Tagged: Rob Paulsen

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: TMNT & Ciro Nieli & Greg Cipes

Whitten Art 131022As promised in my New York Comic Con round-up last week, this week I bring to you the awesome chats I had there with executive producer Ciro Nieli and Michelangelo voice actor Greg Cipes of the current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series on Nickelodeon (and if you missed it before, I’ve previously interviewed the spectacular Rob Paulsen, voice of Donatello). Ciro and Greg were both absolutely delightful to speak with, and shared some great insights on the show.

If you haven’t given the current TMNT a shot yet (maybe because you were loyal to the original; or you’ve never watched TMNT before; or you’re an adult so why would you be watching a kids’ show…) you are totally missing out. I’m a fan of the original series (having watched from the very first episode at the age of maybe six or seven), and until this series, haven’t really been interested in any of the ones following that, because they just didn’t grab my attention (and, honestly, the live-action versions just plain freaked me out). But when I learned that Rob Paulsen, voice of the original Raphael, was going to be voicing Donatello, I knew I had to give this show a try.

The first couple of minutes of watching were spent getting used to the unique animation style; and then the rest of the time was spent completely falling in love with the new visual style, the storyline and humor, and the new voices and quirks of the characters. The current show is full of humor, warmth, action, and adventure, and pays homage to the original animated and comic book series’ without being in the least bit stale or unoriginal. It’s also grown over the course of the first season along with the Turtles, who have begun exploring the world outside of the sewers and encountering serious problems and responsibilities. By the end of Season 1 and first episode of Season 2, the show has entered some pretty dark and serious territory; but happily, appears to be holding on to the humor and sense of fun that made the show so appealing in the first place. I can’t wait to see where they go with it from here.

So without further ado, let’s see what a couple of the folks involved had to say about that and the show in general! Read on for the interview transcripts, or head on over to YouTube and watch the video interviews there!

•     •     •     •     •

Greg Cipes (voice of Michelangelo)

(YouTube video: Click here.)

Greg, you are known as the voice of Michelangelo on the current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show, which is fantastic.

Yes, I am Mikey.

I know that, like me, you were a fan of the original show, because I’ve heard you talk about it on Rob’s Talkin’ Toons podcast. When you were a kid, what else did you watch?

Only the Turtles. Do you mean now, or back then?

Either one!

Really back then, it was all about the Turtles; and back then I didn’t watch too much TV other than the Turtles because I wanted to go outside and play. I wanted to go outside and skateboard like the Turtles. I wanted to go to karate class and learn martial arts like the Turtles. So it really influenced me a lot.

That’s really cool. How old were you when you first started watching it?

Eight years old.

And was Michelangelo always your favorite?

Yeah, Mikey was always my favorite. Although I probably dressed up as a Turtle for Halloween many, many times; and I’ve probably been all the Turtles.

Have you ever been Splinter?

No, not yet! This Halloween.

Yeah, maybe this Halloween! It’s coming up. So of course you’ve done a lot of voiceover; but as a huge Turtles fan, what was it like getting the role of Michelangelo?

Oh my gosh, when Ciro Nieli told me he was making the new show; I’ve worked with Ciro on Teen Titans, and his show called Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! that he created. It’s a great show. So he said, I’m doing Turtles, and I want you to be a Turtle, and I was like, “What?” It just seemed like a dream, right? I was like, “Really?” And of course I had to go through the casting process, which took like, a year. And then when I got the phone call, and the contract, the deal came through, it was really maybe one of the best days of my life.

That’s really cool. Did you call everybody you knew, like, “Guess what??”

Yeah: “I’m a Turtle!!”

And did they all say, “We knew it would happen someday?”

I guess so, yeah. It just made sense. You know, Nickelodeon hired me because they felt like I really am the real life Mikey.

It sounds like it, from your hobbies and everything. Now of course Rob Paulsen was on the original (1987) series, and is on the new one. What’s it like working with someone who was in the original franchise?

Well, it’s cool. I honestly don’t remember what any of the Turtles sound like from the original show at all; nor did I listen to them – so what I brought to Mikey was just me.

Did you do that on purpose, so you could bring your own spin?

Yeah; well I don’t watch much of anything these days, because I’m still very active. I like to be doing things rather than watching TV; unless the Turtles are on! But I didn’t do any kind of research to go back and listen to anything; I just brought myself to it, and what I felt Mikey would be; which is ultimately me; a dimension of myself.

With the new Turtles, what do you think about the direction of the show, and the look of the show, which is so different?

Oh, it’s so cool. So cool. I think it’s the hottest thing on TV right now; better than any live-action show. It’s set a new standard in the animation world, as far as TV animation goes. Every episode’s a stand-alone movie. Like, a feature film quality animated CG thing; but it’s not just CG, it’s this new mix of…Ciro’s notorious for creating new, groundbreaking styles of animation like he did with Teen Titans. It’s got the anime thing mixed with the comic book thing and the CG thing; and there’s all kinds of…

It looks a little bit like a video game sometimes.

Yes, and that too! It’s just got everything going on. It’s like candy for your eyes.

It is! I actually went into it unsure if I’d like it because I really loved the old one; but then I started watching it and I was like, “This is the best thing!” So with the storylines, do you like where that’s going? Do you know anything about what’s in store for Mikey?

