Tagged: Comic Con

Emily S. Whitten’s Interview with Maurice LaMarche

Whitten Art 131029In my apparent continuing quest to interview all the great voice actors living today (because they are the most fun, okay?), I now bring you my interview with the talented and Emmy-winning Maurice LaMarche, a.k.a. The Brain, Squit, Kif Kroker, Morbo, Lrrr, several Futurama robots, Dr. Egon Spengler, Dizzy Devil, Yosemite Sam, Mr. Freeze, Victor von Doom, General Var Suthra, Mortimer Mouse, Chief Quimby, and more.

It was a real pleasure to speak with Maurice, who I’ve been listening to in various guises since I was a wee thing (I was a big Inspector Gadget fan as a child; and then with Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, and Futurama being amongst my other favorite shows through the years, I guess I’ve pretty much been listening to Maurice all my life!). It was also great to see him do many of his excellent voices and impressions both during the interview, and at “An Evening with Pinky and the Brain,” which I attended at the Plaza Theatre while in Atlanta for Dragon Con. That event featured Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche together, and was just a total joy to experience. It also resulted in some fantastic video clips like this reading of Who’s on First by Pinky and the Brain, a couple more of which I’ve linked below.

So without further ado, I bring you my interview with Maurice! Read on for the transcript, and click here for the video, which is really worth watching for all the fun voices.

•     •     •     •     •

Let’s start with Futurama, and Kif, who you voice on the show. That voice seems more delicate than some of the voices you’re known for; how did you come up with that one?

We were recording episode three or four, and Matt was very hands-on as we built the show. He knew exactly what he wanted in terms of who the character was; but he wasn’t sure about a sound. His tagline for Kif was, “He’s Mister Spock, if Mister Spock had to deal with William Shatner.”

So we tried a few things. I tried going (as Nimoy) “Sir, it seems the rest of the crew doesn’t share your passion for velour,” very deep and in the Nimoy range, and it sounded too much like The Brain; and we realized that he sounded tired; you know, we had the sighs. So I thought… I played a character in a very short-lived show called The Adventures of Hyperman, where the chief of that was very much, “Truman Capote. He’s Truman Capote.” So I thought that (as Capote) “the whole voice quality of Truman Capote had a sort of sighing sound to it, and so I decided that he would sound like Truman Capote,” and Matt said, “Well, too effeminate. I also want him to have some of the sarcasm and pissiness of Jon Lovitz.” So it went from this (demonstrating Capote) to this (demonstrating Lovitz) and became this (in Kif’s voice) “Sir, the rest of the crew doesn’t share your passion for velour, ugh.” So that’s where Kif came from. We kind of threw Jon Lovitz and Truman Capote in a blender, and out came Kif.

Now that Futurama is… doing whatever it’s doing [coming back again, I hope!], what are you working on right now?

My self-esteem. No, currently, I’m working on a project for Disney called The 7D, which are the seven dwarves about twenty years before they met Snow White. So they all have all their hair, and their hair is its original colors; nobody’s grey. And of course, needing to fixate on a beautiful female figure, they live to serve Queen Delightful, who is the queen of the kingdom.

And they’ve done a very different take with them. We’ve gone away from the Snow White movie, and it looks almost like a 1960s Jay Ward cartoon, kind of Bullwinkle, George of the Jungle. Very simple drawings. And each one’s voice is very distinct. Kevin Michael Richardson is Happy, and he just plays it so happy; and when Kevin is full of joy, the room bursts with it. And Bill Farmer is Doc. Billy West is Bashful, and Billy uses his upper, upper, upper range, and he’s like, so adorable that even though he’s a 62-year-old man, you just want to pinch his cheeks.

And I do Grumpy; and, again, I do a lot of my voices by throwing two things into the hopper and coming up with a unique voice. There’s a little George Costanza in him, and there’s a little bit of one of my best friends, Kenny Lombino, who’s a Brooklyn by way of New Jersey guy, and he’s an investment guy, but (as Kenny Lombino) “he came up through the streets. So Kenny is very much like this guy,” and then (as George Costanza) George Costanza’s like this: “I don’t know, Jerry! People think I’m smart, but I’m not smart!” (In Grumpy’s voice) So then Grumpy is kinda this guy right here: “Alright. Okay, Fine. I’m Grumpy, and I accept it, but I gotta help Queen Delightful anyway!” So he does a lot of, like, “Oh, this guy again.” He gets all the sarcastic lines.

It’s a thrill to be in a show where I am actually getting the good lines. Because I’m usually the setup guy. Even in Pinky and the Brain, Rob Paulsen got all the great lines, while I gave him the, (as The Brain) “Are you pondering what I’m pondering?” And then he got to say the funny thing. So The Brain’s humor had to come from being put-upon, and having to deal with this knucklehead named Pinky – who may have been the genius; and The Brain may have been the one who was insane.

