Voice Actor/Musician Joins Roster of ‘Wildcat Comic Con’ Talent
A frequent VIP at such events due to his high-profile resume, the Brooklyn, New York-born Stuart is nonetheless grounded and humbled by his success.
“For every ‘Pokémon’ I have worked on, there are 25 shows that never went anywhere,” he said. “To be a big part of pop culture is amazing. Hearing fans say, ‘You are the voice of my childhood’ means more to me than you know. When your show is known by 5-year-olds and grandparents alike, you know you’re doing something right.”
One of Stuart’s favorite stories is from a “con” earlier this year in Miami, where a fan – “maybe 25, tall, very pretty and carrying herself with confidence” – approached him with her graphic artist fiancé. When she was 15, the young woman reminded him, she had asked for an interview to satisfy a writing assignment.
“She was very shy and had no friends at school. She couldn’t believe that I said, ‘Yes.’ I answered her questions about the voiceover business and sent it to her,” Stuart recalled. “She then told me that, when she read the paper in class, her classmates were so impressed that she was able to get an interview with me that she became quite popular, and her confidence in herself grew.
“The best part was this: She had saved the paper and asked me to autograph it. I have to say it was quite moving. That just puts the power of celebrity into perspective. Do not abuse it … and remember that you can influence many. Pay it forward.”
Because of the Wildcat Comic Con’s college connection, the event is more education-centered than most. Reflecting that mission, Stuart offers a number of pointers from his varied career.
“One of the things I believe in is in learning in the form of shadowing – being an assistant, an intern. If you want to be a great carpenter, you find a great carpenter and ask to learn from him/her in return for sweeping up the shop, etc.,” he said. “By being around that expert, you will learn not just the classroom lesson, but also the life lesson.”
He said he had the opportunity to do that in a recording studio, where hands-on experience – a hallmark of a Penn College education – taught him so much.
“There are few things you can throw at me that I haven’t had to deal with in production,” he said, noting that voiceover work, in particular, doesn’t always allow for leisurely study. “I have recorded many, many shows where I walk into the booth and the director says something like, ‘I know you can do some accents, so, today, you are playing a French gopher.’ Unlike a play or a movie, we voice actors don’t get a lot of prep. So to prepare, I say, ‘Be prepared for anything.’”
His versatility – and his classic rock-‘n’-roll style – resulted in a Summer 1997 invitation to open the Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band tour, featuring Frampton, Jack Bruce (Cream), Gary Brooker (Procol Harum) and Simon Kirke (Bad Company). That exposure served as a springboard for him to open for the Lynyrd Skynyrd/Kenny Wayne Shepherd/Paul Rodgers tour that same summer.
Stuart has toured regularly since then, including two U.S. stints with Frampton (who co-produced his album, “Blue, Dressed in Black”). The Grammy-winning Frampton is also featured on the Eric Stuart Band’s June 2013 release, “Lipstick and Barbed Wire,” the band’s sixth full-length recording on the independent Widow’s Peak Records label.
“If you have a passion for your craft, find ways to supplement your income so that you do not put financial pressure on your art,” said Stuart, who now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and works with many of that city’s finest songwriters. “I became a voice actor and director so that I could play original music and take advantage of great opportunities that came my way that might not have been great-paying gigs … but how do you say ‘No’ to touring with a Beatle?”
“I consider success getting up to bat and trying,” he added. “The pot of gold is a nice bonus, but if you put your heart into the pursuit, that is success to me. Enjoy the journey.”
Attendees at the third Wildcat Comic Con will have the opportunity to enjoy more than that.
Stuart is scheduled to headline two morning workshops at the event – “Voice Acting 101” and “Voice Directing/Producing/Adaptation/Writing” – both featuring wide-ranging opportunities in the field: audiobooks, industrial narration, commercials, radio, cartoons and even telephone prompts.
In addition to his role as a presenter, Stuart will perform in a solo acoustic show.
More information on this year’s programming is available at the Wildcat Comic Con website.
“This year’s event has a terrific lineup of award-winning presenters, as well as recognized new talent making a difference in the comics and gaming industries,” promised Joann L. Eichenlaub, assistant director of library services at the college's Madigan Library and a member of the Wildcat Comic Con steering committee. “The caliber of the presenters and the programming this year is top-notch. It is going to be hard to decide which session to choose from each time slot. I wish I could sit in on all of them!”
Her advice? Register early and check out the program as soon as it is released.
“Equally exciting (and a focus for this year) are several workshops included in the programming that will offer a great opportunity to learn what is needed to develop and design a game,” Eichenlaub said. “Ernest Adams, designer of ‘Madden Football’ fame and author of the highly acclaimed ‘Fundamentals of Game Design’ textbook, is one of the experts scheduled to hold a game-design workshop.”
Penn College offers a bachelor’s degree in information technology sciences-gaming and simulation through its School of Industrial, Computing and Engineering Technologies.
Admission to the 2014 Wildcat Comic Con is an all-inclusive $20 per person for pre-registrants and $25 on-site (children under 12 are admitted free). Tickets are available at the Community Arts Center box office through the event's registration link. (The Arts Center, in downtown Williamsport, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Penn College.)
Visit the Comic Con website in the coming weeks for more about programming and presenters, cosplay (costumed play), and the vendor and Artist Alley area, among other attractions.
For information about Penn College, which is observing its Centennial throughout 2014, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.