Bill Walko's "The Hero Business": The Animated Series
Bill Walko is an artist with a very unique art style, one that is very bright and animated. He's also a good storyteller. By combining those two talents, the result was his web comic "The Hero Business", a satire of comic book themes and conventions. Just so you can get an idea, here's his deviantart page, and his website, theherobiz.com:
My fancast for a cartoon series based on Bill Walko's webcomic.
The Hero Business focuses on Parker Jameson, the newest employee at the biggest superhero PR firm in Metro City, and her coworkers at that same firm. In essence, it's "Just Shoot Me" meets "The Tick", with Parker standing in for Maya (Laura San Giacomo). The mission statement (taken from the site) is as follows:
“Want to bolster your Q-rating with the damsel in distress demographic? Yearning to be on this year’s Power 100 list? Looking to kick-up your sidekick?
Then it’s time to join The Hero Business – a full-service agency catering strictly to the super-hero set. Located in the heart of Metro City, this magnificent mix of marketing marvels can fly you from zero to hero.”
Of course, like any good office-type sitcom (Just Shoot Me, The Office, etc.), there's bound to be trials, tribulations, and just general hijinks all around, especially when it comes to the staff.
I thought this would make a good animated series, so this fancast is the result--with Walko himself (via the comments section on his site) giving me the okay to do so. The art style would be taken right from Walko (though I'd imagine he'd be doing the animation himself, if given the chance), and the cartoon would air on G4 (which I think would be the best home for it). Here is my voice cast, divided into the main characters and the guests (bio info courtesy of the site):
Lacey Chabert as the voice of Parker Jameson, receptionist
"Parker Jameson is the newest hire at the Hero Business. As the receptionist, she’s whip-smart and often serves as the voice of reason at the office – but her sardonic humor doesn’t endear her to everyone. In her short time at the company, Parker has proven herself to be smart, capable and organized. She’s almost too good to be true…"
Chabert has a pretty sweet voice for this feisty little sweet-talker, and no, she won't be replaced by Mila Kunis halfway through the show's run.
Laura Prepon as the voice of Morgan Sinclaire, PR director
"Morgan is the prickly (but savvy) Public Relations Director at the Hero Business. She’s probably the most competent senior member of the company, but that’s also due to the fact she’s a hopeless workaholic. Morgan is aloof and particularly quiet when it comes to talking about her own past. She was probably that girl in school with her heads in the books."
Prepon has one of those voices that perfectly fits the bill for Morgan's character, thus her being my pick. Morgan in my opinion is like the opposite of Prepon's character Donna on That 70's Show.
George Lowe as the voice of Bravado, super-hero turned super-consultant
Real name Kent Manning, Bravado is a blatant parody of the Silver Age Superman with a hint of some Golden Age hero sensibilities. "The world once thrilled to the exploits of the great champion known as Bravado. When his popularity waned (and his “asking price” dropped), the Hero Business employed his services as a super-hero consultant. But even on the downslide, Bravado’s name recognition scored high in our focus groups. He’s become the official face of the Hero Business, a fact that doesn’t sit well with all the employees. It takes some coddling to manage the blustery Bravado, an out-of-touch narcissist living in the past. He often remembers the good ol’ days when 'real men didn’t wear Kevlar.' He’s still dating his reporter girlfriend, Trixie Templeton, but their relationship is a dysfunctional cycle of dishonesty and suspicion."
Lowe provided the voice of Space Ghost on the cult hit "Space Ghost: Coast to Coast", and when I read Bravado's lines in the web comic, I immediately thought of Lowe. His voice is just perfect for this guy.
Rob Paulsen as the voice of Dr. Eli Malefactor, head of R&D
"Once a grandiose super-villain, the down-on-his-luck super-genius decided to reform and now works as the Head of Research & Development at the Hero Business. Eli always fancies himself the 'smartest one in the room,' and is notorious for his long-winded and flamboyant pronouncements. He also finds it difficult to work with his one-time arch-enemy, Bravado. Eli’s mind is a tremendous asset, but he bears watching. Has he reformed completely? Or will he occasionally sabotage The Hero Business?"