I know everything that’s in store, but I can’t tell you anything! I mean, Mikey’s growing up a little bit; he’s got more experience; he’s wiser. But he really hasn’t changed – he’s still very free-spirited. He’s a “now-ist.” He’s just wild; and it’s really fun to play someone like that. He brings that out in me. But he does become more intelligent based on experience, as we all do; so he kind of maybe steps into the leader roll more.

Cool! I enjoy that it started with them not being so sure of themselves and growing. So do you have a favorite episode from the last season?

My favorite episode from Season 1? Oh my gosh, it’s so hard to go back. I really am a now-ist; I don’t think about the future, I don’t think about the past; so once I’ve experienced it, and I’ve done it, I don’t think about it again. So for me to go back is difficult. Also because we’ve done so many episodes; and I do eight other cartoons; all these different worlds mesh together.

That’s fair! I personally loved the one where he had the tPod.

The tPod, of course! It’s always so fun to play Mikey, that every episode’s really cool; very fun. And they always give me fun situations to be in.

Yes. I’ve heard that recording with everybody can be a lot of fun. Do you have any good stories about that?

Actually, you know what, I do have a good story – working with Roseanne Barr. She plays Kraang Prime; and she’s awesome. She’s so funny. And she’s a friend of mine, and before she got the role, they were like, “Who’s going to play Kraang Prime?” And I was like, “It should be Roseanne.” And it was such a so-far-out-there casting choice, but Ciro was into it, and we made it happen. So it was really cool to have her on the show and work with her.

That’s really neat. So as you said, you’re working on eight other shows. Tell me a bit about what else you’re doing now.

Well, I’m on a show called Teen Titans Go!, which is a wild, crazy, funny, goofy show, that keeps getting crazier. I’m on Ultimate Spider-Man; I play Iron Fist, Danny Rand. And I can’t say much, but I’ve been hired on [The Legend of] Korra. I’m on The Middle on ABC; they keep having me back; and recently I just finished a big arc on Anger Management with Charlie Sheen – these are live-action shows. I’ve got a couple of movies coming out; and I’m also producing and directing my own TV stuff now. I have a company that I just started with Rose McGowan; a television/film production company, called RMGC Productions, and we’re creating our own original content and going around and pitching it, and making these things happen ourselves.

That’s awesome. So are you in the pitching process? Has something been picked up?

I can’t say, but we are pitching a lot of original things that we’ve created.

That’s really cool; and do you have a place where people can keep up on some of that?

Yeah, GregCipes.com.

Great. Now talking about live-action versus voice over work, what’s the difference in those experiences? Do you prefer one or the other, or have any insights for people who are aspiring to be one or the other?

Well, everyone’s always asked me, “How can you do all of it?” Because not only am I an actor – I’m a musician, I’m a director, I’m a surfer, I’m a painter; but ultimately where I make money is in the entertainment world in general, and specifically acting. And a lot of it’s from animation. But – just do what you love. I do it all. I do movies, TV shows, animation, music, all of it. Just do it. Because if you love it, that’s all that matters. So you just do it, if you love it, and you’ll get better and better at it – and then people will want to hire you.

Excellent advice. Now with music, I know you play guitar and had a CD out. Are you working on something new with that?

Yeah, I’m putting out a solo album, entitled Cipes. That’s coming out soon, and I’m going to start releasing singles, and funny, wild music videos. And I also put a music video out recently; a side project called Super Space Fighters, which is based on a comic book that I’ve created. And there’s a music video right now called “International Kid Notorious” on YouTube. But really I’m focusing on my solo career now. Oh, and I put an album out in 2007, with my band called Cipes and the People, and that was called “The Conscious Revolution.”

That’s really cool; and thank you so much for the interview, Greg.

•     •     •     •     •

Ciro Nieli (executive producer)

(YouTube video: Click here.)

I know you were a fan of TMNT as a child, as was I. Coming into this project as someone who was a fan of the franchise, what was your experience getting into the new show?

Well, the one thing about Turtles was that I worked on a lot of projects, and Turtles would always be happening, somewhere, somehow, and I would not be a part of it. And I would just watch it go by and be like, “Damn! I missed Turtles again.” And then I would be like, “Eh, whatever. I did something cool instead, and that’s not my Turtles.” So to be able to finally get to do my Turtles? I mean when I went in to pitch it, it was so exciting to be able to just go, “This is my version of it” and for them to say, “Hey, that sounds good. Let’s try it.”

And a lot of it was just love for the original series. The original comic series; that Mirage Volume One.

Right; and the original animated series was also great. I know that there are some references to the original animated series, as well as, of course, the same mythology. I loved when they had Michelangelo with the 1987 Mikey face over his own [the “tattoo of my face…on my face!” bit]. So is that something that you do, or that everyone does together, or how does that work out?

It depends. Back then, it was more me doing it, because the writers were just kind of more focused on the story. Now I have a little bit of a different relationship with my story editor; so we’ll do things now…where it used to be just the board artists were adding things like what you’re talking about, which is way more visual, now it’s a little more tied in. Like we watch the old series sometimes, and we’ll actually re-use lines and stuff like that. We find ways to slip it in that’s not even overt. It just starts to feel like the brand.

