Today’s Guest: Chris Claremont, long-time X-MEN comic book writer and co-creator of Marada The She-Wolf.
Mr. Media is recorded live before a studio audience that includes Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, Anna Paquin, Michael Fassbender and Ian McKellen, and James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart … in the NEW new media capital of the world… St. Petersburg, Florida!
Marvel Comics’ Epic era slipped by me while I was in college and starting my career.
That’s my only explanation for how a guy who read all of the Conan the Barbarian, Kull the Conquerer, and even Groo the Warrior and Ironjaw comics missed seeing Chris Claremont and John Bolton’s work the first time on Marada The She-Wolf.
Fortunately, those pages have finally been collected in a single, stunning hardcover graphic novel by Titan Books and reading it is sheer pleasure.
CHRIS CLAREMONT podcast excerpt: “Marada The She-Wolf, originally, was Red Sonja. As I was getting deeper into the plot and John Bolton was starting to pencil, Marvel lost all the licenses (to Robert E. Howard characters. Suddenly we had 20 dead pages and a really good story and both of us were really pissed… The idea popped into our heads: ‘Who don’t we pitch it as our own concept? Nothing’s been established; there’s nothing we can’t change. The story doesn’t exist yet.’ The operational structure of the story was that we were going to take the central character out of her comfort zone—ditch the steel bikini. Have her dress sensibly. Do an historical fantasy. Archie Goodwin and Jim Shooter were totally on board with it.”
Marada is a sword ‘n’ sorcery warrior woman of the first order. No doubt the silver-haired beauty would give Red Sonja a battle that fanboys would pay to see. And a movie? You bet?
As for Claremont, you’re bound to be familiar with his work—or at least his influence—if you’ve ever picked up a comic book or watched a superhero movie.
Shortly after artist Dave Cockrum and writer Len Wein rejuvenated a dying Marvel Comics series in Giant-Sized X-Men, Claremont joined Cockrum for an extraordinary run on the monthly Uncanny X-Men comic beginning with issue #94. When Cockrum moved on a year later and John Byrne stepped in, Claremont provided continuity that lasted almost two decades.
In 1991, when Marvel launched a second X title, simply known as X-Men, the first issue sold more than 8 million copies, a record that stands to this day and that can be found in the Guinness Book of World Records.
CHRIS CLAREMONT podcast excerpt: “I wanted to get to a point where the X-Men’s Scott Summers (Cyclops) and Madelyne Pryor would leave the team, raise their children, and live happily ever after in Alaska—having a normal life, with Scott coming back from time to time for exciting adventures. But have him do it from the perspective of, ‘I have a wife and son now. I have a life.’ My paradigm was, you pick up the Uncanny X-Men at issue 100, you see one iteration. You come back for issue 300, you’ll see a different one. You redefine the mix of characters for each reading generation.”
And while he isn’t officially credited – or credited enough – it is Claremont’s X-Men who have filled the silver screen from 2000’s X-Men through a series of Wolverine films and, finally, X-Men Days of Future Past.
It is truly a thrill and an honor for someone whose very first comic book purchase, X-Men #20, was made by his grandfather at a New York Port Authority newsstand in 1966 to welcome today’s guest.