Tagged: Andrea Romano

Emily S. Whitten: NYCC 2015 Part II – The Round-Up!

phil-lamarAs much fun as Turtles Day (as I now affectionately call the Thursday of New York Comic Con) was, it’s most definitely not the only awesome thing about NYCC. There’s always so much awesome stuffed into those four days that it’s hard to sum it up.

This year, to assist me in my round-up, I thought I’d finally try out a New Method of Doing Things, given that my awesome friend Cleolinda Jones finds it so useful, and that she’s been using it to successfully round-up all of the online things we mention during our Made of Fail podcast (which is still going, by the way! Our latest episode was Dragon Con: The Wrath of Con. Lisssstennn!)

So even though I’m still going to hit the highlights below, I’m also going to direct you afterwards to my brand new, shiny first effort at using Storify (woo!) for even more details and pictures and who-all knows what. We’ll see how we like this whole Storify thing, eh? Call it a social experiment. And now, without further ado:

My Favorite Things About NYCC This Year:

Well we already mentioned Nickelodeon’s TMNT. Check out last week’s column for all the details on that!

Artist Alley

This is and always will be one of my favorite parts of NYCC. This year I got to walk the entire room with enough time to stop and look at the art and other items on display, and to chat with some creator and fan friends and meet some new friends. I walked around with one of my TMNT friends who was happy to meet some cool artists (hey, Kathy!), strolled some aisles with my DC-local friend who bought some most excellent My Little Pony art (holla, Petra!), and bounced around to see some creators with Eric Bauza (including taking him, as the Voice of Amadeus Cho, over to meet Reilly Brown, one of the Artists for Amadeus Cho. That was fun.)

Of course, inevitably after the con ended I realized I’d somehow still missed a few people I wanted to see (alas!) but that always happens. I watched some artists working (love doing that! Tony Moy was particularly fun to watch this year), resisted mightily buying everything in sight, and picked out just a few things to take home with me. Chief among them were Jason Hurley and Jeremy Haun’s Beauty, the first two issues of which are intriguing, and have convinced me to keep reading. I also picked up four issues of Runaways written by Noelle Stevenson, with art by Sanford Greene, which I’m looking forward to (I loved Brian K. Vaughan’s original run but got away from it for awhile after he left the book. I’ve been meaning to dive back in!). I got a cool metallic-finish Deadpool poster from Reilly Brown, as well as his new sketchbook.

And since I’m in the process of working on some comics projects myself, I was particularly excited to score a signed copy of Make Comics Like the Pros from Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente; and an X-Files comic with accompanying limited-edition script from Joe Harris. And last but not least, I picked up the most adorable dancing Groot sketchcard from Janet K. Lee, which I’d commissioned at a previous con. Yay!

Walking the Con floor

Okay, so I admit that this year even I was slightly overwhelmed by the crowd, and had to go hide in the still very crowded but less frantic-feeling Artist Alley from time to time. However, I did get to do some really fun things on the con floor. I saw my wonderful friend Ellen Datlow at the HWA booth, where I picked up a free copy of her The Best Horror of the Year: Volume 7 anthology, and bought a copy of her Nightmare Carnival anthology (creepy carnival stories! I will read them with shivery delight and then never sleep again). I hopped over to the IDW booth, had a nice chat with Dirk Wood, and picked up a copy of God is Disappointed in You, which I am super-curious to read.

I swung by the Marvel booth, and, although I sadly missed the spectacular Daredevil poster, got a great Jessica Jones poster and comic and a handful of other cool swag, including the cutest Skottie Young Secret Wars print you ever did see. I mostly avoided buying collectibles because my apartment overfloweth with them already, but did get a tiny adorable stuffed ram (what, it’s tiny!) and an awesome inflatable Companion Cube ottoman (for my casual dinner parties! Totally practical! I always run out of seating). I got to visit with the ever-charming Mark Gagliardi and meet Hal Lublin, both of The Thrilling Adventure Hour, and stroll around with great friends like fun fellow DC-ite LacyMB, awesome voice actor Eric Bauza, and fellow reporter Ashley B. And Ashley and I got to take creepy crime scene videos of ourselves after being “killed” in the line of reporting duty (probably trampled by crowds trying to get into the Funko booth, yes?) at the Spotless exhibit. All-around good adventures.

Ash vs. Evil Dead

This was a fantastic panel. I love Bruce Campbell (particularly after Burn Notice – he was so good as Sam!) so I really wanted to see him on a panel; plus, I’ve been curious about how they’d make this show work ever since I started seeing the media for it at SDCC. This panel was particularly cool because I went with someone else who was totally excited about it (probably the most excited of anyone there, really) and good panel-going company always makes it more fun. We got nifty swag (Ash4President buttons, and foam chainsaws), Bruce et al. (and host Kevin Smith) were very entertaining panelists, and they showed the entire premiere episode (during which I am not ashamed to admit I jumped a lot. My startle reflex will never disappear. Neither will my desire to hide behind people or couches during scary scenes).