So super-fans might notice, but not everybody.

Yeah, I mean, people will call it out. They’ll be like, “Oh my God, that was like, this episode, where Mikey said this,” and you’ll be like, “Wow, that’s so weird, that you remember that.” Because we’ll watch it, and go, “Oh, let’s write that down.” And then we put it up on the wall.

That’s fantastic. Now of course, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was not your first project. Can you tell me a little about your background in all of this?

I started in animation years ago. When I first got to L.A., my first job was on Family Guy. I was a board artist; actually a revisionist storyboard artist. And then I did a bunch of other stuff online; and then eventually I found my way, in terms of bigger jobs, to Warner Bros. Eventually there I became a director on Teen Titans. That’s where I met Cipes for the first time. He was Beast Boy, Garfield Logan; and then after that…I moved around a lot. I went to Disney; I had my own show there, called Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! Which Cipes was in as well. He was a boy who found a giant robot that was inhabited by cyborg chimps, and he learned the power of Monkey Fu, and fought demons from hell, basically. It was awesome. We did that in Japan; that was a great period in my life.

Were you actually in Japan, doing that? How long were you there?

Yes. We did that project for about four years. And during that time I was back and forth a lot, sometimes months at a time. I learned some Japanese. After that, I bumped back around to the studios. I did some stuff for Warner Bros., some Batman stuff. I was the showrunner on Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes for the first season, which was great, getting to do the Marvel thing. And then I think that kind of segued right into Turtles. I didn’t really have any time off in between those gigs, so…Turtles just kept rolling. Like, that’s what you do, you work – while you’re on one project, you try and get the next one going.

Sure! So as I said, I watched the original, and I hadn’t watched any of the ones between that and this, because they just never appealed to me. But I watched this one, in part because Rob [Paulsen] is on it, and I love Rob as a voice actor; and I just love the new show. It’s fantastic. It has a lot of humor and a lot of heart. Was that part of your vision, that you wanted to bring to it?

I mean, the whole thing that we always wanted to do was to make the fighting more accurate; make the funny funny, and then actually have a strong sense of drama. I’m one of those kids – like, the first movie that kind of blew my mind was Empire Strikes Back, and the thing that you could say about Empire is that that’s the show where the heroes get their ass kicked, and lick their wounds a lot. And there’s something about that – to actually have that sense of gravity and loss and stakes means a lot. So to balance that against humor is perfect. And I work with funny guys. I think we genuinely try to be really funny, and scary, all the time.

I heard that the original 1987 cast is coming back. How is that going to work?

Well, not to blow it out of proportion – it’s just a big cameo. But it’s great. Without giving too much away – the Turtles get lost in some dimensional portals, and they kind of look into the Eighties a little bit.

That’s fantastic. I can’t wait to see it, and thank you so much!

•     •     •     •     •

Well, I hope you guys got as big a kick out of these interviews as I did! Thanks again to Ciro and Greg for their time, and the folks at Nickelodeon for setting this up, 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!




Emily S. Whitten: John DiMaggio’s I Know That Voice

whitten-art-130924-150x144-8383146At Dragon Con a few weeks ago, I was delighted to catch up with voice actor John DiMaggio (a.k.a. Bender from Futurama) once again. John was at the con for several voice actor and Futurama panels, and also to continue spreading the word about his new voice actor documentary, I Know That Voice, which I interviewed him and the other producers about during San Diego Comic-Con.  John was actually selling limited collector’s edition/advance copies of the documentary at the con, so not only did I check in with him on further documentary news, but I also snagged a copy of the film! Read on for our short I Know That Voice follow-up interview, and my review of the documentary!

What has the reception to the I Know That Voice documentary been at Dragon Con, and have you sold some of the advance copies?

It’s been really wonderful. People know about it; people are excited about it. I’ve been able to sell some copies; I wish I could sell more, but there are only a certain amount that we are going to sell that’ll be collectors’ items. But we’re working on a distribution deal right now, with a company called Go Digital, and another company called In Demand. This is all in negotiation; but In Demand wants to release it for a month on cable stations, to expose it, and they’ll plug it. And then we’re going to release it digitally on all the VoD (Video on Demand) platforms, like iTunes, Amazon, Hulu – everything. So that will be in December of this year. We’re getting it out there! People are going to be able to see it!

Will we be seeing any extras on the DVD?

Right now, our special con edition of the film is just that – it’s just the film, with no chapters, and no special anything to it; but yes, there are absolutely going to be extras on the final DVD. It will have all sorts of bonus features. It will have chapters; it will have extra interviews with some of the people that we interviewed – I mean, we had over 150 interviews, so we couldn’t, naturally, fit all of that into the documentary. So we’ve got extra stuff – extra clips from a whole bunch of people that we’ve interviewed. Also, we have our Comic-Con panel at San Diego, where we talked about it – which was great. So we have that on video for everybody. When I get back to Los Angeles after Dragon Con, we’re going to do a commentary reel; so Tommy Reid and Larry Shapiro, the producer and director, and I, are going to do that. There might be some outtakes, I’m not sure. Lots of stuff!

That sounds great! Any other details you’d like to share?

