Friday, January 16, 2009


Unconscious Voice Casting

I'm in the middle of several different "reading assignments," as I like to think of them. Mornings during my walk I'm reviewing books for consideration in the World Fantasy Awards. At night, upstairs before going to bed, I'm rereading Matt Wagner's Grendel for the first time in two decades (about which more later). And when I've got a few minutes to spare in the middle of the day and need something to read, I'm working my way through Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's original run on Fantastic Four.

It's that last one that got me thinking. I'm towards the end of the first year of FF stories, and I noticed something strange. Not about the stories themselves, but about my experience reading them. Typically when I'm reading I don't "hear" the characters' voices in my head, except in a fairly generic way. The exception is when I'm reading a character that I associate for whatever reason with a particular voice, like the actors on a movie or tv series when reading a tie-in book. Reading these old Fantastic Four stories from the early sixties, though, I found that I had very distinct voices in my head for each of the main characters--but I didn't recognize where those voices came from. All I could figure was that Reed Richards sounded almost but not quite like Jonny Quest's Race Bannon.

Then I noticed that I was "hearing" the sound effects, too, and they sounded just like the stock fx used in the Hanna-Barbera adventure cartoons. And that's when I figured out where the voices were coming from.

How crazy is that? I don't think I've seen one of these cartoons in decades, not since I was a kid. And I've read countless Fantastic Four comics over the years without "hearing" any voices for the characters. But the FF stories I've typically read were later examples, often by other creators. I have read a lot of the Lee-Kirby FF comics, notably in the Essential collections, but perhaps it's significant that those were black-and-white reprints. This is the first time I've read more than a handful of Lee and Kirby Fantastic Four comics in color, and suddenly my unconscious is pulling from dimly recalled thirty-year-old memories to supply voices to the characters.

Weird, right?

If this:

>> I'm rereading Matt Wagner's Grendel

has something to do with this:

>> I've got a secret.

Then I am filled with that sort of seething confusion that comes from being both thrilled for you and jealous as hell.
God, don't I wish? No, totally unrelated. The "more later" about Grendel is just going to be a big review of the run for the blog, along with some thoughts about what a *huge* impact that book had on me when it was coming out.

The secret isn't even that big a secret, to be honest, just a novel deal. Getting to write a Grendel story, though? That would be freaking HUGE!

(Well, come to think of it the two aren't entirely unrelated, as Matt Wagner is one of the people to whom the "secret news" novel is dedicated. Which is what inspired me to revisit Grendel in the first place.)
So, I get two things out of this then. Excellent. Looking forward to your summary of Grendel. It's been forever since I read those.

And no one ever gets it when I mutter. "Eventually . . . I killed him."
It may be a little while yet before I have a chance to write up my overview, but don't worry. I'm patient. I'm directed. I'll get to it.
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