But Brain did get his funny lines in there…

He did. He had great lines like (as The Brain): “If I could reach you, I would hurt you.” Or, “Yes, that is a pain that is going to linger.” Or, “It must be inordinately taxing to be such a boob, Pinky.” Little sarcastic things like that. I love playing the sarcastic note. Because I’m really actually very kind in real life.

Do you have a favorite episode from Pinky and the Brain?

It’s kind of a tie. “Bubba Bo Bob Brain” was the one where I think we found the stride with the characters. We’d done two or three episodes before, but we recorded “Bubba Bo Bob” and two things happened there: the voices changed. Rob got out of the buck-toothed thing that he was doing the first few episodes, and really found that almost lady-like voice that he did; and Brain stopped being a straight Orson Welles impression, and there are little Vincent Price-ish kind of highs in there. And their relationship became…the annoyance became stronger, and I realized “that’s the note I have to play with Pinky. And yet I still have to have affection for Pinky.” So “Bubba Bo Bob;” and the Primetime Emmy-winning Christmas Special. Which was a big folderol, because that special was the first time that a daytime cartoon had come into primetime and beaten The Simpsons. So those are my two favs. I’ve never been able to quite choose between them.

So what about “You Said A Mouseful”?

That was interesting. Rob and I are doing “An Evening with Pinky and the Brain” at the Plaza Theatre; and for our finale we are actually going to do a staged reading of “You Said a Mouseful,” with a cast from the audience. [Note: I got part of it on video! Watch it here!] “You Said a Mouseful” was a fun, and funny, and challenging episode to do; it was the only episode where I ever left the booth, walked into the control room, and slugged the writer in the arm – in the way you’d hit your little brother, a Lucy/Linus kind of slug. I just punched him in the arm for writing something so difficult. Then I went back, sat down, and went, “I feel better now. Rubber baby buggy bumpers, rubber baby buggy bumpers…”

You’re originally from Toronto; how do you find the South?

I have a GPS! …Well, I’ve only been here a day; I got here late last night; and Pinky and the Brain went out for dinner, to Morton’s. There was definitely a flavor of Southern hospitality; but then again, if you’re Captain Kirk and you’re beamed into any Morton’s on Earth, you don’t know what city you’re in because every Morton’s looks the same. (as William Shatner) “I don’t understand where they get all this wood paneling from!” And the steaks were all delicious and fantastic.

But people have been very nice here. This is my first Dragon Con, and my first time in Atlanta. And I’m not even going to complain about the humidity because Toronto, being on Lake Ontario, is just as humid as this in August; so I’m fully used to it. Haven’t lived in it in thirty-three years; but I’m loving Atlanta. I’m having a great time. People are so nice. And the Dragon Con people – I have to say, there’s a real difference between the Comic Con vibe and the Dragon Con vibe. Comic Con is Comic Cannes film festival, it’s there to sell projects – and this is all about fan love. This is completely fan-driven. Comic Con is very studio-driven and publisher-driven. But this is just the fans expressing themselves and truly paying tribute to the genres, and it’s wonderful to see. So, I’m really enjoying my time here.

Have you worked on games?

I’ve only been on a handful of games. Games beat up my throat; and unlike a lot of voice actors who seem to be invulnerable, I seem to get a lot of cases of laryngitis, etcetera by having to do repeated lines over and over again. So I really limit myself, and am very blessed and fortunate that I can afford to. I can turn down a lot of the work because I’ve gotten to be on shows like Futurama or be the voice of Lexus. So I’m very selective. I do things that I think my son will think are cool; like Mr. Freeze in Arkham City.

Or General Var Suthra in the [Star Wars:] Old Republic game, which had literally a phone book of script for every character. It was unbelievable. But I think it’s the world’s largest online game right now. You can join up. So I play this Mon Calamari general named Var Suthra, and the whole thing takes place 3,000 years before the continuity of Star Wars. So I wasn’t locked into (in character), “It’s a trap!” So I decided he sounded (as Gene Hackman) “more like Gene Hackman. Greatest criminal mind of our time.” But that was a lot of days of work on that. Although they break it up. I’ve never done a war game where I have to do a lot of dying, falling, being blown up, being shot, that sort of thing. I guess they don’t think of me for those things, but just as well, because my throat gets beat up very easily. (In a delicate voice) It’s a very sensitive instrument.

I know you probably get asked this a lot, but what really pulled you into voice acting? And what was your first job as a voice actor?

