When talking about the X-Men, they’re unlikely to be as big as they are without Chris Claremont. While Jack Kirby and Stan Lee made the X-Men, it was Claremont who brought them to us.

There’s nobody who took the X-Men as seriously as Chris. Even then, he gave them dramatic depth, unlike no other. Everything he touched became gold, and he built an entirely new world himself.

Claremont Before He Wrote His Legend

Chris Claremont was born on November 25, 1950, in London, England. His family moved to the United States when he was three, living primarily in Long Island, NY. 

His formative years started with only a few comic books. He started reading Dan Dare and eventually grew up with Superman and Batman comic in the ‘50s and the ‘60s.

During the time, he became a fan of sci-fi, including Robert Heinlein and Rudyard Kipling. He started his career in Marvel not as a writer but as a gofer in Marvel.

At the time, he eventually started handling more work in Marvel, eventually handling the first few issues for Iron Fist in the Marvel Premiere #23. He worked with his eventual partner, John Byrne, in succeeding issues.

At the time, Marvel editor-in-chief Len Wein noticed the underlying interest of Chris in the X-Men. Together with Dave Cockrum, he eventually decided to have Claremont as the writer of the new X-Men.

Claremont Pushed To Create A Great American Novel

When Chris received the X-Men storyline from Cockrum, the series was in its worst shape. It was in issue #94, and it was not, in any way, famous.

Beyond creating the actual concept, Claremont gave back the life to X-Men that it deserved. While Stan Lee and Jack Kirby brought about X-Men’s story to the world, Claremont shaped it.

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X-Men Volume 1 #94 – August 1975 (© Marvel Comics)

The process that Claremont used was simple: he took X-Men seriously. Many of the writers and creators at Marvel treated the story at the time as a story for kids. Chris did differently.

Claremont treated the story as a part of the great American novels. He put himself in the shoes of the characters and created an unparalleled soap opera. He built the X-Men in the ‘80s and ‘90s into the franchise that it is today.

The Great Method Acting Of The World’s Best X-Men

Chris Claremont’s writing style came from his background in acting. He used his extraordinary imagination and dramatic chops to create new X-Men stories.

Claremont used method acting to recreate characters in his mind. He fleshed out everyone to help with the characterization.

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X-Men Volume 1 #141, Days of Future Past – January 1981 (© Marvel Comics)

“He lived it and breathed it,” said Bob Harras in an interview. “He would write whole paragraphs about what people were wearing. He really got into these people’s thoughts, hopes, dreams.”

In his stories, he had characters talk to each other. They poured their hearts to each other and shared lasting bonds. One of the best markers of the Chris Claremont era were all the characters he created.

Claremont created more than three to four dozen characters to make his world alive. He created strong female characters in his story, with varied characterizations. He created icons like Rogue, Kitty Pryde, Mystique, and Emma Frost.

Chris Claremont Went Beyond the Cacophony

Chris Claremont changed the face of X-Men and the comic book landscape forever. As one man took his job seriously, Chris went above and beyond the usual cacophony among his peers.

Claremont tried to add life to a dying story. Instead of snuffing it with an egotistical take, he lived his stories. He tried to make great American novels, the only difference is his people flew.

Reading Recommendations:

X-Men Volume 1 #141, Days of Future Past – A must-read

X-Men Volume 1 #101, Phoenix Saga – One of the best Chris Claremont stories

X-Men Volume 1 #129, Dark Phoenix Saga – Another Claremont classic

Sources:

The X-Men Files – Alec Foege, July 17, 2000, Nymag.com

About Chris – Chrisclaremont.com

X-Men Writer Chris Claremont Donates Archive to Columbia University – Calvin Reid, November 14, 2011, Publishers Weekly

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