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At New York Comic Con 2012, “Justice League,” “Static Shock” and “Futurama” voice actor Phil Lamarr stopped by the CBR Tiki Room to speak about his storied career, working on “Justice League” and “Static Shock,” his professional preferences and whether he plans to start writing comics.
On playing John Stewart in “Justice League” and Static in “Static Shock”: “Judging from the feedback I’ve been getting at the convention here today, there are a lot of people — especially comic fans and animation fans of color — who those characters really resonate with. And actually, a lot of people not of color who really respond to “Justice League” and “Static Shock.” Static was the first animated teen superhero of color to have his own show. I think the thing about John Stewart as Green Lantern had nothing to do with me, it had to do with the writing. The way with the “Justice League” series they took the best stuff from the 40 years of comic books and got rid of the rest. At the time in comic books, they couldn’t do. They were always saddled with their continuity. If somebody came up with a crappy character because there was a toy deal with Mattel in 1978, you’re stuck with that character as part of the continuity of the character and you have to reference it. When they created “Justice League,” Bruce Timm and the writers didn’t have that burden. They said, ‘John Stewart is the Green Lantern. He’s not the third backup Green Lantern, he’s not the Pip of Green Lantern, he’s the Green Lantern.”
On what he prefers to do professionally: “People always ask me, ‘ What do you prefer doing? Animation or movie or TV or stage?’ and my answer is always, ‘I prefer doing whatever is the best.’ Honestly, a ‘Samurai Jack’ has more in common with ‘Guys and Dolls’ than it does with a crappy Saturday morning Mr. T cartoon. Even though they’re in the same format, they’re worlds apart just because of the creativity involved in one and the lack in the other. ‘Pulp Fiction’ is closer the ‘Samurai Jack’ than it is to a Katherine Heigl romantic comedy. I would rather work on that thing that is best because that gives you the creative energy. To do a bad movie or to do a bad animated series, it takes less energy to do a bad animated series, but you get as little out of each.”
On writing comics someday: “Writing is very painful for me. I’m fairly decent at it, but it hurts. … Yes, but I never felt like I had any ideas. Although, I’ve been talking to industry friends, like Mark Waid and Bill Willingham and they ask me the same question. So, I’m now trying to get back my Groundlings muscles and go, ‘Okay, remember when you used to have a lot of ideas and then just throw them away?’ I’m trying to pay more attention to things. It’s funny because I’ve got a web series called ‘Inside the Legend’ and I was originally just going to produce and star in it, but I ended up doing a little writing as well — some writing and re-writing — and I was happy how it turned out.