Unfortunately there were no couches at the Hammerstein Ballroom, but I survived. The premiere is exactly what you would want if you’re an Evil Dead fan, I think; and even if you’re not really up on the franchise, it’s engaging enough to draw in a new crowd – that is, if they are people who can handle a lot of gore and gratuitous violence. I was pretty interested in the characters they’re starting to build for the younger leads (Kelly and Pablo, played by Dana DeLorenzo and Ray Santiago) and the storyline they’re starting with the cop (Jill Marie Jones) and Lucy Lawless’s character Ruby. And of course, tying it all together is the always classy (sarcasm, what? I will say I thought the sex scene early on was a little much even for this character) Ash, and a boatload of well-done references to the franchise. My one caveat is that I think in order to keep people interested, they’re going to really have to do some character and story-building with the non-Ash characters – but if they do it well, this show could be a really cool addition to TV horror.

Seeing awesome people!

And so many of them; but primarily here I’m talking about Andrea Romano, who I was delighted to learn was autographing this year (if she has in the past, I’ve missed it). She is definitely one of the uber-talented people of the animation industry that I most admire (plus she’s super classy and nice), so it was great to see her again and get her to sign what is turning into one of the most-autographed things I own, a TMNT pizza box. Phil LaMarr also added his signature to the collection (I love him as Baxter Stockman), and it was great to see him as well. And as it turned out, the delightful and hilarious John DiMaggio was also signing at the same time, so I got a great Joker picture signed by him. Yay!

The ICv2 White Paper Happy Hour

Although I love all the media stuff that goes on at comic cons, I really like to spend time on the comics end of things too. I’d never been able to get to the ICv2 stuff before, since they usually do events on Wednesday before I arrive in town for the con. This year, though, they changed tack and did something during the con. For those who don’t know, ICv2 studies and reports on the statistics and trends about in the industry, including e.g. comics and convention trends. It was interesting to hear the latest on the State of the Industry at the event, and particularly the continued growth in female readership in comics, which was regarded with enthusiasm (good!).

Of course, it was also nice to grab a drink and a chat with comics friends, and engage in some more serious discussions regarding news such as the most recent sexual harassment in the business (which I will be addressing more in another column). I’m glad these things are being discussed rather than ignored.]

And finally…

Just all of the fun and energy of going out and about with all of the awesome people who are in NYC during Comic-Con. That includes the Image party, at which everyone in comics showed up (seriously, I mean I didn’t personally run into everyone, but I’m pretty sure they were all there) in a maze-like bowling alley/arcade/bar/dance club with many levels and rooms and cool chairs I wanted to steal. Also the several lovely breakfasts and dinners I had with high school friends and law school friends and con friends (and apparently this year’s accidental restaurant theme was seafood, since I ended up at Grand Central’s Oyster Bar, Crave Fishbar, and L&W Oyster Co. all in the space of three days. Not that I minded! Such gooood foooood). And the fun bar scene, which this year included the Campbell Apartment which I had no idea existed and which is exactly the sort of place I love to discover (thanks, Dennis!). And of course the wrap-up of my NYC trip, which ended with a great long-form improv show featuring Phil LaMarr at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, which I’d never been to. It was fantastic; and I haven’t laughed that hard in some time!

And that was pretty much my show this year! But if that isn’t enough excitement for you, or if you’re hurting for my usual linkage to tons of pictures, for even more round-up, click here or just scroll down to check out my NYCC Storify (and let me know if you like it, as a thing. Should I do it again? Feedback, people! Do tell!).

And until next time, Servo Lectio!

Marc Alan Fishman: The Voice of an Entire Universe

Let’s just get this out of the way now: Amongst we ComicMixers, the esteemed (and far prettier) Emily S. Whitten is a bigger and better fan of voice actors than I shall ever be. With that being said… aren’t voice actors amazing?

You see, in between bouts of crippling sinusitis and binge-watching Breaking Bad like I was addicted to meth, I opted to catch John DiMaggio’s documentary I Know That Voice. A fantastic little flick dedicated in celebration of a continually (mostly) unsung hero of the animated world: the voice performer. With interviews from some – if not most – of the current tribe of working actors and actresses who lend their larynx to the cartoons of the day, I simply must recommend watching it yourself soon if you haven’t already.

Andrea RomanoBut that recommendation is not my singular premise of the week, kiddos. For you see, it was that fine feature that finds me floundering on someone who I particularly find perhaps even more incredible than the aforementioned performers – Andrea Romano, voice director.

A quick scan of her Wikipedia bio proved to me why she’s such a favorite of mine – Batman aside, which we’ll get to soon enough. After three years serving in LaLa land, Andrea landed the voice director role for a little show by the name of Duck Tales. For those not in the know, the best I could say is this: Duck Tales still holds up today, and puts plenty of what passes as entertainment now to shame. If you think Adventure Time doesn’t owe a debt of gratitude to Duck Tales, then you probably think dub step is real music. But I digress.

Duck Tales aside from wondrous writing – some episodes were adapted from classic Carl Barks stories – became a staple to my generation due, in part, to the strong direction in the vocal booth. For someone to be able to help her cadre of pros (and yes, we know Disney don’t fudge ’round when it comes to a good voice… save for Mickey, ha Ha!) produce pathos, angst, fear, pride, and greed in between daring adventures and slapstick? Well, it helped a show about anthropomorphic ducks and dogs going on worldly (and time-travely) jaunts feel like a show that could care less it was about ducks and dogs.

To wax poetic about every line-item in her IMDb profile would be a waste. Suffice to say, Ms. Romano’s resume is the tops. But the devil is in the details, there. Because no matter what else she was help produce in her tenure, Andrea Romano’s magnum opus lay across her impermeable casting and direction of the animated Bruce Timm DCU.

