The celebrations have begun.
This past Friday, February 17th, marked the 25th anniversary of the green-lighting of X-MEN:TAS, which officially premiered 11 months later. The wonderful folks at San Diego Comic Fest (including Comic Con co-founder Mike Towry) asked Julia and me and four other members of the X-MEN:TAS creative team to hold four panels. Seated with us in the first picture below is producer-director Larry Houston. Also featured were writers Len Uhley, Dave McDermott, and Steve Melching. (Steve and Dave Join us in the panel shown below.). As a nice complement to our presentations, the fest theme this year was a celebration of the 100th birthday of Jack Kirby, co-creator of the X-MEN comic and so very much more. The audiences were friendly and, as is often the case, many among them knew our series better than we did. We watched old episodes and discussed how they and the rest of the series managed to get made. It was great fun for us and was a reminder of why we are writing the “Making of” book, now scheduled for publication this summer. Once the book is ready, we hope to visit Cons around the country, perhaps one a month. We hope to see you at yours.
Books take a while. After two years of interviews and writing, the manuscript of X-MEN: The Animated Series will be handed to Mr. Steven Kates, of publisher Jacobs-Brown (below left, with happy/relieved author), in about an hour. My understanding is that there will then be a few months of editing, polishing, and laying out of the book before copies will finally be printed for sale, sometime this summer. But today had to happen first. Steven tells me that while the Jacobs Brown Media website will take orders for copies as soon as possible, they are not yet taking pre-sales. If you buy the book through them or from us at a Con or store-signing, it of course will be autographed. It will also be available in the usual places (Amazon, your local book store, etc.).
It has begun. Our celebration of the 25th anniversary of X-MEN:TAS kicks off in nine days at COMICFEST in San Diego. Mike Towry and his crew have been nice enough to set up FIVE panels that in some way honor our series. Julia and I and Producer/Director Larry Houston (see photo) plan to attend ALL of the panels. The specific guests and topics follow.
SATURDAY, FEB. 18
11:00am: “X-Men, Lies, and Videotape” — writers Dave McDermott & Steve Melching
2:00pm: “X-MEN:TAS – Creative Round Table” — ALL OF US
3:00pm: “X-Men Mock Trial on Human Rights” — Legal Geeks & Some of Us
SUNDAY, FEB. 19
10:00am: “Nightcrawler” — writer Len Uhley
3:00pm: “Days of Future Past” — writer Julia Lewald
What’s going on today? Our Twitter site just registered our 5001st follower, and more of you have visited this site than on any other day since we started last July. Many thanks! And, as you can see below, you’ve all made Beast happy enough to dress up and celebrate.
The book is NEARLY DONE! Our publisher will get the manuscript from me in a couple of weeks, editing will begin, and we plan to have it out this summer. Please let me know what you think of Will Meugniot’s first mock-up of a design for the cover (below). I’m sure it will evolve. One last favor: I have a chapter called “Testimonials,” where fans write, in about a page or so (no set length), about what watching X-MEN:TAS meant to them. There is still room for a few more in the book, but I will need them quickly. (You can send them as document files to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d really appreciate it.) When the book comes out, it will be available on Amazon and at bookstores. But it you buy it from the publisher directly (Jacobsbrownmediagroup.com), or from my table at a Con, you will be sure to get an autographed copy. Also, I am assured that the publisher’s website will be set up to accept pre-sale orders (not sure when yet) before the actual date of publication.
From 1966 through 1992, there were eleven attempts to bring Marvel characters to TV animation and no movies. That’s hard to imagine today in 2017. You can find videos of the early attempts on Youtube; you’ll be surprised how different that world was. Hollywood just didn’t get the spirit of the comics. Perhaps that is why it was so difficult (nearly 10 years trying) for Margaret Loesch to get our version of a Marvel title on the air and why there was deep suspicion felt by TV stations and advertisers about X-MEN:TAS until the day our series proved itself.
According to Stan Lee, the Danger Room was created for the very first X-MEN comics issue by Jack Kirby (see Beast working out in it below), then given its official name in issue #2. So it has been around from the start (and preceeds by a decade the similar “Holodeck” used in later Star Trek incarnations, actually first seen the ST cartoon!). In X-MEN:TAS we used the Danger Room sparingly for a few reasons. First, action in real crises is always preferable to “training problems.” But more importantly, since the Danger Room can create spectacular but unreal dangers, it is tempting to trick the audience by creating big pretend fights or jeopardy (like in a character’s nightmare) which are then revealed to be “only projections” or dreams. We did allow ourselves the luxury of intense Danger Room imagery once, to great effect. That was in the episode (#14: “Till Death Due Us Part”) where Jean is about to marry Scott. Broken-hearted Wolverine takes out his unhappiness by obliterating some Scott-like projections, some of which end up looking like Scott-Sentinels (second image below). It provided a dramatic physical manifestation of Wolverine’s tortured inner struggle. By choosing not to overuse the Danger Room throughout the series, the few times we did it proved effective.