June 29, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Or at least it did! Busy month, so let’s hit some highlights: first off, we are very happy to announce that Elaine Lee’s first entry at the Huffington Post received enough support to warrant an ongoing blog series! YAY! Her second post on the HP, “From Web to Print,” can be found here, and we’re looking forward to entries number three, four , five, fifteen, ninety-three, etc.
We’ve also been the subject of some really fun podcast interviews we’d like to share with you: we’d like to thank Fred Greenhalgh at Radio Drama Revival! in association with WMPG in Portland for putting together the Skype hook-up for RDR’s Titanium Rain special, which aired on WMPG FM June 28, and is now available for your listening pleasure on the podcast here with extended (and uncensored) scenes and interviews with Bill, Lance, Elaine, and Josh and Kat. And you will find on the previous RDR podcast (6/22/2012) the piece Elaine wrote for the National Audio Theatre Festivals’ 2011 Workshop show, The TransMars Tango (following an episode of Fred’s ongoing serial The Cleansed), directed by Brian Price.
Mike Faber, Mike Gordon, and Bobby Nash interviewed us for the Earth Station One podcast; 3 very cool dudes. The link is here!
Finally, new links to downloads and CD’s: Titanium Rain is now available on CD and Mp3 through ZBS and CDBaby, and you’ll find downloads through Artistxite and 7Digital. (And don’t forget…it’s still only $4.99 on iTunes!)
Honey West: Murder on Mars is now available on CD and Mp3 through ZBS, as well as Artistxite and 7Digital. (And don’t forget…it’s also only $4.99 on iTunes!) And Domino Lady: All’s Fair in War is now available for download through eMusic, not to mention we’ll have some Batsons links soon as well!
August 23, 2011 Comments Off
As John Lennon said, “life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” I haven’t posted as of late as there have been many events occuring professionally and personally, not to mention many interesting and cool connections made that we are slowly fostering, scripts being written and re-written, recording dates coming together (and there are those comic and TV pilot scripts I have to get back to); suffice to say there’s a lot to come, but a few things worth mentioning now:
First of all, a Titanium Rain update:
We’re now two weeks left of our Titanium Rain campaign at IndieGoGo: http://igg.me/p/34718?a=159692&i=shlk. There is the possibility that we may continue the campaign on IndieGoGo or Kickstarter (all will made clear as to why later), but for now we’re still hoping to hit a high mark before the 5th of September. Further, for every $1,000 we raise I’m sending 100 comics from my personal collection overseas, and I’m sure there are some soldiers who would dig some issues of Captain America and Flash, and we’re getting close to hitting the first 1K mark. Earlier today, Josh Finney had a great idea which he tweeted to his followers: the next person to make a donation of any amount would have an original character named after him or her in the audio script. That honor is going to David Hammond in the UK, who for his $25 donation will have a Navy SEAL character named for him in the audio play. With lines! This is why I dig working with Josh Finney: he’s always thinking outside of the box.
Second, a piece of National Audio Theatre Festivals news: I’m pleased to announce the Audio Art of Animation weekend workshop in Los Angeles, CA October 21 through 23, 2011.
Over the last five years, the NATF’s Tony Hawkins Advanced Workshops have focused on a variety of specified subjects related to audio theatre, from direction to editing; this year we focus on the voice, and the voice in regards to the world of… cartoon voice-over in the heart of the animation industry, Hollywood.
In the Audio Art of Animation you will learn to feed off other actors, understand continuity of scenes versus lines, and the “do’s and don’ts” of the animation (and video game) business. In addition to an evening session on the 21st, the 22nd will take us to Blague Communications Studios for a mock directing session. And the 23rd will offer a Q&A with one of the industry’s best and brightest voices (TBA) who will offer tips and opinions about “breaking in” to the business.
The weekend will be supervised by Executive Director Andrew Davis, Vice President Lance Roger Axt, and teacher/actor Lucien Dodge. Lucien’s credits include numerous roles for Pokemon and Secret Saturdays for the Cartoon Network, as well as various video games, audio books, and commercials; he is also the voice of “Nello,” the star of an interactive ride at the Ferrari World theme park in Abu Dhabi.
Our comics connection: the guest director for our session at Blague Communications is Mark Evanier, producer and director of The Garfield Show, as well as a 40+ year veteran of the television and animation world, who has worked with such voice-over legends as Stan Freberg, June Foray, Chuck McCann, and the late, great Lorenzo Music. Moreover, he was assistant to the King himself, Jack Kirby, and is one of the country’s leading Kirby and comics historians, not to mention the writer of numerous books from Groo the Wanderer to Blackhawk to Crossfire and DNAgents.
