For the record and in benefit to those outside the world(s) of comic fandom, the great Len Wein pronounced his surname homophonous with the word "wean" and not with the word "wine."
Len Wein was an original. He scripted my all-time favourite comic book "Justice League of America" and its storyline in which the JLA and their Earth-2 counterparts the Justice Society of America first met the 1940s second-tier superhero team the 7 Soldiers of Victory (1972, issues # 100-102). An issue later, Wein had the JLA meet the Phantom Stranger for the first time at the annual superhero-centric Hallowe'en parade in Rutland VT -- where the JLA also met fictionalized versions of comic book professionals Roy Thomas and Steve Englehardt in addition to Len himself and his then-wife Glynis.
In his short stay authoring JLA (#s 100-114, 1972-1974), Wein expanded the membership by having the JLA induct the Elongated Man, the android Red Tornado, and the aforementioned Phantom Stranger; introduced into the mix, the nascent team the Freedom Fighters and the "back-up" Green Lantern John Stewart; created a cool villain named Libra; brought back, albeit briefly, JLA honourary member Snapper Carr; and explained why Sandman had abandoned his purple-and-gold costume in favour of his original Green Hornet/the Shadow/Crimson Avenger-inspired ensemble with the green business suit, fedora, and facial gas mask.
Also of note were the Bat-Murderer storyline in Detective Comics circa 1975-1976 in which Batman was accused of having killed Talia, the exotic daughter of Bats's nemesis Ra's al Ghul, and the early 1980s 3-issue mini-series "The Untold Legend of the Batman."
"Swamp Thing" was also a really cool concept which might or might not have been inspired by Marvel Comics's own swamp creature Man-Thing. Swampie became a lame 1980s movie starring Adrienne Barbeau and a 1990s TV cartoon which appropriated for its theme song the anthemic 1960s song "Wild Thing" ("Swamp Thing ... You are amazing!" Blecch!)
Here are some links to other obits, write-ups, and appreciations:
[From comics industry insider and pop culture blogger Mark Evanier] http://www.newsfromme.com/2017/09/10/len-wein-r-p/
Comic book writer-editor Len Wein died this morning and it feels so odd to type those words even though I've known for a long time I would have to.
Len was a friend of mine — at times, a very good friend — for darn close to half a century. I can tell you exactly where and when we first met in person: It was in the hallway outside Julius Schwartz's office in the DC Comics offices back at 909 Third Avenue in July of 1970. So 47 years and two months…but we'd corresponded by mail (paper mail) for a year or two before that. We got along famously from the start, never quarreled and had many adventures together. I will probably spend the next week or two here remembering stories I can tell here and several I can't.
Len dying…that does not come as a shock. In those 47 years and change, I must have heard a dozen times that Len was at death's door and even before we met, there were times when his friends expected it to happen soon. I remember one day around 1975, our mutual friend Mark Hanerfeld phoned me to tell, in great seriousness, that Len was gravely ill and could not possibly make it to the end of that month. Not only did Len make it to the end of that month, he outlived Hanerfeld by a decade or two.
The last few times I saw him — the last at Comic-Con, the time before that in a hospital — he looked like it could happen any minute. I guess I'd gotten it into my head that no matter how bad it looked for Len, he'd bounce back. He always did until, this morning, he didn't. He was 69, I believe.
He was, of course, a fine writer who was responsible for co-creating many popular characters including Swamp Thing, the Human Target, Wolverine and many of the X-Men. I was also impressed with what he did with others' characters like Batman and Superman and Spider-Man and most of the major ones. If you read any of them, you know how well he could spin a story and think of clever things no one had thought of before. I feel like I should tell you more of the personal side of the guy…
The personal side was that he was a great guy of infinite good spirit. The two of us could sit and talk and laugh for hours and I find it hard to imagine that he couldn't do that with anyone. We'd talk about comics. We'd talk about friends. We'd talk about the world. We'd talk about "guy" things. For I-don't-know-how-many years, Len needed to spend several hours of an evening, several times a week on a dialysis machine. There was a clinic not far from me and sometimes, he'd call and ask me to come by and keep him company. If I could, I would….and I'd see the other patients there wondering why we were laughing and trying to outdo each other with hoary jokes. Only Len could make dialysis seem fun.
