His signature style brings so much life and humor to every character he writes. While at Marvel, he created many characters, but none more important than Jessica Jones and Miles Morales. These two characters are beloved by comic book fans all over the world and have both been adapted for television and film.
Having been with Marvel for 18 years, Bendis shocked the comic book community earlier this year when he announced he was moving to DC Comics. So far his work on Superman has been nothing less than amazing. He also brought his creator owned imprint, Jinxworld, over to DC. Every book Jinxworld has put out has been phenomenal.
A couple weeks ago, at NYCC, he announced another imprint, Wonder Comics, and the return of Young Justice. Fans everywhere are in for an exciting ride, as Bendis brings his flawless characterization to these beloved characters. This news has me absolutely ecstatic at what's coming.
Luckily I was able to talk to Brian last week for a little while and get a little behind the scenes info on past projects. As well as a little insight on current projects and hints at stuff coming up. I hope you guys enjoy!
Comic Lounge: When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer?
Brian Michael Bendis: Well, I knew I wanted to make comics but I wasn't sure exactly what that entailed. But I have a very powerful young memory of being like six years old and standing up at the dinner table during Passover and announcing that I was gonna be the artist of Spider-Man. Because it was a job I heard existed like ooh that's a job, then that'll be my job. I really then just went on a quest to do that thing. It ended up being that writing was more my organic talent. So being the writer of Spider-Man for the last eighteen years, really my mom said to me a few years ago "yeah I remember that dinner, you got really close" "that's really good, what are the odds?".
Comic Lounge: What was your first published work?
Bendis: My first published work, I had a few magazine illustrations and I also had some comic strips published in my High School and College publications. So I got to see my work printed first. But my first comic book, that was a full comic book I published, was called "Parts of A Whole". It was kind of a self made anthology I did in college, in art, and eventually they gave me independent studies which meant I could just sit in the corner and do whatever I wanted as long as I was working. I got a contract to publish a comic through this little upstart, indie press place called Caliber Press, where a lot of my friends and I actually made our first comics. So yeah, that was my first comic, and I completely messed it up like your supposed to and I learned a lot and applied those lessons to future stuff I printed.
Comic Lounge: I first discovered your work on "Ultimate Spider-Man", which is one of my favorite books of all
time. What went through your mind when you were tasked with launching the book?
Bendis: Well, it was a very strenuous time for myself and for comics. Comics were in a weird place. Marvel was in bankruptcy and a lot of people had actually left the company. They were unbeknownst to me kind of in a fever panic to try and save the company on it's own merits. They were working on what became the Ultimate Line and different creators were attached to it, they were attempting to say 'ok if we started the Marvel Universe over from scratch, what would that be'. When I got hired to do "Daredevil", they liked what I did on "Daredevil" enough and said "Hey what do you think about Spider-Man?, Is that something you like". After so many years of false starts, submissions and attempting to get everyone's attention, to finally be offered Spider-Man and being able to start it over from scratch and really express your self was kind of shocking. I couldn't really believe it because it was so surreal. So I just rolled up my sleeves and said, "I'm just gonna write as honestly as I can, I'm not gonna try to make somebody happy", I just wanted to be as honest of a writer as possible.
I handed in that first issue and it didn't have Spider-Man in it, it's all Peter Parker. I was like, "Well they're either gonna love it or they're not and if they don't, I'm not the right guy for it". It ended up that my choice was the right one, for what they needed at the moment and what the line needed to be. More character focused and less event focused.
I think about that often as I head towards any big, giant, storyline that's been tasked to me. Like this Superman job, people are so surprised it's so character focused. That's where the gold is, that's where you find stuff that people can relate to. I'm applying a lot of the feelings I had about that first run on Spider-Man, to what I'm doing now on Young Justice and Superman.
Comic Lounge: Not only did you write an amazing run with Peter Parker in that title, but then you created Miles Morales. Who's become a fantastic character in his own right. Where did the inspiration come for Miles?