Registration will be limited to 12 participants, first-come first-served, with a registration link available this Saturday, August 27, when we go live on RegOnline.com. The cost for the Workshop is $400 and $240 without hotel room (lunch on the 22nd is included with your registration costs). I hope to see some of you in Hollywood for this fun and informative weekend! Further information on the Audio Art of Animation Workshop can be obtained by contacting the event producer Lance Roger Axt (me) via: firstname.lastname@example.org.
July 2, 2011 Comments Off
Our pulp series was to be called Men of Mystery. Then we decided that a name change was necessary for a variety of reasons: the Marvel/Dark Horse fracas, the women of mystery presented as well as men; think of Men of Mystery as the placeholder until the permanent name was decided upon. We have that name, and it is Pulp Adventures. Rich Harvey’s Bold Venture Press has kindly granted The AudioComics Company use of his trademark for our original pulp/classic comic series featuring The Domino Lady, The Black Bat, Airboy and Valkyrie, et al. So from here on in you may call our series Pulp Adventures. And just to make things final: “Pulp Adventures TM & © 2011 Bold Venture Productions. All Rights Reserved.”
AudioComics Pulp Adventures. Accept no substitutes.
June 27, 2011 § 1 Comment
Whenever I go to West Plains for an Audio Theatre Workshop, I enter “radio silence” for the most part; except for a few phone calls and e-mails, I’m too busy to do anything else! Lack of sleep and audio drama usually go hand-in-hand at the ATW, with breakfast at 8pm, classes from 10am – 1:45pm and 2:30pm to 4:00pm, rehearsals in late afternoon and evening round tables, not to mention location recordings, SFX uploads for the MetroMobile truck and sampler artists, and work with the band on individual tracks…and that’s just Monday through Wednesday! Thursday’s the all-day cue-to-cue, and Friday’s show has not one but two separate recordings beforethe live show and stream in case of tech glitches or the damn train runs through town or whatever. Both Elaine Lee and I are home again home again, me in Monterey, she in High Falls…it’s common practice to spend a day doing nothing after the event ends, so I’ll assume she’s getting much needed sleep even as I continue downloading all 80 hours of my Firesign Theatre treasure trove of “Dear Friends” material.
This year’s ATW was a hoot-and-a-half; it was especially gratifying being able to stream JM DeMatteis into one of our rehearsals via Skype, and to know (after his play was performed) that he enjoyed hearing his work on radio and online; likewise Elaine had a great time, and to hang with Phil Proctor and Melinda Peterson…well, a lot of friendships were renewed, and great new ones were made.
With another ATW done and done for the year, it’s back to business, and quite a bit of it in the next couple of weeks. But before we go any further, I’d like to say a few words (just a few, I promise) about legendary artist Gene Colan, who passed away on Friday. And a few words about his wife Adrienne, as well; although she passed away last year…well, what I have to say involves them both, and I really can’t talk about one without the other.
I’ve mentioned Gene numerous times in this blog, for those of who’ve been keeping track; technically speaking, the very first AudioComics outing was the audio-style reading of Starstruck in Big Sur in 2009, partly in preparation for the 2010 recording, and partly to raise funds to alleviate “Gentleman Gene’s” rising medical costs. Prior to this, I had had several e-mail exchanges with his late wife Adrienne, who was handling Gene’s online store. I had bought some prints from them when I found out about his health issues; Adrienne wanted to know a little more about me, which was kind of cool and a little surprising; I mentioned I’m an actor (or specifically out-of-work actor) and about working in audio, and she responded with a wonderful e-mail about how she and Gene loved actors, and later how Gene enjoyed hearing old time radio as he worked on commissions. I decided to surprise them with a CD of the audio plays I produced under the old Play it by Ear banner; something for Gene to hear while recovering. Apparently he loved them. My thinking was, buying some prints wasn’t enough; I had experienced a short period of my life where I too was without health insurance, and to buy some prints just didn’t seem like enough to help them out. Hence the Big Sur event. Gene personally e-mailed me to thank me and the cast for everything.
I know that there will be many tributes in the days and weeks to come. Gene Colan will go down in comics history as one of the masters of the medium, of light and shadow, as (to many) the definitive Daredevil and Iron Man and Dracula artist…hell, I was a big fan of his Nathaniel Dusk and Night Force series for DC. But I’ll remember Gene and his loving wife Adrienne as something else. Two really, really nice people.