He was enormously devoted to his wife Chris and vice-versa. She took great care of him, especially when he was in need of great care. Sometimes, you resent when a buddy gets married because now he has less time for you. Seeing how well they functioned together, I didn't resent that one bit. She made him real happy and I really liked Len being happy.
I'll write more about him in the next few days. He was one of the good guys.
His vision of a diverse super-team reflected the future of comics fandom
By: Eric San Juan
2 mins ago
Len Wein’s name may not be widely famous outside of comic-book circles the way Stan Lee’s, Jack Kirby’s and Neil Gaiman’s are. But perhaps it should be.
Wein, who died this weekend at the age of 69, was the co-creator of two of the most enduring pop-culture characters of the past half-century: Wolverine and the Swamp Thing. As a writer, his 1970s reinvention of Marvel Comics’ X-Men eventually became one of the most popular comic books in the world — which then led to a film series that sparked today’s superhero box office takeover. And as an editor, he oversaw the production of perhaps the most praised graphic novel in history, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen.
Quietly, working in a medium that only a small percentage of the population was paying attention to at the time, Wein helped change the shape of pop culture itself, influencing how it looked and, in doing so, inviting a much wider audience to openly embrace their love of fantastical stories.
Born June 12, 1948, Wein was a sickly Jewish kid from New York who found an escape among the colorful heroes of comic books. They provided relief from days that were filled with bullies, illness, and a general feeling of not belonging anywhere. Soon, just reading comics didn’t seem to be enough: Wein and his friend Marv Wolfman were eager to turn their love of super-stories into a career. The two of them created some of the first fanzines and began pitching their work to DC Comics. They were tenacious. It got them noticed. Wein started picking up freelance work in 1968, and a career was born. Soon he was bouncing back and forth between DC and Marvel Comics, indulging his creativity and writing some of the most popular characters in the world along the way.
It was in May 1975 that Wein helped change the game forever, though no one knew it yet at the time. That was the month that saw the publication of Giant-Size X-Men #1, featuring the debut of an “all-new, all-different” version of Marvel’s superhero team that would soon far outshine Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s earlier incarnation. Wein and artist Dave Cockrum (who died in 2006) created characters that are still starring in fresh new stories today: Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Thunderbird. They also added to the X-Men a character Wein had created the year prior with artists John Romita Sr. and Herb Trimpe: a scrappy Canadian mutant with claws in his hands called Wolverine.
These characters had fantastic abilities and bold costumes, yes, but there was more going on with Wein’s X-Men than just super-strength and lightning-bolt powers. Nightcrawler was a deeply religious young German man ostracized for having blue skin and a tail. Storm was a proud black woman from Kenya; Thunderbird, a Native American; Colossus, a Russian who spoke in broken English. Joining them were Sunfire and Banshee, heroes from Japan and Ireland, respectively. And, of course, they were led by Professor X, a man in a wheelchair.
This didn’t look like any superhero team the world had seen before. Superhero comics were usually filled with white Americans hailing either from generic Anytown, U.S.A., or from iconic New York City locales. Take off their costumes, and they’d be right at home in a Frank Capra film or Norman Rockwell painting — a reflection of the 20th-century American myth, rather than the reality of what America and the world really looked like. With this comic, all that changed. Suddenly, we had a super-team that depicted a bigger, broader, truer cross-section of humanity.
Wein created the template that his successor, longtime X-Men writer Chris Claremont, would run with for many years to come. X-Men comics became a metaphor for the marginalized and disenfranchised. The team’s ongoing struggle as mutants trying to find acceptance in “normal” society has been interpreted over the years as representing the quest for racial equality in America, the LGBT community’s fight for acceptance, and more.
In truth, Wein didn’t intend for the X-Men to represent anything so specific. He just wanted to create a cast of interesting characters. That’s the beauty of his and Cockrum’s creation: This team of diverse misfits allowed any fan to fit themselves in between the panels, to read their own social anxiety and feelings of otherness into these adventures. For perhaps the first time, an awkward Hispanic boy from the South Bronx could find a deeply personal connection with the same thing a shy white kid from rural Iowa and a closeted teen girl from San Antonio, Texas did. They could see themselves in these stories — see themselves standing side by side with others who might not look or speak like them, but who certainly felt the same feelings of pain, alienation, love, and loss.