Bendis: Well he was co-created by myself and Sara Pichelli, you know that one was a good one to. We were literally at Marvel sitting around, the Ultimate line was commercially successful, and we really just started having one of those excellent conversations. What could we have done better, these characters are really successful, but what could we have done better as creators? That's a healthy conversation to have. A lot of bold decisions are made during times when things aren't doing well, but I like when bold decisions are made when things are actually doing pretty well.
We started talking about the realities of Spider-Man, the realities of what the ethnic background would be, if you really told the story of a young man living with his aunt, that's a science nerd. If you really start off with what the elements of the Spider-Man story are, the odds of it being a Caucasian kid were very slim. You start to think, well what would the difference in the story have been. Then a year later, Miles becomes a reality. It became, "Maybe we should do this", more and more it was just things in the air, in the zeitgeist, that just made us feel like it was thing to do. Donald Glover campaigning to be Spider-Man, there was quite a few things going on that made us feel like it was the right choice.
So, Quesada was so helpful to us and David Walker was so helpful as well. There was so many people that made Miles, an honest and interesting character. Our biggest problem with Miles is that, Spider-Man isn't broken, Peter Parker isn't of the time that's kind of come, it's a universal truth of the character. So to come up with something that speaks that truth equally, was very daunting. It was made clear to me by very many people, "Don't mess it up and don't be dishonest in your writing".
I can tell you, that this whole season building up to the movie, which is a good movie, is boggling to me. It's amazing to see Miles continue to inspire and delight people. It's already happened one with Jessica Jones, that it's not just something that's successful that people like, something else is going on. There's an emotional component, that's different than anything else I've been apart of. To have that twice, at Marvel, is beyond beyond.
Comic Lounge: So besides "Ultimate Spider-Man", you've also wrote acclaimed run on "Daredevil", "Avengers", "X-Men",and "Guardians of the Galaxy". I mean there's not much you haven't written at Marvel. What were some of the highlights for you on some of those titles?
Bendis: Never getting fired off Spider-Man was a big win for me. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it really was cool. It's funny, now that the door on my Marvel years is more or less closed for real, I did a signing in New York and people bring me books and I can look at them a little differently. Like I look at Daredevil, and of all the books I did at Marvel, that book behind the scenes was the most joyful occasion. Working with the other creators and how they treated us, just how that book came together, was one of the great personal joys of my life. You guys wouldn't know that because you just get to see the final product. It's amazing what books I look at and go "I'm so glad I'm in comics, because I got to have that experience".
So there's quite a few things like that, that were just personal. Personally wonderful to me, is working with close friends and getting to a place in our work that I dint think we could get to. Like a more advanced place, that was very exciting, but also working with my heroes. As exciting as it is to have the on Avengers, that's the longest of all time, I look at it as this journey of all these collaborators and heroes I got to work with. I got to work with Walt Simonson on Avengers, these things mean the world to me.
Also, I gotta say, you're talking to me at a very emotional time about all of this. I just came back from New York City, where I got to see my Marvel friends in person for the first time since I left, and since I was sick last year. I also got to hang out with my new DC friends and my new DC family. So I really got this cross section of all the best people in comics and it made me feel really good about everything we accomplished together, it's really special. C.B. Cebulski is EIC of Marvel now, but we've been very close for a long time now, people forget that he was the editor of "Powers" during it's heyday. We've worked very closely together so it's weird to not be working together, yet still working in comics. It's a very long answer, but there's a lot going on emotionally.
Comic Lounge: You already kind of touched on the subject, but what was it like watching Jessica Jones brought
to life and becoming so successful? I think Krysten Ritter did a great job with the role.
