Friday, May 30, 2014

Gone Hollywood

Although I have been editing at for some time, it's only recently that I received an entry at that august website; a page has been dedicated to me in recognition of my co-producer's credit on the documentary film Comics in Focus: Chris Claremont's X-Men.

I became attached to the project via Kickstarter - in fact, this was the first Kickstarter I contributed to. My motivation was, in part, sheer vanity, an ego boost, a naked attempt at giving myself an imdb page. However, it was not only about my ego, but also my complicated feelings about Chris Claremont.

I say "complicated" because although I grew up reading his X-Men comics, I knew none of the details behind his departure from the franchise in 1991. By the time he returned in 2000 I had become part of that jaded, cynical internet audience which was eager to see Claremont fail, to expose his new work as worthless, to even reexamine his original 17 year run as overrated. I was a chump, in other words.

Only when Grant Morrison began his New X-Men run did my feelings begin to change; so much of the series' lore had been cast adrift that I soon myself looking at Claremont's contemporaneous X-Treme X-Men and appreciating how he kept the series anchored to what had come before, while still integrating what Morrison had begun introducing. Happily, I came back to the fold in time to enjoy many more years of Claremont's stories and eventually I contributed a supplementary text piece for an issue of his series X-Men Forever; Claremont graciously autographed that issue for me.

By the time this film turned up at Kickstarter, Claremont's writing prospects at Marvel were - for the first time in 12 years - nil. Having then only recently resigned from my own work at Marvel, it bothered me to realize Claremont had run out of work; he's someone who, ideally, I would like to see keep working until he think he's had enough. My support for this documentary was founded primarily on a desire to demonstrate support for Claremont.

Happily, not only was the film successfully funded and produced (replete with my ego-stroking credit), but Claremont has since resumed working at Marvel via Nightcrawler, which I would surely read if I were still reading Marvel Comics. The documentary itself is concerned with Claremont's first 17-year run on X-Men - there is a brief mention of X-Men Forever, but the narrative the film chose was to follow Claremont's career only up until 1991. Along with many discussions with Claremont himself are included the reminiscences of Louise Simonson, Ann Nocenti, Len Wein, Jim Shooter and my friend Peter Sanderson (conspicuously absent are John Byrne, Jim Lee & Bob Harras). Although the film is a brief 42-minute jaunt, there are many bonus clips from the interview sessions of interest to anyone who likes to hear behind-the-scenes anecdotes about 1980s Marvel.

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