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GATHERING OF THE GARGOYLES
SATURDAY AUGUST 22, 2009
I'm glad I don't have to get up at 4:50AM every day. I wanted to give the dog a fairly long walk that morning because I knew I wouldn't have time that evening.
I got to the Hilton at a little after 9AM and signed up for Josh Keaton's Mug-A-Guest (I had considered Keith David's, but that was already full). Josh was cool, and I'm not just saying that because we share the same first name (and I finally learned how they avoided confusion when both he and Josh Lebar are working on the same day). One thing both he and Ben Diskin had in common, they both started acting at a very young age (3 for one, 6 for another), largely because they already had some family member in the business. I mention this only because I'm around the same age as them and I'm still trying to break into the darn business.
After another bagel for lunch, I attended Crispin Freeman's "Anime Mythology" panel on "Knights and Dragons." Being a dragon fanboy, this one was a joy. I had already known about the differences between so-called Western and Eastern dragons, but this was the first time I heard somebody actually analyze what these creatures say about the cultures they sprang from, and how they influence their respective media. I was surprised when he pointed out how a difference in dialogue between the Japanese script and the English dub of "Spirited Away" showcased this difference. I was also pleasantly surprised when he brought up "Vision of Escaflowne" as one of his favorite animes (it's one of mine, too!).
After this, I attended BOTH voice acting panels. The "Gargoyles" one was special not for the number of guests it had, but because it was the first one attended by Marina Sirtis, the voice of Demona herself. Of course, there were also Greg Weisman, Jamie Thomason, Thom Adcox (naturally), Keith David (with his GREAT laugh) and, a little later on, Elisa Gabrielli. I got to ask a question (or rather series of questions) that I usually put to all the voice actors at these things: "What episode/scene was the most challenging/fun/fulfilling?" Greg W. reminded me that the series was 15 YEARS AGO, so that might be a difficult question to answer. But Marina had no trouble stating what annoyed her the most: "The effing impact grunts." I learned something very important in that panel: if you do something she does not like, she will throw Jolly Ranchers at you. And Thom stated, yet again, his reasons for why he did not care for the Avalon world tour arc: largely, that he wasn't in most of those episodes (in his own words, "Avalon SUCKS!"). Well, that'll teach him to go out and buy a new car. Keith got to say a couple of his favorite lines ("I've been denied everything..."), though not with as much volume as I'm sure he would have liked. Also, Marina and Greg have two different versions of how she was cast as Demona (she maintains she came in on two separate days, he says it was just the one). There was also the story of how Jonathan Frakes was briefly fired by Greg's bosses because the cast recorded at a hell-hole of a studio. It was great fun.
So was the "Spectacular Spider-Man" panel. There were...a LOT of voice actors for this one, including a few who overlapped from the "Gargoyles" panel. In fact, there were so many that I couldn't help but feel that there weren't enough questions to properly involve all of them. I thought the revelation that Daran Norris needed two microphones when he was recording both the Jamesons (because J. Jonah is SO LOUD) was fascinating. I asked those who did multiple voices what their process was for differentiating them. Phil Lamarr talked about the difficulty of making two voices (those of the Robertsons) sound distinct and yet related (something Daran Norris had to figure out, too), while Steve Blum mentioned that he just had so many voices in his head that he needed the work to get them out.
I forgot to mention that, in between the panels, I went to check on the cast for the radio play. Since EVERY ONE of the voice guests said yes, there were only a handful of roles for the fans. I was quite happy to get one of them, and after the panels, the rehearsal began.
It was a Gathering-Original script. A crossover between "Gargoyles" and the "Spectacular Spider-Man" written to take full advantage of ALL 16 GUESTS who said they would do it. I was quite surprised to find that I was cast as Zaphiro (a character with a Spanish accent!). We only had enough time to run through the 78-page script (that's FEATURE LENGTH) once, and then a quick break before the beginning of the radio play.
It was a BLAST! The script was full of in-jokes (a lot of them breaking the fourth wall), but even managed to pack in an excellent bit of drama. But no where else will you hear Lexington mention porn on the internet, or hear Demona refer to Elisa as Goliath's "human whore." Steve Blum talked to himself, as did Thom Adcox (I hoped people picked up on the slight difference between Lexington and Tinkerer--and I loved when Lex mentioned Homunculus #5's annoying voice--said Homunculus ALSO voiced by Thom). For my part, aparantly I managed to pull off the Spanish accent well enough. Elisa Gabrielli was kind enough to offer me some pointers on a particular line of Spanish (yeah, I also had a few words and lines entirely in Spanish).
At the end I got kudos from many fans, and even a few of the pros.
I had really wanted to attend the panel on "Rope Bondage 101" but I needed to hurry back to my canine charge to feed him his evening meal if I wanted to make it back in time for the Blue Mug. I just barely managed to make it, and got to ask one question that I felt was appropriate given that this was the last Blue Mug: how it all got started. The short answer is it grew out of the regular Mug-A-Guest when they wanted to keep that family-friendly. Anyway, about an hour in, Greg had to hit the bathroom, and that bastard Edmund Tsabard seized the opportunity to come in and make the Blue Mug about "Blue Mug Productions." The one thing I got from his section of the panel was that if you want the smut, you have to "SPEND THE MONEY!" All I can say about the third page of "Last Tengu in Paris" is, "GREAT GOOGLEY MOOGLEY!" Anyway, about an hour later, after the questions dried up, Edmund left and Greg FINALLY came back. Unfortunately, it was about 11PM and I had to get back to my friend's house to be there to greet him and give over care of the dog. He came in at 1AM, and I was back in my own home and asleep by about 2AM.
Joshua, I just want to thank you again. We cast you as Zafiro cuz we knew you could handle it (accent and all). And you totally pulled it off.