On a blustery April afternoon in Sacramento, California, a single day convention event (SacCon) housed some Marvel Comics royalty: Chris Claremont and Brent Anderson.
Claremont is responsible for some of the most badass women in Marvel comics (okay, and comics in general); placing Storm as head of the X-Men team (X-Men #94), introducing Kitty Pryde (X-Men #129), Rogue, Psylocke, and the legendary Phoenix and Dark Phoenix storylines. Talk about some touchstones of the industry there.
Chris is also the man fired three times by Marvel, an impressive feat. During the spotlight panel, some questions from the audience touched on some focal points of his time with the X-Men, like when Storm lost her powers.
“We thought about mystical powers, but it was too complicated,” Claremont said. “Part of me wanted to make her a 12-year-old because she was far more interesting as a child than as an adult.”
On the upcoming Marvel marriage between Kitty Pryde and Colossus (X-Men Gold #31):
“There’s only one successful marriage in Marvel [Reed and Sue], and there’s a reason why Hank and Janet didn’t work, and Scott and Madelyne didn’t work. When you have to call in Myphisto to bail you out of your marriage — there’s a problem.
What if, with Spider-Gwen, what if Mary Jane met this mice German guy named Otto and became Doc Wat, and then went back to try to claim her Peter?”
Brent spoke a bit about how he came to be part of the X-Men universe when he joined Chris on the God Loves Man Kills 1982 graphic novel:
“I was finishing my run on Kazar the savage. I was in Louise’s [Simonson] office and couldn’t hit the deadlines, Chris walks in and was looking for someone else to take over after Burn quit #143, I came in #144. Chris walked in and offered me X-Men.
So from three main characters to seven, with costumes that change — but then Chris offered me a graphic novel that Neil [Adams] turned down, which happened to be God Loves Man Kills. I did three sample pages, twice up, and suddenly had nine panels per page.”
Anderson was also asked about the upcoming TV adaptation of his Astro City work, saying he thinks it would work best as something like “The Outer Limits — a different actor director team doing one story once a week.”
Some other highlights during the panel:
- It turns out that New Mutants was originally supposed to be a graphic novel, not the series we know it as now.
- “Not a lot you can fiddle with when your villain is quoting the Bible,” Claremont said about God Loves Man Kills.
- Claremont talking about some of his story choices going against ‘The Code’:
“It was outside the code, the misstep was the code being an inhibition. If you look at Walter’s Thor, Louise’s new mutants, the code forces us to think in terms of presenting the book to children. You mean if I write it this way we can sell it to x amount of people. A little subtlety a little common sense and you can layer.”
- Claremont on the Inferno storyline during a sequence where Maddelyn Pryor has a nightmare and Scott comes running in:
“Yes, it was intentional that Maddelyn has wearing the PJ tops and Scott wearing the matching bottoms. You can get away with so much by suggesting what’s around the corner.”
- “The thing with X-Men is reading any issue at different points in your life and seeing what’s really there — subtlety is fun. I want people to keep reading it and enjoying it and learning more as they go. Otherwise what’s the point?” Claremont said.
- Anderson on Astro City and collaborating with Joe Straczynski:
“Kurt [Busiek] and Chris have very similar strengths with collaborating with artists. Joe Straczynski is not a collaborator. Like, on Rising Stars, Joe said ‘As long as you don’t fuck with my words, I trust you’.”
- When asked if he reads any of the current X-Men comics, Chris laughed and said “I didn’t write them, so what’s the point?”
- My personal favorite one-liner from Claremont will stick with me for a while, “One cannot be gender specific when addressing eternity.”
- Claremont on advice for comic hopefuls:
“Don’t quit your day job. Your job as a writer is to get your eye from the top left corner to the bottom right. You’ve got to work with the artist to create the foundation where all this rests. Let the story flow naturally.”
- “Do your own thing, and stay with it. Show up every single day and just stay with it,” Brent added.
- “And don’t be an a-hole,” Chris finished.
A pretty incredible afternoon with two greats. I managed to somehow get through a break in Claremont’s insanely long line to tell him thank you for his contributions to the strong ladies of the funny papers. My friend who took the photo said “She’s a huge fan of yours!”, to which Claremont responded, “Naw, I’d say about 5’1”.
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