Brian Bendis: All That and a Bag of Tricks – Part 2

DT: What’s the process of figuring out what’s the right style for a given project?

BB: You know, you see it in your head and you just try to accomplish it with your hands. That’s true with every craft or art. You see it very clearly in your head, and with a lot of the books of mine that have seen print, I saw them very clearly and I try to accomplish that, and if I can’t accomplish it, you’re not gonna see it.

DT: You working on anything in your head now? Trying to figure out any new styles?

BB: Yeah, the next thing that I draw is gonna be a semi-autobiographical, almost a romantic comedy that’s not very funny or romantic, and it’ll be something I draw in a style that’s somewhere in between the two, that’s the best I can come up with. But we’ll see where I go with it, and that’s what I’m working on now. And when the style is ready, that’s when I’ll put it out. I’m not in any hurry.

DT: So you’re still working on the drawing, even though right now you’re busy with all your writing assignments?

BB: Oh, I like to draw. It’s very clear that as soon as I stopped drawing I became very successful, but I’m gonna ignore that and continue to draw. Also, as soon as I stopped drawing, everyone’s like, “Oh, why don’t you draw?” Oh yeah, now, sure. Eight years, no one was buying the damn things. Now I have a lot more people have discovered my work through my Marvel work and a bunch of other stuff, so . . . but even with my collaborations, it’s vibrant to me to work with people who do things I can’t physically do. Like with Mike Oeming, when I work on Powers, I couldn’t do that style and it needs to be in that style. It has to be that way and that’s the way I saw it. And what he accomplished and what he accomplishes every month on that book is so great for me, and I write differently for him. You know, my bag of tricks gets put away. I’m very addicted to the collaboration, to working with artists with different styles, you know, like working with [Mark] Bagley on Spider-Man or David Mack on Daredevil and the laundry list of artists — both heroes and peers — that I work with on Ultimate Marvel Team-Up. Every month I have to concoct a writing style that matches what that person does, which forces me to come up with a new bag of tricks or alter my bag of tricks for that artist. I chose that job and created that job specifically because I’m addicted to the collaboration.

DT: You mentioned people getting exposed to your earlier work and the stuff that you’ve drawn. Is that something that people have come up to you a lot and said, you know, like “I started reading Ultimate Spider-Man and Daredevil, and now I’ve read Torso?”

BB: Absolutely. It started when I was working at Todd McFarlane’s company, doing a book called Sam and Twitch. I was given the job because of the strength of my graphic novels that Todd had read. Within that book people started to discover that there was other crime fiction that I did, so they started to pick that up. Then when Powers started, because that’s a color series . . . there are some people that, they need a lot of push to pick up black and white. There’s a lot of people that don’t understand what black and white comics are, or why they’re in black and white. Some people think they’re unfinished, which is kind of funny. So you’ve really gotta sort of win their trust over, to get them to buy them. And that’s happened to me a lot over the last couple of years, with people that never bought a black and white comic, because of Spider-Man or Daredevil, they’re picking it up, you know, or they go, “How bad can it be, I love Spider-Man, right?” If there’s anything I’m proud of, there’s a couple of things I’m pretty proud of over the last couple of years, but . . . there’s always that one book that’s the bridge book for people that discover comics in a new way. Like, they only bought superheroes and then they take a plunge one day and buy something that’s not superheroes and then that whole world opens for them, and I remember what those books were for me when I was a kid, and I’m very happy to have been that book for a few people. That makes me feel like I’ve accomplished a lot. Or they see the artwork in Marvel Team-Up by an artist that I yanked out of indy comics for a month to do a fun Marvel book with me, and they’re like, “Oh I didn’t know you could draw a Marvel character that way,” and then they go look for that person’s work, and that’s kind of exciting. A lot of my friends get very angry, they’re like, “Why won’t people buy black and white, why won’t people blah blah blah?” I go, “All right, we’ll go to them. I’m gonna get ’em!” One way or another. So you know, it’s kind of cool, because I’ve done all this work for eight years that’s still work I’m proud of, it’s out, it’s ready, it’s printed. And you know . . . they find it now, hey, it’s free money for me.