It was a weird sort of gravity that pulled me in, and it really was a pull. I never thought of myself primarily as a voice actor; I was going for the big stand-up comedy enchilada. I started in 1977 at a club called Yuk Yuks in Toronto, which also birthed Howie Mandel, Jim Carrey, and Norm MacDonald. I was chasing after that. I’d done a couple of voiceovers up in Toronto for a company called Nelvana Films. They were annual specials. One was Easter Fever, with Garrett Morris from Saturday Night Live, who’s now on 2 Broke Girls; and I played Steve Martin and Don Rickles as animals. So it was Steed Martin and Don Rattles, and it was a roast of the Easter Bunny. That was the very first time I heard my voice come out of a cartoon character. I was nineteen; and it was magic, to hear that, and to see that, and go, “Wow, that’s me.” It was like, “I’m Fred Flintstone now.” It was astounding. I remember seeing Alan Reed on an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies when I was a kid and going, “He sounds like somebody. Who does he sound like?” And I realized halfway through the episode, that’s the man who plays Fred Flintstone. That’s when I first realized it was a human being behind those moving drawings. So that was my first job.

Then I came down here for stand-up comedy, and a voiceover agent from the William Morris Agency, who I was with for my personal appearance stuff, was in the audience, and it was Nina Nisenholtz, and she said, “With all of these impressions you do, you’d be a natural for voiceovers.” And I said, “Well I was always told that was a closed shop,” and my friend was Frank Welker, and he told me he was going to try to get me started – and Frank really did talk me up around town for about a year before I got my first job; but Nina also started sending me out right about that time.

It took me a year to get my first job, and my first job was Inspector Gadget. I did one episode of The Littles, and one episode of something called Wolf Rock TV, just as a guest star thing to test me and see how I was, and then they ended up putting me on Inspector Gadget, where I was The Chief, and Henchman No. 2, and then right after that, Real Ghostbusters. So that was my entrée into cartoons. And it just kept coming. Voice acting is as close to a meritocracy in show business as you can get; if you’re good, the work will keep coming. Because they love to work with people who can do the skill of coming up with multiple characters – in animation, at least, so they don’t have to hire five actors. They can hire you and have you play five parts in the episode. So if you can deliver those goods, the work comes. So it was a steady thing; and I got sort of pulled into it, rather than taking a bunch of voiceover workshops. I’ve got a lot of friends who did study. Nancy Cartwright studied with Daws Butler – you know, Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear. I just never took a lesson. I don’t know why, I just seem to have a knack for doing this.

I know that you based The Brain in part on Orson Welles; and I’ve heard that you used to recite the “Frozen Peas” outtake as a warm-up exercise. Where did that come from?

We were on the job from hell. We were dubbing a French puppet show – lifesized puppets, people inside costumes – into English, and it was the longest day. It started at nine and ended at nine on New Year’s Eve. I was supposed to do the job for two hours and then make a 1:00 flight that would get me to New York. Howie Mandel was hosting an MTV party and I was supposed to go party with the MTVers, back when that was brand new. And the thing just took for-bloody-ever, and I missed the party. And I was so depressed at the end of the night, that Phil Proctor, from the Firesign Theater, who was making college students laugh when I was still in junior high school, said, “Here, this’ll cheer you up.” And he gave me a cassette with Orson Welles doing this frozen peas commercial.

So my consolation prize was, I didn’t get to party with Sting and Howie Mandel; but I did get to have a career. Because this tape that he gave me had this gold on it. Orson Welles being himself. Being a curmudgeon; and yet the more you listen to it, the more you go, “He’s right! These guys don’t know what they’re talking about.” So I listened to it backwards and forwards, and couldn’t get enough of it. And eventually I began to ape it, because that’s what I do, and it made its way into my bag of tricks. And whenever there was down time, if they were listening to the playbacks, I’d just sit there and try it out on mic, because I’d wear headphones, and (as Orson Welles) “Get me a jury and show me how you can say in July, and I’ll…go down on ya.” It was hysterical. So it amused me to do it and I wanted to see how close to the timing I could do it; because when you get somebody being themselves, that’s the best was to grab them as an impression; and get all facets of them from there on up. So that’s how that happened. [To see Maurice do the Frozen Peas impression live, click here.]

Going back to Futurama; you do many voices. Which ones did you start out with, and which were added later, and…how many do you do? Do you know?

I don’t know. A couple of years ago when we were making the direct-to-DVD movies, there was a website that somebody came out with, where they had actually listed and counted all of our characters. I think I was at seventy-two characters, counting everything – all one-offs, all recurring, all regulars. But Tress MacNeille had me beat; she had seventy-five.

What about Billy?

Billy was in the fifties; but he does the heavy lifting on the show, because he’s Fry, he’s Zoidberg, and the Professor, so he’s three people in the break room at Planet Express; and then you throw in Zapp, who’s in every fifth episode or so; and Smitty… he’s got so many characters. He topped out with fifty-something.

So your characters – you’ve got Kif, and Morbo, and Calculon, and the Mafia robots…

(In the characters) “I got the Donbot. I got Clamps! I have the country Hyper-Chicken lawyer, and oh, Hedonismbot. And Lrrr.

