Tagged: IMDB

Emily S. Whitten: Dee Bradley Baker is an Animal!

Whitten Art 130813Well, actually, he’s a lot of animals. From Perry the Platypus on Phineas and Ferb to Appa and Momo on Avatar: The Last Airbender, voice actor Dee Bradley Baker is the man behind a whole slew of animal and creature sounds you might not even guess could come from a human being. Of course, he also voices awesome speaking characters, such as all of the clones on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Klaus the German fish on American Dad! And then there are all of those video games he’s provided voices or sounds for, like the Halo series, Portal 2, Gears of War 1 – 3, Diablo III, Left 4 Dead 2, the Ben 10 video games, and several Marvel and DC games, including Batman: Arkham City. In fact, if you look over his ridiculously long IMDB page  (329 titles!) I think you’ll find that even if you are not a heavy consumer of entertainment, you’ve heard Dee’s voice somewhere and probably didn’t even know it. And that’s the way he likes it.

I had a chance to sit down with Dee at the San Diego Comic-Con and talk about his amazing talents, examples of which you can listen to here, and his experiences as a voice actor (and for those who are interested in getting into voice acting, I recommend Dee’s site, I Want to Be a Voice Actor, as a great resource). It was an awesome interview, which you can watch in its entirety here. Or, read on for the transcript!

You’ve worked on a number of things that are being featured here at SDCC, so please tell me about those.

My first day was a panel for I Know That Voice, which the great John DiMaggio, the voice of Bender and a ton of other voices, is overseeing; and it basically chronicles the history of voice acting and who’s working in voice acting right now – most all of the A-listers – and it also speaks a lot about Comic-Con as well. He just kind of assembled some Avengers of Voice Acting on that panel, and we had a really fun panel. I also did one for Phineas and Ferb, and that went beautifully. I’m Perry the Platypus on Phineas and Ferb (demonstrates Perry). That’s a great and creative show; and I really love that show as a dad, because that’s one you can watch over and over and over again, which is what kids like to do; so that was spectacular. Yesterday we had a big panel in the gigantic hall for American Dad!, which was also a lot of fun. (In character) I’m Klaus the fish on American Dad! And I am in a little bowl.

And what was it that Rob Paulsen said about that voice on the I Know That Voice panel?

It just makes him happy. It makes him happy to hear me speak with a German accent. Or to speak in German, which I will do for him.

It was funny to see the reactions on that panel when you started doing Klaus. I think everybody loves that.

Yes; well, I have a real fondness for the German language. I speak it, and I spent a year in school there, and I studied German writers and philosophers. And it’s just kind of a forgotten language in this country basically since the 20th century, and it’s a fun little thing to pop out and show everyone.

With the German language thing; when you go in and a director says they’re looking for a German voice do you ever do German and they say, “that’s too authentic, we want something hammy”?

No; if they want me to dial down the accent, I’ll do that; but I’ve never gotten that request. I understand what you’re asking; but actually, for me, it usually works out – what’s sometimes difficult for me is if I go in to do a dog or a cat, and they want something that doesn’t sound like a dog or a cat. They want something that’s goofy; or that’s more human. So I have to make myself bend away from something that’s authentic into something that expresses it with the tone that they want.

When you’re doing that process, do you just sit there and try a bunch of noises?

Yes.

Can you give an example?

Well, if you want, like, a dog bark (demonstrates different dog barks) you can humanize it. You can make it more Scooby, or more like a dog. And then you can dial in whether it’s small or big or whatever. But it’s a little different for every show, and that’s kind of what I do as a voice actor.

That’s great. Now you mentioned philosophy – did you study philosophy?

Yes, I was a philosophy major in college, with practically a minor in German.

So how did you go from philosophy and German to voice acting?

Both coexisted fine, really. I’ve done performing all of my life, and had a lot of fun doing everything from plays and operas and stand-up and children’s theater and improv, to singing telegrams, summer stock, Shakespeare-

Singing telegrams, really? Where do you even find that job?

Oh, just look in the Yellow Pages! Or whatever exists now. You can get money to do a live singing telegram.

Did you have to dance, too?

