New York Comic-Con 2010

NYCC 2010: Takio

Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming launch all-ages graphic novel series TAKIO



By Chris Arrant

The new graphic novel series TAKIO from Marvel's Icon imprint pairs longtime friends and collaborators Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming once again. Although the pair made their names with the long-running super hero crime series POWERS, in TAKIO the creators take on a new challenge: teen girls.

TAKIO preview art by Michael Avon Oeming
"Our take on super heroes in this book is going to be based on what a 13 and 7 year old would do if they got super powers," states Bendis. "Of course you would put on a costume! Of course you would become a super hero! It's one of the fun parts of the book. They don't even question their place in the world. But [their] world doesn't have super heroes; they are the only ones."

The all-ages TAKIO takes place in a world Bendis describes as "just like ours," replete with "all kinds of crazy and mystery." But while Bendis spins tales of super heroes from a variety of angles, TAKIO takes it on from the viewpoint of sisters Olivia and Taki.

"That will show the world as a place full of hope and discovery, and I think that alone is worth the cover price," promises the veteran writer. "Who wouldn't like to spend some time looking at the world as a place full of hope and discovery?"

TAKIO preview art by Michael Avon Oeming
Although we're leaving most of the discovery up to readers when TAKIO comes out this February, one bit of discovery can undertake is what the title means.

"It is a ridiculous name that the 7 year old sister Olivia came up with as their new name. That represents the relationship between the two sisters because the youngest is all full of crazy ideas and energy. She is at that age where she thinks that everything she thinks of is great. But it is a terrible name," admits Bendis.

Bendis describes young Olivia as "a hurricane of energy and silliness," with her older sister Taki struggling with her identity and her responsiblities as a 13 year old older sister. "Because they are living in a one-parent household," Bendis explains, "Taki has a great deal of responsibility and is in charge of Olivia 24 hours a day and they are driving each other insane.

TAKIO preview art by Michael Avon Oeming
"But that, as they say, is where the story begins."

Although Taki takes her role as her younger sister's keeper a little bit reluctantly, Bendis explains that the sisters' "waaaay overprotective mother" makes sure that "no matter what crazy situation they find themselves in, they have to by home by six."

In many ways, TAKIO plays out like a family dramedy with super heroes. When asked if the writer's own role as a husband and parent comes into play, Bendis doesn't hold back.

"While this book is about a multicultural family with adoption and I have a multicultural household with adoption, my house is very different from the one the sisters in TAKIO live in. But because we are part of the adoption community, I have spent the last few years meeting literally hundreds of families with different shapes and sizes, and I find it to be beautiful and amazing, and wanted to represent it in my work somewhere. This was the perfect story to do that."

TAKIO preview art by Michael Avon Oeming
While the older sister Taki was adopted into the family, the sisters share a tight bond--and they're going to need that if they want to be super heroes, because as any comics reader will tell you, for every hero there's a villain.

"The accident that creates the sisters' powers also created the villainous situation they will find themselves in both school and in the real world," says the writer ominiously.

This new creator-owned project by Bendis and Oeming stands out from their first, POWERS, which debuted in 2000. But it's one they've been talking about for years.

"Mike and I have a pile of projects we have been percolating over the years, quite a few of which we hope to get to in the next year or two," reveals the writer. "TAKIO stems from a couple of conversations at my house. We definitely wanted something that was the complete opposite of POWERS in terms of tone; something that fans of our other books could actually share with the rest of the family but hopefully have the same honesty and storytelling surprises that people expect from us."

TAKIO preview art by Michael Avon Oeming
Thematically, the closest comparison to TAKIO would be Bendis' reinvention of Spider-man as a modern teen drama in ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN.

"Like ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN, like Bone, we wanted to put something out in the market that could be enjoyed by anybody who picks it up, no matter how old they are."

For a series looking to tell a super hero tale from the vantage point of two young girls, these two adult men found an unlikely--but obvious--collaborator to make the project sing.

"Over the years my house is host to dozens of my comic book and graphic novel friends and the conversations at the dinner table are always lively and creative," explains Bendis, who lives in Portland, a city home to many comic creators. "Mike and I were talking about this project, still looking for that special something that made [TAKIO] different from the other super hero stories out there and all of a sudden my daughter Olivia threw out a couple of ideas that were so brilliant in their innocence, so creative, that we both looked at each other and Mike said: I'd totally draw that."

Olivia Bendis' contributions earned her a 'co-creator' credit on the book, making her well on her way to become Marvel's youngest "Young Gun."

"She added some amazing bits of craziness that we actually had never seen in another book," raves the proud father. "Once those pieces were put into these characters that we already cared a great deal about, we knew it was time to launch this book."

TAKIO will be the second new creator-owned book from Bendis in as many years, following the recent launch of SCARLET with artist Alex Maleev. And as it turns out, that book also paved the way for future creator-owned projects like TAKIO.

"The success of SCARLET was very surprising and was a big reminder to me that I personally needed to do more creator-owned comics. I like that this book is not only the polar opposite of POWERS and couldn't be more different from SCARLET in tone and content but was made with the same level of craft. I'm very excited to put all these different flavors out."

While having a pair of seasoned comic creators take on a sisters-as-super heroes story is unique enough, TAKIO holds another card up its sleeve that might surprise fans of these creators work--it will be released not as single issues but as graphic novels.

"Because of our day jobs, we are in a position to get a little more experimental with the format," Bendis reveals. "Nothing too crazy; nothing that would cause our retailer friends headaches. We are releasing the first storyline as a one shot graphic novel, that we hope will be a series of annual events. Similar to books like Scott Pilgrim but a little bit larger than that."

Bendis assures readers that fans of the pair's POWERS series shouldn't worry about TAKIO affecting that series' release.

"We were inspired by how Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips handle going back and forth between CRIMINAL and INCOGNITO," says the writer, referring to two other Icon series. "We are only taking a couple months off of POWERS to do this each year, and then we will come back to POWERS full force. Both Mike and I have notebooks of ideas for POWERS and we are just days away from hearing the fate of our pilot at FX. Our enthusiasm for POWERS is still very very high, but we just have other things we want to do as well."

Both Bendis and Oeming see TAKIO as a change-of-pace and a chance to dust off a story they've had on their minds for years. For Bendis it's a chance to write new, unique characters and for Oeming it's a chance to changeup his style.

"Mike, on top of drawing a very dark and disturbing storyline recently for POWERS, had just finished a very dark and disturbing Left 5 Dead comic book at his day job at Valve Entertainment," Bendis points out. "So he was more than ready for some all-ages fun."

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