CCI: Spotlight on Brian Michael Bendis

On Saturday morning at Comic-Con International, super star writer Brian Michael Bendis--known in the comic community for his work on such best-selling titles as "New Avengers," "Ultimate Spider-Man" and the recently relaunched "Avengers" proper--went to the stage for a live taping of Word Balloon. John Suitress hosted the panel full of fans--all waiting in anticipation as this morning Bendis Tweeted that he'll be making a major announcement during the panel. CBR News was there at the panel to bring you the latest.

Bendis thanked the crowd for coming out. "The Bendis tapes is pretty much Q&A," he said. "And for everyone who asks a question gets a free copy of a variant edition of 'Scarlet' for coming out and showing their support."

Gary Sassaman, director of Print and Publications at Comic-Con, took to the stage for a special presentation. "He's probably the most popular writer in comics right now," said Sassaman. "I'm here to acknowledge that and give Brian Comic-Con's Inkpot award." He presented Bendis with the award, which features two sharp points at the top.

"This is not going to get on the plane well, but thank you very much," joked Bendis. "Oh. It comes with a box."

Questions immediately opened to the audience.

Jeph Loeb, newly appointed head of Marvel television, came up to the question mic. "I'm putting you on the spot," he told Bendis. "We're going to be producing a new animated series called Ultimate Spider-Man. It seemed like a good idea if you came on board as a producer and wrote some episodes."

"Who is writing the pilot?" asked Bendis. Loeb ran up and whispered a name into the writer's ear. "Aaron Sorkin??" Bendis joked afterward. "Yeah, okay. I'll do that." He then answered to loud applause.

A fan asked Bendis about going back and reading other stories and referencing older stories in his text. "When I'm referencing these other stories, I want you to go read Avengers Annual #10 because I think it's the best comic ever," he said. "There's nothing better than finding a run or storyline of a character that you didn't know existed." Bendis said he found the Marshal Rogers issues of Doctor Strange and said they're "Really freaky cool" and worth checking out.

Another fan asked if he's come across a story that he came up with that was similar to another story. "I didn't know the Clone Saga had happened," he joked in regards to his 'Ultimate Spider-Man' story. He said that it's scary when you come up with an idea that's similar to someone else's. "When we came up with 'Powers,' they announced Alan Moore's 'Top 10' the next day." Although he acknowledge the two books ended up being very different, he said he thought "He's going to destroy us. He's Alan Moore." The only idea he said he put away was an epic Jewish mafia story and just as he was about to start Judd Winick did a similar story. "I didn't want to flood the market with Jewish mafia stories."

Another fan asked Bendis how he feels when another writer takes over a character he's written. Bendis brought up when Ed Brubaker took over writing "Daredevil." "It's like I was watching him fucking my girlfriend in front of me," he joked. He said that he took a year off before reading the series in order to come at it completely detached. "What you don't want to do, some of these guys, they leave their book and they get crazy bitchy about it. You don't want to Alan Moore it up there on the Internet. 'Everyone sucks but me!'" he said.

Another fan was wondering where Bendis researches some of the more scientific aspects of his work. "When Peter Parker gets bit by the spider, you don't want to pull the thread of that sweater too hard," he said. "I try to really research it. When I was doing the clone saga, I said I was going to learn how to make a clone." He read books and said that you get into that mode where you think to yourself, "I'm going to be smarter than I am," but then you end up "watching 2012 ten times." He said that although a lot of the info never made it into the book, he still felt empowered as a writer. "No matter what you're writing about someone out there is an expert and is infuriated by it," he said. "You just have to stay on top of it. But again, it's science fiction. As long as you're some reality based, you feel comfortable about it."

A fan asked about Echo and whether she's still unconscious in the Savage Land after being knocked pout during "Secret Invasion." "She's been hiking out of there for the last six months," he joked. Bendis said that Echo will be appearing soon. "Hawkeye was with her until his wife showed up, so there's that." The fan said that he was waiting for the "bitch slap issue." "That's what it's called," Brian joked of when Echo reappears.