Bendis: She did an amazing job. It's all been very surreal. Like, I didn't make the show and even though my name's on it and I consulted or wherever I was asked, it became very clearly early on that Melissa (creator of the show) had it. Every once in awhile you're in a creative situation when you realize, that the person sitting next to you, totally doesn't need any help and has it under control. It's a wonderful feeling. But I also know that you can do everything right and still fuck it up, that happens all the time. You see a movie and you go, "What happened that guy's such a good filmmaker", the magic of story can not always be there for you. So I just got zen about it,
I'm a huge fan of the showrunner and I'm a huge fan of the cinematographer they hired. I was very excited about that because I knew the visual representation was as important to how the story was being told. Then I just got zen about it, I didn't even go to the set when they asked me to, I got weird about that. Then I was in New York and Joe Quesada said, "I need you to come over to the office", but there was something weird about ho he was asking me to come over. I came over and he sits me in his office, puts me n front of his computer and presses play and it's the Jessica Jones pilot. He doesn't tell me if it's good or bad, he doesn't give me any expectations to build on, he just sat me down in front of it. Which made me feel like "uh oh he's just bracing me", like a band-aid he's just gonna show it to me. I turned to him and he says "It's great! I said, "Oh man I was worried". He was totally right. So from the get go I was like, "Oh what a huge relief".
Now what I did not expect, and it's hard for people to even get this, is that Netflix was still early going in what they could accomplish as a broadcaster. So it was difficult to even imagine that "Jessica Jones" was even in a position to become, even if I fantasized about it, to become a show that people really connected to, like it has. I couldn't even imagine that, it was like how is this going to air, oh it's going to be an original show on Netflix, that's how quickly things shifted. Then the show aired and it was in a position to become what it became. All of which I had a front row seat to, but I had no ability to make it happen or wish it happen. It was just luck and talent from the creators.
The crazy thing that happens, is it becomes like out of our hands, Jessica Jones all of a sudden becomes a pop culture thing, like you hear about it in the air. David Mack and I were at a restaurant and we're overhearing women talking very loudly about Jessica as if she were a real person. It was the first time I had experienced how much TV is keeping people connected to each other over story. Having Jessica have this profound impact on people, was beautiful. I spend most of my time at conventions, having just wonderful, warm moments with people, hugging and saying nice things about these characters.
I often tell young creators, who are a little scared to put some of their pain on the page, that I promise you it pays off. I showed some of my pain and it comes back with people responding to it with theirs, it's a wonderful thing.
Comic Lounge: When you left Marvel for DC, the comic book community was shocked. When I thought of Marvel your name was the first that popped into my head, so I was shocked as well. What were some of the reasons you decided to make the switch from Marvel to DC?
Bendis: A few things, number one I think people kind of know that the machine of comics is not really built for people to stay forever. I stayed as long as you could possibly stay and not get fired or feel like they wanted you to leave. I love my friends but at the same time there was a bit of a struggle to find what I'm gonna do next. What exactly hadn't I accomplished yet, right? At some point you're like, "Oh that's very flattering". But the other point you're like "Uh oh", You spent so much of your life trying to climb the mountain, and you're like "Oh this is the top of the mountain", it's surreal. So there was that and the uh oh maybe I'm done.
The reality is that I'm a teacher and one of my big lessons about teaching is that you should do the things that scare you. Whatever it is you're writing or whatever it is that you're drawing, whatever it is that the reason you're doing it is probably scaring you, you should do that thing that scares you. Over the years DC has come to me with offers and then this one came, and it scared me. It was like, "you have no excuse get over here".
Dan DiDio said it very clearly in our first meeting and he said it in such a nice way, When I started on "Defenders", he went into Jim's office and said "Why is Brian back on Daredevil again? He's done it three times" "Get over here, he's done this already". From his perspective, he's right I've already done this why are you doing it again. In my perspective, I'm older creator, an older writer, I'm a different guy let's see what it feels like. As interesting as that may have been for me, the audience is much more interested in me getting the hell over here starting Superman and Young Justice.
