When Jonathan Hickman Wrote Everything That Was Wrong With X-Men

Jonathan Hickman was talking to the Xplain The X-Men podcast on the occasional of their 150th podcast, and the publication of his final X-Men comic book with Inferno #4. And he had lots to say – including where his Krakoan run on the X-Men titles that started three years ago, all came from…

When Jonathan Hickman Wrote Everything That Was Wrong With The X-Men
When Jonathan Hickman Wrote Everything That Was Wrong With The X-Men

House Of X and Powers Of X –  most of that came from me writing a document about what was wrong with the X-men books and what we needed to do to fix them. And very subtly asking for the job every year until I left, when I did Secret Wars. And I never thought I would get to do it because I did not believe that I was coming back to Marvel. I wasn't going to go to DC because I had a bunch of screenwriting gigs and a bunch of television stuff I was doing, and I had a bunch of independent books that I wanted to do, but it just so happened that I had an itch that needed scratching, and it all fell together.

I was at the company, I had agreed to a new contract and I was going to be there for a little while, the Fox deal had been done right, so we could do X-stuff. But I absolutely had to go in and pitch everybody and all the editors, and before it even got to the other creators. I had to sell the entire company on doing it, and it went well. Most everybody in the room got it. The people that didn't get it had a couple notes. We integrated those into it, they weren't bad notes. And then my favorite thing is going into the room and when you get to get together with all the other writers and you get to pitch all of them the book, because obviously their take is incredibly different than what the editorial or the executive take is going to be. And it's so much fun when you get to pitch a book that everybody has a bunch of questions about what about this, what about that, andI love doing that because you find out if you're full of sh-t or no. You find out if your ideas can withstand a bunch of professionals asking you very hard questions.

When I pitched my first Fantastic Four, everybody thought I was insane because I was pitching what was going to happen for years. I didn't know that was arrogant, I thought I was just being enthusiastic. The same thing for when I pitched Avengers and then when I had to go in and sell everyone on Secret Wars, and you know how big the plans were. I love those retreats because you find out whether you've got it or not, especially on the bigger stuff, because you're pitching it more than once. You pitch, it everybody asks questions, they go home, six months later they've been angry at you for six months, they're prepared this time, you get the real cross-examination. I love knowing whether or not you have it you have, it's a good feeling.

What changed for Jonathan Hickman for the X-Men books between pitch and publication?

From what I pitched, to what happened in House Of X and Powers Of X, very minuscule stuff. People had a couple of notes about the tone, how dark or how positive it should be, and whether or not we should use some of the characters that we were using. Little things that were not a problem. Once we got into the writer's room and it became this giant thing, even bigger than what we thought it was going to be, because House Of X and Powers Of X were such a success sales, all of those books launched with incredible velocity and then the line continued to grow and then the world changed in the middle of it. It just became a completely different thing than what I originally planned, but I think the soul of what the experiment was which was, can we do an integrated line of comics, I feel like that was a success.

And now Krakoa continues without Jonathan Hickman… what will he do next? And will it involve Chris Bachalo? And what were those changed plans? More to come…

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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