A talking lab mouse and a ninja turtle will be at Fanboy Expo 2.0 Knoxville Comic Con — in the form of Rob Paulsen. The voice actor has performed more than 250 characters, and some of his best known voiceovers include that of Raphael in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (1987-1996), the goofy lab mouse Pinky from “Animaniacs” (1993-1998) and “Pinky and the Brain” (1995-1998), and Yakko Warner, another character from the Steven Spielberg produced “Animaniacs.”
Paulsen’s career has earned him a Daytime Emmy, three Annie Awards, and a Peabody.
“I have had the wonderful privilege of making silly voices for a living,” Paulsen said. “Essentially, I get paid for what used to get me in trouble in high school.”
Raphael will be joined by the other turtles as well; Donatello (Barry Gordon), Leonardo (Cam Clarke), and Michelangelo (Townsend Coleman).
“We are very happy that all four of us (the original cast of “TMNT”) can make it to Knoxville this weekend,” Paulsen said. “Just like the turtles, we have so much fun when we are together as a group.”
The four heroes in a half-shell were adored by millions in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and are still loved today.
“There so many people of all ages that come to me a conventions and tell me how much the turtles mean to them,” Paulsen said. “Some people with travel from several states just to see us at a convention. It is amazing.”
The turtle power is still flowing as the four turtle boys can be seen in their current iteration in Nickelodeon’s “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” which is currently on its second season. Paulsen is the voice acting director of the series.
“It is great to work on the show,” he said. “We have a great cast and there is a movie in the works.”
Pinky and Brain are two lab mice that constantly tried to take over the world. The characters were so popular that they are still recognized today, sometimes by just a word.
“I can say NARF! (a word often blurted out by Pinky at random), and fans know exactly what I am talking about,” Paulsen said. “That was over 25 years ago, yet there is a strong connection there.”
Yakko Warner was a sensation in the ’90s with his song about every single country in the world.
“I actually did it in one take,” Paulsen said. “People still remember it, some by memory.”
The Brain, Pinky and the Warner siblings will all appear in a reboot for audiences via online streaming sometime in 2020. The characters are near and dear to the hearts of many individuals, and Paulsen reaches out to fans who are enduring the worst of times.
“As a result of my voice acting career, I have had the opportunity to share some personal and difficult situations with (terminally ill) children and their families,” he said. “Often children would like to talk to one of the voices of my characters. I have done it hundreds of times, and it was always a very profound experience. Some of the parents get in touch with me later and let me know how much joy and courage the characters gave to their children.”
The actor said he didn’t realize he was preparing himself for his own personal life and death battle.
“Around three years ago at this time I was diagnosed with throat cancer,” Paulsen said. “The tumor was in the base of my tongue. The doctors told me there was an 80 percent chance I would make it, but they did not know if my voice would be the same as before. I wasn’t worried about dying. I was worried I would never be able to do my job again.”
The treatment involved radiation and chemotherapy, and his vocal cords were left intact. The voice actor’s memoir “Voice Lessons” was released on Oct. 8 by Viva Editions. Paulsen was recently named as the spokesman for The Head and Neck Cancer Alliances’s Oral, Head, and Neck Cancer Awareness Program. He spent last weekend signing his book in New York.
“I am a very fortunate person,” Paulsen said. “I have survived cancer and fans constantly show me their support. I am so glad that I have inspired so many people and I couldn’t do what I do without them, and that is the viewpoint of the new me, Rob 2.2. I think he is a much better person by going through the experiences of Rob 2.1.”
Other celebrities scheduled to appear at Fanboy this weekend include Rose McGowan, Skeet Ulrich, Zach Galligan, Nick Stahl, Susan Egan, Kirk Acevedo, Rick Gonzalez, Jyoti Amge, Erika Ervin, comic book writer Tony Isabelle, comic artist Robert Pope, and wrestling legends Rick Steiner, Sid Viscous, Tatanka and Ax from the tag team Demolition.