Saturday, July 3, 2010

FREE! Comic Books for Actors

PhotobucketWhen I was a kid, I loved book-and-records; especially those Power Records releases that included a comic book, with a fully produced drama. Music, sound effects, and voice actors told the stories of Spiderman, Superman, and other childhood heroes.

My favorite of these was an adaptation of Planet of the Apes. I had the whole thing memorized.

My dad loves to tell the story of our long car rides and how I would keep myself entertained in the back-seat by re-enacting the entire Planet of the Apes script-sound effects and all! This was pre-in car DVD, pre-iPod. We kids had to have a little more ingenuity in those days! Looking back, this was my first experience as a voice-actor.

I still enjoy reading comic books, and it was brought to my attention by one of my coaches, Bob Bergen, that comics are a great source of scripts for voice-actors to practice developing characters with. Everything you need is right there on the multi-panel, 4 color page: Heroes! Villains! Action! Drama! Plenty of dialogue, and lots of illustrations to show you what the characters look like, and how they’re behaving.

In fact, when I’m voicing Hammy from Over the Hedge-or Dilbert and his Boss-I’m reading my lines directly from the comic-strips. What’s  the point in transcribing a script when you’ve got these beautiful, informative storyboards to work from?


If you want to give it a try, but you don’t know where to begin, I’ve taken the liberty of including some FREE comic book resources in    this article. How cool is that? You don’t even have to leave the house or buy anything to get started!

Fans of daily newspaper comic-strips can find plenty of favorites here:

PhotobucketA couple of years ago DC comics published a weekly series starring just about everybody in their fictional universe, but especially the lesser known ‘fringe’ characters.
It was called “52” and you can sample pages of that epic storyline here:

PhotobucketNot into capes? How about the gentle humor of Archie Andrews and the gang from Riverdale High School? Archie Digital is a paid subscription site, but they offer a few free preview issues.

Fancy yourself a Vampire Slayer? Check out free issues of Buffy.

PhotobucketVertigo is an adult comic book…er, sorry…”graphic novel” brand. Great stuff!       But definitely not appropriate for all audiences. A few free pages of several titles can be downloaded as .pdf’s here: Again, not kid stuff!

You can find many more resources by Googling ‘free comic book pdf.’

Practice accents with the characters. Age them. Play them over-the-top! Play them real. And if you are a producer as well, record the dialogue and add music and sound effects. Maybe you'll create something you can use on your demo! I'm no lawyer (check with one if you're concerned), but I believe using the material in this way is okay. You’re not selling anything (but your talent); and it’s purely for demonstration purposes. That said, I would change the names of familiar characters because people already know what characters like Batman and the Joker sound like, and if you don’t nail it-you could lose out on a similar gig. Best to use these magazines to create     your own unique heroes and villains.

Have fun!

1 comment:

  1. Donna Summers reposted my blog on and I thought you might enjoy this response from reader Dick Rodstein:

    "When Mel Blanc ran Bugs Bunny Tech back in the 1960's, it was reported that one of his first exercises was to have the students read newspaper comic strips out loud. It was a good way to find out if Nature intended you to do character voices or not."