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Len Wein (IPA: [wiːn]) (born June 12, 1948, in New York Citymarker) is an Americanmarker comic book writer and editor best known for co-creating DC Comics' Swamp Thing and Marvel Comics' Wolverine, and for helping revive the Marvel superhero team the X-Men (including the co-creation of Nightcrawler, Storm, and Colossus). Additionally, he was the editor for writer Alan Moore and illustrator Dave Gibbons' influential DC miniseries Watchmen.

Wein was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2008.

Biography

Early career

As a teenager, Wein and his friend Marv Wolfman regularly took the Thursday afternoon tour of the DC Comics offices. Wolfman was active in fanzine culture, and together he and Wein produced sample superhero stories to show to the DC editorial staff. At that point, Wein was more interested in becoming an artist than a writer. (Wein claims that his origins as an artist have long helped him "describe art to an artist so that I can see it all in my own head." And that he ". . . used to have artists, especially at DC, guys like Irv Novick and a few of the others who would come into the office waiting for their next assignment and ask [editor] Julie Schwartz, "Do you have any Len Wein scripts lying around? He's always easy to draw.")

Eventually, DC editor Joe Orlando hired both Wolfman and Wein as freelance writers. Wein's first professional comics story was "Eye of the Beholder" in DC's Teen Titans #18 (Dec. 1968), for which he created Red Star, the first official Russian superhero in the DC universe. Late the following year, Wein was publishing anthological mystery stories for DC's The House of Secrets and Marvel's Tower of Shadows and Chamber of Darkness. He additionally began writing for DC's romance comic Secret Hearts and the company's toy-line tie-in Hot Wheels; Skywald Publications' horror-comics magazines Nightmare and Psycho and its short-lived Western comic books The Bravados and The Sundance Kid; and Gold Key's Mod Wheels, Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery, the toyline tie-in Microbots, and the TV-series tie-ins Star Trek and The Twilight Zone.

DC and Marvel Comics

Wein's first superhero work for Marvel was a one-off story in Daredevil #71 (Dec. 1970) co-written with staff writer/editor Roy Thomas. Wein later began scripting sporadic issues of such DC superhero titles as Adventure Comics (featuring Supergirl and Zatanna), The Flash, and Superman, while continuing to write anthological mysteries, along with well-received stories for the semi-anthological occult title The Phantom Stranger #14–26 (Aug. 1971 – Sept. 1973).

Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson created the horror character Swamp Thing in The House of Secrets #92 (July 1971). Over the next several decades, Swamp Thing would star in DC series and miniseries — including an initial 1972–76 series begun by Wein and Wrightson, and the mid-1980s Saga of the Swamp Thing, edited by Wein and featuring early work by writer Alan Moore — as well as two theatrical films, and a syndicated television series. He wrote the second story featuring Man-Thing (written circa May 1971, published in June 1972), introducing Barbara Morse, and later edited Steve Gerber's run on that title. He wrote a well-regarded run of Justice League of America (issues #100–114) with artist Dick Dillin. He co-created, with artist Carmine Infantino, and wrote the backup feature "The Human Target" in Action Comics, Detective Comics and The Brave and the Bold, which became a short-lived ABC television series starring Rick Springfield that appeared in the summer of 1992, and is currently slated to premiere as a Fox television series starring Mark Valley, Chi McBride and Jackie Earle Haley in January of 2010.

the early 1970s, Len began writing regularly for Marvel Comics. He succeeded Roy Thomas as editor-in-chief of the color-comics line in 1974, staying a little over a year before handing the reins to Wolfman. Remaining at Marvel as a writer, Wein had lengthy runs on Marvel Team-Up, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, The Mighty Thor and Fantastic Four, as well as shorter runs on such titles as The Defenders and Brother Voodoo.

In 1975, he and artist Dave Cockrum revived the Stan Lee / Jack Kirby mutant-superhero team the X-Men after a half-decade's hiatus, reformatting the membership. Among the characters the duo created for the series were Nightcrawler, Storm, Colossus, and Thunderbird. Wein had previously created Wolverine , with artists John Romita Sr. and Herb Trimpe, for The Incredible Hulk. Wein plotted the early "new X-Men" stories with artist Cockrum. These issues were then scripted by Chris Claremont, who subsequently developed the title into one of Marvel's leading franchises.

