“Respect My Craft” – Kevin Conroy

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

dcc font
Click on the link to view all our Denver Comic Con articles!

Name:  Kevin Conroy

Profession: Vengeance, The night, Batman

Notable WorkBatman: The Animated Series, Justice LeagueBatman: Beyond

“Then they described the film noir quality of it, the drama, the kid losing his parents and avenging their deaths, lives in a cave and has an alter ego. It was a whole different, much darker, much more substantive show than I had understood.” – Kevin Conroy


Take a second and ask yourself, “Who played Batman the best on-screen?” Christian Bale? Sure. Michael Keaton? You could say that. Really though, hardcore fans only know one man as the Dark Knight. That man is Kevin Conroy, the voice actor from the classic Batman: The Animated Series. His reign as Batman, which began in 1992, is the longest of any actor portraying the character – and it has not even ended. B:TAS is highly regarded as one of the greatest animated shows in the history of television, ranking 2nd on both IGN’s and Wizard Magazine‘s Top 100 (both behind The Simpsons, TV’s longest-running animated show). The series was a testament to the skilled writers, animators and actors that worked on the show. B:TAS resonated with casual and hardcore fans alike, and introduced a new generation to Batman and the DC Universe at a time when comic books were super-saturating the market. This could be hard to believe, but even Conroy himself was not a comic book reader.

Growing up in a strict Irish Catholic setting, he wasn’t exactly encouraged to read comic books. However, what he did end up with was a love for theater. In middle school, when he transferred to a public school, he did not know how to adapt to the liberal nature of discipline, where students spoke out of turn and roamed the halls care-free. Conroy states that if it weren’t for the care of his English teacher, he would have been headed down the road of trouble. She recommended that he join the school’s theater club, and it became a defining moment in his life, an entire lifestyle change.

From then on, Conroy acted his butt off. He joined an acting troupe in high school that became one of the best in the state, starring in every play the school would put on. He became so good that he earned a full scholarship to Juilliard. There, he joined a class of legendary thespians which included Kelsey Grammer and his roommate, Robin Williams. Ironically enough, he almost ended up as the roommate of Superman actor, Christopher Reeve. Conroy’s focus was much more classical. Under John Houseman (Citizen Kane), he became enveloped in theater. After graduating, Conroy worked for Houseman’s The Acting Company, doing Shakespearean plays like Hamlet and Midsummer’s Night Dream.


Like a lot of theater artists, Conroy needed a profitable way to continue doing what he loved. Throughout the 1980’s, he was featured in various made-for-TV movies, and a lot of soap opera experience. Although his characters never really had big roles, and few of them were recurring – his longest TV role was as Dr. David Dunkle in Rachel Gunn, RN, but it gave him the funds to continue doing theater. Conroy was looking for his big break when he auditioned for the starring role of Joe Hackett in Wings; in a twist of fate, the producers decided to cast Tim Daly instead. Tim Daly, some might recognize, is the voice of Superman in Superman: The Animated Series. This all worked out for us, because had Conroy gotten the role, he may have never put on the cowl.

Another outlet that Conroy took to was doing voice-overs for commercials. This led to getting an audition with B:TAS maestros Bruce Timm and Paul Dini. Previous to the audition, the only experience Conroy had with Batman was the 60’s show (Note: stars of the 60s Batman show, Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar will also be at Denver Comic Con) – very campy and light. Once Timm and Dini explained the comic book origins, the tragic story of a boy whose parents were murdered and his redemption, Conroy was instantly sold on the Dark Knight as a character. He attacked the role as a true thespian would, and even came up with the idea of doing two separate voices for Bruce Wayne and Batman.

Conroy says that, as an actor, he tries to constantly challenge himself. The voice itself initially made Conroy coarse, and had to be crafted and perfected. When time came to research his source, he had to look no further than cast-mate Mark Hamill, who voiced The Joker in the legendary series. Hamill, known to many as Luke Skywalker, is a huge nerd. He made his abundant comic book collection available to Conroy. The two are practically life partners in their work, much like the yin and yang relationship of their characters. Adding to their chemistry was the fact that Warner Bros. had all actors record in the same room. Although the method can lead to more takes, it breeds creativity and leads to more honest performances – which reflected in their work.


