|X-Treme X-Men #19|
"It's a celebration of one of the most enduring writers in comics history," explains Lis. "Chris Claremont is still known by many fans as the premier X-Men writer, thanks to his several decades run on X-Men titles, and this is our way of celebrating. We're putting out a self-contained story in 'X-Treme X-Men #19,' as well as launching Chris's pet character: Kitty Pryde, in her own limited series. This is in addition to some snazzy reprints the same month."
The creative genesis behind this celebration of writer Chris Claremont is quite simple, according to Lis- it's about damn time. "We just looked at his output, what we had lined up, and decided, 'this is something we should do for Chris. He's here every month, and he deserves the extra push.' 'XXM #19' is self-contained, and it guests the 'New X-Men' characters. There should be something for every X-fan in that issue. Chris has such a fan following because he gives the audience exactly what they want: hard-hitting sci-fi epics. He's consistent, he's an idea machine, he's giving the fans something they demand, and he's been doing this for a long, long time."
"The plans are to just continue making the best X-Men comic we can. Chris has written, and loves, all of the major characters. With the core cast we have on 'XXM,' we can't help but have some overlap. For example, we did a story with Chris where Jean came to visit Storm. A big reason: they're long-standing best friends. There's no way they can just co-exist and not speak. So, from time-to-time, you'll see some overlap. Our plans for the immediate future include shorter arcs -- limiting the stories to a few issues to make for easier jumping-on points, and to switch things up a bit with the cast. We've got some a new guy coming in, but he's an existing character. That's all I can say now, again, because I don't want to step on Chris's stories."
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Unlike so many of Marvel's other mutant characters who have appeared in decades past, Kitty Pryde has been a consistently popular character and Lis attributes that to the symbolism inherent in the character. "For me, though, the heart of the character is wish-fulfillment and optimism. Even her power -- when things get bad, she can just phase away - reflects this. It's wish-fulfillment on a basic level. However, she's brave enough to play against this urge to get away and she does what we all try to do: the best we can. If you look back, almost everything she does is about finding the positive in negative situations, and living a dream."
The artists on "MekaniX" are Juan Bobillo and Marcelo Sosa, whose distinct art style has been shining through in the preview pages made available thus far and whom Lis believes will draw in a lot of readers. "Their work is fantastic! These guys are a joy to work with, have a great feel for modern life, including current fashion, and are approaching this entire project with optimism and enthusiasm. They're going to be very good for us, I think, as they force the entire team to approach this with a fresh face and the same excitement."
One rumor that has been circulating is that is if sales on "MekaniX" are high enough, the mini-series may become an ongoing, but Lis isn't about to confirm that. "Just look for that 'Origin' ongoing series next year. OK, that's a bad example of a strong-selling LS becoming a monthly title. As long as sales warrant, and we have a great story, we'd love to do more 'MekaniX.' Let's get the first one out, first, though, or Chris won't finish up #5 and #6 and will just write the sequel!"
Though Claremont is hard at work on "X-Treme X-Men," "MekaniX" and "Gen13" for rival DC Comics, he does convey a message for his fans through Lis. "I know Chris loves the fans. He visibly lights up around his audience. He's like a kid at Christmas! So buy 'MekaniX' and 'X-Treme X-Men' or you'll all get coal!"