Which one do you enjoy the most? Do you identify with any of them?

Oh, I identify with most of them. Because any actor is only giving you parts of himself. There’s a great line in a movie called My Favorite Year, that my friend Dennis Palumbo wrote. At the end of the film, Peter O’Toole, who plays this Errol Flynn character, tells Benjy Stone, his handler from the King Kaiser Show, which is really the Sid Caesar Show, that he can’t go on. He chickens out. He’s hiding, and he’s drinking, and he goes, “I’m scared, Stone.” And Stone says, “You don’t get to be scared. You are that damn hero; and you couldn’t play that hero if you didn’t have him somewhere inside of you.” And O’Toole goes on to save the day, in the film.

But every actor gives you what’s inside of him. So every character I play is a piece of me. So even though they may draw Lrrr, the Lrrr I voice and the Lrrr I play is my own angst about being in a midlife crisis. Kif is my own shyness and my own sense that (as Kif) “maybe I’ll never quite rise to Zapp Brannigan’s rank, but certainly I hope that I may one day save Amy with a buggalo,” you know, or something like that. Morbo is…very different from Lrrr. Completely different.

Do you really want to eat kittens?

(As Morbo) “They give me gas!” You know; there are foods that give me gas. So I relate to that. Everybody’s a little piece of me. (As Clamps) “I won’t tell you where Clamps comes from!” It’s my parenting skills.

Let’s go back to Animaniacs. You did other characters on there as well, didn’t you?

I was the Ray Liotta-based Squit, in the Goodfeathers. (As Squit) “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a Goodfeather. If you were a Goodfeather, you had it all.” Martin Scorsese apparently loved the Goodfeathers. He and Spielberg were friends, and when that was on, Spielberg would just send him tapes of the Goodfeathers episodes as they came out. He dug that we were paying tribute to him.

And you did that West Side Pigeons episode…

I had a lot of singing in that. But they really worked with me; I’m not a natural singer. So Steve and Julie Bernstein and Rich Stone, God rest his soul, really walked me through it, and we rehearsed for a couple of days, and worked with the tapes. The way I practice singing, you’ve got to give me something that has only melody on it. If you give me anything with harmony, I’m lost. Because I start singing up in the harmony, and then back down to the melody; I’m not a natural musician, like my son. So I did that.

One of my favorites was playing Michelangelo in “Hooked on a Ceiling.” It was a nice little twist. It was Michelangelo, but we didn’t go Charlton Heston; we went Kirk Douglas. So it was like, (as Kirk Douglas) “What have you done to my ceiling? My beautiful ceiling!” Or Miles Standish as Richard Burton, (as Richard Burton) “Ohh, my Petey Pajamas, I loved him so.” So all the people that the Warners annoy, I got to play.

Now that Animaniacs is back on TV, do you see a resurgence in interest? The younger generation finding the show?

The Hub has just started running the original Animaniacs again, and they’ve got a big viewership. I’ve got another show on The Hub called Transformers: Rescue Bots, where I play the patriarch of a family of first responders, and the Transformers that come pick our vehicles; so there’s a police car character, and a fire truck character, a tractor character, because one of the sons is a civil engineer, and a helicopter. So The Hub putting these on is giving it a resurgence; but it’s yet to see quite the impact – I’m not quite sure where it is yet.

I think the cartoons are timeless. We did a lot of timely references, and there are maybe a few too many Clinton jokes in there; but with Clinton being back in the news – Obama keeps pulling him back into the spotlight – he’s hip again. Other than that, I think the show has legs. If a 1990s generation loved it, why wouldn’t a twenty-teens generation love it? Especially since the Pinky and the Brain piece of it is so relationship-based; it’s not based on timely humor. It’s based on the dynamic between these two characters, and that plays no matter what – an odd couple that really do love each other even if they are annoyed with each other, That was always the fun.

What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened between takes; because I’ve heard that that’s when the most fun happens.

We-ell, it’s got a dirty word in it.

Okay, shoot!

It’s a moment that came from Tress MacNeille. At one particular time we were all on a show where the executive producer had become extremely religious, almost overnight; so there was to be no sexual innuendo, and certainly no swearing. So the executive producer was there, we did the table read, we read through, and then he said, “Alright, I guess you guys have got it. I’m going to go back to the studio.” And we all watched as he left, and then we were quiet as the door closed behind him; and then Tress breaks the silence with: “Now we can say fuck!” in that old lady voice that she’s got; that smoker’s voice? And I must have laughed for five minutes.

