Who were the characters that most drew you to the X-Men?
The 1980s iteration of Storm will always be my favorite Marvel character. It might be a matter of timing, because I started reading the X-Men just as Storm was transitioning from Earth goddess to punk icon, but I can think of no other character that I was as emotionally invested in. When she lost her powers, I think I felt like I lost a bit of my soul. Her journey over those few years spoke to me more than almost [any other] Super Hero character—and no one mattered to me more than she did.
But there were others from the X-Men universe I was obsessed with, too—Magik, Magma, Mirage, Aurora, Snowbird, Mystique, Emma Frost, Selene, and Rogue were my everything back in the day. From character design to story arcs for each to character temperament to timing in life, the X-Women of the '80s helped shape my perception of comics and my drive to work in comics for years to come.
Who are the creators you most closely associate with the X-Men?
There is no one I am more closely associated with the X-Men, let alone pop culture, [than writer] Chris Claremont. I truly believe his run, and his work with superstar artists John Byrne, Dave Cockrum, Paul Smith, John Romita Jr., Arthur Adams, Marc Silvestri, and of course Jim Lee, had both an actual and subliminal impact on creators across multiple genres and mediums that exists to this day.
Claremont’s focus, vision, scope of ideas, sexual sensitivity, mannered dialogue, and ability to adjust story and pace to the strengths of his artist is nearly unparalleled during this period of time, or perhaps any time that I can remember in comics. While some see his work as dated, I see its mannered approach and far reaching, hyper coordinated inner-series plotting as a vital, irreplaceable, and often under-considered cornerstone of the Marvel Universe we know today.
I would also like to call out inker Dan Green here. I absolutely love his ink work from this time period, particularly over Romita Jr. That storytelling is among my favorites in comics, and its strengths particularly shine in those black and white ESSENTIAL reprints, which I peruse endlessly for inspiration.