Saturday morning cartoon: Mel Blanc on the art of voice

During a previous incarnation in which I made my living as a voiceover artist, I studied (to the point of hero worship) Mel Blanc, the undisputed master of character voices. That learned view of voice was one of the assets I brought with me to my writing career. While a character's voice is captured in a different way on the page, the fundamentals and challenges remain the same. What's the subtext that makes a character "sound" the way s/he does? And how does the artist make her/his own voice transparent, allowing the character's voice to rule, while still remaining true to her/his own style?

A few words from the amazing invisible man himself:

And just for fun...

Blanc did show his face every once in a while. Here he is mixing it up with a mariachi band on the Jack Benny Show.


Loved this video, Joni, and your comparison is dead on. One weakness I often notice in judging unpublished first chapters is that every character speaks in the same way, whereas an accomplished writer gives every characters - even the "spear holder/walk-ons" a distinctive and memorable voice. If readers can usually recognize who's speaking even without narrative tags, the writer's definitely doing this well.
Elen Grey said…
This was a terrific post, Joni. I hadn't thought about "voice" in quite that way. This is one of my fears, Colleen -- that it's the character's voice that shines through, not mine.

Loved the videos.

Much cheer.

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