|Born||Christopher S. Claremont|
November 25, 1950
London, England, UK
|Nationality||United States of America|
|Awards||Comics Buyer's Guide Fan Award: 1983, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1990|
Eagle Award: 1979 and 1980
Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame (2015)
|Spouse(s)||Bonnie Wilford (?–?)|
Beth Fleisher (current)
Christopher S. Claremont (//; born November 25, 1950) is a British-born American comic book writer and novelist, known for his 17-year stint on Uncanny X-Men from 1975 to 1991, far longer than that of any other writer, during which he is credited with developing strong female characters as well as introducing complex literary themes into superhero narratives, turning the once underachieving comic into one of Marvel's most popular series.
During his tenure at Marvel, Claremont co-created numerous X-Men characters, such as Rogue, Psylocke (Betsy Braddock), Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat, Phoenix, The Brood, Lockheed, Shi'ar, Shi'ar Imperial Guard, Mystique, Destiny, Selene, Reverend William Stryker, Lady Mastermind, Emma Frost, Tessa, Siryn, Jubilee, Rachel Summers, Madelyne Pryor, Moira MacTaggert, Lilandra, Shadow King, Cannonball, Warpath, Mirage, Wolfsbane, Karma, Cypher, Sabretooth, Empath, Sebastian Shaw, Donald Pierce, Avalanche, Pyro, Legion, Nimrod, Gateway, Strong Guy, Proteus, Mister Sinister, Marauders, Purifiers, Captain Britain, Sunspot, Forge and Gambit. Claremont scripted many classic stories, including "The Dark Phoenix Saga" and "Days of Future Past", on which he collaborated with John Byrne. He developed the character of Wolverine into a fan favorite. X-Men #1, the 1991 spinoff series premiere that Claremont co-wrote with Jim Lee, remains the best-selling comic book of all time, according to Guinness World Records. In 2015, Claremont and his X-Men collaborator John Byrne were entered into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame.
Claremont was born in London, England. His father was an internist and his mother was a pilot and caterer. Claremont is Jewish on his mother's side, and lived in a kibbutz in Israel during his youth. His family moved to the United States when he was three, and he was raised primarily on Long Island. Alienated by the sports-oriented suburbs, his grandmother purchased for him a subscription to Eagle when he was a child, and he grew up reading Dan Dare, finding them more exciting than the Batman and Superman comics of the 1950s and early 1960s. He read works by science fiction writers such as Robert Heinlein, as well as writers of other genres such as Rudyard Kipling and C. S. Forester.
Claremont initially did not view the comic book industry as the place where he would make his career, as he believed the dwindling readership to be a sign that the industry was dying, and found the material being published to be uninteresting. Instead, when he began at Bard College, he did so as a political theorist, studying acting and political theory, and writing novels with the hope of becoming a director. His first professional sale was a prose story. He graduated in 1972.
Claremont's career began in 1969, as a college undergraduate, when he was hired as a gofer/editorial assistant at Marvel Comics. His first professional scripting assignment was Daredevil #102 (Aug. 1973). As an entry into regular comics writing, Claremont was given the fledgling feature "Iron Fist" in Marvel Premiere as of issue #23 (Aug. 1975). He was joined two issues later by artist John Byrne. The Claremont/Byrne team continued to work together when the character received its own self-titled series in November 1975 which lasted 15 issues.
