42: Join Ariel, Stef, and their distinguished guests, Julia and Eric Lewald—writers and showrunners of the X-Men Animated Series. This episode explores the legacy of the original X-Men series, its cultural impact, and the exciting revival with X-Men 97. The Lewalds share the challenges and joys of bringing their beloved characters to life through personal anecdotes and professional insights. Tune in for a nostalgic journey and a look at how X-Men continue to inspire and educate through themes of identity, diversity, and resilience.



  • 00:00 Introducing Happiest Pod and Guests: Meet the hosts of Happiest Pod and their special guests, Eric and Julia Lewald, creators of the original X-Men series, as they discuss their passion for dissecting Disney mediums with a critical lens.
  • 01:02 Rediscovering X-Men’s Impact: Explore Eric and Julia’s surreal experience of rediscovering the massive fanbase and impact of X-Men years after the original series ended, leading to a resurgence of interest in the show.
  • 03:13 Family Support and Generational Connection: Discover how Eric and Julia’s family, including their children and grandchildren, have played a supportive role in their journey, bridging generational gaps and connecting with the show’s legacy.
  • 04:20 Working Together as a Married Couple: Delve into Eric and Julia’s unique dynamic as a married couple working in the same industry, exploring how their shared experiences and collaboration have strengthened their relationship and creative process.
  • 06:52 Empathy and Creativity in Collaboration: Uncover the deep empathy and understanding from working closely with a partner in the same field and how shared challenges and experiences can enhance creativity and collaboration.
  • 08:58 X-Men’s Legacy and Social Commentary: Explore the profound impact of X-Men in shaping representation, social justice themes, and fostering discussions on complex topics, reflecting on the show’s legacy and relevance in today’s society.
  • 09:42 Creative Freedom and Storytelling: Learn about Eric and Julia’s creative freedom in developing the X-Men series, balancing staying true to the original material and crafting engaging and impactful storytelling.
  • 16:23 Consulting and Continuation with X-Men 97: Discover Eric and Julia’s experience as consulting producers for X-Men 97, reflecting on the evolution of the industry and the challenges and joys of contributing to the continuation of the beloved series.
  • 25:11 Evolution of Animation Industry: Explore the changes in the animation industry over the years, from production timelines to technological advancements and the impact of social media on creative processes and audience engagement.
  • 28:28 The Art of Releasing Episodes: Exploring the impact of releasing episodes weekly versus all at once, reminiscent of the original X-Men series and the value of discussing episodes with friends and fans.
  • 31:27 Challenges of Accessing Content: Reflecting on the challenges of accessing the content in the past, such as delayed episodes on military bases and the impact of missing out on shared cultural experiences.
  • 32:01 Evolution of Show Intro: Discussing changes in show intros over time, comparing the consistency of the original X-Men series intro with the dynamic intros of X-Men 97.
  • 33:04 Budget Constraints and Creative Change: Exploring the impact of budget cuts on the final season of the original X-Men series, leading to changes in animation quality and music, highlighting the practical challenges in the industry.
  • 36:11 X-Men’s Enduring Theme: Delving into the enduring themes of X-Men, including social commentary, personal struggles, and the evolving nature of human society, emphasizing the importance of appreciating differences and striving for a better world.
  • 42:00 Time Travel and Multiverse Possibilities: Exploring the potential for time travel and multiverse concepts in X-Men 97, hinting at exciting narrative possibilities and connections to broader storytelling universes.
  • 43:45 Narrative Impact and Character Development: Discussing the impact of character narratives and sacrifices in storytelling, highlighting the emotional depth and realism that resonates with audiences, showcasing the importance of character development and impactful storytelling.
  • 47:00 Aspiring Writers’ Advice: Offering valuable advice for aspiring writers and creators, emphasizing consistency, networking, preparedness, flexibility, and the collaborative nature of the industry, encouraging aspiring creatives to hone their craft and embrace the profession’s challenges.
  • 57:00 Closing Remarks and Future Engagements: Expressing gratitude for the impact of X-Men and the joy of creative work, sharing insights on upcoming events like LA con and the uncanny experience, and inviting listeners to engage with the guests on social media.

00:09 – 00:12
Hello, everyone. Welcome to the happiest pod on Earth. I’m Stef.

00:12 – 00:18
I’m an educator who uses passions and fandoms to help my students grow and learn about themselves and the world around them.

00:21 – 00:21
And I’m Ariel. I use my client’s passions and fandoms to help them grow and heal from trauma and mental unwellness.

00:25 – 00:31
And I’m Julia Lewald, TV live action writer and animation, all that kind of stuff.

00:31 – 00:35
And I’m Eric Lewald, same job, same business as my wife.

00:35 – 00:37
I was just was the showrunner on X-Men.

00:37 – 00:40
And here at Happiest Pod, we dissect Disney mediums with a critical lens. Why?

00:40 – 00:44
Because we are more than just fans, and we expect more from the mediums we consume.

00:45 – 00:47
So what are we here to talk about everybody?

00:47 – 00:51
Well, as everyone heard, we have 2 exceptional guests on our podcast.

00:52 – 00:56
Big round of applause and snaps to Eric and Julia Lee Wald.

00:56 – 01:02
As they said, they are show runners, creators of the original X Men series, and we are so honored to have you on our podcast.

01:02 – 01:10
As we all know, X Men and X men 97 is a huge, huge part of the Marvel Universe and now the extended Disney Universe.

01:11 – 01:14
And we have tons to talk about, so I’m very excited.

01:14 – 01:16
Well, thank you for inviting us. This is fun.

01:16 – 01:23
Absolutely. So I’m curious, as you already know, we are going to talk about X Men, and I have seen that you’ve been going to a lot of conventions.

01:23 – 01:29
You’ve been doing free comic book day signings. Does this feel like a resurgence?

01:29 – 01:31
Does this feel like stepping back into old

01:32 – 01:33
skin? It feels surreal.

01:33 – 01:42
Understanding with good old X Men, the animated series, when it wrapped in 1997, there was no social media. There was no Google. There was no Internet.

01:42 – 01:47
We knew at the time that X Men was a big hit for Fox Kids.

01:47 – 01:49
But as far as the way it reached people, we had

01:49 – 01:50
We had no clue.

01:50 – 01:51
No clue.

01:51 – 01:51
There was

01:51 – 01:53
no interaction. We didn’t know.

01:53 – 02:00
You know, we we we wrote the scripts at home, and then we go out and we realize we start going to cons in 2017 after we put

02:00 – 02:09
out a book about the show and realized there were 100 of millions of people around the world who saw the show. I mean, it’s just crazy.

02:09 – 02:12
We go to a con and half the cosplayers were doing our show. Yeah.

02:12 – 02:16
And this was what it was not on the air, and the new show hadn’t been announced yet.

02:16 – 02:25
Wow. Wow. Okay. So this is still feels very sort of shocking and new because you’re now getting the fan interaction that you

02:25 – 02:28
didn’t before because the channels weren’t there.

02:28 – 02:30
Absolutely. Absolutely.

02:30 – 02:36
Yeah. So that was that was just it wasn’t something that was and we started feel I say feeling this at the cons well before

02:36 – 02:39
the new show came out, and so that was all about the initial show.

02:39 – 02:48
But then the new show, now it’s like, you know, we lived with this family 25, 30 years ago, and now the kids have gone off

02:48 – 02:54
and now we’re living with our grandchildren. It’s a strange double whammy.

02:54 – 03:03
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Actually, on that note, how is your family, you know, kind of helping you support the resurgence of your, you know, popularity?

03:03 – 03:10
Because I’m sure they were your kids, of course, were probably very small when all of this was happening, and now your grandchildren are part of it.

03:10 – 03:13
How how is your family helping in all of this?

03:13 – 03:16
Well, hopefully, grandchildren are on their way. But as far as

03:16 – 03:20
This this summer, there there there are 2 2 have been announced.

03:20 – 03:21
Yep. Yep. Yep. Yep. Yep.

03:21 – 03:22
Congratulations. But Congratulations.

03:23 – 03:30
Of our own 2. We have 2. And nieces and nephews. Our own 2 were itty bitty.

03:30 – 03:34
In fact, our second son was born October 8th, and x men

03:34 – 03:37
Came out October 31, 92.

03:37 – 03:43
So it it they they they’ve grown up as, you know, sort of with the show and with that time. So

03:43 – 03:51
More recently, when we started going to cons 7 6, 7 years ago, they they and their girlfriends and their friends would come

03:51 – 03:55
and, say at a big con like San Diego, be our support team.

03:55 – 03:57
Yes. We need them. We need those new boxes and books.

03:58 – 04:00
So, yeah, they’ve been very support very supportive. Yeah.

04:00 – 04:06
I love that. And, I mean, the reason why I asked is because I have a lot of students who help out their family businesses.

04:06 – 04:10
So I was, you know, liking to and this is the same thing, but just on a different level.

04:10 – 04:18
And I love how, you know, you can just imagine them helping you out at the Comic Con booths and, you know, passing out flyers and waiting at the table.

04:18 – 04:27
Help Exactly. And I think even going off of the topic of working in family, what is it like working together as a married couple?

