Welcome, X-Fans, to the final uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT of 2020!
Thank God, right? (The 2020 ending part, not the bit about this being the last X-Men Monday of the year.) You don’t need me to tell you how much of a struggle the past several months have been. Despite it all–including a comic book industry shutdown–we managed to put out 47 editions of X-Men Monday. That’s 47 editions on a wide range of topics, I might add.
Way back in February 2019, when I first announced that X-Men Monday was coming to AIPT, I said, “the goal is to keep X-Men Monday feeling all-new, all-different each and every week.” Looking back on the past year, I’d like to think that promise is still very much at the core of this column. In addition to having X-Writers like Tini Howard, Gerry Duggan, Zeb Wells and Leah Williams answer X-Fan questions about their series, we’ve shined a light on fan-favorite artists like Russell Dauterman and Mahmud Asrar, and done a deep dive into the coloring craft with color artist Chris O’Halloran. X-Men Monday even connected X-Fans with artists Todd Nauck and Joshua Cassara to create two original pieces of art!
Oh, and Scott Aukerman agreed to appear in X-Men Monday, which remains a highlight of my comics journalism career. (You’re next, Rivers Cuomo.)
And, of course, having a weekly column throughout this insane year has seen conversations naturally veer away from X-Men at times, like when I spoke to Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson about staying productive early in the pandemic. I know there’ll always be X-Fans who come here just for the teases and preview art, but I appreciate every chance I get to better understand how real-world events impact the professionals charged with continuing our favorite characters’ fictional adventures. I’m especially grateful for artist Ray-Anthony Height taking the time this past summer to share his personal experiences within the comics industry and discuss how it can become a more inclusive space.
I could go on and on–because there’s so much more I’m proud of–but, you know, there are teases and preview art to get to. I’ll just conclude by thanking everybody who reads this column and submits questions each and every week. In a year that’s seen too much suffering, I don’t take any of my good fortune for granted. That includes the uncanny privilege of connecting X-Fans with the X-Office. During this very lonely year, where so many daily norms fell by the wayside, working on this weekly column helped me maintain a degree of normalcy amidst all the disruption. I hope reading it did the same for you.
Now, just as we did last year, I wanted to bring X-Men Monday in 2020 to a close with an interview with X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White about the year that was and the year to come.
AIPT: Welcome to the final X-Men Monday of 2020, Jordan! As the X-Men Senior Editor, looking back on this strange, stressful year that’s finally about to end, what are you most proud of?
Jordan: There’s a lot to be proud of, to be honest with you. And you gave me a heads-up that this question was coming, but I’ve had a hard time deciding because there are a few things that are a big deal to me.
First of all, the easiest one to say is X of Swords, just because it was a massive undertaking. And I know it might be too soon to say, you know, exactly whether it was great or as great as I think it is still–because I love it–but I don’t think anyone can question that it was enormous. Coordinating something that big was difficult and getting everybody to work together–they did it and they all came together and I’m really proud of it. I think it is super fun.
I was actually just looking through a PDF of it this morning. Except I deleted all of the ads. So it was a PDF, but it was a PDF that was still like 700-something pages long. I was just like, “Oh my Lord, look at this.” And I was flipping through it and just kind of reminiscing and going like, “Oh my God, this was so neat.” When it ended, it was like a blow to me because I had been working on it for so long at first, you know, prepping for it. And then once it started going to press, almost all I did was working on it. I mean, I had a few other projects going on at the same time, but X-Men-wise, for the most part, everything I did all day was making sure X of Swords kept moving–and that lasted for months.
And then when it was done, it was like, what are other comic books? Like, how do you work? If not X of Swords, what do you do?
Now I’m back to that, but the other thing, and honestly, at the end of the day, I’d probably say the other thing is the thing I’m even more proud of. It’s the thing that the reader from the outside would see less, but it is very connected. I’m really proud of the community that we’ve built in the X-Office, that we have a group of people who are so collaborative and so excited to be working together and coming together on big projects like X of Swords. But then also they’re excited about getting back to their own projects and they’re excited for each other’s projects.