Well, it depends on the character. On what they want the character to do. Whether it’s like a nerd strip-a-gram, or…there are just various characters that they hand you, with this horrible script, and then you have to walk into a situation where either they’re delighted or they’re just completely mortified, and it’s really uncomfortable. And then you have to try to get them to pay you your money, because the company that hires you is not going to help you with that. It’s actually a fairly unpleasant job for me to do. So I didn’t do that for very long; but I did it for a while. But you know, it’s either that, or work in an office; and I don’t want to work in an office. So – I like performing, and I’m happy to try something stupid in front of people. I always have been, and that’s how I earn my living; is basically that.

And you’re fantastic at it, so that’s great! Now, I looked at your IMDB page. With voice actors, it’s impossible to even remotely cover everything, because you all are so versatile, and you do everything.

Yeah, a lot of us are very versatile, and do a lot of different kinds of voices; we do impressions; you know, I specialize in sounds; some are women who do little boy voices; some are known for the sexy; some are known for the powerful, or the evil, or the big; or maybe they can do them all. So yeah, a lot of us have a lot of different shows that we do. That’s how you earn a living as a voice actor, is to do a lot of shows; as opposed to on-camera, where you’re pretty much just doing one show at a time.

And as I was looking through your IMDB, I never actually got down to the bottom of your very first gig. I was scrolling, and I was like, “I’m never going to get there,” so I’ll just ask: what was your first gig, and also, what was your first experience performing in front of people, like as a child or whatever.

My first performing-in-front-of-people experience was I think in first grade, when they asked me to present flowers at the University of Northern Colorado homecoming queen beauty pageant, and I had to present flowers to the gal who was one of the homecoming queen candidates at the university. My second performance was the lead as Oliver in the play Oliver at my school, which was a K through 12 school in Greeley, Colorado, and that was my first really acting/performing gig, was starring in Oliver. I was in second grade, so about eight years old. My first professional gig, being paid, would be performing Oliver, again, at the Chuckwagon Dinner Playhouse in Greeley, Colorado. They paid me something like thirteen bucks a night to be Oliver. I was probably ten or eleven. I did Oliver in Greeley three times! I did it once at my school, once at the university, which was not paid, and then once for the Chuckwagon Dinner Playhouse, which was paid. And that was my first paying gig.

But when I was a kid, you know, I did ventriloquism; I did plays; they’d bring me over as the boy soprano at the university for Bernstein’s Mass or various productions. That was not paid; that was just for fun. That’s how I came to become enamored of acting and performing, was just doing it for fun.

So what was your first voice acting gig that was professional?

My first paid voice acting gig was doing a non-union commercial in Colorado Springs for Mexicana Airlines, in a horrible Spanish accent. That was my first voiceover gig, if I remember correctly. It was terrible. It was truly terrible, but I got paid to do not-my-voice in a commercial.

And it’s all experience, whether you’re paid or not. That’s the best teacher; that’s what you want. You need experience. Not necessarily classroom study, although that can be a very good thing. But you’ve got to get in front of an audience, and you’ve got to convince people to give you money to do what you like to do.

Now you were saying that you’re known for creatures, which I of course knew and appreciate-

(Dee does animal noises!)

So can I ask you, how do you do…

(Dee does crickets!)

that. How do you do the crickets? I love the crickets!

(Demonstrating) The crickets are done with the back of the tongue against the soft palate, like you’re gargling; it’s very relaxed back there. You can do it other ways too, actually. You can do it in the front of the mouth. But I do it in the back of the mouth; and then while I’m whistling, I dial in the uvula; and then I whistle with an inhale, which is a higher whistle for me; and then I just do it in reverse. So that’s what you do. But you can do that! You can practice that and you can do that. I’ve shown people how to do it.

I believe you! And I love the crickets.

Everybody loves the crickets. Except for a writer. A writer doesn’t like the crickets. Because you insert the crickets when there’s a pause or when the joke falls flat. So writers don’t like the crickets; that’s one thing I’ve learned.

That makes sense. Now you do tons and tons of creatures. Have you had any particular ones that have been really difficult to come up with, or that really stressed your voice?

Well roaring and screaming like you often do in video games can be really taxing on the voice. But I try to do it in a way that doesn’t tear up my voice. That’s done by relying on – not the voice. By relying on the throat. (demonstrates) Like that – where I’m using not just my voice but other things to make the sound or the effort. It also helps too to use it on an inhale sometimes, because that can get you a lot of sound but is not as hard on the voice. It’s taxing on the voice, but not terribly so.

