Archive for April, 2005

Brian Michael Bendis interview (April 2005)

April 28, 2005 | Interviews

Brian Bendis is very laid back for such a hard-working man. Bendis, the writer of six monthly titles (Daredevil, The Pulse, Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate Fantastic Four, New Avengers, Powers) and two major miniseries (Secret War, House Of M) for Marvel Comics has somehow found time to attend this weekend’s Toronto Comicon at Exhibition Place ( He also managed to take some time to talk to JPK about how fame works in the comic book industry, what to do to get on fans’ bad sides and why he’s relieved to be finishing his landmark run on Daredevil. JPK: So how great is it to get paid to write comic books? Brian Bendis: It’s so much (better) than I ever expected. You don’t go into this thinking anything’s going to happen. It’s like any creative medium — you don’t become a musician to become a rock star, you don’t think anyone’s going to notice your work. You do it because you love it and if you make $2 — then that’s awesome. JPK: How are things different for the early part of your career working for independent publishers compared to working for Marvel, the world’s biggest? BB: With the independent publishers I own the material. It’s almost like a different business altogether when it’s something you own versus something you’re doing. But I think a part of people’s warm response to my work overall is that I treat everything I’m working on as if it were mine. When I’m working on Spider-Man I don’t just think ‘Hey it’s just some work-for-hire gig.’ I think ‘Hey, my name’s on this and this is important and someone’s spending their money on this. I get very wound up about someone spending their own money on something that I wrote so I really get into it and try to make sure I deliver at least cover price. JPK: On that topic, you put your money where your mouth is and offer refunds to fans who hate a comic you’ve written. BB: I’ve done that since my creator-owned days. The way the distribution (of comics) is set up, there’s no return policy. So the best I can do is go on my website ( and say ‘Hey, if you’re pissed off send it back. I don’t want your money. I want you to enjoy your comics, that’s all I want.’ JPK: What was the response to your offer to make refunds on the controversial Avengers Disassembled storyline — in which you killed off some fan-favourite characters — last year? BB: I got four and those were from the people who were angriest after I killed this character Hawkeye. If you go online (to comic book message boards) you’d think everyone’s going to send their books back. They didn’t. JPK: And after all that backlash, people are gushing over the series re-launch: New Avengers. BB: I gotta tell you: I said ‘Gee whiz, I guess I’m going to have to take a year of bashing’ figuring it was just my turn. I’m show-business savvy enough to know it’s my turn to take it on the chin for a while so I was amazed by the turnaround. I’m thrilled to bits because we’re giving it everything we’ve got. JPK: Knowing the nature of the comic book industry and how no character ever stays dead, do you ever wonder if they’ll just bring those characters you killed back someday? BB: I don’t think that way, but I know that’s a possibility. If you start thinking that way you’ll start writing half dramatically because you’re not buying into the now. You can’t be afraid to change. We can write Valentines to (comic book legends) Roy Thomas and Frank Miller all day long but who’s benefiting from that? — Certainly not the reader. I think it’s up to us to create the new Marvel legends. Let’s not just regurgitate the things we’ve liked. You don’t want to be a cover band. I love that stuff so much that the best thing I can do is not rip it off. JPK: Your Ultimate Spider-Man book is highly original and yet has that feeling of homage to it. Is that the balance between those two factors? BB: That assignment, I decided early to take look at as if a director takes Shakespeare and puts it in a new situation. It’s like taking Hamlet and setting in an office building. I looked at what (co-creator) Stan (Lee) had done and the themes of it and I decided to take Spider-Man and have his story take place today (instead of the 1960s) and all the changes will be organic from the time and space, but it’ll still be Spider-Man. JPK: You’re close to wrapping up your signature run on Daredevil. What are your reflections on departing this series? BB: I’m really bummed about it. JPK: As are the fans. BB: I still can’t believe I didn’t get fired. I got fired from McDonald’s so (writing four years of Daredevil) is awesome. There are lots of things I’m proud about it, but most of all I’m proud we didn’t rip off Frank Miller, whose run on Daredevil is the reason I’m making comics in the first place. To be given this book was daunting because it’s one of those books with an immense creative legacy. Everyone on that book kicked ass! I’m just glad it wasn’t us that fucked it up. JPK: Of course now that you’re dropping a title that means in Brian Bendis world you’ll have to add two more! BB: *Laughs* No, no, no. I’m going to finish up House Of M and Daredevil and then I’m going to shake my sillies out for a few months and I have a movie to write. After that, me and (artist) Alex (Maleev) are going to start a new thing together. It won’t be an ongoing series, but we’re going to do large miniseries in Marvel Knights. We really want to do … an iconic, harsh impression on something. JPK: Right now you’re at the top of your game. Where do you get your motivation? BB: My motivations were never financial and the first 12 ...