Well – the reason I got these special con editions done was because I personally felt that we were dangling this in front of everybody for so long; and the thing is that we only had a tenth or a twentieth of the movie done when we originally did the trailer, and that was awhile ago. We announced it, and people were like, “Okay! Well where is it?” and we were like, “Well…we’re making it. Sorry!” So now we have it, and I wanted to get it to the people that really want it; the fans.  I wanted to do it. I really felt the need to let everybody know that it’s done. And here it is!

And of course we’re still going to honor our pre-order, on our VIP list on the website. I have enough copies for them; but we’re also going to have the final DVD done within the next month and a half; so if they want to wait, they can get the first dibs on that. If they want, I have these con copies, and I can get them to them. If they are on the preorder list, they can let us know. When I get back to L.A., what we’ll probably do is send out a newsletter or set up a PayPal site or something like that, and we’ll post that on the site and on the Facebook page. But we want everybody to know. And it’s funny, because Larry was saying to me, “John, they’re going to want special features! They’re going to want all this stuff.” And yeah, they are going to want it. But what they want is the film, mostly.

Well, and I’m going to buy the final copy, too.

See that’s the thing; people will keep buying it. If they like it, they’re going to buy the final one. And either is okay. I just needed proof that this thing was done, for the fans, and for me, too. But everything is all a go for the final product to come out soon; and it’s really exciting. I’m just hoping that the fans respond; and I think that they have here, and that they will continue to. When people know about it and hear about it, they’re thrilled; and that’s all I can ask.

•     •     •     •     •

Review – I Know That Voice

Voice actors are a fascinating contradiction in the entertainment industry. They are simultaneously loved by millions and recognized by few. Whereas passing an on-screen actor on the street is cause enough for most people to snap pictures or call a friend to share who they just spotted, those same people could be standing next to one of their favorite “voices” at a grocery store and never realize it. They could have a whole conversation with voice actor John DiMaggio and not know that they were talking to one of the lead actors of their favorite animated show – unless, of course, DiMaggio suddenly told them to “Bite my shiny metal ass!” in the voice of Bender from Futurama. Then they might fall over in happy shock.

Despite the anonymity of the industry, the men and women who give voice to thousands of animated characters are some of the most talented, versatile, and hard-working  members of the entertainment industry. This is what executive producer DiMaggio, producer and director Larry Shapiro, and producer Tommy Reid wanted to showcase in their upcoming documentary, I Know That Voice. DiMaggio says, “I wanted to honor these people. I wanted to show that my peers are…an incredibly talented bunch… I wanted to show them as champions of the industry.”

To do this, the documentary’s producers interviewed over 150 voice actors, casting and voice directors, creators, producers, voice teachers, and other luminaries about their experiences in the animation industry. These interviews are used in the film to explore every aspect of the voice acting profession, including its history; starting out in the business; taking on “legacy voices” first created by other voice actors; developing new characters; and the traits that delineate voice acting from on-screen acting, such as possessing the skills of musicality, physicality, and versatility. The documentary also explores the experience of celebrity for a group of extraordinarily talented people primarily known for voices that may not even sound like their own.

It’s not often that I watch a documentary with a constant smile and a frequent sense of wonder and delight – but that is what happened while watching I Know That Voice, which runs the gamut from serious discussions to whimsical humor. In large part, this is due to the main focus of the film, the actors themselves. As a whole, the titans of this industry come across as uniformly intelligent and clever, well-spoken, hard-working, dedicated, talented, wickedly funny, and warm and humble people. In discussing their work, they show a great respect for the industry and their peers, reverence for inspirations such as Mel Blanc and Daws Butler, and appreciation for the part they get to play in bringing animated characters to life for their fans.

This attitude is mirrored by the creators and directors who are also featured, and who clearly appreciate the talent inherent in successful voice actors. Emmy-winning voice director Ginny McSwain asks in her interview, “Does anybody realize how brilliant these actors are? Because they have to get every cryptic expression that you would do on camera, on a mic. They’re storytellers. That’s their gift.” Another director opines that these people are “the best method actors” in Hollywood; and I wouldn’t disagree.

Amongst those best-of-the-best featured in this film are legends like June Foray, Stan Freberg, and Mel Blanc (via archival footage and an interview with his son, Noel Blanc). Then there are beloved voices that I first encountered during my childhood and adolescence, like Rob Paulsen, Jess Harnell, Maurice LaMarche, Nancy Cartwright, Jim Cummings, and Billy West. And voices I’ve become better acquainted with as an adult, like Grey DeLisle, John DiMaggio, and Nolan North. If those names don’t ring a bell, I could instead say: Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Natasha; Tosh the Goofy Gopher; Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, and a ton of other Looney Tunes characters; Yakko Warner, Pinky, and Raphael; Wakko Warner, Roger Rabbit, and Ironhide; The Brain, Calculon, and Kif Kroker; Bart Simpson, Ralph Wiggum, and Chuckie Finster; Darkwing Duck, Monterey Jack, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, too; Ren, Stimpy, Doug Funnie, Philip J. Fry, Professor Farnsworth, and Dr. Zoidberg; Azula, Vicky, and Catwoman; Bender Bending Rodriguez, Marcus Fenix, and Jake the Dog; and Superboy, The Kraang, and Deadpool.

