Thursday, September 29, 2011

The X-Men Team’s 1985 European Tour


JayJay here. Jim is suffering through a power outage, so while he sits in the dark I thought we could just do a blog post ourselves, and by ourselves I mean done by our readers! There’s the Mickey Rooney/Andy Hardy side of me coming out! To add to Jim’s story from yesterday about the X-Men team’s European tour in 1985 our reader, the wonderful Stéphane Garrelie, has scanned an article from Strange Magazine and translated it for us. And many thanks as well to Ferran Delgado for the photos from the Barcelona convention. 

Strange Magazine was published by Editions Lug located in Lyons, France and headed at the time by the lovely Claude Vistel, one of two French publishers, that did translated reprints of Marvel Comics. Our reader Xavier Lancel explains that Lug is short for Lugdunum, the roman name of Lyon. Chris Claremont, John Romita Jr., Ann Nocenti and Dan Green went to Paris to promote the X-men and partly to research issue 200 which has Magneto on trial in Paris. That story was, of course, reprinted in Special Strange as well.
And that sparked their European tour!

Here to do reconnaissance on location for the scenery of the 200th issue of the X-Men in Paris, they didn't want to leave for London without visiting us.

Chris Claremont, John Romita Junior, Dan Green, Ann Nocenti....

FOUR AMERICANS IN LUGDUNUM!

Chris Claremont: We were hesitating between Greece, Egypt, and other dream countries, but when John mentioned France and most of all Paris, everybody agreed. The 200th issue of the X-Men had to be set in Paris!

Lug: So you came to do reconnaissance of the scenery?

John Romita Jr: Yes. We leave with lots of ideas and sketches, and impregnated forever with the extraordinary mood of this capital!

Lug: Will we see the X-Men as tourists in Saint-Germain-Des-Prés?

Chris Claremont: Not exactly! -Laughs- The theater of the events will be the Hall of Justice... which by the way the X-Men will blow up!!

Lug: But that's a provocation! A "casus belli"!

Ann Nocenti: You know, at Marvel, we like to stir controversy!

John Romita Jr: We love it, you wanna say! See, Storm... Why do you think we made a punk out of her?

Lug: Who got that idea first? You John, or you Chris?

Chris Claremont: I couldn't say, All the four of us probably!

Lug: The four of you?... But how do you organise yourselves? Do you work together?

John Romita Jr: No. Most of our contacts are by phone. We rarely see each other! When Chris has the plot written, he gives it to me to draw. It's only when my art is finished, and submited to the appreciation of Ann, that Chris adds matter to his script and put the dialogue in place. Dan does the inks at the very end, after the lettering.

Lug: What is precisely your role as an "editor", Ann Nocenti?

Ann Nocenti: To read, reread, correct... to verify that there're no contradiction from a script to another... to give my opinion on some drawings: the page layout, the angles, the close-up shots.. To sum it up: I supervise.. aim for perfection.

Lug: The "Editor", then, it's in a way the "directeur de publication" (literally: director of publishing)?

Ann Nocenti: That's it, I think.

Lug: What do you think of our books?

Ann Nocenti: I am very impressed by the quality of your covers!

Chris Dan and John (chorus): They're great!

Ann Nocenti: Yes, way more spare, way more artistic than ours! By the way, I'd love to meet your artists!

On those words, we lead our "New Fantastic Four" to our studio, where they look with interest at the pages of Cyrus Tota, Jean Mitton, and all the others. Their enthusiasm is so great that they almost forget that a Toque Blanche (white hat=a chef) is dressed for them his best table. And that's with a few Lug covers under their arm, that they leave for other wonders: Those of Lyonnaise gastronomy!

They will leave for London the next day, swearing to themselves to come back soon. Our country seduced them!

Translated from the article published in Special Strange #41 copyright: Editions Lug 1985.

A few notes from Stéphane:
-Lugdunum is the old name of Lyon, meaning something like "hill of the (celtic) god Lug". The editions Lug (Got it?), were based in there, 6 rue Emile Zola.
-In Special Strange where published every 3 months two issues of the X-Men, one of Marvel Team-Up and one of Marvel Two in one.
-The covers where most of the time drawn by Jean Frisano or his son Thomas.
-Jean, by the way is the french for John.