Also, I knew my next chapter would be very heavy on creator owned. It was the thing that I was mad at myself for not doing more of. I had so much material ready to go and I had not pulled the trigger. Some of the best artists in the world are my closest collaborators. I was frustrated with myself and then DC said, we want you to come over here and we want to partner up with you on your creator owned because that is the stuff we're a fan of. So my desires to do creator owned, the journey to see if I could do it at DC after doing it at Marvel, all those things.
I'm a creator completely in love with other creators journeys and I was a big fan of Frank Miller, Walt Simonson and George Perez, when they journeyed from Marvel to DC. Like you said about me being connected to Marvel, that's how we felt when Frank Miller and John Byrne 'jumped ship', it was rattling. I don't think I was reading any DC comics at the time, but then I was reading all DC Comics. So I knew that feeling and I wondered if that feeling even applied today. If a creator 'jumped ship', would people feel the way I felt. So I was shocked to find out that they did. It was quite a fun day, most people were just thrilled. I had no idea what that was going to feel like, I slept through most of it, but it was pretty exciting. We literally announced it and then went to bed.
Comic Lounge: Yeah I still remember that morning it was announced, I woke up and looked at my phone and saw the news and immediately ran to tell my brother, and the look in his eyes was the same as mine. We both were just like, "What the f*** is happening?
Bendis: I appreciate that, because when John Byrne went to DC it was a big deal, but it was a different time. We live in a weird culture, where the President says something and it's in the media for the whole day. I said, "We may announce it and may not gain traction on it", but we lucked out, the President was on an international flight to Korea or something, so we go a lot of air time, he was asleep on the plane, haha, I lucked out. So I went to bed and when I woke up two hours later I had a text from an old friend, Phil Hester. It said, "Congratulations on trending without having died or embarrassed yourself", most often if your an author and your trending something bad has happened, haha. I said, "You know what, I'll take that, I'm gonna own that moment. Thank you".
Comic Lounge: Ok, so not to take anything away from any creators over the last few years. But, in my opinion, since you've taken over the Superman books, have been phenomenal. The best that they've been in a long time. It feels like you were meant to write Superman, the way you've written him. The characterization is perfect, I hear Superman's voice when I'm reading it, he just sounds like he's supposed to sound, if that makes sense.
Bendis: I really appreciate that man. I spent an enormous amount of time preparing and doing all the things where I could show you a Superman that I believed n wholeheartedly, that I feel connected to. I'm just so lucky, it's a perfect time in my life and a perfect time, really, the way the world feels. To spend hours a day, like last night I spent all night writing Superman. It's genuinely spending time with someone whose only job is to find the best thing to do and to do it, like that's their job all day.
So I spent all day thinking, what would the best person do at this very moment? Then, when your done with that, when you close your computer, you can't really go back to being an asshole in the 'real' world. It affects you and your emotional state, you find yourself just being kinder to people. It's an excellent place to live. I love that I'm able to project that out in the writing, because it makes me feel better. I love when I read people on Twitter and it just seems like people feel better, having spent time with Superman for a little while, it's just a human thing.
I'm so lucky because the writers who came before me, oh my god, they set me up so great. They set me up in ways I would have never gotten to on my own. I would have never gotten to Jor-El being part of the story, if Dan (Jurgens) hadn't set me up that way. What Pete (Tomasi) and Patrick (Gleason) did on the family, just setting it up in a way where we can really go into it. I just felt like it was such perfect timing. I've had it a couple times in my career. This was THE most perfectly timed story for the character and even how I feel in my body while I'm writing it just feels like, "This feels right".
Comic Lounge: Can you talk about, or tease, any upcoming stuff in the Superman books ?
Bendis: Oh yeah! There's so much! I will say, that today in the solicitations, something we haven't talked about yet is hinted at. It's called, Leviathan Awakens and it starts in Action Comics #1007. This is a pretty enormous story, when people look at my Superman run, this is the storyline where people are gonna go "Oh a lot of shit happens here". There are pieces of the DC Universe that are just absolutely fascinating to me and my collaborators.
