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Walt Simonson Reprints 25 Year Old Letter Regarding Origin of Cable

Written by Jude Terror on Saturday, November 21 2015 and posted in News with Benefits
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Walt Simonson Reprints 25 Year Old Letter Regarding Origin of Cable

Walt Simonson asserts that Louise Simonson and Bob Harras had more to do with the character's creation than commonly accepted.


Source: Facebook

Comics legend Walt Simonson, who coincidentally happens to be married to comics legend Louise Simonson, took to Facebook after reading a message board discussion about the creation of the character Cable in New Mutants by Louise Simonson and Rob Liefeld. Walt Simonson seems to feel that the most commonly told story, placing emphasis on Rob Liefeld's role, isn't quite correct, and that Louise Simonson and editor Bob Harras collaborated equally with Liefeld in creating the character. On Facebook, Simonson wrote:

I mentioned in the letter that Weezie and I would both astounded that various versions/disputes about Cable's creation were still ongoing several years after the character's first appearance. How little I knew. I have just come across yet another explanation of Cable's creation, posted on a web board. Where are we now? Almost 30 years after the character's initial appearance? At this point, I guess Weezie is just lucky her name is mentioned at all in the course of such discussions.

 

Indeed, looking at Wikipedia's explanation of the events, including a quote from a Comics Bulletin interview with Liefeld in 2007, Louise Simonson's contribution does appear to be downplayed:

Though the artist Rob Liefeld is responsible for his visual design, name, and much of his personality, it is claimed that Cable also got some inspiration from editor Bob Harras.Liefeld explains the creation of the character:

"I was given a directive to create a new leader for the New Mutants. There was no name, no description besides a 'man of action', the opposite of Xavier. I created the look, the name, much of the history of the character. After I named him Cable, Bob suggested Quinn and Louise had Commander X."

 

Simonson, excerpted from his 1991 letter to Comics Buyers Guide, offers a different take:

Mostly, the creation of Cable began indirectly. Weezie was the writer of New Mutants, Mr. Liefeld was the penciller, Bob Harras was the editor. Bob had told Weezie that he wanted the New Mutants to have a new adult leader now that Professor X was no longer in the book (he was over hanging out with the X-Men most of the time by then). Weezie remembers not wanting to do that especially but as Bob was the editor; it was his decision. At that time, Bob was writing SHIELD and wanted Weezie to use some robot he had created in the SHIELD comic as the new leader of the New Mutants. Weezie definitely did not want to use the robot. Her idea was that a leader for the New Mutants should be someone who would be in sharp contrast to the character of Professor X. Professor X mostly sat around, thought deep thoughts, and fretted about putting the New Mutants in harms way. She wanted a kick-ass, take charge kind of guy who would treat the team as a squad of soldiers, sending them out into battle.

At the same time, Bob had also suggested creating a new bad guy for the New Mutants as well, a character who eventually developed as Stryfe. One day, Weezie received a bunch of character sketches from Bob. I remember looking them over in Weezie's office with her and the two of us were dazzled by the apparently effortlessness with which Mr. Liefeld could toss this stuff off. We think (at this late date) that there were sketches of good guys and bad guys in the batch. But I wouldn't swear to it now. But Bob had noted on one of the designs for the bad guy that he thought that this design would make a nifty good guy. The working title for the good guy character was Commander X; as far as Weezie was concerned, this was never a finalized title, just something so she would haven't to keep saying "the good guy character" all the time. Weezie's memory of what happened is that she got a call from Mr. Liefeld after he received the plot complaining about the name. Her recollection is that she told Mr. Liefeld that "Commander X" wasn't necessarily the final name; she thinks that it said so on the plot. In any case, when Mr. Liefeld suggested that they should call the character, Cable, she had no problem with that. (She thinks that Stryfe was also Mr. Liefeld's choice; he wanted to name the characters and she saw no reason why he shouldn't. As most artists who have worked with her can tell you, she generally works pretty hard to keep them happy).

Weezie decided that Cable should be a time traveler from the future, a tough no-nonsense, take charge, kind of leader. He would be mysterious, a character with many questions but few answers. He was not initially conceived as Scott Summers son from the future although the decision to send Scott's baby into the future had already been made by Weezie in her storylines. It was left to someone else, possibly Fabian, to draw those two story threads together and make Cable Scott's son. Or whatever has happened to him. But given the state the storylines were in when Weezie left the book, that was certainly a logical storyline development.

And so Cable was born, as a visual with a sketchy history and a personality, out of an editor's directive, a wealth of character sketches for Stryfe, Mr. Liefeld's name, and Weezie's thoughts about what such a character should be like. And that's as close to a Cable origin as anyone is likely to get. Like most good characters, he has taken on a life of his own in subsequent development that has added new layers of material to his biography.

 

There's a lot more at the link, as Walt Simonson goes into great detail about the subject, though he does repeatedly stress that he's "not especially concerned about what version of the creation of Cable anyone believes." Give it a read on Facebook.

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