It’s happening. Our brand new book – X-Men: The ART and MAKING of the ANIMATED SERIES – arrives this October 13 from ABRAMS BOOKS! It weighs in at nearly 4 lbs. of gorgeous full-color images that haven’t seen the light of day in nearly 30 years. We spent nearly 2 years combing through everything we could find, from high-end art galleries to X-Men: TAS artists’ half-forgotten storage units to cardboard boxes collapsing in the back of hot garages. We’ve pulled together the FIRST and (in our opinion) DEEPEST examination of the art of the show. We are proud to present it to you.
SDCC 2018 was a great X-MEN:TAS experience! First, Julia and I were accompanied by six “Team X-Men” volunteers (some family members), all decked out in “Previously on X-Men” shirts and hats. Amazing fun had by all.
We had two panels. The one celebrating producer/director LARRY HOUSTON’s career was topped off with the SDCC’s highest award for lifetime achievement, the INKWELL. At the other panel, which celebrated 25 years of X-MEN: TAS, we received a standing ovation (our first) from the standing-room-only crowd.
At a massive panel hosted by our friends at SCREEN JUNKIES, there was a “Battle,” a five-minute debate whose theme was: “What is the greatest animated series ever — X-MEN or Batman?” It was close, but the thousand-plus crowd voted for X-MEN!
And finally, we and X-MEN:TAS writer Len Uhley were able to grab some table space beside guest-of-the-Con Larry Houston and sell some copies of “Previously on X-Men.” Five days of fans, fun, and exhaustion that were truly memorable for us.
We are pleased to announce that we will be at the San Diego Comic Con next week. We will be at two panels. First is SPOTLIGHT ON LARRY HOUSTON on Thursday morning at 11:00am in room 5AB. I will be moderating this tribute to the animation artist who directed 65 of the X-MEN:TAS episodes and has art credits on 79 animated series! After the panel Larry will be signing autographs at the Featured Guest area for an hour. Then from 1:15 to 2:45 Thursday Julia and I will join him at his table (HH16) where we will have personally-signed books (PREVIOUSLY ON X-MEN), script pages, and Larry’s X-MEN model sheets. Then on Sunday, at 3:00pm in room 7AB, we three will share the stage with writer LEN UHLEY in X-MEN:TAS CELEBRATES 25 YEARS. After the panel we will join Larry at his table for an hour (4:00 – 5:00 at HH16) and, if there are any left, have books, script pages, and model sheets for signing. Finally, please join us to celebrate the life of X-MEN legend and friend Len Wein, Thursday evening at 8:30 at room 4.
(From top left, clockwise: LARRY HOUSTON, US, LEN WEIN, OUR BOOK, LEN UHLEY)
We are scheduled to participate in three panels at Comic Fest this weekend with X-MEN:TAS director-producer Larry Houston. It will be our third appearance there, and we wanted to give you a sense of why we continue to go back. While WonderCon last month was exciting in its size and scope (70,000 people, 1700 at our X-MEN:TAS panel), Comic Fest is low-key. It’s like visiting a favorite small town instead of a big city. While the biggest Cons have expanded into every corner of popular culture, Comic Fest remains comics-focused. The people are very comics-knowledgeable. We meet friends from way back. (Scott Shaw, who designed the Fest poster below was my office-mate at Hanna-Barbera in 1986.) The location is like a vacation spot, not a trade show. And the founders go back to the beginning of the Con movement, so they choose guests wisely. So join us if you can — we’ll have a signing table and stacks of books. See you there.
Wednesday night, at the New Moon restaurant in Montrose, California, twenty of the people who worked on X-Men:TAS came together to celebrate the publication of “Previously on X-Men” 25 years after the series premiered. Great fun was had by all. Below are 15 of us. Back Row, left-to-right: Bob Skir (writer), Scott Thomas (producer), Julia Lewald (writer), Stephanie Graziano (Graz Entertainment), Dave McDermott (writer), Margaret Loesch (Fox Children’s Network), Larry Houston (Producer/Director), Me, Marty Isenberg (writer), Jim Graziano (Graz Entertainment). Front row: Len Uhley (writer), Dean Stefan (writer), Avery Cobern (Fox Children’s Network), Steve Melching (writer), Brooks Wachtel (writer). All are interviewed in the book.
Jordan Gorfinkel (“Gorf”) of the LA Comic Con was nice enough to serve as host to Julia, Larry Houston, and me for a celebratory panel on the near-anniversary (coming Tuesday) of the first sneak preview of X-Men:TAS in 1992 (please see us all in the picture below). The standing-room-only crowd was great, as were the many cosplayers (see other photo) who reminded us how much the show still means to many fans. The book is on the way from the printer, so some time this week we will, after three years, have it in our hands. Can’t wait.