When I first came to DC, Dan DiDio actually said " Here's a special place in the DCU, that could really use some tender love and care". I don't want to say what it is now, but when you see it, you're gonna go like, "Oh yes!". But Leviathan represents that part of the DCU, it's very unique to comics and when we see what's going on with Leviathan, you're gonna want to get back on the phone with me. It's one of those storylines, even among the DC crew, only a few people know what it is. That's how secretive it is. It's building to something that's coming next summer that's pretty huge. I always said to myself, that if I ever did a storyline like this at DC, I would really really go for it and make it very unique and special.
When I first got on Avengers, I right away blew up the mansion and crazy, it was like a disaster movie. But this storyline that we're doing in "Action Comics", and I think that people can really get a sense it's really building up to something. Like something really dangerous is coming along in Superman's world and he may not be able to get his hands around, once it reveals itself. So that's kinda where we're headed.
More importantly, I'm most excited for people to see, out of all the books that are shipping, is Action Comics #1004. It's the Lois and Clark issue, it's the issue where we find out what Lois has been up to since "Man of Steel". Why she leaves? What's going on with the relationship? A lot of people are terrified of what that reveal will be, usually you assume the worst would happen even though I write nothing but romance comics, most of the time. Still people worry. But you're gonna see what Lois and Clark mean to each other now and what their relationship means. My first step in proving to the world, that Lois Lane is the best character in all of comics. The issue is by Ryan Sook, who is one of my favorite artists, it's very emotional and I'm really excited for people to see it.
Comic Lounge: Ok so I wanted to jump over and talk a little bit about Jinxworld. You brought that imprint over to DC and every book so far has been absolutely amazing. The artists that you're collaborating with are just unbelievable. I think you're one of the most blessed writers in the industry, with who you've been able to collaborate with (Alex Maleev, Michael Gaydos, David Mack, and Michael Avon Oeming). Every single book has been on point.
Bendis: Number one, can you believe I grew up with these guys? I grew up with them, this is my crew. I've known David since we were kids. So to have a front row seat to artists, of such caliber and pure, honest talent is so joyful. We found ourselves in this situation, I called them up and said "Hey listen, I have this deal at DC where we can really do what we want to do, we can really explore and shine". I pointed out, that we're creators of a certain age, where we kind of figured out how to do what we do and why we're doing it. When you're a younger creator, you don't always know why. But I did know why, and I said to them " Let's be like Jack Kirby and other creators before us". Not to compare ourselves to them, but they were in a situation like this where DC said " Go nuts!". So it's really our obligation, to go nuts. I pointed that out to all of the artists and they all took it upon themselves to up their game and one up it and one up each other.
By the time we got to the final issues, they were really just kind of inspiring each other. Everyone was showing each other's work and it was just getting better and better. Michael Gaydos, I think, is exploding the hardest from where he was to where he is now, and really just shocking everybody in to just doing amazing work. That's what you're seeing the reflection of,. It's like four artists are living with each other, who have been through a life journey together, now inspiring the next level of work together. That doesn't always happen. I'm very lucky.
Comic Lounge: It was announced at NYCC, that "Pearl" was being turned into an ongoing series. Do you have any plans to continue any of the other books?
Bendis: So "Pearl" and "Cover" were brand new, with David and Mike. It's an insane level of work, it's full digital, so it takes a great deal of time and effort. So I wasn't sure if Mike really wanted to do more than six months of it, like it's exhausting, right? Like it might be a great place to visit, but does he want to live there. Sometime when a comic book artist takes a book, they're living there. If you draw Batman, you live in Gotham City, in your head. Like, that's where you are now and that's all you're drawing. So I wanted to make sure that this is stuff he wanted to draw, that he felt connected to. It was a very emotional book for us, so I wanted to make sure it would continue. The book sold very well and I said, "Well, we can go to series or we can do something else" and he said "Nah I wanna go to series, I'm having so much. Let's just do a whole year and see how we feel". I'm like, "Great, Done".