Though his acting career did not yield great success, he functioned well at Marvel, where he obtained a full-time position. One of the first new characters created by Claremont was Madrox the Multiple Man in Giant-Size Fantastic Four #4 (Feb. 1975). Marvel's editor-in-chief at the time, Len Wein, who recognized Claremont's enthusiasm for the new X-Men that Wein and Dave Cockrum had created in 1975, hired Claremont, a relatively young writer, to take over the series as of issue #94 (May 1975), reasoning that doing so would not draw opposition from other writers, given the book's poor standing. Claremont approached the job as a method actor, developing the characters by examining their motives, desires and individual personalities. This approach drew immediate positive reaction. According to former Marvel editor-in-chief Bob Harras, "He lived it and breathed it. He would write whole paragraphs about what people were wearing. He really got into these people's thoughts, hopes, dreams." Claremont's take on the series has been likened to writing "the Great American Novel about complex characters who just happened to fly", incorporating surprise character developments and emotional nuances amid the operatic battles that otherwise typified American superhero comics. By his own admission, Claremont acquired a reputation for taking a long time to resolve plot threads, and longtime X-Men editor Louise Simonson recounted that whenever she was at a loss for story ideas, "All I'd have to do was go through all of the plot threads that he had left for the last year or two."
Claremont introduced new supporting characters to the X-Men series including Moira MacTaggert in issue #96 and Lilandra Neramani in #97. Jean Grey a.k.a. Marvel Girl, one of Marvel's first female heroes, underwent a dramatic transformation into the omnipotent Phoenix in issue #101. Issue #107 (Oct. 1977) saw the introduction of the Starjammers as well as the departure of artist Dave Cockrum. Claremont began his collaboration with artist John Byrne in the following issue.
During his 17 years as X-Men writer, Claremont wrote or co-wrote many classic X-Men stories, such as "The Dark Phoenix Saga" and "Days of Future Past". Comics writers and historians Roy Thomas and Peter Sanderson observed that "'The Dark Phoenix Saga' is to Claremont and Byrne what the 'Galactus Trilogy' is to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. It is a landmark in Marvel history, showcasing its creators' work at the height of their abilities." Comics historian Les Daniels noted that "The controversial story created a sensation and The X-Men became the comic book to watch." In 2010, Comics Bulletin ranked Claremont and Byrne's run on The X-Men second on its list of the "Top 10 1970s Marvels". Claremont and artist Frank Miller crafted a Wolverine limited series in 1982. With artist Walt Simonson, Claremont produced The Uncanny X-Men and The New Teen Titans in 1982, an intercompany crossover between the top-selling Marvel and DC titles. The New Mutants were introduced by Claremont and Bob McLeod in Marvel Graphic Novel #4 (Dec. 1982) and received their own ongoing series soon after. The second X-Men film was loosely based on his X-Men graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills.
Besides his work on X-Men and its spinoffs, Claremont wrote Marvel Team-Up, Spider-Woman and Ms. Marvel during this time. He and artist John Bolton created the Marada the She-Wolf character in 1981. Claremont's stories for Marvel Team-Up included the cast of NBC's Saturday Night Live appearing in issue #74 (Oct. 1978) and the introduction of Karma, a character that later joined the New Mutants, in #100 (Dec. 1980). Claremont helped launch the Marvel Fanfare title in March 1982.
Claremont co-created numerous other important female X-Men characters, including Rogue, Betsy Braddock, Mariko Yashida, Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat, Phoenix, Mystique, Lady Mastermind, Emma Frost, Siryn, Rachel Summers, Madelyne Pryor,: 211 and Jubilee.: 241 He co-created such notable male characters as Sabretooth, Pyro, Avalanche, Strong Guy, Captain Britain, Forge,: 218 Mister Sinister, and Gambit.
Claremont launched various X-Men spin-offs, beginning with The New Mutants in 1982. The spinoffs Excalibur and Wolverine,: 239 initially written by Claremont, followed in 1987 and 1988, respectively. X-Men crossover stories written by Claremont during the latter half of his tenure on the series include "Mutant Massacre",: 228 "Fall of the Mutants",: 236 and "X-Tinction Agenda". In 1991, Marvel launched a second X-Men title simply called X-Men with Claremont and penciler Jim Lee as co-writers. X-Men #1 is still the best-selling comic book of all-time, with sales of over 8.1 million copies (and nearly $7 million), according to Guinness World Records, which presented honors to Claremont at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con. The sales figures were generated in part by publishing the issue with four different variant covers which showed different characters from the book (and later a fifth gatefold cover that combined all four), large numbers of which were purchased by retailers, who anticipated fans and speculators who would buy multiple copies in order to acquire a complete collection of the covers. Claremont left the series after the first three-issue story arc, due to clashes with editor Bob Harras.