Finally, I direct you to the blog of one of Gene’s closest friends, the one and only Clifford Meth, who is establishing a scholarship in Gene’s name at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. If you’re interested in making a donation, more information can be found here: http://bit.ly/ipARUI.
April 25, 2011 Comments Off
Over the course of the next few months, Starstruck will return to radio as it makes it’s way through numerous audio drama showcases; the first will be Jerry Stearns’ Sound Affects: An Audio Playground, which airs on KFAI 90.3 and 106.7 FM in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Starstruck will air in three parts over three consecutive Sundays, May 1, 8, and 15 from 9:30pm – 10:30pm Central Time. And you can hear the live stream of each episode for up to two weeks after each installment airs. www.kfai.org is the handle. So, if you missed it on WMPG FM this past February, you have another chance! Actually, you’ll have several chances, and we’ll let you know where else it will air very soon.
February 12, 2011 § 1 Comment
On Thursday my day was spent, as it had been in the week before it, glued to CNN and MSNBC witnessing a populace say “enough is enough.” A dictator proclaimed that he would he would be buried in his country’s earth, and the air was punctuated by cries of retaliation. The mext day the Egyptian people took our President’s mantra and made it their own, in part because of the events in Tunisia the month before: Yes We Can. 30 years of Mubarak ended after 18 days of blood, tear gas, and molotov cocktails. Far be it from anyone to say, though, that the worst is over; these are ripples in a much larger lake. Chaos makes for headlines; it’s the uncertainties that lie in the aftermath that alternatively interest me and leave me with the sense of uneasiness. To paraphrase Pete Townsend, will the new boss be the same as the old boss? So, in between watching the end unfold, playing peacekeeper, and re-writing my television pilot outline…I listened to The Cleansed again.
I’ve stated it before, I’ll state it again, Fred Greenhalgh is one of our country’s leading audio evangelists. His technical know-how is only matched by his ambition, and The Cleansed definitely falls into that category. Moreover, what he has created, and I know some of his plans for future installments; it’s a series about who we become because of who we are now, and the repercussions, the ramifications of our actions that our children and our children’s children will have to overcome. Yes, it has elements of sci-fi and Stephen King, but it’s still grounded in a place of truth. And as Fred put it, “truth is frighteningly too much like fiction.” Recently, Bill and I heard from Fred, who is re-mixing the pilot episode for download and compact disc (partly because of the REM and CCR music opening and closing the piece – fine when it’s on WKIT, not fine when selling the product). We’ll be meeting, the three of us, in the next few weeks to discuss the series and where it goes from here.
In the meantime, the re-mixed pilot will be ready for download on March 1, 2011 through FinalRune’s website and the site specifically set up for The Cleansed. Fred is headlong into fundraising, as has, we’re happy to say, raised $500 of the $5000 that needs to come from individual donations out of the $35,000 he’s shooting for in order to make Season One happen. Here’s where you can come in. “The ‘First 50′ individual donors will be given a special place in the production in perpetuity, being recognized as early supporters in the project regardless of level of donation.” This means $15 or $500, every bit counts. www.thecleansed.com/support. And finally the $64,000 question for the day: how else can The Cleansed‘s message be told to the masses beyond audio? Webcomic? Live action web series? Series of T-shirts with “The revolution’s in Bangor?” Let us know. We’ll pass along the best ideas to Fred.
February 5, 2011 Comments Off
Almost forgot: in addition to KFAI’s “Sound Affects,” we have another station airing Starstruck in May: Rich Fish’s Firehouse Theatre on WFHB FM in Bloomington, Indiana.
That’s three so far: WMPG, KFAI, and WFHB. Any other takers?
February 5, 2011 Comments Off
Before the tirade, just to let you know there will be more changes to the website in the coming months; actually, the site will be evolving as we go, with funkier page names, expanded info, photos, and a lil’ somethin’ on that there screenplay concept. Also, we are developing an AudioComics Confidential e-mail newsletter in place of the podcast. We’ll let you know when the first issue’s ready for those of you interested in being part of an e-mail list.
Well, we have chosen our projects for the new year! It will be a light year, where we will record and release a handful of titles, primarily on Mp3, but also on compact disc (some for general release, some specifically for comic book conventions). In addition to our continuing exploration of Starstruck, Bill and I will put together a pulp audio series, a children’s line of titles, and on the other end of the spectrum, we’ll be recording an amazing title from a connection made at San Diego Comic Con (although we are familiar with one their earlier releases). And another title would come from one of the fine folks from Latchkey Studios! Plus, we’re about to hit our first ever science fiction convention with a live recording. Details to come!