04:27 – 04:35
Because I, know that as a marriage and family therapist, it can be difficult for my clients to even cohabitate with each other.

04:35 – 04:38
They couldn’t even imagine spending working time together.

04:38 – 04:40
So how’s that been for the 2 of you?

04:41 – 04:47
And I I certainly am aware of that, and I certainly know couples and families that feel that way.

04:47 – 04:54
But but the big difference for me, and I think for Eric, is I I’m born in Wisconsin, grew up in Texas, and I clogged my way

04:54 – 05:02
out to Los Angeles as a young 20 something and spent 10 years trying to break in as a writer, doing anything and everything.

05:02 – 05:06
And then the first professional job I got happened to be writing for animation.

05:06 – 05:12
I I’m happy to write for anybody or anything, but it happened to be writing for animation, and it happened to be for the Disney afternoon.

05:12 – 05:13
Happened to be next door to me.

05:13 – 05:14
And he was in

05:14 – 05:15
the office

05:15 – 05:20
next door. So we met when I was doing my passion on job.

05:20 – 05:22
This was all I’d ever wanted to do.

05:23 – 05:29
And you the same sort of way. Just you write? Writing? Writing? You’ll yep. Yeah. Alright. For sure. Yeah.

05:29 – 05:36
Yeah. Yeah. And and, well, there I mean, I think there are 2 two ways that it doesn’t drive us crazier than and you you mentioned

05:36 – 05:40
about about family therapists and people needing time away from each other.

05:40 – 05:47
One is is that our method of work tends to be, you know, we’ll sit down on our 2, workstations in our office. Mhmm.

05:47 – 05:49
And I’ll work for 4 hours, and she’ll work for 4 hours.

05:49 – 05:51
We would look up, and we’ll have lunch together, and then we’ll go back.

05:51 – 05:58
And we’ll just pretty much be in our little cocoons unless we need to discuss something and that, you know, that’s real really the case.

05:58 – 06:00
We kind of divvy up the work 5050.

06:01 – 06:10
But the the upside that that I hope you can tell your, your married clients about is the there’s a great gift to work here

06:10 – 06:21
in exactly the same job for exactly the same bosses with exactly the same frustrations as your spouse because it’s like having a war buddy. Yep. You don’t have to explain anything.

06:21 – 06:30
If I’ve had a terrible day with the executives at at Disney, she’s had to deal with the same people the same day and knows exactly what I’m talking about.

06:30 – 06:37
There’s there’s an amazing shorthand there that only comes from, you you know, shared challenges. Yeah.

06:37 – 06:44
And, you know, getting a show done, you know, in 6 months or whatever is a huge challenge, and you rely on each other and the trust builds.

06:44 – 06:51
And so so it’s really I think the war buddy thing is a gift, to a relationship, and I think everybody should try it.

06:52 – 07:00
Beautiful. So I’m hearing that there’s built empathy and compassion for each other because you directly witness what the other

07:00 – 07:02
one is having to experience as a struggle.

07:02 – 07:08
I hear some intentionality even in, like, the separation of desks, so it allows you to have creative flow.

07:08 – 07:11
But does it also make it easier for creativity?

07:11 – 07:14
Like, do you both bounce ideas off of each other during the working day?

07:15 – 07:25
We certainly do, but we’re in this kind of kind of neither fish nor fowl in that we don’t tend to work right we don’t tend to write together.

07:25 – 07:27
I will write scripts for him as a story editor.

07:27 – 07:29
He’ll write scripts for me as a story editor.

07:29 – 07:32
He was a showrunner on X Men. I wrote scripts for him.

07:32 – 07:34
We will show run a show together.

07:34 – 07:39
We will story edit a show together, But that’s what we do. That’s what I would do anyway.

07:39 – 07:43
That’s what I would do with anybody working in the same on the same show, the same job

07:43 – 07:43

07:43 – 07:45
Trying to get the same juices flowing.

07:45 – 07:48
Yeah. But it’s it’s different from writing partners. Right.

07:48 – 07:54
Writing partners, especially, let’s say, in sitcoms or whatever, will sit and constantly throw things at each other, and they

07:54 – 07:56
listen back and forth and back and forth.

07:56 – 08:02
And I think we’re just both very single-minded in our writing and okay. Here.

08:02 – 08:04
Here’s here’s 8 hours worth of stuff. Have a look.

08:04 – 08:08
If you see anything you don’t like, tell me and vice versa.

08:08 – 08:13
And so it’s not at all a a a you know, it’s not Abbott and Bustelo.

08:13 – 08:18
It’s it’s 2 it’s 2 separate people that are working on the same project.

08:18 – 08:24
Now in that way in that way, there isn’t a lot of continual hour after hour after hour stress.

08:24 – 08:29
There’s just occasionally looking over each other’s work and adding to it or questioning it.

08:29 – 08:30
Mhmm. Yeah.

08:30 – 08:37
I love that. I’m getting chills because as I’m watching you 2, I just see Scott and Jean right behind me.

08:37 – 08:43
And I’m like, would this be how Cyclops and Jean just do their everyday X Men stuff?

08:43 – 08:47
I mean, because they have 2 distinct roles in the team. But

08:47 – 08:48
yet they

08:48 – 08:55
come together and they Yes. They spearhead a lot of these missions and they are pretty much the ones to kind of collaborate.

08:55 – 08:58
And I love that, so I’m getting chills. Yeah.

08:58 – 09:06
I mean, on on top of that, we know that we’ve talked about how the impact of X Men has been so much more broad than we can ever imagine.

09:07 – 09:15
I know for myself, me and Ariel, we watched the show when we were younger, and we dressed up as characters throughout Halloweens.

09:15 – 09:19
And now that we are older, I have children of my own thing.

09:19 – 09:22
My my son’s like he’s 4 years old, and he’s like, X men?

09:22 – 09:26
I like X men because he’s showing me and my husband watch it every single week.

09:27 – 09:31
And there’s so many different levels of themes and character depth.

09:32 – 09:41
How do you feel about the show’s legacy in shaping that representation and even some of the really hard topics of social justice and having those really hard discussions.

09:42 – 09:44
First off, just to, again, lay the groundwork.

09:45 – 09:51
X men the animated series only exists because of 30 years of X men books that,

09:51 – 09:58
you know in 60 three. Stef Lee and Jack Kirby started it, and then lots of other writers and artists continue.

09:58 – 10:04
So they set up this really solid world to tell stories in. I mean, what a perfect setup.

10:04 – 10:12
You’ve got people that are special, but special in a scary way that it’s not unreasonable for the people around them to see

10:12 – 10:15
them as different and frightening at the same time.

10:15 – 10:20
So, you know, not all these people that are reacting against the main characters are being unreasonable.

10:21 – 10:25
It’s it’s a it’s an unusual situation full of fun and spectacle.

10:25 – 10:29
And so we were given that wonderful setup.

10:29 – 10:35
The the the thing I think we small thing we could take credit for is if you look back at the early books, the first 20 years

10:35 – 10:47
of the books, it breaks down into a couple, like, 2 basic types. 1 is kind of a a WWE professional wrestling. You know, we’ve got more power. No. We’ve got more power. No. It’s a whole no. It’s a thing.

10:47 – 10:51
Who’s gonna who’s who’s gonna overpower who by the end of the comic book?

10:51 – 10:55
So there’s that, which is kind of a natural fun thing that kids like to see.

10:55 – 10:57
You know, who’s gonna be who and who and why.

10:57 – 11:05
But the other half of it is this group of people, most of whom are kind of rejects or orphans or loners or don’t feel like

11:05 – 11:11
they fit in, and they’re they’re and they know they’re different from the society around them, and they have a found family.

11:11 – 11:11

11:12 – 11:17
And we found that side of the writing much more interesting just because the other one’s kinda one note.

11:17 – 11:19
It’s kind of like shootouts in a western.

11:19 – 11:26
In the best action movies, it’s all about the characters and their personal lives. It’s not about the spectacle.

11:26 – 11:33
So we bent the stories a little towards the half of the books that that that looked into their mutency.

11:33 – 11:41
And that, again, that was it’s kind of a gift to us, and it wasn’t we didn’t really have a political or gender or any agenda.

11:41 – 11:43
It’s just that’s where all the drama is.

11:43 – 11:46
So we’re we’re we’re very practical people.

11:46 – 11:53
We’re frantically trying to get 13 scripts thought out, written, and finished in 5 months.

11:54 – 12:04
And and and so we we we look for where the the character moments and the drama is, and it happens to be at the center of our lead characters.

12:04 – 12:07
And that’s why when we pick the characters, we’re very careful.

12:07 – 12:11
There had been 29 people that had been X Men up until that point up until 92.

12:12 – 12:22
And we’d looked for as as varying a cast, as as diverse a cast as we could get, not out of ideology, but out of making the

12:22 – 12:24
writing easy and making the writing more effective.

12:24 – 12:32
Because if you’ve got 6 big rough guys sitting around a living room, you know, who are you gonna give the line to?

12:32 – 12:36
We wanted everybody to be as distinct from the others as possible. Mhmm.

12:36 – 12:42
When the smoke cleared, that meant, you know, 4 men, 4 women, and with various kind of backgrounds and personalities.