Close your eyes. Imagine Batman and the Joker trading a bit of banter before a major battle. If you’re not hearing Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, I feel mildly sorry for you. Personal preferences aside, when Bruce Timm’s critically acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series debuted… it was not only the unmistakable visual identity of the show that captivated the world.

The casting was an unheard of coup. Legends of the stage and screen joined well-vetted voice-acting professionals to layer a soundscape that perfected the art of matching an animated presence to realistic voice. I take nothing away from other casts, and cartoons mind you. But I beg for someone to compare the sheer volume of wins Ms. Romano chalks in her column, if by the DCU alone.

Even when facing a recasting, like Superman (heard of him?), Andrea cemented her mettle with me. Tim Daly’s Superman, as originally cast, brought so much to the role. As cast and written, Daly was innocent, untested, strong, but jovial. But by the time we reached George Newbern’s brogue come Justice League: Unlimited, the character had changed. Andrea’s selection delivered one of the most potent speeches ever uttered over celluloid. When through gritted teeth we heard “I live in a world made of cardboard…” in the finale of the series (and the animated DCU-ala-Timm) we heard a Superman that shunted away from his once prentice prose… that was still wholly made of his former self.

Beyond the most recognizable faces she brilliantly cast, Andrea Romano even nailed the minor roles. Take the casting of B-movie mainstay Jeffery Combs as the kooky Question. As a Vic Sage fan since forever, I can’t get Combs’ odd gravelly whisper out of my mind’s ear when I read him. Or take perhaps the hilarious casting of Fred Savage and Jason Hervey as Hawk and Dove, respectively. A wink and a nod to those of us who once grew up with the Arnold brothers of Wonder Years fame, but correctly recast; with the more nasal Hervey cast as the lesser Dove to the now meatier range of Savage. Even when taken out of our times, Romano matched the bravado necessary for Sargent Rock himself with the Hunter, Fred Dryer. I could go on (like the perfectly cocky Tom Everett Scott as Booster Gold, ahem), but my point has been made. And damn it all, I haven’t even gotten to the villains!

As my son begins to gain interest in the animated adventures of his favorite heroes, I’ll be perplexed to find him a definitive Captain America, or Iron Man. Luckily for me, he knows Superman and Batman. So, for the while, I’m well covered.


Emily S. Whitten: Continuous Convention Catch-Up

Goooooood evening, boys and girls! Before we get on with today’s column, let us have a moment of silence (because we’ve all fainted from excitement) to celebrate that a Deadpool movie is really, truly, finally in the works. For real this time. Like, totally.

(Obligatory NSFW test footage shot)


Aaaaaand, we’re back. Everyone have time to get up off the floor? Yes? Excellent. And don’t be ashamed of fainting. I’m that excited, too! Now, we just have to hope that they don’t screw it up.

And now on with the column. The convention season has been just flying by, it seems. Barely did I return from SDCC before it was time to start finalizing my costumes and setting my meet-up plans for Dragon Con; and of course after Dragon Con, Baltimore Comic Con was literally right around the corner, being the next weekend. And with all of the cool things going on at every single con, I feel like I’m weeks behind on everything I still have to share with you all out there in reader-land.

So this week, let’s have a little whirlwind catch-up/retrospective of the highlights.

Comic-Con International

No, I’m not even kidding, there’s still cool stuff that happened at SDCC that I haven’t shared yet. In particular, I didn’t really get to write about the panels yet, and man, there were some cool panels. For one thing, there was our very own Michael Davis’s The Black Panel, which focuses on black entertainment and creators who are doing notable work in the various entertainment industries. This year, the panel featured Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow, MAD TV), Ne-Yo (actor, artist, writer, singer, etc.), J. August Richards (Angel, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Kevin Grevioux (I, Frankenstein; Underworld), Cree Summer (Batman Beyond, Rugrats, A Different World), and Erika Alexander (Living Single, “Concrete Park”). After the panel I got to catch up with J. August Richards (who, by the way, had a hilarious mic-drop moment), and he had this to say: “Michael Davis is a legend and a pioneer in the field. It was an honor to be a part of The Black Panel and hilarious to watch him do his thing in person. Clearly, he’s the star of the panel every year!”

I also checked in with my friend Sarah Goodwin, a scientist in the field of cell biology. She shared that, “this was my first Comic-Con and so my first time attending The Black Panel. First of all, this was one of the few panels I saw that featured women (yay!!!!). Secondly, all of the panelists were very open and honest about their experiences and how they see themselves positioned within the various cultures of their crafts. Throughout this panel came lessons in putting yourself out there, taking risks, and most importantly, persistence. I found the panel very informative and could relate to a lot of what they were saying since I am a woman in a male-dominated field (in science the field is male-dominated at the ’star’ level, at least). I left the panel with a sense of optimism that diversity in all aspects of Hollywood will continue to grow, and that Comic-Con can be a place where this is discussed and celebrated and/or criticized amongst a supportive and welcoming community. Also Kevin Grevioux has an incredible voice, and I think it is super cool that he used to be a scientist at the NIH!” Clearly, The Black Panel is not to be missed.

