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.

x-team-plus

WHO LEFT AND WHO REPLACED THEM?

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.

FAN FRIDAYS: TESTIMONIALS

Hundreds of millions of people around the world have enjoyed watching X-MEN:TAS.  This in itself is humbling for those of us who worked on the show.  For some viewers, however, the series proved to be more than just a cherished pleasure.  It affected their lives.  Careers were chosen, ideals formed.  Our intention was simply to tell and draw and voice the best animated TV stories we could.  No hidden agendas.  We were handed the task of explaining the lives of mutant superheroes who found themselves in a classically tragic situation — being feared and attacked for being different, for being “exceptional.”  I have met many people over the past 20 years who have said, “The X-Men animated series changed my life.”  How do you reply to that?  It’s a wonderful feeling, intensely gratifying.  We hope to post many of these “testimonials” on this site over the coming months and years, most often on “Fan Fridays.”  We started back in July with Jenee Darden’s eloquent memory.  Below is one of the more striking stories I have heard.  The Canadian gentleman who posted it in June was kind enough to permit us to reprint it here.

X-memory 1X memory 2X memory 3X memory 4

WILL & LARRY — HEART AND SOUL OF X-MEN:TAS

In the eleven months of work it took to get to the official premier of X-MEN:TAS shown on Fox TV in January, 1993, there were dozens of opportunities for the project to go in a wrong direction.  99% of TV projects find a way to fail.  Will Meugniot and Larry Houston wouldn’t let us fail.  Both of them had loved comics and the X-Men since their childhoods in the 1960s.  Both had worked on years of TV projects, some good, some bad.  This time TV would get it right!  I didn’t know and love the X-Men the way that they did (not yet).  I just wanted to tell good stories.   Many people wanted a very different show (younger, goofier), and they weren’t shy about pressing us to change it.  But Will and Larry knew what an X-Men animated series needed to be.  Others supported us at critical times, but if it weren’t for Larry (Producer/Director) and Will (Producer/Designer), the X-MEN:TAS that we know today wouldn’t exist.  Here is a photo of the two of them, working in Korea in 1991, just months before we were thrown together to make the show.  I was the third person hired to do the series.  Will and Larry were number one and two — something for which I am still thankful.

Larry and Will in Korea 1991

Larry Houston left, Will Meugniot right