“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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