Chuck Austen (born Chuck Beckum) is an American comic book writer and artist, TV writer and animator. In the comics industry, he is known for his work on War Machine, Elektra, JLA, Action Comics, and the X-Men franchise, and in television, he is known for co-creating the animated TV series Tripping the Rift.
Austen’s early commercial work began in the 1980s, when he briefly illustrated Alan Moore's superhero series Miracleman, under his birth name "Chuck Beckum", which he later abandoned out of a desire to disassociate from his father's family name. About the same time Austen wrote and drew the semi-autobiographical black-and-white pornographic comic book series Strips, as well as Hardball. In the late 1980s, Austen drew the first five issues for the short-lived series Hero Sandwich by Slave Labor Graphics. He also was involved in the lesser-known Dr. Radium and Lee Flea series, and slowly crossed over into DC Comics when he was assigned to Phantom Lady and Green Flame and drew Disney's The Little Mermaid limited series.
From 2001 on, Austen wrote several issues of War Machine. The mini-series was received well, but sales of the action-driven story were plagued by the fact that the series was published in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. In 2003, Austen followed up with War Machine 2.0. Using the creative liberties in the alternate universe in which the series is set, he wrote Rhodes' boss Tony Stark as more pacifist and business-minded than his mainstream counterpart, and Rhodes himself as the proactive protector.
In the early 2000s, Austen started working regularly for Marvel Comics, writing and illustrating U.S. War Machine, illustrating Elektra, and writing a number of series, including Uncanny X-Men, Captain America, and The Avengers. His two-year run on Uncanny X-Men was his most lengthy writing assignment to date, but not well received by fans of the franchise.
In 2002 Austen took part in writing a Marvel book with Bruce Jones titled The Call of Duty 911, a short-lived Marvel Comics series featuring firefighters and emergency service workers dealing with paranormal phenomena in the Marvel Universe, conceived in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks as a way to convey the heroism of New York City firemen as real life superheroes. Austen wrote Call of Duty: The Brotherhood #1–6, and Call of Duty: The Wagon #1–4, and a short run on an ongoing series in 2002–2003 that lasted four issues.
From August 2003 to January 2004, Austen wrote six issues of The Eternal for the Marvel MAX line. It was a reimagination of the classic Eternals comic book by Jack Kirby and was lauded by at least one fan as "haunting yet humorous".
X-Men and Avengers work
In 2002, Austen took over Uncanny X-Men beginning with #410 and remained on the title until #442. His controversial run saw the return of Havok and Polaris to the X-Men team, the introduction of school nurse Annie Ghazikhanian and the addition of several existing characters to the X-Men team, including Northstar, Juggernaut, M, and Husk, as well as the revelation of the identity of Nightcrawler's father: an immortal mutant known as Azazel.
Austen moved to X-Men Volume 2 in 2004; he wrote X-Men #155–163 before leaving the book. During this run, he introduced a new version of Xorn, showcased the fallout from Cyclops and Emma Frost beginning a relationship following the death of Jean Grey, as well as introduce a new version of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Michael Aronson of Comics Bulletin, while praising Austen's characterization of Professor X and Annie Ghazikhanian, excoriated Austen for what Aronson saw as his obsession with relationships and sex, and the sexist nature of his characterization of Husk. According to Thor K. Jensen of Ugo Entertainment, fans disliked the romantic pairing of Angel and Husk, and cites that storyline as emblematic of critical reception to Austen's run on X-Men.
In 2004, Austen also wrote Avengers from #77–84. His first arc introduced a new, female Captain Britain (since renamed Lionheart), a single mother thrust into the realm of super-heroes after being killed as an innocent bystander during a fight between the Avengers and the Wrecking Crew, only to be resurrected by the original Captain Britain. The second arc, which saw Austen writing former Avengers U.S. Agent and Namor, the Sub-Mariner attempting to liberate a Middle Eastern country from its corrupt leadership, served as launching pad for the short-lived 2004 Invaders series.
In 2004 Austen created the independent title WorldWatch, which he described as similar to Warren Ellis's The Authority, but with more explicit depiction of sex, violence and realpolitik. The last page of Worldwatch #2 featured an announcement from the publisher stating that Austen had been fired, and that he would be replaced by writer Sam Clemens (the real name of American writer Mark Twain). In a subsequent interview, Austen, who owns the property and could not be fired from it, revealed that this was intended as a joke, and that he was disappointed that most readers had not understood it.
From 2004 to 2005, Austen wrote issues 812–823 of DC Comics' flagship title Action Comics, starring Superman. Austen was criticized by fans for resurrecting the Silver Age feud between Superman supporting characters Lois Lane and Lana Lang over Superman, with Lana in particular divorcing longtime husband Pete Ross in the process. Austen controversially left the title after 10 issues. The next two were written by J.D. Finn. Austen himself speculated that J.D. Finn was actually then–Action Comics editor Eddie Berganza, and has denied using the pseudonym.