12:43 – 12:53
And that that was, again, a a case of self interest because that made the writing easier, quicker, and more satisfying for us.

12:53 – 13:03
And anyone who has survived puberty in adolescence has felt his, her, their own body go through bizarre changes.

13:03 – 13:04

13:04 – 13:14
And the fact that x in x men, the tick is that when you hit puberty or adolescence, you may have a mutation that you don’t

13:14 – 13:20
know about, your family doesn’t know about, no one understands that you may have that, and it could turn out to be devastating,

13:20 – 13:22
good, bad, scary, but you don’t know.

13:22 – 13:30
And I think what an allegory for like I said, anybody who’s ever gone through adolescence and puberty, but also what what

13:30 – 13:41
an opportunity to to explore those feelings of of disconnect, of change, of being othered, of finding folks afraid of you

13:41 – 13:48
just because you are who you are or finding folks who don’t like you just because you are who you are.

13:48 – 13:54
Amazing in terms of what stories you can tell with that and how you can represent things with that.

13:54 – 14:05
I think so many episodes or shows actually in the nineties honed in on adolescence, and X Men was such a great amplification of that through such fantastical means.

14:05 – 14:13
I think that x men itself is so perfect to use in middle school, high school settings because everyone’s going through these

14:13 – 14:15
things in different stages, in different ways.

14:16 – 14:20
And the X Men really are so great at defining that because they are so different.

14:21 – 14:33
I’m curious to know, was there any precedent that Marvel gave you before giving you creative freedom as to Stef within these

14:33 – 14:35
boundaries or have creative freedom on this?

14:35 – 14:40
Because, like you said, there is so much content to really dive deep into.

14:40 – 14:42
Mhmm. We were really lucky.

14:42 – 14:44
Again, 1990 2. No social media. No, you know

14:45 – 14:47
No Internet. No Google. Marvel. No Wikipedia.

14:48 – 14:50
Marvel Comics was big. Marvel was based out of New York City.

14:51 – 14:54
Production was happening in Los Angeles. 2:30 on a Friday.

14:54 – 14:57
Everything shut down, and you couldn’t recommunicate until Monday.

14:57 – 15:04
But but the nice thing was, Marvel was so was small and struggling financially

15:05 – 15:05

15:05 – 15:12
And were focused. I mean, the poor guy running the x books, Bob Harris, was our primary creative adviser, you know, he had

15:12 – 15:14
an 80 hour job just getting the x books out.

15:15 – 15:22
So he would, you know, give what attention he could to what we’re doing and be supportive and and give us notes and thoughts.

15:23 – 15:25
But Marvel was this is so odd now.

15:25 – 15:33
In 2024, they were so small and weak and just thankful that someone was putting up one of their properties on the air that

15:33 – 15:36
it they had no final say in anything. It was a Fox show.

15:36 – 15:43
And if Marvel hated the story, which, you know, 3 or 4, the ones that we got through, they really didn’t like, we just had

15:43 – 15:50
to struggle to, you know, I’m sorry, but, the folks here like it and we’re going forward with it. We’ll try to listen to you.

15:50 – 16:00
But, so it wasn’t their baby, and there really wasn’t oversight other than they really ask that we try to be true to the characters

16:00 – 16:03
and the the tone of and the the the history of the books.

16:03 – 16:07
But as Bob said, when the first day I met him, he said, look.

16:07 – 16:12
We’ve got 4 different there have been 25 years of this. We have 4 books going.

16:12 – 16:19
We have all these different timelines and all these different people switching good to bad, and who knows in the middle.

16:19 – 16:23
You pick your own way to focus these stories.

16:23 – 16:28
Because if you try to stick with Canon or try to you know, you’re gonna drive yourself crazy.

16:28 – 16:36
So so it’s it’s, you know, you guys’ story, You know you have different needs for a TV show than we have for comic books. Write your own stories.

16:36 – 16:39
Do your own thing, and we’ll try to be supportive.

16:39 – 16:43
And that was this incredible gift because, a, there was no sense of micromanagement.

16:44 – 16:49
There was no sense of frustration in fighting against the, you know, the original authors.

16:50 – 16:56
You know, we would come up with original stories and then go back through the books or reference materials and try to populate

16:56 – 17:04
them with, characters that fit our stories so that peep people that are fans of the books would say, oh, there’s this character,

17:04 – 17:08
there’s that character, and they’d feel very that we’re working within their world.

17:08 – 17:12
We tried never to make up a new character if there was one to be found in the books.

17:13 – 17:19
And I’m I’m curious. It almost sounds like it could be a full circle because now you’re consulting. Yeah.

17:19 – 17:24
As opposed to talking to somebody to consult, you are consulting.

17:24 – 17:27
So what is that shifter experience been like being on that?

17:27 – 17:29
End? Well, the fact that x men 97 is even happening

17:29 – 17:30
is one

17:30 – 17:31
of the insane. It’s

17:32 – 17:41
it’s surreal. But you’re exactly right. We went the one person that that that had some, suggestions for original show that

17:41 – 17:45
were were different from the direction we wanted to go, with Stan Lee.

17:45 – 17:52
There’s Stan all bursting with energy, full of life, always creative, but always wanting to have it be his show.

17:52 – 17:54
And it was a very different show.

17:54 – 17:58
The one the the x men he wrote in 1963 was kind of they were teenagers.

17:59 – 18:01
It was all guys, and they had a gene

18:01 – 18:02
like marble girl.

18:02 – 18:06
They had been less squamous. Like like 6 Smurfs and a Smurfette. Yeah.

18:06 – 18:11
And and they were wise cracking teenagers, and it was a very different mood.

18:11 – 18:20
The book went out of print, and when it came back in the mid seventies with Len Wein and Criss Clermont, suddenly everybody was the new characters were older. They were international.

18:21 – 18:25
They were a little bit more world weary and darker. I guess this was post Vietnam.

18:25 – 18:29
It was enough had happened in the culture that it was a very different X men.

18:29 – 18:36
And everyone agreed at the beginning of Marvel and everyone said, okay, you’re gonna be doing the darker, older, later X men.

18:36 – 18:42
But Stef didn’t wanna hear that because the one he knew was were the were the the bunches teenagers.

18:43 – 18:54
So so the point was he was 69 at the time and was trying to give us some consulting on the show and I’m 69 now and trying

18:54 – 18:56
to give some consulting to the new guys.

18:56 – 19:04
So I was painfully aware that if I didn’t watch my stuff, I could be that much out of step with what the new guys were trying to do.

19:04 – 19:09
I didn’t wanna be the curmudgeon that was wagging his finger. Well, you know, my day.

19:09 – 19:12
You know, we this is the way we did it.

19:12 – 19:17
So we were just really absolutely supportive, and Mhmm.

19:17 – 19:20
There was there was none of that of that challenge.

19:20 – 19:28
The the people doing the new show very much wanted it to be a continuation, add the same tone and the same people and the same focuses that we had.

19:28 – 19:33
So there was no, you know, culture gap that that we’d had to withstand.

19:34 – 19:39
It’s just amazing. In Hollywood, you never get invited back to the party. It’s how it works.

19:39 – 19:48
We’ve known friends who worked on shows that have been rebooted, reimagined, reenvisioned, retooled. Okay. Well, that was bye.

19:48 – 19:57
But the fact that the 2 of us and Larry Houston are on board as consulting producers is it still blows me blows my mind and

19:57 – 20:00
the fact that they are doing these in 6 of x men the enemy

20:01 – 20:03
In effect. Yes. Mhmm. Yeah. But it’s just the continuation.

20:04 – 20:11
It was such a great decision because last 5 or 6 years, we’ve been going to cons, and then every other fan would come up,

20:11 – 20:13
are they gonna do a new series?

20:13 – 20:15
And it show are are they gonna ruin it?

20:16 – 20:17
Yep. That’s my second question.

20:18 – 20:21
I want it to be the same I wanna be the same but new.

20:21 – 20:21
Yeah. You

20:21 – 20:24
know? Yeah. So so that they did that.

20:24 – 20:26
They made it the same but new. And that’s hard.

20:26 – 20:30
I think it’s harder than what we did. We had low low expectations.

20:30 – 20:37
People out here, all the entire creative cast was let go after the first 13 because they didn’t think it was gonna be successful.

20:37 – 20:46
Right. So the fact that it it, out of the gate, just blew up Fox net Fox Kids TV’s ratings Coming back for season 2, okay.

20:46 – 20:49
We’ll try 13 more episodes then okay. Let’s okay.

20:49 – 20:55
We’ll give you the so each season of x men, the animated series, was with an eye toward this is the only 13 we’re gonna get.

20:55 – 20:59
Whereas I do believe X men 97, they have they have announced

20:59 – 21:00
that They’ve announced 3 seasons.

21:01 – 21:05
3 seasons, yeah, already. That’s that’s a wonderful sort of bit of

21:05 – 21:06
It’s a good thing for them.

21:06 – 21:11
To push them. They’re nice nice making of a great big sandbox to play in.

21:11 – 21:14
Yeah. We do gig we do freelance gig workout here.