Just the way she hit the word now. It’s like, the door closed, and then: “Now we can say fuck!” That might be my favorite studio story. Tress MacNeille is unbelievable. I think – and I’ve worked with so many greats, and everybody’s really at the top of their profession – but to me, Tress is the pinnacle. Man or woman, it doesn’t matter, she’s the pinnacle of what a voice actor is. She’s the best. I say to myself, “I gotta get as good as Tress.” That’s the way I feel.

I haven’t ever seen her at a con…

We finally got her out to Comic Con this past year, because Matt Groening asked her especially, because we had the full cast of Futurama, and we showed the first third of the last episode, then we table-read the second act with the full cast – Dave Herman, Phil LaMarr, Lauren Tom, myself, Tress, and Billy, John, and Katie. The first time we’d all been assembled at Comic Con. It was pretty legendary. Tress went specially for Matt; and it was also our goodbye, too.

But you know what; at the end, they gave us a standing ovation. And when 5,000 people get on their feet because you’ve done a good job since 1999, it’s kind of touching, and moving. I think for Tress, it showed her that people really do care about the work, because she kind of keeps to herself, and I think she’s understanding that people do care; people do love the show and our work. And that’s great.

Well I certainly do love your work! And thank you so much for your time!

I hope everyone enjoyed this interview with the amazing Maurice LaMarche; and until next time, Servo Lectio!

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold

 

Michael Davis: An Open Letter To Paul Levitz

Davis Art 131008Dear Paul,

Paul, Paul, PaulPaulPaul, Paul.

I hope this letters finds you well.

You and I have had our differences over the years but I still remember when I used to hang out in your office and just talk to you and all the swag you bestowed upon me.

Clearly our styles have clashed and the differences we’ve had have been huge.

Like it or not Paul, you and I have a shared history that history includes your absolute undeniable contribution to Milestone Media. Without Paul Levitz Milestone would not have ever existed. I recently said just that at the Milestone 20th anniversary panel at the San Diego Comic Con. You have taught me a lot Paul and like I said rather you like it or not you’ve been instrumental in a lot of my career.

When I first became President and CEO of Motown Animation & Filmworks you and I were talking at a San Diego Comic Con event when a drunk colorist I trained and arranged his first professional job, rolled up to me in front of you and started talking shit about how horrible a human being I was because I fired a friend of his off a project. I was right about to do something very un-CEO like and put my fist in his throat when you lightly touched my arm and said softly “Michael you’re a CEO now, you will always have a target on your back, let it go.”

I did.

I know I’m a bit of a pill Paul, but no more than Todd McFarland, Frank Miller, Harlan Ellison or scores of other artists who have over-the-top take-no-shit-personalities.

Love me or hate me, I’ve earned respect. How many people do you know have a magnet school auditorium named them, were named Mentor Of The Year by Mentor magazine, has 12 count them, 12 Michael Davis day proclamations from 12 different cities because of my work with kids and education, a PhD… and on top of all that I’m cute as a button.

Paul, I am who I am.

You are who you are, one of the most influential people in comic book history if I hated your guts (which I don’t) I would still respect that. I don’t hate you, Paul. I miss you. I miss those Levitz talks, especially the ones that ended with me carrying out a huge Batman or Superman or Lobo statue.  All of which you’ve given me (when you liked me).

I’m super glad to see you are writing again. The Darkness Saga is on my top five ever-favorite story lines, the others being Watchmen, Dark Knight, Camelot 3000 and The Killing Joke. Paul, I’d like to invite you to my annual Comic Con party. We can sit down and swap Bob Wayne stories. I’ll tell you all about the time Bob took me dinner in Texas and how he continuously reminded me there were no black people within a-hundred miles. I wasn’t scared (much) it was all in good fun.

Again, I hope you and yours are well, call me, let’s do lunch, and bring some money so you can eat too. :-)

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil

 

The Point Radio: Joss Whedon Has A Tough Task and Joe Rogan Has A Question

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This week, you get to reap the benefits of our Comic Con trip as we share comments from Brian Fuller on how intense the next season of HANNIBAL could be, C. Thomas Howell admits he doesn’t know who The Reverse Flash is – but he loves voicing him, and Josh Holloway assures us that his new series, INTELLIGENCE ,is totally believable. Plus Joss Whedon admits that it wasn’t as easy as you might think getting AGENTS OF SHIELD on the air, and SyFy allows Joe Rogan to QUESTION EVERYTHING.

This summer, we are updating once a week – every Friday – but you don’t have to miss any pop culture news. THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE! The Point Radio App is now in the iTunes App store – and it’s FREE! Just search under “pop culture The Point”. The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any other  mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Eisner Awards Presented at Comic Con

All Pulp congratulates the winners of the 2013 EISNER Awards.

PRESS RELEASE:

The winners of the 2013 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards were announced at a gala ceremony held during Comic-Con International: San Diego, at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, on Friday, July 19.

