Brian Michael Bendis is currently embarking on a huge and life changing transition.
Not only has he left what many saw as his spiritual home at Marvel and signed an exclusive contract at DC Comics–where he’s taken helm of both Superman and Action Comics–but he’s also found a home for his own creator-owned imprint Jinxworld at the publisher. The new iteration of Jinxworld launches this week with Pearl #1, I chatted to Brian about the slow burn process of crafting Pearl, as well as his decades long collaboration with artist Michael Gaydos and how it inspired him to become a better writer.
Bendis and Gaydos have been creating comics together for two decades. Their history goes all the way back to their college days at the Cleveland Institute of Art where Gaydos’ excessive talent eventually inspired a learning moment for Bendis. “He was a year ahead of me. We weren’t friends and he was kicking my ass,” Bendis laughed. “I was like ‘He’s killing me, this guy! Everywhere that I go!’ I was in such a jealous rage spiral that I could never befriend him. But after college I reached out to him for Jinx because I’d finally come to terms with the fact that what loved I about about Michael Gaydos was that he was drawing in a style I wish I could. He was creating characters with such subtly, posie, and passion that I was envious because at the time I wasn’t even writing at a level that could sustain his artwork. Once I became self-aware, it became a goal of mine to write something worthy enough for Michael to draw.”
The pair’s eventual work relationship was what Bendis described as “immediately lovely,” and together they went on to create one of the most popular contemporary comics characters in Jessica Jones, which forged a tight bond between the creators. “The process of making Jessica Jones–creating her and her evolving into this pop culture figure beyond us–made us very close friends. Like we made this baby, she grew up, and went college! We did pretty good,” Bendis reminisced.
The team was curious whether they could catch that lightning in a bottle one more time. “We were so shocked it went so well the first time, we just wanted to know if we could do it again! We both added some very, very personal things to this book. I told him my number one goal was to do something that celebrated someone else’s passion for their artistry–and I didn’t want it to be about comics. One of the great joys of my life is that I’m constantly being introduced to fascinating people, and sometimes you’ll meet someone who loves what they do and you see in their eyes that they love what they do as much as you love what you do. In this case, I met someone whose love of tattooing reminded me of my love of making comics.”
That love for tattoo art mixed with a true crime story he was told about a tattooist who became a runner for the mob and planted the seeds of what would become Pearl. “Because I’m a crime writer people are always telling me cool true crime stories. The story of Pearl and her artistry becomes the background subtext for the piece. That’s what most of my favorite stories of art are really about, where the passion is really the background of the piece and not the main thrust of the story. That’s how Pearl came to be.”
Are you excited to check out Bendis and Gaydos’ newest creation? Can’t wait to delve into the world of Pearl? Tattoo your thoughts into the comments below!
Pearl #1 is on shelves on Wednesday 15th August