Brian Michael Bendis to Pen ‘Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Graphic Novels’

While his perennial comic writing class at Portland State is pretty enticing, one of the industry’s biggest names is offering his expert advice to an even wider audience next year.

Suck it, McKee!

The Hollywood Reporter reports that writer Brian Michael Bendis has inked a deal with Random House to publish a new book on the subject of comic book writing.

Due on shelves in 2013, Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Graphic Novels is labeled not as a simple how-to manual, but a comprehensive guide to the many varied approaches to the craft employed by both Bendis and other industry luminaries. Bendis acknowledges that there’s no one strict format to the structure of a comic script and promises to offer readers the opportunity to choose which methods work best for them, providing professional samples and commentary as to their pros and cons. Note, though, the inclusion of ‘Business’ in the subtitle. Beyond an overview of craft and mechanics, the book will also feature a strong focus on the finer legalities of navigating the comics industry.

There will also be a focus on how to set up a corporation and how to guard your writing. “We read in the paper every week someone did something wrong, someone didn’t sign something, someone didn’t protect themselves,” [Bendis] says. “Every minute there are more and more platforms in which you can succeed and get ripped off. You need to protect yourself.”

This portion could potentially be the more valuable aspect of the book, especially given Bendis’ unique perspective on the industry. From his years toiling as an independent creator through his meteoric rise to a position of power and influence at Marvel Comics, Bendis has seen it all. He’s even an ideal candidate to examine the ups and downs of multimedia dealings, having operated in Hollywood for years.

Whether you’re a devoted stalwart of Jinx, Alias, Ultimate Spider-Man, The New Avengers or none of the above, sounds to us like a must-read waiting to happen.


  1. The business side of things sounds like it could be extremely valuable. Glad this is happening.

    Also, that is the photo caption of the year. =)

  2. I’d be really interested in this if it was penned by the great writer who did work from the late ’90s through 2004 or so. In my opinion Bendis has almost completely forgotten the skills that made him so good to begin with, and I only ever see shades of his earlier incarnation once in a great while (his recent Ultimate Spidey, for example).

    It stuns me to think that he teaches a class on writing, because in recent years his characterizations have been wildly inconsistent and most of his comics read like they’re written off the top of his head in 15 minutes and not proofread or edited. But I guess if he’s teaching classes too then he may not have as much time to devote to his craft anymore… though he’s going to write a book about it.

    Then again, I guess his insights into the business angle would be useful. He seems a lot more concerned with that sid of things lately.

    • The current level of hate for Bendis consistantly astounds me. But then again success breeds detractors. Its like people who love a band when they are playing in someones basement but when they sign a record deal and start making money they are sellouts. “Wait, you want to do what you love AND make money? Sellout!” If you are a professional there is no difference between the art and the business. In order to be able to make one, you have to be good at the other. You think guys like Kirkman, or Morrison, or Johns don’t look at this as a business? Give a break, of course they do. You have to produce great art to prove you have talent and also know how to market it successfully in order to support yourself to be able to continue to make great art. Wanting to make money from the art you create doesn’t make you some kind of sellout, making art for the sole purpose of making money is where the danger lies. I don’t think that’s Bendis. I think he balances the two like almost on one else in comics ever has. Made Mark Millar is the only other creator maybe in the same category in terms of balancing art and business and being incredibly successful at both.

    • @uspunx I think your 100% correct. Thankyou for that, it’s nice to know someone cares about Bendis as much as I do.

  3. Is it just me, or does BMB look just like Dr. Evil?

  4. Having taken his class, I can’t wait to read the book.

    A nice guy willing to share a peek at the magic.

  5. “Writer” Brian Michael Bendis….now THAT was funny! Frustrated sitcom writer maybe.

  6. Anyone who’s listened to John Siuntres’ Word Balloon episodes knows that Bendis – whether you like his final product or not –puts a lot of thought into the craft and execution of his books. Should be good reading.

    • i totally agree. His WB interviews are always great. Whether or not you like his recent story arcs is irrelevant tot he fact that he has a lot of insight and experience to teach. I’m very interested in reading this book when it comes out.

  7. awesome. this will be on my shelf.

  8. This sounds like an idea that will turn into a textbook for colleges that have ‘How to Write Graphic Novel’ classes….Classes like my college now have (of course starting AFTER I graduate).

    • Same thing happened to me! My school started offering comic writing and sequential art classes two years after I graduated. Total bummer. I maintain that’s the reason I haven’t yet become the next Bendis.

  9. Can’t wait!! This is gonna be a day one buy for me! But first I gota finish reading my copy of Understanding Comics by the amazing Scott McCloud.

  10. As far as books to read, Bendis will recommend several in his own book.

    He leads you through the steps, from concept to realization.

    We each had to produce a twenty-two page comic book, alone or with collaborators.

    It was a really fun course, and once you’ve done it, although it was really hard, it wasn’t really that hard.

    If you know what I mean.