Farther along on their whirlwind tour of Europe the X-men team went to Barcelona to the Saló del Comic convention. Photos provided by Ferran Delgado!

Here's Chris looking dashing at sign-in.
And here's Chris signing.
I'm sure the team had some fun along with all of the hard work and it looks like a fantastic trip. Did I mention how jealous I was? lol.

But I did eventually get to go to Paris many years later thanks to the wonderful Dominique Boniface, Marvel's former international licensing guy who Jim mentioned yesterday. What a terrific guy! He got me a job designing a web site for a Paris shop and put me up for 10 days while I was working. It was truly a dream come true. I love Paris in the springtime! Now, if only someone has a job for me in Barcelona?

Some extras:

Here is an interesting article in French on The history of Lug 
An awkward Google translation of that article 

Here is an interview in French with Claude Vistel:
Google translation (such as it is)  

19 comments:

Emilio Torres Jr. said...

This is wonderful. Thanks JJ!!

bmcmolo said...

Thanks Stéphane and Ferran! (And JJ!)

Barcelona... ¡Visca Barça! ¡Visca Catalunya! :-)

Nicholas Yankovec said...

I must have been 14 at the time the x-team appeared in an interview on uk program TVAM with Anne Diamond, and JRjr did an amazing sketch of the presenters being lifted by Colossus. 14 year old me was so excited seeing the creators of my gave comic on tv, so thank you Jim for helping them out on their tour!

If anyone knows of a link to an image of that JRjr sketch, let me know!

I seem to recall the X-team did a signing at Forbidden Planet when it was still in Denmark street, London, which I really wanted to go to, but it was during school time, so couldn't go.

Jim, if you read this, I'd love to hear of any thoughts or memories you have on the Moore/Davis UK Captain Britain run, and how it was brought to US Marvel's attention. I've always believed it had something to do with Paul Neary when he moved over there, but have heard Claremont fell in love with the series. Any thoughts on one of the greatest comic stories of all time? In my humble opinion of course!

Marc Miyake said...

Dear JayJay,

Great job putting together this post from reader contributions and adding your own touches!

I've heard of people building websites for distant companies, but I've never heard of people building websites on site! Glad to hear you're one of a lucky few. Did you need to be in the Paris shop to take photos, get references, etc. so the website would reflect the physical location of the store?

Dear Stéphane, Xavier, Ferran, and all the other European commenters,

Thank you for sharing your knowledge and views from the other side of the Atlantic on a regular basis here. Jim's name has spread far and wide.

Stéphane and Xavier, I appreciate your notes about the etymology of Lyon. It's a reminder of the multilayered history of Europe. It makes me think of how the name London predates the coming of the Romans (and, needless to say, the Germanic peoples) to Britain. And how the Celtic languages of pre-Roman Gaul and Britain displaced even earlier, unknown languages. This story of language spread and replacement repeats itself around the globe. Names are often all that is left of an extinct language, and some languages don't even leave that much -- they vanish without a trace. I think about that constantly as a historical linguist; it's my mission to recover whatever I can from what little remains.

Anonymous said...

Even if it's a joke that picture of CC is embarrassing.
If it isn't a put on...well, no comment.

Marc Miyake said...

Dear Jim,

Did Marvel UK's editors-in-chief report to you, have total autonomy, or something in between?

How much did you look at UK-only stories as part of your job as editor-in-chief? If a feature was being produced on both sides of the Atlantic, how well integrated was its UK creative team with their US counterpart? For example, would UK creators for The Transformers have to coordinate things with Bob Budiansky in the US, or were they given carte blanche to create UK-only TF material as long as it didn't contradict anything that had been previously published? Conversely, would Bob have had the freedom to plan ahead as he wished with his editor's approval without checking with anyone in the UK?

According to Wikipedia, there was some degree of integration between the UK and US creators in the early 90s:

Where US Marvel characters were featured, all the storylines were approved by the American editor in charge of that book.

As for UK-only series like Night Raven, was there any need for you to verify that they were appropriate for the Marvel Universe, or Marvel's publishing line in general if they weren't set in the MU?

Dear Nicholas,

"but it was during school time, so couldn't go."

