There are few times in life when you know you have to answer the call and show up to do what you’re supposed to do. Long Beach Comic Con 2016 (LBCC) was one of those times with Kevin Conroy making an appearance to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series on Batman Day of all days.
For my generation, Batman: The Animated Series was and is an influence to me even 25-years later. The line to see Kevin Conroy was the longest at LBCC, and the stories exchanged with him at his panel and at the table seemed to elicit gratitude and smiles on both sides. In reference of my own journey, I’ve been spreading the good word of Hero Within clothing regarding fashion along with Nerd Coolture lifestyle, both which are influenced by The Animated Series more than I can describe at times. A face-to-face with Batman himself, Mr. Conroy would feel like some type of culmination of what has caused me to do what’s good in life.
After, braving the line and talking to his colleague Steve to ask for a brief chat, I cued the Danny Elfman theme song in my head, lit up Bat Signal, and had an enlightening conversation with Kevin Conroy.
Here’s how it went:
Nerd Coolture (NC): Mr. Conroy, how is Long Beach Comic Con treating you so far?
Kevin Conroy (KC): Well, it was incredible. I got here at 10am and there was a long line waiting. And it just ended. It is now 6:15pm. I had no idea it was going to be this big. The wonderful thing about the Batman audience is they’re just so positive. Everyone comes for a positive experience. So there’s not any negative energy. Everyone has a good time. Everyone’s very patient because they have to wait in long lines. And I try to make it as positive experience for everyone as possible. So I like to listen to the stories that the fans have, what the show meant to them. There’s a lot of interaction at these Comic Cons that you don’t get at other events. There’s a lot of real hands-on interaction between the actors and the audience, which is nice.
NC: 25 years later, we’re celebrating the 25th anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series. How has your role of playing The Bat, ‘cause you’re still going strong as Batman himself, how has it evolved as you’ve taken up the mantle and are still running with it?
KC: The trick for me has been about keeping it fresh and consistent. People can hear dishonesty faster than they can see it. You can really hear with your ears when someone’s lying before you can necessarily see it. If I wasn’t being completely honest with the voice for the character, it just wouldn’t fly. So for me over twenty-five years the trick has been keeping him FRESH, keeping him real, keeping him grounded in that tragedy of his youth, which is what that voice came out of for me [quickly goes into Batman voice] that deep husky sound. I just thought “Go to the darkest place you can imagine in your soul. What sound comes out of there?” That’s where that voice came from for me. The trick for me over the past twenty-five years has been keeping him rooted in that tragedy so that the audience always feels that he’s fresh. From what I hear, it’s worked. Everyone always says that no matter what I’ve recently done they say “It sounds exactly the way, I remember it from twenty-five years ago,” which to me is an incredible compliment.”
NC: Which may not exactly sound the “same” but “fresh,” none the less.
KC: Yes, FRESH. Exactly.
NC: So it’s Batman Day today. What does that mean to you? What does Batman Day mean to the world?
KC: Batman to me is one of the most iconic characters ever written, which is why he’s lasted seventy-five years. He is the embodiment of nobility and just ultimate integrity. After what he went through as a child, to take all of that pain and turn it into something positive, spend his life doing good and doing it anonymously, wanting to draw no attention to himself. It’s just so extraordinary. He’s an exceptional person. That’s why people love him so much.
NC: How important is the role of a hero in today’s society?
KC: Whenever I talk at these Comic Cons I always make the analogy to Joseph Campbell’s work and The Power of Myth, “The Hero With a Thousand Faces.” He was a philosopher who wrote about the fact that in all cultures going from the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans through American Indians and African tribes and South American tribes and Chinese, all of these different cultures came back to the same myth of a hero who goes through fire who was purged by fire and transcends it like a phoenix and avenges and does good in the world. There’s always this image of this transcendent hero. In our culture, it’s Batman. He is the archetype of that character. Just like the ancient Greeks taught morality to their children through those stories, we teach morality to our children through Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and the Flash. Those are our myths. That’s our mythology, and it’s just as valid as Orestes, Achilles, and Electra was to the Greeks. I go these Comic Cons and have interaction with the audience. The stories that I hear from people with a difficult childhood, but they had Batman as a release, as a safe place to go. It’s just amazing, and being a part of the animated character makes me a part of an intimate part of a lot of people’s childhood. So it’s a real privilege to have been a part of this.
NC: Thank so much, Mr. Conroy.
How has Batman been an influence in your life? What role do you think superheroes play in today’s society, considering the events going on around us?
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