Chris Claremont for breakfast

I will always be amazed by the incredible personalities that come across my way at MIT. This morning I attended a Master Class by Chris Claremont of X-Men fame organized by CMS.

The following lines are directly quoted from the “about” section in Claremont’s own website. I think they say a lot about his contribution to the superhero genre, and the reasons why he was able to give life to some of the most memorable female characters in superhero history.

The central theme of Chris’s X-Men stories is prejudice. The X-Men are both blessed and cursed with genetic mutations that set them apart from the rest of humanity. Some of those mutations are very visible. Some can remain hidden. How each superhero responds to their physical self, and how humanity reacts in turn, is a purposeful stand-in for racial, religious and ethnic tensions in the real world. This core theme has been widely recognized as giving Chris’s X-Men lasting relevance to the larger social context.

Chris is well known for his progressive treatment of women in a genre that oftentimes relies on stereotype. Active, intelligent, courageous women characters such as Jean Grey, Kitty Pryde, and Storm have made Chris’s X-Men as popular with women readers as men.

The class was scheduled early [I should say early for me], and I woke up late, so I had to skip breakfast in order to get there in time. Surprisingly, only two MIT students showed up, leaving Claremont with a comfortable audience of three people to work with: me, a girl named Jennifer that can draw Manga like a pro, and another dude called Chris.

Claremont wasn’t planning to talk about his work or theorize about world building or visual storytelling. Instead, he wanted us to spend the following couple of hours with him and his partner Beth Fleisher brainstorming a superhero plot from scratch. We were lucky to have been such a small group. It made it very easy for us to interact and exchange impressions and ideas.

Beth played the roles of editor and moderator, filling the blackboards with notes from our discussion that eventually became an outline for a 5 issue miniseries.

Right before the end of the class, Beth wrote our names in the blackboard next to the title of the story, added a copyright sign, and took a picture of the whole thing. Over the course of the class, Claremont and Beth made a few interesting remarks about copyright and creator-owned work, and I remember having a really good question I wanted to ask him about all that, but I never found the right time to speak it out, and overtime it diluted in my head under a pile of considerations about super celebrities, indian deities, natural disasters and post apocalyptic global politics.

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