I’ve always talked about how I want every book to be its own thing so that it’s not necessarily that every reader should read every X-Book, although hopefully, they work that way, that if you did that, they make sense if you do. But if you’re only interested in Excalibur, then you just read Excalibur and it works and it’s different from the other books. And if you’re only interested in X-Force, you read that and it’s different and it feels different. That there’s something for, if not everyone yet, maybe at some point something for everyone or something for as many different readers as we can. And the creators that we have in here are excited for that and for what each other are doing. They’re so supportive of one another.
And we had that already to some extent before the pandemic started, but in some ways, I almost feel like the pandemic and having to work from home–while it isolated us more from the other editorial offices in some ways–it enabled us to get closer with our creators because now our creators are just as close to us as the other editorial offices. I used to be 10 feet away from [Associate Editor] Annalise Bissa for eight hours every day. Now, if I want to talk to her, I have to, you know, make a phone call or Slack her or whatever. Which is the exact same amount of ways I would communicate with Jonathan or Gerry or Tini. And so I don’t know, I feel like it’s made the X-Office itself, both with the editors and the creators, tighter.
I love that. I’m really proud of the fact that we were able to accomplish such a crazy, ambitious project under crazy and awful conditions. X of Swords would have been hard in a normal year and we did it in this year. So I’m proud of that project and I’m even more proud of the group that came together to make it happen.
AIPT: The passion and sense of community within the X-Office definitely shines through in the work. Has anything about this past year, including the delays that hit comics, changed the way you approach making comics in any way?
Jordan: I mean, I work from home now. So everything I do is different. Not everything, but like creatively, like the way you view the job. But I mean, honestly, it’s the thing that I said–it’s that communications with my creators are now as easy as communications with CB or Annalise or the Spider-Office or Tom Brevoort. whereas, I used to be in rooms with all those other people all the time. And then we are reaching out to our talent about things. We are emailing them, we are calling them, we are Slacking them.
Oh, you know what? Communicating and getting in groups with our creators.
It used to be that we would have an X-Summit. We would have to go to a convention or fly everyone into New York or whatnot. Like, that’s a big deal. it’s a disruption of everyone’s lives. But in order to get that face-to-face time with our creators, it seemed important. Now we just do a call every two weeks that’s like two, sometimes three hours long. Because I realized, why not? We have to do a big, giant video call to talk to the editors. It’s the exact same thing we do with our creators. Let’s do a big video call with them whenever we want.
And so we set up our regular X-Call and now we have a little mini X-Summit every two weeks. And like I said, it’s changed the feel of how I’m working with them. And it’s changed the building blocks of our community in many ways. I love it. It makes me not ever want to go back to the office. Let’s see what happens if we do go back to that. Because if we do go back to the office, I’m going to have to be in the office and have all the cameras and technology to be able to do these things because I need to be doing them regularly with these folks.
AIPT: It’s definitely crazy to think off how little we all used video calls before this pandemic to stay connected. OK, story-wise, what additions to X-Men lore in 2020 are you most excited about?
Jordan: Oh, goodness gracious. That becomes tough because it’s so hard to remember. Like I was just thinking about the fact that one year ago today, we only had six X-Books and probably, I don’t know, only like three or four issues of each of them had come out by that point. So it was still so early in the Krakoa era back then. So let’s see, most of the stuff that happened from issue five on of all the books…
Well, it didn’t play out on the timescale that we planned it, but I do still think that the death and resurrection of Kate Pryde was pretty great. You know, originally again, when we planned it, it was Marauders #6-12–it was going to be a six-month span. It ended up being a lot more because of the pausing of books for a while. So that was a pretty great story. And I think it turned out really well.
Let’s see, what else… I mean, obviously, the entire expansion of Otherworld I think is so cool and it offers us so much. And the expansion and depth added to Apocalypse–his backstory as well. I thought it was really, really awesome. And I think that’s something that will stick around for that character pretty permanently. If we ever see him again.
AIPT: That’s true. Now that he’s got his family back, we’ll probably never see him again. So, the longer I do X-Men Monday, the more I come to understand how much X-Fans love certain characters (looking at you, Madelyne Pryor). Are there any characters you came to appreciate more in 2020 thanks to stories creators told? I feel like Apocalypse is one.
