Tag Archives: X-Men

Don’t Try to Con Me!”

Hm. How to explain this? It’s a par­o­dy of the cov­er of X‑Men #4, obvi­ous­ly (with all apolo­gies to Jack Kir­by!). Yes, it’s pret­ty sil­ly stuff. And there’s a rea­son I did it.

Back before I start­ed my ani­ma­tion career, I kin­da thought I was going to make comics my life’s work. I had just fin­ished get­ting as much train­ing at Art Cen­ter as I could afford on my own dime, and set about launch­ing my comics career in earnest. I hon­est­ly don’t remem­ber now exact­ly how we end­ed up cross­ing paths, but I was in con­tact with Don Chin, who was at that time pub­lish­ing comics under the names Par­o­dy Press and Enti­ty Comics. His inde­pen­dent titles were actu­al­ly doing pret­ty decent num­bers. I was­n’t going to get rich doing this work, but every career has to start some­where, right?

As you’d expect from the name, Par­o­dy Press was all about lam­poon­ing exist­ing comics. One of the projects I agreed to do for Don was a par­o­dy of the X‑Men, called X‑Cons. The book had sto­ries from sev­er­al peri­ods in the his­to­ry of the char­ac­ters. I pen­ciled the open­ing chap­ter, fea­tur­ing the debut of the Sil­ver Age ver­sion of the team: Pro­fes­sor Ex, Dum­b­kophs, Beast­ie Boy, the Anglo, Sno-Cone and Jean­nie Okay (AKA Mar­velous Girl).

I did oth­er projects for Don too, but over time the mar­ket for these books began to dry up, until some projects I’d worked on did­n’t even get enough orders to go to press. At that point, I thought maybe I need­ed some­thing that might pay a bit stead­ier, so I put some feel­ers out and wound up get­ting into ani­ma­tion. Fun­ny to think about it now, in this con­text, but my very first job in ani­ma­tion? Char­ac­ter mod­el cleanup on X‑Men: the Ani­mat­ed Series.

Fast-for­ward to recent­ly: Don got back in touch. He told me he wants to do a reprint of the X‑Cons book, with addi­tion­al mate­r­i­al and in col­or this time. He was curi­ous if I might be game to con­tribute some­thing, per­haps a vari­ant cov­er. It hap­pened to be good tim­ing. We talked about it, and you see the result here. Sil­ly, but fun. I did two ver­sions: reg­u­lar, and extra-crispy!

When Don gets his cam­paign up and run­ning for those inter­est­ed in this book, I’ll update and post a link here.

Black Panther’s First Cartoon Appearance?

Like a lot of peo­ple, I’m look­ing for­ward to the release of Black Pan­ther, the lat­est Mar­vel movie this Fri­day, Feb­ru­ary 16th. This last week­end, I had an email from my first boss when I start­ed work­ing in ani­ma­tion, Lar­ry Hous­ton (whom I also con­sid­er a friend). Lar­ry was the producer/director of the orig­i­nal X‑Men: the Ani­mat­ed Series (as it seems to have become known now). I did char­ac­ter mod­el clean-up on the series, and a fair amount of char­ac­ter design too, along the way.

Lar­ry point­ed my atten­tion to a video on YouTube some­one had assem­bled, of Black Pan­ther’s var­i­ous ani­mat­ed appear­ances. Right up front was his cameo appear­ance on an episode of X‑Men.

That sparked a mem­o­ry. I went back to look, and sure enough: I’d had the priv­i­lege of being the one who got to draw the mod­el for that appear­ance, which I’ve post­ed here! If I’m not mis­tak­en, I think it might well be Black Pan­ther’s first ever appear­ance in a car­toon.

I can’t take cred­it for the idea of putting T’Chal­la in there. It was Lar­ry’s idea. Lar­ry felt very strong­ly (as did the rest of us on the show) that, tak­ing place in the Mar­vel uni­verse, we would like­ly see oth­er Mar­vel char­ac­ters from time to time. Because that was always kind of a Mar­vel Comics trade­mark! Occa­sion­al­ly the pow­ers-that-were got a lit­tle anx­ious over who might hold the rights to var­i­ous char­ac­ters, so some­times things got labeled a lit­tle… dif­fer­ent­ly. In this case, the script we were work­ing on at the time required we show some African mutant refugees, and we felt this was as good a time as any to give T’Chal­la a cameo. Hence, “African Mutant Refugee #3.”

With­in the con­fines of the style of our show, I tried to get some hints of Kir­by in there. Because, why not?

Update – Feb­ru­ary 28, 2018: It’s fun­ny how things work. Aaron Couch, Heat Vision Edi­tor for The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, did an inter­view with Lar­ry Hous­ton about Black Pan­ther and the X‑Men car­toon. Lar­ry point­ed him here to my site, and Aaron want­ed to ask me a ques­tion or two also. The end result wound up part of this arti­cle. Thanks again for your inter­est, Aaron!

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!