For choosing Paulsen, I was inspired by a past role of his (Dr. Scratchinsniff on Animaniacs) and a recent role (Baron Strucker on the Super Hero Squad Show), and thought he'd do great as this uber-blatant spoof of Lex Luthor (the mad scientist version).
Troy Baker as the voice of Simon Perch, marketing director
"Simon is aggressive, self-serving and unscrupulous. Perhaps that’s what makes him an effective Chief Marketing Officer. He’ll do anything to make a buck. Simon dreams of one day taking over The Hero Business himself. But his petty schemes often result in his own undoing. Conniving Simon thinks he is charming (he’s British, after all), but just about everyone finds him rather off-putting. Simon fancies Morgan, but she rebuffs his repeated advances."
Baker does a good British accent, and he's played characters like Simon before--he's perfect for the job.
Simon Helberg as the voice of Brody LeBlanc, art director
"Brody is a frustrated artist who (if you ask him) is 'slumming' as a graphic designer at The Hero Business. The surly self-styled 'artiste' often bristles when he’s asked to 'make the logo a little bigger' or deal with the 12th round of revisions to a costume design. But, y’know, he’s got a 'Wars of Worldcraft' habit to support. Plus, it seems he’s got a 'thing' for Parker."
It took me a while to figure out who had the right voice for Brody, and finally, I thought of Helberg, and this would be the total opposite of Howard Wolowitz for him, which I'd think he'd have fun with.
Billy West as the voice of Louie the Lounge Lizard
Louie is the owner of the Rocks Bar and Lounge, and is a former supervillain known as the Lounge Lizard, the 'horrific hep cat of the underworld' who once teamed up with Dr. Malefactor. He's now a 'reputable business man', though with the prices he charges for drinks, he could be considered still robbing people. He's known Parker since she was a kid, and is aware of her plans for the Hero Business.
For picking Billy West, I thought that for Louie, he could combine his voice for Rancid Rabbit from CatDog with a bit of Moe Syzlak and Harvey Fierstein to get the right rasp for this slithery bartender.
Wendy Schaal as the voice of Trixie Templeton
Trixie is a reporter who, like her longtime boyfriend Bravado, is a tad out of touch with the times (her boss, as one example, telling her no one uses the term 'scoop' anymore). She's a parody of the Silver Age Lois Lane, and like the stories from that time period, her relationship with Bravado has more Superdickery than anyone could imagine. As one example, in Walko's second full story "The All-New, All-Different Bravado", when he spends time trying to update his image, Trixie, feeling lonely during that week, has a Dr. Duplicity clone Bravado. The clone goes on a rampage, and Trixie is forced to take him down. She never mentions this incident to Bravado afterwards.
I chose Schaal because of her role on "American Dad!" as Francine, and thought she'd be killer as Trixie.
Kat Dennings as the voice of Kylie Kensington, aka "Little Hottie"
Kensington is a parody of any 'famous-for-being-famous' spoiled celeb type, be it a certain hotel heiress or a notorious trio of sisters. After a botched attempt to outdo a rival via surgical procedure, she ends up getting fiery powers and consults the Hero Business for help in becoming a hero. Frustrated by the processes she has to go through and the limits imposed by Bravado, she decides then and there to become a supervillain, taking a name Simon had called her earlier (Little Hottie). Parker manages to save the Business from being Kylie's first victim by tricking her into using her Blackberry, which of course fries upon contact with her microwave radiation-based flames. Kylie powers down, deciding it's not worth losing the use of her gizmos.
Kat Dennings I thought stole some of the show in Thor, and I don't know how funny her sitcom is, but I thought she'd be great at mocking the tabloid-fodder form of celebrity.
Rosario Dawson as the voice of Glamazon
Glamazon, according to Walko, is a sort of Brazillian Wonder Woman who's extremely free-spirited. She's Morgan's former prep-school roommate and current frenemy. We first see her in one of Walko's "Coffee Break" done-in-one strips where she's consulting with Bravado on what do do about a paparazzo who manages to get the best photos of her and get them in every rag in town. Though she doesn't want to stop the guy--she wants to hire him.
I went with Dawson since she's had experience playing an Amazon before, Artemis in the 2009 Wonder Woman animated film.