Jordan: Yeah, Apocalypse is certainly one. Let’s see. You know, people are always doing new and impressive stuff that makes characters be seen in a new light.
Here’s what I’ll say. I already liked Beast. I’ve always liked Beast. I know there are people who hate Beast and have hated Beast for a while now. And I know that the people who have hated Beast for a while now triple-hate him right now. They call him a hypocrite. Here’s the thing. Hypocrisy is a rotten thing, but it’s also a very real-life thing that is pretty common in the world.
I think Beast is fascinating. And Ben Percy has written him doing worse things than I probably could have thought he would be doing. And yet I do find it so interesting that he feels justified in that–not Ben, but Beast. He feels justified in these things and I think that rings true. Like, I don’t think that is untrue to the character at all. I think that makes sense. He is a person who feels very strongly that he is in the right and always has been. And that’s why he left when Scott was doing things relatively similar to what he’s doing now. And that’s why when he’s doing them now, he feels like, “Yeah, but I’m right.” And it’s horrifying, but it’s fascinating and I can’t wait to read that.
AIPT: While we’re talking about characters, there’s a hardcore Dazzler fanbase and they’ve made it clear to me they need Dazzler updates. For these very passionate and patient fans, do you have any news to share about the character in 2021?
Jordan: You know, it’s funny. Dazzler is a character who has come up a lot in our plans that get abandoned. What I mean is when we’re doing planning, she gets brought up a lot. Like, “Oh, Dazzler, you’re right, Dazzler would work here.” But then like consistently from the entire time we’ve been doing this, it’s always come back to, for some reason, either she ends up not ending up in that role that we talked about her in, or the book that we talked about her in for that role doesn’t end up happening or various things like it. It’s a very unfortunate bit of luck she’s had there.
I am pretty confident she’s going to be showing up. I want to say in the first six months of next year, but it might be more like the first eight months. I’m not 100% on exactly what month it is. She’s going to be showing up in a comic book next year–how big of a role remains to be seen, but she should have a role.
AIPT: So Dazzler fans shouldn’t give up hope?
Jordan: They shouldn’t. Listen. We’ve had a few pitches. I don’t want to say what the pitches were because you never know when something might come back around, but a few times, and it was always one reason or another that we couldn’t do those projects or that because of other plans, someone else had to be subbed in or something like that. But she’s a character that we think about, and I’m sure we’re going to find the right place for her and we might have done so, so we’ll see how it works out.
AIPT: You know, you mentioned pitches that never happened. Without spoiling anything, are you able to talk about how new books come to be? We know X-Corp is on the way, and we know Si Spurrier will be writing something. Is there a certain number of books you can have or must publish at any given time, and then you come up with ideas? Or is it driven partially by story and partially by Marvel sales?
Jordan: All of the above. All of these scenarios happen. There are times when Marvel wants books, so we try to come up with books. There are times when we want to do books and we say, “We’d like to do this book.” And they say, “Yes,” or there are times when the opposite happens. There’s a give and take on all these levels.
So with the example of Si’s book, you will see when it’s announced that it does stem from something we have been setting up for a while now. And we reached out to Si and said, “Are you interested in working with us?” He said, “Yes.” And we mentioned a few of the things that we would be interested in doing a book about and he latched onto this one and wrote a killer pitch for it. And that’s the book that we’re making. So we try to have it that we always have stories we can spin off into books if we need a book, where possible. I mean, I know Jonathan has announced that we’re doing X-Corp. That book obviously is one that we have been teeing up and hinting at in very many ways in world, as well as in the real world. So yeah, we always have story ideas for what we could do to expand the line.
AIPT: That seems like a good segue to what comes next. What about Reign of X has you most excited?
Jordan: Oh man. I think what we’re doing in the summer. It’s awesome. I’ll just say that it’s a big thing that we’re going to do that is so exciting that we have been planning to do for so long and the time is finally right. And we’re all really pumped for it, but there’s especially one part of it that is so neat and cool. And people are going to really love it.
