The Logan blu-ray that we got today has a black-and-white version of the film along with the theatrical release. How appropriate. Two of the characters that have meant the most to many of us for decades fight heroically and die — as all great heroes need to. The original movie’s look is grim and de-saturated to start with, leaving black-and-white the only way it could be made “darker.”
In late 1974, Marvel Comics employee Len Wein was given a heads up by his boss that the long-suspended X-Men title might come back, but this time with a more international team. Taking a chance, he made a guest star that he was working on for a Hulk story a short, gruff Canadian mutant – just in case there might be a place for him on the X-Men team. There was. Then in late 1992, thanks to the underappreciated voice-over actor Cal Dodd, we all heard Logan’s proper voice for the first time: “I go… where I wanna go…”
In Logan, Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart act their hearts out, knowing this is the end. Much as we yearn for it to be a perfect movie, it isn’t. But Logan and Charles don’t let us down. We have depended upon their strength and commitment for decades, and now, despite being enfeebled and in doubt, they persevere.
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.
Who knew that there was such an X-MEN:TAS-friendly day? Not me. Whose heroes are more super than ours? You can go back to Homer and the Bible, and our team of misfits holds its own. Thousands of superheroes have come and gone over the millennia; the best struggle and suffer great tragedy. Compelling interest in larger-than-life myth and legend endures. A superhero’s gotta do what a superhero’s gotta do. Here’s thanks that the heroic ideal has survived all these years and that, through the X-Men, we were able to participate in the storytelling. Happy National Superheroes Day.
We were pleased to see this morning that the web was buzzing with the news that “The Dark Phoenix Saga” is to become Fox’s tenth X-MEN movie. Among the 76 episodes that we produced for X-Men:TAS, this was one of only three stories we were asked to directly adapt for the screen (along with “Days of Future Past” and “The Phoenix Saga”). There is always a challenge when adapting an admired or beloved story: fans have expectations. For our 88-minute animated version, we greatly streamlined — paring away interweaving stories within the run of books (#129-137) — concentrating on Jean and the X-Men’s effort to save her. I’m curious how the feature folks will tell the story in a 2-1/2 hour movie. It’s funny to look back and realize that on kids TV we couldn’t even call the villains “The Hellfire Club” as the comics did (network censors), and we surely couldn’t have Jean/Phoenix devouring inhabited planets. But we were allowed great spectacle, and, more important, great emotions among the X-Men team as serious sacrifices were contemplated. Here’s hoping the new “Dark Phoenix” takes the story even further.
We were pleased to be two of the guests on a panel this year at WonderCon titled: “The Psychology of Animated Series.” The hosts of the long-running “Arkham Sessions” podcast, Dr. Andrea Letamendi and Brian Ward (pictured left), hosted. We and two other, uh, veteran writers (Henry Gilroy and David Wise) were asked to discuss the psychology of some of the characters for whom we had written. Our hosts specialize in the original Batman:TAS, for which Henry and David have both written. Henry has many credits within the Star Wars animated universe, and David was the heart and soul behind the original Mutant Ninja Turtles. Since the four of us together must have a thousand produced TV credits, there was lots of superhero psychology to discuss. One simple distinction that came up was that writers for Batman:TAS tended to focus on the inner workings of the guest villains (the famous “Rogues’ Gallery”), where on X-MEN:TAS we focused on the psyches of the team members. It makes sense: there only a single Batman to figure out; we had nine X-Men, complete with extended families, old friends, and spurned lovers. Some episodes we had enough going on with our core cast that there wasn’t a villain at all. It is always gratifying to meet fans and answer questions about what went into the making of X-MEN:TAS. Now back to the book….
We opened our @xmentas Twitter account late last May. Thanks to your kind words and daily diligence from Julia (who manages the account), we have grown steadily. So much has happened so quickly. When we started, the movie “X-MEN: Apocalypse” was just opening; now “Logan” is assaulting the world. The X-MEN:TAS book was half-done, and now it’s with the publisher, getting polished up for a hoped-for summer release. We have had a great first-Con experience, thanks to Mike Towry and his partners, at Comic Fest, with producer/director Larry Houston and three series writers on panels. We hope to appear at a Con or two each month for at least a year once the book is published. But today we simply want to celebrate our growing Twitter community by marking another “1000” milestone. The X-MEN:TAS art below is courtesy of stroyboard artist Keith Tucker, an old friend, whose work appears in around 20 of the X-MEN:TAS boards.
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.