With "Cover", we also did very well. That one we're gonna do a series of mini-series. So when we finish the six
issues, David is gonna need at least four months to recover, then we'll have the next series read for Summer. With "Scarlet, we're already gonna continue on and we have a T.V. show coming as well. And "United States of Murder Inc.", the little engine that could, I'm so happy it's doing so well. When we finish this series, we're gonna take a break and finish the "Powers" 20th anniversary GN. Which is already drawn, but we're seeing if there's more we can add to it to make it special. Then we're gonna dive right back into "United States of Murder Inc." and a new "Takio" GN, which is an all ages graphic novel series that we do. That DC was kind enough to ask us to do more of.
So we got a lot going on. I also have a couple books cooking, with other creators as well. Now that we're launched, and people know what Jinxworld is, we're not going to put all the series out at once like we did. But over the course of the year, when the books are ready, we'll really come out with something special. It's our home and we're so thrilled to have such a great publishing partner, in Warner Bros.
An extra fun trivia fact, it now makes "Powers, "Jinx" , and "Torso" the only books that have been published my Marvel, DC, and Image, so that's pretty cool. People don't know but "Powers" was actually a pitch to DC Comics, we pitched it to them and they rejected it. It happens all the time, there's so many creator owned books that were originally a pitch that didn't fly. But the creators knew they were special even if the editor doesn't get it, or it's just not the right thing for that publisher. It's funny because now it's published by DC, twenty years later.
Comic Lounge: At NYCC, you announced that you were launching the Wonder Comics imprint. More importantly, the return of Young Justice. What drew you to the idea of reviving "Young Justice"? Was it something that you thought about when coming over to DC?
Bendis: There was definitely a pile of characters that I loved, and Young Justice has quite a few of them. I wasn't thinking about an imprint, or anything like that, when I was first talking to DC. Dan DiDio had mentioned that they were having a lot of success with Young Animal and all of the pop-up imprints. He said, "If there's a flavor you have, that you think, oh my god I have to show you this", "Then we would really like to hear that because it's a great way for us to really brand and point to folks and say this is what these books are like".
So I thought about, ok let's do a bunch of crime comics, like my own Marvel Knights. I was one of the creators at Marvel Knights during it's heyday and I always looked at it as the be all, end all. Then it dawned on me, Jinxworld is a bunch of crime comics and I was already doing that. So I thought, "What else do I have to offer the universe?". As I was writing the very last issue of "Spider-Man", with Miles, I said "Oh I'm gonna miss this", "I'm gonna miss writing these characters, at this moment in time".
I knew that DC had Zoom and other young reader initiatives, but I said " The Ultimate line, really hit that teenager, young, college reader right between the eyes and no one's doing that right now". It's weird to me that nobody is doing that right now, especially with how the Ultimate line was so successful for such a long time. So why not do that, but with characters that more reflect what's going on today, in our world and our society. I think Dan was the one who said "Young Justice" and I went "Oh my God!". He was like, "Young Justice is gonna be a show, it is not a comic, we haven't had a take that we are dying for". I said, " Well, then Conner and Bart, can these characters come back in this continuity? Can we really like make a statement?". From there I said, " Let's really look at it the way we looked at Avengers". At the moment when I took New Avengers, there was something about it that was a little off. Why aren't you publishing these characters? What's missing? What's the disconnect?
So we were able to dive in and from there, bring back all these characters that people have a deep feeling for. It's funny, Conner Kent in particularly , the minute I joined the Superman office and DC Comics I've been hit with, #bringbackconnerkent. Like every four hours, for days and weeks and months. It was so funny because, they didn't know I was actually doing it. Regardless of their hashtags, Conner Kent was already being brought back but we were doing it slowly and quietly. I've never had that experience, where the internet is yelling at me to do something I was actually doing, but I couldn't tell them because you can't trust anybody. Just as a fan, I wanted to tell the other fans "Don't worry, I got your back". So I always felt bad though that fans were stressed out about Connor without really needing to be.
