29 November 2006

X-Men's Dave Cockrum Dies at 63

This caught my eye because MSN went for the "let's make this sound dumber than it is" link title, "'X-Men' artist dies in Superman pajamas," which sounds as though the sub-title was going to be "lived in parents' basement."

Instead, it's a very nice short piece about a man who got to earn his living working on what he loved. We should all be so lucky.

I started reading X-Men in the 80s. Kevin had lent North two or three dozen of them and North asked me to return them for him, which I did, but not before I read them. I came in at a good time, too, because the narrative was focusing on the (not necessarily sexual) relationships between Kitty & Piotr, Nightcrawler & Wolverine, and the "grown ups," Storm (pre-punk) & Cyclops. Jean Grey had died and resurrected a time or two already and would continue to do so, so I slogged throught the Phoenix and Dark Phoenix issues. The Brood series and the Sentinel were from that era as well.

I don't know why I drifted away from reading X-Men, but if I had to answer that, I'd say the eventual fracturing of the narrative, the overloading of the "cast," and the near constant re-appearances of Jean Grey. The telling and retelling of her story was as inevitable as weddings and babies during TV sweeps. Jean Grey was the Luke & Laura of X-Men and I grew to really dislike her because of it. Oh, yeah, and spin-offs like Alpha Flight didn't help either. Awful Flight.
I saw the first movie, which I, personally, found disappointing. They were trying to fit 8 pounds of story into a 5-pound sack, so everything got short shrift, except for maybe views of Rebecca Romijn in her Pictish costume? make-up?

I grew up on Wonder Woman and the Justice League, but in the 80s X-Men was a much richer story. I don't think it would ever occur to WW to wonder where her assumed identity of "Diana Prince" left off and where "Wonder Woman" began, but identity and alienation were central to the X-Men - "sworn to protect a world that fears and rejects them..."

For someone who lived on the edge of a lot of groups, but was never really a part of any of them, that really resonated.

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