Bendis Prepares the Return of "Takio"

Every super hero has something they're afraid of. It's usually something earth shattering such as failing to save someone in danger, the discovery of a secret identity -- or not being home in time for dinner? That last one is among the biggest fears of the fledgeling super heroic duo of Taki and Olivia, the titular characters of last year's "Takio," an all-ages creator-owned original graphic novel by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Avon Oeming, the creators of "Powers."

This spring, the girls are back for another all-ages adventure that sees them fighting crime on the streets of Portland while trying to keep their costumed after school activities a secret from their overprotective mom and the rest of the world. CBR News spoke with Bendis about the "Takio" sequel, which will see print as a miniseries from Marvel Comics' Icon imprint before being collected as a graphic novel.

While the original "Takio" graphic novel was an origin story that set the characters up for more adventures, Bendis wasn't exactly sure he'd get a chance to revisit the characters of Taki and Olivia. When it became clear the book was resonating with readers, the writer put his plans for a sequel in motion.

"People were over the moon and vocal in their enthusiasm and support of 'Takio.' It made me really, really happy. I had a lot of great things come out last year, but holding that graphic novel was one of the great joys of my entire career," Bendis told CBR News. "I hadn't looked at it in a few months and now that I'm back writing the sequel I took a look at it again and I'm very, very proud of it. People who haven't picked it up yet, please do. It's a completely different side of Mike Oeming and we're very, very proud of these characters."

For Bendis, writing the titular heroines is just one of the enjoyable aspects of working on a "Takio" sequel. Another is the all-ages nature of the book, something the writer feels comics need more of.

"The one thing that drives me nuts is that when people hear the words 'all-ages' they think that means for kids. It does not mean that. 'all-ages' literally means that any one can read this. I don't understand why 'all-ages' has almost become the F' word for people in comics and I will fight that battle at cost if I have to," Bendis remarked. "The next story line will be put out as single issues and then collected as a graphic novel that matches the format and styles of the ones we put out through Jinxworld. This spring, [likely] May, is our first issue and it's a great jumping on point.

"I know there are people who are fans of original graphic novels that are going to be upset about this, but there are people who are fans of single issue comics and they were bummed out that that they didn't get a chance to buy 'Takio' in that format," Bendis continued. "Also it's funny, a couple retailers said, 'Getting kids to read the single issues of comics is harder.'' There's 'Amelia Rules' and all these other graphic novel series that kids read, but getting them into the habit of reading a comic book is where we need help. So it's funny because there were a lot of people that were excited for an original graphic novel and as soon as I did it I was told, 'No. No. No. Do the issues.' So people who want an original graphic novel? You're going to get it. People who want single issues to share with their kid? You're going to get those too. We now realized we spited half our audience by not putting out single issues."

The original "Takio" was by Bendis and Oeming, but the "Powers" creators were also joined by another creator, Bendis' nine year-old daughter Olivia. Olivia has offered her father some feedback on the "Takio" sequel, but currently most of her time and energy is being devoted to another creative endeavor.

"For some reason she got it into her head that she wanted to read Brian Selznick's 'The Invention of Hugo Cabaret' by herself. So she read it and then I got a screener of Martin Scorsese's film adaptation. We watched it and then she needed to see 'Hugo' in 3D. It was really getting to her profoundly. I think it was the first movie where she realized it was better than the other movies she's seen," Bendis explained. "Remember when you first realized something was awesome or something sucked? When you're a kid everything is equally awesome. To us adults clearly 'Kung Fu Panda' is better than 'Alvin and the Chipmunks.' To a six year-old though, both are equally awesome. Then there's that age where things start sucking and things start being awesome.

"That's such a wonderful experience and she had it with 'Hugo.' She clearly saw that it was better. All her friends saw it as well and one day they came to me after school and said, 'If we made a movie could you help us?' I'm like, 'That's the only thing I can help you do,'" Bendis said with a chuckle. "'If you guys came to me and said you wanted to start a soccer team you'd be on your own. I can't help you.' So I was thrilled that I and some of the other parents were in a position to help them do this. Then I realized that in 'Hugo' there's a 45 minute piece about how cinema was born and what it does in life. That got to them so now they're getting together and making movies. It's the coolest thing in the world. Scorsese changed my life over and over again and here I am with my nine year-old having another amazing experience because of Scorsese. So when I'm done with 'Takio' pages I show them to Olivia, but it's important that she expresses her own views."

