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.
We established the “obscure literary quote” for Hank McCoy in episode 2, during “The Night of the Sentinels.” It was pure indulgence on our part — not from the books, just a natural extension of Beast’s thoughtful, learned character. I have a section in the upcoming “Making of X-MEN:TAS” book dedicated to Hank’s 23 quotes (which is all I found upon review, perhaps you have found more). The greatest of these moments is when in fact Hank says nothing, just listens. In the series finale, he lets a dying Xavier, instead, quote Hamlet to him. The quote is a father-son moment about friendship, one which voice-actor Cedric Smith makes memorable. The fact that Charles Xavier would quote Shakespeare as his final words to Hank is a sign of Xavier’s deep knowledge of and love for his X-Men.
People love the opening titles of X-MEN:TAS. I even have a short chapter in the upcoming book about their creation. In the short time given Larry Houston and Will Meugniot (a few days?) to create the now-memorable opening sequence, Larry’s first storyboard pass was exciting, but it just wasn’t quite right. It, perhaps influenced by Stan Lee’s attempt at coming up with a titles narration, was far more focused on the plight of mutants as hunted creatures than on the X-Men as a team. The opening “Wanted Poster” image below was followed by police helicopter.
Margaret Loesch wisely decided that we needed to focus more on our X-Men characters, so Will helped Larry re-focus the opening titles on our characters (many of whom were newer and less familiar to Stan). The first half of the 75-second sequence now became an exuberant introduction to the family of characters that we would be living with for five years, complete with their names in bold print. It worked. With the new images bonded with driving music, viewers felt the spirit of the series at the beginning of every episode. Between Larry, Will, and Margaret, they found the heart of X-MEN:TAS.
Happy New Year! 2017 is the 25th anniversary of the premiere preview of X-MEN:TAS (10/31/92). It’s going to be quite a year. In February we’re going to be at San Diego Comic Fest with three other X-MEN:TAS writers and Series Producer Larry Houston. If you can, swing by and say hello. We’re going to have 4 or 5 panels about the series on Saturday and Sunday. We should also have more news about THE BOOK — our history of the series. Publishing is currently set for this summer, so we’re going to be incredibly busy trying to finish it up. As a fun remembrance, I thought I’d put up a storyboard page from 1989’s “Pryde of the X-MEN” (courtesy of X-MEN:TAS leader Will Meugniot). So many of the people that got our series on the air and made it as good as it was worked on this one-off attempt at getting the X-Men right for TV. It didn’t succeed, but without it, we very well might not have had the opportunity to do our version of X-MEN:TAS.