Phil Jimenez interview (April 2005)

April 27, 2005 | Interviews

Phil Jimenez He a superstar artist, an accomplished writer and a really nice guy. Phil Jimenez, whose intricately detailed pencils have graced the pages of Wonder Woman and X-Men comics, is also one of the busiest people in his industry, with three massive projects on the go at DC Comics. The first is the hotly anticipated Infinite Crisis, the sequel to the successful 1985 miniseries Crisis On Infinite Earths, expected to be the top-selling comic series of the year. The second is The Return Of Donna Troy miniseries, which Jimenez is working on with two of his comic book idols, George Perez and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and the final project is his long-awaited mature-readers sci-fi/fantasy project, Otherworld. In advance of his appearance at the Toronto Comicon ( to be held April 29 to May 1, Jimenez spoke with JPK about how he manages such a busy schedule, the frustrations of being a writer and why his lips are sealed when it comes to Infinite Crisis. JPK: Why does a successful artist like yourself also take on the responsibility of writing? Phil Jimenez: Mostly because there are certain things I want to draw and/or certain ways I want to see characters handled. When I’m not seeing that or experiencing that, I just often then turn to me. *Laughs* It’s not like I have a zillion stories to tell — most writers have a million stories for Superman or they’ve always wanted to tell this Batman story — I don’t have many of those. Most of my writing occurs simply like an actor who learns to direct — they’re basically creating their own projects. JPK: So is this how you came to be the writer/artist on Wonder Woman for two years (from Jan. 2001-Jan. 03)? PJ: It was exactly that. Wonder Woman had long been run by people who weren’t raising sales or recognition and I wanted to write it because I had long loved the character and I thought it had gotten off track. My goal was to write it, not so much to leave a stamp on it, so much as to put it back on track the way I thought it was meant to be — meaning the (writer/artist George) Perez version and the (creator William Moulton) Marston version. What I had originally done is written a proposal for a 12-issue miniseries — it was never meant to be a part of the regular series because they told me (current writer) Greg Rucka was going to be writing the book. I wasn’t expecting to my story to be approved as the regular ongoing book and I wasn’t expecting to have to be involved in a number of plot-changing crossovers. JPK: What was the experience of working on that monthly title like? PJ: I had hoped to use several guest stars to help beef up sales and I didn’t realize what an editorial nightmare that was. I had a very difficult time using Batman and his world and I had multiple editors on my first few issues, so it was a very odd experience I have to say, and one I look back on as a bittersweet one. JPK: With Infinite Crisis, Otherworld, which you’ve been trying to get out there for a while, and this wonderful project (The Return Of Donna Troy) coming up with a pair of comic book legends in George Perez and Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, is this a dream-come-true year for you? PJ: When I stand back and look at it objectively, it’s the best ever — I’m doing three really amazing things. But — and it’s going to sound horrible — when you’re in the middle of all of it and going through the hassles and the work of it, I just feel like I could cry at any moment. I’m working on everything I’ve ever wanted to work on, but in that comes a certain degree of pressure. JPK: Your new Vertigo project, Otherworld, is obviously a very personal project for you. How satisfying is it to see this miniseries finally coming together? PJ: This is a story I had long wanted to tell for many reasons, mostly because, the book as I saw it was an homage to all the various things that influenced me over the years, from film, to books, to people in my life. It’s a sort of thank you for all those influences in my life. One thing about Otherworld, especially it being a (mature readers) Vertigo book, I got to explore issues that I’m interested in and I read about all the time — ranging from religious fundamentalism to unfettered capitalism to the romantic language of war to sexual mores to entertainment, technology and all these things that I think about constantly. My other goal, quite honestly, is that I want desperately to give readers something that would be worth their $3. Even if takes a long time to read or is occasionally overwhelming, comic readers invest so much time and money and they’ve given me the really good fortune of making a life out of entertaining them — and how great is that? — my goal was to give them a project they could look at over and over again really get their money’s worth. JPK: Infinite Crisis is one of the most hotly anticipated books of 2005. Do you expect it will live up to all the hype? PJ: I have an official answer for that, I’m simply supposed to say: ‘I’m looking forward to working with Geoff Johns on this project.’ If I say any more I’ll get in serious trouble! JPK: Then I guess we’ll move on to The Return Of Donna Troy miniseries you’re writing. Tell me about it. PJ: The story has changed a lot from the beginning. It started out as its own thing and then became a Teen Titans/Outsiders crossover and then transformed into this miniseries called The Return Of Donna Troy. We’re not doing the sixth version of (the origin tale) Who Is Donna Troy? — we’re picking up right where Graduation Day left off, explaining where she’s gone and what she’s been doing. It’s a ...