“It’s being printed!” What great words to hear all these months after starting work on the book in January of 2015. Reviewers, bookstores, and libraries will soon be receiving e-copies to let them evaluate our 450-page celebration of the show we all remember so fondly.
These are ESTIMATES, and there could be delays, but word is that presale payments for direct sales from the publisher will be taken, appropriately, on the 25th anniversary of the premier of the series (10/31/17).
Hardback books should ship to U.S. buyers within a couple of weeks (early November). They will be available directly from the publisher’s store (jacobsbrownmediagroup.com) and then from Amazon and from your local bookstores if they have stocked them. The advantage of buying from Jacobs Brown directly is that you will get a signed copy. Paperback copies will be available about 2 weeks after that (mid-November), then Kindle copies 2 weeks after that (end of November).
For international buyers, the affordable way to get the book is through your local Amazon site. This will be PAPERBACK AND KINDLE ONLY (same size book, 10″x7″) and printed locally based on demand. Look for them to be available late November. An expensive alternative for non-U.S. buyers is to buy directly from the publisher. This would get you early access to the book, and it would be a signed hardback — but shipping is so expensive for an over-two-pound package from the U.S., even to Canada, that the publisher will charge you a $50 fee for it. If you gotta be the first to have the book, it is an option.
So, happy days here! And after you get a chance to read it, please let us know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the nearly 15 months since we started this site, there has not been a sadder day. Our dear friend Len Wein has died.
In the 55-year history of the X-Men, there is no more important name than Len Wein. Without Len, there might not have been an X-MEN:TAS. In 1975, he was entrusted with re-inventing a long-dormant, unsuccessful book. Thinking ahead, he created a Canadian mutant named Wolverine for a Hulk comic on the hunch that Logan might fit in the new X-Men book. Pretty good hunch. He created an African mistress of the elements. He created a haunted blue demon with an angel’s faith.
Len was a comics world superstar. When I screwed up the courage to give him notes on his X-MEN:TAS scripts, set within a world he help build, he was always as gracious (and inventive) as he was professional. In our weird business, Len was among the nicest people I ever met. His long, thoughtful interview in our upcoming book was an amazing gift.
Julia and I will miss Len terribly. Our hearts go out to his wife Christine.
That’s the new title! I handed in the second draft of the book yesterday, and the publisher and I and a dozen cast and crew that I asked all agreed it’s the best title.
Previously on X-MEN
The Making of an Animated Series
Current estimated publishing date is September 1, 2017.
In celebration, Julia and I are taking a short vacation back in Tennessee, where the co-writers of much of the series live. Mark and Michael Edens wrote “The Phoenix Saga” five-part episode with me, so it’s only right that we have Phoenix, below, helping us celebrate.
In two weeks, on Sunday, April 2, at 3:00, we will be at WonderCon, in Anaheim, California, as part of a panel that talks with fans about what goes on in our favorite mutants’ heads, along with those of other superheroes. Please come by to say hello and to flummox us with challenging questions. Our kind hosts are Dr. Andrea Letamendi and Shout Factory‘s Brian Ward, longtime co-hosts of The Arkham Sessions podcasts. While they have specialized in delving into the psyches of Batman: The Animated Series characters (writer David Wise will be there), they have expanded this panel to include experts on the animated X-Men (us), and Star War Rebels (writer Henry Gilroy). If you are curious about what makes your favorite superheroes tick, please join us.
As the X-MEN:TAS book races to its thrill-packed conclusion (late June?), I find that I am discovering more people who made major contributions (artists, voice actors) but with whom I never had a chance to work directly. Storyboard artist Keith Tucker has worked on possibly more series with me than any other artist: X-MEN:TAS, Exosquad, Streefighter, Iron Man, some Disney shows — all the way back to the long-forgotten Sky Commanders at Hanna-Barbera. We writers and artists so often work separately, that a memory of Keith stands out in my mind. Sky Commanders was the first series on which I supervised the writing (along with fellow Tennesseean John Loy). I distinctly remember getting a call from Keith, who I’d never met, about an action scene: he had ideas for expanding and complicating the choreography and wanted to run them by me. They sounded great. At H-B at the time the pressure was on the creative staff to rush through production. Here was a storyboard artist asking to take an extra few hours to make a scene I had signed off on more exciting. I remember seeing the board and seeing how good it looked. I wondered how often we would have to time push the stories like this. So it’s no surprise that Larry Houston used Keith a lot on X-MEN. The odder thing is that, while working for 4 years on the stories, I never knew who all of the artists were. Thanks to the book, I’m finding out.
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.