Brian Bendis: All That and a Bag of Tricks – Part 9

DT: As far as the state of comics in general, who else is out there doing stuff that excites you or that is moving the medium forward?

BB: The cool thing is that more than ever there are a great many people who are moving the medium in spectacular fashion. Everyone’s got very unique sensibilities and take the medium very seriously. Everyone who’s in the comics business isn’t in it for the money. If they make money that’s great. But this isn’t the greatest way to make money that there is, so all the total money-grabbing weasels all left. So what you’re stuck with now is writers and artists that, they have to be in comics. They have to be in comics, all right? We could all be in movies and television or animation. We all could. But we have to be in comics. And so when you have people that have to do it and they don’t care about the money, you’re getting unique interpretations of a lot of characters with unique styles. And also, you’ve got Joe Quesada running Marvel Comics right now, who’s got incredible taste and varied taste in art styles and coloring that you haven’t seen before. He’s willing put someone like Grant Morrison on X-Men and see what happens. It’s taking bold chances.

One of my best friends in the world is David Mack, and I think he is pushing the medium farther artistically than almost anybody out there. He does the covers to Alias and we did Daredevil together for a few issues last year, and I am in awe of his personal growth. Honestly, I’ve surrounded myself with people that I consider to be pushing the medium because I want to be pushed by them and I want to be surrounded by that kind of flavor, and any artist that I’m working with or colorist that I’m working with, I firmly believe is offering everything that they have. They’re not hacking it out, they’re really giving it everything they’ve got.

For your readers who aren’t comics fans, I defy you to go into a comics store and not find something you might want. There’s such an amalgamation of genres and styles and ways to approach a story. When I think of people that go see these pieces of crap movies for nine dollars a pop, and for two dollars you can get a comic that you can keep and read like ten times and be in love with . . . give it a shot.

DT: How do you do that? How do you get the people that aren’t readers to get into the store, go to the bookstore, or whatever?

BB: The best thing I’ve had is mainstream press, I’ve picked up a lot of readers from articles in Spin and Entertainment Weekly’s been real nice to me this year. That’s helped a lot with the bookstores. There are people you’ll never got to go to a comic book store, just like there’s people who go into a comic stores you’ll never get to read a black and white comic. There’s nothing you can do that will turn them. But the proliferation of comics into other places like bookstores and Marvel’s also had, like, you buy a pair of shoes you get Ultimate Spider-Man #1, so we’re like marijuana brownies. “First one’s free, kid!” But not by sitting on our asses and going, “Why won’t anybody love us?”

It is sad that our most popular numbers that comics have done in the last twenty years, in the early 90s, was probably at the medium’s artistic lowest point. Everyone was just hacking stuff out to make as much money as possible, cash grabbing, and all of these people were buying these shallow pieces of crap, and they left. They go, “Why am I buying this crap?” Now, comics are great, and though the audience is there for them, and I love each and every one of them, you do wish all of those people would come back and see how great comics are right now, because they’re just amazing. There are just piles of comics every week that are worth buying. And it’s really bad for guys like me, who have really varied taste in comics. Every week I go, “oh, it’s too many I’m buying. I got into this business to get free comics, where are my free comics?”