In 2006, Austen wrote Boys of Summer, an Original English Language (OEL), adult-themed manga illustrated by Hiroki Otsuka through TokyoPop. Copies of the first volume were pulled from a number of bookstores in May that year due to its graphic content. Publishers Weekly named The Boys of Summer of the Top Ten manga/manhwa of 2006, calling it both "a titillating and edgy reading experience." Subsequently, news reports indicated that the series had been cancelled even though the other two volumes were written and drawn, and both Austen and Otsuka had been paid. The first volume is available in English on Amazon.com, and Austen stated that all three would likely see print in other languages, if not in English. He also stated that doing the series was such maturing experience for him as a creator that he would never go back to superheroes or work-for-hire again. A 600-page hardcover edition collecting all three volumes, The Boys of Summer: The Complete Season, was scheduled for August 2008, but Austen reported it cancelled in a July 2008 interview.
Austen has written for animated television, most notably on the program Tripping the Rift, which he co-created. He has served as a supervising producer on Cartoon Network's Steven Universe and is currently directing Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero for Disney Television Animation.
In 2007, Austen released his first prose novel, Like Warm Sun on Nekkid Bottoms. In 2011 writing as Charles Austen, he released the first of a three book series Pride and Nakedness followed by Something Old, Something New in 2013.
During his Marvel/DC stint, Austen invented the expression "Seven Deadly Trolls". In Austen's point of view, they are a small and not representative group, who use internet message boards, blogs and newsgroups to attack Austen on a professional and personal level. He claims to have received death threats from fans. Multiple comic book critics though, have panned Austen's Marvel and DC work. Austen admitted that he took online criticism of his work personally. On a professional level, the criticism also led to hostility between himself and certain comic book store owners who refused to stock any comics written by him.
Techniques and influences
On a professional level, Austen admires fellow comic book creators Brian Michael Bendis, Paul Jenkins, Bill Sienkiewicz, J. Michael Straczynski, Ron Garney, Bret Blevins, JH Williams III, Al Williamson, John Romita, Rumiko Takahashi, Katsuhiro Otomo and Mitsuru Adachi.
Austen creates his art digitally. He mostly uses Macs but also uses PCs. Austen uses a variety of programs to create his art including Ray Dream Studio and 3D Studio Max in order to compose scenes which he then finishes in Photoshop.
- Chuck Austen (USA). Kees Kousemaker's Lambiek Comiclopedia. Retrieved November 14, 2011.
- Giles, Keith. "Austen in the Machine: Chuck Austen Interview". Comic Book Resources. September 6, 2011
- Singh, Arune (February 14, 2006). "In Depth With Chuck Austen (Part One)". Comic Book Resources.
- Singh, Arune. "MAX Muscle: Austen talks 'War Machine 2.0' & 'The Eternal' & 'World Watch'". Comic Book Resources. March 21, 2003
- Chuck Austen – The Eternal (2003) – Writer
- Comic Review – "The Eternal #1″, bureau42.com
- Moser, Bob (2003-12-05). "The Eternal #6 Review". comicsbulletin.com. Comics Bulletin. Archived from the original on 2011-06-09.
- "'Graphic' Novels: 10 Shocking Superhero Hookups". Newsarama. accessed October 3, 2011.
- Uncanny X-Men #414
- Uncanny X-Men #417
- Uncanny X-Men #412
- Uncanny X-Men #415
- Uncanny X-Men #412.
- Uncanny X-Men #410
- Uncanny X-Men #416
- Uncanny X-Men #427
- X-Men #157
- X-Men #155–156
- X-Men #160–163
- Aronson, Michael (2006-11-15). "Uncanny X-Men v1: Hope". comicsbulletin.com. Comics Bulletin. Archived from the original on 2008-11-22.
- Jensen, K. Thor (2010-11-11). "The Dirtiest Comic Book Sex Scenes". ugo.com. UGO Entertainment. Archived from the original on 2013-10-15.
- Avengers #78
- Avengers V3 #83-85/Invaders #0
- MacPherson, Don. "AVENGERS #79: Lionheart of Avalon, Part 3". thefourthrail.com. The 4th Rail. Archived from the original on 2012-02-18. Retrieved 2011-11-14.
- "WATCHING AUSTEN'S WORLD". Newsarama. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29.
- Benjamin Ong Pang Kean (July 10, 2008). "Whatever Happened to Austen's Boys of Summer?" Newsarama.
- Cha, Kai-Ming (2006-12-19). "Top Ten Manga and Manhwa for 2006". Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on 2009-06-25.
- The Boys of Summer Volume 1 at Amazon.com
- Markisan Naso and Tim O'Shea. "Chuck Austen: Lionheart" Archived April 17, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.. Comics Bulletin. accessed October 3, 2011.
- MacPherson, Don. "AVENGERS #77". thefourthrail.com. The 4th Rail. Archived from the original on 2011-09-02. Retrieved 2011-10-03.
- Cornwell, Jason (2003-06-11). "Uncanny X-men #424". comicsbulletin.com. Comics Bulletin. Archived from the original on 2013-08-19.
- Chuck Austen at the Comic Book DB
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 24, 2007. Retrieved February 6, 2016.
|Uncanny X-Men writer
| Succeeded by|
|X-Men (vol. 2) writer
| Succeeded by|
John Ney Rieber
|Captain America writer
(with John Ney Rieber in early 2003)
| Succeeded by|
| Succeeded by|
Brian Michael Bendis