I also checked out the I Know That Voice panel, which was super fun since they were showing some of the cool extras that came along with the DVD of the awesome voice actor documentary that I’ve covered before. The panel featured some of my favorite people in the industry and the extras were well worth a watch, with discussions of “Andrea Romano’s First Time,” Billy West talking about the origins of Zapp Branigan, and Jim Cummings telling tales involving booth etiquette, among other things. Check out a few pics here, and then go get the DVD.

And that’s all for me this week, folks, so until next time when I continue my convention catch-up, Servo Lectio!

The Point Radio: Kevin Conroy On Keeping BATMAN Fresh

BATMAN ASSAULT ON ARKHAM is the newest direct-to-DVD DC feature with a lot of familiar parts including Kevin Conroy reprising his Batman role, and telling us how he manages to always keep it fresh. Plus, comedian John Lehr goes from Geico caveman to western funny man in the Hulu series QUICK DRAW, and talks about how improv is a huge part of the show.

THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE on ANY mobile device (Apple or Android). Just  get the free app, iNet Radio in The  iTunes App store – and it’s FREE!  The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE  – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Snow Will Not Stop “Justice League: War” NYC Premiere

Some our readers applied for (and many won) tickets for the World Premiere of Justice League: War tonight at The Paley Center for Media in New York.

According to a Warner Bros spokesman, “The city is being battered with a powerful snowstorm, but not strong enough to withstand the Justice League … so the show will go on as planned.”

Christopher Gorham (the voice of Flash), producer James Tucker, director Jay Oliva, dialogue director Andrea Romano and character designer Phil Bourassa will still be hand for this premiere showing. Some very exclusive prizes will also be given away.

Emily S. Whitten: “I Know That Voice” Premiere(s)!

whitten-art-131112-150x60-9439173How often does one get to go to both the West and East Coast premieres of a movie – if you’re not involved in it, that is? Probably not that often. But I just did, and that was pretty darned cool. This past week, I got to experience the world premiere of I Know That Voice at Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood; and then two days later, the East Coast premiere of the voice acting documentary at The National Press Club right here in D.C.

If you read my columns at all, you’ll know I’m a big fan of the talents of the voiceover industry and of this documentary. So it was a ton of fun to go to the world premiere, because literally 80% of the extensive cast was in attendance, and everyone was really happy to be there.

It was fun to watch the red carpet go by before the show, particularly since everyone was having such a great time and a lot of folks were goofing off for the photographers (and I did take some pictures, but was mostly enjoying the atmosphere). And it was a total trip to sit there and watch the documentary with all of the folks in the film – who cheered the first time each of their peers appeared on the screen, and I cheered right along with ‘em. The theater was full of the happy, positive energy of a group of people who were really excited to be featured in this one-of-a-kind film; and once the film got rolling, the room was also full of laughter, since there are a lot of great funny bits in the documentary. It was a good time all around.

After the screening, director and producer Lawrence Shapiro and producers John DiMaggio and Tommy Reid were joined at the front by Andrea Romano, Rob Paulsen, Maurice LaMarche, and Tom Kenny for a question and answer session; and that was a different kind of experience too, given that the voice actors were asking each other questions at this particular Q&A, with predictably great results. At one relevant point in the conversation, John DiMaggio also pointed out June Foray, who was in attendance sitting just a couple of rows in front of me, and the entire theater gave the accomplished thespian, still working at the age of ninety-five, a well-deserved standing ovation.

And, then, of course, there was the afterparty – where I barely ate any of the lovely food that was available, despite being super hungry, because there were so many fun conversations to be had. Rob Paulsen, always a delight, mentioned a project he’ll soon be working on for which he’s been hired primarily as a singer (Hurrah!). Carlos Alazraqui shared that although Off the Curb is no longer in production at this time, he’s working on a new independent animated project that we may hear more about shortly. Jess Harnell introduced me to his lovely fiancée, Christine (Congrats! You guys are too cute!). Bill Farmer was happy to hear that I’d enjoyed his appearance on Rob Paulsen’s live show, and was all around the warmest, nicest human being you could possibly want to talk to. And so was Fred Tatasciore, who is happily less imposing in person than one of the main voices he’s known for, The Hulk.

I discovered that Tom Kenny is a most excellent conversationalist, of the sort one could talk with for hours; and if you are lucky enough to be in conversation with both Dan Povenmire and Dee Bradley Baker, you will automatically feel more intelligent just for being there, and probably learn something, too. It was great to talk with Maurice LaMarche again, who I’d last chatted with after midnight in a diner at Dragon Con (ah, conventions), and James Arnold Taylor, looking as dapper as when we met at SDCC. And of course it was wonderful to see John DiMaggio, Larry Shapiro, and Tommy Reid enjoying the success of the project they’ve poured so much of their time and energy into.

And to top it all off, I got to meet a couple of excellent Twitter friends in person, a.k.a. Hayley, and Kristy of Voice Chasers, who became my premiere-buddy for the evening, and also took some really great photos. I really couldn’t have asked for a better night.

And then… two days later… it was time to see John and the film again for the East Coast premiere, which I was happy to have put together at The National Press Club. We had a great crowd, and it was really neat to be able to experience a fan audience reacting to the documentary and laughing in all the right places. I don’t have to speculate as to whether they enjoyed the film because, at the end, they gave John and the film a standing ovation!

But before that, he also answered questions, about topics like the process of recording your lines with a cast or by yourself; the weirdness and wonderfulness of Adventure Time; and my favorite, what a conversation between Bender and Barry White would sound like. And then he talked about the origin of Barbados Slim and sang the Bacon Pancakes song while signing autographs for the fans. Whattaguy.

