Posted by Adam Wills
This year’s San Diego Comic-Con brings the much-anticipated Firefly and Buffy reunions, early footage of Iron Man 3, The Hobbit and (hopefully) Man of Steel, as well as sneak peeks at the upcoming seasons of Fringe, Doctor Who and Supernatural. And if you’re an actual comic book fan, there will be plenty of discussion about the upcoming Marvel NOW! relaunch and a look back on the success of DC’s New 52. But if you’re looking for something a little more GeekHeeby at SDCC, you came to the right place…
THURSDAY, JULY 12
11:00-12:00 Filmation and Lou Scheimer: Celebrating a Generation of Animation and TV Heroes
One of the most successful and groundbreaking television animation studios was Filmation, whose productions shaped Saturday mornings and daytime syndication from the 1960s to the 1980s. From Superman, Batman, and Aquaman to The Archies, from Fat Albert and the Groovie Goolies to the live-action Shazam! and Isis series, up to the groundbreaking He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, She-Ra Princess of Power, Ghostbusters, and Bravestarr, Filmation created the shows that entertained and educated a generation. Making his final convention appearance is Filmation founder Lou Scheimer, who will reminisce about nearly 30 years of animation magic. Appearing with him are author/animator Darrell McNeil (Hero High, Shazam, Tarzan and the Super 7) director/writer/animator Tom Tataranowicz (He-Man, She-Ra, Bravestarr), and other guests. Bestselling author and documentary director Andy Mangels moderates this celebration of the studio that saved American animation in the 1970s and 1980s and show exclusive clips of never-before-seen Filmation footage. Plus, you can get a sneak peek at the September 2012 book release from TwoMorrows, Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation, co-written by Scheimer and Mangels. Room 23ABC
11:45-12:45 Stan Lee’s World of Heroes
The legendary Stan Lee introduces his new YouTube channel that tells the stories of heroes, villains, and the fans who love them. In this epic panel, Stan, Mark Hamill (Star Wars), Adrianne Curry (America’s Next Top Model), Peter David (The Hulk), Jace Hall (The Jace Hall Show), and Bonnie Burton (Star Wars Craft book) talk about their new shows, debut new episodes and trailers, answer questions from fans, and provide a few Stan Lee surprises. Room 6BCF
FRIDAY, JULY 13
10:00-11:00 Remembering Jerry Robinson and Joe Simon
Jerry Robinson was a key artist on Batman in the 1940s, the co-creator of The Joker, and later an accomplished newspaper strip artist and political cartoonist. Joe Simon was half of the legendary team of Simon and [Jack] Kirby, the co-creator of Captain America and other Simon-Kirby classics, and later the creator/editor of Sick magazine. We’ve recently lost both of these legendary figures in comics, so let’s pause to remember them along with Paul Levitz, Michael Uslan, Anthony Tollin, Marv Wolfman, Paul Dini, Batton Lash, Steve Saffel and moderator Mark Evanier. Room 9
11:00-12:00 Siegel and Shuster and Finger
Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created a character you may have heard of. Bill Finger co-created one or two himself. These men are the subjects of two new books that unlock many secrets as to how some young men gave the world some of the greatest icons of fantasy ever. Hear Larry Tye (author of Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero) and Marc Tyler Nobleman (author of Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman) as both discuss their works with moderator Mark Evanier. Room 9
3:00-3:45 Adult Swim: Robot Chicken/Robot Chicken DC Comics Special
Co-creators/executive producers Seth Green and Matthew Senreich are joined by co-head writer/executive producer Tom Root, actor/writer Breckin Meyer, and writer Matthew Beans to discuss the Emmy-winning series. DC Entertainment chief creative officer Geoff Johns joins the panel to share insider scoop about the Robot Chicken DC Comics Special. Come watch a sneak peek and get your questions answered about Season Six. Keith Crofford, VP of production for Adult Swim, will moderate the panel. Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront
4:30-5:30 50th Anniversary of Marvel Superheroes
Fifty years ago Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Dick Ayers, Don Heck, and Larry Lieber created the Marvel Age of Comics when they introduced the Incredible Hulk, the Amazing Spider-Man, the Mighty Thor, the Astonishing Ant-Man, and the Invincible Iron Man, all in the course of one short year, 1962. Those characters have shown incredible endurance and staying power, still thrilling audiences today, on both the page and screen. Mark Evanier talks to Comic-Con special guests Stan Goldberg (a Marvel cartoonist and colorist in that storied year) and Incredible Hulk artist Herb Trimpe about the heroes that still thrill us five decades later. Room 5AB
4:30-5:30 Falling Skies: The Battle Is Just Getting Started
Continuing the fight against alien invaders, TNT’s Falling Skies follows a band of human survivors on their quest to outrun and outwit the powerful alien force that invaded Earth. Join stars Noah Wyle (ER), Moon Bloodgood (Terminator Salvation), Will Patton (Armageddon), Drew Roy (Secretariat), Colin Cunningham (Living in Your Car), Sarah Carter (The Vow), and Connor Jessup (The Saddle Club), and show runner Remi Aubuchon (Caprica), with Q&A hosted by Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Big Bang Theory). Watch never-before-seen clips and be treated to an in-depth discussion on Falling Skies season 2. Room 6BCF
SATURDAY, JULY 14
10:30-11:30 Marvel Television Presents