Best Short Story: “Moon 1969: The True Story of the 1969 Moon Launch,” by Michael Kupperman, in Tales Designed to Thrizzle #8 (Fantagraphics)

Best Single Issue (or One-Shot): The Mire, by Becky Cloonan (self-published)

Best Continuing Series: Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)

Best New Series: Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)

Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 7): Babymouse for President, by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (Random House)

Best Publication for Kids (ages 8–12): Adventure Time, by Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, and Braden Lamb (kaboom!)

Best Publication for Teens (ages 13–17): A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle, adapted by Hope Larson (FSG)

Best Humor Publication: Darth Vader and Son, by Jeffrey Brown (Chronicle)

Best Digital Comic: Bandette, by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover (Monkeybrain)

Best Anthology: Dark Horse Presents, edited by Mike Richardson (Dark Horse)

Best Reality-Based Work (tie): Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller, by Joseph Lambert (Center for Cartoon Studies/Disney Hyperion); The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song, by Frank M. Young and David Lasky (Abrams ComicArts)

Best Graphic Album—New: Building Stories, by Chris Ware (Pantheon)

Best Adaptation from Another Medium: Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score, adapted by Darwyn Cooke (IDW)

Best Graphic Album—Reprint: King City, by Brandon Graham (TokyoPop/Image)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Strips: Pogo, vol. 2: Bona Fide Balderdash, by Walt Kelly, edited by Carolyn Kelly and Kim Thompson (Fantagraphics)

Best Archival Collection/Project—Comic Books: David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil Born Again: Artist’s Edition, edited by Scott Dunbier (IDW

Best U.S. Edition of International Material: Blacksad: Silent Hell, by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido (Dark Horse)

Best U.S. Edition of International Material—Asia: Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, by Naoki Urasawa (VIZ Media)

Best Writer: Brian K. Vaughan, Saga (Image)

Best Writer/Artist: Chris Ware, Building Stories (Pantheon)

Best Penciler/Inker (tie): David Aja, Hawkeye (Marvel), Chris Samnee, Daredevil (Marvel); Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom (IDW)

Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art): Juanjo Guarnido, Blacksad (Dark Horse)

Best Cover Artist: David Aja, Hawkeye (Marvel)

Best Coloring: Dave Stewart, Batwoman (DC); Fatale (Image); BPRD, Conan the Barbarian, Hellboy in Hell, Lobster Johnson, The Massive (Dark Horse)

Best Lettering: Chris Ware, Building Stories (Pantheon)

Best Comics-Related Periodical/Journalism: The Comics Reporter, edited by Tom Spurgeon, www.comicsreporter.com

Best Comics-Related Book: Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, by Sean Howe (HarperCollins)

Best Educational/Academic Work: Lynda Barry: Girlhood Through the Looking Glass, by Susan E. Kirtley (University Press of Mississippi)

Best Publication Design: Building Stories, designed by Chris Ware (Pantheon)

Hall of Fame: Lee Falk, Al Jaffee, Mort Meskin, Trina Robbins, Spain Rodriguez, Joe Sinnott

Russ Manning Promising Newcomer Award: Russel Roehling

Bob Clampett Humanitarian Award: Chris Sparks and Team Cul deSac

Bill Finger Excellence in Comic Book Writing Award: Steve Gerber, Don Rosa

Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Retailer Award: Challengers Comics + Conversation, Chicago, IL

See more at http://www.comic-con.org/awards/eisners-current-info#sthash.7hRCavEx.dpuf

Get a Free Poster by Ruby Files Cover Artist Mark Wheatley at Comic Con

The Ruby Files cover artist, Mark Wheatley loves reading. He will be offering the poster above for FREE at the San Diego Comic Con this weekend, with the purchase of any other item from his booth! Get an extra for your local library!

Mark’s a fantastic artist. You’re sure to find all manner of cool items at his booth.

Stop by and say howdy.

Tell ‘im Rick Ruby sent ya!

The Point Radio: ComicCon Starts Right Here

 

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Everyone’s packing for ComicCon – and so are we, but we wanted to take time to get you our regular Preview of the things at the show you might miss. There is something for everyone here – even if you aren’t coming to San Diego. Then we are back again in a few drays with more news from the ComicCon floor plus our talk with Vera Farmiga and there cast of the new film, THE CONJURING opening this weekend. For instant updsates from the floor of the biggest event of the year, be sure to stay locked on The Point Radio!

This summer, we are updating once a week – every Friday – but you don’t have to miss any pop culture news. THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE! The Point Radio App is now in the iTunes App store – and it’s FREE! Just search under “pop culture The Point”. The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any other  mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Michael Davis on James Rhoades

Davis Art 130618James Rhodes, a.k.a. War Machine, is the Marvel character also known as the black Iron Man.

