My First Comic-Con Pt. 3 – Cartoon Voices

By Saturday, we’d learned to give up on any events in Hall H or Ballroom 20 unless we wanted to stand in line for hours. People would line up hours before the rooms even opened and then just camp out in their seats all day. We also gave up on buying pre-reg tickets for SDCC 2012. People were lining up as early as 5am and pre-reg tickets were selling out by 8:30am!

I only had one “must-see” panel for the day: Mark Evanier’s Cartoon Voices panel which wasn’t until 1:00pm. We decided to start the day with breakfast at the Broken Yolk. Our hotel had complimentary make-your-own waffles which was pretty exciting until you ate them and realized they tasted just like ice cream waffle cones. It was like having dessert for breakfast which was just wrong. After brekke, we returned to the exhibit floor so we could complete our Comic-Con Bingo. Last Gasp Books created a bingo board with items like, wookie, stormtrooper, tight costume (bad), etc. We searched the floor, took pictures of our victims, and marked off our squares. After getting our 5-in-a-row we proudly marched to the Last Gasp booth and turned in our card. We’d heard we’d get a prize like a toy or chocolate but they gave us T-shirts! Score! We had so much fun just playing and looking for people/costumes we didn’t need a prize, but the T-shirt was pretty cool!

Our feet were tired from all the walking around so even though we were really early, we decided to head to the panel room. We got there just as one panel was ending so we were able to get really good seats near the front. We were just two seats from the aisle and I had to kind of crawl over two young guys to get to my chair. They were very polite about it. My butt had barely touched the seat when my eyes landed on someone. My hand snaked out and grabbed my AEH’s thigh. “Do you know who that is?” I asked him. “Are you going to go say hi?” he asked me. “Do you think I should?” I asked back. “YES.” So I ask the two young men if I can crawl over them again and I make my way over to the man I had seen. He was speaking to two women in front of me. I (not so) calmly waited my turn and finally he turned to me, “Hello!” he said. “Hello Mr. LaMarche,” I said. I was speaking to Maurice LaMarche! Maurice f*cking LaMarche, one of the most prolific voice actors of our time! Remember, when I get around people who are important or impressive to me, I start talking like an idiot and now I’m speaking one-on-one to Maurice LaMarche! I really wanted to say hi. I really wanted to get a picture. I really wanted to get away before embarrassing myself! I tried to steady my voice (and my hands) and said, “I just wanted to say hi. I’m an up-and-coming voice actor and I really admire your work.” Maurice replied, “Well I hope to work with you one day. I was up-and-coming myself once. Just be the best you you can be.” SQUEE! We posed for a quick pic and I made my way back to my seat (crawling over the two young gents to get there).

Cia & Maurice LaMarche

Omigosh, omigosh, omigosh! Maurice fah-REAKING LaMarche! I show my AEH the picture we took and he says, I just want to show you something. He points to his thigh where I’d grabbed him and the nail marks I’d left in his skin. I’d damaged him in my excitement! “So who was that?” he asked. WHAT?!? He didn’t even know who I’d gone over to speak to?? (It was then that I realized Comic-Con is probably one of the few places that voice actors are recognized on sight and only because the attendees had made an effort to track down their image.) After I told him, my AEH was suitably impressed and we settled in for the panel. Until I spotted another voice actor! This time it was Wally Wingert. I again crawled over the two young gents and made my way over to Wally. He greeted me with a smile and a hug. He remembered me! I got to meet Wally just over a year ago when I saw him play Jon Arbuckle in a Garfield recording session. We chatted and posed for a pic before some other friends came up to say hi. I made my way back to my seat, crawling over the two young gents, and settled in for the panel, for reals this time.

What a treat! We were at the Quick Draw! panel moderated by Mark Evanier and featuring Mike Kazaleh (Futurama), Scott Shaw! (The Simpsons), and Sergio Aragonés (MAD Magazine). Mark gets suggestions from the audience and then directs the artists to draw the subject, phrase, idea, word, etc. These artists are so fast and so talented! Mark and Sergio have been friends and co-workers for a very long time and that relationship really played out during the panel. They were clever and amusing, they bickered like roommates, and I don’t think either of them ever wins (or loses). It was so fascinating to see (literally!) the way these artists’ minds worked. Sometimes they attacked a concept from incredibly similar angles, sometimes they were worlds apart. Sometimes they wouldn’t stop at one drawing, they’d draw a concept, get another idea for the same concept and then draw that! Sometimes Sergio felt a need to draw the before and after of the original concept drawing. They are so fast! I was so impressed with their ability to convey a very detailed idea with a very simple line drawing. I wish I had that kind of skill.

Cia & Tara Strong

Alas, the panel drew to a close and I started to get excited for the Cartoon Voices panel that was about to begin. By this time, I’d struck up a conversation with the two young gents I’d been crawling over and discovered that they were there to see Tara Strong. They had My Little Pony posters and they almost swooned whenever someone said her name. Then, we spotted her! I asked them if they wanted to go up and say hi because I sure as hell was going to! I think they were shy because they lagged a little behind me. I reached Tara and asked if I could say hi. She said, sure! I made sure the two young gents had a chance to say hi first because I felt so bad about crawling all over them to get up and down from my seat. They were totally stoked. They gushed, they asked for her signature, they posed for a picture (which I snapped on their cameras). Then, it was my turn! I told Tara how pleased I was to meet her and what I fan I was of her work. She was really gracious, kind, and welcoming. We posed for a picture. I don’t know why but I told her my Twitter handle and she said, Oh yeah! I really like your logo! TARA STRONG KNOWS MY LOGO!!! I tried to stay calm and focus on what she was saying, which is that she really likes Facebook and Twitter because it allows her to interact with her fans. I agreed that they’re pretty cool and then it was time for her to get on the panel. I think I literally floated back to my seat. Wow. What an amazing experience.

The panel was 90-minutes of excellent. Mark asked each of the panel members, Saratoga Ballantine (Spider-Man), Townsend Coleman (The Tick), Robin Atkin Downes (Thundercats), Rob Paulsen (TMNT), Tara Strong (The Powerpuff Girls), and Wally Wingert (The Tonight Show), to describe their most famous roles and their most obscure jobs. It was so cool to hear the myriad of voices and characters coming out of the faces of these actors! They talked a little bit about the biz of the biz. Each of them had an instance of when they weren’t able to do a job and referred a friend, or they knew they weren’t right for the job and referred the actor who was. You don’t hear about that kind of generosity amongst on-camera actors. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but I’ve never heard of it. (Voice actors rule!)

Mark gave the actors a script that they hadn’t seen and directed them through a cold read of Snow White. It was amazing. Townsend Coleman read the narrator but he had to read each line in a different voice. Robin Atkin Downes and Wally Wingert were each a couple of dwarves and had to use multiple voices for their roles. Saratoga Ballantine was a haggard-sounding east coast witch and Tara Strong was a sprightly Snow White. It really showcased their talent and skill. They took a fairly boring script and turned it into a laugh-a-minute entertaining affair. For me, this panel was the highlight of the Con. I wouldn’t have missed this for anything! I was so blown away by the kindness and encouragement of actors I admire. I am so proud to be part of such a generous and talented group of actors. One day I hope to be their peer and not just their admirer.

Thanks for reading about my Comic-Con experience. As a little treat, here’s some video I shot of Rob Paulsen and Tara Strong!

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