Len Wein dropped a stone into a pond — or, perhaps more appropriately, a melting pot — and the ripples have since echoed across the decades.
It took a long time for others to catch up, but eventually, the comics industry began to realize that the audience itself looked much like that X-Men team. Today, Miles Morales, a young black man, can be found swinging through comic-book pages as Spider-Man. Jane Foster took up the mantle of Thor; Batwoman was revealed to be gay; we learned that the X-Man Jubilee has a learning disability. And likewise, go to a comics convention in 2017, and you’ll find it’s simply not possible to pigeonhole the people there. There’s no one demographic box they all fit into, other than “comic book fans.”
Wein may not have set out to propel superhero comics toward the 21st century. Regardless, the results are undeniable. Way back in 1975, he put the pieces in place for a movement that would help change the face of pop culture forever.
Giant-Sized X-Men #1 didn’t just have an extra-large page count — it left a giant-sized legacy.
Len Wein, ‘Wolverine’ co-creator and 'Watchmen' editor, dead at 69
BY Kate Feldman
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Sunday, September 10, 2017, 7:20 PM
[PHOTO CAPTION] Len Wein, shown here with "Wolverine" star Hugh Jackman at Comic-Con in 2008, has died. (Albert L. Ortega/WireImage)
Legendary comic book writer and editor Len Wein has died.
He was 69.
Wein helped revive the “X-Men” franchise in 1975 with artist Dave Cockrum, creating characters including Nightcrawler, Storm, Colossus and Thunderbird.
A year earlier, in “The Incredible Hulk” #180, he debuted Wolverine, who eventually joined the “X-Men” team in later years.
In the late ‘80s, Wein left Marvel for DC Comics, where he worked as a writer and later an editor.
His work included “Batman” and “Green Lantern,” as well as editing Alan Moore's and Dave Gibbons’ “Watchmen” and “Swamp Thing,” also by Moore.
Wein spent three years as editor-in-chief at Disney Comics in the early 1990sbefore moving on to writing for TV comics, including “X-Men,” “Batman” and “Spider-Man.”
In 2012, Wein told the Daily News that Hugh Jackman was "perfect" for the role of Wolverine.
"From the moment I first saw him on screen with his back to the camera standing in the cage [in the first 'X-Men' movie], I thought, 'Oh my God, they got him,'" he said.
"He's 6-foot-3 and Wolverine's supposed to be 5-foot-3. The first time we met, he said to me, 'I'm sorry I'm so tall.' I said, 'That's okay, you play him short really well.'"
Wein's cause of death is still unclear.
“I just learned that my friend and writing inspiration @LenWein passed away this morning. My love and condolences to his wife, @mcvalada,” wrote Neil Gaiman.
“He wrote Swamp Thing, Phantom Stranger, & my favourite Batman stories. He showed 12 year old me that comics could be literature. Len Wein was the editor bit len ein
who brought the British creators to DC. He was one of the nicest people I've met, in 30 years in comics. He will be missed. And I will miss him.”
Wolverine and Swamp Thing Co-Creator Len Wein Has Died
by Russ Burlingame |
September 10, 2017
Len Wein, the best-selling comic book writer and editor who co-created Wolverine and Swamp Thing and edited Watchmen, has passed away. He was 69 years old.
The comics community is beginning to respond on social media after Spider-Man writer Brian Michael Bendis tweeted out a memoriam message.
Wein's first professional comics story was "Eye of the Beholder" in 1968's Teen Titans #18. Wein co-wrote the story with soon-to-be-Titans legend Marv Wolfman, and co-created the male Starfire, later known as Red Star and the son of Constantin Kovar, who appeared on Arrow last season.
Creating characters was something that Wein would do a lot throughout his long comics career. He is best known for two original creations of his that have forever altered the landscape of superhero comics, both of which have had successful screen adaptations: Wolverine was just portrayed in Logan, one of the most critically-acclaimed superhero movies ever made, wrapping a solo trilogy following three X-Men films where he was the de facto main character. The other is Swamp Thing, originally created for DC’s anthology title House of Secrets; Swamp Thing was a key property in the evolution and exposure of Watchmen co-creator Alan Moore as a mainstream, American superhero writer.
