So now that you are working so in depth in a universe of established characters from Marvel, how different is it as a writer now to write something like New Avengers than it is to write something like Jinx or Torso?
BMB: There are some similarities because I was nuts back then. I would write Jinx as if I were working for a major publisher. I convinced myself that I wasn’t alone in my basement and maybe noone was ever going to see this book. I was really nuts. So I would go to work every day and work just as hard as I do now even though I was not getting paid at all. For years on end, by the way. Every one of those graphic novels took years of my life, but I’d just go about my day as if I was the biggest author in the world and just work and work and work.
Now, there’s a lot more collaboration in my life. My collaborations back then were literally Mike Oeming and David Mack, a couple other of my friends, but now my life and my days are filled with artists of all walks of life, of all different languages. And it is something that I am completely addicted to. Every morning there’s pages from somebody, every morning there’s an e-mail from some artist that I completely admire or have worshipped since I was a kid. This morning I woke up to an e-mail from Alan Davis, an e-mail from… I’m looking right now! An e-mail from Alan Davis, an e-mail from Rafa (Sandoval), who is doing Ultimate Enemy. I’ve got an e-mail here from Bryan Hitch who is working on this secret project…and they’ve all got art in it. It’s really exciting! I get jazzed up from the moment I wake up, it’s very very exciting. So in my life I’ve created this… not so much a circle, but just this environment where I’m surrounded by other’s collaboration and creativity because I’m so addicted to it.
One of my writers, David Harper, he asked that when I started mentioning the independent work before Marvel, he wanted me to just mention, and I quote here, “I don’t care what you say – just mention that Sam & Twitch‘s Udaku is one of my all time favorite arcs. That thing is insanely re-readable.” So I figured I’d throw that in now.
BMB: Ahh, thanks! That was a lot of fun! That was a book I desperately needed to do in my life and I’m glad I had the opportunity. Todd for a while there was an outstanding boss and he let us do whatever we wanted and didn’t even ask what we were gonna do. So my transition that you guys were asking about, from independent to mainstream, that book was insanely important for my transition.
A lot of my problems that I would’ve had about collaboration, of not being… I mean, I went from megalomaniac comic creator who does everything — coloring, inking, full art, lettering — I did all of it, to writer, and trying to get your vision across to another artist when I was allowed to do Sam and Twitch…any mistakes I made, I made on that book. And not mistakes you would’ve seen as a reader but mistakes in the way I was talking to Ashley Wood and the other creators. Nothing rude, it’s just I was literally at this point writing the book, and then I would draw the book and hand it to the artist and say, “Here, draw this.”
And when I started working with Bagley, he pulled me aside and goes, “Don’t do that.” And I go, “Why?” And he goes, “I’M the artist! I’ll draw it! I understand what to do, you don’t have to tell me what to do.” And I said, “Aw man, I don’t know what’s not writing! I don’t know where the writing ends.” And he goes, “Yeah, you finished the script. You’re done!” And so it was very helpful for me to be able to work out some of my bad habits with a single creator and get towards collaborations that I so crave now.Continued below
So that was a lot of fun, and it was also cool to take something from the Spawn universe that hadn’t been…mined gold out of something that might not at first glance look like it had gold in it. That was a lot of fun and was something that I’ve tried to do over and over again since. It’s a lot of fun to take something that doesn’t appear to have, prior to you doing something to it, have it in it. And I always admire writers that have done that in the past, so it was pretty cool. I mean, that’s what Frank Miller did on Daredevil, that’s what Ed’s doing on Cap. It’s cool to take something and find a new way to interpret it.
We’re all really curious: with Powers (back when Powers was on Image), and you probably already know what I’m going to ask! With the Warren Ellis issue, when you killed him off in the end, how did that come about?
BMB: That came about — that’s actually a funny story — that came about because I was doing a lot of cop car ride alongs at the time. I’d done one in Vegas and I’d done a couple in Cleveland, and it was very exciting. They’re very exhilierating, they’re completely different than what you see on TV. I think any writer that is really serious about good police work fiction needs to do them. A lot of guys tend to watch Law and Order or Hill Street Blues or something and say, “Okay, I’ll just do what I saw there.” It’s not the same. You have to go. And I was doing one of the ride alongs, I think the one in Vegas, I was thinking how funny it would be because I remember during the ride along I’m so quiet. I’m just completely downloading everything that’s happening. I could kinda tell that the cop who was a comic fan wanted to talk more about comics, and I wasn’t as giving as I am in this interview because I just wanted to make the most of it.
And I remember thinking how funny it would be if I never shut up about my comic. Like, if I was just sitting there blabbing on and on about my career like I’m doing now instead of doing the research that I’m supposed to be doing. And I wrote that idea down, that that would be a good issue of Powers if Walker was stuck with this famous writer, and then I made it a British writer, and then I was thinking who would that be? Oh it should be a comic book writer doing Powers as a comic. And at the time I started reading Warren Ellis, who was doing a series of columns for Comic Book Resources. I didn’t know Warren Ellis, I was just a huge fan of Warren Ellis.
So I e-mailed him (I didn’t even know if he knew me), and I told him my idea, and I literally said: “Hi, I know you don’t know me but I have this idea for an asshole British writer who won’t shut up about himself and I thought of you!” He IMMEDIATELY e-mailed me back, I didn’t know he was following my work, he said “ABSOLUTELY! Go nuts!” He even allowed me to use a lot of his rants, and the ranting in that issue are from his columns to it’s his dialogue of stuff he said. It’s kinda reformatted to be more of a rant or fit into the context of the story, and he couldn’t have been cooler about it.
You know what? Also letting us put his name on the cover like that was a big help to the book. You know, the book started off on the bubble, and it took off soon after, and Warren giving us the thumbs up was a really big deal, and I’ll never be able to repay him. He’s been way cool to me over the years.