The terrific thing about Marvel Comics' various X-Men titles is that each book has its own unique "flavor." If I had to put a name to these tastes, I'd say "Uncanny X-Men" is an epic chocolate swirl, "X-Men: Legacy" is an intimate rum raisin and Victor Gischler's "X-Men" is an exotic mix of blood, sweat and strawberries.
Okay, that last title may not sound like something that you'd want to mix up in a bowl, but this confectionary delight consisting of mutants and vampires has been leaving X-Men fans with happy feelings in their bellies. In the half dozen issues Gischler has written, the scribe has turned the X-Men's world upside-down with some huge threats that have had devastating results.
In this week's X-POSITION, the novelist/comic book scribe joins us to answer all the questions you've sent my way over the past seven days. Gischler is up to the challenge too, and is ready to take a Dracula-style bite out of anything you've got to offer. Let's roll up our sleeves, cover our necks and jump right in!
Aspbros kicks things off with a few inquiries about Marvel's merry mutants and the year ahead:
1) What can you tell us about "Year of the X-Men?"
The X-Men continue their NYC adventure with Spider-Man in "X-Men" #9
Basically, what you've probably already guessed, Aspbros -- some great new X-Men stories launching in a number of titles. I think it's a really great time to be an X-reader right now.
2) I'm really enjoying your writing on the "X-Men" title. How much longer can we expect to have you on X-Men and how far out have you planned your stories?
Thanks! I've looked ahead a couple of arcs and we're cooking up some good stuff for you guys. The incredible Mr. Yost is coming in to write a guest arc and I'm back after that -- for how long is hard to say.
I'm keen to do it as long as the X-editors back at the home office are happy. Things tend shift around here in funny-book land. Sometimes a writer bounces around. Other times a writer can hunker down for a good long run on a book. I'll keep doing my best, and we'll see what happens.
3) What do you feel is the most difficult part about writing the X-Men that you didn't anticipate?
Well, it's a team book, so it can be difficult sometimes making sure all these great characters get enough face time. I've come to accept that not all of my favorite characters can always be the star every issue. The star one issue might find himself/herself in a supporting role next time.
4) What are some of your favorite X-Men stories?
The X-Men fighting the Brood during the Claremont run. Also, Jean Grey going all Dark Phoenix. Classic stuff.
While the "classic stuff" never goes out of style, Marina appears to be much more curious about the present state of things. What can you tell her about "fangy folks" -- both in and out of the comic book world?
1) Can you give us any idea what "Throne of Blood: Birth of a Vampire" is about? And how does it tie into "Fear Itself?"
Marina, this is where I duck and dodge a bit. Sorry to be vague. But I will say we're introducing a character who will be a significant player in "Fear Itself" and hopefully stick around to provide more awesome entertainment beyond that.
2) Can we expect the X-Men to have more involvement with vampires for the foreseeable future? Or, between your novels and comics, are you feeling "vamped out?"
Well, not soon. But I can see these folks definitely crossing paths again sooner or later.
3) Do you have any interesting/crazy/strange vampire fans? And do you have any stories to share?
It would sure come in handy right now if I did, but, alas, no. The folks I've met at cons recently have been very cool and friendly and downright normal.
I'm happy to hear your convention experiences have been so sane, although I suppose it depends on your definition of "normal."
Captain Cavalier is up next, and he's been bitten by the writing bug. Can you help him out with this infection?
1) I love your novels even more than I enjoy your work on the X-Men! I'm a struggling novelist myself and was hoping for a little insight. How far do you breakdown the story of a novel before you begin writing?
I appreciate that, Captain. It's a strong hope of mine that the comic book readers might try some of my novels and vice-versa. I like to keep things spontaneous with the novels, not over-outline them.
For novels, a too-detailed outline is a real creativity buzz kill for me. Instead, I keep in mind four to five key scenes that are turning points (or important for whatever reason) and then write by the seat of my pants between these scenes. For others, a detailed outline is more essential.
2) Do you typically have any idea how long a novel is going to be before you get started?
Nope. Obviously, if it's too short it won't be marketable, but I try to let the natural flow of the story dictate how long it needs to be. The action of my most recent novel -- "The Deputy" -- all takes place in a single night. As a result, that novel needed to be a bit shorter.
3) What are some signs for you that the story in your novel is headed "off course" while you're writing?
If I start to bore myself, then I know. If my wife is offended, then I know I'm on the right track.
4) On your blog, you mentioned that the detective novella you wrote with Anthony Neil Smith ("To the Devil, My Regards") is available on the Kindle for 99 cents. I think that's awesome! Overall, what's been your take on digital publishing and have you been pleased with it?
I don't really know that much about it, but it seems more and more authors are having success skipping publishers and putting books on Kindle and Nook themselves. It's a situation I plan to watch closely. But there are some real bargains out there.
5) I always like recommendations for comics and novels from authors I like to read. Are there any titles out there that you can suggest at the moment?
Well, you already know I'm pals with Anthony Neil Smith if you've read my blog. But check out his novel "Yellow Medicine." Good stuff.
There you go, readers -- X-POSITION helps you to expand your literary horizons. TAG has the final two queries of the day, and he wants to know about the voices in your head…and in your pen!
1) When writing, which of the X-Men do you find speaks most closely to your voice? In other words, which character do you relate to most?
TAG, I don't really know. The more I write them, the more they're like real people and so I don't compare them to myself. I'm tempted to say Wolverine simply because I wish I could be that tough sometimes.
2) Are you going to bring any other mutants onto the core team soon? I know you get requests like these all the time, but there are a few lesser utilized muties out there that I'd love to see on the team! Can we expect a shift in the line-up?
I devote a hell of a lot of time thinking about this. It does sometimes seem like there is a lot of talent out there not being tapped. Partly, the story is going to determine the team. If we come up with a story and elements in the story demand we use Iceman or Colossus, then that might determine -- partly -- who shows up. On the other hand, I do want to get comfortable with a core which we can count on seeing most of the time even if we supplement with some other faces now and then.
Victor, now it's time for you and I to play a little Spanish Inquisition with the "Behind the X" question of the day! You've done a lot of talking about writing throughout today's column, so if you wouldn't mind, please tell us -- what hobbies occupy your time when you're not working on your latest masterpiece?
Twitter followers know that I often tweet from grill-side. I love, love, love to cook out. And I love the smell of charcoal. Reminds me of camping with my dad when I was a kid.