Fans from all over tuned in from home to watch Comic-Con@Home “Music for Animation” panel moderated by Frozen actor Alan Tudyk and Gargoyles actor Keith David. Panelists included composer Roger Neill from JJ Villaird’s Fairy Tales, orchestrator and composer Tim Davies from Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia, songwriters Kate Anderson and Elyssa Samsel from Central Park, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles composer Sebastian Evans, and composer Jefferson Friedman from Harley Quinn.
Anderson began by diving into how she and Samsel started working on Central Park:
“Writing for animation has been a good fit for us because anything is possible. We were both living in Brooklyn and hoping that something would happen magically. Josh reached out on Instagram and was like ‘Hey, can I talk to you guys about something?’ We were immediately super intrigued. He said they were creating this animated series and asked if we would be interested. We never thought someone would call and say, ‘Hey, do you want your dream job?’” Elyssa Samsel added, “We come from theater and in theater, you can only do so much.”
Davies spoke on his love for music by saying:
“I like playing with notes. Anything I can do with music, especially live orchestras, is my favorite thing to do. Orchestrating is always with other people versus composing is more with just yourself. Composer writes the music and gets through the process. Orchestration is the after the process that I can make possible from some abstract scores. The orchestra is my favorite instrument.”
Evans also talked about working on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
“I’m a fan doing a dream job. I wanted to add the true ninja sound behind the Teenage Music Ninja Turtles. I wanted to insert that along with the hip-hop vibe to cram it all in as an homage to all the past versions. I don’t feel like it is different comparing orchestra from hip-hop music. The essence is the same. Putting hip-hop throughout TMNT was talking about the exploitation of the underground elements of hip-hop just like the turtles. It doesn’t skip the orchestral elements either though. I love putting Easter eggs in the score too. Thematically, I used different parts of iterations of Turtles.”
Friedman then started speaking about diversity in his work:
“For me as a white cis-male, I always try to hire women or minorities. All things equal, they will always get the job over someone else. For ‘Harley Quinn’, one of the major plotlines it was always a ‘will they or won’t they’ between Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy. For LGBT+ youth, it is considered the most important storyline. There is a big kiss at one point in an episode. I see it as an allegory for how hard it is to come out since they are hanging from a vine over a pit. When the episode came out, that moment helped so many people and made people’s lives that much better. Whenever you have the opportunity to tell a story that is more diverse and better for other people, it is what we strive for.”
Neill also added:
“As composers, we’re independent contractors, we have choices on who we can hire and who we can work for or with. In my case, I’m very proud and happy that I get to work with directors who are women. The idea of trying to break into the industry is so daunting. One thing I like to say is you didn’t get your break by somebody you’re going to meet one day but somebody you likely know now.”
With Comic-Con@Home in full swing you can watch this panel below as well as all of Comic-Con At Home Panels on the Comic-Con YouTube channel.