21:14 – 21:21
And so getting another season of something guaranteed is really helpful with overhead, with little children without paying for the kids and everything.

21:21 – 21:23
Yeah. My, my partner is a teamster.

21:24 – 21:32
So it’s, it says, as long as the something is shooting, and we’re always wanting a a series. Sometimes it’s a a film.

21:32 – 21:34
He does a lot of the Hallmark Christmas movies,

21:34 – 21:35
so I will

21:35 – 21:38
get lots of pictures of fake snow in July.

21:38 – 21:40
Oh my god. That’s the best. Yeah.

21:44 – 21:50
Yeah. And it seems that because you mentioned you were, you know, kind of just seeing where the next season would go back

21:50 – 21:52
then in, you know, the first series.

21:52 – 21:59
Did that kind of contribute to the nervousness and also maybe just saying we’re gonna give it all we’ve got because we don’t

21:59 – 22:01
know if we’re gonna be renewed again.

22:01 – 22:07
Like, do you think that that played a little bit and, you know, kind of just the I mean, not just the creative process, but

22:07 – 22:13
the way that you were, you know, writing, was it, you know, any at all impactful Oh, yeah. Because of the timeline. Yeah.

22:13 – 22:16
Definitely those first 13 and the next 13. Yeah.

22:16 – 22:18
You just don’t know if it’s gonna go beyond that.

22:18 – 22:24
And you as as a story editor, you he got 13 episodes each time. So that’s like, oh, yay.

22:24 – 22:30
As as a writer, I got an episode each season, and it’s like, well, that’s yay. You know?

22:31 – 22:35
But the the approach, yeah, it was definitely this may be it. This might be it.

22:35 – 22:41
And and designing so that at the end of 13 and at the end of 26, there could feel like a bit of a resolution, not necessarily

22:41 – 22:45
a perfect ending, but, okay, that that part of the story arc has been resolved.

22:46 – 22:52
And if we don’t get more, people will feel weird, like like they were left with the cliffhanger. Yeah.

22:52 – 22:52
Oh, boy.

22:52 – 22:55
Yeah. And and also the the artist, Larry, always talks about that. He said

22:55 – 22:56
Larry Houston. Yes.

22:56 – 23:05
It’s it’s a weird combination. On the artist side, really all of them were crazed X Men fans that had read every book since they were 6 years old.

23:05 – 23:09
And on the writing side, most of us had never read the X Men.

23:09 – 23:13
The the night before I got out the job, I got a call saying, you’re gonna be doing the X Men.

23:13 – 23:16
And I said, well, that’s a Marvel book. Right?

23:16 – 23:21
Because you had been hired to do a different show, but we found out that was all subterfuge. They didn’t want The

23:21 – 23:23
world to know that there could be an X Men.

23:23 – 23:23
So you

23:23 – 23:27
were expecting to walk in Monday morning to start working on show a.

23:27 – 23:31
You just Stef Sunday night, you get a call and you’re told it’s gonna be x men.

23:31 – 23:34
You’re gonna meet all the Marvel people in the morning. And Stanley.

23:35 – 23:39
And so I said, shut up and just get through them and and nod and say, oh, yes.

23:39 – 23:42
You’re gonna do a wonderful job Mhmm. And we’ll do this thing.

23:42 – 23:47
But just so that that was that was an interesting combination. The writers I mean, excuse me.

23:47 – 23:51
The artists really knew the books that were very helpful to us. Mhmm.

23:51 – 23:52
And they were the one Larry always mentions.

23:52 – 23:55
He said, I thought we were only gonna get 13.

23:55 – 23:58
It crammed everything I could into every episode, every

23:58 – 23:58

23:59 – 24:02
Ex lot mutants in the background, the Easter eggs, cameo appearances.

24:03 – 24:03
So good.

24:03 – 24:05
And they just hope that we get more.

24:05 – 24:12
But, yeah, for him, since he was a fanboy, he wanted to see everything he could of that world in that first season.

24:13 – 24:20
And once we got more, he was a little more relaxed, but he’s he never lost the desire to put more and more and more and more

24:20 – 24:22
of the world, you know, into the into the stories.

24:22 – 24:22

24:22 – 24:26
we had you have to be careful about that. There’s a 22 minute story.

24:26 – 24:32
There’s not room for for to develop more than 3 or 4 characters in the course of the story.

24:32 – 24:36
But as far as the background goes where the where the artists have their fun, that’s wide open.

24:36 – 24:40
You know, they could they could go crazy with that if they want, and they did.

24:40 – 24:56
Well, I’m I’m curious because we’re reflecting on that creative process, some of the desires and wants and the way things sort of unfolded. How has the industry changed? Like, animation has definitely changed. Are is there quicker turnaround even?

24:56 – 25:00
I know that, like, even with social media, like, it’s hard to keep things private.

25:00 – 25:06
It’s hard to keep things confidential, to keep things on hush even though there are so many contracts in place.

25:06 – 25:10
So I’m curious, like, in what ways have things have been different, not just consulting?

25:11 – 25:14
We we had no pressure. There was no social media with, with the

25:14 – 25:15
rich for the original.

25:15 – 25:22
For the original with with hundreds of thousands of people, wanting to know what we were doing with our stories. There was 0 of that.

25:22 – 25:24
We could just write what we wanted.

25:24 – 25:27
And, so that there was that pressure wasn’t there.

25:28 – 25:36
Now with what’s happening now in our in our capacity, they they invited us and said when to come on board, say, we want the

25:36 – 25:38
3 of us to be our first audience.

25:39 – 25:41
Meaning, they rent we got to see every script.

25:41 – 25:49
And in the year 20, whatever it is now, all these animatics, which is animatics are they’re not brand new, but considering everything years ago

25:50 – 25:52
We didn’t have we didn’t have enough money.

25:52 – 25:52
Yeah. Yeah.

25:52 – 25:59
There were Yeah. Yeah. There it was you’re you’re talking about the time because, yeah, computer animation’s much quicker than hand painted.

25:59 – 25:59
Oh, yeah.

25:59 – 26:04
You know, the hundreds of thousands of hand painted cells per episode that had to be made.

26:04 – 26:10
So it would take about 9 months from the time we said, oh, we’re gonna do a beast story where he falls in love with a blind girl. Right.

26:10 – 26:13
To the time where we’d see the final product, it would be about 9 months.

26:14 – 26:14

26:14 – 26:22
And that it it was like 5 or 6 weeks to get the the the script locked, then about another 6 weeks to get the storyboard locked,

26:22 – 26:24
which was 900 or a 1000 images.

26:24 – 26:26
And all the all the model sheets, all the shapes.

26:26 – 26:30
And all the material gets sent overseas and be 4 or 5 months of animation.

26:30 – 26:35
And then finally, you know, we get to see what we what we’d imagined 9 months earlier.

26:35 – 26:40
Nowadays, of course, everything is zip zip zip is computerized. Everybody can see everything online. Mhmm. Mhmm.

26:41 – 26:49
But interestingly, we finished as I said, we had about 5 months of when we finished our first 13 episodes writing.

26:49 – 26:53
And these guys these guys had 3 years to to get the first Stef.

26:54 – 27:01
And we were a little envious that they could, you know, redo reduce things or fix things.

27:01 – 27:03
We we didn’t have time to fix mistakes.

27:03 – 27:14
But at the same time, it was a gift to us that we are under this intense time pressure because it was just we’d write a draft. It’ll go into production. We’d write a draft. It would go into production.

27:14 – 27:14

27:14 – 27:20
There wasn’t second thinking. May Matt, why don’t we throw that one out and and try a slightly different take on that script?

27:20 – 27:28
It could be a different 40 pages, which we experienced some at Disney where there wasn’t the deadlines and they had incredibly deep pockets.

27:28 – 27:29

27:29 – 27:37
So I liter I remembered literally doing 8 outlines for, for a a show a show there. I can’t remember which one.

27:37 – 27:37

27:38 – 27:47
but by outline 5, I’ve given them everything that I could imagine, and I’m just repeating myself. Guys, just make a decision. You know?

27:48 – 27:55
So so there’s a there’s a joyful decisiveness and energy to having these tough deadlines.

27:55 – 27:57
Like, we’re having like, it’s it’s a weekly magazine.

27:58 – 27:58

27:58 – 28:00
And a boom, boom, boom. You’re like a journalist.

28:00 – 28:10
You get it done, and you hope that your first instincts were good and that it didn’t need another month of of of pondering to come to a good story. But that was yeah.

28:10 – 28:20
As I say, looking back, however stressful it was to be under that time crunch, it was a real gift because exactly what we imagined and ended up on screen. Yeah.

28:20 – 28:22
They didn’t have time to change anything.

28:22 – 28:28
Yeah. We just talked about slowing things down versus speeding things up in, you know, the world before and the world now.

28:28 – 28:33
I know a lot of students, especially now, they’re so used to getting everything at lightning speed.

28:33 – 28:40
If they’re gonna watch a show, they’re getting all 10 episodes just dumped on them, and they could watch and binge the entire thing.

28:41 – 28:49
As a showrunner and a writer, do you think it was very helpful that Disney Plus decided to release 1 a week?

28:49 – 28:53
As of what? As of last Wednesday, anyone can binge it. It’s there.