I know I’ve devoted several columns to this documentary over the past few months; but that’s only because it really is worth watching – so check it out this December, when it will be available on Video On Demand, iTunes, and DVD.

And until next time, Servo Lectio!




Emily S. Whitten: News and Fun from NYCC!

Whitten Art 131015I love visiting New York City, and New York Comic Con is one of my favorite shows. I always have a great time, and this year was no exception. One other thing that remains consistent every year I go is that it all goes by in a total whirlwind blur, and I can barely remember all the things I saw and did, or when they occurred.

But for you, my faithful readers who may not have been able to attend, I’ll try to remember some of the best parts of the weekend, and, as Inigo Montoya would say, “sum up.” So here we go! In no particular order, some of the coolest experiences I had in NYC:

I saw First Date, the Broadway musical starring Zachary Levi, and it was fantastic. I also interviewed Zac at The Nerd Machine booth during the con – so stay tuned for my review of the show and my interview, coming soon! While at the booth, I saw some cool celebrities come by to donate their time for charity pictures with fans, with all money going to benefit the excellent cause of Operation Smile. I think that whole concept is pretty awesome; and it was fun to see Seth Green (who liked my Harley Quinn dress (thanks, Seth!) and showed us his new S.H.I.E.L.D. badge), Greg Grunberg, and David Duchovny all stopping by at various times to donate their time for a good cause.

I went through Artists Alley, which remains one of my favorite parts of NYCC. There I visited with some of the fantastic creators on hand, like Greg Pak, who has a new project called Code Monkey Save World which features characters from Jonathan Coulton songs; Jeremy Dale, whose creator-owned all-ages series Skyward has really hit the stratosphere; and Reilly Brown, who’s working on a new Marvel Infinite (digital only) Deadpool series with series regular writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn, to launch in January 2014. I also chatted with Mark Brooks and learned he’s the new Deadpool cover artist starting this month; and with Georges Jeanty, who will be doing the art for the upcoming Serenity: Leaves on the Wind miniseries that Zack Whedon is writing for Dark Horse (yay!).

Because I hadn’t walked enough already (eep!) I then walked the con floor, which literally took an entire day, and was, as usual, chock-full of cool merchandise I coveted. I tried to exercise restraint, but did come away with a couple of must-have Marvel exclusives (like the Skottie Young Deadpool glass and the Asgardian Periodic Table shirt) and other little collectibles (like the Littlest Lego Star Wars Rebel Pilot Ever, at 2 cm tall!). I also got some fun freebies from the Marvel booth (like Thor #1, Ultimate Spider-Man #1, an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. poster, and Guardians of the Galaxy trading cards); snagged a couple of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire posters of Katniss and Peeta; picked up the preview issue of Dean Haspiel and Mark Waid’s new project, The Fox; swung by the Dark Horse booth and finally met long-time Twitter-friend @VictorGischler and picked up the first issue of his new series, Kiss Me, Satan, which I’ve been wanting to read; met Richard Clark and picked up the first issue of his new miniseries with Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour, House of Gold and Bones; stopped by the Unshaven Comics booth and picked up their Samurnauts Genesis issue; and caught up with awesome Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard.

Along with all of the cool comics stuff and people to see, some of the most stellar voice actors working today were at various booths doing signings for fans; so of course I said hello to some of the great voice actors I’ve interviewed for ComicMix, like John DiMaggio (who signed a cool Fry and Bender pic a fellow fan gave me); Billy West; and Rob Paulsen, who was at the ShiftyLook booth talking about Bravoman. Stopping by ShiftyLook was cool, because I also got to meet Shiftylook creator Dax Gordine and editor Ash Paulsen (yes, he’s Rob’s son) and chat with them about the upcoming Bravoman shows, which will also feature Jennifer Hale as new character Bravowoman, who has cool superpowers and is not being brought into the show as a love interest for Bravoman (thank goodness, because that trope is so tired).

Speaking of voice actors, pretty much all the panels I made it to this year were voice actor-related, since they’re always so much fun. I started with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles panel (and FYI, also interviewed TMNT executive producer Ciro Nieli and Michelangelo voice actor Greg Cipes, so stay tuned for that). The panel featured Nieli, Cipes, story editor Brandon Auman, Rob Paulsen (Donatello), and Hoon Lee (Master Splinter), and I was super excited when they decided to screen the entire first episode of Season 2, since of course I wasn’t near a TV to watch it on Saturday. The first episode was great, and shows a shift towards a slightly darker tone, as the Turtles accidentally loose a bunch of mutagen canisters on the city, mutate a friend, and realize their responsibility for the mess they’ve created and for fixing it. I can’t wait to see how all of that plays out. At the panel they also showed some great unfinished clips that highlighted both a few upcoming story details (like Michelangelo’s, erm, interesting cooking skills, and Master Splinter answering a cheese-wheel phone!) and the cool process involved in taking a show like TMNT from concept to full animation. And of course all of the voice actors graced us with bits of dialogue in their character voices – including Hoon Lee, who at the request of one of the other panelists, read a menu description as it has never been read before; and Greg Cipes, who sang a hilarious little song that accompanies Michelangelo’s cooking, and then a little booyakasha ditty with Rob Paulsen.