Marvel’s head of TV, Jeph Loeb, brings the scoop on season 2 of the hit animated series Ultimate Spider-Man, along with a never-before-seen episode…and a glimpse of the other heroes joining Marvel Universe on Disney XD! Plus, get the update on other hot Marvel Animation Studios projects, including Marvel Knights Animation, Marvel anime-and more surprises from Marvel Television. Room 6BCF
11:30-12:30 Save the Date: Your New Favorite Film
This may be the first comic book film that isn’t based on an actual comic book; instead, Save the Date uses the style and sensibility of indie comics by renowned graphic novelist Jeffrey Brown as a jumping off point to tell a contemporary story of the trials, pain, and happiness of modern love. Explore the challenges and advantages of working in film versus comics with cartoonist/screenplay co-writer Jeffrey Brown (Clumsy, Darth Vader and Son), director Michael Mohan (One Too Many Mornings), and producers Jordan Horowitz (The Kids Are All Right) and Michael Roiff (Waitress), and discover how the cast has been influenced and inspired by comics and geek culture, with Lizzy Caplan (Party Down), Alison Brie (Community, Mad Men), Martin Starr (Freaks & Geeks, Party Down), Geoffrey Arend (500 Days of Summer), and Mark Webber (Scott Pilgrim). Join them for a lively session moderated by Noel Murray (The A.V. Club). Room 5AB
Futurama cannot be killed! Join the cast and crew of the Emmy-award-winning series for world premiere footage of the all-new season on Comedy Central. Plus: Wear your Futurama-themed costume for the chance to win slightly valuable prizes! Scheduled panelists include creator/executive producer Matt Groening, executive producer David X. Cohen, and stars Billy West (Fry, Zoidberg, Professor Farnsworth, Zapp Brannigan), Katey Sagal (Leela), John DiMaggio (Bender), and Maurice LaMarche (Kif Kroker, Calculon, Morbo). Ballroom 20
1:00-2:00 Spotlight on Stan Goldberg
Cartoonist, colorist, and Comic-Con special guest Stan Goldberg was there at the beginning of the Marvel Age of Comics, designing the color schemes for characters such as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and many others. As an artist, he is best known for his over 45 years of work at Archie Comics as one of the Archie artists. Stan talks about his career and what he’s doing next in this spotlight panel. Room 9
3:30-4:30 Comic-Con How-To: The Art of Writing with Gregg Hurwitz
Actor, author, and award-winning audiobook narrator Scott Brick talks to author Gregg Hurwitz about his work. Hurwitz’s books include The Crime Writer, Trust No One, and You’re Next. He’s also written for comics, including Marvel’s The Punisher MAX and Wolverine and DC’s Batman: The Dark Knight. Room 2
4:15-5:15 EPIX Originals: William Shatner and Roger Corman
Two legends of the entertainment world take to the Comic-Con stage to preview their latest projects. Get a gander at the EPIX Original movie, Roger Corman’s first-ever made in 3D, Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader, in which a meek college co-ed is transformed into a gigantic cheerleader. Then take a sneak peek at William Shatner‘s Get a Life!, an EPIX original documentary based on Shatner’s hugely popular book, in which he examines the cultural phenomena of Star Trek, its fan-following, and his own role within it. To top it all off the panel will be moderated by “Mr. Comic Book Men” himself, Kevin Smith. Room 6A
4:30-5:30 The Legacy of Harvey Pekar
J. T. Waldman (Megillat Esther) discusses the legacy of Harvey Pekar‘s work through the lens of the just-released memoir with Waldman, Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me. Told over the course of a single day in Cleveland, the book explores Pekar’s loss of faith in the modern state of Israel. Waldman discusses this work and the mark Pekar has made on graphic memoir. Room 26AB
SUNDAY, JULY 15
10:00-11:00 The Annual Jack Kirby Tribute Panel
There might not be comic book industry were it not for Jack Kirby...and if you don’t know who that is, you really don’t belong at this convention. Each year, his friends and co-workers gather to talk about Jack and his work and to marvel (no pun intended) at the length and breadth of his influence, not just on comics but on TV, movies, and all the arts. This year, the dais will include Herb Trimpe (Incredible Hulk), Stan Goldberg (Marvel colorist), Paul Dini (Batman), and Charles Hatfield (Hand of Fire), all chatting with moderator Mark Evanier (Kirby: King of Comics). Room 5AB
1:45-2:45 Cartoon Network: Ben 10: Omniverse
It’s hero time in San Diego! You don’t want to miss this chance to see the world premiere exclusive sneak peek of Ben 10: Omniverse. In the new series premiering this fall, Ben has a new look, new aliens, a new sidekick, and, of course, new bad guys to battle. Yuri Lowenthal (Ben) hosts a panel featuring stars and producers who will give an inside look at the creation and direction of Ben 10: Omniverse, and you’ll be the first to see animation from this exciting new series! Room 6DE
2:30-3:30 Super Secrets: Lifting the Curtain on the Man of Steel
Mark Waid (he wrote Superman comics longer than just about anybody) and Larry Tye (author of the new biography Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero) reveal things you didn’t know but will be glad to learn about Superman. Like the wrenching story of his birth and nurturing by a parade of young creators yearning for their own absent dads, and how he took on everyone from Adolf Hitler to the KKK long before the rest of America did. And why Tye at least is convinced this supermensch is Jewish. Room 23ABC
Did I miss something? Feel free to add your picks in comments!