I have absolutely no opinion of War Machine. I do, however have an opinion of James Rhoades – but not the character James Rhodes. The James Rhoades I’m talking about is graduating from UCLA today (today being June 16th 2013) and has been my apprentice for the last four years.

That James I was introduced to some five years ago by Whitney Farmer at the San Diego Comic Con. James wanted to meet me and have me look at some of his work. It’s real hard for me to view portfolios at Comic Con because my days and nights are crazy busy. If I’m looking at someone’s work I like to be able to spend some time with that person. For me looking at a young artist’s work require a conversation not just canned advice many professionals give young talent.

I had no time to really talk to James, but both he and Whitney gave me big puppy dog eyes so what else could I do?

His work consisted of a small sketchbook, which I looked though. Clearly the kid had talent. At 16 he was a better artist than I was at that age. I gave him what advice I could with the little time I had to do so. I told him to work bigger, fill the page and to look at drawings from the old masters.

Before I ran off to my next appointment I asked James what sort of artist he wanted to be. “I want to write and draw comics.” He said. In all my years of looking at portfolios rather as a mentor, instructor, illustrator or lecturer that was the fist time anyone had ever said to me that they wanted to “write and draw” comics. I have to admit that really impressed me but his sketchbook had no comic book work in it.

When I mentioned that to James he told me why he had not brought his finished comic book work and blah, blah, blah, blah blah and blah.

No matter what the kid said he sounded to me like an excuse and all excuses sound to me like blah, blah, blah.

I had no more time. so I gave the kid a good luck’and I was out.

That was what I thought was that.

Nope, that turned out to be the start of the Whitney Farmer Project. Since Whitney is always included in all of my Comic Con events I saw her later at my annual dinner…

“So what did you think of James?”

Before the Black Panel…

“He’s an amazing talent, is he not?”

After the Black Panel…

“You should look at his finished work!”

At my annual Comic Con party…

“He would love to see your studio!”

Having drinks at the Hyatt with some friends…

“You know, you should mentor James!”

Finally I had enough and agreed to look at James’ finished work at my studio. I told Whitney to give the kid my number and to have him call me after the con.

After the con, right after the con, James called me.

James continued to call me…often…for about six months until I saw him at my studio. He made it crystal clear, (well crystal clear after he stammered for about an hour) that he wanted to apprentice in the studio.

“Kid, you don’t even have a car. How are you supposed to get here?”

Ha! Game! Set! Match! Davis!!

Look, I had nothing against the kid but I take apprenticing very seriously and with the work load I have taking the time to show someone the ropes is ripe with complications and complications equal lost revenue. In other words, taking James on could cost me, literally.

Thus began another six months of James calling me and inquiring about an apprenticeship. It’s important to state something for all you aspiring artists out there and that’s this, James called me consistently for a solid year and at no time did I think the kid was bugging me.

That is a hell of a feat – and I cannot stress this enough.

One fateful day James started his phone call like this: “My parents got me a car so I can study with you.”

Whoa.

This kid had talked his parents into buying him a car so he could hopefully apprentice with me. They brought him a car on the chance that he could study with me.

Like I said.

Whoa.

That very next week James was in the studio and has been for the last four years. James not only graduated from UCLA today but as of Monday the 17th he becomes a full-fledged studio assistant and professional artist writer with a fantastic future.

Today happens to be father’s day and I’m sure James’ dad (and mom) are very proud of him as am I. His family is mad cool (even his rotten sister) and I’m glad to know them.

In fact he has become a real part of my family and like the son I never had.

Of course any son of mine is subject to FBI, NSA and CIA investigation and as my son he is required to take the rap for anything I may have done.

James – you’re not in Kansas anymore, buddy.

WEDNESDAY: Mike Gold talks Apes

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil talks Man of Steel

 

Michael Davis: The Geek In Me

Davis Art 130326I proudly say I’m a geek.

Really.

I’m proud to be thought of as a geek. Shit, I’m so geek I don’t just have an abundance of action figures – I have among those figures a pretty substantial Barbie doll collection.

Long sad story and yes I’m straight.

I have nothing but love and respect for geeks and like I said I’m proud to call myself one.

But…

Lately I’ve been feeling a bit guilty. I’ve been wondering if I really am a geek. Yes, I love comics, video games, movies, books and TV. Yes, I tend to categorically love the sci-fi flair within those media… but am I really a geek?

I’m looking forward to the next Star Trek movie but I’m not losing any sleep over it. The announcement that the original cast was being reunited in the next Star Wars movie was interesting, but except for thinking “Duh.” I had no reaction.

I love going to the San Diego Comic Con but I couldn’t tell you when the last time I spent any time on the floor not doing business.  These are just a few of the hundreds of “I could give a shit” thoughts about pop culture I harbor.

So, am I really a geek or am I just a guy who thinks owning action figures and hating Jar Jar Binks makes me a geek?