The next voice actor panel I went to was the I Know That Voice panel, about the voice acting documentary that John DiMaggio is executive producing, which comes out this December and premieres in Hollywood on November 6. I went even though I’ve already seen and reviewed the documentary, because I knew it would be a good time. The panel was fantastic, and packed to the gills. We only barely got in and had to stand in the back for the first half. NYCC definitely should have put it in a bigger room (especially considering the SDCC panel, which was packed with about 2500+ fans!). The panel featured John, Rob Paulsen, Billy West, and casting and voice director Andrea Romano, and John actually screened the first fifteen minutes of the documentary; after which he opened the floor to questions, and the usual voice actor hilarity ensued (one of my favorite moments was when John called on a Batman cosplayer standing with a Harley Quinn and commented on the pairing. The Batman quipped, “Don’t tell the Joker!” To which John responded, smooth as anything, “You just did!” Classic). John shared the moment when he first realized he wanted to be an actor, which was cool; and John and Rob shared jobs they’d like to get that they haven’t been called for yet (Rico in the upcoming Penguins of Madagascar movie; and Donnie in the new TMNT movie. Call them, movie folks!! I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t!). In the same breath John and Billy also hinted at Matt Groening’s future plans for either the continuance of Futurama, or perhaps a new Groening show on which Billy and John might work. (OMG!)

The last voice actor panel I went to was the Adventure Time panel, which was also a blast (and I have never seen so many Finns and Jakes in one place, I tell you what. The little kid Finns were the cutest). They showed some great show clips, featuring Lumpy Space Princess giving romance advice, Jake getting stuck in quicksand, and a truly harrowing fight with The Lich; and of course answered questions. John DiMaggio shared a cool story about creator Pendleton Ward’s childhood aspirations, and Ward shared some great insights about his creative process. Ward also talked about how much he identifies with Lumpy Space Princess. And then, because the panel wasn’t already awesome enough, DiMaggio sang the bacon pancakes song and had the audience sing it too; and Jeremy Shada sang the Baby Finn song. And then we all left a voicemail for Brian Posehn, because that’s how John DiMaggio rolls at panels.

Whew! So I think that about sums up my experiences at NYCC this year; and what great experiences they were. I hope you all enjoyed the recap, and if you feel like you still need more, then just check out all the cool pictures I took.

And until next time, Servo Lectio!




Batman: The Brave and the Bold to be feted at The Paley Center

comiccon_braveboldWarner Archive Collection and The Paley Center for Media, in conjunction with New York Comic Con, proudly present a special event celebrating Warner Archive’s upcoming Blu-ray™ release of Batman: The Brave And The Bold on Friday, October 11 at 7:00 pm. The popular animated television series will be celebrated with an episodic screening and a lively panel discussion featuring Diedrich Bader, the voice of Batman, at The Paley Center for Media in New York City (25 West 52nd Street).

Extremely popular on Cartoon Network, Batman: The Brave And The Bold teams the Dark Knight with some of DC Comics’ favorite and more eclectic heroes, including the Blue Beetle, Plastic Man, Green Lantern, Kamandi, Doctor Fate, Jonah Hex, Black Canary, Green Arrow, Mister Miracle and The Atom. The combinations create a perfect mesh of fast-paced action and humor for the first season, which spans 26 episodes.

Batman: The Brave And The Bold is Warner Archive Collection’s first-ever animated release on Blu-ray™ disc. Anticipated street date is early November 2013.

Fans attending the October 11 event will have the opportunity to watch an episode and select clips of Batman: The Brave And The Bold, and hear from a distinguished panel that will include Bader, producer James Tucker, 8-time Emmy Award-winning dialogue director Andrea Romano, and Warner Archive podcasters Matt Patterson and DW Ferranti. Moderator Gary Miereanu might even have some unique prizes waiting for a few lucky audience members.

A limited number of free tickets are available for the general public. Fans wishing to receive free tickets to the New York event on must RSVP via email to BatmanBATB@gmail.com.

The body of all fan RSVP emails MUST include the following:

  • Name of the entrant
  • A valid email address
  • The name of the media outlet/website by which the entrant learned of the screening

Tickets will be distributed on a “first come, first served” basis, and fans will be notified via email.

Mike Gold: Beware The Batman – I Call Him Sid

Gold Art 130731O.K. I’ll admit it upfront. I was kind of wrong. I was all prepared to hate Beware The Batman, the new DC Nation animated series.

There are a whole lot of reasons for this. First, I like my Batman to have a forehead. Second, the teevee bastards cancelled Young Justice, which I really enjoyed. So did my adult daughter and, from time to time, either or both of our cats. It was a family experience. Third, the CG is clunky and lame, lacking the grace of the Green Lantern series. Fourth, Lt. James Gordon is as big as the Incredible Hulk and almost as old as dirt. If he didn’t make captain before he got Reed Richards’ hair, he’d counting the days to his pension.

Next-to-last, do we really need a fourth Batman animated series? They did it right the first time, they did it wrong the second time, and the third one was surprisingly entertaining. How many times can you go to the well before you hire Jim Carrey and Arnold Schwarzenegger?

But, most of all, head over heals of all, what they did to Alfred Pennyworth shouldn’t have been done to… oh, say… the Joker. He’s an entirely different character. A military super-Seal MI-6 type, roughly fourteen feet tall, no mustache – indeed, no hair at all, and a chin so pronounced he looks like the illegitimate son of Jay Leno and Bruce Campbell. Simply put, he’s not Alfred. I would have been happier if they called him Sid.