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July 1, 2012 | 1:45 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
Animation fans have grown up with Steve Blum. From T.O.M., the laconic host of Cartoon Network’s anime block “Toonami” to snarling Wolverine in “Wolverine & the X-Men” to the nasally Guilmon of “Digimon,” his voice is instantly recognizable to many teens and 20-somethings.
This has been a big year for 47-year-old Blum. In addition to returning as T.O.M., following the May renewal of “Toonami,” and voicing Amon in the “Avatar” spin-off “The Legend of Korra,” Blum won a world record for the most video game roles (261), including turns as Grunt in the “Mass Effect” sequels and Vincent Valentine in “Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.”
At the L.A. Convention Center, a crowd of about 2,000 chanted “Steve, Steve, Steve” as they waited for their gravel-voiced hero, one of this year’s guests of honor at the 21st annual Anime Expo, to take the stage.
Doing T.O.M. again is like “coming home,” he said, adding that at conventions people who watched “Toonami” after school would come up to him and say “I helped raise them.”
The man some fans call “father” is such an inspiration for fan boys that he’s added a page on his Web site to answer their most frequently asked question: “How do I become a voice actor?”
But Blum’s entry into the world of animation and video games was happenstance.
He dreamed of becoming a comic book artist around the same time he was studying for his bar mitzvah at Adat Shalom. From age 12 to 14, he spent his summers helping his uncle run the comic book department at his grandfather’s Hollywood bookstore, Cherokee Books.
In the late 1980s, he worked as a production assistant for a sci-fi/horror film company by day and played in an R&B band at night, hoping to make it as a musician. Although Blum was the only person in the mailroom who didn’t want to be an actor, the various voices he did to entertain his co-workers earned him a tryout for the anime series “The Guyver.” Blum was so good at synching English dialogue to lip movements intended for Japanese actors he was hired for all 26 episodes.
He started landing more anime roles, but Blum continued to look on the jobs as a sideline as he went to work as an executive with a film company. “I never really tried to become a voice actor,” he said. “I was just doing it because it was fun.”
Around the age of 40 he landed a job that allowed him to transition to full-time voice acting, but he says he still doesn’t make that much money doing anime. “I do it because I love it,” he said.
A self-described “voice monkey,” Blum says the best character he’s portrayed is whichever one he’s currently working on. “If I feel like I’ve reached the pinnacle of my career and that is my all-time favorite, I would have nothing left,” he said.
Among the other voice actors he’s befriended over the years, Blum says he draws the most inspiration from Frank Welker, famous for voicing Megatron in “Transformers” as well as Fred on “Scooby-Doo.”
“Frank is just one of these amazing people that not only is he an incredible talent — he can make any kind of sound you could possibly imagine: mechanical, human or creature — but he’s also one of the kindest human beings I’ve ever met,” he said.
This isn’t to say Blum doesn’t have an edge. For shows like “Wolverine,” which records with a full cast in the studio, he says the room is full of “lunatics” who play off each other.
“The biggest show is actually in the room, [which] you’ll never hear. That’s where the filthiest stuff is,” he said, adding that the tamer and younger the show skews, the dirtier the bloopers.
Despite his long list of voice acting credits, Blum says he goes on 30 auditions for every one role he gets — even one he seems to now own, such as Wolverine.
“Wolverine was kinda rolling around in my head since I was pretty young,” he said. “After chewing some razor blades and drinking some whisky, it worked.”
Following the apparent death of the villain Amon in the season finale of “The Legend of Korra,” Blum says he can’t comment on whether he’ll return to that role or take up another on the show.
“We’re not allowed to talk about anything that hasn’t been shown yet, and especially at places like Nickelodeon, where quality is everything, we really want to keep it on the down low.”
A fan of “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” Blum laments that he didn’t have time to watch more than 12 or 13 episodes of the original animated series, but he said he was inspired by what he saw.
“When they asked me to do Amon, it was one of those gigs where I almost peed myself,” he said. “The quality of that show is just unsurpassed.”
For those fans who want to join Blum in the world of voice acting, he recommends studying acting and improv, and cautions that actors need a strong self-esteem to motivate them between jobs — an inevitability in entertainment.
“If you go into it for the right reasons, you do it because you love to do it, and you’re not doing it because of money or fame or because you feel like you have to be working all the time,” he said. “You have to find that inner peace inside where when you do have that downtime you have other stuff to do.”