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.
Finally — nearly three years after we started, PREVIOUSLY ON X-MEN is here. It’s real. Jacobs/Brown did a fabulous job, and I’m bleary from signing 208 of them. This first print run is only 1000 copies, and about 240 have already been ordered or are spoken for. There will be more hardcover printings, and runs of trade-paperbacks, and a Kindle version (check Amazon later in the month) — but if anyone wants to make sure of having a signed hardcover copy before Christmas, you should grab one of these at the website (jacobsbrownmediagroup.com) before they are gone. For those of you who have placed orders, I’m told Jacobs/Brown will start shipping them (book rate — takes about a week) on Saturday (11/11).
For now, Julia and I are enjoying the happy exhaustion of finishing the job. If you do buy the book, please let us know what you think. ERIC
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.
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.
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….
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.