Zubby Newsletter #23: Entering the Uncanny

On social media some fans and creators were recently sharing anecdotes about the first issue of Uncanny X-Men they read, especially if it hooked them on the series, and that pulled me into a bit of a nostalgia vortex.

The first X-Men issue I remember reading was quite the head trip-

Uncanny X-Men #141, first part of the legendary “Days of Future Past” story. As far as I remember, my older brother bought it from a used bookstore in Oshawa that sold comics. The issue was released in late 1980, but I think Joe bought it a couple years later because I must have been 7 or 8 years old at the time.

I didn’t even know who this cast of characters were and they were already thrust into an alternate universe post-apocalyptic future where most of them were dead and their very survival was at stake. It was intense, emotional and incredibly compelling, even if I didn’t understand large parts of the story or had any inkling of the character history at the time. It begged to be explored.

My first point of confusion was the guy on the cover with metal claws. I thought he was “Beast” because he had the exact same haircut as the guy on the poster right behind him-

No one in the story called him “Beast”, they called him “Logan”, but that just added to the air of mystery around him. 😉

Anyways, Joe started collecting Uncanny X-Men a few issues later and I started picking up Amazing Spider-Man and G.I.Joe around the same time.

There was an unexpected joy to dropping right into the middle of the narrative instead of an issue #1 to start things off. Reading and collecting became about filling in holes of the past just as much as it was about engaging the new ongoing stories that arrived each month

Having Uncanny X-Men #141 as a starting point meant that Kitty Pryde was central to the X-narrative and everything Jean Grey/Phoenix-related felt like “history”. I had a similar demarcation point in Amazing Spider-Man – Hobgoblin was the current big bad, so anything Green Goblin-related felt “old” in comparison. (Not bad, of course, just old.)

Marvel Tales and Classic X-Men allowed us to dig into the past and fill in gaps in our collection since we couldn’t afford expensive back issues, especially for “key” moments (first appearances, character deaths, things like that).

It felt like rocket riding through a huge interconnected world that extended way behind us while also zipping confidently forward.

Like a lot of comic collectors, over time we’d start to focus on the creators as much as the characters. Who made the books became just as important as the titles we looked for – John Byrne, Michael Golden, Chris Claremont, Roger Stern, John Buscema, Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman, George Perez, Art Adams, Ann Nocenti, Walt and Louise Simonson, and a slew of others became names we recognized and work we craved because it seemed to stand head and shoulders over others at the time.

And, through it all, the X-Men reigned supreme.

Uncanny X-Men was the best damn soap opera in comics. Claremont and company kept their big cast moving forward with an impressive amount of thoughtful evolution. The team line-up changed constantly. Romances flourished and failed. The month-to-month narrative clipped along with A-plots, B-plots, and occasionally almost completely forgotten C and D-plots that finally popped back up to surprise and delight. One month the team might be in outer space and an issue or two later they could be in the Savage Land, Tokyo, or just playing a game of pick-up baseball in Westchester, New York.

The heroes, villains and supporting cast were deeply flawed and beautifully human. There’s a reason why the series was an absolute sales juggernaut…and it wasn’t because sometimes a character named Juggernaut showed up to break shit.

I don’t think anyone could or should try to put X-Men back in same mold in the here and now, but it’s valuable to re-read those older issues to try and understand why it was so vibrant and how it generated so much loyalty in its readership over so many years.

In an age of endless new #1’s that act as both jumping on and off points, dozens of variant covers every issue, and near-instant digital access to both new comics and almost every issue of the past, it all feels very different. Some things have been gained and other things have been lost and that’s the way life goes, but hearing that prompt of “What was your first X-Men?” brought back a lot of good memories so I thought I’d lean into that a bit here.

Talking Conan

I know this will seem odd, but I’m still talking about Conan the Barbarian. 🙂

Someone filmed the Conan the Barbarian comic panel from San Diego Comic-Con, so you can check that out on Forbidden Planet’s channel:

This panel was on Sunday morning, so our voices are pretty shot by this point. Other than that, it was a ton of fun and we were really impressed with the turn out and enthusiasm from the crowd.

I also spoke to the team at Geek Hard all about our Conan the Barbarian relaunch. The interview starts at the 7 minute mark of their latest episode and runs until the 36 minute spot in the show.

Current + Upcoming Books

Upcoming Events

Links and Other Things

Marc Brunet is a former Art Director from Blizzard who goes through a variety of drawing and rendering techniques on his YouTube channel. Like many popular YouTube creators, over time he’s become an exaggerated parody of himself as a way to get more traffic, but if you ignore the twitchy behavior and edits his tutorials are solid and well worth checking out. This new one about rendering skin tone shadows is the same method we used at the UDON Studio on our official Capcom artwork, and a great tool to have in your digital rendering toolbox-

That should cover it for this time.

Next week is Fan Expo Canada!

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