Writer Marguerite Bennett sat down with Jonah Weiland in the CBR Tiki Room at New York Comic Con to talk about her experience breaking into the comics industry and making the transition to full-time working comic book writer. She discusses juggling an impressive workload, working with the legendary Chris Claremont on Marvel Comics’ “Nightcrawler,” helming BOOM! Studios’ “Sleepy Hollow” comic book based on the FOX series and what she wants out of her comic book future, including the possibility of a creator-owned series in the near future.
On how she broke into the comics industry and showcased her unique voice:
I knew I always wanted to be a writer, and so after I graduated from the University of Mary Washington, my undergrad, I sort of had the quarter life crisis. “No one’s going to do this for me, now is the hour, you’ve got to start. This is the beginning.” I took eighteen months off, and was working two jobs, and created my first novel. And I wound up applying to the Sarah Lawrence College for their MFA program for their creative writing in fiction, and got in on the strength of the prose.
I was there and I met Scott [Snyder] and I took his class on graphic novel and comic book writing, and I brought him this story I’d been working on on and off — this bloody folkloric revenge saga. He really responded to it, and we kept in touch and about a year later he approached me and said, “I keep thinking about that story, I really think you are ready to do this professionally, if you would be interested in me making some introductions.” So he introduced me to Mike Marts who was the then Bat[man] editor. I auditioned formally at DC. I sent them five spec scripts, and they asked me to write inventory stories for certain characters. So how quickly could I come up with original adventures for this character, that character, how did I take notes, how did I work with the art team, how did I hit deadlines. And they liked my work, so I was hired officially.
On the ten books she worked on that were released in October:
Well the first one’s cheating because it’s the Earth 2 weekly, “Worlds End,” so that’s one, two, three, four. And then it’s “Earth 2” #27, which I co-wrote with Tom Taylor, then the “Injustice Annual,” then let’s see “Nightcrawler” #7 with Chris Claremont, “Butterfly” #2 from Archaia, “Sleepy Hollow” #1 from BOOM! Studios and the Vertigo Anthology with art by Bill Sienkiewicz.
On working with Chris Claremont for “Nightcrawler’s” “Death of Wolverine” tie-in issue:
I wound up doing the plot with the story, which was a tie-in for the “Death of Wolverine,” so it’s Nightcrawler grieving for his friend. We wanted to address their friendship and go back through the really emotional intense moments from their lives. We didn’t want it to be sort of like a Power Point — “Remember when this happened, remember when that happened” — like a bottle episode. So we wanted to be able to give that — I don’t want to say like a thesis statement, but we wanted this theme to run through it. This concept of what we build after death. How we deal with death through creation. Whether it’s we build graves, we build piers, we build tombs, we build museums, we build monuments, we create palaces. So we had from the Pyramids to the Taj Mahal. So Nightcrawler goes down to the danger room and is essentially constructing this house, you know, what would be like the monument he would build for Wolverine. So Chris liked the concept. It was very intimidating because, for me, he is X-Men. Every day I woke up to work on the story I was just like, “This is my life. I am so grateful for this opportunity.” Actually I was hunting for him, but I haven’t found him yet here.
On her long term goals for her very young career:
I wan to to do everything. I want to try everything, I really do. Creator-owned, ideally, is coming, but I love — I’m doing super hero things, then — I think announced today, so I hope I don’t spoil something — Marvel announced I’m doing a comic adaptation of “Maximum Ride” with James Patterson. So, you know, even though I am working in a traditional super hero company, I wanted to see what other properties they have, we can explore. Whether it’s licensed work, TV adaptations, movie tie-ins, novels, short stories, I want to see what’s out there.
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