the book, X-Men Show

THE X-MEN BOOK: We Need Testimonials

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 xmentas92@gmail.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.

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X-Men Show

MARVEL ON TV BEFORE X-MEN:TAS

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.

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Uncategorized, X-Men Show

THE DANGER ROOM: Use it Carefully

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.

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the book, X-Men Show

BEAST’S FAREWELL FROM CHARLES

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.

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behind-the-scenes, music, the book, Uncategorized

GETTING THE OPENING RIGHT

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.

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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.

behind-the-scenes, the book

We’re Back: It Started with “Pryde”

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.

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the book, X-Men Show

DEATHSTRIKE IS DELIGHTED: @xmentas reaches 4000 followers!

Yuriko is all up-in-arms over the fact that we have reached another Twitter milestone on @xmentas.  4000 followers.  Real fans, no bots.  Thanks again for your continued interest and for telling your friends about us.  It seems we have established a basic pace — adding 1000 people about every month-and-a-half.  We appreciate the response and will never take it for granted.  As we look forward to the publication of the X-MEN:TAS book (currently set for mid-July, with 32 cast and crew interviews completed so far), a little teaser of a look ahead: There’s a sub-chapter about a controversy over Lady Deathstryke’s design.  No spoilers.  You’ll just have to guess for now.

yuriko

X-Men Show

BESTS OF THE YEAR: Cosplay

You’ll have to forgive me.  I have friends shivering in Toronto, Boston, Denver, and Minneapolis, and I’m down here in Southern California laid up with a cold.  So no deep thoughts the last couple of days.  And today, just fun.  Since we went online in July, we have seen thousands of X-MEN:TAS-realted images.  Some of them just make me smile.  Today I have deceided to arbitrarily make the first of many occasional posts just for the fun of it.  December is a time for “best of” lists.  So I thought I’d start with the Cosplay image that I liked best over the past year, that of Mystique in mid-shape-shift.  It is hard to “animate” cosplay, yet this ingenious young woman managed it perfectly.  Thanks for the memories as I chug chicken soup.

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X-Men Show

X-MEN vs. Street Fighter

There is an endless fascination of “who would beat who” in the immense, ever-expanding world of superheroes.  I can’t imagine a more classic (and over-used) comic-book cover than the pairing of one beloved character or team against another.  It’s also a no-brainer for 2-D or 3-D-Fighter video games: combat is their essence.  Feature movies have tried “A vs. B” with mixed success (Alien vs. Predator, The Avengers: Civil War).  It doesn’t even need to make any sense — it just sets up a challenge, a deeply human competition complete with a satifying mix of spectacle.  It compels us: we gotta know who wins.  I was reminded of this yesterday when I saw the announcement of the most recent Capcom-vs.-Marvel game, “Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite,” specially featuring characters from X-Men and Street Fighter (see below).   This spoke to me since I and producer Will Muegniot and my wife Julia and writer Michael Edens were part of the core creative teams on both of these animated series, nearly back-to-back.  Their worlds were so different that it never would have occurred to any of us to pit one set of characters against the other.  But that didn’t stop a more imaginative Capcom from creating a 20-year run of incredibly successful games.  Powers and fighting were an essential part of our stories on X-MEN:TAS and even more so on Streetfighter:TAS.  But the human side of the characters was even more important to us.  We could tell a good story with very little fighting, but we couldn’t tell a lasting story without the humanity.

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X-Men Show

GAMBIT: Man of Mystery

I’m not sure that we did Gambit justice.  I feel like I know Logan and Scott and Jean and Hank and Rogue and Jubilee and Prof X, but I’m not sure I know Remy Le Beau.  Part of that is because for X-MEN:TAS we needed Gambit to be mysterious.  Twice in the first season we had the team seriously doubt Gambit’s loyalty: on “Slave Island” and during our version of “Days of Future Past.”  If our audience didn’t truly believe that Gambit might be guilty of betraying his friends the stories wouldn’t have worked.  We could have never tried that with Cyclops or Beast — no one would have bought it.  Gambit was a  recent Marvel addition and started out with a mysterious background: semi-mystical backwoods allegiences, semi-hidden past.  The mystery made him distinct from all of our other heroes.  It also fit with his overt sexiness (Gambit was recently voted near the top of this category in pop culture history).  Little sexuality is allowed in kids’ TV — we gave most of our allotment to Gambit (and Rogue).  A movie has been in the works for quite a while, starring Channing Tatum (below, right).  Our Gambit, Chris Potter (below, left), would have actually had the right look for the character during the years we recorded him.  Word has been that the feature movie has been a tough nut to crack.  I symptathize: it’s tough writing for a man of mystery.

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CHRIS POTTER                                                                     CHANNING TATUM

behind-the-scenes, X-Men Show

COLOSSUS vs OMEGA RED — The Episode that Never Was

To quote Joe E. Brown from the movie Some Like it Hot: “Well, nobody’s perfect.”  We had a tight schedule and a tighter budget on X-MEN:TAS.  Some big animated series (at Disney, Warners, etc.) have the time and money to try all sorts of stories, develop them to script, see which ones everybody likes, then toss the ones they don’t.  We didn’t have that luxury.  The one-line ideas that were chosen were going to get made — we on the writing staff just had to make sure the 40-page scripts all came out well.  Well, 76 out of 77 did.  The one exception was a hard-edged episode set in rural Russia called “Bring Me Charles Xavier.”  Many note-givers raised concerns early, at the premise and outline stages, like they are supposed to.  But I liked the story and bull-headedly pushed it and the writer through to a couple of versions of the script — only to be told that no, many of my colleagues still didn’t like the story.   So, after many weeks of trying, it was gone.  I appologized to the writer, got him paid, and faced one of the heaviest repsonsibilities that the showrunner has in our corner of the business.  Production needed a 40-page script to keep their schedule, so I wrote a completely new one over the weekend.  Below are the would-be adversaries and the cast page from the abandoned script.  Too bad : looks like it could have been fun.

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behind-the-scenes, X-Men Show

THANKSGIVING THOUGHTS: THUNDERBIRD, The X-Man We Tried to Use but Couldn’t

When Mark Edens wrote the pilot script for me for X-MEN:TAS, there was an X-Man in it that never ended up apprearing on screen as an X-Man.  It was the Native American John Proudstar, known as Thunderbird.  When the X-Men books were re-started in 1975 (after their suspension in 1970), Len Wein and Dave Cockrum were given the job of coming up with a new team that was far more diverse and international.  Fans got a German (Nightcrawler), a Russian (Colossus), a Canadian (Wolverine) and a Native American.  In writing stories, they soon learned that they had a problem.  To quote Cockrum: “We created Thunderbird as an obnoxious loudmouth, and we already had an obnoxious loudmouth in Wolverine.  So one of us decided to kill him off.”  Which is why we X-Men newbies (Mark, me, Micahel Edens) decided to use Thunderbird as the character we were going to kill off in our opening story (we were trying to stay true to the spirit of the books).  Atop our todo list during the first week was: “Kill off Thunderbird.”  Well, somebody somewhere noticed that the only X-Man that we were planning to kill was Native American.  Sorry: we don’t care if they killed him in the comics, we can’t do it on Saturday morning TV.  Fine.  So I dug around and found another character who had died, sacrificing himself for the X-Men: Changeling.  Only we couldn’t use the name (long story).  So the lone sacrificial X-Man became “Morph.”  The rest is history.  By the way, to show you how much Thunderbird was in everyone’s mind early on, take a look at an image from the opening credits, on the “opponents” side.  There is John Proudstar, next to Juggernaut, angry as ever.

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