X-Authors #3: a chat with Steven T. Seagle

Steven_T._Seagle Steven T. Seagle is an american  writer of comic books, TV, movies, video games and animated series. Long-author of the DC Vertigo series such as Sandman Mystery Theatre and House of Secrets, for a year and a half was the creator of the stories of  UncannyX-Men.
Steve joined the Man of Action Studios, along with Joe Kelly, Duncan Rouleau and Joe Casey, and is also one of the creators of the animated series Ben 10 and many other hit show  of the channel Cartoon Network.

Hello Steve and thank you for accepting the invitation of LoSpazioBianco.
On the occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of their birth we are dedicating a special to the X-Men. We would like to ask you some questions on your period at the helm of Uncanny X-Men: Ready? It starts …

 You and Joe Kelly are friends and co-workers at Man Of Action Studios, I don’t think it was coincidence that you two were working simultaneously on X-Men and Uncanny X-Men. As it is no coincidence that you left the two titles at the same time. Do you want to tell us how this decision came and whether it was painful or not?
 I actually met Joe Kelly when I came onto the X-books. I had worked for many years in comics and felt I had put in enough years to “earn” the top job in the industry. Then I found out that Joe Kelly – a new college graduate with something like a single year in comics – had also gotten the top job! I couldn’t believe it! How could someone so new do what it had taken me decades to do?!  I hated him immediately.
Then I spoke with on the phone and found him extremely likable  Then I met him in person and found him to be like a brother I’d had but never met. Then I worked with him and found him to be extremely smart, funny and talented. No wonder I hated him! He was perfect! So Joe became a very fast and life-long friend. I still love him like a brother and meeting him was a highlight of my career.
It is no coincidence that we left the X-Books at the same time. In fact, we made a pact very early on that if one of us felt compelled to quit, the other would quit in solidarity. I was very nervous to call Joe and tell him that I had reached my breaking point with the constant editorial flip-flopping on Uncanny X-Men and wanted to leave the book. Then I got a phone call from Joe the same day saying he felt the same way about X-Men. We laughed that we both wanted to quit on the same day. Then we stopped laughing and actually quit. Then we hopped on a plane and went to Australia/New Zealand for two really fun conventions. Black Water Rafting and Bondi Beach are really great ways to get over having to leave books you really cared about.

X-MEN353_01Before starting to work on the X-Men you had worked (and have continued to do so) with characters of a different kind: I refer to your long run on Sandman Mystery Theatre and House of Secrets DC’s Vertigo. Can you describe the difference, if it was different, you had on writing characters and themes as diverse as those of Marvel’s mutants titles compared to Vertigo?
 I was actually asked to bring my darker, “Vertigo” sensibility over to Uncanny. That’s one of the main reasons I was offered the job. And I feel like two issues – 353 and 356 – let some of what I wanted to do in that vein come through. But as it turns out, my point of view wasn’t what they wanted. What they wanted was to make the creative decisions themselves and just have me execute their vision. Same with Joe. Once that became clear, I decided it was not a good use of me and I resigned.
That said, I remained at Vertigo during and for quite some time after. If they were able to craft a deal that balanced the concerns of creators with the concerns of the company, I’d probably still be there now straight from the source.

Can you tell us what you had in mind at the level of development of the plot when you left the Uncanny X-Men?
Joe and I had structured a pretty compelling year’s worth of stories – none of which we were able to fully execute due to editorial changes – sometimes after stories had already been started in the books. Some of our coolest ideas were: 1) The X-Men wake up in a modern day mutant concentration camp run by Magneto and their darkest of sides are illuminated, forever changing their relationships; 2) The Original X-Men reunite and try to redefine Xavier’s dream for a new era, but the wounds of the past live on in the present; 3) The real Jean becomes Phoenix and we see if the force would have corrupted the actual person in the way it did her clone; 4) Rogue “cures” her mutant “affliction” and brings to light some nasty “if you could choose to not be a certain way (genetically) would you make that choice?” issues between herself and her team; 5) Xavier shows back up and brings an all-new all-different X-Men with him, as well as a really screwed up new world view; 6) Magneto finally lines everything up and actually does something major – he knocks the earth off its axis to catastrophic global results.
Oh well…

X-MEN356_01Which was among the cast of characters, actors and villains of the X-Men the character you’d liked most to writing and which was the most difficult to handle?
I really liked writing Jean & Scott as a couple. I really liked the conflicts inherent in Nightcrawler. I was constantly having to do stuff with Gambit who I did not like at all because I’m from the south and nothing about him ever struck me as being southern even though he’s supposed to be from Louisiana.

Do you think that the basic concept of X-Men (inequality, fear of mutants, etc) was a good one and/or a good excuse to talk about these issues in a comic book?
X-Men  is one of the best metaphor comics ever. And it continues to be relevant when in the hands of people who are allowed to run with it’s strengths.

Thank you very much, Steve!
To you!

Interview conducted by email and ended on 2013/03/29

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