The 1990s saw Claremont diversify his comics work, as he wrote for other publishers, and wrote his own creator-owned properties. In December 1991, he sent artist Whilce Portacio a proposal to illustrate Claremont's project, The Huntsman, as a creator-owned project, and when the then-new comics publisher Image Comics was announced in 1992, Claremont was named as one of its founders. However, the project was cancelled when Portacio decided instead to do Wetworks. Claremont attempted to find other artist for the series, but all those in whom he was interested were either drawing X-Men or had their own projects with Image, and thus he did not become one of Image's founders. In 1992 he wrote the graphic novel Star Trek: Debt of Honor, which was illustrated by Adam Hughes.
In 1993, he began writing the 12-issue miniseries Aliens/Predator: Deadliest of the Species for Dark Horse Comics, which was completed in 1995. That year saw a decline in his comics output, however, as he turned his focus to writing novels, citing frustration with how the comics industry had become dominated by artists and editors. In 1994, he wrote issues #10–13 of Jim Lee and Brandon Choi's series, WildC.A.T.s at Image Comics, in which he finally introduced his creator-owned character, Huntsman.
In 1995, Claremont began writing his creator-owned series, Sovereign Seven, which was published by DC Comics, running for 36 issues until 1998. Stan Lee interviewed Claremont for episode 7 of the 1991–92 documentary series The Comic Book Greats.
In 1998, Claremont returned to Marvel as editorial director and the regular writer of Fantastic Four. He also wrote a Wolverine story arc. In 2000, as part of the company's "Revolution" event, he wrote Uncanny X-Men and X-Men until he moved to X-Treme X-Men with penciller Salvador Larroca. He returned to Uncanny X-Men again for a two-year run starting in 2004, while teaming up with his former Excalibur collaborator and artist, Alan Davis.
In 2004, Claremont was co-writer on JLA issues #94–99, the "Tenth Circle" story arc for DC Comics, which reunited him with his former Uncanny X-Men artist John Byrne, with Jerry Ordway as inker.
In 2007, Claremont returned to New Excalibur, writing a story arc in which the character Nocturne has a stroke. He has completed his first arc on Exiles, adding Betsy Braddock to the team.
In 2008 Claremont wrote the miniseries GeNEXT, followed by its 2009 sequel, GeNext: United. He was the writer of an X-Men Forever series which was set in an alternate universe, and focuses on the present day lives of the X-Men in a reality where Magneto never returned following the destruction of Asteroid M in X-Men #3 (December 1991). In 2010, Claremont collaborated with Italian comics artist Milo Manara on X-Women.
As of 2014 Claremont was under an exclusive contract for Marvel. In April of that year, Marvel launched a Nightcrawler series with Claremont as writer, which he finished in March 2015. He re-united with his former New Mutants-artist artist Bill Sienkiewicz for the oneshot New Mutants: War Children in 2019.
According to writer/editor Paul Levitz, Claremont's complex story structures "played a pivotal role in assembling the audience that enabled American comics to move to more mature and sophisticated storytelling, and the graphic novel." Claremont's editor on the series, Louise Simonson, attributes the X-Men's success to his approach to the characters: "Chris took them very seriously. They were real people to him."
As the writer of X-Men, Claremont became known for certain characteristic phrases, such as Wolverine's saying, "I'm the best there is at what I do. And what I do...isn't very nice", which became closely associated with the character.
A 2009 Slate article called Claremont the "soapiest writer in comic books.... The classic Claremont pose is either a character, head hung in shame with two enormous rivers of tears running down the cheeks as he or she delivers a self-loathing monologue, or a character with head thrown back and mouth open in a shout of rage, shaking tiny fists at heaven and vowing that the whole world will soon learn about his or her feelings." However, the article goes to state that "the genius of Chris Claremont was that he made mutants a generic stand-in for all minorities". "I'm an immigrant," said Claremont in 2014, describing his affinity with outsiders. After arriving in the United States from England, he was beaten up "because I looked like a geek." His emphasis on the theme of prejudice resonated with readers as the X-Men series rose in popularity.