If that seems like a dizzying list of characters, it’s only a tiny fraction of what each of those actors has voiced; and only a small selection of the large and talented group featured in this documentary. And seeing these amazing people break down how to do the difficult voice of Porky Pig, or what elements went into creating the beloved voice of Dr. Zoidberg, is a real treat; as is getting to see the faces behind the voices we know and love. We also get to see glimpses of the industry through the eyes of the working actor in the studio, which is fascinating to witness.

I Know That Voice is highly entertaining, as well as educational. For those who are fans of the industry, the documentary offers the rare opportunity to see all of your favorite voice actors discuss their craft in a comprehensive manner and do some of their most popular voices. For those unfamiliar with this aspect of the entertainment industry, this is an excellent introduction – and if you’re not a fan of these people at the beginning of the documentary, you will be by the end. For they are indeed champions of the industry, and it’s a joy to see a documentary like this celebrating them and exploring their craft.

Until next time, Servo Lectio!




Emily S. Whitten: On The Road At Dragon Con


By the time you read this, I’ll be winging my way out of Atlanta and back home; but as I write, I am still in the thick of the exciting events of Dragon Con! I’ve had some great fun this weekend, and it’s not even over yet!

So, what the heck have I done this weekend? Seriously, guys, what did I do? It’s all kind of a blur. A really fun blur, mind you! But…let me think…

Oh yes! I interviewed Michael Rooker, Maurice LaMarche, Raphael Sbarge, Charlie Schlatter, and Jim Butcher, and checked in with John DiMaggio for more news on his awesome voice actor documentary (which I now have!) so look for those interviews and a documentary review coming your way soon!

I also had some experiences you can only have at Dragon Con—like looking over a food table with Richard Hatch and then being asked if I wanted to be part of a documentary he’s doing about geek and nerd culture. To which I naturally said, “Sure, why not,” and went and got interviewed.

I then got to chat a bit with some of the other cool guests at the con. I asked James Cosmo (Game of Thrones) how they constructed the Wall for filming, and he told me that although some of it was CGI, they actually built a 400 to 500-foot wall in Northern Ireland with a working elevator—and then Kit Harrington (Jon Snow) got stuck in it halfway up.

I learned that Natalia Tena (Harry Potter, Game of Thrones) has known how to play the accordion for five years, that she picked it up “because I already knew piano and I just wanted to learn” – and that she’s in a band with the coolest name ever, “Molotov Jukebox.” How neat is that?

Seth Gabel shared that his character, the Count, was supposed to have a bigger story arc in Arrow, but Seth could only be on set for one day, so they couldn’t use the whole story. BUT he thinks he’ll be back, so maybe we’ll see that character arc yet…

Jamie Murray was delightful, and agreed that her character on Dexter was one that people loved to hate. She also shared that filming the crazy fire scene was “a bit dodgy,” but that she really loved that scene.

Kandyse McClure of Battlestar Galactica is very down-to-earth, and we had a great chat about all the cool things she’s learning to do during home renovations – like sand and stain furniture and weld things. Go, Kandyse!

Genelle Williams of Warehouse 13 told me she’s on a new show called Bitten that’s airing soon (but not picked up yet in the US), with Laura Vandervoort of Smallville, in which Laura plays the only female werewolf in a pack, and Genelle plays a werewolf’s girlfriend. Genelle reports that the show is really fun and that Laura’s werewolf is awesome because she’s a badass who hunts with the pack and doesn’t show vulnerability.

And from the Once Upon a Time panel, we learned from Jane Espenson that we will be seeing Ariel, Eric, and Ursula in the new season, and that Ariel may be somewhere other than Storybrooke (Neverland, perhaps?). So that’ll be fun to see.

That’s all the Dragon Con news for now, but stay tuned for all the great Dragon Con interviews, and until next time, Servo Lectio!

Emily S. Whitten: Hi-Yo, Dragon Con! Away!

Whitten Art 130820It seems like just yesterday I was getting back from San Diego Comic-Con…and now in less than two weeks, heeeeere comes Dragon Con! Another adventure!

Believe it or not, I still have some things to report from SDCC (yeah, I got a little behind, oops), but even though I’m still catching up from the last con, I’m super looking forward to Dragon Con! Why?

Well, for one thing, Dragon Con is my favorite con for costuming, outside of the Discworld cons. Not only do I get a kick out of costuming myself (as I’ve mentioned here before), but I also love looking at all of the amaaaaaazing costumes other people put together. From a Cylon with a real glowing spine, to an Archchancellor Ridcully with an actual flask in the tip of his pointy hat, to a pair of female “Spy vs. Spy” spies chasing each other around, any and every costume you can think of might make an appearance at the con, and the detail and creativity of many of the costumes just blows my mind.

The humor of a lot of them makes me happy, as well – from a group of gender-bent Disney princesses (complete with beards), to a couple of Spaceballs “combing” the bar-area floor with an actual giant comb, there are a lot of funny costumes to see. And then, of course, there’s one of the coolest costumes I ever saw at the con, which was done by my own roommate and friend Erica – a working Portal shirt with “portals” on the front and back, through which you could “see” to the other side. You never know what costume you’ll see next, and I love that.