Then we started building new characters as well. The other fun thing that happened was, just finding out that Pat Gleason and I were on the same page on so many levels. But at the same time finding out that this relationship I'm building with him, he already had with Pete Tomasi on Superman.gThat it was a very intimate collaboration, not just a work-for-hire job, much like I had with Alex (Maleev) on Daredevil, a very profound relationship. So I said, "Why don't we go over here and do something that isn't Superman, that would be special for us". The he told me, " Oh my god, Brian, I literally pitched Young Justice last year. I want to do it so badly". So we took elements from his pitch and my pitch, put them together and we came up with something that makes us very happy. It worked out great.
From there, the line built. That moment where you discover the wonder of life and also the wonder of what comics can be, the theme became very clear. We started inviting the other titles, "Wonder Twins" and "Dial 'H' for Hero" and our new book, "Naomi". They all fit, thematically, so perfectly and they're all unique. As a fan of lines like this, I really took it seriously. What the line looked like, smelled like, and tastes like.
Comic Lounge: Yeah, when this was announced, I think it was the best comic book news I've heard all year. DC kind of took away those characters when they relaunched during "The New 52". I was really disappointed with how DC handled those characters. When you took over Superman, my first thought was, "I hope he brings back Conner".
Bendis: It's not done out of malice. It was like, "Let's put Conner away so we can focus on Jon". It's always done for someone's benefit. It's gonna take a few months for everyone to get a sense of what were building with them. But, they're back and these books are in continuity and they matter. They are a part of the big thing that we're building for next summer.
It was actually one of those announcements, while I was in New York City at NYCC, there was no internet. So when they announced it, as excited as I am about anything that I've ever done, you don't know what the reaction is. It was only hours later, at the hotel, that I was like "Holy Shit!" I think I even tweeted "This is the day that the internet really likes me and I missed it."
They unveiled a piece there, of the characters flying through the air, a joyous piece of art work by this guy Jamal Campbell. Who is an artist that is about too have one of those really profound moment in comics. He just handed in all the artwork for Naomi #, and David (Walker) and I were like, "Well Ok...". I've had this before, with Sara Pichelli on Spider-Man, where something about the moment and the character, where the artist just explodes and becomes another type of artist. So you're about to see Jamal have a real 'moment' as a comic creator, I'm very happy about my front row seat to it. Also, Jamal's not like an artist that has high profile things like this. That Young Justice artwork really traveled all over the world, for days. It kept showing up on our feed, so it was really magical to watch him enjoy that, in person.
Comic Lounge: Speaking of "Naomi", can you talk a little more about that title?
Bendis: People know some of the elements of Young Justice, so obviously people are really excited and focused on that. But I think at the end of the first storyline, "Naomi" is gonna be the shocker. Naomi is a character who lives in the Pacific Northwest, she's the only brown skinned girl in a all white town because she was adopted. Superman and Mongul, literally in the middle of a fight, bounce in an out of the small town in the Pacific Northwest. It's like one of those fight scenes that keeps on moving. That moment, that burst of violence into their world, starts a story for Naomi where she starts to second guess the facts of her adoption. Where she cam from and what it means. By the end of it, we're actually going to be introducing something into the DCU that is so huge and additive, it's hard to even describe to people. What Naomi's bringing to the DCU is bigger than anything that Superman brings. So big stuff, big new stuff. It's for the entirety of the DCU, not just for Naomi. It's something big that the DCU doesn't know about. A la the Fourth World and Gemworld, there are places in the DCU that are filled with excitement and danger, Naomi is a key to one of those.
Comic Lounge: Going back To Conner, are there any plans to have him interact with Jon in the Superman books? Or are keeping Conner just in "Young Justice"?