In 1987 Claremont began writing genre novels. His first was a science-fiction trilogy about female USAF pilot/astronaut Nicole Shea, consisting of First Flight (1987), Grounded! (1991), and Sundowner (1994). Claremont co-wrote the Chronicles of the Shadow War trilogy, Shadow Moon (1995), Shadow Dawn (1996), and Shadow Star (1999), with George Lucas, which continued the story of Elora Danan from the movie Willow. Claremont was a contributor to the Wild Cards anthology series.
Claremont made a cameo appearance in the opening scene of the 2006 film X-Men: The Last Stand, for which he is credited as "Lawnmower man". He made a cameo appearance as a Congressional committee member alongside fellow comic book writer Len Wein in an early scene in the 2014 film X-Men: Days of Future Past.
In December 2010 Claremont appeared at a book signing at Borders Books at Penn Plaza in Manhattan as part of a series of events nationwide to commemorate World AIDS Day, with 25% of the proceeds of books sold at the event donated to Lifebeat, a nonprofit organization that educates young people on HIV/AIDS prevention.
In July 2011 Claremont signed a deed of gift to Columbia University's Rare Book & Manuscript Library, donating his archives of all his major writing projects over the previous 40 years to the Library's nascent comics archives collection, forming the foundation of a research collection focusing on New York City-based cartoonists and comics writers. Following the examination and processing of the materials, which include notebooks, correspondence, early story drafts, plays, novels, comic books and materials from Claremont's early training in the theater and his career as an actor, Claremont's archive will be housed at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library in Butler Library, separate from the graphic novels collection, and will be open to anyone who demonstrates a need for its use, with a Finding Aid being made available online. Claremont's longtime editor Louise Simonson said, "his papers will provide many clues, not only to the evolving way comic books are created and presented, but also how they are perceived, licensed, bought and sold in America and around the world."
A symposium called Comic New York was held March 24–25, 2012 at Columbia University's Low Memorial Library to mark the occasion, which was organized by Graphic Novels Librarian Karen Green, Professor Jeremy Dauber, and editor Danny Fingeroth. A discussion between Claremont and Simonson held in recognition of Claremont's gift was the keynote event of the symposium, which focused on the intertwined histories of American comics and New York City, which has served both as a breeding ground for creators and the home of the Big Two publishers, Marvel and DC. Signings and panel discussions with other creators, scholars and academics of the comics medium were held during the two-day event. Among the other creators in attendance were Paul Levitz, Al Jaffee, Peter Kuper, Denis Kitchen, Molly Crabapple, John Romita, John Romita Jr., Irwin Hasen, Miss Lasko-Gross and Dean Haspiel.
In the mid-1970s, Claremont was married to Bonnie Wilford. Following the dissolution of that marriage, he married Beth Fleisher, with whom Claremont co-authored Dragon Moon. Fleisher is the cousin (through marriage) of editor Dan Raspler, who was the editor on JLA during the six-issue "Tenth Circle" story arc Claremont and John Byrne wrote in 2004. Claremont and Fleisher have twin sons.
Main article: Chris Claremont bibliography
All that changed however in the mid 1970s when writer Chris Claremont came on board. Despite his non-Jewish-sounding name, this London-born, New York-raised lad is Jewish… he even spent time on an Israeli kibbutz in his youth.
In this issue, new Marvel writer Chris Claremont and artist John Buscema introduced Madrox the Multiple Man, a mutant who could duplicate his body over and over.
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The issue, written by longtime X-Men scribe Chris Claremont and drawn by Walter Simonson [was]...one of the most well-received crossovers of its time - or of any time for that matter - the team-up was a huge success.
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Chris was her third husband