A fan asked about the Avengers animated series, and whether characters or moments from Bendis' run will be featured in the show. "I know a lot about that," he said but added that he couldn't say anything. He recommended the fan attend the Marvel Animation panel later today at 4 pm because they'll be showing some of the show.

While answering a question about "Powers," Bendis said that "Powers" and "Scarlet" will ship every other month, so that each month will have a different one of his creator owned series coming out. He also said that, "The President of FX told me that I could tell you guys that we're in super active development," said Bendis about the planned 'Powers' television show. "Nothing is more important to the network tan the development of 'Powers.' So, hopefully this time next year we'll have something."

A fan named Brian, who wants to be a writer, asked about using his middle name in order to distinguish himself from other writers. "The middle name is kind of a douche bag move," admitted Bendis. "I did it as a younger man and I've kept it because its identity and brand. It will only help me if I later one day become a serial killer," he joked.

A fan asked about Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimatum and whether there was tension between him and Loeb over the events of the book. "I don't know where you read there was tension between us. We've been working closely together for quite some time," Bendis replied. "I made a joke online that he drowned that title." He said he was in all the meetings and would think about all the cool things he'd get to do in his book in response to the events of Ultimatum, such as the iconic image of J. Jonah Jameson seeing Spidey risk his life to save people despite the flood. "Never in my life have I bought an image and have an artist reproduce an image exactly like it was in my mind like that," he said.

"The only thing I was bummed about was Daredevil drowning," he added. He does miss Daredevil being an asshole to Spidey. But he got to move Johnny Storm into Aunt May's house. "You have no idea what's going to happen in the Ulitmate Universe," he said. "What's happening in 'Ultimate Enemy' would never happen without 'Ultimatum.' You have no idea what's coming."

Bendis also mentioned the upcoming "Ultimate Spider-Man" issue #16, which he said will be the 150th issue of Ultimate Spider-Man and also celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Ultimate Universe. As such the book will be quadrupled sized and feature a number of appearances from other characters.

Another fan asked if artist Mark Bagley-who drew almost the entirety of Bendis' original "Ultimate Spider-Man" run-would ever come back and draw an issue of "Ultiamte Spider-Man." "I totally understood that he had to go to DC and draw something that wasn't webbing," he said mentioning that the artist had a lengthy run on Spider-Man even before the Ultimate title. "He's been drawing those goddamn webs years before he met me."

"I'm still in contact and the minute Mark is done, enjoying his Batman or whatever he's doing-JLA-I will pounce on his head and we will do something," he said. But he also admitted that he doesn't want to do Spider-Man because he doesn't want it to be like a "getting the band back together."

A fan asked if about where Bendis gets his ideas from. "You try not to over analyze where ideas come from. You could really start pulling your hair out-metaphorically," joked the bald writer. "I do train my brain to listen to people and how they talk." He said he walked around the convention listening to people. "You'll hear some hilarious things on this convention floor." "I can hear a couple arguing two booths back and I'll be listening intently and taking notes."

A fan asked Bendis how he knows when to stop his dialogue between two characters . "I don't think I do," joked the writer. The writer talked about the movie "Bowfinger," directed by Frank Oz. Bendis said he worked with the legendary creator while attempting to make "Powers" a long time ago. He said he watched the deleted scenes of the movie and saw many scenes cut that had "perfectly executed Steve Martin jokes." He related one scene involving finding Eddie Murphy's character's address and the audience all laughed at the punch line. But the writer said Oz cut it because "It's not about that joke. It's about the whole movie."

"I've studied other artists who don't know how to stop or make those decisions," said Bendis. "I think of Frank Oz whenever I write a line of dialogue that's really clever but ruins the [whole]."

The panel wrapped with Bendis once again thanking the audience. "Thank you so much for buying the books. Thank you for coming here."

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