In the 1970s, Wein wrote regularly for Marvel Comics, beginning with a one-and-done story in Daredevil #71 co-written with writer/editor Roy Thomas.
Wein would eventually succeed Roy Thomas as editor-in-chief of Marvel's comics line in 1974, but turned the job over to Wolfman a little over a year later and return to writing, with runs on Marvel Team-Up, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, The Mighty Thor and Fantastic Four.
Wein and artist Dave Cockrum revived the X-Men in 1975, creating an army of new characters to populate the book, including Nightcrawler, Storm, Colossus, and Thunderbird; this is when Wolverine, created earlier by Wein with artists John Romita Sr. and Herb Trimpe, joined the team. Wein and Cockrum plotted out the next few issues, essentially priming the pump for writer Chris Claremont, who scripted the issues and began a legendary run on the title.
After Wein's relationship with Marvel management soured in the late '70s, Wein went to DC as a writer and eventually editor. He wrote long runs on Batman and Green Lantern, where he first collaborated with Watchmen's Dave Gibbons. He also worked with John Ostrander to co-write the Legends event miniseries, where the modern-era Suicide Squad was introduced.
Besides Watchmen, Wein worked Camelot 3000, The New Teen Titans, Batman and the Outsiders, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and All-Star Squadron as an editor.
Following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wein wrote the Ted Kord Blue Beetle series, as well as providing scripts for the start of George Perez's groundbreaking reinvention of Wonder Woman.
After leaving DC, Wein was editor-in-chief of Disney Comics for three years in the early 1990s.
Next, he headed to TV, serving as a writer and story editor on X-Men, Batman, Spider-Man, Street Fighter, and more. In 2001, he and Wolfman wrote the screenplay "Gene Pool" for the production company Helkon, and later adapted it for a one-shot comic book for IDW Publishing. In 2005 and 2006, Wein appeared frequently as a panelist on the Los Angeles theatre version of the TV game show What's My Line?.
In the latter part of his comics career, Wein and Wolfman wrote a one-shot titled Gene Pool for IDW, based on an unproduced screenplay the two had developed; he also worked on Conan: The Book of Thoth, The Victorian, The Simpsons, Futurama, and most recently a return to Swamp Thing and a run on Metal Men in the Legends of Tomorrow miniseries.
In recent months, Wein has undergone a number of surgeries, with the final tweet on his official account indicating that he came through surgery, "which went very well," on September 7.
Wein was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2008.
Len Wein Dies: Co-Creator Of Wolverine And Swamp Thing Was 69
by Dino-Ray Ramos
September 10, 2017 5:56pm
Len Wein, the comic book writer and editor who co-created popular superheroes such as Marvel’s Wolverine and DC Comics’ Swamp Thing died today at the age of 69. DC Comics confirmed the news on their website.
“Len Wein was one of the most welcoming people and legends in comics from the moment I joined DC eight years ago,” wrote Diane Nelson, President of DC Entertainment. “He wrote or edited almost every major DC character – there’s hardly a facet of DC’s world that Len didn’t touch. I, DC and the industry will miss him and his talent very much. Our love and prayers go out to Christine, his family and his fans.”
Wein was born on June 12, 1948. He and his friend Marv Wolfman published their own fanzines and sold their first scripts to DC in 1968. He received praise for his work on The Teen Titans and co-created Swamp Thing with artist Bernie Wrightson, which became one of DC’s most iconic characters. Swamp Thing was adapted into a Wes Craven film in 1982 and was followed by a sequel, The Return of Swamp Thing, in 1989. In 1990, Swamp Thing made its way to the small screen for a television series on the USA Network. The series ran until 1993.
During the ’70s he worked for Marvel. While there he co-created Wolverine with artists John Romita Sr. and Herb Trimpe. The character has since become one of the most popular comic book heroes and X-Men character. Hugh Jackman, who has played the character since 2000’s X-Men through 2017’s Logan took to Twitter to send his condolences.
In the 1980s, he edited Alan Moore’s acclaimed series Watchmen, which was adapted for the big screen by Zack Snyder in 2009.
“Not every writer can be a good editor,” said Geoff Johns, President & Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment. “But Len deserves equal credit for both talents. He helped to revitalize the entire DC Universe.”
Wein was inducted into the Will Eisner comic book hall of fame in 2008.