the book

X-BOOK: Manuscript Goes In Today!

Books take a while.  After two years of interviews and writing, the manuscript of X-MEN: The Animated Series will be handed to Mr. Steven Kates, of publisher Jacobs-Brown (below left, with happy/relieved author), in about an hour.  My understanding is that there will then be a few months of editing, polishing, and laying out of the book before copies will finally be printed for sale, sometime this summer.  But today had to happen first.  Steven tells me that while the Jacobs Brown Media website will take orders for copies as soon as possible, they are not yet taking pre-sales.  If you buy the book through them or from us at a Con or store-signing, it of course will be autographed.  It will also be available in the usual places (Amazon, your local book store, etc.).

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X-Men Show

Our First Con for 25th Anniversary

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.
Temporary Schedule:

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

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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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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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Happy Holidays!

We started this site in July, so this is our first holiday season.  Our family always takes a holiday picture.  This year we celebrate X-MEN, a larger family that has given us so much over the years.  You can see in the photo that the extended Lewald family are all fans, espcially our niece, who is helping us on the X-MEN:TAS book.  Please forgive the infrequent posts this month: there is always more to do over the holidays than you plan for.  Best wishes from the xmentas.com crew, and here’s to an X-ceptional 2017.  Eric & Julia.

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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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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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behind-the-scenes, the book, X-Men Show

THE NEW TEAM THAT NEVER WAS: The Book Will Tell the Story

When I mentioned yesterday how we had written out four team members from X-MEN:TAS and written in four new ones in what was to have been the series finale, I thought it would be just a fun note to fans.  Then last night Julia told me: “People are guessing on Twitter.  You have to tell!”  Okay, fine.  I was going to just wait and let folks read the retelling of the 10-page, 4-episode discarded premise in our “Making of X-MEN:TAS” book next year.  But she’s right: I brought it up, I need to answer the question right away.  First, who was to go.  Jean and Scott, who we’d tried to marry off and get pregnant as early as episode 14 were now married and leaving to start a family.  Makes sense.  Xavier was leaving, in this case to take on a new set of much younger mutants (the at-the-time new “Generation X”).  This is kind of like Vince Lombardi winning a couple of Super Bowls and deciding to go back to coaching highschool football, but there you are.  Finally Storm decided that she too had other responsibilities.  Bam.  After an 88-minute, time-torturing, mega-villain-filled story, the X-Men are four folks short.  Well, in our original story, we made Psylocke  a major player, and she ended up asking to stay around (fitting in with some of the recent books).  Same with Archangel.  The two larger surprises were Bishop and Shard.  The hard-fighting brother and sister from the future had become stranded in the present time (1996?).  Since they too had proven themselves, the X-Men welcomed them.  So there you have it — four out, four in.  I have no idea how the delicate balance of our core team would have been affected.  Making the new team work as well would have been a huge challenge.  I’d like to think that if asked we could have risen to it.

BISHOP                                                 SHARD

behind-the-scenes, X-Men Show

Change the Team?!

There’s a little known fact: we were going to change the X-MEN:TAS team.  We had written the script where four members left and four new ones came on.  It seems hard to imagine now.  One of the strengths of the series is that we had found an excellent balance of diverse characters.  How would we write stories without four of our team, mixing in four new-comers?  The trick is that we were not planning to.  Fox Network had decided to end the series at 65 episodes with a big story that concluded with four members leaving and four, who had proved themselves within the story, replacing them.  The big four-part story was “Beyond Good and Evil,” and we had finished the four scripts — story laid out by Mark Edens and Michael Edens — with heartfelt farewells included.  Then word came down that Fox didn’t want to end the series after all.  They wanted another season (season five).  Oops.  Now I had to go back into “B. G. & E.” and take out all of the story bits that lead to four characters leaving and four new ones stepping in.  Not pleasant.  What was a really well-constructed 88-minute story now needed to be patched together to be something different.  Fast.  Oh, well.  Below are our original ten X-Men (including Morph), plus some guest stars.  See if you can guess which four of our ten was set to leave and who would have replaced them.  Two of the replacements are among those shown below.

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WHO LEFT AND WHO REPLACED THEM?

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Proteus: Villains vs. Threats

Stan Lee liked his villains straight and simple: evil characters to be defeated by heroes.  Mark Edens and I once got in trouble during a “Thor” development meeting (the series didn’t get produced — it would have been great fun) when we tried to show some sympathy for Loki, neglected-son-of-Odin.  In the orignal myths, a measure of such sympathy can be found.  Stan, an advisor on the project, hated this: to him, a character was either a villain to be hated or a hero to be loved.  Loki was a villain, end of discussion.  Given Stan’s amazing track record, it was hard to argue that day that he was wrong.  For X-MEN:TAS, however, we took a different approach.  We had some out-and-out villains, but they tended to be evil, corrupt humans.  When we used a mutant to pose a threat, either to people or to the X-Men, we tended to find them far more interesting if the threatening mutant had a sympathetic side.  Magento is the prime example — supremely threatening, but still sympathetic (in our version, anyway).  We took the idea of a sympathetic threat to its limits with the two-part episode, “Proteus.”  The title creature is a huge threat to himself and humanity.  He is such a violent force of nature that he makes Wolverine break down and cry from fear.  But at the same time, he is a troubled teenage boy, the son of Professor Xavier’s first love, scientist Moira MacTaggart.  The true villain of the story is Proteus’s abusive politician father, but the threat driving the action is his troubled son.  So we had the best of both worlds: we had a spectacular creature for the X-Men to fight, but, within the same character, a loved one to save.  Luckily Stan wasn’t much invovled with X-MEN:TAS after the first season, so we didn’t have to fight him over it.  (By the way, the first part of “Proteus” was written by the late Bruce Reid Schaefer, a gentle soul and fellow Tennesseean who left us far too young.)

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X-MEN:TAS WRITER E-PUBLISHES DARK COMIC NOVEL

Without Mark Edens, there would be no X-MEN:TAS as we all know and love it.  We would have stumbled through somehow, but Mark’s presence was critical to the storytelling.  Mark and I laid out the first 26 episode ideas.  He wrote the two-part opening pilot script, “Night of the Sentinels.”  Mark and I built the “Phoenix Saga” five-episode TV story, adapting it from the Claremont/Byrne books.  The network, knowing his value, asked him to come up with a big, Apocalypse-centered four-part finale (“Beyond Good and Evil”) which, before we were required to change it, was to be the wrap-up of the series.  Mark and his brother Michael had a hand in over half of the series’ scripts.  So it is exciting for me to announce that Mark has just published a darkly-comic novel, “Death Be Not Pwned.” It is available electronically on Amazon for $3.99.  Even though the creative writers and artists who crafted X-MEN:TAS can no longer display their talents on that show, there are other ways to enjoy their work.  Mark’s new book is one of them.