But I dutifully had my TiVo watch the first three episodes and I sat down to watch the first. Maybe it was a case of diminished expectations, but I mostly sorta liked Beware The Batman. I found myself going from the first to the second to the third, and then setting up a season pass for the rest.

Once I got past the stuff about Sid calling himself Alfred, the writing is quite good. Paring Katana with Bats as a de facto Robin works. The whole Task Force Batman thing (my phrase, not theirs) works better here than in the comics. They decided to focus on underused villains that have been mostly unused on television, which is a very smart move. In fact, I’m in favor of any Batman series that doesn’t feature the Joker in the early weeks. Make ‘em work for it. The relationship between Sid and Bruce is solid and convincing, and Bruce doesn’t come off as a douchebag.

As is true with virtually all Warner Bros. projects, the voice work is impeccable. Yes, I miss Kevin Conroy in the lead – he’s had the job longer than any single Batman actor, and that includes Matt Crowley (Google, chillun). But as always, voice casting director Andrea Romano rules.

None of this makes up for what they’re calling Alfred and I call Sid. This is an abomination – but not quite a dealkiller. For a while, in the comics they established Alfred was involved in the World War II French freedom fighter movement with Mlle. Marie, and that worked for me because he was still Alfred – reasonably athletic, extremely clever, and highly effective. They got past this when his World War II service would have defined him as older than Methuselah.

When all is said and done, Beware The Batman is an entertaining show.

But when I watch it, I still think “Oh. You mean Sid.”

WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON: More Betta Emily S. Whitten!!!




Emily S. Whitten: SDCC Part 2 – I Know That Voice!

Emily S. Whitten: SDCC Part 2 – I Know That Voice!

Whitten 130730 Art

Hey ComicMixers! It’s time for more news from SDCC. W00t!

While at the San Diego Comic-Con, I was happy to get to see the panel for I Know That Voice, the new documentary about voice actors that is slated to come out this fall (and don’t forget to visit that link and sign up for DVD pre-order news!). The panel was moderated by executive producer John DiMaggio, voice of Bender Bending Rodriguez on Futurama and Jake on Adventure Time (and many other voices as well!). It featured IKTV producer Tommy Reid; co-producer and director Lawrence (Larry) Shapiro; voice actors Rob Paulsen, Dee Bradley Baker, Fred Tatasciore, James Arnold Taylor, and Tom Kenny; casting director Andrea Romano; and Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward. And it was a blast!

I’ve talked about how excited I am for this documentary before, and this panel definitely highlighted the reasons I am looking forward to it. Not only do I find the whole process of voice acting for animation fascinating, but I also think voiceover actors and those who work with them are, from my experiences so far, not only some of the most talented creators out there, but also uniformly very nice, warm, funny people who love what they do and are just as enthused about it as the fans are. And who wouldn’t want to watch a video consisting of awesomely talented and nice people talking enthusiastically about their work in a fascinating industry? I know I can’t wait to see it.

I was also really interested in what led to the making of the documentary, and the process of putting this piece of (I predict now) fried gold together. To that end, after the panel I chatted with John DiMaggio, Tommy Reid, and Larry Shapiro about all of that and what we can expect. Here’s the interview (and you can also watch it on YouTube)!

What was the genesis of the documentary, and how did you start working on it together?

John: Larry and I were in Amsterdam, working on a music festival that we’ve done a bunch of times called Jam in the ‘Dam. I was MCing it, and he was filming it; and we were just talking, and came up with the idea, and we were like, “Well let’s try something.” We worked on it for a little bit, tossed some ideas around, shot some stuff, and then we were like, “Well, you know, it’s not really coming together.” And I’ve worked with Tommy on a bunch of projects – a bunch of documentaries; and I said, “Dude, we need to bring in Tommy.” And Tommy was like, “I’m all over this, this sounds like a great project.” So that’s pretty much how it started.

Awesome. And how did you three know each other?

Larry: We’re all 15 year-old friends.

John: We all lived in the same building in Hollywood; and so that’s how we know each other.

Larry: I will add that I was doing this music festival, and then John got on board to do the MCing of it; and then one night, in Amsterdam, Johnny started doing the voice of Bender and these German tourists heard him – and they don’t even speak English, and they still recognized John’s voice, and fluttered over and couldn’t believe it was him. And I’d never seen someone get star-struck over a voice in a language they didn’t even understand. That kind of gave me a clue as to how important something like this is to cover.

What was the process for making the film, and what did you all find the most interesting or challenging about making it?

Tommy: Our process began with the genesis of the idea; then it taking shape and us saying, ‘Well how do we actually get into the system?” and setting up interviews; and then having an end date where we knew we were going to capture enough interviews of every section of the voiceover industry that we were happy with. To go after the top and the best of that part of it. And then once we compiled all the interviews together it was just literally chiseling, getting it down from three hours to two hours, and then constant notes and notes and notes, where you’re constantly figuring out what’s the best story to tell in 90 minutes or less. And that’s where the final product came about. But it’s a very long process, when you’re making a documentary, and here we are 20 months later [at Comic-Con], and we had a packed room with over 3,000 people in it.

John: It’s pretty exciting. I think the biggest problem was the logistics of the project. Just getting everybody gathered; and having that done.