In 2009, Claremont said, "The history of modern comics would be incredibly different if you took [Wein's] contributions out of the mix. The fact he doesn't get credit for it half the time is disgraceful. We owe a lot of what we are – certainly on the X-Men – to Len and to Dave [Cockrum]".

Return to DC

At the end of the 1970s, following a dispute with Marvel management, Wein returned to DC as a writer and then eventually an editor.

He scripted a long run of Batman and collaborated on Green Lantern with artists Dave Gibbons and Mark Farmer. On his first issue of Batman, #307, he created Wayne Foundation executive Lucius Fox later portrayed by Morgan Freeman in the movies Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. He also dialogued the miniseries Legends over the plots of John Ostrander and the artwork of John Byrne and Karl Kesel.

As editor, he worked on the first miniseries Camelot 3000, and such successful series as The New Teen Titans, Batman and the Outsiders, Crisis on Infinite Earths, All-Star Squadron, and Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons's acclaimed and highly influential Watchmen miniseries. Wein later wrote a Blue Beetle revival, scripted a revamped Wonder Woman over penciller George Pérez's plots, and created the superhero Gunfire with artist Steve Erwin.

Later career

DVD cover, Phantom 2040: The Ghost Who Walks
his second stint at DC and a move to the West Coast, Wein served as editor-in-chief of Disney Comics for three years in the early 1990s. After leaving Disney, Wein began writing and story editing for such animated television series as X-Men, Batman, Spider-Man, Street Fighter, ExoSquad, Phantom 2040, Godzilla, Pocket Dragon Adventures, Reboot and War Planets: Shadow Raiders. 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.

Wein also collaborated with writer Kurt Busiek and artist Kelley Jones on the four-issue miniseries Conan: The Book of Thoth for Dark Horse Comics. He has also scripted the comics series The Victorian for Penny-Farthing Press and has written comic-book stories for Bongo Comics' TV-series tie-ins The Simpsons and Futurama.

From 2005 to 2008, Wein appeared as a recurring panelist on the Los Angeles-based revival of the TV game show What's My Line? In July 2008, Wein was named Editor-in-Chief of Bloodfire Studios, an independent comic book company.

Recently, Wein has returned to DC Comics, writing Final Crisis: Secret Files, Superman/Batman Annual #3, and several new Justice League of America stories. He has also recently written episodes of the Cartoon Network animated series Ben 10: Alien Force.

Wein has been interviewed for commentary tracks on comics-related DVDs, including the animated Justice League: New Frontier film, the live-action Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and X-Men films, the X-Men Origins: Wolverine film, the Watchmen film, the Swamp Thing TV-series sets, and the July 2008 History Channel specials Batman Unmasked and Batman Tech.

Wein wrote the storyline for the Watchmen video game, The End Is Nigh, where it serves as a backstory to both the comic and the film adaptation.

His latest comics work will be an upcoming three issue story arc on Justice League of America, running through issues #35-37, featuring the current Justice League going up against the Royal Flush Gang. Dan DiDio has since stated that Len is the current writer of Justice League, but whether that extends past this three issue arc is currently unknown. It has since been announced that he will be followed on the book by James Robinson. Coincidentally, he is also writing backups in Robinson's Justice League miniseries, the first being the origin of Congorilla.

Personal life

His first wife was Glynis Oliver, a comics colorist who spent years on the X-Men titles. His second wife is Christine Valada, a photographer and attorney.

On April 6, 2009, his Californiamarker home burned down with considerable loss of property and mementos, including his Shazam Awards. He also lost his dog, Sheba, to the fire.

Beginning October 26, 2009, Wein's wife Christine Valada appeared on and won the television game show Jeopardy!. As of October 29, she is a four-time champion with winnings of over $60,000. She has indicated on the show that she will use the money to recover or replace much of the artwork and books the couple lost in the fire.

Awards

Wein won the Shazam Award for Best Writer (Dramatic) in 1972, for Swamp Thing, and another that year for Best Individual Story (Dramatic), for "Dark Genesis" in Swamp Thing #1 (with Berni Wrightson). He was nominated in the same categories the following year, but he and Wrightson won the Shazam Award that year for Best Continuing Feature, once again for Swamp Thing. In 1979, he won the Inkpot Award given at the San Diego Comic-Con. Wein also won the 1982 Comics Buyers Guide Award as Best Editor. He was nominated in 1999 for the Bram Stoker Award, given by the Horror Writers Association, for the one-shot The Dreaming: Trial and Error, from DC's Vertigo Comics imprint. In 2008, he was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame.

Notes

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