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.
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
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 email@example.com. 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.