I presume it was also during most adults' working hours. I wonder how many people took a day off from work to see the X-creators in person.

I'd like to read the Moore/Davis Captain Britain run someday. What I read about it in Amazing Heroes #52 was interesting. (That issue also covered the career of Judge Dredd. Non-Marvel, non-Jim, and OT, I know ...)

I miss AH's "Hero History" articles. They were the primary reason I bought the magazine, and maybe it's not a coincidence that it folded shortly before I stopped buying comics regularly. Yes, the information in such articles is all on the Web these days, but it's hard to curl up with a laptop, much less a desktop, and although I read a lot on my phone, I still prefer paper. No waiting to boot up, no waiting for pages to load ...

JayJayJackson said...

Hi Marc,

I've done web sites for distant companies and people, too, but that's why Dominique was so terrific! I paid for my airfare, but he got me the job, put me up at his place and at his girl friend's place and I made money working on the site, so the trip was affordable. And it was one of the best times I've ever had. I met so many charming, interesting people just completely at random walking around Paris. It's such a friendly city! I even met a fellow Star Wars fan who called all over Paris to find a theater that was showing the brand new Star Wars L'Attaque des Clones in English with French subtitles and we went together on opening night. Who does that for a complete stranger? So cool. My friends back in NYC were so surprised that I saw it the same night they did. Later I found out what the aliens had been saying, too. lol!

jimshooter said...

Dear Marc,

Marvel UK staff did not report to me, however, on occasions when I was asked to work with or coach the UK editorial people, it was at the behest of President Jim Galton and/or Marvel UK Managing Director Robert Sutherland, so I was invested with their authority. Everyone pretty much regarded me as head of creative for Marvel anyway. The people there couldn't have been nicer or more cooperative.

Other than my visits, there wasn't much coordination between Marvel UK and our side of the pond. Not much checking things with us, as I recall. The UK people did pretty well on their own. And, I don't think while I was EIC much new work was done there that could have generated conflicts anyway. I left in 1987. I don't remember Night Raven.

Iplayer favourites said...

I went to the Denmark St. signing - one of my favourite comics memories. Advantage of being a university student, but there were long lines for the signing. Got Iron Man 116 signed by JRjr and I forget what by CC. I till remember the excitement of seeing what was to come in the X-men.

DJ said...

Jim (or Jay Jay),

Whatever happened to Ann Nocenti?
I loved her unique, and unorthodox, way of scripting. Her run on Daredevil is a personal favourite of mine, far superior to anything Frank Miller, or anyone else, did with the character. She just seemed to disappear from the scene, around about the time you left Marvel. Coincidence?
Cheers.
David J.

DJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DJ said...

Oops. Sorry about that guys. Don't know why that was posted three times. Technology, eh? DJ.

Hunter said...

For those wondering, former Lug artists Tota and Mitton are still in activity in France.

Tota does the Soleil series Les Conquerants de Troy (which for some reason, like all Troy series, Marvel chose not to translate during its Soleil deal):
http://www.askell.com/Troy/Conquerants/Conquerants.php

Jean-Yves Mitton, now a french comics legend, is still in activity on a variety of works (mostly historical series). Here is a recent Ben Hur adaptation he did:
http://www.editions-delcourt.fr/catalogue/bd/ben_hur_livre_1er_messala

Harry said...

Hi Jim,
Saw this and thought it worth posting here:
http://marvel1980s.blogspot.com/2011/09/1983-jim-shooters-entry-in-official.html#comments

Suzanne de Nimes (suedenim) said...

Lug really did have some amazing covers. I just spent some time on comics.org checking them out.

jimshooter said...

Dear Nicholas,

I never read the Moore/Davis Captain Britain run, sorry. Marvel U.S. had a "British Department" when I started there. They produced, sorry, BD guys, second-rate stuff to be published in weeklies in the U.K. Chris has British roots, so he was keenly aware of what was happening at Marvel regarding the U.K. Neary came much later.

Xavier Lancel (SCARCE) said...

Suzanne: try this link:
http://www.comicsvf.com/fe/77.php

Celacanto said...

Great post. I remember as a child seeing photos of Claremont in Barcelona in the Spanish marvel editions.