When you do that in public and people smile like I’m smiling now, do you get a big kick out of that?

I don’t do it in public, and when I do they don’t smile! Well, they do here! It’s gotta be set up right, otherwise, there’s something wrong. There’s something obviously wrong, and they don’t smile.

Well, I was going to ask, also, because a lot of voice actors are known for the voices that they do, what is it like being the creature guy; being a voice actor who’s most known for animal and creature sounds?

I love that. I’m happy not to be known for anything. I don’t need to be known at all; it’s not really on my agenda. It doesn’t serve my life to be known; other than professionally, in professional circles, for people to know that I do creature and animal sounds. But that’s part of the appeal of a voice acting career, is that you’re not saddled with fame. You can live a relatively normal life and have normal relationships, and have to deal with your own human limitations in a more immediate way than you do in the sort of mediated, buffered world that a famous person has to cope with. So that’s part of why I like voice acting and was drawn to it, is that in particular.

Has that changed any for you since YouTube and having voice actors at cons and things are more prevalent now?

I can still go shopping at a grocery store and nobody knows who the heck I am, so no. But! There are a couple more people at a convention that recognize me; that’s fine. But for the most part, they don’t. And that’s okay.

Okay; now with The Clone Wars, you were saying the other day that it’s strange for you to be doing a normal voice. Can you talk about that experience?

Yes, well, when you’re establishing your career in whatever you’re doing, you kind of start with your default strength, and that for me tended to be more (in character) wacky or comedic character roles, that were more broad or cartoony. And I still have that in my wheelhouse. But when I auditioned for and got on Clone Wars, (in character) it is a straight-ahead soldier; I mean that is a normal human being that is as straight-ahead as you can imagine. There’s nothing bizarre or strange about a clone. They are a soldier, and a human, and that is what is interesting about them.

And so I would never have cast myself in doing that kind of a role at that time. That was kind of a mental limitation I had imposed upon myself, just because of what I’d been doing and what worked. But that kind of opened up for me the realization that I can do normal! That I can do normal and variations of normal; and the acting challenge of applying the gradation of character to the clones really opened up my mind in terms of what I can do and how I look at what I can do. So from that, I will occasionally get a villain character. For instance, Tarrlok, in Legend of Korra. (in character) Tarrlok, he speaks mostly as I do. But he is a character who is duplicitous, and you’re not always sure what he’s going to do; if he’s friendly, or if he’s evil…or what’s up with him. And that was another just straight-ahead character; who was kind of unsavory in a lot of ways. But again, I got to do that. Or Ra’s al Ghul in the Batman: Arkham City video game. I mean, that’s a straight-ahead villain. That’s a heavy. And I booked that, whereas I think a decade ago or so, I don’t think I would have even auditioned for it. No one would have thought to, and I wouldn’t have thought to. I would have said, “Nah, that’s not really what I do.”

You’ve worked a lot in both video games and animation. What’s the difference in experiences there? Do you prefer one?

I like video games in general because I think it’s not just an art form, but an evolution in how humans communicate, and what they do. I don’t think normal society really understands that. The sort of established, grown-up society; I don’t think they understand the profundity of what that means in terms of connecting with millions of other people in different countries and doing something together. Like, with World of Warcraft, or on Xbox or something like that, you’re literally playing against the rest of the planet, or you’re playing with them, as you play against them. It’s competitive but at the same time it’s cooperative. And I don’t know what else we’re doing as nations and countries that is like that. I think it’s a really positive and necessary thing, that has the potential to lead to kind of benevolent connections among societies; that we need, as the world seems to be falling apart. I think it’s a thing that brings large groups of people together, who don’t even necessarily speak the same language. And that’s something; that’s unique.

It also brings in a lot of different art forms in addition to writing and acting. It also puts music into the ear of young people who probably aren’t getting that; because arts and other essential education in this country are being cut, because education is not a priority in this country, sadly. Tragically. And so I like that it brings music into the mind and into the ear; as many of the projects that we have here at Comic-Con do. Whether it’s the X-Men feature film, or a Halo game, the music that you’re hearing, this sort of nineteenth century programmatic music, is really marvelous. It’s a marvelous form of expression. We should know it and appreciate it and cultivate that in our world, I think.