28:53 – 28:55
All 10 episodes are available to you.

28:56 – 29:02
But for those 10 weeks when they were releasing it one at a time, that was a kind of magical throwback to the original X Men

29:02 – 29:08
series, where you had to be there Saturday morning, or you had to catch it after school, you know, on Fox Kids on a Tuesday.

29:09 – 29:14
And that gave you time to to have the episode you know, to absorb the episode.

29:15 – 29:16
And talk to your friends about it.

29:16 – 29:21
Yeah. To give you time to think about it and say, no. They didn’t do that. They couldn’t do that. They did that.

29:21 – 29:29
What’s that gonna mean to have that kind of conversation, especially with with friends and fans, that’s what that’s exciting. That’s wonderful.

29:29 – 29:40
And and, again, everybody else now can can binge it all they want, but having it released 1 at a time, I thought was very, very smart. I mean, I I enjoyed that. I enjoyed the excitement it created.

29:40 – 29:49
It’s such a different world now. I mean, you remember when you were little, there were 3 networks and Fox was just this new one starting out. There weren’t that many choices.

29:49 – 29:54
And if something was really popular, half your friends at school would have seen the thing.

29:54 – 29:56
And you on Monday, you’d be talking about it. Yeah.

29:56 – 30:02
And then you’d be you’d be asking each other you’d be looking forward to the next weekend versus now if something’s really

30:02 – 30:06
popular, maybe 3 or 4% of the kids.

30:06 – 30:11
So, you know, 2 of the kids in your class instead of 20 of them will have seen it.

30:11 – 30:18
And it’s there’s it’s just not this common culture center that it would you know, it was it was it was a it’s fun.

30:18 – 30:24
It’s hard thinking back and explaining to our kids what it was like where there was a common culture all around the country

30:24 – 30:27
and and the world eventually, you know, went because it showed everywhere.

30:27 – 30:28

30:28 – 30:32
That everybody knew what you’re talking about when you’re talking about the X Men.

30:32 – 30:35
The closest thing with our kids when they were younger is Pokemon. Yeah.

30:35 – 30:37
It became this world it became a worldwide craze.

30:38 – 30:40
They’d wear Pokemon shirts, and we’d be in airports.

30:40 – 30:44
And foreign kids would rush up to them, and they’d start talking Pikachu at each other.

30:45 – 30:48
My dad was in the military. He was in the navy.

30:48 – 30:50
We moved a lot around a lot.

30:50 – 30:53
Steph knows us from the the podcast and us being friends.

30:53 – 30:58
And we moved to Guam right when like X Men was in its final season.

30:58 – 31:00
And we lived on the military base.

31:00 – 31:08
And so I would get all of the episodes at least 2 weeks later because of the way the military base has for streaming right

31:08 – 31:10
there, like, what you could actually watch.

31:11 – 31:15
And so I I didn’t even know it was ending, until way later.

31:16 – 31:20
And I didn’t have anybody to sort of, like, talk about it to on the Internet.

31:20 – 31:22
And so I didn’t have a a heads up.

31:22 – 31:26
And then it was just shifting to different programming after that.

31:27 – 31:30
And I thought it was like, Oh, it’s because I’m on the base.

31:30 – 31:33
They just don’t have the new seasons yet.

31:33 – 31:35
You know, they don’t have access to that.

31:35 – 31:38
And I, you know, we came back to the states and was like, No, no, it’s over.

31:38 – 31:40
It ended for everyone.

31:40 – 31:52
It ended for everyone. Yes. And then now with the resurgence, it’s, I’ve been having conversations with my friends and my roommates, some different things here.

31:53 – 32:00
I don’t know if maybe, and please correct me if I just was a kid and didn’t pay attention that I don’t remember the intro changing.

32:01 – 32:06
I remember the intro being the same and only a few seasoned episodes having, like, a special thing.

32:06 – 32:10
Is that my childlike memory, like, pushing everything together?

32:10 – 32:14
Because in the new because in X Men 97, they change up the intro a little each time.

32:14 – 32:15
Which I think is fast.

32:15 – 32:21
Kinda cool Yeah. Depending on who’s gonna be the main person in the which which would have been way too expensive for us.

32:21 – 32:25
And Larry Houston is is is back doing the new intro for

32:25 – 32:29
the show. So the guy that did our intro is is is supervising their intro.

32:29 – 32:37
What happened is I think the first sick the first 65 episodes, so the first, in effect, 5 seasons, were which we all thought

32:37 – 32:39
was gonna be the the the finale.

32:39 – 32:42
It was the same group of people. It was the same executives.

32:42 – 32:46
It was, the opening didn’t change at all. Nothing changed.

32:46 – 32:55
But that last season when the animation looks so thin, Margaret Lesh, whose baby this is, the reason it’s on the air is because of her president of Fox Kids. Mhmm.

32:55 – 33:04
Before those last 11 were were commissioned and produced, she was eased out there at Fox and new people came on and they cut the budget in half. Yeah.

33:04 – 33:12
And I think they changed the music a little and changed the opening a little, I think simply financially because they they

33:12 – 33:17
they make more money or they’d have rights they’d have rights to the new season where they didn’t have rights to the old season.

33:17 – 33:23
So those kind of adjustments were not creative adjustments. They were fine. Like like the cheapened animation.

33:23 – 33:28
It wasn’t because the new director wanted it to be looked cheaper.

33:28 – 33:30
It was the the the money was taken away.

33:30 – 33:34
And so those last 11 were like a different little category of things.

33:34 – 33:39
The write the writers were the same, and we didn’t have to change our writing.

33:39 – 33:46
Everything in the production, our main director, our main video editor, everything about it, again, the main executive that

33:46 – 33:52
was overseeing it at Fox, all were gone and we just and it was kind of an afterthought.

33:52 – 34:00
We were prepared to to take another job because in fact, that Beyond Good and Evil, the big four parter was supposed to be the ending of the series. Yeah.

34:00 – 34:05
And then suddenly, we get this call saying, oh, no. We’re gonna do a few more.

34:06 – 34:13
And we couldn’t say no, but we lost a lot of the creative people and executives for that season.

34:13 – 34:19
And it’s it’s hard to explain to to fans why it looked different and why it sounded a little different. And Mhmm.

34:19 – 34:24
And it’s just it’s a it’s a practical thing in Hollywood. I understand. It’s not unusual. It happened to Star Trek.

34:25 – 34:30
Their last half season, the budget was, you know, cut by a third. Mhmm. You know, what do you do? Do you finish?

34:31 – 34:34
You walk away in a huff or do you, you know, you keep working? So

34:34 – 34:42
Yeah. And I I remember seeing those nuances, not in x men, but in another show that I loved, which was Sailor Moon.

34:42 – 34:48
I was noticing that their animation style changed, you know, kind of in the second and third season.

34:48 – 34:50
And as a kid, you don’t think twice of that.

34:50 – 34:54
But as you’re analyzing it as an adult, you’re like, something must have happened. And it’s very interesting.

34:54 – 34:59
I mean, I’m just happy that you all decided to push through and was like, you know what?

34:59 – 35:00
We’re just gonna finish what we started.

35:00 – 35:06
And that just totally, just speaks to the integrity and the passion that you have for the series.

35:07 – 35:14
And, you know, as we’re looking back and looking forward also, what hopes and goals do you have for the continuing seasons

35:14 – 35:22
in regarding its cultural, educational, just global impact now that we have the lens to see how the world is reacting to it?

35:22 – 35:27
Are there any sort of goals that you have in mind that you haven’t achieved already?

35:27 – 35:39
Well, if there are any goals for X Men 97, they’d probably be the same ones we had for x men the animated series, which would be, come on people. Let’s be nice. Let’s not just randomly

35:40 – 35:43
hang Xavier. Xavier’s dream. Yeah.

35:43 – 35:44
And and

35:44 – 35:49
here we are 30 years later, and good God, the world’s hair is on continues to be on fire.

35:49 – 35:53
And we frozen in time, x men went off the air 97.

35:53 – 35:59
And 25 years later, we can go back and talk about where the world was at that time, and it was ugly.

35:59 – 36:02
And here we are now, and good god, it is ugly.

36:02 – 36:09
But there has been great progress and great and great good things that have happened, but but, it’s not easy to remember that

36:09 – 36:11
to realize that in the face of all the ugly.

36:11 – 36:16
So, yeah, can we just appreciate each of those differences instead of automatically date them?

36:16 – 36:19
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it’s it’s it’s the same kind of story.

36:19 – 36:23
I my the top writer for me is a friend from college, Mark Edens and I.

36:23 – 36:29
Mark’s, degree was in in the classics as in, you know, Homer.

36:30 – 36:34
And, you know, we’d sit down and talk and say, you know, the stories are the same. People are the same.

36:34 – 36:36
The the the crises are the same.

36:36 – 36:41
The loyalties and the the backstabbings and the and the the trust and the love.

36:41 – 36:46
It’s, you know, it’s, you know, it’s the fix improve, but human nature is human nature.

36:46 – 36:51
And we look back in the nineties and while, you know, it was Rodney King trial, the LA riots

36:51 – 36:52

36:52 – 36:54
And and, AIDS AIDS epidemic

36:54 – 36:55
That we couldn’t use before.

