X” Marks the Spot

I think I’ve men­tioned this here before, but my first job in ani­ma­tion was work­ing on X-Men: The Ani­mat­ed Series. And recent­ly (due to inter­est expressed by some of my cur­rent col­leagues at work), I’ve had occa­sion to dig out the box con­tain­ing my copies of some of the work I kept from that series. This led to my re-encoun­ter­ing a sto­ry­board sequence I’ve always thought of as “Wolver­ine down in the Sub­way.” I thought per­haps it (and the sto­ry behind it) might be of interest.

My boss on X-Men was Producer/Director Lar­ry Hous­ton. You’d be hard-pressed to find a bet­ter first boss in ani­ma­tion to teach you the ropes. Lar­ry and Will Meugniot co-direct­ed the first sea­son, but by the time I was hired at the start of the sec­ond sea­son, Lar­ry was the one still run­ning with the baton. If you liked the series, Lar­ry deserves a siz­able por­tion of the cred­it for that. He was a big time comics fan him­self, and was com­mit­ted to doing the absolute best job he could with the time and resources that he’d been given.

To get back to this sto­ry­board sequence, this was part of an episode in which Pro­fes­sor Xavier suf­fered some kind of psy­chic schism, and a sort of dark ver­sion of his psy­che broke loose and was run­ning free, cre­at­ing prob­lems for the X-Men. It’s long enough ago now, I for­get some of the specifics. Lar­ry found he need­ed a sort of addi­tion­al bridg­ing sequence that wasn’t called for in the script, so he set about to cre­ate it him­self, sto­ry­board­ing it on the fly. It start­ed off with Wolver­ine down in the sub­way, unknow­ing­ly encoun­ter­ing this dark ver­sion of Prof. X. As Lar­ry board­ed the sequence, it kind of grew and took on a life of its own. He couldn’t stop!

When he final­ly fin­ished, Lar­ry asked me to do the cleanup over his pen­ciled board. The art­work was very clear, but in com­ic art terms he had what might be con­sid­ered break­downs, and I was being asked to embell­ish them. Fun! And that’s the board sequence I’ve post­ed here. “Wolver­ine down in the Sub­way.” Except for the next-to-last page (122, inked by Frank Squil­lace, because we were com­ing up against the dead­line), it’s all my embell­ish­ment over Larry’s board­ing. We were all pret­ty hap­py with how the final board here came out!

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