I agree. Now speaking of the con again, were you also doing Wolves?

Yes, I did! I was doing wolf sounds for Wolves. I don’t know what I am allowed to tell about it, but it’s David Hayter’s project, and he’s got a great werewolf-type project, and they brought me in to do some wolves. (demonstrates)

That’s fantastic. Are there any other new projects we should be keeping an eye out for?

I wish there were more that I could talk about. I continue to do a lot of stuff for Disney, and for Phineas and Ferb, and Jake and the Never Land Pirates, and lots of shows that kids really like. For Jake and the Never Land Pirates, I’m the Croc, and – I’m pretty much the animals in that; whether it’s a bee or a plant or a lizard or a bug or whatever it is, they call me in to do that.

What does it make you feel like if you’re watching a show that you’ve done, and there are people talking, and you are all of the background noises or whatever?

I like that. I mean, it’s fun! It’s fun to be in there, and I like it best if people don’t realize that that’s what that is; that there is a human doing that. The goal would be for it to sound natural and seamless and invisible, sort of like a special effect. You don’t want an audience member to think about a special effect. You want them to experience the scene more accurately to what your vision is as a creator. And that’s what I want to be as a voice actor who adds the weird or the animal or the alien, is to make it feel like this is an organic part of what the story is. Not, “Oh, who’s that guy, doing that sound?” That’s what I don’t want.

I think you succeed very well, because I would never know.

•     •     •     •     •

Dee is a such pleasure to talk with, and I had a fantastic time interviewing him! And, of course, I asked Dee to do a shout-out for ComicMix, which he was kind enough to do. Don’t miss it at the end of the video!

And until next time, Servo Lectio!

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis Goes Super Nigga!

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold Gets Real Small

 

Marc Alan Fishman: The Economics of Being a Starving Artist

This morning a li’l post by Jim Zub, the author of the indie book Skullkickers, hit the viral airwaves. His post entitled “The Reality of Mainstream Creator-Owned Comics” set a plethora of shared Facebook posts ablaze in ‘likes’ and comments. Even my close and personal friend Gene Ha placed it on his wall with a very nice send up. By the way, when I say Gene and I are “close and personal friends,” I mean to say that he recognized me at Baltimore Comic-Con, actually talked to me for more than 10 minutes, and we once had pizza at Matt Wright’s (my Unshaven cohort) house. The article in question laid out in basic math how a comic on the rack of your favorite pulp store breaks down. It’s a sobering, but near perfect (as far as I can tell) account on how we little folk of Artist Alley aren’t in the business for the piles and piles of cash.

I won’t waste your time recanting the article verbatim. Go ahead and read it. I’ll wait. Back so soon? Great. I’d simply like to take up my little corner of the Internet this morning to add to Jim’s ending thoughts. He retorts “Skullkickers is the most expensive hobby I’ve ever had :D” Truer words, my friend, truer words. I decided to do some math myself. When you look at our meager books, you’ll see that things are actually looking up for us. After a year toiling on the con trail we have enough money in our little cash box to afford being able to register for the 16 conventions we wish to attend next year. And that’s it. It doesn’t cover the hotel rooms we’ll have to stay in. It doesn’t cover the gas to drive to them. It doesn’t cover the food we’ll eat. It doesn’t even cover the cost of printing the books we actually sell at the table. And we’re doing awesome. Not even kidding, kiddos.

When we started in the business, Kickstarter was just an incubating idea in some hipster’s noodle. Our lucky break, The March: Crossing Bridges In America netted us a whopping $500; it took us the better part of a year to complete. Mind you, we were as green as they came, and worked only on nights and weekends. And with many of those nights and weekends, we watched tons of cartoons, ate terrible food, and played Versus CCG until we fell asleep on the couch. But, if you distilled the man hours – from outlining the script, to taking the reference photos, to penciling, inking, lettering, coloring, and laying out the 54 page book? Easily 150 man hours. Simple math then dictates each of we three Unshavenauts earned a whopping $1.12 an hour to create the book. Take away from that total the $350 it cost us to buy our table at Wizard World Chicago? Well, I think you’re starting to get the picture.