36:55 – 36:57
That you couldn’t even say the word out loud. No.

36:58 – 37:03
No politician on the planet, Republican or Democrat, could come out in favor of gay marriage. My God.

37:03 – 37:05
That’d be the end of his career.

37:05 – 37:06
His career. Yeah.

37:06 – 37:14
His career. Right. So and I look back to when I was a kid in the sixties when we both fell in love with Stef Trek. There was no Star Trek.

37:15 – 37:21
You know, a, you know, a third of the people I knew, you know, were the families were disowning them because, you know, they

37:22 – 37:29
their politics were different and their religions were different and the plate the culture was cracking apart. Mhmm.

37:29 – 37:38
So this stuff this stuff is part of part of, our evolution, and it’s we hope for we we hope like Xavier.

37:38 – 37:41
We’ve got Xavier the idealist that’s still full of hope.

37:41 – 37:46
But in the end, if you notice, we’re we can’t tell Magneto to shut up.

37:46 – 37:50
We can’t say, you know, you’re you’re a villain. You’re wrong.

37:50 – 37:58
You’re you’re and and my favorite part of of writing x men was deciding to focus on the fact that these two people with completely

37:58 – 38:03
different ideologies were it was a bromance that they were the best friends.

38:03 – 38:05
They were like a like a married couple.

38:05 – 38:08
That that was the central part Mhmm.

38:08 – 38:11
Of them struggling through life, doing what they both felt was important.

38:11 – 38:19
Yeah. I I think you’re really touching on the fact that, you know, humans have patterns and we tend to repeat them. Right? We repeat history.

38:20 – 38:32
I also think, that there’s a line in one of the episodes, from the animated series, where Storm is like, a skin based prejudice. How quaint.

38:33 – 38:37
No. Skin based prejudice. That’s so pathetic. It’s almost quaint.

38:37 – 38:39
It’s almost quaint. Yes. Quaint.

38:39 – 38:45
Yeah. Yeah. But that was a result of traveling back in time and To the fifties. To the fifties. Yes.

38:45 – 38:47
And you can look at that through the lens.

38:47 – 38:50
If you’re a kid watching the show, it’s you don’t even catch it.

38:50 – 38:54
You’re just going, these people are kinda punky, and they came in the back in the past.

38:54 – 38:57
And And they did like Storm because he was black. Like, I don’t know why.

38:57 – 38:59
I don’t know why that, but she looks like a weird person, so that must be it.

38:59 – 39:01
And then as you get up, no. No. No.

39:01 – 39:05
It’s because, you know, different skin color with Bishop and Chard and oh my god.

39:05 – 39:07
That’s what they were that’s what the show was talking about.

39:07 – 39:11
By the way, that was that was that was my my favorite episode ever was one man’s worth.

39:11 – 39:12
The 2 parter.

39:12 – 39:15
It’s a 2 parter where they go back. And the 3 or 4 reasons.

39:15 – 39:20
But the hardest part of my job, we had wonderful people writing, including by dear wife.

39:21 – 39:30
And so once we had come up with a good, really solid kernel for a story idea out of the 1,000 we could have told and convinced

39:30 – 39:33
everybody that it was a good story, Marvel and Fox and whoever.

39:33 – 39:37
And our censor, our wonderful censor, Avery Coburn, who had to approve everything.

39:37 – 39:42
That handing it off to one of the writers, I knew I’d have end up, a month later with something really pretty good.

39:42 – 39:50
But coming up with a different but consistent story 76 times was the hardest part.

39:50 – 39:54
And so when one would come to you, it’s, oh my god. That’s a perfect x men story.

39:55 – 39:59
That was that would happen about once every 6 months. Yeah. That that I have one more.

39:59 – 40:01
And one man’s worth was that to me.

40:01 – 40:04
It was like, we both love, It’s a Wonderful Life.

40:04 – 40:08
We both love the Star Trek episode, sitting on the edge of forever. Yeah.

40:08 – 40:13
And each of them, the core idea is one person makes a difference.

40:13 – 40:14
Yeah. Yes.

40:14 – 40:17
And, look, all of history Mhmm. In one per

40:17 – 40:23
So Eric came up with that idea and expanded it out and pitched it to Bob Harris at at Marvel Comics. And

40:24 – 40:24
And Bob loved it.

40:24 – 40:26
Bob loved it. That’s a really good idea.

40:26 – 40:34
And so we’re telling I’ll share with you Marvel took that, and that spun into the age of apocalypse series for them. Wow.

40:34 – 40:38
But the original idea was Eric’s one man’s worth for the for the TV show.

40:38 – 40:45
Now TV animation has a lot of cooks in the kitchen, and time travel stories are tricky. So rather than

40:45 – 40:48
That one took us months to get everybody to sign off on. Okay.

40:48 – 40:53
Then they go travel out in the future and then the past, in the future and the past and yeah.

40:53 – 40:59
But so by the time it got to the storyboard stage, the folks at Marvel Comics had already

40:59 – 41:06
drawing we’re drawing the freeze of apocalypse, and so we use some of their their drawing in our show.

41:06 – 41:07
In those episodes.

41:07 – 41:09
And so It went back it went back and forth.

41:09 – 41:18
Yeah. But so people assume that’s where One Man’s Worth came from, but I’m telling you that’s where Age of Apocalypse came from. It came from One Man’s Worth. So that’s just one of those.

41:18 – 41:25
But but you often say very generously, we’re here because of x men, the books, and the fact that something like that you created

41:25 – 41:29
was was able to contribute to the books themselves is It

41:29 – 41:35
was nice to be able to give it back because we took so much so many of the highlights from what they’ve done over 30 years

41:35 – 41:36
and used them for our own stories.

41:37 – 41:43
The fact that they could take this nugget from us and build something special for them, that was that was very gratifying.

41:43 – 41:43

41:43 – 41:50
Okay. And, spoiler alert. This is my spoiler alert for anybody who has not finished watching X Men 97.

41:50 – 41:54
This is your chance to pause and come back at this exact time stamp.

41:55 – 42:00
This is, again, another full circle thing because it looks like we’re doing time travel again.

42:00 – 42:07
And interestingly enough, in connection with, like, Disney in the multiverse, this might even be an opportunity for multiversing.

42:07 – 42:12
Plus, there’s time traveling because it’s still taking place technically in 1997. Yeah. Yeah.

42:13 – 42:16
You caught that, did you? Yeah. Yeah. Hey. No.

42:16 – 42:25
The fact that, I got to write, Daisy Future Past part 1 for season 1 of the 2 parter, with which introduced Bishop, And I

42:25 – 42:27
think that was the first time travel episode

42:28 – 42:28

42:28 – 42:35
In the series. If used sparingly, it’s such a a great way to sort of expand out on a story.

42:36 – 42:40
Now we can all you’re saying the multiverse, and we can also

42:41 – 42:41

42:41 – 42:50
Time travel. But good old morph in the pie in the 2 part opener, he supposed to stay dead, and he stayed dead for the first 13 episodes.

42:50 – 42:53
And that was thanks to Margaret Lesh, thanks to Avery Coburn.

42:53 – 42:57
Allowing us to have a lead character have a heroic sacrifice.

42:57 – 43:03
That’s what it was. It was heroic to prove that the stakes are real, to prove Yes. That things have consequences.

43:03 – 43:11
Then when you got tapped to come back for season 2 of X Men, and it’s like, it’s a big hit. We’d like you to come back. Yay. But one problem.

43:11 – 43:19
We had a focus group with a bunch of 9 year olds and asked them who their favorite character was from that first season. Morf won by a landslide.

43:21 – 43:24
So they said, is there any way you can bring him back? Please.

43:24 – 43:26
But you’ll notice he doesn’t come back through time travel.

43:26 – 43:32
He comes back as a result of mister Sinister pulling him aside Yes. And messing really messing with him.

43:32 – 43:40
Thank goodness. Because one of the one of the many restrictions placed upon us by the the sensor was stating that if if he

43:40 – 43:42
gets killed, it has to be off screen. Just that.

43:42 – 43:45
And so that gave us this opening to have him.

43:45 – 43:51
Well, he’s oh, so he was so something Sentinels blasted him, and everybody felt like he was dead

43:51 – 43:52

43:52 – 43:57
And which was an incredibly intense moment, and most of the fans bring up to us.

43:57 – 44:06
But if we wanted to bring him back, we could say something happened very quickly off screen and explain that mister Sinister

44:06 – 44:08
had been up to but we hadn’t planned that whole sinister thing.

44:08 – 44:12
That was that was a way to bring morph back.

44:12 – 44:19
So that’s the reason that the whole second season started that way was because we needed an elaborate excuse for bringing

44:19 – 44:23
back to life somebody that we had really were sure sure was dead.

44:23 – 44:24
And it wasn’t time travel.

44:24 – 44:25
It wasn’t time travel.

44:26 – 44:30
Yeah. Leave it to the 9 year olds to really lay it off these decks.

44:30 – 44:32
You know, and they can be as truthful as possible.