I’m also super-excited, as always, about the awesome guests. Dragon Con is a great cross-section of the comics and genre TV and movie worlds, with guests from all over the spectrum. Also, of the cons I’ve been to, it’s the most comparable in its mix of guests to SDCC; but despite the huge crowds (57,000 people are expected to travel to Atlanta for Dragon Con this year), has a much more laid-back and less chaotic feel. Not to mention that with the Walk of Fame, you can often walk right up to your favorite celebrity to say hello (and buy a photo or an autograph, if that’s your thing). This year, I’m looking forward to seeing guests from Smallville, Once Upon a Time, Arrow, and Battlestar Galactica, among others. I’m also looking forward to seeing one of my favorite parts of any con, the animation and voice actor panels. Dragon Con has a lot of great voice actors coming this year, and those panels are always a blast. W00t!

Although this will be my third Dragon Con, there may be some folks out there for whom this is their first – and even for those who have been before, there are some new things to take note of this year. For that reason, I checked in with Dan Carroll of Dragon Con to see what he could tell me about this year’s con and how to enjoy it. Here’s what he said.

What are your top three tips to help new Dragon Con attendees get the most out of their experience?

1) Use the App! (Which you can get for Android or iPhone.)

2) Dad advice: Drink plenty of fluids! Eat your Meals! Sleep and Shower!

3) Have a plan for Dragon Con and find your way around as quickly as possible. Be flexible in your plan because you can’t see everything.

How does Dragon Con differ from other cons?

Dragon Cong brings together gaming, film, TV, comics, live music, a film festival, an art show, and the largest parade in Atlanta for a 24-hour-a-day event over four days in five four-star hotels and a great exhibition space.

What’s new and different this year, that veteran (and new) attendees should know about?

We have upgraded our vendor facilities by moving them to the AmericasMart showroom and convention space. This move allowed us to add nearly sixty new dealers or exhibitors. The space in the Marriott where vending was, is now home to the Walk of Fame where we have space for twenty additional signing tables.

Our big celebrations this year are about anniversaries. The 50th anniversary of Doctor Who has brought a great range of Doctor Who and Torchwood guests, the 30th Anniversary of Fraggle Rock is being celebrated with two Fraggle actors and puppets performing in our Puppetry Track. The 20th Anniversary of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is showcased with many of the original cast members and a lot of Star Trek luminaries including William Shatner and George Takei.

(Emily adds: It is also the 20th Anniversary of Animaniacs, as I’ve mentioned before, and Pinky and the Brain (Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche) will be on hand for that!)

What tools are available specifically for Dragon Con fun?

As I mentioned before, the App is a great place to start. Each hotel has an information desk that provides excellent advice and guidance to the Dragon Con member. Other great tools are the Daily Dragon for updated information and Dragon Con TV for some serious belly laughs.

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s con? What do you recommend as a must-see activity?

I am looking forward to the new guests at Dragon Con such as Lee Majors and Lindsey Wagner. I am also looking forward to seeing my friends and reporters from around the country whom I only get to see at Dragon Con.

What’s the best costume you’ve ever seen at Dragon Con?

I think the most striking I have ever seen is a 12 foot tall Galactus. My favorite is probably when I see my favorite comic book character, Marvel Girl Jean Grey in her 1960s mini dress and white go-go boots.

Anything else you’d like to share about the con?

The easiest thing about talking about Dragon Con is that there is so much to talk about, which leaves me knowing that I am always leaving so much out. With 38 “tracks” of programming, each dedicated to an aspect of fandom, there is too much going to on to convey in a few sentences, so I invite everyone to come to Dragon Con and experience this amazing event for yourselves!

•     •     •     •     •

Well there you have it, folks! Some tips and info for new and veteran attendees, which will hopefully help everyone have as great a time at Dragon Con as I plan to have! And if you see me at the con, be sure to say hi!

Until next time, Servo Lectio!

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis on March

WEDNESDAY MORNING: Mike Gold on Rock’n’Blues


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?


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


Emily S. Whitten: A Weekend with Rob Paulsen

Whitten Art 130806I’ve been super-lucky on two different weekends in the past month to have been able to spend significant time with the inestimable Rob Paulsen, voice actor extraordinaire (and all-around nice guy). It’s been a fantastic experience.

If by some chance you don’t know who Rob is (which is something voice actors sometimes run into, since they are recognized by their characters’ voices rather than their own names or faces) just take a look at his Wikipedia and you’ll quickly figure it out. Or, see if you recognize any of the following characters: Raphael of the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; Donatello of the current TMNT; Yakko Warner, Doctor Otto Scratch’n’sniff, and Pinky of Animaniacs and Pinky & the Brain; Carl Wheezer of Jimmy Neutron; Mark Chang of The Fairly Oddparents; Bobble of Tinker Bell; Bravoman and Alphaman of Bravoman…is it starting to click now? If not, just keep going down the list at IMDB and I guarantee it will!

The first weekend, I sat down with Rob at the San Diego Comic-Con for a really fun video chat. We covered a lot of ground – including Rob’s awesome podcast in which he talks with other great animation talents; the experience of meeting fans, and of fan reactions to his voices; what it’s like to get to work with all of your friends; the freedom that voice acting provides in comparison to on-screen acting; which characters Rob identifies with; the Pinky & the Brain episode for which he won an Emmy Award; working on Animaniacs; singing in cartoon voices; character development; and his current projects, such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Bravoman. And of course, on the video he did some of the great voices for which he is known – and he sang, too!