AIPT: And speaking of love, in 2020, we got some new X-Couples in the form of Doug and Bei and Apocalypse and Genesis. Can we expect some new X-Couples or X-Romance in the new year?
Jordan: Oh my, new couples or romance. Well, I’m sure there will be. Let me think about that. I feel like someone… oh yeah, no, there’s definitely some stuff going on. Like I just thought of one that’s a little scandalous and we’ll see how that goes. Yeah. There’s definitely some stuff going on.
AIPT: That’s all you need to tease for X-Fans to start speculating. They’ll pick that apart for a year.
Jordan: Yeah, I just thought of one pairing that may be happening that people are going to be like, “Wait, what?”
AIPT: OK, I want to play a quick game of word association, with Reign of X in mind. So I’ll give you something and you tell me what comes to mind.
AIPT: Betsy Braddock.
Jordan: Captain Britain.
AIPT: [Laughs] All right. I’m going to need more than that. Let’s try again. Warren Worthington III.
Jordan: I mean, what’s hard about this is I want to just say their codenames.
AIPT: But you’re answering while thinking about Reign of X. So, Warren…
Jordan: Corporate maneuvering.
AIPT: That’s good! Laura Kinney. Wolverine.
Jordan: I mean, yeah, I was going to say Wolverine. You don’t understand, I’m holding back spoilers. Let’s say… Vault.
AIPT: Our friend from earlier, Hank McCoy.
AIPT: And Si Spurrier.
AIPT: Alright, thanks for playing. So, I don’t know if you want to talk about this, but a lot of X-Fans really miss you on Twitter. I’ve actually gotten tweets and DMs from people asking if you’re OK. Would you like to take this opportunity to say anything to those who miss your presence and daily tweets about your Uncanny X-Men reading project?
Jordan: Sure. To people who have missed me on Twitter, first of all, thank you for saying that–that’s nice of you to say. I miss Twitter. But the more I’ve thought about it in the time I’ve been off Twitter, I feel like I missed Twitter five years ago. Not Twitter right now. Being on Twitter was really awesome and fun, but it also was difficult and sometimes painful because, you know, it’s not a nice place. It’s not a place that’s built for niceness. It’s a place that a lot of people take advantage of, too. Not a lot of people, but people will take advantage of it to, you know, be hurtful. And when I go on Twitter, I just kind of put myself out there and leave myself kind of vulnerable to being hurt.
I had a day where my day and my mood were severely affected by things people were saying on Twitter and I didn’t want that to happen to me anymore. So I stopped going on and it was incredibly difficult because I want to tweet all the time. I want to tweet my thoughts. I love tweeting my thoughts and I love hearing people respond to them. But like I said, at the end of the day, I think I miss the way I used to feel on Twitter more than I miss being on Twitter as it currently exists. Maybe I’ll be back someday, but I will say the few things that have come up since I left, where things have been going on, where I’ve had to like look at Twitter for some reason, have not been things that have made me feel like I should go back on. So we’ll see.
I mean, like I said, I really appreciate the kind words and I probably miss interacting with you too, if you’re saying that. Maybe at some point I’ll come back.
AIPT: Sorry to hear it got to that point. Twitter certainly isn’t going to change, so you need to do what’s best for you. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, what brought you joy in 2020?
Jordan: So, I mean, we’ve talked about it before, but I feel like I can’t answer that question without first mentioning R.E.M. A year ago today, if you had said, “What do you think about R.E.M.?” I’d be like, “Nah, there are a couple of good songs.” And now I listen to all of their songs a lot. So that’s a huge seismic change. Another part of that and part of what definitely cemented them for me is that I read the book Perfect Circle about them. It’s not a biography of the people in R.E.M., it’s a biography of the band. So it talks about how they recorded everything and what they went through between albums and the grueling touring and all that stuff. But it went really in depth and it was fascinating and hardworking people accomplishing great, artistic things are things I like to hear about. And it got me really, really even more into them than just the music.