In the original "Takio" story Bendis detailed how Taki and Olivia received super powers. Olivia, the youngest of the sisters, believed they should use their new powers as costumed heroes. Taki wasn't convinced, but at the end of the OGN she agreed, believing that their father, a deceased firefighter, would have wanted them to use their newfound abilities to help people.

"When we open the new series you get to see them on one of their first ever costumed adventures. Once again it's in Portland and it's the real world. They're the only super heroes and the police and schools act accordingly. The girls have an over protective mother and if she found out about this she would literally keel over. So there's a lot going on in their lives," Bendis explained. "Also the situation that gave them powers also gave Taki's best friend Kelly Sue powers, and that's created a rift between them. So Taki has an enemy with powers as well. Plus Kelly Sue's father is the one that gave them powers and he's up to shenanigans. So when we come into this new series we get to see where Olivia and Taki are right now and how the world has reacted to them. Then several more bad guys will pop up in their lives."

As the writer of "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man" Bendis knows that some of the most interesting and exciting moments in the lives of young super heroes occur when they're out of costume. So in the "Takio" sequel the girls will have their hands full in the secret identities as well. Much of the out of costume action will deal with how Taki and Olivia manage their new secret and how it affects other people in their lives.

"Taki and Kelly Sue were best friends and now they're not. They're having their first fight ever and it's a pretty profound one. Kelly Sue is a pretty tortured kid. She worships her father and is slowly discovering that he's a bit of a weasel and certainly not the man she thought he was. That's hard to come to terms with. She has to ask herself if she's going to end up like him or do something else? Meanwhile she feels betrayed by her best friend Taki. So Taki will attempt to bridge that gap a little more and will see how that affects their relationship," Bendis remarked. "Meanwhile Olivia is dealing more with her sense of self worth. She's very young and learning how to be responsible. Keeping a secret at that age is much harder."

The protagonists of "Takio" may have trouble dealing with their new lives, but Bendis' collaborator Mike Oeming is having no difficulties depicting that trouble. "Mike developed a new style specifically for 'Takio' and in the sequel you'll see how comfortable he's become with it. The whole first issue is drawn and it's just bombastic and fun," Bendis said. "It's so funny because I've been putting together the solicits for 'Powers' and 'Takio.' 'Powers' is noir and oppressive. It's full of shadows that punish the characters. Takio is all about excitement. It's almost like the art itself is looking forward to something. It's full of exuberance. Both books are colored by Nick Filardi and they feature completely different palettes. I can't speak enough about what an amazing job he's been doing for us. So I think you're going to see a more refined version of what you already saw in the graphic novel. I'm very proud of what they did there."

Bendis hasn't officially decided on how many issues the "Takio" sequel will be, but believes it probably won't be longer than six issues. The writer feels a series of yearly miniseries that can be collected into individual graphic novels is the best way to handle "Takio" and keep it an active part of his creative out put.

"I'd love to release one of these a year. It seems on par with what other books like 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid,' 'Amelia Rules' and others do," Bendis said. "In these issues we're going to do a fun version of a letter column and other features that have been missing from all-ages comics. Obviously this letter column will be a little different than the one featured me and Mike's other book, 'Powers,' which is meant for mature readers."

Bendis encourages readers who find his plans for the "Takio" sequel intriguing to preorder it and talk up the book to other readers who might be interested. "The first 'Takio' was made with such love and the response was so immediate. You have to wait for months to see how graphic novels are doing, but response was so immediate. The audience for these things is so hungry. I know there are some all-ages book out there, but there certainly seems to be a feverish hunger for more. I'm very happy to do more of that," Bendis said. "So thank you for supporting us. We felt empowered to do more. I will say of all the creator-owned books that we're doing this is the one that needs your word of mouth. It needs you to tell your store to order it. If you have friends who are constantly saying they want something new get them to try this. Say, 'Here's something new on every single level.'"

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