44:33 – 44:43
I mean, to be fair, watching Gambit made me feel like a 9 year old, and I I felt that same, like, lump in my throat watching it. Mhmm. And I Mhmm.

44:43 – 44:51
As a mother of 2 very young kids, I watch x men 97 on my phone after the kids have gone to sleep because I cannot turn on

44:51 – 44:53
a TV without them being like, mommy, what are you watching?

44:53 – 44:58
And here I am in my feelings. Just like, goodness. What is happening?

44:58 – 45:07
So I’m I’m glad that you you were dedicated to that because that impact makes the show, the characters so real and so visceral. Yes.

45:07 – 45:15
There’s all kinds of as the joke is, there’s all kinds of yellow spandex and big things blowing up, but everything about x

45:15 – 45:20
men is, you know what I mean? It’s it’s about the character. It’s about the individual character.

45:21 – 45:26
And each of the individual X Men and there’s a it’s a large team once you start trying to write for everybody.

45:26 – 45:30
Each of them has his or her own genuine sorrow.

45:30 – 45:35
And I often say if rogue and Wolverine could swap powers, they’d both be really happy.

45:35 – 45:38
He would not touch people and he’d go live in the woods. He’d be fine.

45:38 – 45:43
She could touch people, but not, not have to skewer them. She’d be fine.

45:43 – 45:50
So the thing that defines each of them as their own kind of most amazing mutant is each one of them their own greatest personal sorrow

45:50 – 45:51
That that weighs on them.

45:51 – 45:52
That weighs on them.

45:52 – 45:52
And I

45:52 – 45:59
think Yeah. It it you can say the same you can say that about all of them, including good old Scott Summer Cyclops, the the

45:59 – 46:02
most clear eyed board thinking he he can’t take off his glasses.

46:02 – 46:05
He can’t he there’s something always between him and you.

46:05 – 46:09
I mean, any one of them, you can say you can pull it apart like that. So yeah.

46:09 – 46:17
Yeah. I I think even, like, Stefanie, you talking about, your son. Right? We’re talking about layers of acceptance.

46:18 – 46:25
He’s he’s only 4, and he already felt the world say that he can’t do something because he’s too small. And that was so heartbreaking.

46:25 – 46:27
He couldn’t get on a ride at Universal.

46:28 – 46:34
Not allowed. On his birthday. Yeah. On his birthday, he was 1 inch too short to ride the Mario Kart ride.

46:34 – 46:39
And he was the sorrow and devastation, you know, you know your kids’ cries.

46:39 – 46:44
And the cry that they had was something that I’m not used to seeing every day.

46:44 – 46:52
So those are real emotions and, you know, real things and just pausing to acknowledge that that’s a real thing.

46:52 – 46:59
And, you know, even though we can just embrace those feelings, we can always look forward to, you know, what’s to come.

47:00 – 47:02
And, you know, that just makes us stronger.

47:02 – 47:10
There’s so many learning points in X Men, which I love so much because as an educator, we can pull so much to as a mirror

47:10 – 47:13
for a lot of these kids to just look at themselves and their struggles.

47:13 – 47:19
How they can, you know, not make certain mistakes and how they can process it in the way that is right for them.

47:19 – 47:25
The way that we’re speaking through our own personal experiences and the people we work with, we really are grateful for the

47:25 – 47:29
love and dedication that you have for the series, because it shows. Yes. It absolutely shows.

47:30 – 47:35
It was it it it remains our one of our favorite, if not our favorite jobs. You know?

47:35 – 47:36
And we’ve worked on a lot of shows.

47:36 – 47:44
But for those years before we started prior to 2017, it held a special place in our hearts, and we were dedicated to it.

47:44 – 47:48
But the rights had fallen apart and had been sold off piecemeal.

47:49 – 47:49

47:49 – 47:55
And there was no sort of general celebration of X Men like there were celebrations of Batman, the animated series

47:55 – 47:56
Or Stef Trek.

47:56 – 48:02
Or Star Trek with Paramount. And I really thought we were like wandering around in the woods, just shouting, anyone remember X Men?

48:02 – 48:02
You know?

48:03 – 48:11
And so for those years when it was kind of just us on our own going, anyone remember to be able to come in at in 2017, 2018,

48:11 – 48:20
and sort of discover that for ourselves, that there are people out there who embraced it and continue to embrace it, That’s that’s been spectacular. That really has been.

48:20 – 48:24
Before we close out, I would just like one sentence each from you.

48:25 – 48:32
What advice would you give aspiring writers and creators who are inspired by, you know, your journey?

48:32 – 48:41
Okay. This thing here and the thing that we’re communicating with, this was Stef Trek little magic, but when I was trying to claw my way in.

48:42 – 48:48
And Larry Houston, at conventions, anywhere a young artist comes up to him, you know, I said, did you have a chance to draw something today?

48:48 – 48:51
Did you get out a pencil or a pen and just doodle on some paper?

48:52 – 48:54
And if you wanna be a writer, you’re you are a writer.

48:54 – 48:58
You but you gotta put it on you gotta put it down.

48:58 – 49:02
You gotta you gotta put it on paper or you gotta put it on the screen.

49:02 – 49:04
Finish things and show them show it to people. It’s hard.

49:04 – 49:08
It doesn’t have to be a whole novel. It can be a comedy sketch. It can be a monologue.

49:08 – 49:11
It it doesn’t have to be a lot, but it’s a muscle you have to work.

49:12 – 49:18
And you have so many opportunities now to let other folks see what your art is, see what your craft is.

49:18 – 49:21
You can have your own, you know, YouTube site.

49:21 – 49:23
You can have your own web page for that matter.

49:24 – 49:26
Don’t wake up and say, I have to write 200 pages today.

49:27 – 49:28
Or if that works for you, do it.

49:28 – 49:32
But, but don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself to do what we do.

49:33 – 49:33
This is

49:33 – 49:34
more than one sentence, but

49:34 – 49:36
It’s okay. It’s good.

49:36 – 49:49
They’re writing at least in for, for projects, let’s say in Hollywood, there are a lot of different cubbyholes that writing can fall into. You got live action. You got animation. You got you got new media.

49:49 – 49:51
You got all these different and within that, you got hour length

49:51 – 49:52

49:52 – 50:00
Video games. You you got and then you got audio. You got hour length. You got half hour. You got dramedy. You got comedy. You got drama.

50:02 – 50:06
And each one of those has a kind of specific sort of script format. I can say that.

50:06 – 50:10
So if there’s something you wanna write, find out what else is happening in that arena.

50:10 – 50:14
Get your hands on as many scripts as you can to see what those scripts look like.

50:14 – 50:20
And you are already farther ahead than I was when I first drove out here because that kind of access was not available.

50:20 – 50:28
Give me 2 real quick examples. I mean, the basic the sentence is if you if if you wanna write, just do it as much as you can. You’re just gonna get better.

50:28 – 50:28

50:28 – 50:31
And don’t worry about it. And don’t worry about being bad.

50:31 – 50:36
Almost everybody’s, you know, the the Shakespeare stuff you read is probably starting in his 12th year.

50:37 – 50:39
You know, it’s not the stuff he started in high school.

50:39 – 50:43
It’s, you know, the early stuff was a struggle and he was finding his voice or whatever.

50:44 – 50:46
Just write and write and write and write.

50:46 – 50:54
If you write or if you draw, when an opportunity arises, like, the day I gotta call my neighbor out here.

50:54 – 50:58
They’re hiring new new writers at Hanna Barbera because they got a huge order for for new scripts.

50:59 – 51:02
He said, do do you have something I can show to my boss?

51:02 – 51:05
I said, well, yeah, I’ve got about 10 years worth of it here. You know?

51:05 – 51:13
It’s it’s a few a few thousand pages worth. What do you need specifically? Okay. It can’t be too long. Okay. It needs to be short. It needs to be funny.

51:13 – 51:15
It doesn’t need to only need to be animation. Okay.

51:15 – 51:21
So so the the 2 hour film war goes over here and the 1 hour drama goes over here and the mini series goes over here. Okay.

51:21 – 51:26
And I dig out 1 of 2 sitcom, little short sitcom scripts I’ve written.

51:26 – 51:32
She got it into the head of Hunter Barbera. She probably read 3 pages. Thought, well, this guy’s okay.

51:32 – 51:34
We will let him pitch to us.

51:34 – 51:43
But that one magic moment where somebody read 3 pages of what I’d written Out of all that I’d written over 10 years, it took

51:43 – 51:48
the 10 years of writing to get good enough that those three pages got me into to a job.

51:48 – 51:57
And so you have to keep doing it even if you don’t even if you have perhaps no immediate hope other than a naive hope, imagination,

51:57 – 52:01
that what you’re doing is gonna get produced. Yeah. That’s not why you do it.

52:01 – 52:02
You do it because you love to write the story.

52:02 – 52:08
And and also, network among your friends, network among your your support team.

52:08 – 52:18
He his neighbor knew he was he want was a writer wanting to break into writing more, and an opportunity came up, and the neighbor let you know. I had several friends.

52:18 – 52:20
They invited me to join a softball team.

52:20 – 52:24
I am not a softball team person, but I it was a fun summer.

