On Chris Claremont’s papers.


Chris Claremont at Columbia on his papers being collected.

I was at this panel discussion, and while I was excited to check out his papers at the time, I never did. Now I wish I did.

Next semester, I’ll be teaching X-MEN: God Loves, Man Kills, because I think it’s especially topical to today and now I want to go down to Columbia just to take a look at his papers on what went into writing that project to use that as a teaching aide. I don’t know if I can make that happen between now and next semester, but I’d like to do it some day.

When my parents were at New York University Hospital sometime around 5:30pm on August 2, 1980—Chris Claremont was wayyyyy uptown in Inwood possibly writing the dialogue script to Days of Future Past—or perhaps X-Men #130 or #131, which featured the first appearance of Dazzler. To say that his style and story-telling ability is not an active part of my writing DNA would be a lie. I find it funny how obsessed I am with time travel stories and love the mythical connection between my birth and what he was writing at the time of my birth. It’s like the typed words drifted down to NYU where I was born.

So when I made the journey back to New York in October of 2017, I knew I had to finally check out Claremont’s papers. They are, after all, a part of my DNA.

I went through his reporter’s notebooks from 2004-2007, and 1977-1987. It seems like these were mostly used to track expenses and the occasional off-hand note on story. I wish I had some more time with his notebooks. His handwriting is absolutely pristine and clear and everything is organized and stored in such a way that I have to envy. I wish I had more time with them and as a result, looking at the Google photos I snapped and the sparse notes I took in the two hours I spent with them, I didn’t get nearly enough.

I went through X-Men The End scripts, DOFP, and all the process and business materials related to X-Men Forever.

From starting out mind-mapping in a reporter’s notebook or legal paper with themes and characters he was going to play with in that issue, he’d then bullet point the plot draft by hand in a dedicated notebook, then type that up. Following the dialogue script draft after the art came back. He must have hammered those out fast. Below is a notebook draft in for what looks like X-Treme X-Men #33.

So why does he matter to me? I suppose he’s a little like Poppa Comics to me. I think the first issue of his I ever read was Demon—a single issue influenced by Alien and featured Kitty Pryde. Then it was his four issue mini of Wolverine with Frank Miller, but it was clearly all of the X-Men comics I read from 1986-1991. I think his last issue may have been the issue with Omega Red and an epic one-on-one basketball game with Gambit beating Wolverine. I kept reading X-Men after he left, but it never felt the same. So I suppose the connection I have to his work—other than an affinity for time travel stories—is his desire to tell stories of looked-down-upon people, who rise up and show what they’re capable of, and change the world.

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