Welcome back, dear readers! (All two of you.) I return with an interview with the Cree Summer. If you say you don’t know who she is, you do, you just don’t know it. Cree Summer has done cartoon voices for roughly 30 years. She’s been Penny from Inspector Gadget, Susie from Rugrats, Max from Batman Beyond, and many, many more. She also was on the show A Different World. She was available thanks to her latest animated feature, Strange Frame (which reminds me, I was wrong, there will be four articles total for this convention, one for the panels I went to), where she plays Reesa Abi Kiran Ariana Livingston the Third, a talking lemur that can fly and helps run a spaceship. Cree Summer is my first in-person interview, so let’s get to this where you’ll learn of Cree’s favorite characters she’s played, ones she’d like to play, and finally the most important question of them all.
Comic Attack: So I’m going to go with the cliche question first. What’s your favorite character you’ve voiced?
Cree Summer: There’s so many, but if I had to break it down it’d have to be Elmira Duff from Tiny Toons, Foxxy Love from Drawn Together, Princess Kida from Atlantis: The Lost Empire, oh and Penny from Inspector Gadget because she was my first voice acting job at twelve-years-old.
CA: You’ve also done a lot of DC comics cartoons as well, and other superheroes; is there a superhero character you haven’t done yet that you’d like to do?
CS: Maybe something like Promethea.
[At this point we discussed how a Promethea movie would involve getting some form of hallucinogenic drug before each viewing to get the full experience.]
CA: So how did you get to be a part of this project (Strange Frame)?
CS: Jamie Thomas, who I’ve worked with for almost 20 years, called me in and said, “You gotta check this out. It’s an independent movie, a lesbian romance, sci-fi movie, and a musical.” And I thought, “Yawn, another lesbian sci-fi musical?” It hit all the right chords for me, it’s independent, it’s different, AND I get to play a genetically modified lemur who was a mechanic on the Lone Mango. You had me at lesbian, sci-fi musical.
Then he told me how it was going to be filmed on this island, and how he and Shelly had created that, really turns me on to it. ‘Cause you do all these really big animation houses that just don’t have that passion/balls to do.
CA: So you’ve done both live action and animation; do you have a preference?
CS: Yeah, probably animation. It’s something I’ve done since my childhood, I feel safe and at home, and I like my contribution. They can send me a small picture of the character and then I take it from there. They can give me a small paragraph of what that character’s about, but that doesn’t dictate what that character sounds like, that’s all my creation. And that kind of control and contribution, I love. I can be anything, I can be a man, I can be the white girl. Not just the white girl’s best friend; on camera I have to be the white girl’s best friend. I can be an inanimate object. It’s the limitlessness that I like.
CA: Did you know what happens to the cartoons you do when they end, like what happens to your character or what they were planning to do?
CS: You know what, that just doesn’t usually happen. It’s the same with live-action, you go in to work until you don’t, and you don’t know what happens. You don’t know what happens to this girl.
CA: I ask because you were on Batman Beyond, and I wanted to find out if she was going join the team in some way? It’s on the Hub now all the time.
CS: Didn’t you just love Max? I love Max. She should have been. That’s the sad part, you just have to move on. I didn’t know it was back on TV, I’ll have to show my daughter.
CA: I really like the female characters you play. Years ago my nieces told me girls aren’t tough, so I can point to the screen and show them how that’s just not true.
CS: Isn’t that what you see in animation, though? You see so many tough girls, which is an oxymoron anyway. You see so many strong women anyways. Animation is a less censored field, there’s more freedom, because it’s quote unquote fantasy. But I feel like, what kind of informs my life. I’d rather be informed by fantasy than real life any day.
CA: It seems to be more honest, kind of a reflection of events. I’m glad you have more characters I can show my nieces and then relate to them. So what projects do you have coming up?
CS: Let’s see what do I got? I’ve got this great new Beware the Batman! coming out. I play Bethany Ravenclaw, I can’t give too much away, but she definitely lures him in. She’s a psychiatrist and he comes to her for help, and she gives him a lot more than that! (laughs) I don’t know when that’s coming out, but I’m really looking forward to that. I got another show for Disney coming out called Sheriff Callie’s Corral (or Oasis) [Editor’s note: It’s called Sheriff Callie’s Wild West], it’s a cute cartoon musical with Mandy Moore. Really good for the little ones, I play Priscilla the Skunk. A great new feel good show for Nickelodeon called Robot Monster, and I play a scooter named Spitfire. [I mentioned I hoped it was based of the old sci-fi movie, Robot Monster.] I know! It’s not. Wouldn’t it have been cool?
CA: So you’ve been in pretty much every Batman cartoon for the past twenty years.
CS: I know! I was pretty lucky. I met Andrea Romano when I was 18 doing Tiny Toons. I have been very lucky to be a part of Batman.
CA: Do you have a favorite Batman character?
CS: I think I have to say Max, I got to be her and it was always an honor for me.
CA: I’m going to wrap this up with my weird question I want to ask everyone. You’re about to go save the day, what dinosaur do you ride?
CS: Triceratops! I think I’d ride in a Triceratops side car. I could ride shotgun and bring all kinds of weapons.
CA: Thank you very much.
CS: Thank you!
There you have it folks, the most important question of all has been answered. Cree Summer was wonderful and the best person I could interview in-person for the first time. Tune in next time where I’ll talk about the panels I saw, including one for the movie Cree Summer is in, and then finish out with the DC Steampunk group!