52:24 – 52:35
But there, one of my friends introduced me to one of her friends who at that time had already been working at Disney. You wanna write you wanna write? Well, we do animation over here. You wanna yep. Yes, please. Yes, please, and thank you.

52:35 – 52:39
So let folks know if that’s what if that’s what you aspire to.

52:39 – 52:40
And and be flexible.

52:40 – 52:41
Be very flexible.

52:41 – 52:46
Neither one of us imagined at all that we would write for animation when we came out here at all.

52:46 – 52:46

52:46 – 52:48
Movies. She loved the

52:48 – 52:49
Live action.

52:49 – 52:49
Live action.

52:49 – 52:51
Comedy. Mhmm. Yeah.

52:51 – 52:57
So it just happened that the first two jobs that became available were that, and we discovered that it was something we had

52:57 – 52:59
a feel for and that we were good at.

52:59 – 53:06
That’s a a lot there’s I’m really hearing a lot of advice columnist recently saying, following your passion can get you into

53:06 – 53:12
trouble because you could have a passion for being, you know, one of the the 4 people that writes for Stephen Colbert, and

53:12 – 53:15
there are only 4 of those jobs available. Yeah.

53:16 – 53:23
Have a try a hundred different things and find something you’re really good at. The peep oh my, hey. That was really funny.

53:23 – 53:29
I mean, now with with with with cell phones, you can do a you can do a movie on your on your iPhone.

53:29 – 53:36
Try try Stef, show it to people, let it crash and burn 7 or 8 times, but you find something, you’re good at that, then it

53:36 – 53:40
can become your passion because it’s something that people wanna pay you for and give you a job.

53:40 – 53:46
And in the kind of writing that you and I each do, realize too, it is very collaborative. Mhmm.

53:47 – 53:50
You you can I love I love to write poetry?

53:50 – 53:53
I love to write, you know, short pieces, you know, years ago.

53:53 – 53:57
And and that’s what I guess what I’m saying.

53:57 – 54:04
There are a lot of people you have to, work with in the in the production of a thing. So so be prepared.

54:05 – 54:11
Be be prepared to be a diplomat and come up with 3rd alternatives, which, you know, where you thought something was absolutely

54:11 – 54:13
perfect, and the other person is like, I can’t live with that.

54:13 – 54:16
I’ve got this other idea, and you can’t live with that.

54:16 – 54:19
And you sit down and you negotiate and you find the perfect thing in the middle Mhmm.

54:19 – 54:21
That might even be better than the first thought you had.

54:22 – 54:32
So be prepared to listen and revise the people you’re working with because, you know, the joy of writing poetry for yourself, that’s a single thing. Nobody’s giving you notes on it.

54:32 – 54:38
But the idea that you’re a professional writer and people are paying you lots of money to People

54:38 – 54:39
are paying you money.

54:39 – 54:45
Are paying you a living a living wage to write stories, which is a pretty amazing thing. That is amazing.

54:45 – 54:49
You need to respect the fact that, well, they have they have an ear too.

54:49 – 54:59
And, it’s their money or it’s their network or it’s it’s their artwork, and you need to come together and and find the the alternative that makes you all happy.

54:59 – 55:07
That that is that is a learned skill, and there’s some wonderful writers that never learn it. It’s fine. They can publish on their own.

55:07 – 55:09
They can self publish, and that’s cool.

55:09 – 55:11
Yes. That’s available to people.

55:11 – 55:14
A place like Hollywood is so collaborative.

55:14 – 55:21
It’s it’s it’s scary, and the people that do best are the ones that listen best and, you know, teamwork.

55:21 – 55:24
And it’s it’s it’s it’s tough on your ego sometimes.

55:25 – 55:31
And and, you know, you have to see Stef left out that you thought was was your best stuff. Old.

55:31 – 55:34
But if the next morning, you’re still getting paid to write stories.

55:36 – 55:40
Okay. So, Steph, I think what I heard and let me know if this is what you heard.

55:41 – 55:47
Consistency, just making it a regular practice to write or draw, whatever creative endeavor.

55:47 – 55:50
It does involve practice and purposeful practice.

55:50 – 55:54
I’m hearing networking, and networking isn’t just for strangers.

55:54 – 55:56
You need to tell your friends and your family.

55:56 – 56:00
You need to let everyone know this is a thing that I wanna do and hear what it looks like.

56:01 – 56:07
I think I’m also hearing preparedness, and preparedness means if you’ve been practicing, you have something to give.

56:07 – 56:12
It also means prepare yourself to receive feedback and prepare yourself to have collaboration.

56:13 – 56:18
So be willing to to have that flexibility. Is that what you heard? Flexibility.

56:18 – 56:24
We say in the education world, know when to step back and know when to step forward.

56:24 – 56:29
And I think being able to have that flexibility just opens up more doors to you.

56:29 – 56:33
And even though some of those doors close, it’s not the end of the world, which is part of the compatibility.

56:34 – 56:37
But thank you so much for your wisdom, so much of your insight.

56:37 – 56:39
This has been such an amazing talk.

56:39 – 56:43
I wish it could last forever, but I know we have things to do today.

56:44 – 56:52
But, you know, like I said, earlier, it is such an honor to have you both and have all of the years of your expertise and

56:52 – 56:58
just you grinding it out, you know, because it really does translate into our professions too.

56:59 – 56:59
Yes. Yes. It does.

56:59 – 57:02
I’ve taken a lot of nuggets. I’m sure our listeners will.

57:02 – 57:11
And, yeah, hopefully, we will see you at maybe Comic Con if you’ll be there next, because I know we will be, or wherever else you may be.

57:11 – 57:14
LA con in October, if you come by LA con.

57:14 – 57:18
That’s Minnesota of all places, and that’ll be know. My god. You’re getting

57:18 – 57:26
1, girl. The the uncanny experience. They have a unique thing where it’s it’s it’s a totally x men thing, and they rent out

57:26 – 57:29
a 7 story old 190 8 Yes. Gentlemen’s club

57:29 – 57:29

57:29 – 57:31
and turn it into the x mansion.

57:31 – 57:40
Last year was their premier, event, and we get got to attend that, and it was it was amazing. And they’re doing it again. So if anybody We

57:40 – 57:41
will be back.

57:41 – 57:43
It was remarkable. It was really remark.

57:43 – 57:45
So, yeah, those two things for sure.

57:45 – 57:47
Was it can we say uncanny?

57:48 – 57:52
It and it was an experience. It was an okay experience.

57:53 – 57:55
Alright. Well, thank you again for coming on the episode.

57:55 – 57:57
We really appreciate having both of you.

57:57 – 58:05
Well, listeners, if you would like to connect with, Eric and Julia, you can find them at x mentas.com.

58:07 – 58:16
That is also their Instagram handle, x men t a s. So go ahead and, DM them. Show all the love.

58:16 – 58:17
If you if you

58:17 – 58:18
Oh there you go! There you go!

58:18 – 58:19
I like that. yeah

58:19 – 58:30
Share all the love. DM us and let us know about your, thoughts of the animated series and, your thoughts on how to use x men in educational therapeutic settings.

58:30 – 58:35
Please, DM us at happiestpodgt, both Twitter and Instagram.

58:35 – 58:38
I guess Twitter’s named X now, so we can say X men Twitter.

58:38 – 58:41
Oh, there you go. Yeah. There you go. I like that. Yeah.

58:41 – 58:41
Yeah. Okay.

58:41 – 58:42
Thank you.

58:42 – 58:42
Thank you.

58:42 – 58:43
Buh bye!

58:43 – 58:44
Bye bye. Thanks Stef

Media/Characters Mentioned
  • X-Men: The Animated Series
  • X-Men 97
  • Marvel Universe
  • Charles Xavier
  • Cyclops (Scott Summers)
  • Jean Grey
  • Wolverine
  • Storm
  • Beast
  • Gambit
  • Rogue
  • Professor X
Topics/Themes Mentioned
  • Legacy of X-Men: The Animated Series
  • Cultural and social impact of the series
  • Resurgence and revival with X-Men 97
  • Creative process and challenges in animation
  • Working dynamics as a married couple in the industry
  • Representation and diversity in media
  • Educational applications of X-Men themes
  • Consulting on new series and maintaining original tone
  • Evolution of the animation industry
  • Fan interactions and convention experiences

| Website:happy.geektherapy.com|
| Instagram:@HappiestPodGT| X:@HappiestPodGT| Facebook:@HappiestPodGT|
| Stef on Twitter:@stefa_kneee| Ariel on Instagram:@airyell3000|
| Eric and Julia on Twitter:@xmentas| Eric and Julia on Instagram:@xmentas|
| Eric and Julia on Facebook:@xmentas| | Website:https://xmentas.com/|
| Book 1:https://amzn.to/3yJTQOo| Book 2:https://amzn.to/3UvScYf|

Geek Therapy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that advocates for the effective and meaningful use of popular media in therapeutic, educational, and community practice.
| GT Facebook:@GeekTherapy| GT Twitter:@GeekTherapy|
| GT Forum:forum.geektherapy.com| GT Discord:geektherapy.com/discord|

The post Previously On X-Men with Julia and Eric Lewald appeared first on The Happiest Pod on Earth.