Friday, March 28, 2008

On the Origins of the Wolverine

With a Wolverine movie in the works, this question from my son was inevitable: “Who made up Wolverine?”

“Let's ask,” I said.

I started with a call to my friend Roy Thomas who was Marvel’s EiC when Wolverine first came on the scene in 1974. Roy had once noted that Dave Cockrum had a Wolverine character in his now legendary sketchbook.

“I have no doubt that Dave [Cockrum] and Mike Friedrich were telling the truth about his having a Wolverine character,” said Roy, “though I have no conscious knowledge of seeing it. It can't have had too much of an influence on me, because when I decided we should have a Canadian character and even that it would be named after a fierce Northern animal, I know I was conflicted between ‘Wolverine’ and ‘Badger’--finally decided Badger had the connotation of mere heckling or nagging, while Wolverine virtually had the word wolf in it.

“So I met with Len Wein at lunch and told him to create for the Hulk a hero-villain who would be Canadian, short (because a wolverine is a small animal), and very fierce... and Len remembers my telling him I wanted to see how he'd handle a Canadian accent or some such thing, because I'd admired his Jamaican patois for Brother Voodoo.

“After that, I left it to Len and artist Herb Trimpe--and [John] Romita, who worked with Len on the character design. John doesn't recall being told to make the guy small but did so anyway... but if he hadn't been small, as editor I would have had it changed, and John may simply have forgotten either Len or myself telling him that. I had no particular input on the costume or look that I can recall... nor was it my idea that he have adamantium claws, though I had created adamantium.”

Of course, it was Dave Cockrum who unmasked Logan, and Chris Claremont who developed his winning personality, bub.

I'll let you folks know if Len or Herb have anything interesting to add.

1 comment:

Douglas said...

Thanks for the history, Cliff. When I was a short, dark-haired, possibly mutant kid growing up in northern B.C., Wolverine meant a lot to me.

He's still the shit.