Since Batman: The Animated Series, Conroy has reprised the role of Batman in pretty much every animated project since, including the Arkham series, developed by Rocksteady. Recording for a video-game was a much different experience, and challenged him to keep things fresh. Unlike the collaborative environment of the series, recording for Arkham meant hours upon hours alone in a room, recording thousands of clips multiple times, covering every variable in the game. Thankfully, the stress doesn’t leak through into the product, because the Arkham franchise is one of the strongest in gaming; Conroy is set to reprise the role of Batman in next year’s Batman: Arkham Knight. His mantle as Batman hasn’t been just video-games and television shows. When Conroy was volunteering at a soup kitchen in New York City after 9/11, he cheered up the room by reprising his famous line, “I am vengeance. I am the night. I am Batman!” for the room to hear.  Also, in lieu of the release of The Dark Knight Rises, Conroy dubbed an animated promo for the movie.

In celebration of Batman’s 75th Anniversary, Conroy has also collaborated with Bruce Timm for a few select shorts. He might be the most recognizable Batman voice-actor, but he doesn’t hog the spotlight. He supports other actors’ portrayal of the Dark Knight. Speaking of, he is actually quite a fan of Christian Bale’s performance of Batman, and calls the Nolan-helmed Dark Knight trilogy the closest adaptation to the dark Bob Kane/Bill Finger origins. The growling voice, on the other hand, he could do without. “It’s like – why didn’t someone stop him?” His career is built upon Batman, but the character isn’t the only thing Conroy loves to spend time with; one of his biggest hobbies is restoring old houses. Using his hands to build, garden and paint give him a lot of happiness. Could you imagine owning a home built by the Batman? Batcaves for everyone!

Kevin Conroy will go down as one of the greatest voice actors ever in one of the greatest television shows of all time. He is the undisputed voice of Bruce Wayne, and part of a show that single-handedly introduced a whole generation to Batman and the comic book world, including myself. After over 20 years of serving the people as Batman, Conroy still loves the character and his fans. It’s for these reasons that you must respect his craft.


None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to their respective properties. I hope everybody has enjoyed our countdown to Denver Comic Con. Among all the writers at Hush, we were able to string together 30 biographical pieces in 30 days. Look to Hush Comics for more coverage of Denver Comic Con.

“Respect My Craft” – Jim Lee

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of comic books, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

Name: Jim Lee

Profession: Artist, DC Co-Publisher

Notable WorkX-Men: Mutant Genesis, WildC.A.T.S., Batman: HushSuperman: For Tomorrow, Justice League

Jim Lee is one of the most revered comic book artists in the industry. From his unlikely start in independent books to his rise to the top of the ranks as Co-Publisher of DC Comics, Jim Lee’s story is one of as much absolute detail as his work.  Lee has a Korean heritage, but grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. Always a comic book fan growing up, Lee gravitated towards the X-Men, reason being that they were marginalized for their differences – something many can relate to. It was even a dream of his to create his own comic book company after graduating high school, an accomplishment he was voted most likely to achieve by his peers. As money crushed dreams and grown-up responsibilities set in, Lee was pressured by his parents to enroll at Princeton University with the goal of becoming a medical doctor.

After obtaining his BS in Psychology, Lee made a deal with his strict, but loving, parents to take a hiatus from med school to try it on his own for one year as a comic book artist. This was during the mid 1980’s, when such iconic books like The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen were leading a renaissance in the industry. After putting his foot in the door and submitting portfolios to publishes all over the country, Jim Lee got his start in the comic book business in 1986 by lending his artistic talents as an inker to Samurai Santa #1 (no, seriously). Without much else to go off of, Marvel Comics hired Lee to pencil Alpha Flight, a mid-tier comic, in 1987 that started with Alpha Flight #51.


After several issues of Alpha Flight and then moving on to Punisher: War Journal (which Lee started illustrating in 1989), Lee got his wish to draw his favorite childhood characters in Uncanny X-Men #248. He was asked to come back for subsequent issues until Marvel asked Lee to draw a twelve-issue run simply titled X-Men with writer Chris Claremont, widely regarded as one of the best X-Men writers. Together, the two created Omega Red and the fan-favorite character, Gambit. He also redesigned many of the characters’ costumes – most of which are still used! To this very day, the first issue of X-Men (Vol. 2) is the highest selling issue of any comic book in history.


