BAM! POW! ZONK! it’s not. When Chris Claremont started writing the storylines for Marvel Comics’ Uncanny X-Men in 1975, he introduced sophisticated plots and characters in a medium that had known little of the sort. In doing so, he turned an obscure comic book about mutant superheroes into a hit and helped create an audience for today’s graphic novels.
Columbia’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library recently acquired Claremont’s archives, which include intricate charts mapping the relationships between his X-Men characters, the spiral notebooks in which he jotted down his ideas, and drafts of his science-fiction and fantasy novels, plays, and short stories.
Claremont, who collaborated with numerous graphic artists during his seventeen-year career writing for the X-Men series, is also credited with creating some of the first strong female characters in any comic book.
“For a long time, female characters in comics were either sidekicks or sex kittens,” says Carrie Hintz, a Columbia archivist who is organizing Claremont’s papers. “Chris’s women have depth and strength, they are intelligent, and they can go head-to-head with any male characters in a fight.”