Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives
THESIS: Bendis on cross-media work.

Newsarama has an excellent interview with the super-prolific Brian Michael Bendis, who is responsible for everything from Powers to Jinx to Ultimate Spider-Man to the most recent animated Spider-Man series. My favorite bit is the following exchange:

DF: You've anticipated a question of mine. You're clearly not a guy who's using comics as a stepping stone, because you could have stepped if that was your intent. Why haven't you?

BMB: Because, well, I've gotten a taste, I have gotten to write a couple of movies-I just wrote one recently-and I've gotten to work on television shows. I worked on the MTV Spider-Man show, which is a perfect example. See, when I was offered the show, I actually didn't even understand that I was going to be working on the staff of the show. I was offered to write the pilot. I was writing the Ultimate Spider-Man comic, and it's the greatest job I'd ever had in my life. It's completely fulfilling on every conceivable level. So I figured that writing the TV show in addition would be twice as good. And when I started working on the show, immediately it was not fun. I would, literally, have a meeting where the executive would say, "Why does it have to be a spider?" And he wasn't joking! And the movie was already out! And I'm like, "No, seriously, what's the meeting about?" And then I find out that that was really what the meeting was about!

And then you find out this is not as fun or-"fun" sounds immature-as inspiring and as fulfilling as working on the comic book. There's this false thing that floats out there that movies and television are better than comics. And they're not at all. In fact, there's a lot of arguments that say that comics are five years ahead of every pop culture curve that has come our way. Whatever's going on in comics, five years later happens in movies. I remember some executive telling me when I was working on the show and I was frustrated with some lines getting dropped or whatever, and he said, "Well, you know, in television, if you get forty percent of your script on-screen, it's considered a success." And I was like, "Wow! No wonder all of TV sucks." Not that everyone ever thought it was genius, but you're shooting for forty percent? You're aiming for it? How about aim for a hundred? Which has never occurred. I mean, it was just so frustrating. And then I realized, oh, yeah. You get spoiled. Even though you're working for a big corporation, Marvel Comics, every word you write gets on the page. Everything you write. You know, if I f*ck it up, you, it's me who did it-not some faceless producer or whatever whose name no one knows.

DF: And comics get out to the world much quicker.

BMB: Yeah, it's immediate and it's visceral, and there's a lot to be said for that. And that's why you see so many television and film people actually coming towards us more than we're coming towards them.

DF: It's been a remarkable thing.

BMB: A lot of us in comics and TV and movies are friends and we put it out there, "Boy, every word I write gets seen by the public" That's an intoxicating feeling, especially for people who have been frustrated that a whopping forty percent of their work is seen on screen. And they come to comics and they have a blast. The double edge is that I love movies and I love great television, even though you can count the number of good television shows on one hand.