Anime Expo 2012 Steve Blum Focus Panel
by Brian Hanson,
In one of the few panel events to be filled to capacity, Steve Blum's ardent and vocal fanbase packed Petree Hall to the brim. After a full 30-minute delay to merely attempt to seat everyone in attendance, a clip reel is shown of Steve Blum's voluminous voice over work, encapsulating a storied career in anime, American TV animation, video games, and more.
Steve Blum himself then storms the stage, and greets his adoring crowd with "Toonami's back, bitches!" He then greets his family and friends, who are visiting him at the convention. "I have my family here for the first time. My mom, my dad. It's great to be back in AX. This... it's been a big year, with The Legend of Korra, and getting Toonami back on the air. You guys, we made history. We got Toonami back on the air for a whole new generation to enjoy."
The floor opens to questions, and the fans storm the mic with requests for line readings and character requests from Blum's work - both well-known characters like Spike from Cowboy Bebop and Wolverine, as well as relatively obscure characters like Garcia Hotspur from Shadows of the Damned, to everything in between.
A few questions arose about Blum's approach to voice acting. "Voice acting isn't like any other kind of acting. Most of the time when I go into the studio I have no idea what I'm doing, and I just have to get going as soon as they say the word go. I have to be ready for anything, and there is no way to adequately prepare for any kind of voice acting. I just go and do it. You gotta be ready to go at a moment's notice." He also addressed a question about what to do when other struggling voice actors hit any "rough patches." "You gotta keep on going," he said. "The biggest rough spot is the time when you're not working. The biggest challenge is to keep your self esteem up. If you do it because you love to do it, and not for the love or fame, you need to have the inner peace inside so when you have downtime you've got other stuff to do. The other thing is to have people around you that love you and care about you and keep you down to earth. When I come home from something like this my ego swells and I can't fit my head through the door and my partner will tell me, 'that's great superstar, now take out the trash.' As you can imagine this is kind of a surreal world that I live in here, but she gives me the context of reality which is really healthy. That's the best advice I can give, hang around people who care about you for you."
He then talked briefly about his beginnings in voice acting. "I did it for fun on the side," he said. "I didn't even know I was an actor. I was an executive at a film company until i got a job that paid well enough where I thought I could do this full time. I never really looked for inspiration to do it for a living. I just did it 'cause it was fun, and all my friends were doing it. I thought of it as a hobby I did on the side 'cause it was fun." A fan asked about what goes on in his head when he creates a character. "Acting is acting. The process of creating the character is basically the same. For anime and videogames, I'm in a room by myself with the director. I'm depending on the director to give me the context and the storyline." A Digimon fan asked about his process as a script writer on that series. "Writing the scripts is not an easy thing to do. Especially when you're adapting Japanese to American audiences. It's a very tediuos process and I'm also pretty anal about it. It took me 40 hours to do a 20 minute script. As much fun as it was, writing my own characters and writing for my friends, it was really really tough. Kudos to all the writers out there, I have a deep appreciation for them."
A fan asked Blum about his feelings on Toonami's recent return. "It's like comin' home. Interestingly I feel more invested in TOM than most of my characters. I run into people all the time at cons who tell me that I basically, well, raisesd them, that they would rush home from school and listen to my voice all afternoon. I'm really honored to be back as TOM, so thanks again guys."
Though the line for questions still stretched around the room, their allotted time had already gone well over, and questions and voice requests were quickly wrapped up in rapid succession. One of the last questions was about how Blum comes up with the specific voices for each of his roles. "A combination of schizophrenia, just the right amount of medication, then put a mic in front of me and I let it out of me without hurting anyone or myself. All of us have a bunch of voices rolling around in our heads and we let em out so we don't cause too much damage in the world."
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