Another thing is LEGO. I didn’t do LEGO at all. Gerry Duggan was like, “You should try LEGO. LEGO is really good for stress in all this madness.” And I was like, “OK, maybe I will.” And now, it’s another thing that I’m having to like stop myself from spending all my money on. It’s so fun. I’ve mostly done Star Wars ones at this point, but not entirely Star Wars, but mostly Star Wars ones. I think the most pieces I’ve done is like 300-something. And I definitely look at some of those really, really enormous ones and I’m like, “Oh my God, that’d be so cool.” But they’re like hundreds.
I went to The LEGO Store. I really haven’t gone out very much, but a couple of weeks ago, I went to the Marvel offices to get a bunch of my stuff finally that’s been sitting there for months and months and months. And there’s a LEGO Store very close to the Marvel offices over in Rockefeller Center. And I was like, “Well, you know, I used to walk by here all the time before I cared at all. And now I actually care. So let me stop by.” And it was super fun. They have the giant Millenium Falcon and it’s amazing-looking. They have a giant Star Destroyer. And then, it’s not something I particularly want, but I was impressed by it. They just put out the Roman Colosseum. It’s huge. Like, I don’t think I could put my arms around it. It’s enormous. Anyway, in general, LEGO has been super fun and I have been enjoying it.
AIPT: What about comics?
Jordan: I’m still really enjoying the Star Wars comics a lot. I took a break from reading the Star Wars comics when I stopped working on them. But at some point, I jumped back in and caught up on all the things I was missing and I still really love them whenever I get a chance to read them.
Al Ewing’s Immortal Hulk has been so cool and awesome. I love reading that.
I’m still a huge fan of Savage Dragon every month when that comes out. I love it.
Fire Power has been a real joy. I still miss Invincible and it’s not really very similar to Invincible, but in some ways, it has filled that like, Robert Kirkman adventure comic place that was open in my heart. I think I’ve been really liking that one.
Oh, and Wicked Things by the team that did Giant Days–that’s been a lot of fun. I’ve been enjoying that. So a lot of neat stuff. There’s still a lot of good stuff out there.
Oh, and you know what, one more thing because, it’s actually something I watch almost every day and I don’t really talk about it very much, which is a Good Mythical Morning with Rhett & Link. I’m a big fan of those guys. Another thing I wasn’t a fan of until relatively recently–I got into them last year. There’s an episode that comes out every weekday and I watched them all, and they’re really silly and they’re fun. And again, it’s just like a comfort thing, you know? At the end of the day, my wife and I come sit down and we watch them on YouTube on our TV and they’re fun and silly and stupid, and it’s been good to have them through all of this madness.
AIPT: Nothing wrong with fun, silly and stupid right now. One final question. Is there anything you want to say to X-Fans as we head into 2021?
Jordan: Yeah. Thank you so much for sticking with us through all this. I mean, I know that again, there’s been shipping delays, there’s been a giant crossover. I think for the most part, other than the big shipping delays, we’ve actually managed to keep mostly on schedule. So, hopefully, that helped, but thank you so much for being part of it and for enjoying it and being great fans. I think we’ve got a lot of neat stuff cooked up for you for this next year. We’re building toward something really nutty and really cool in the summer. But even before that, every single book has neat plans drawn out. And we’re going back to each book being its own thing that’s still part of the whole of the story of Krakoa. So yeah, I really hope you like it.
AIPT: With all the top-tier talent working on the X-Books, I’m sure they will. Jordan, thanks so much for reflecting on 2020 and looking ahead to 2021 with me. And thank you for all you did for this column throughout the year. X-Fans, here’s a belated Christmas present from Jordan: Six eXclusive preview images from upcoming X-Men comics!
Great stuff, as always. That’s a wrap on 2020. Next Monday, we kick off the new year with X-Force and Wolverine writer Benjamin Percy answering your questions, X-Fans. Until then, have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve!
Oh, Cyclops. We were kind of done here, but what do you mean? Are they ready… for New Year’s Eve? Ben’s X-Men Monday? Oh, you mean the fast-approaching X-Men Monday #100, don’t you?
Well, since I’m not a mind reader, we’ll just have to wait and see. Here’s to an eXceptional 2021, X-Fans!
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