the book, X-Men Show

Memorable 2018 SDCC

SDCC 2018 was a great X-MEN:TAS experience!  First, Julia and I were accompanied by six “Team X-Men” volunteers (some family members), all decked out in “Previously on X-Men” shirts and hats.  Amazing fun had by all.

SDCC 2018 Team PREVIOUSLY.jpg

We had two panels.  The one celebrating producer/director LARRY HOUSTON’s career was topped off with the SDCC’s highest award for lifetime achievement, the INKWELL.  At the other panel, which celebrated 25 years of X-MEN: TAS, we received a standing ovation (our first) from the standing-room-only crowd.

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At a massive panel hosted by our friends at SCREEN JUNKIES, there was a “Battle,” a five-minute debate whose theme was: “What is the greatest animated series ever — X-MEN or Batman?”  It was close, but the thousand-plus crowd voted for X-MEN!

And finally, we and X-MEN:TAS writer Len Uhley were able to grab some table space beside guest-of-the-Con Larry Houston and sell some copies of “Previously on X-Men.”  Five days of fans, fun, and exhaustion that were truly memorable for us.

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

X-MEN at SAN DIEGO!

We are pleased to announce that we will be at the San Diego Comic Con next week.  We will be at two panels.  First is SPOTLIGHT ON LARRY HOUSTON on Thursday morning at 11:00am in room 5AB.  I will be moderating this tribute to the animation artist who directed 65 of the X-MEN:TAS episodes and has art credits on 79 animated series!  After the panel Larry will be signing autographs at the Featured Guest area for an hour.  Then from 1:15 to 2:45 Thursday Julia and I will join him at his table (HH16) where we will have personally-signed books (PREVIOUSLY ON X-MEN), script pages, and Larry’s X-MEN model sheets.  Then on Sunday, at 3:00pm in room 7AB, we three will share the stage with writer LEN UHLEY in X-MEN:TAS CELEBRATES 25 YEARS.  After the panel we will join Larry at his table for an hour (4:00 – 5:00 at HH16) and, if there are any left, have books, script pages, and model sheets for signing.  Finally, please join us to celebrate the life of X-MEN legend and friend Len Wein, Thursday evening at 8:30 at room 4. 

(From top left, clockwise: LARRY HOUSTON, US, LEN WEIN, OUR BOOK, LEN UHLEY)

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Uhley_Len.jpeg   PREVIOUSLY-ON-X-MEN_FinalFron_HiRest.jpg   LEN Wein - C.M. Valada.jpg

the book, X-Men Show

Comic Fest – A Human-sized Con

We are scheduled to participate in three panels at Comic Fest this weekend with X-MEN:TAS director-producer Larry Houston.  It will be our third appearance there, and we wanted to give you a sense of why we continue to go back.  While WonderCon last month was exciting in its size and scope (70,000 people, 1700 at our X-MEN:TAS panel), Comic Fest is low-key.  It’s like visiting a favorite small town instead of a big city.  While the biggest Cons have expanded into every corner of popular culture, Comic Fest remains comics-focused.  The people are very comics-knowledgeable.  We meet friends from way back.  (Scott Shaw, who designed the Fest poster below was my office-mate at Hanna-Barbera in 1986.)  The location is like a vacation spot, not a trade show.  And the founders go back to the beginning of the Con movement, so they choose guests wisely.  So join us if you can — we’ll have a signing table and stacks of books.  See you there.

Comic Fest 2018.jpg

the book, Uncategorized

Wonderful WonderCon

We’re back!  It’s been a while.  We’ve been getting the word out about the book.  WonderCon in Anaheim was nice enough to ask Julia and me to set up an X-MEN:TAS panel this past weekend.  They didn’t happen to mention that the hall would seat 1700 people!  Well, we found out that there is great love for the show: our panel was standing-room-only.  Producer-Director LARRY HOUSTON and writers LEN UHLEY and BOB SKIR joined us.  Afterward, there was three straight hours of book-signing at our table.  We’re not sure what other cons we can manage to attend (a load of 100 books weighs 210 lbs, so flying places may be tough).   But we’ll try.  We’re set at MomoCon in Atlanta in late May.  Writing can be solitary work, so meeting people who appreciate your efforts can be gratifying.

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WC - Eric, Len, Julia.jpg

Left to right:  niece Rev Wiederspahn, Julia, X-MEN:TAS writer Len Uhley, and me.

the book, X-Men Show

X-MEN:TAS Wrap Party 25 Years Later

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.

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the book, X-Men Show

Fun at LA Comic Con

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.

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

Finding More Artists: Keith Tucker

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.

Keith Tucker.jpg

the book, X-Men Show

X-MEN Team Celebrates Series Anniversary at COMIC FEST, San Diego

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.

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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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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.

ORIG Opening - first panel.jpg

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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behind-the-scenes, Uncategorized

CONNECTING OUR STORIES TO THE MARVEL BOOKS

X-MEN:TAS has a complex relationship with the many series of X-MEN comic books that we respectfully mined as source material.  Many fans have made lists of the connections they see, where adaptions may have been made from book to screen.  Some are easy: the “Phoenix” sagas and “Days of Future Past” were direct, intentional, adaptations of well-known comics stories.  Few others were.  I had no agenda in adapting or not adapting stories from the books.  Some of the TV writers knew and loved the books; others didn’t know them at all.  There was only one rule for choosing which stories got made: which would play the best in series TV animation.  The result was that only a handful of stories, like “Days,” originated with a writer saying: “We gotta do the —– book!”  Far more often a writer would have a character or idea from a book, or of his or her own, and we built an original TV story from there, using names and places and characters from the books to suit our stories.  Or in today’s case — the four-part “Beyond Good and Evil” — an original story was “tied in” to the Marvel Universe, late in the process, by the cameo appearance at the end by an established comics character.  Writer Mark Edens created a new character, BENDER, a Robin-Williams-like, Lear-foolish jester, to hold the time-bending story together.   Super-fan producer Larry Houston came up with the tag at the end, where Bender morphs into Immortus, an appropriately larger-than life Marvel character.  Fans might imagine that Mark and I were trying to tell an Immortus story from the beginning.  We weren’t.  But Larry’s insertion of Immortus  was a perfect example of X-MEN:TAS bringing the Marvel Universe into our stories in every way we could.

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IMMORTUS