Something that becomes obvious when looking around any comic book convention, including Flame Con, is that people love the X-Men. It’s easy to understand why: the characters are all engaging, the adventures exciting, and their powers and costumes all visually arresting, even when compared to other comic book characters. There is, however, another important layer to the X-Men: their significance to the outsider. As the tagline says, the X-Men defend and protect a world that fears them. Rather than use their powers to lash out, they use them to help those who would rather see them dead. This martyrdom has provided inspiration for generations of comics fans, and they have become symbols for victims of bigotry. Their multinational status gives everyone someone to relate to in the X-Men, and much of this diversity is thanks to one man: Chris Claremont.
What is there to be said about Chris Claremont that hasn’t been said already? The legendary X-Men writer wrote the adventures of the merry mutants for an unprecedented 17 years. You would think that Claremont would see himself as an authority on the X-Men, but the writer is hesitant to make claims about why the mutants appeal to specific groups. However, he will be the first to tell you that the most important thing about Marvel’s mutants is that, first and foremost, they represent the outcasts, the misfits, and the ostracized.
Hearing Claremont discuss his work on the X-Men reminds us of the importance of the comic book medium. In an age where millions of dollars are spent in bringing these characters to life, the insights of their earliest writers, like Claremont, remind us of the powerful ideas behind the characters.
In our discussion, Claremont discussed his understanding of the X-Men allegory, his entrance into the world of comics, fan reaction, expectations for the characters, and if Professor X and Magneto should be seen as analogous to MLK and Malcolm X.