Brian Michael Bendis made a splash at DC Comics with his take on Superman and the now-running Man of Steel series. But the writer won't be stopping at superheroes.
This August sees the return of Bendis' Jinxworld line of comics: the overarching name for his various creator-owned series that in some cases predate his blockbuster run as an exclusive Marvel writer. Late summer sees the arrival of returning series Scarlet with artist Alex Maleev as well as new Jinxworld releases Pearl with Michael Gaydos and Cover with David Mack. And the near future will see Bendis reunite with his longtime partner Michael Avon Oeming for more Powers and United States of Murder Inc.
With a full slate of titles revving up for regular release, CBR spoke with Bendis about how his creator-owned ambitions, how DC Comics is proving a different publishing partner than any previous home for Jinxworld, why the company has changed his approach to artistic collaborators on Superman and beyond and what his next imprint will shape up to be.
CBR: Brian, we spoke earlier about how you fit into this "DC machine," and a big part of this move for you is the reestablishment of the Jinxworld books. Marvel obviously was very good to you over the years – creating Icon as an imprint for guys like you and Mark Millar and Ed Brubaker. But it always felt very much like they said, "Okay, you're working on Marvel Universe books. We'll print your creator-owned books too, but it's on you to do the heavy lifting." On the other hand, Vertigo and the like have always been very different. Do you feel you have a better balance now between your superhero stuff and creator-owned?
Brian Michael Bendis: This is a very exciting part of the partnership that we're developing. A lot of people are focusing on Superman – as well they should – but behind the scenes we're very excited about the level of support they're offering. Marvel was great to me, and they even started Icon so I would have a home for my books! I can't express to you how great that is. I felt unsafe about their future where I was, and Marvel made me safe and made me whole. But in general over the years, yeah. There's just not much in it for Disney to promote these books because they don't own them, but they do own Spider-Man. They would publish lovingly all the time whatever we wanted to put out.
But when I met with [DC Co-Publisher] Dan DiDio for the first time, he said, "Listen. You need to refocus your creator-owned work. I want more Powers. I want more Scarlet. I want more Brilliant. I want to create a situation where you can do this. At Marvel, you were self-publishing through them. Here, you're going to get the whole machine. It's the whole DC marketing and social media blitz. We're going to publish these as if they were our books. It's just like Vertigo books that we love and we own. It'll be a meaningful partnership." And that is what they've done.
What that gave us was an almost unheard of chance to get our shit together. We sat down, reestablished our schedules, rearranged everyone's schedules and got it going. And on top of that, DC brought Alex [Maleev] over. They brought David [Mack] over. Mike [Avon Oeming] was already over. They sat down and did deals with all of them. So right now we're working on everything. Alex Maleev is painting Scarlet. David Mack is doing Cover. Michael Gaydos is going Pearl. Michael Avon Oeming just finished an entire Powers graphic novel and is knee-deep on Murder, Inc.
All the wheels are back on the wagon, and we're going to be coming out strong and swinging with new stuff. This is stuff that people were liking and buying, but we were not shipping as often as we should have. So now we're going back to being professional comic book people and shipping like we should. [Laughter]
And I do feel bad! I never meant to get behind on Powers or any of these. It's just that the TV show was this enormous thing that took up so much time. I'd be working on Powers sometimes for an entire day and then feel like, "I've really given a lot of myself to Powers." But meanwhile, nobody saw any of it! So that was part of the mistake that I made. I've heard from retailers going, "Get your shit together and get the books out." And with DC coming on, that's what we're going to do.