They say the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting different results. And for five years, we have toiled mercilessly over our own books, driven halfway across the country to sit in convention centers 10 hours at a time, and pumped hundreds of thousands of unpaid hours of labor all to sell a whopping 1,408 copies of our wares in 2012 alone. But the kicker is we’re not insane. We never expected different results. Zub said it best – this is the most expensive hobby we could have ever had.

But unlike building model trains, collecting stamps, or memorizing the IMDB in hopes of crushing people at “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”… making comic books has produced something no other hobby could. The fact that I say without a quiver to my lip that “I Make Comics” is a badge of pride. Even ten years ago, when going to conventions as a fan became part of my vernacular, I didn’t honestly think I’d have it in me to sit on the other side of the aisle.

Now, it’s part of my identity. With Unshaven Comics, I have rubbed elbows and broke bread with industry legends. I have had some of the best meals with some of the greatest conversations I’ve been privy to in cities I would have never thought twice to visit. And most important … I’ve sold books (I dare not say thousands lest I make it sound better than it actually is) to complete strangers who then have returned to my table the following year to ask me “what’s next?” It’s a feeling I assure you no model train ride could touch.

And yes, there’s no smoke-screen to be had here. We indie folk all (probably) share that pipe-dream that our books will be noticed by some muckity-muck who will Pretty Woman us out of the Artist Alley and into the hearts of America. For those really daring, making comics is even a full time job (a luxury I could not afford, nor fathom). The reality of the numbers though prove what a zero-sum game it all is. Through the Image channel as Zub is doing, or the “out of our cars with a wish and a dream” as Unshaven Comics… being in the industry (if only on the very outer most ring of it) is a costly endeavor we do not for the bling. We do it for the love of the medium. We do it for the rush of having a fan. We do it because the movies and cartoons that play in our heads when we close our eyes can’t be turned off – they can only be crudely captured and splattered on a page. It may never pay our bills… but it fills our soul.

Simply put, this is an industry unlike most others. This is an industry being held together by duct tape, dreams, and desire. For those lucky few who are making the big bucks, we in the gutter don’t wish them ill will. We celebrate their successes as our successes. It’s a community. To be on the other side of that aisle – be you a long-time veteran, or a first time ash-can publisher… it’s a collected universe unto itself. One well worth the toil, the long drives, the longer conversations… and yes, the debt.

By the way, if you’d like to fill my soul, or any of the other starving souls here at ComicMix, do us a solid, and check out our holiday gift guide and spread the love.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

 

Hans Zimmer Wants YOU In “The Dark Knight Rises”…

Hans Zimmer Wants YOU In “The Dark Knight Rises”…

…or at least your voice. Taking a cue from the recording of an audience at San Diego Comic-Con for crowd noise in Tron: Legacy, composer Hans Zimmer wants you to add your voice and try for a chance to be included in The Dark Knight Rises. Says Zimmer:

I’m shining the bat-signal up into the sky to call you all!

We need to hear your voices! Now and Loud! We are creating the sound of a worldwide chant. Everyone come and be part of it. It’s easy:

There is no such thing as out-of-tune, no timing we can’t fix later. If you mumble, growl, scream or whisper, it’s all good. Make it yours. If you only get halfway through, no problem! Do it alone, bring your friends, but do it with energy and commitment.

Let your voice be heard and be a part of our adventure!”

Go to UJAM – The Dark Knight Rises and get the information.

Man, the IMDB page on this movie is going to be huge…

Review: ‘Machete’

Review: ‘Machete’

Movies and television shows have been created after something has caught the public’s imaginations be it a Twitter feed, a commercial, or a persona. Perhaps the best of the lot, though, is Machete, inspired by a fake movie trailer. The film, now out on DVD from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, came about when director Robert Rodríguez fashioned a B-film trailer as part of Grindhouse, the homage to trashy films of the past, made with Quentin Tarantino. Machete, with Danny Trejo in the lead, captured imaginations so Rodriguez and his brother Alvaro wrote a film to do the trailer justice.

I cannot tell you the last time I saw such an entertaining B film, which made me laugh out loud more than once. The thing is, beyond the gratuitous nudity and over-the-top violence, the film actually addresses a few of the day’s hot button issues giving it more heft than the films it emulates.

