Everything I Ever Needed To Know as a Writer, I Learned From the X-Men

It’s July 3rd and I am still embroiled in writing, so here’s a quick post for the next week. When I was 11, my good friend Rosemary O’Malley introduced me to the Uncanny X-Men. Here’s just a smattering of the lessons I learned.

Sometimes heroes and villains just have to take off their masks and have a rational (if contentious) discussion. The villain might even be genuinely horrified to hear that one of his adversaries is dead.


First issue I ever bought, Uncanny X-Men #150 (Claremont/Cockrum/Marvel).

The best villains are capable of human emotion, including remorse.


Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Cockrum/Marvel)

There are times when a tricky scene is best viewed through the eyes of a character who stands apart.


Uncanny X-men (Claremont/Byrne/Marvel)

Even the closest relationships have their angry moments, especially if the dynamic is mentor/mentee or parent/child.


Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Cockrum/Marvel)

When good people do terrible things, the root cause is always the same.


Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Byrne/Marvel)

Different leadership styles may be called for, and surprising results may occur.


Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Byrne/Marvel)

Change is never easy.


Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Romita, Jr./Marvel)

Even tough guys can be paralyzed by fear.


Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Byrne/Marvel)

The most interesting hero/villain dynamics are based on similarities as well as differences.


Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Cockrum/Marvel)

Your most impulsive character may literally throw himself off a cliff rather than quit while ahead. Also: it’s glorious to see a hero do something stupid when that stupid action entirely in keeping with their characterization.


Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Romita, Jr./Marvel)

There is such a thing as a genuine change of heart. But amends and trust-building won’t come easy.


Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Marvel)

There’s all kinds of toughness (emotional, intellectual, physical) and all kinds of heroic people, from pretty ladies to growling savages.


Uncanny X-Men (Claremont/Smith/Marvel)

It’s natural to look back on your old writing and want to cringe, laugh, or kill it with fire.


Uncanny X-Men (Lee/Adams/Marvel)

Note: it’s difficult to credit anything as collaborative as comics properly, but let me give a shout out to Glynis Oliver and Tom Orzechowski, who hand-colored and hand-lettered most of the panels I included, back in the day.

The complete stories these panels were pulled from can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and other retailers.

One thought on “Everything I Ever Needed To Know as a Writer, I Learned From the X-Men

  1. Ah, this brings back memories. So much lunch money spent on comics instead of food! And I feel the say way, that I learned everything I ever needed to know, from Star Trek!

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