EXCLUSIVE: Paul Soles, the Voice of Spider-Man Speaks

SHH! got an early sneak peek at the newly remastered 1967 Spider-Man animated series on DVD. And Chris “Excelsior” Mason got an “Exclusive” interview with the voice of Peter Parker/Spider-Man himself – Paul Soles…

REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN: The ’67 Collection (DVD)

by Excelsior!

My first experience with Spider-Man came from these very cartoons. Yes I’m old enough to claim I saw them when they first aired Saturday mornings in 1967. And you know after all this time they still hold up, and were as much fun to watch today as they were all those years ago. Sure the animation is dated and limited, but that’s part of the charm. More over the stories are pretty faithful to the comic book counter-parts, granted there are no long drawn out origins, villains appear for the first time with little or no back-story… but hey, these were designed for kids in the 60’s. I was however a bit scared when I received the DVDs, I had heard rumors that during the remastering of the series the original music and effects had been “tweaked” and in some places redone. Well never fear, fans of that funky-cool music and Spidey’s web-shooter “spri-oing” sound effect can calm down, these are as pure as the day they first were broadcast. The colors are sharp and bright and jitter free. There are no extras, produced in the day when DVD extras just were not part of the filmmaking vocabulary. The disc set includes all 52 episodes (1967-1970) on 6 discs and comes with a booklet with an introduction by Stan Lee. If you are a true Spider-Man fan then you need this for your collection!


by Excelsior!

Paul Soles, the original voice of Peter Parker/Spider-Man for the 1967-70 Spider-Man animated series, was nice enough to answer some exclusive questions about his time as everyone’s friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

Superhero Hype: How did you get the ‘gig’ to be Peter Parker/Spider-Man’s voice?

Paul Soles: More good luck than good management. New York producers to put together a cast for cartoon sessions tapped Bernard Cowan, longtime Canadian broadcaster. It all began two years earlier with the production of “Rudolf, the Red Nosed Reindeer”. Toronto, thanks to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s radio drama department, had a huge pool of experienced voice actors. I was very fortunate to be included with them.

SHH: How long did it take to record an episode?

PS: We found we could record a full episode, from first cold reading to tape, in about two hours, thus four episodes a day.

SHH: Did you work alone, or did you work with the other voice talent?

PS: Almost always together. Very rarely was there just “slugging” as is the case today.

SHH: Spider-Man ran for three seasons (1967-1970), any episodes stick out in your mind?

PS: Episode 3: The Menace of Mysterio; Episode 7: The Kilowatt Kaper; Episode 11: Here Comes Trubble; Episode 12: The Fantastic Fakir; These stand out because the antics in the studio by one or another mischievous actor, broke us up continually. There were frequent giggle breaks required.

1). I did enjoy Episode 8 Horn Of the Rhino. a full half hour story in which Peter falls ill and Aunt Mae keeps a raving JJJ at bay. Memorable for the opportunity to impersonate JJJ’s raspy voice.

2) Episode 19 Double Identity, Charles Cameo perpetrates several thefts while in disguise including Spidey himself. Good fun because I got the chance to play against myself. Reminded me of Star Trek 6 where Kirk has to fight himself.

SHH: Many Spidey fans look to the cartoon series as their first introduction to the character, what is it that makes Spider-Man so special?

PS: We can all relate to a character who, like most of us isn’t perfect, often is marginalized by our peers, has suffered a setback that requires us to be respectful of debts unpaid and ultimately, can make a difference in the community. Credit Stan “The Man” Lee (and Steve Ditko) for creating a unique and enduring character who connected so strongly, widely and for so long.

SHH: Did you have anything to do with the restoration for the new DVD release?

PS: No.

SHH: There was a creative change from season one to seasons two and three. What was the reason for the switch?

PS: I don’t think I ever found out. But my experience over the years is that animators and producers are a highly individual bunch with their own creative ideas. Bakshi (seasons 2-3) took us into a more sixties, psychedelic realm that was right for the times. Ralph was out there!

SHH: Was there any difference working with Grantray-Lawrence or Krantz Films / Ralph Bakshi?

PS: I don’t recall that there was; the director, Bunny Cowan was my boss. Remember, we were working without, music, effects or pictures; our performances had to conform to the numbers of frames or seconds allotted in the storyboards. Since we couldn’t see the visuals, our work was to capture the characters and further the stories. There’s not much difference between Electro and an alien from space!

SHH: The difference between Peter Parker & Spider-Man’s voices, when Parker would put on the mask his voice would deepen… was it hard keeping the characters straight in your head on any given recoding session?

PS: Not at all. Our training called for us to work quickly and accurately the first time through. After a very few episodes, Peter and Spidey were well fixed in the throat. The more mature, confident web snapper was a little harder because who among us fancies ourselves as a superhero? Lee himself wrote the distinction in voices into the comic books: The function of the costume mask helps Peter maintain his anonymity by preventing people from recognizing his real voice.

SHH: What other characters did you do for the series?

PS: Ox of the Enforcers; Vulture from second appearance on; The Fantastic Fakir; and a host of thugs, tradesmen, cops and bystanders.

SHH: What can you tell us about the music score? We know that Paul Francis Webster & Bob Harris wrote the classic theme song, but the rest of the score was so cool and funky – for a “kids” show. Not much is known about who did the score?

PS: Ray Ellis, a super friendly and talented arranger/composer was entirely responsible for the first season – all jazzy; beyond that we know very little. I’m a big, big band jazz fan. I do know that the music is so popular; Ellis regularly gets requests to rerecord the score clean of voice and effects. People DO love those charts.

SHH: What are you up to these days? Still acting and doing voice over work?

PS: Fate has been very kind. Most of my work in the last few years has been on stage and a few feature films and TV drama specials. From time to time some cartoon work turns up too, “Heidi” and JOJO’s Circus are a couple done recently.

SHH: What are your feelings about the NEW Spidey films?

PS: I thought Sam Raimi honored faithfully and with great flair, the whole legend and lore of the character. He was faithful to the code and the effects were blindingly thrilling. I’m looking forward to number two.

SHH: We at SHH would love to see you make a cameo in Spider-Man 3.

PS: From your mouth to….! So would I.. Till then, you can find me on the web at Wallopinwebsnappers.com

(*)editor’s note: Mr. Soles’ website is currently under construction*

For more on Paul Soles check out his website at the link above and to see screen shots from the soon to be released Spider-Man DVD click here.

Source: Buena Vista Home Entertainment