Once a Federale in Mexico, Machete watched his wife be killed by a drug lord (Steven Segal) and was left for dead. Three years later, he resurfaces in Texas as a day laborer just trying to get along. As luck would have it, corrupt political operative Jeff Fahey hires him to assassinate Senator Robert DeNiro. Before he can fire, though, someone else shoots the senator and frames Machete, igniting racial tensions throughout the city. At the same time, an independent militia, led by Don Johnson, is in cahoots with the senator and both want to shut down an operation called The Network, which has been helping illegals cross the border and begin a new life. It’s led by one woman, Michelle Rodriguez, and is hunted by another, ICE officer Jessica Alba. The rest of the movie is filled with action and mayhem with a script that barely holds the threads together but has more gaping holes than the border between countries.

Alba looks great and handles her official role well but does so without the requisite gravitas. Rodriguez, though, shines and has never looked hotter, especially during the climactic action sequence. Still, the film is all Trejo’s and he does it with a grim faced countenance that shows he’s taking no joy in doing his job or enacting long-awaited vengeance.

The rest of the cast generally is playing against type and most don’t have a chance to play anything but two-dimension figures but boy are they having fun. Noteworthy is how understated Cheech Marin is as Trejo’s brother and how welcome it was to see FX makeup genius Tom Savini on screen again (although a quick glance at IMDB shows me how many films of his I’ve missed). Lindsay Lohan is here as Fahey’s daughter and she looks fabulous in everything from a nun’s habit to her birthday suit but her character is so poorly written that she has nothing to play and comes across more clueless than calculated.

There’s plenty of blood as Machete fights his way in and out of trouble but there’s one time when he escapes from a hospital that has him use the most imaginative device I’ve seen in years. It’s also been a while since a film was just so pure entertaining and a great way to pass a cold winter’s night.

The Blu-ray transfer looks and sounds just fine. The film comes with a small number of extras but most missed is a commentary track from Rodriguez. We do get the green and red-band trailers, 10 minutes of deleted scenes, and an audience reaction track that is fun but unnecessary. Interestingly, an entirely Alba-centric sub-plot has been excised from the film but preserved through these deletions and you understand why the thread was removed.

The film ends with a promise of Machete returning for two sequels and trust me, I’ll be among the first to line up to see them.

MacInTalk and why I love the Internet, part XLIII

MacInTalk and why I love the Internet, part XLIII

So I’m watching WALLE, and I’m thinking to myself that the voice of the ship, AUTO, is real familiar, and so I call up IMDB. And lo and behold, it is familair– it’s MacInTalk. The happy folks at Pixar tipped their hats to Apple (gee, can’t imagine why).

Then I look deeper. Dang, IMDB gave MacInTalk its own character page. Very neat.

And then I scrolled down to the message boards, and I saw the various comments…

Met him last night…
Macintalk for Best Supporting Actor!

This guy is in every fcking movie!
So overrated.

People say I look like him!!

Is it true he’s dating Keira Knightly?

I think I read that somewhere. Maybe People magazine? I don’t know but it would be cool if it was true!

He’s quite the player. He’s also been seen with Agnes, Kathy, Princess, Vicki and Victoria, as well as Trinoids, Zarvox, Pipe Organ and Bahh. There are even rumors about him and his pet dogcow, Clarus.

You people are all insane! MacInTalk and Keira have repeatedly DENIED any relationship. All this kind of talk does is further confuse people who’ll readily believe anything they read. CAN’T YOU LEAVE THEM IN PEACE? Anyway, MacInTalk was seen in Ibiza two weeks ago snuggling up to Salma Hayek on the beach, so you can make up your own mind about that …

Nude pictures – real?

Oh, that is SO photoshopped. FAKE!! Can’t you see it’s Mac’s (read/write) head on a Hitachi platter and chassis?

You don’t even want to know about discussion of the sex tape on Robby The Robot’s page.

Miyazaki’s ‘Ponyo’ Likely Here in April

Miyazaki’s ‘Ponyo’ Likely Here in April

Surfing Amazon’s listing can make one feel like an archaeologist as people pour through the advance listings to see what trade collections are coming from the various publishers. ICv2 did some spelunking and came up with a number of books based on Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo on a Cliff By the Sea, which outperformed The Dark Knight in Japan this summer.

