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Batman: The Animated Series Panel @ Planet Comicon Kansas City

Batman: The Animated Series Panel @ Planet Comicon Kansas City

I attended a panel with creators and a voice actress from Batman: The Animated Series at Planet Comicon Kansas City.  This panel had voice actress Diane Pershing, who voiced Poison Ivy, artist/director Dan Riba, writer/producer Alan Burnett, and director Kevin Altieri.

Diane was asked when she discovered she wanted to be an actress. She stated, “I looked  in the mirror at age four and decided I wanted to be an actress.”  She went on to share, “I always sang. I sang at home.  In college, I was in the choir.  My first job out of college was a backup singer for Johnny Mathis. I was a backup singer for several years before I learned about voice acting.  Then I decided I wanted to do that.”

Kevin was asked how he got into animation for BTAS. He stated that he started off working for DIC doing kids shows and videos. He worked on The Real Ghostbusters, Spectrum, TMS, and many more.    He met a ton of people and things worked out for him to come to Batman: The Animated Series.  He was one of the first ones hired for it and the first director.

Kevin went on to state that he was an animation snob.  He wasn’t really interested in doing a Batman show. He was afraid it would be in the style of Tiny Tunes since that was the hot thing at Warner at the time.  But he was shown the trailer and from that moment he was hooked.  He stated it reminded him of the Fleischer Superman movies of the 40s, which he loved.

Kevin stated he brought in a lot of people to do Batman with because he knew them at DIC.  He felt like it was getting the band back together.

Dan used to work for Disney doing some shorts.  He got a call from Kevin.  He wanted the job instantly because the trailer had dropped and he wanted in.  He knew Bruce Timm, the showrunner because he worked with him at DIC. Dan also worked on Little Nemo for TMS. Dan wanted to be a full-on animator but Bruce kept telling him, “I need a character guy,” since Dan was known for his character work.

Allen stated that he grew up reading comic books like crazy. He went to Film school and did an internship for NBC. He started working for Kids at NBC and then later for Hanna-Barbera.  He worked on shows like Smurfs, Gummie Bears, and Duck Tails. He also worked on Superfriends.  He always wanted to write good stories for Superfriends but couldn’t because of the time it was on.   He argued with the standards and tried to get more freedom but couldn’t. He had written the story for the origin of Batman for Superfriends but had to do it without guns and violence.  He did it where thunder clapped.

Allen had grown tired of working for kids programs after 10 years.  “I want guns and fist fights!”  He was brought in by Bruce to work on Batman: The Animated Series.  He wasn’t convinced he would get to do what he wanted at first. Bruce had to keep telling him yes he could do things and watch the trailer.

Allen had written a Batman script years before but wasn’t allowed to do it.   After BTAS, Allen wrote Justice League Action.  He stated, “I finally got to write the Superfirends I always wanted to write.”

Dan stated that he knew the show would be big. He said, “I was oblivious and just wanted it to be amazing and getting bad art.”

Kevin stated he had to go to Dan’s knowing it would be big. He wasn’t sure.  They heard of a new writer coming in but found out he was coming from Superfriends. Kevin was shocked by the script they got from Allen. “Thank God for Allen!”

They were asked why this show was still so popular.  They stated that was aimed at children and adults and not written down.  It has been 30 years and it has been seen by 3 generations of fans. Diane stated, “It has legs!”. They stated was popular everywhere including prisons.

Diane was asked about getting the job of Poison Ivy.  She stated that she had done a lot of cartoons for Funmations like Flash Gordon, She-Ra, and Mighty Mouse.  She auditions for Poison Ivy, she decided that Poison Ivy should have a seductive voice because of her abilities and Diane had done lingerie commercials prior. Poison Ivy should also sound smart because she had a Ph.D.  She made it seductive with an edge.  She went on to say, “Every villain thinks they are right.  You play it like they are convinced they are doing the right thing.”

Diane told a story about learning that Batman: The Animated Series was still being watched and still popular.  Her daughter is a Librarian and asked her to come sign a few autographs at the Library.  Diane did and was shocked by huge line of fans lined up around the block.  She stated this launched her 7th career. She got representation from Celeb Works and now attends conventions where people come up and tell her what a difference she made in their lives.

The whole group praised Bruce Timm and all he did for the show.  It was his vision that lead them and kept things on track.  Diane also stated the voice director was also brilliant.

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