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An Interview With Karl Dutton, Creator of the X-Men Audio Drama

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Hello, I originally planned this interview to be part of a story that would incorporate an interview with the creator of X-Men: Danger Room Protocols. That did not pan out - at least not as soon as I wanted. Instead I am presenting my interview with creative genius Karl Dutton individually. Dutton is a British born writer and producer who created an X-Men audio drama that is available free (he does not make a profit from it) on the internet. As you listen, the series is clearly designed to mimic the X-Men animated series of the 1990s, relying on a alternate take on the animated show's theme song for the audio drama's theme song. The series is produced through Dutton's production firm, Scyther Podcast Audio Dramas. Check out an episode:

1) What is the copyright situation with Marvel? Marvel gave the creators of X-Men: Danger Room Protocols a cease and desist letter. If you have clearance with Marvel, how did you acquire it and, if not, are you worried about Marvel trying to bring an end to your project?

It was a great concern when that happened, however I believe that our series simply isn't big enough to be noticed by them. Their project got real big real fast, with major new internet sites proclaiming "a new X-Men animated series is coming" in big bold letters. That is what got Marvel's attention and got them shut down in my opinion. Our series is a) much less grand of a production and b)totally self funded. I have never crowd funded or asked for donations in any way, mostly because I knew that it would cause us issues with Marvel and Fox. Between Danger Room Protocols and the Star Trek fan film Axanar, things are starting to become rather dangerous for fan content producers, it's a bad and hypocritical trend that I can see growing as the internet continues overtake TV as the major way to consume media. In my opinion, if you are are not making a penny for yourself on these projects or trying to sell them in any way, then you should be commended for spreading the brand rather than hunted for doing so. But then again, Marvel is on a bit of a witch hunt with X-Men these days.

2) I noticed you focused on story lines that weren't in the movies and especially ones that were disappointing for fans - like the portrayal of the Phoenix saga or Juggernaut. Was this intentional?

Yes and no. What I did was go back to the original comics and update them, I am doing the story lines in the order that they were originally written by Stan Lee, Chris Claremont etc. In most of the cases I updated and modernized certain things-which serve to both make the stories contemporary and to make the various retcons throughout the decades of continuity make more sense. Some things I changed just to make more sense in the X-Men world I wanted to create, one in which the larger Marvel Universe is not a part of it and ground things a little more, while still keeping the core ensense of the stories and what they did for the characters. In some cases I have straight up adapted stories word for word - with a few updates for continuity reasons - where I just can't see a way to make them any better.

3) How did you hook up with the cast of the audio drama?

Voice Pro mostly. The Blue Compass sites such as Voices Pro and Casting Call Pro are a great way to find professional people. I also cast on a voice casting forum. I now have reached the point where I have a group of people who are "my team", who, when I post up a new project on our Scyther Audio Dramas Facebook group, are always up for more and always deliver top quality.

4) I love that you have the original theme song in there, albeit with horns instead of guitar. Were you a big fan of the early 90s cartoon?

Oh yes, that is how I first was exposed to X-Men. I'm a child of the 90's so it's almost a given that my geek passions on the comic front would be Batman and X-Men due to those stellar animated series. I told Declan Gillgallon-our composer- to use that theme because when I hear it I think X-Men. I love the X-2/Days of Future Past theme, but to me that is the X-Men theme that always gets me jazzed for mutant action.

5) Lastly, audio drama is a weird medium. It sort of died after television in the United States, although it is still produced in the UK. There has been a rebirth with stuff like Graphic Audio, etc. Is this a medium you yourself staying in? What do you like about it?

Budget and experience. I have been a podcast host for many years, and so have the experience and the software to edit audio easily. Would I love to have a full X-Men fan series on YouTube? You're damn right I would. But that is just not possible when you have no budget and work from your home computer. My idea is that perhaps someday-if Marvel wouldn't take us down at the first trailer- we could do that. But right now Audio is the only way to tell the stories I want to tell, to hear myself, and not be constrained by logistics. Audio Dramas are a movie in your mind, and with the right actors and the right sound effects you can tell any story you want and have the images appear in the minds of your listeners. That is why I love it. My thing with this series is that if, like me, you are a huge X-Men fan and you geek out at what I hear, then I know that other fellow fans will too.


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About Radical Second Things

Michael Orion is a blogger, writer, artist and photographer based in the Bay Area. Besides his maintenance and promotion of Radical Second Things, he contributes to the San Francisco newspaper SF Western Edition, where he writes about local non-profit organizations.

Mark Cappetta is a practicing Catholic and active LGBT activist. He has been instrumental in keeping Radical Second Things and updates the Facebook account almost daily.

Eva Gnostiquette is an artist, programmer, "future scientist," bi-trans girl and graphic designer. She voluntarily helped to create the first print issue Radical Second Things and designed our beautiful banners. Thanks so much, Eva!

Jordan Denato is a professional artist based out of Iowa. He took the initiative to illustrate both Jennifer Reimer's story and Michael Orion's Oscar Romero work. He has his own art studio, Tar and Feather Studios, and is a critical part of Radical Second Things.

Radical Second Things is a liberation theology themed blog that has clear cut goals - we see the structural decline of the United States and much of the west and hope to present alternatives that will offer "a preferential option for the poor" as more become vulnerable.

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