Now on Video-On-Demand, Chris Claremont’s X-Men is a breezy, light conversation and recollection of writer Chris Claremont, speaking of his early days at Marvel in the mid-1970s, and his refurbishing of the then-defunct X-Men comics. Shot mostly as a talking-heads-style sit-down interview, the documentary is an expansion of a 30 minute documentary by Patrick Meaney, and crams a lot of information in its 70-odd minutes.
Of particular interest to those invested in the early days of the Modern Age of comics are the recollections by industry alumni like former editor-in-chief Jim Shooter, creator Len Wein, editors Louise Simonson, Ann Nocenti, artist Marc Silvestri, and Art Adams. Listening to their history of how Marvel operated back in the 1970s–which at times sounded more like a frat house compared to its more prim-and-proper DC counterpart–and the rapport they still had with one another. Detailing Claremont’s start as a comics fan, then contributor through spec scripts, to finally being hired was a wistful look at a bygone era when the medium was still struggling to be viewed as “respectable”.
Hearing of the creative process from those involved are right up my alley, and the conversational tone and pacing was so natural one could sit and listen, independent of the video, and still get a vivid picture painted of the characters, the era, and how these creators collaborated. At least one instance would have benefited, frankly, from a lack of visuals (or some other sort of graphics overlay): in a three-person informal interview featuring Claremont, Simonson, and Nocenti, the camera was handheld, resulting in several dropped shots and awkward angles, and erratic audio levels compared to the more formal and polished sit-down portions.
Despite this, the documentary was enlightening and engaging, and an illuminating look at not only how creators create, but also how they understand and interpret the impact of their work. If you’re a fan of the inner workings of the industry, and of understanding how creators create, this is fun, quick, breezy. 3.75/5 Bibles.