Viz Media’s The Art of Ponyo on a Cliff By the Sea is listed for release on March 3 while AAA Anime has picked an April release for the first volume of the comic based on the film. As a result, the presumption is the film will be in release during the Easter season when schools take a break and kids need something do. IMDB has no listing for a domestic release but it does open throughout Europe in April.

Ponyo is the name of a princess goldfish who desires to be human.  When washed up on the shore, Ponyo befriends a 5-year-old boy and all seems swell until the fish’s father summons the sea to help find his missing child.

Robert Downey, Jr. Turns Evil

Robert Downey, Jr. Turns Evil

DreamWorks has decided to produce their own animated take on super-heroes with Master MindEntertainment Weekly is now reporting that Robert Downey, Jr. may lend his voice as the lead character, opposite Tina Fey.

According to IMDB, the film is a “satirical take on super-hero movies, in which a notorious villain loses his oomph after he accidentally kills his nemesis.” It will be directed by Cameron Hood and Kyle Jefferson (First Flight) from a script by newcomers Alan J. Schoolcraft and Brent Simons. Ben Stiller’s production company, Red Hour Films, will co-produce with DreamWorks.  Paramount Pictures has this penciled in as a 2010 release.

Downey has previously worked on animated fare, including Richard Linklater’s A Scanner Darkly.

“Wonder Woman” Trailer on Yahoo Movies

“Wonder Woman” Trailer on Yahoo Movies

Yahoo Movies has the new trailer for Wonder Woman, and I must say that it’s looking pretty decent. Before you get too excited, keep in mind that this is the direct-to-DVD animated film — not the on-again, off-again live-action film Joss Whedon departed last year.

Unfortunately, you don’t get to hear the voice everyone’s buzzing about: Nathan Fillion as Col. Steve Trevor. You do, however, get to hear Keri Russell voicing everyone’s favorite Amazon princess. Like DC’s previous D2DVD features, the film is packed with notable voices, including Alfred Molina, Rosario Dawson and Virginia Madsen. IMDB has the full cast list.

You can find out more about the film and sign up for updates over at the official Wonder Woman website. The film is scheduled for a February 2009 release.

New ‘Conan’ Poster Muscles Up

There’s a new Conan movie on the way, supposedly headed to theaters next year.

Granted, there’s no director, no cast and no crew (so far as IMDB knows), but there is the image at right.

IMP Awards has the first poster for the film, and it looks about exactly like what you’d expect it to look like. Big, muscly guy with a sword.

Maybe it’ll be a shot-for-shot remake, like the Gus van Sant Psycho.

Since we’re on the topic already, what actors would you like to see cast as the sword-wielding Cimmerian?

Djimon Hounsou Set for Comics Trilogy?

During a weekend press junket for the upcoming film Never Back Down, actor Djimon Housou told IESB that he’ll be taking a role in a comic book trilogy and referred to it as a dream project. The full article is right here.

Hounsou wouldn’t specify which trilogy, though, so the rumor mill can go ahead and start churning. Here’s what the folks at IESB theorized:

The obvious answer is that Hounsou is talking about staring as The Black Panther in the inevitable Fantastic Four 3. Tim Story mentioned in an IGN article nearly a year ago that Hounsou was his ideal choice for the Wakandan King. If this is the case, it’s actually perfect casting (outside of it being another Story-directed Fantastic Four film).

The other possibility, though, that I’m not entirely willing to shake is that Hounsou might be talking about Tintin.

Hounsou mentions that this is a dream project for him. While Tintin may not be the biggest bit of pop-culture this side of the Atlantic, it’s still extremely popular in Europe — especially in France where Hounsou moved when he was 13. Add in the Spielberg connection and the fact that Tintin‘s being done as a trilogy and I think its speculation with some potential.

Hounsou’s page at IMDB doesn’t have any mention of a project yet, and there aren’t a whole lot of other comic book trilogies on the horizon. Y: The Last Man is supposedly in the works, though Hounsou obviously wouldn’t have a place in that, unless the director decided to be very creative in casting Agent 355.