Someone tell me.

Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi…

WEDNESDAY: Mike Gold

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

 

Michael Davis: Selling Out

Davis Art 130226I’m on the West Coast, Mike Gold, ComicMix’s Editorial Director, is on the East Coast and that’s the reason there is a good chance this piece won’t even run today.

My articles run on Tuesday so I try and get them to Mike no later than Monday morning East Coast time. Most times Mike gets them over the weekend but this one will show up to Mr. Gold after 9 p.m. Monday evening because… I’ve got nothing.

I drew a complete blank as to what to write about this week. I kept thinking something would pop into my head but nothing did. So what follows is not in any way a well thought out essay, it’s simply a rant on an industry event and the actions of those clueless individuals who, well, are just clueless.

The San Diego Comic Con sold out in two hours this year…duh.

Every year the biggest pop culture event in the world gets bigger so that should not be news to anyone, but as always people take to the net to bitch about how they could not buy tickets or the only ticket they did could get was for Sunday.

All you people, who think your inability to attend Comic Con is somehow the fault of Comic Con, grow the fuck up. A couple of hundred thousand people got tickets and as always the event sold out.

You simply lucked out. How is that Comic Con’s fault?

Duh.

The same goes for people who get tickets but can’t find a hotel room. There are only so many hotels in San Diego and once those hotels are sold out, you are assed out.

You can solve both having a ticket and getting a hotel room by simply becoming a major playa in the industry or building your own hotel.

Crazy? Bad joke? Unrealistic? Stupid thing to say?

Not as stupid as blaming Comic Con or the city of San Diego for your lack of ticket or hotel because they sold the fuck out.

WEDNESDAY: Mike Gold

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

 

Michael Davis: George Clooney And Nice Guys Named Mike

Davis Art 130121“Comics are full of nice guys named Mike.”

Either Mike Gold or Mike Grell said the above quote some 20 years ago. Considering I was just five at the time, please forgive me if I can’t remember who said what.

What?

Whoever said it was talking about the comics industry and the abundance of seemingly nice people in it. At the time we were all working on a comic called Shado: Song of the Dragon.

Mike Gold was the editor, Mike Grell was the writer, and I penciled and colored the book. We jokingly called the project, the Mike book.

It was my second major project and I was trilled as shit to be working with Mike Grell, who was (is) a nice guy. Mike Gold is a nice guy and I’m a nice guy.

Really, I’m a nice guy.

Most of the people I’d met in the comic industry have been really nice people.

I came to Hollywood in 1994 to run the film and television division of Motown Records.  Most of the work I’ve done since then has been in television. I’ve met a lot of people in Hollywood and let me tell you compared to comics, that industry is full of not so nice people.

And by not so nice I mean assholes.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of really nice people in Hollywood. For example, George Clooney and Wayne Brady are two of the nicest people you will ever meet.

I’ve hung out a couple times with George and he’s a great guy. No, he’s not my friend (unless you are a really pretty Asian girl and that would impress you, if that’s the case then George and I are best friends) but every time I see George he treats me warmly and makes me feel genuinely like he’s glad to see me.

This kind treatment from one of the biggest stars in the world, how cool is that?

Now, Wayne is a dear friend and he’s as cool as cool can be and has been since the moment he and I met some five years ago. I don’t want to give the impression that Wayne and George are the only nice people I’ve met in Hollywood they are not…but I’ve met many and I mean many people in Hollywood.

And a lot of them are dicks.

I think I know why there are more dicks in Hollywood than there are in comics.

Respect.

For the most part people in comics meet you and at least try and get to know you. In Hollywood that’s not the case, in Hollywood if people meet you and determine you won’t make them any money then that, as they say, is that.

No, not everyone in Hollywood is a blood sucking, money grubbing parasite but yeah; I’ve met more than a few who are.

The San Diego Comic Con International is the biggest pop culture event in the world. Comic Con does not need Hollywood, Hollywood needs Comic Con.

My point?

I’m sick to fucking death of Hollywood thinking Comic Con is their event.

It’s not.

Every year at Comic Con I give a big party, every year a bunch of Hollywood players show up and I let them in. I won’t bore you with the “stars” that have attended my parties but take my word for it, it’s impressive.

But…

Every year, Hollywood gives parties at Comic Con and every year it seems that the comic book industry is shut out of those events.

That pisses me the fuck off to no end.

I think George Clooney is a wonderful actor and a really nice guy, I really, really do think that. But if George showed up at my Comic Con party at the same time Len Wein showed up and I could only let one of them in, it would be Len.

Why?

Because it’s Comic Con!

Len is part of Comic Con, like water is part of wet. Period.

Long story short, Hollywood, comics do not need you. You need us.

‘Nuff said.

WEDNESDAY: Mike Gold and the Great Comics’ Shell Game