It’s been almost 26 years since the first episode of Batman: The Animated Series hit television sets across the country. One can argue that it is one of the best superhero animated series ever made. It’s so popular in fact that lots of times online we see people putting Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman on the same list as the actors that played Bruce Wayne is the live action films, like Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, Geroge Clooney, Christian Bale and recently Ben Affleck.
Speaking with Kevin Conroy at San Diego Comic-Con two weeks back at a round table interview, we had the opportunity to ask him how he feels about fans comparing him to those who played Batman and even in many cases claiming that for them, he IS Batman.
“I would say it’s an honor, but that sounds cliché, it is an honor,” said Conroy. “A great thing about the show is the seriousness with which the producers and the writers and the directors took the material. They never talked down to the audience ever. There was always a great respect for the audience, so to get that respect back from the audience means the world to me. It really does. It means that you touched somebody, and they got it. So, I love it.”
Conroy continued his response by talking about how much he values attending cons across the country. Telling us that as a voice actor, this is very important because when your a stage actor you can get “the juice” form audiences routinely, but when your recording in a studio inside a booth you don’t get the same responses, which is where Cons come into play, especially when he gets the opportunity to hear about what the Batman he voices means to fans.
“Oh, my God. The stories I get. That’s what I love about going to Comic-Cons. With stage acting, you get that juice from the audience every night, which is half the reason you become an actor. It just feeds you like a drug. When you’re recording in a booth, you never get that. You create the character, you put it out in the ether, and you never get that feedback. With Comic-Cons, you do,” Conroy continued.
He gave us a great example of a woman that he met at one of his previous appearances in Chicago.
“A woman 30-ish, at the Chicago Comic-Con came up and just said, ‘I just wanna hold you. I’ve always wanted to hold you.’ So, I gave her a hug and she said, ‘I owe you so much. You got me out of a terrible childhood. I grew up in the projects on the South Side. Every kid I grew up with is either in jail or dead. I got out, and it’s because of that.’ I said, ‘Wait a minute. It’s because of your mother, I’m sure.’ You know? Batman had nothing to do it. She said, ‘No, I love my mother. My mother’s a wonderful person, but she was working three jobs. I was alone every afternoon, and I had you. You were the one teaching me, or Batman was the one teaching me right from wrong.'”
Growing up in a house where both my own parents had to work until late in the evening, I can somewhat relate to what this woman said. One constant I will always remember from my childhood is coming home and watching Batman: The Animated Series. To this day there are podcasts like The Arkham Sessions that dissect the world of that show, not a lot of cartoons have that kind of effect on its audiences. For some kids growing up in a difficult environment, it doesn’t seem hard to believe that Batman could in fact have been that escape that like this example, got them through a difficult period in their lives.
Conroy concluded by saying that, “It’s amazing to think that you’ve touched a life like that. Even if it’s just my voice, but to have been a part of something like that. I hear stories like that all the time. People lead such hard lives, they really do. Everyone, everyone has burdens, and so many children have such rough times. To play a character that helps them somehow is really wonderful.”
How well those episodes were written is the reason why I am the Batman fan I am today and I am sure that there are a lot of other people who feel the same way. Episodes like Heart of Ice, Almost Got’im, The Man Who Killed Batman and Jokers Favor will always be fan favorites. But it seems that for some out there Batman: The Animated Series was a lot more than just an afternoon cartoon for entertainment, it was a series that gave them hope that if Batman could overcome those odds so could they.
Was Batman: The Animated Series part of your childhood? Let us know in the comment section below!