: Earth One is positioned to differentiate itself from similar fan projects.  By taking on a format similar to shows that have already found mainstream success, it isn't hard to imagine Grayson finding a foothold and growing into something beyond this first season.

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