The Animated Minds Behind ‘Marvel Super Heroes: What The–?!’ Pt. 2: Jesse Falcon [Video]
Jesse Falcon's been a fixture in the wider Marvel business world for years, acting perhaps most prominently in the eyes of toy collectors as Product Manager at Toy Biz, where he pioneered the now classic Marvel Legends action figure line. Having spent the last several years at Marvel proper as Director of Merchandising, Falcon continues an even closer relationship with toys as a producer, writer and voice actor for the Legends-stocked Marvel Super Heroes: What The--?! shorts.
Working alongside Ben Morse and Alex Kropinak, Falcon's forged the animated Web series' tone and overall workflow since the team began its adventures back in 2009 to create the monthly treat fans have come to count on for their emoting action figure needs.
Continue reading for part two of our week-long series of interviews with the What The--?! crew, including a special video by Kropinak that showcases the vocal stylings of Falcon and the rest of the voice cast.
ComicsAlliance: Can you tell me a little bit about how you became involved in making What The--?! How do you think your initial expectations for the shorts compares with the series' current quality?
Jesse Falcon: I think that it started with Alex and I squatting In Joe Q's office when he wasn't there to try and record something for Marvel.com. It was done in the M.O.D.O.K. voice and it was so loud that when we opened the door Tom Brevoort and Axel Alonso were standing there with baseball bats. I'm not sure what they thought was going on in the office but I though that was a great reaction and I guess we took it form there.
I believe that the show's quality has grown a great deal as we've done some things that helped us plan against the year instead of just reacting to memes or current events. That kind of planning has helped us build stronger episodes. We also record in a more professional manner now as well... less baseball bats.
CA: Prior to lending your vocal talents to What The--?!, you've had years of experience in comedy and entertainment. Which of those experiences do you think most prepared you for the voice work you do for these shorts?
JF: Probably doing a lot of V/O work for Marvel and all of the licenses Marvel & Toy Biz had. At one point a few years back Kevin Feige pulled me aside and told me that my name was in Toby McGuire's contract with Sony as Sam Rami said that if Toby wasn't available for V/O [for the Spider-Man films] that he would like me to be used. Also being involved in comedy in NYC for about the last 12 years. I've done at least one show a week at various places in the city (mostly the UCB theater) and all of those shows are Improv or VERY loosely written sketch comedy so I've had a great deal of experience of having to write on my feet. That and being a huge fan of all comedy has helped me the most in working on What The--?!.
CA: Do you do anything special to warm up or get into character before recording your lines for each segment? If so, does the office environment at Marvel lend itself well to those activities?
JF: It depends. For characters like wolverine a lot of guttural screaming doesn't hurt to get your register lower.
CA: In addition to writing and voicing What The--?!, you also effectively stock a hearty chunk of its cast with toys from your own collection. How do you coordinate your collection with the needs of each short? Are you picky with your action figures at all?
JF: Right now were actually trying to fill the ranks of the show out with more characters and that will probably consist of a combination of custom figures and new toys all together, but I'm more than happy to lend my figures to the What The--?! show.
CA: Doing voice work is about more than just reading lines, you also have to craft the character with a designated sound. How do you approach defining each character's voice?
JF: Copious amounts of guttural screaming and bourbon gargling.
CA: As part of such a relatively tight crew, you take on a pretty amorphous role (or roles) as both a writer and cast member. What do you think the advantages and disadvantages are to your current What The--?! workflow?
JF: The obvious advantage is that if you have an idea you can articulate that idea all the way through and that's very satisfying. For me it's fun to try and challenge the medium and try new ways to tell the story or a joke.
CA: Have you paid much attention to fan reaction since the shorts began rolling out? What do you think of the fan response so far?
JF: A little, I go to a lot of toy collecting sites and there is some feedback there and it's all pretty positive.
CA: Do you have a favorite What The--?! episode or a particular moment you think you and the crew really nailed?
JF: I'm very happy with the last X-mass episode.
CA: Who are some characters you'd love to write/voice in What The--?! that haven't been seen in the shorts thus far?
JF: Well we have a few new characters that we will be introducing this year. I'm very much looking forward to tackling them. There are some very old characters that we want to keep in the What The--?! roster moving forward.