You can see the whole video here, and I definitely recommend you give it a watch! Although I must warn you, I totally geek out over the voices, because I really can’t not. So be prepared for the geeking. (And please excuse the odd angle; all of the furniture in the Hard Rock Hotel is either really high or really low!)

This past weekend, I got to hang out with Rob again, when he came to do a public appearance at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C. We had a great crowd, and everyone had a fantastic time. The fans who came to see Rob delighted me by spontaneously singing along with the Animaniacs theme song and other music I’d queued up to play before Rob came out to talk; and Rob delighted everyone with his discussion of his career, answers to audience questions, and (of course) his voices and singing. And yes; yes, he did sing Yakko’s World. He then stayed to meet every fan and sign autographs for almost two-and-a-half hours! It was a great night.

The next day, I got to experience two things I’d never been a part of before, and both experiences were remarkable in very different ways. In the morning, I tagged along while Rob did something he likes to try to do when he travels for his events – which was to go to a local hospital and visit with sick kids. I don’t know that I can properly describe how heartwarming it was to see the way Rob engaged with the kids, even the ones who were the most subdued due to being in the hospital for a long time or feeling pretty sick, or how much it affected them. I watched as kids who were listless when we entered a room were smiling or laughing as we left; and was told by a hospital staff member that one boy and his mother (who were both laughing or smiling by the end of Rob’s visit) had been having a very tense and difficult time in the past few days; and by one young woman’s father that Rob’s visit was the first time she had smiled all day. What a great gift that is, to be able to brighten someone’s day like that; and what a great person Rob is, to realize that gift and give his time and energy to these kids.

My favorite part of the visit was when we walked into the dialysis room, in which about five kids were receiving treatment – and they were all watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Perfect timing! (Rob, pointing at the screen: “I’m that one.”) It was pretty surreally cool to hear one of Rob’s voices coming out of the TV as he chatted and signed pictures for the kids. All of the kids and hospital staff got a huge kick out of Rob’s visit; and there was even one teenage boy who was a big Animaniacs fan and knew just about every major character Rob did. So naturally, Rob sang Yakko’s World for him and the rest of the room. Aww.

That evening I sat in on a completely different sort of event – a private, limited admission voice acting workshop for aspiring voice actors. This was a side of Rob’s skill set that I hadn’t seen before, as the working actor took over while Rob listened carefully to each word and sound as students read scenes, and then gave advice tailored to each student’s specific performing strengths and weaknesses. As the students tried the scenes again, I could see the immediate effects of his advice in their improvement; and when he gave examples on how he’d read certain scenes, it was once again clear how skilled and polished a character actor Rob really is. He is a master of his art.

I wasn’t the only one to think so, either – as Rob demonstrated his take on a scene, one of the students in front of me actually gasped in wonder, and when she caught my eye, mouthed, “Isn’t he amazing?” He really is. My high school soccer coach, when the team was working together like clockwork and made a great play, used to say, in a phrase that encompassed the way everything had fallen perfectly into place, “It’s a beautiful thing.” And that’s the phrase that came to mind as I watched Rob working and the magic happening in that seminar room. Even as someone who’s not an actor, I could tell that this was an opportunity a student can’t get just anywhere; and also that it is different from what Rob does on the podcast or in Q&As, because it is such personal and immediate coaching. It’s a beautiful thing.

I realize I must sound pretty enthused, even for me, about how awesome Rob Paulsen is; but hey – that’s because he is totally awesome. Or, as Raphael might say, radical. I was fortunate to be able to spend some time with him and get a glimpse into his life as a voice actor, and would happily do it again any time. And that’s a fact, Jack.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned because I’m still catching up on my SDCC coverage and there’s more to come! So Servo Lectio!




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!





Emily S. Whitten: SDCC Part 1 – Zac Levi’s Nerd HQ!

Whitten Art 130723San Diego Comic-Con International has come and gone, and it was a blast! But boy, am I exhausted. I definitely need a little bit of mellow down-time after all of the (great!) excitement of the biggest genre con in North America (or maybe the world? I’m too tired to look this up, y’all). That’s why even though I’ve got lots of fantastic news and interviews coming your way (Psych! Almost Human! I Know That Voice! Warehouse 13! Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D.! Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox! Captain America: The Winter Soldier! Guardians of the Galaxy! Interviews with voice actors Rob Paulsen and Dee Bradley Baker!), today I want to talk about the most chill place I hung out this weekend – Nerd HQ.

Nerd HQ, now in its third year, is technically not part of SDCC, being the brainchild of Chuck star Zachary Levi and operating as its own thing, but it took place in nearby Petco Park during the con and featured a number of celebrity guests, which made it feel a bit like a mini-SDCC or arm of the con. The atmosphere, however, was a nice and relaxed change from the hustle and bustle of the con floor and crowded panels; and also, it was free to walk around and enjoy the main area, which is cool.