Ginnifer Goodwin as the voice of Amerigirl
Amerigirl is a parody of Donna Troy, and like her she's got issues with her origin story, as with every cosmic/time crisis it seems to change, making her one of the Hero Business's best clients. During an appointment with Morgan, just when it seems like she's got her origin all down pat, she gets changed at the last second, causing Morgan to cancel her dinner plans, as it's going to be a long night...
Picking Goodwin was inspired by her guest appearance on "Spongebob Squarepants" as a valley girl mermaid, and she was pretty funny in that role.
Brandon Routh as the voice of Nocturnowl
Nocturnowl is an obvious spoof of Batman, and like him is a dark, mysterious and brooding vigilante. He stops by Morgan's office for help in replacing his sidekick Fowler, who's 'left the nest' according to him. Morgan reminds him of an agreement they made that if it's the fifth time he's come for that request, she's calling child services. Nocturnowl then tells her 'When you've raised four ill-tempered teen orphans with abandonment issues, THEN you can judge'.
For picking Routh, I was inspired by when he voiced Everywhere Man on The Batman and when he played Shaw on Chuck, and thought that if he did a 'poor man's Christian Bale Batman' imitation, he'd be hilarious in this role.
Bumper Robinson as Kyle
Kyle is an up-and-coming superhero with ice-based powers, who consults Bravado for ideas on a name. The strip he's in spoofs the idea of how comics can be unintentionally racist, with Bravado here offering up ideas that slowly, but surely set off Kyle's temper.
Robinson's a good voice actor, and for Kyle I was inspired by when he voice Black Lightning on "Batman: The Brave and the Bold".
JP Mannoux as the voice of JD Rivers
JD is the director of the TV show "Weeville", a teen drama about the early years of Bravado in the hometown he grew up in (a parody of "Smallville", both the show and the location). He has a knack for dismissing ideas presented by writers.
Picking Mannoux was inspired by his many voice roles, most prominently the title character in Disney's "The Emperor's New School". He's also got the right voice for a guy like JD.
Michael Rosenbaum and Tom Welling as the voice of the Weeville actors
I just thought this would be a funny bit for those two to lend their voices to. I was also inspired by a guy's American Dad fancast where he cast Matt Damon and Ben Affleck as Greg and Terry.
Tobey Maguire as the voice of Bug Boy
Bug Boy is a parody of Spider-Man who's worried about his popularity sinking since he married his longtime love. While at the Rocks, Bravado gives him a business card for Marriage Nullification Services ("We Undo I do"), while advising him for when he does consult them, to come up with a very good cover story.
I picked Maguire obviously because he played Spider-Man, but thought he'd have fun spoofing the character and the controversy behind "One More Day".
Jerry Trainor as the voice of Uberboy
Uberboy (a parody of the 90's era of Superboy) is a teenage superhero who, while being shown in to an appointment by Parker, tries to x-ray her clothes, until she tells him she and Morgan had a chat about his vision ("Stupid lead-lined underwear").
I went with Trainor because of his voice, and his comic timing.
Katee Sackhoff as the voice of Stiletto
Before the Hero Business, Walko's first foray into comic art and stories was Stiletto, a satire of 90's bad girl anti-heroes. He brought her back in a recent Coffee Break that spoofed the whole controversy surrounding the New 52 Catwoman and Starfire depictions. In the strip, she consults Simon for marketing herself to the masses, and after reading his revamp proposal, along with seeing a costume made for her....well, let's just say Simon ends up hanging around the office, admitting thongs aren't that comfortable.
Curtis Armstrong as the voice of Buddy Blathers
Buddy Blathers is a comic creator from Eyepop Comics, who according to Brody is an expert at darkening and sexualizing classic characters. According to Morgan, Buddy rebooted Lady Liberty as a leather-clad streetwalker. Buddy himself states that he wanted to speak to his female audience, and when Bravado criticizes his approach to revamping him (saying that kind of hero only appeals to an emotionally-stunted man-child), Buddy simply replies "And that's what sells, see?".
I chose Armstrong for his voice work as Snot on "American Dad!" and "Dan Vs." (whose lead character looks a bit like Buddy). I think he'd do a great riff on perceived "fanboys-turned-creators".
And that's it for me for this year! Have a happy new year, people, and check out theherobiz.com for these good comics.
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