Marvel Entertainment has released the second installment of its documentary series The History of the X-Men. This installment focuses on the X-Men in the 1990s, and the second major "seminal moment" for the franchise, X-Men #1. "The idea of an X-Men #1 to relaunch the series is one of those ideas that had many mothers, or many fathers," recalls sales executive Sven Larsen. "In the '90s, there was real excitement in really heavily rendered artwork. It was a time of transition for comics because we were moving off of the newsprint paper and the sort of type of coloring we'd done since the inception of comics in the 1940s to new methods of printing comics using computerized color for the first time. Visually, fans were responding to comics that were much more graphically exciting than what they'd seen in the past and when you're doing that kind of involved artwork, that kind of big production value, you need stories that sort of speak to those kinds of strengths."
Marvel turned to longtime X-Men scribe Chris Claremont in scripting the big event comic. "By the time X-Men #1 came along, we had been the best-selling comic at Marvel — except when Frank Miller was doing Daredevil, and we were dueling it out — we'd been number one for over a decade," Claremont says in the video. "For me, it was a matter of, 'We're on an upward curve. What ways can we find that will allow us to continue that upward curve, and perhaps make it steeper and more exciting.'"
Claremont was paired with Jim Lee, a hot young artist who he'd worked with previously on Uncanny X-Men. "Jim Lee was a young comic book artist who was brought into Marvel by an editor named Carl Potts and really sort of made a mark for himself very, very quickly," Larsen says. "Jim also has an interesting background in that he studied pre-med at Princeton, so he had one of the strongest senses of how the human body works. His sense of anatomy created like a dynamism to his style."
X-Men #1 proved to be a monumental success, selling more than 8 million copies to become the bestselling comic book ever. "And after X-Men #1, we were scoring sales numbers that nobody had seen in the modern era," Claremont says. "Who knows where we could go from there?
"For any comic book to have a situation where readers would queue up at the entrance to the comic book store on the third Thursday of every month to get the latest issue, from a creator standpoint, that is a goldmine. That is like, 'Holy cow, what have we done? And how can we do it again, and again, and again?'"
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