Featuring mainly a long promenade which included an arcade where fans could play video games both old and new (there were several actual arcade games there, along with games on laptops and larger screens for console games), the area also had some nice seating that allowed fans to sit and look out at the field if they wanted to, possibly while eating the food available for purchase nearby. One very nice feature is that the area was covered but open, so fans could get a little fresh air while nerding out during the weekend; which is a great way to decompress after a stint on the con floor or in con program rooms. Just walking around for a few, still immersed in “my people” having a good time but also away from the intensity of the con, certainly did me good when I went over on Saturday.

There was also a stage at the end of the promenade where a YouTube channel (GeekWeek, I believe?) was filming events such as a costume contest and a puppet show to stream throughout the weekend. On the nearer end, a photo area was set up so that fans could get photos with celebrities who dropped by sporadically throughout. Zac was there taking photos when I walked in, and apparently greats such as Stan Lee had also been there at various times. Although the very efficient security whisked me away from stopping to watch the photo experience for too long, I did witness a happy fan on the phone with a friend afterwards, literally in tears because she’d gotten a photo with Zac. So that feature of Nerd HQ was definitely a success in fan enjoyment.

Another great part of Nerd HQ is the Conversations for a Cause; small panels limited to 250 fans, which generally feature guests who are in town for the con anyway. The Conversations took place in a glassed-in area overlooking the field (possibly in the VIP boxes? It was hard to tell with the setup, but it was nice), and (happily for me, after my mad dash from the convention center for the panel I attended) had fans or air conditioning of some sort keeping the area cool. Although the tickets for some of these panels sell out in a hot minute (the Joss Whedon one sold out in 30 seconds or less, along with about three-fourths of the others in the first flight of panels announced), I was able to get a ticket to the Zac Levi & Mystery Guests panel. It would have been fun just to see Zac on a panel, of course; but the mystery guests for the panel turned out to be ace too; being Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk (which made my Firefly shirt especially appropriate attire), and Rob Kazinsky (who turned out to be perhaps the biggest geek of all, and was a great panelist).

Zac both moderated and participated in the panel, which mainly consisted of people asking questions from the audience. The answers were often hilarious and well-worth the $22 ticket price, and Alan Tudyk made things infinitely cooler for the question-askers by bringing along a bag of neat swag to give them (and now I know that if I ever see Alan Tudyk again, I should not give him anything, because he is the World Champion of re-gifters). Possibly the coolest prizes (in my opinion) were several clothing items he had from various places, such as a couple of Dollhouse-related coats, and a giant duster that Russell Crowe and Christian Bale had apparently bought during filming for 3:10 to Yuma and given to him.

Along with being highly entertaining, we learned some new things about the panelists, such as how they got their first big breaks (and with no context whatsoever, because Gondor needs no context, I present this quote from Zac regarding Alan’s story: “Alan, as much as I appreciate your tranny bar story, what was your big break?”). We also learned that Zac’s favorite superhero is Deadpool, which, as anyone who reads my column (or @Ask_Deadpool) will know, automatically raises his coolness factor by infinity; and that Rob Kazinsky manages to be both badass (having been a stuntman and trained extensively with swords) and a nerd to outnerd all nerds, possibly including Zac himself. And Nathan Fillion showed himself to be the sweetheart I already suspected him to be by offering to buy several meals for a poor fan from Australia (I think) who’d had her bags stolen while in San Diego (yikes!).

I did mention that there’s a ticket price for the Conversations; and the photo ops cost money as well. However, the prices are reasonable, and even better, the proceeds go to charity, or more specifically to Operation Smile, which I first learned about from voice actor Rob Paulsen, who also supports them. Operation Smile provides free surgeries for kids with cleft lips, cleft palates, and other facial deformities; and how could anyone not think that’s a worthy cause?

Overall, Nerd HQ is a pretty chill place to go for a break from the SDCC madness, and I had a great time at the panel and a fun time briefly wandering the promenade. I would suggest better availability of both directions (like noting that 7th St. has two names for the stretch next to the con!) and information overall. For instance, visiting fans who haven’t been to Nerd HQ before might not know what-all is available to do for free there; or might not realize they can get photos with celebrities or sometimes walk right in and go to a panel that’s not sold out. Having one of the cheerful volunteers already on hand give out a one-page flyer as fans enter, explaining the set-up of Nerd HQ (and including URLs for things like the YouTube stage, which I can’t find listed anywhere), wouldn’t go amiss, especially since the website doesn’t have really specific information, and cell service can be spotty near the con anyway. There’s also apparently a NERD party sometime over the weekend; and I love a good party, but have no idea where I should have looked to find out more about it. I totally would have considered it if I knew anything more about it!

But don’t take these small critiques to mean I don’t think Nerd HQ is a great thing! It’s pretty rad; and being something that started in a sort of spontaneous way, is bound to have some growing pains. Apparently this year’s HQ was bigger than last; so I’m looking forward to seeing what next year’s is like (while hoping it doesn’t get too big and unwieldy, or it may lose its charm). If I get to SDCC again, it will definitely be on my list of places to go!

In the meantime, stay tuned for all of my other SDCC coverage; and since there’s so much of it, it’ll be coming through as fast as I can get it done, rather than just on my regular Tuesday column schedule. So keep an eye out here to hear about all the other cool stuff I saw and people I talked to at SDCC.

And until then: Viva La Nerdolution! And Servo Lectio!