Now obviously we could do more titles, but there are certain economic realities in place: we are a start-up with two partners and several collaborators trying to create great audio in one of the worst recessions in decades. To pay our actors, artists, technicians, musicians, much less ourselves, is a challenge. We’re not making movies, we’re not doing TV, to be at a point where we can call this the day job will be a while in coming. It’s going to be a challenge for at least another year or two, so right now the best thing to do is to persevere by focusing on a few titles at a time, market them as best as we can, and look into more convention appearances: the live interaction is as, if not more, important than internet interaction. In addition, we will be developing projects for 2012 (one to be recorded in Chicago) and even 2013, so even with four titles, we will still have full plates this year.
I do say “Bill and I,” which brings up another development: those of you who have followed this blog from the beginning may have noticed that AudioComics member Dan Bernard is all but invisible, both here and on the website. The unfortunate reason for that is that Dan is no longer a partner in the LLC that is AudioComics. We have kept things quiet simply because the legal separation of a member from a partnership is a private one, and should be treated as such while the process is unfolding. Dan Bernard is a very talented and busy artist with many projects under his belt, including a number of screenplays, the result of which being that thing that writers dream of: Hollywood representation. It was determined after the recording of Starstruck that he simply could not continue the pace of both working with AudioComics and developing and finishing his creator-owned projects. We’re sorry to see him go, but wish him the best in his future endeavors.
But, as the saying goes, when one door closes, another opens. In this case, four doors have opened. We are thrilled to announce that several collaborators and close friends will be working with AudioComics over the course of the next few years. We’ll announce who they are at a later date, once schedules have been confirmed. And if that were not enough (if that wasn’t enough for you), we may be partnering on several projects with one of the greatest living names in audio theatre and his UK-based production company. This man is certainly no stranger to the world of comics-to-audio, and he’s one of the best producers and directors working in the medium today. Not to mention our continuing collaboration with Fred Greenhalgh on The Cleansed, one of the few original projects on our slate, and Latchkey Studios, and some potential Hollywood connections, and a collaboration with one of the best indie publishers in comics today - like I said, full plates!
Okay, the quickie tirade. For those of you expecting us to do something, anything featuring zombies or vampires or zombies fighting vampires or good looking vampires and zombies…forget it.
Right now, the big “thing” is zombies. I would think that The Walking Dead has more than a little something to do with that (although, if you think about it, Dead is not so much a zombie book/series as its how human beings react to the end of the world, undead or otherwise). We want to see a million downloads of our productions; the We’re Alive podcast has hit two million. I recently read about a Hollywood studio optioning a web series; you guessed it, it’s about a zombie invasion. Today, it’s zombies. Yesterday, it was vampires, thanks in part to, or maybe no thanks to depending on what you thought of it, Twilight-mania. Not to mention True Blood and Vampire Diaries (push the sex). With a vampire here and a vampire there, here a vamp there a vamp, everywhere a vampire.
Bill and I have received many a request from small publishers and fans: “would you like to adapt my title? It’s about vampires!” And yes, we have had more than one request to turn Walking Dead into an audio series. I have one word regarding that: overkill. Oversaturation of anything has a nasty side-effect: people will eventually get freaking sick of it. We are going to do what we want to do not because its the popular choice, but because the property interests us. If we are going to be spending a year of our lives devoted to a project, it has to be worth our while, and not simply because it’s “the current flavor,” whatever that is at the moment. If there is a vampire element involved, okay: what makes this different from every other vampire story out there? What hasn’t been done with this genre? That’s what’s interesting!
So you have a better idea into our plans: what we’ll do now and into the future, what we won’t do unless there’s a damn good reason to do it. The AudioComics Company has the potential to SOAR. We feel we have the ability to make the same impact as a Hollywood feature film or television series featuring your favorite property. We just have to be true to ourselves. And really, isn’t that how all artistic endeavors should go?
January 2, 2011 Comments Off
The following is an updated article by AudioComics Company co-founder Lance Roger Axt from many moons ago. It was part of the Play it by Ear Productions blog, which has now gone the way of the dodo. But as it was a pretty damn decent piece, so we’ve decided to recycle ‘er for the AudioComics blog. It goes somethin’ like this:
I lived in New York for five years. In the last year I was there, the year that Play it by Ear was coming together, actors tried to give me headshots and resumes all the time. During the course of conversation, Play it by Ear Productions is mentioned, an actor overhears this and tells me he/she can do voices, or asks me if I will accept the headshot and resume, or worse, tries to shove them in my face. I’ve since stopped telling actors what I do.
