Over the past two years, I’ve produced two feature length documentaries about iconic comic book writers, Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods and Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts. I’ve also thought a lot about what other stories I want to tell about comics, and I came to realize that there’s a lot of interesting stories worth telling that aren’t necessarily suited to a feature-length format.
From there came the idea of Comics in Focus, a series of 45-minute documentaries that take an in-depth look at key moments in comics history, the works and events that helped shape the medium. We’re looking to tell the stories of these key moments in the words of the people who were there. If the feature docs are movies, this is more of a TV approach, shorter form, but more in depth, and targeted at the core comics audience.
For the first film in the series, I’ve chosen to focus on Chris Claremont’s X-Men run. Today, Chris Claremont has a mixed reputation in comics. He has his fans, but his work is often written off as dated or out of touch with the times. That’s ironic, because in many ways Claremont shaped our very expectation of what a superhero book should be. From 1974 to 1991, he oversaw the creation of a mythos that started out as a single bimonthly comic book and grew into a publishing empire, with up to 15 titles a month, as well as five feature films in the past 11 years.
But Claremont rarely receives credit for that. You won’t find him credited on any of the X-Men feature films, and despite the widespread acclaim for certain stories in his run, none of his stories are part of the “canon,” and much of his writing has never even been reprinted.
The reason for that is that Claremont was working within a system that hinged on selling characters, not creators. He rose to prominence shortly before creators’ rights advocates forever changed the medium, and celebrity writers like Alan Moore and Grant Morrison became more famous than the characters they were writing. Yet Claremont has as distinct a voice and made a significant impact on comics that needs to be discussed.
This film will follow the evolution of Claremont’s work on the X-Men title, from its late Silver Age roots to its rise to prominence as the preeminent comic of the early ’80s, and the gradual expansion of one man’s stories into a media franchise that incorporated multiple titles, and eventually grew so large, it expelled its own creator. The film will follow comics’ journey through the dark age of the ’80s and the rise of the Image era, and show how one man took a struggling title on the verge of cancellation and turned it into the biggest selling comic book of all time.
And with your support, we’ll be able to tell that story. Please support us on Kickstarter and get early access to the film, and also ensure that Comics in Focus becomes a strong series that will be able to explore comics history and tell the stories behind the stories that have never been heard.
For more information on the film, visit its page here on Sequart.