It was July 11, 1998, in the Warner Bros. Store at the Valley Fair Shopping Center, in San Jose, California.
From 12:00PM to 4:00PM, Kevin Conroy would be signing autographs. The catch? He would only be allowed to sign items purchased at the store. I arrived at ten when the mall (and stores) opened and decided what I wanted to buy. I eventually settled on a box set that contained a Batman collectible plate, a Batman card with a (reproduction, sadly) Bob Kane autograph, and a large book chronicling the history of Batman.
I returned two hours later and got in line to meet the man behind the Bat. I overheard from an employee that Kevin Conroy had just arrived about fifteen minutes before I got there. I was amazed at the line of people. It practically left the store and spilled out into the mall itself. I possessed a Robin card, which I had got with my purchase earlier that morning. Everyone with a Batman card got to see him first. Robin, second. Batgirl, third. Etc, etc. I stood in line patiently, catching only a brief glimpse of the actor as he made his way from the store's back room to the area designated his for the next four hours. Then, with SubZero playing on a big screen TV, the show began.
The line slowly moved forward. Each guest received about a minute or so with him, just enough time to ask a couple questions while he signed their item. My mind raced as I thought about dozens of questions I wanted to ask him. What's it like playing Batman? In what way did you prepare for the role? How many times did you audition before you got the part? Which actors/actresses would you like to work with on the show? It was then that I heard them announce that the people with a Robin card would be next. I was the third person to have one, behind my brother and another fan. By this point, I was able to see Mr. Conroy, sitting behind a desk, smiling and shaking hands, answering questions very enthusiastically. Then, my turn came.
My heart raced. I was finally meeting Kevin Conroy. Kevin Conroy! As I reached the table, we exchanged handshakes and introduced ourselves. I asked him to sign a page of the book I had bought, a reproduction of a background animation plate with Batman standing atop a roof. He happily obliged, signing his name in gold ink. Then, the question. I asked him why SubZero had taken so long to be released, because I read that it was supposed to come out summer of '97, but it was delayed and not released until almost the end of the year. He had the answer. Batman and Robin was released, and bombed big time. Warner Bros. feared the negative reaction might affect the sale of the video, so they put in on hold. But when they finally released it, it cleaned house. Everybody loved it. Critics proclaimed it better than the live-action films. Film critic Roger Ebert even highlighted it (a couple months later) as his video pick of the week. Kevin said even Howard Stern, apparently a big Batman fan, absolutely loved it. My time was almost up. One last question. I asked if he saw Batman and Robin, and what he thought of it. His words exactly: (with a smile) "It was pretty bad."
With a final thank you, I shook his hand one last time, retrieved my book, and left a happy person. Living in the Bay Area, I don't get the chance that often to meet celebrities, as one would living in a celebrity-filled area like Hollywood or Los Angeles. So I was very excited the rest of the day. I believe this was also the very first autograph-signing session Mr. Conroy had ever done, and I felt very privileged to be a part of it. I'll never forget it.