Anyway, as an actor I hated hearing someone tell me “no,” so as a producer I’d just smile and ask him or her for a voice-over CD. He/she does not have one, has never made one, and cannot understand why I won’t take his/her headshot and resume. So I say that Play it by Ear Productions is an audio theatre company. I then get the look of “so?” Avoiding the knee-jerk sarcastic response that I so desperately want to f***ing shout out, I explain that no one can see what you look like on radio; how can you be considered for a role if we don’t know what you sound like? He/she quickly gets the point, apologizes for interrupting, and retreats. That’s usually how it would go. There was that one occasion, where an actor shrugged off my explanation with: “acting for radio, so how hard’s that?”
My response: “harder than you think.”
It’s my humble opinion that acting for audio is one of the toughest forms of acting around. You are confined to a small area of space, where you have to pull out of your gut a performance that has the same energy you would have on a proscenium stage. You have to be conscious of how loud you project, and speak without popping your consonants. There are numerous technical elements that must be taken into account with your performance before you even say your first line.
Yet you still want to have that freedom in your body and voice, so you don’t feel you are acting from the neck up. You also do not want to have to go over the same section of text twenty different times because you didn’t get it in the first take. Ultimately its more than “people tell me I have a great voice.” Question is, do you have the acting chops to back it up? Actors who are trained in voice-over techniques for commercials and audio books can take their stage training, merge the two disciplines, and can get what is needed the first time out.
First, you have your script. Ask yourself questions from what the playwright has given you: who am I? Where am I? What is my point of view? What do I want and how do I get it? Sound familiar? These are the basic building blocks for your performance on stage, and now you are applying those same building blocks to an audio performance. Make your choices, and make them big: if you are working with a good director, he/she can pull you back in the rehearsal.
VISUALIZE. This is the most important aspect of your performance. I’ve listened to a few fan fic podcasts, and Sweet Jesus of Nazareth, I want to start pulling out my hair. I don’t believe for one minute that these people are running down a corridor, getting up off of the floor after being knocked down, or doing anything of a physical nature. Your voice cannot be disconnected from what the character is doing in the moment of the play. I quote Mr. Larry Conroy, OTR legend, from an interview I conducted with him a few years back:
“Imagery. If you see it – we’ll see it – if you smell it, we’ll smell it – if you hear it, we’ll hear it. Focus, concentration, body language, breathing and tone, attitude, and much more. It’s a very individual and detailed process.
“Yes — you just read that right — BODY language, and if you ask why body language when no one can see you – think of this: Oxford University studies, about the best studies ever made on the subject, found that 67% of everything we say is accounted for by body language – Just watch others when they speak to you. Watch yourself when you speak to them. Try to say “WOW!! Do I have something to tell you!” to someone without using your hands, arms and body. Body language drives and alters our tone.”
What? He says it much better than I could’ve.
What’s next? Get used to working with a microphone prior to your day in the recording studio. I promise you, if you have no or little experience working with a microphone, you will find yourself stressing, and getting tense; actors who aren’t used to microphones sometimes find them intimidating. And yet there are trained voice-over actors at the BBC who are able to scream into a mic without releasing any breath. Invest in (if you don’t already have one) an external microphone that you can hook up to a tape recorder or a boombox. Stand before it as you would in the recording studio so as not to compress your diaphragm (decline if someone offers you a chair at a recording session). You own the microphone! It’s not there to hinder you, only to help you!
You’re standing before the mic reading your lines. What is your body doing? Are you completely rigid, both body and voice? You shouldn’t be! Before I left New York City, I had the privilege of watching a master at work: Jim Dale, the Tony award-winner, British TV personality, and Harry Potter audiobook actor read from various Potter books the day after the store was besieged by children young and old awaiting The Order of the Phoenix. Not only was Dale a delightful person, but was a revelation as he put the upper half of his body into his delivery, going into different characters at the drop of a hat, each character with his or her own distinctive voice and mannerisms based on character descriptions and moods, which he would put together with the voices of his past (Dumbledore is John Houseman, MacGonagle is his aunt from Scotland, and Dobby the house-elf was a dwarf from a British production of “Snow White” who was behind Mr. Dale in an elevator and apologetically asked him to move over as Dale’s bum was right in his face).
Work on your lines, and then play them back. Do this over and over again. This is where you have to be completely objective in regards to your performance. Did you fumble any lines? Is there energy in your delivery? Were you relaxed? Did you over-modulate anywhere or pop your consonants? Work on getting any and all technical problems out of the way before you enter the room for your first rehearsal. It’ll make your life, and the lives of your director and engineer, a helluvalot smoother.