If you're a fan of English dubbed anime series like Fairy Tail, D.Gray-man, Chrome Shelled Regios and countless others, chances are you've heard Todd Haberkorn. I had the pleasure of having a conversation with the voice of Natsu and Allen Walker via Skype.
Haberkorn was in Detroit last month for the Youmacon anime convention at Cobo Center and the Ren Cen. The 33-year-old who calls Los Angeles, Calif. his home now looks forward to Youmacon every time he's invited.
"Youmacon is a lot of fun. It's one of the few on the convention scene where we really get to hang out with our colleagues," Haberkorn says. "The fans are fantastic. The staff tries to take good care of you. It's a blast. I hope to try to come back next year. This year I even brought an appropriate winter coat."
Haberkorn has also ventured into voice acting video game characters, including the Call of Duty and Borderlands franchises. The Texas native is well aware how fortunate he is to be making a living while doing something he loves.
"I'm very fortunate that my career aspirations and fiscal contentment all exist in the same realm," Haberkorn shares. "I'm thankful all the time. That's why when people are like, 'Well what's your least favorite role?' I don't really have a least favorite role because I'm constantly dipping into this thing that I love."
The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists represents video game voice actors, who are currently in a labor dispute with publishers about royalties and other compensation items of interest. Members of the union overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike in September if they deem necessary. Negotiations are still taking place between SAG-AFTRA and major publishers like EA, Disney and Activision. Haberkorn hopes a fair agreement can be reached relatively soon.
"There's a lot going on with that and a lot of moving pieces," Haberkorn explains. "I think that everybody just wants to get a fair piece of the industry pie. I think for the actors, it's a tricky situation because you have these games that are operated under code names. When we worked on Call of Duty, that was called like "Apple Pie." So the rate that we got we're like, 'Oh, that's a cool rate.' Well then the game goes on to make hundreds of millions of dollars. We're sitting there saying, 'Wow, they're hearing us probably a billion times in the course of that game's life.' Meanwhile we're making less than one percent of what the game earned. That gets sour for a lot of people."
Haberkorn continues: "We're just trying to make adjustments to the contracts. We're not sitting here asking to get something unfair. We're just saying if the game does well then everyone should do well. Some people from the software side, like the developers, are saying, 'Well we work "x" amount, so we should get "x" amount too.' That's not our fight. It would be awesome if everybody could get properly compensated, but we're just trying to do one thing at a time."
Listen to the entire conversation below, where Haberkorn also talks about the state of anime voice actors who aren't in a union, growing up in Texas, playing Spock in Star Trek Continues and more.
Follow Dave Kim on Twitter: @davekim83