Today's commentary is going to be an odd one. And not
because it contains relatively little about the comic
(since that's the case with most of them). Thoughts on
this comic: I can't draw boats and am hoping to get away
with not drawing one despite having a scene set on a
boat. Think I'm getting away with it so far?
Next, something nice! Heraclea is an Amazoness!
and a City of Heroes
player who decided to combine these
two pastimes by creating characters based on Ekphobippe
and Melanippe. Aren't they pretty?
Next up, a shout-out to another reader. Ed Evans
recently started his own comic,
The Sandwich Man, which
marries a post-apocalyptic setting with the important
matter of, er, sandwiches. I was actually supposed to
link to this comic several weeks ago, but then the
comic's site went down for a bit, and I decided to wait
until it came back, and then I forgot. But I'm linking
to it now! See? I can get things right, given time...
Lastly today... hugely sad news from the world of anime
dubbing, as the industry lost one of its most talented
artists last week, somebody I admired greatly. Maddie
Blaustein was an accomplished voice-over artist, as well
as a comic writer. Her credits span numerous anime
series and video games, but she was undoubtedly best
known for providing the voice of Meowth for eight
seasons of the Pokemon anime. She died last week after a
short illness, at the way-too-young age of 48.
The Pokemon anime was something of an oddity. It
suffered from some of the usual treatment given to more
kiddie-oriented fare when destined for American TV, and
the source material itself was rather patch at times.
But the dubbing itself was consistently a highlight (at
least until recently, when Pokemon USA sacked all of the
voice artists and replaced them with cheaper sound-alikes,
but that's another story). There's a tendency among
anime fans to think of dub artists, particularly of the
4Kids variety, as jobbing actors with no real interest
or emotional investment in the characters they portray.
But the Pokemon voice talent consistently gave it their
all, and seemed to be having a huge amount of fun with
the source material. This was especially evident in
Blaustein's performance. She was also more actively
engaged with the fans than I've ever known any voice
artist be, regularly answering fan questions on Pokemon
forums (and showing superhuman levels of patience with,
shall we say, some of the less socially adept forumgoers).
The other aspect of Maddie that rarely escaped comment
is that she was a male-to-female transsexual, which
does, perhaps, shed a little light on her truly
astounding range of voice roles, encompassing both
genders. She once told a sweet story concerning this -
as well as her favourite role, Meowth - which I'll
attempt to paraphrase here. Those of you who, like me,
watched the early seasons of the anime might recall an
episode that explained Meowth's unusual ability to speak
like a human. In flashback, the episode tells how he
fell in love with a pampered female Meowth who was more
interested in her human owners than in other Pokemon.
Striving to become more human-like in order to win her
heart, he painstakingly learned to speak and walk on two
legs... only to ultimately be rejected by the target of
his affections, who now considered him a freak. What's
touching is that this story is what prompted Maddie
(still credited back then as Adam Blaustein) to come out
to her colleagues and begin the process of
transitioning. As silly as the show often was (and she'd
be the first to point out that it was often very silly
indeed), I'm not sure I'll ever look at it in quite the
same way after discovering this story.
I expect that I've probably talked for too long about
somebody I've never met, and really only knew as a voice
coming out of the television. But she was a heroine of
mine, and the news really took the wind out of my
sails... and since I don't have the discipline to keep
up a blog, I end up posting my directionless thoughts
here. Anyway, here's to Maddie Blaustein, a face unknown
to most, but a voice instantly recognisable to millions