Dennis O’Neil: The Sound of the Bat
I was on my way to meet the voice of Batman when I lost my mirror. I’m pretty sure the culprit was from New Jersey and so I’d like to blame Chris Christie but the Jersey governor really had nothing to do with it. Maybe next time.
We were in Manhattan, on busy 34th Street, in the midst of dense crosstown traffic creeping along, barely moving. Suddenly something struck the car, only about a foot from the driver’s head. Since I was that driver, the matter was of some concern to me. What had happened was, a truck had inched into my lane and hit my driver’s side mirror and there I was, looking injured and forlorn, and there, too, was the truck driver, a youngish dude in work clothes, blaming me. If you know me, you know that refusing to cop to a fault is not in my catalogue of questionable behavior, so believe me when I tell you that I am pretty damn sure that it was not my fault, thank you very much, but the east bound lane of a street rife with vehicles in the middle of the afternoon didn’t seem like a good venue for a debate and anyway, he was back in his truck pretty quickly, creeping east, so I would have been debating his tail pipe and, finally, going a distance to avoid any sort of confrontation is in my catalogue of questionable behavior. (Is writing very long sentences questionable behavior? You decide.) I got out and briefly inspected the damage.
I got back behind the wheel and saw a parking lot a block away. We weren’t late, not yet, but we were getting close, but the parking lot could be our friend in need. Just zip in there, grab a ticket and hurry to my destination. Then a police officer came from the curb and knocked on my window. I rolled it down and started to explain the broken mirror. But the mirror wasn’t the problem; intent on getting to the parking lot
I had forgotten to rebuckle my seat belt. That omission was going to cost me the better part of a benjamiin. And I remembered some of the reasons I no longer lived in Manhattan.
But we finally reached our destination, a recording studio, and I finally met Batman… well, actually, Batman’s voice. Kevin Conroy has been doing the voice work for the various animated versions of Batman for almost 25 years, so yes, I’d certainly heard him, but I’d never seen him. Soon, I was sitting next to him in a sound booth, both of us wearing microphones, watching an animated movie on a monitor and talking about it. No script, no rehearsal, just looking at the flick and commenting on what we saw. When the movie was released on DVD, what Kevin and I said would be an optional soundtrack. Strange gig. But a nice one. Kevin was pleasant and friendly and so were the techie guys. I’d do it again in a hot second, though I might ask to negotiate the broken mirror. I could live without attention from the officer, too.
PS: The Arts and Leisure section of the New York Times dated July 31 had a nice story about Kevin Conroy and Batman, which is where I got the idea for what you’ve just read. Maybe there’s some way you could check it out?