Toronto Comicon 2005 preview

April 25, 2005 | News

After a decade of glitz, glam and little substance that nearly hollowed out the industry — comic books are back firmly entrenched in the mainstream consciousness. While the early 90s were terrific sales-wise for comics, with individual issues selling millions of copies each, the industry, which had been dominated by an elite cabal of artists, caved in on itself towards the end of the decade. “What happened after that was that a lot of people left, both pros and fans and what you were left with is people with a die-hard passion for comics,” says Brian Michael Bendis, writer of several of Marvel Comics’ hottest titles, including Daredevil, Ultimate Spider-Man and New Avengers. “I think it became more about ideas than images. I think you’re going to have a much more satisfying experience as a comic-book reader when that’s the focus of how a story is put together. It’s not just about the hot babe; it’s actually about the idea of something.” So slowly, but surely, the writers have usurped the artists on centre stage and now wield as much or more clout with what fans read. “Lately I have noticed more emphasis on the writer as headliner for a project,” notes David Mack, writer/illustrator of Kabuki for Marvel’s creator-owned Icon line. “My feeling is that this happens when a writer has a very unique and personal approach to his work that gives every project its own kind of power and unique personality. “Not that the style is the same, but that each of the writers work has a passion to it that readers can recognize and identify with just as much as with an artist they follow.” Phil Jimenez, a renowned writer/artist, who previously held both jobs on Wonder Woman and is working on several hot projects in 2005 including a fantasy/sci-fi epic called Otherworld and penciling the hotly anticipated Infinite Crisis later this year, says the more mature readers comics attract nowadays is partly to blame for the rise of the writers. “I think it has something to do with the age of the readers as well their demands from the books themselves,” Jimenez says. “Once upon a time, flashy, shiny art would be really attractive — and I say this with no condescension at all — to a younger, less discerning reader. But now that is less interesting than their investment in the characters and the complexity of plot, intricacy of detail and the attention to character development.” The heat factor surrounding writers seems to be prevalent at this year’s Toronto Comicon, set to open Friday and run through until Sunday at the National Trade Centre at Exhibition Place. In addition to Bendis and Mack, top-line writing guests at the Comicon include: Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan), Bill Willingham (Fables), Dave Sim (Cerebus) and Sara “Samm” Barnes (Doctor Spectrum). While the writers are finally getting their due, comics are still a visual medium and the collaboration with the artists is key, according to Bendis. “Most of the writers have exceptional taste in artists so you’re getting more than just writers, you’re getting exceptional creative teams,” he says. “It’s really an awesome time to be reading comics.”

Invincible Vol. 4: Head Of The Class

April 25, 2005 | Trades

Invincible Vol. 4: Head Of The Class Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley Image Comics $14.95 US (Paperback) **** (out of five) Did you ever have one of those days where nothing’s going right? You know, where you find out your whole life’s a lie because your dad’s an evil overlord from another planet sent to plot the invasion of earth and the enslavement of humankind? And when you resist him he beats you within an inch of your life before disappearing off into space? Then Mark Grayson is having a much worse day than you. On the heels of this stunning revelation in the last collected edition of this sharp-witted teen super-hero book, Mark, A.K.A. Invincible, and his mom are forced to deal with the consequences of his father’s actions — which range from simple hurt feelings to an inadvertent engagement to the queen of the fish-people for Mark! Writer Robert Kirkman and artist Ryan Ottley, do a masterful job portraying the crazy and overwhelming life of a high school/college student— mixing homework and a part-time job with dating and family — and then turn it up a notch by adding the responsibility of being a superhero. Mixing subtle humour with occasional bursts of slapstick and then flipping over to teen melodrama and fast and furious action, Invincible is one of the most consistently entertaining comics around and Head Of The Class shows why.