Bendis: Yeah, there is interaction. The "Unity Saga", is a very big storyline, I think one of my favorite reactions to last weeks issue, Superman #4, was "Oh, ok this is an enormous storyline". All of the elements, are really just coming in to play now. So six months from now, enough will be revealed. Now, people can't even imagine how Jon and Conner can be in the same room, but you haven't even seen any of their story yet. In a few months, Jon has a very VERY long journey ahead of him, people are gonna get a sense of that right away with issue 6 of Superman. Then in Young Justice #1, which will be the first official 'brand new' Conner, you'll find out where he's been and why. But there's some interesting connective tissue and some elements of the DCU, to be discovered, that other people haven't found yet. So I'm pretty excited to show that to you.
Comic Lounge: Are there any plans to expand the line, past these initial four titles?
Bendis: Yeah, we already have an "Amethyst" book in production by a creator that I absolutely adore. I'm thrilled that she's writing and drawing it. We have a couple more projects on launching pads, for our second wave. Now what excited us, once we put the team together of Young Justice, much like the feeling I had when we were putting together "New Avengers", you realize that EVERY single one of these characters not only deserves but kind of needs their own series or mini-series. Like there's so much story, with Bart and Cassie and Tim Drake, so many of them. Tim's got a lot of face time lately, in comics, but Bart and Cassie have had almost none, if any. People are dying for more of them, so, we're cooking those even as we launch, "There's gotta be at least a Conner Kent mini-series, at least". So we're cooking it up and talking to creators making sure those creators are bringing something we haven't seen before. I know immediately when people see Young Justice, they're like, "Oh we'll get back the original creators". Even though that would be awesome, I also think that, with these characters, new creators coming in are part of what will make them thrive and survive.
It feels great, that's all I can speak on right now. When you're creating something, sometimes it feels weird, it feels good, it feels strange. But sometimes you feel, "This shit is 1000% the right thing to do, right now". I have some darker things at DC that are greenlit right now, big projects that I will be getting to. But at the moment everything about Wonder Comics feels like, "That's the energy you should be putting out into the world", energy that the fans are dying for. Just exciting, friendship, fun, just "Let's get to it".
Comic Lounge: Is there any other books or projects that you're working n that you can tease or drop a few hints about?
Bendis: Well, Leviathan and what's going on with that, is a pretty big deal. We're just at the beginning of the tease of that. So that's one that's coming. But I think you'll really get a sense in Superman and in the Walmart Batman book, that we're building a very large and ambitious storyline. This move to DC isn't just "Oh I get to write Superman". It's like, "If you're gonna write Superman, you better write the shit out of Superman". Then it was like really sitting down and making sure like I'm feeling that, I'm bringing something that I haven't seen before. That would shock and delight me as a fan. Also just remembering what it felt like to buy Frank Miller's Batman, when it was coming out monthly. So just trying to emulate that feeling, is what I should be doing, and that is what we're doing.
Comic Lounge: Lastly, what advice would you give to a writer trying to break into the industry?
Bendis: You know what, I've spent so much time trying to demystify the process for people because that's what people ask a lot. They think it's like, some magic trick that some people know how to do and some people don't. Like a magic trick, if you learn how to do it and practice, you get really good at it. I like to tell people, that there are people with natural talent, like natural ability, and there are people who have to really role up their sleeves and work really hard. Most of us have to roll up our sleeves and work really hard I'm one of those people. I have to work really really hard to get to where I need to get to. It takes a lot of time, more time than I think people would think at this point in my career. I say this because, yeah you can do it to. You absolutely can do it too, there is nothing standing in your way, go sit down and write.
Those who sit down and write, and write from beginning to end, finish what you started, are successful. There's very few things you can point to and go, that's success and that's not success, but finishing what you started. You get to find out why your doing what your doing, who you are as a creator, what propels you to do it. So many people just do like ten pages over and over, you may go through this as well, like "I'm gonna start over, I'm gonna start over". No, don't start over, just keep going. The storyline and the characters will you tell you what you need. But if you don't sit down to do it, it will never happen. So sit down and do it!