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 email@example.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.
Thanks for the reaction to the announcement of our X-MEN:TAS book, due out next year. Ten times the usual number of people checked out this site over the past 24 hours. Well, if you’re looking forward to the book, please know that you can BE PART OF IT. There is going to be a chapter made up of testimonials. We’ve published two already on this blog — memories of what watching X-MEN:TAS has meant to you. Some people gained courage from the mutants’ struggles. Some gratified viewers became animators or cartoonists or philosophy majors (Beast fans). Others simply felt a connection to a group of characters that they had experienced nowhere else in their lives. A number of authors have mentioned being inspired by the storytelling (humbling praise indeed). Attached is a quote from the biography of Stephanie Meyer, the author of the much-loved “Twilight” series of books. Artists and craftsmen hope their work can reach people. Animation writers and artists tend to work alone or with a couple of friends and rarely do we experience that “connection,” with those who are affected by our efforts, that all creative workers strive for. So, if X-MEN:TAS has meant something to you, please write us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will publish a variety of them, short or long, in the book.
Every lead X-MEN:TAS character was important to the storytelling. Different fans have different favorites. We couldn’t have crafted the 59 stories we did without all of them. But if push came to shove (not something you would be encouraged to do around this guy), one character emerged as the heart and soul of the team: Wolverine. Logan was such a compelling character (thanks, Len Wein) that we had to fight the urge to overuse him. People forget that he was nearly 100 years old when we told our stories, that he had lived through two world wars and “seen it all.” He either cared too damn much, or he’d find himself, like Ben Johnson in The Last Picture Show, “just tired of putting up” with things. He was world-weary and a hopeful romantic at the same time. He must have had a dozen doomed loves over the years, probably sure in each case that “this was the one!” He just felt things so deeply that watching him we had to feel it as well. With all that said, I think that our team was the perfect set-up for his character to flourish. He wasn’t the team founder — that was Xavier. He wasn’t the field leader — that was Scott. Despite his anger and frustration, he respected their authority and his place in the team. But if he needed to bust loose and leave for a week, he could. That’s something Charles Xavier or Scott or Jean would never do. It’s like making him a sergeant in the army instead of a general. That’s where he belongs. I think that may be why it has been tough to make him “the lead” in follow-up movies and TV series. It’s not a natural place for Logan to be Logan. He’s at his greatest when he overcomes personal demons for the X-Men, or a lover or a friend, not alone. We all know he can always “Go where I wanna go!” as he famously proclaimed as he stormed off in an early story. The fact that he stays, for the X-Men, is what makes him great. Below is a recent sketch by X-MEN:TAS designer Will Meugniot which conveys for me some of the pain and regret felt by this memorable hero.
During the years we worked on X-MEN:TAS, we had no idea that people all over the planet would end up walking around dressed like the characters we were writing and drawing. There was a hint of this going on at the Cons — like the Comic Con in San Diego in 1993 at which we had an X-MEN panel during the first full year of the show. This year at San Diego we could have filled an auditorium with X-MEN:TAS cosplayers. It’s truly humbling. Twenty years ago we spent our days imagining things for these fictional beings to say and do (and having to come up with a few of our own). Now here are oceans of people living out those imaginings. I once asked Len Wein, assembler of the modern X-Men comics team, creator of Wolverine and Storm (among others), if it felt weird to see bits of his thoughts walking all around him. Len, as always, just shook his head, smiled, and said: “Eric, it’s just a comic book. It’s what I do for a living.” And he’s right. All the rest of it is a mystery. Below see the Wolverine mask that Alec, my 4-year-old son, wore for Halloween 1996. Evidently cosplay begins at home…
Our favorite TV series can affect us profoundly. We will be reserving a tag for posting “testimonials” from fans for whom X-MEN: TAS has had an impact on their lives. This eloquent reminiscence was sent to me by Jenee Darden, writer and daughter of the storied Christopher Darden, prosecutor on the O.J. Simpson “trial of the century.” I contacted her upon reading in the L.A. Times that during the turmoil of the trial, at age 14, she had hurried home to watch X-MEN: TAS. We welcome such remembrances and will post all we can.
Dear Mr. Lewald,
Yesterday I had on a Marvel t-shirt when I opened your email. And I have a poster of Rogue, drawn like the one from your series, in my living room. Imagine my excitement when I saw your email.
Thank you and your wife Julia for reading my LA Times article. I appreciate that so many people have taken time out of their busy lives to read my story. And thank you for taking the time to contact me.
As you know, the O.J. Trial was a turbulent time in my teenage life and your X-Men series was one of the things I turned to for an escape. I didn’t get into Marvel until I watched your show. I’m so happy you and your colleagues fought to make the show progressive. I picked up on the civil rights messages and the empowering female superheroes. Rogue reminded me of my charming, yet strong Southern aunts in Mississippi. And as a young black girl Storm was everything to me. I wish the movie franchise would look to your example of Storm for future films.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only kid in the world who turned to your show for an escape, inspiration and fun. The work that you and other animators do is so important. Thanks to you, Margaret Loesch, Will Meugniot and Larry Houston for creating something that allowed me to be a kid when I was going through tough times.
You created one of the best animated series on television. Thank you again!
Editor and Host of Cocoa Fly.com
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