The success of X-Men meant that Lee could pretty much write his ticket wherever he wanted to go. It just so happened that what he wanted was more creative control over his work. Along with several powerhouse writers and artist, including Hush Comics’ favorite, Todd McFarlane, Lee helped found Image Comics. This is the same Image Comics that has been the birthing grounds of: The Walking DeadSagaBlack Science and Deadly Class. Taking more interest in writing and producing, Lee branded himself as Wildstorm Productions and created WildC.A.T.S., a team of aliens caught in an intergalactic war, and Gen13, which follows a group of teenage super-heroes as they find their powers while running away from government testing. Both were very intriguing books that lasted far beyond Jim Lee’s involvement, showing that Lee has substantial writing capabilities to back up his artwork.

Jim lee 4

In an effort to focus more on art, Jim Lee sold Wildstorm to DC Comics and, shortly thereafter, began illustrating some of the most beautiful panels I’ve ever seen. In 2003, Lee joined acclaimed writer Jeph Loeb on Batman: Hush. This is the arc that got me into comic books, and it was largely due to the full-page panels, detailed background and unique use of medium by using watercolors (a first for Jim Lee). If you want to know how much we love Hush, look no further our very first graphic novel review. The iconic “Kissing the Knight” panel impacted me so much that I decided to get it tattooed on my arm. A year later, he joined Brian Azzarello (current Wonder Woman and 100 Bullets) for Superman: For Tomorrow, a very unique book about the Man of Tomorrow. Lee followed For Tomorrow up with a darker, more brutal All Star Batman and Robin The Boy Wonder,  written by Frank Miller, which is the first comic to use the legendary “Goddamn Batman” line. It was a bit of a departure from Lee’s tone, but the art keeps up with Miller’s rough and grimy story perfectly.

I'm the Goddamn Batman

As he was finishing All-Star, Lee was also waist-deep into the DC Universe Online. Released for Playstation and PC, Lee spent years creating character models for the game as its Executive Producer. Seeing these renders as fully-functional video-game characters is a sight to behold. Along the way, he earned the title of Co-Publisher for DC Comics and spear-headed The New 52, a complete reintroduction of the DC Comics’ catalog. He and Geoff Johns became the creative team behind the Justice League relaunch (review of Volume One: Origin here). Since then, Lee has headed numerous design projects for DC, including: a partnership with Kia to design Justice Legue themed cars (the Batman Optima is the best, by far), promotion for the We Can Be Heroes charity (donations usually lead to goodies), design work for Scorpion’s costume in the Injustice video-game DLC, and he still makes time to attend various comic book conventions around the country.

Jim Lee free-hand sketching at SDCC 2012
Jim Lee free-hand sketching at SDCC 2012

As amazing as Jim Lee is, it’s important to remember that a lot of work is done between the last pencil stroke and the time the issue hits the shelves. Most artists use a team, composed of an inker and a colorist. The inker is in charge of turning dark pencil marks into appropriate shadows or accents, while the colorist brings the appropriate shading and tone to the story. Dating back to his run with Uncanny X-Men, Lee has used Scott Williams and Alex Sinclair for inking and coloring, respectively. They deserve just as much credit for his quality work.


Checked out his bibliography and still want more? Check these books out:

Batman: Hush – Unwrapped is drawn entirely in pencils, with no inking or coloring. The amount of detail is stunning, showing why Jim Lee is one of the best in the business.

ICONS: The DC Comics & Wildstorm Art of Jim Lee offers a lot of background about Jim Lee – history and anecdotes, as well as some great spreads of his best work.

Image Comics: The Road to Independence gives an in-depth look at how a group of brave men disbanded from the largest comic book company to create the third-largest comic book company.

Just Imagine If… Stan Lee Created Wonder Woman is written by Stan Lee, drawn by Jim Lee, and kicks harder than Bruce Lee

Wizard: Jim Lee, Millennium Edition is like ICONS but gives a better look at his pre-Wildstorm days.

How Much Does Hush Comics Love Jim Lee?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I wanted to point out that none of this art is mine; it is all credited to the original publishers (Solson, Marvel and DC). Check back next week as we kick off Black History Month by honoring all Black writers and artists, as well as graphic novel reviews with cultural significance. Peace and much love to ya!

Written by Sherif Elkhatib