The Perry County Public Library hosted their second annual ComicCalooza on Saturday, August 18.
ComicCalooza offered local children the chance to learn about science fiction literature and movies, including one of the legends of the science fiction voice over community, Mark Dodson, who was the voice of Salacious Crumb in Return of the Jedi and some of the titular characters in Gremlins. Dodson sold autographed photos and DVDs of his work.
The miniature comic convention had fans dressed in costume, face painting, video games and other activities, but Dodson was the main attraction for fans that ranged in age from children to adults.
Dodson said that Saturday was his first time to Hazard, but thought the area was beautiful. He was brought in for the event by children who had been researching the film Gremlins at the library.
“What I was told was told that the kids were looking up the Gremlins on the Internet and they saw that I was the voice,” said Dodson. “They saw that I do the Comic Cons and Star Wars conventions, and I said sure (when asked to appear).”
Dodson said that voice work came almost naturally, but it was not something out of which he had planned on making a career. He had always loved films, but wanted to get into production and not talent. He moved to Los Angles when he graduated high school to see if he could break into film production.
He eventually heard that Lucasfilm, which had just produced the first massively successful Star Wars film, was building a studio.
“They were looking for laborers and carpenters, and I said well I can go be a laborer,” Dodson remembered.
He figured if he were working at the studio he would have a better chance of getting a production job when one opened. Instead of a production job opening up, a job performing voices for characters for the next “Star Wars” film, Return of the Jedi, opened up.
Dodson said that while he had not considered being a voice talent, he had always had an ear and gave it a shot. He first realized this talent at a young age watching cartoons. It was a trip to Disney Land that really made him take notice of the power of a good voice.
“The big thing happened when I was 10 years old and I went in the haunted mansion and heard the voice in the haunted mansion,” said Dodson. “Then we went to the Pirates of the Caribbean and I could tell that it was the same guy doing the voices in there.”
With this knowledge behind him, he went into the audition for Return of the Jedi and was given the part of Salacious Crumb, Jabba the Hutt’s loyal sidekick.
After Return of the Jedi ended, Dodson had lunch with the creators of the Salacious Crumb puppet.
“I said wouldn’t it be great if there was a movie of a whole planet of Salacious Crumbs, and they were like yeah,” he said. “We were all thinking work.”
A while later he received a call from the designers saying they were working on just such a movie and needed a voice actor.
“He said remember when you said wouldn’t it be great if there were a whole planet of Salacious Crumbs? He said, well there is, but the planet is Earth and now they are called Gremlins,” he added.
Since these major films, Dodson has been able to stay busy with voice work in commercials and television. He is currently the voice of Panasonic, the Outdoor Channel, Wild Turkey Bourbon, and even some commercials for the Olympics.
Attendees of ComicCalooza got the chance to meet Dodson, and he even offered some advice for aspiring voice actors. He said to check websites for voice auditions, and you can use home equipment to make a demo.
“All of us voice guys pretty much work out of home studios thanks to technology,” he said.