How many people are featured in this documentary?

Larry: Over 150. I will say that each person was at least an hour-long interview. And we had 150 people. So if you just give one minute to each person; just one great minute, you still have an extremely long movie. So it was pretty much like trying to choose between your children, what to use and what not to use. Because these people are brilliant people, and it was basically like trying to use the best stuff that we could get to make the best movie possible.

There are a lot of people in the industry; so how did you choose your focus of which voice actors to include, and which areas, e.g. TV animation, and movies, and the like?

John: I think basically it was just like, “Alright, well we need to get talent. We need to interview people.” And I just said, “Okay, well who am I working with today?” And I just asked them: “Hey man, I’m doing this documentary about voiceover. Do you want to be involved?” And we would get them on film. And once we got the ball rolling, once we got people interested in it-

Tommy: -the floodgates opened.

John: Yeah, people started talking about it, and then we had agents calling us.

Larry: The community really helped.

John: Yeah, the community definitely helped us out.

Tommy: It was like wildfire.

John: And that’s the thing about the people I work with. They’re just the most giving, the most wonderful people. The camaraderie involved in my industry is bar none…it’s unbelievable how generous of time and talent folks are. That’s one of the reasons why we made the film, too – just to showcase that.

Larry: And that’s an actual part of it. We talk about how we’re used to, in Hollywood, how people will backstab someone for a part or whatnot. And we noticed in this industry, people actually say, “You know what? I could do this, but do you know who would be better? John. You should give the job to John.” Or someone else.

John: Or I’ll be like, “Dee Bradley Baker, he needs to do this; you need to bring him in.”

Larry: They’ll really refer them other people.

John: Yeah, and it’s for real, you know?

That’s great! Now, with the rise of the internet, and fan conventions being more commonplace, do more people know your face? Has the experience of celebrity as a voice actor changed since, say, Mel Blanc’s time, and do you think that’s helped with getting interest for this film?

John: I don’t know, it’s kind of funny, because with voiceover – only down here do you get mobbed. Only at a convention do you get mobbed, where people know specifically what you do. Anywhere else…

Larry: And in Amsterdam.

John: Yeah, in Amsterdam, with German tourists; which freaked me out. But, well, anything will freak you out in Amsterdam, really, so; you know.

Larry: It’s like a living cartoon.

John: But it doesn’t really bother me [when I’m not recognized]. I didn’t get into it to have people go, “Oh my God, it’s him!” I just love to work. This is a perk, having people be a fan of your work. I love it; I mean it’s great, and I’m honored, you know – 3,000 people in a room freaking out, it’s incredible. But all I wanted to do was just showcase everybody; and I think we did that.

Larry: I would say also that we wanted to make the point that you might think it’s gimmicky being a voice of something and all that, but I really think our film kind of shows that these people aren’t so much ‘voice actors’ as much as they’re the best character actors you’ve ever seen in your life. And it just happens to be you’ve only heard them through their voices.

John: (in character) Thanks, Larry.

Larry: No problem, buddy! Promooootion!

So obviously people who are already fans are going to want to watch this; do you think you’re going to draw in a new crowd of people as well?

John: I think word of mouth will get around, I think people will be excited about it, and I think, like I said before: people love cartoons. People love cartoons. And I think that something will happen from that.

Tommy: Well I’m like the perfect example of the audience member. So basically, I liked cartoons, growing up as a kid, and then took a hiatus from them; and then the Simpsons kind of brought me back in there, but not knowing what goes on behind the scenes. Now after actually making this movie, now I know everything that goes on behind the scenes.

So do you think the documentary is also going to be a great resource for people who want to be voice actors?

John: It’s going to be a video bible for them.

Tommy: It’s very educational and very entertaining at the same time. A lot of laughs.

Did you learn something new while making this documentary?

Tommy: Don’t move John’s furniture.

John: Yeah – don’t move my furniture. Larry came into my house and started moving my furniture around during my interview.

Larry: It looked so much better, let me tell you.

John: Don’t move my goddamn furniture! Larry, get off my furniture! Goddammit!

Larry: The scratches are going to come out.

Okay, so now we know, don’t ever touch John DiMaggio’s furniture. He’s tall; he will hurt you…

John: Don’t ever touch my furniture! That shit is there for a reason. Dammit.

Can you say that like Tracy Morgan?

John: (in character) I’m tellin’ you that shit is there for a reason! You came in and moved my sculptures around, shiiiit. I’m tellin’ you right now.

What was the coolest experience each of you had making the documentary?

Tommy: Probably going to Big Bear Lake and going into Mel Blanc’s house, and interviewing his son Noel Blanc about Mel and listening to how Mel came out of a coma talking like Bugs Bunny.

John: Seeing the finished product. That was thrilling. And being here [at SDCC] and seeing everybody here for it.

Larry: Honestly I’d say all the interviews. With so many people I wouldn’t want to single anyone out; but I will say that actually going in to certain Futurama sessions, and getting to see John actually perform with some of the cast members; just getting to see that happen organically for me was probably one of the biggest treats.

That’s awesome; and thank you guys so much for your time.

Well, I hope you all enjoyed reading that as much as I enjoyed the interview! Not only were the guys awesome to talk to, but at the veeeery end, Bender even made an appearance. Shockingly, he wants everyone to read ComicMix.

And so I say unto all of you: listen to Bender and Servo Lectio!