Superman: For Tomorrow Vol. 1

April 25, 2005 | Trades

Superman: For Tomorrow Vol. 1 Brian Azzarello, Jim Lee, Scott Williams DC Comics $33.99 (Hardcover) **** (out of five) It takes a lot of courage at slow down the man who’s “faster than a speeding bullet.” But that’s just what the team of writer Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets) and artist Jim Lee (Batman) do with For Tomorrow. Instead of coming in guns blazing, the duo starts this Superman tale very slowly — leaning heavily on conversation and introspection to gently unfold a mystery. This approach also takes Lee, who is famous for his drawings of beautiful women and sprawling action, to a place he seldom gets to take his work. For Tomorrow, which sees the Man Of Steel discussing his role in the disappearance of over a million people — including Lois Lane — with a Metropolis priest, is an excellent examination of Superman’s faith, as well as the faith others have in him.

Star Wars: Visionaries

April 25, 2005 | Trades

Star Wars: Visionaries Dark Horse Books $17.95 US (Paperback) *** 1/2 (out of five) For 14 months they ate, slept and breathed Star Wars. The people who made up the art department at Skywalker Ranch met weekly with the George Lucas himself leading into the production of Revenge Of The Sith and immersed themselves in his creative universe of a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away and loved it. In getting so deep in Lucas’ vision, they became experts and found themselves wondering ‘What about this…? And what ever happened to that…?’ The result is Star Wars: Visionaries, 10 terrific illustrated tales by these artists that range from the return of one of the most evil creatures in the universe to the origin of Revenge Of The Sith’s lead villain, General Grievous. Star Wars: Visionaries is original, imaginative and a solid prequel to the upcoming theatrical film.

The Art Of Greg Horn

April 25, 2005 | Trades

The Art Of Greg Horn Greg Horn Image Comics $24.95 (Paperback) *** 1/2 (out of five) The work of one the premier cover artists in the comic book industry gets the deluxe treatment in this glorious collection of Greg Horn’s work. Horn — who is best known for his work on Elektra and Emma Frost for Marvel Comics — reveals the inspirations for many of his works and takes readers behind the scenes with a certain fanboy glee that adds a lot to what could be just another art book. There is much more than just superheroes in this book, too. The photo-realistic style of Horn’s art has earned his many jobs outside the field, including promotional paintings for Bacardi rum, Barnum & Bailey’s Circus and the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team. For those who love art books and the deconstruction of complex artworks, The Art Of Greg Horn is sure to please.

Sea Of Red #1

April 25, 2005 | Comics

Sea Of Red #1 Rick Remender, Kieron Dwyer, Salgood Sam Image Comics $3.95/$2.95 US **** (out of five) Marco Esperanza survived a nightmare at sea after his ship sunk, killing everyone aboard but himself. But when he’s finally rescued after five days of floating on a plank of wood, Esperanza finds out that his nightmare may only just be beginning. Mixing pirate adventure with vampire horror, Sea Of Red gets off to a solid start with its first issue, featuring eye-catching black, white and red art by Toronto artist Salgood Sam. Bloody, mysterious and intriguing, Sea Of Red is a series to watch.

The Expatriate #1

April 25, 2005 | Comics

The Expatriate #1 B. Clay Moore, Jason Latour Image Comics $3.95/$2.95 US **** (out of five) B. Clay Moore and Jason Latour are clearly from the Vertigo Comics generation. The writer/artist team has clearly been influenced by series such as Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s 100 Bullets and Peter Milligan and Javier Pulido’s Human Target in creating their new title, The Expatriate. That’s not to say that’s a bad thing. This new series has all the great elements of a gritty crime noir series, full of mystery, violence and sex and is extremely enthralling right off the bat. Moore, who is also currently writing the solid series Battlehymn for Image, continues to impress with another well-constructed and terrifically paced release.

Star Wars: General Grievous #1 (of 4)

April 25, 2005 | Comics

Star Wars: General Grievous #1 (of 4) Chuck Dixon, Rick Leonardi Dark Horse Comics $2.99 US *** 1/2 (out of five) General Grievous is turning the tide of the Clone War for the Separatists and the Jedi are falling in droves. To defeat this cyborg killing machine and hopefully put an end to the conflict, a group of Jedi are willing to break their most sacred vows, turn their backs on their orders and risk their lives. With less than a month to go until the release of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith, Dark Horse Comics continues to flesh out the characters of the film, this time courtesy of veteran comic writer Chuck Dixon (Robin) and longtime Star Wars comic artist Rick Leonardi. The only thing working against this series is the common knowledge that Grievous is alive and well — at least for a while — in the upcoming film, thereby making this premise of this story moot point. But at least it’s well told, if enevitible.