Mike Benson may not be a writer whose name you will recognize in comic circles, but his writing for television has included more than 10 episodes of The Bernie Mac Show and more recently a spate of HBO’s Entourage episodes. But he is poised to be a talent to know as he is slated to become a co-writer (with Charlie Huston) on Marvel’s Moon Knight. He was kind enough to recently discuss his expectations for the road ahead on Moon Knight and his transition from comedy to comic books.
Tim O’Shea (TOS): You’re scripting off of Huston’s plots, how hard was it to find a voice for the characters?
Mike Benson (MB): Well, Charlie and I are both plotting, but it’s correct that I have taken over the scripting. And like any type of writing, at least for me, there is a learning curve. It took me a little while to get fully comfortable writing all voices. Certain ones came more naturally to me than others. But once I got into the groove, I went back to earlier issues I wrote and tweaked and changed some of the dialog.
MB: I can’t speak highly enough about Axel Alonso. He’s such a talented editor. He’s opinionated when he needs to be, but never overbearing. Axel also has great instinct, something you can’t learn. In a lot of ways he really mentored me through the process. And on top of that, Axel is just a likeable cat.
TOS: Have you gotten sick of the “your background is comedy, how can you do Moon Knight?” question, which seems to immediately follow any revelation of your career?
MB: Not at all. I come from comedy. I love comedy. Not only that, it’s a fair question to ask. Also, the type of shows I have worked on primarily are single camera. Which means they’re shot like a film, no laugh track and no audience. It’s like making a little movie each week. Honestly, most of the comedies I enjoy are dark comedies. Movies like Bad Santa and Election and many of the Coen Brother films like Fargo I can’t get enough of. My all-time favorite show on the small screen is The Sopranos. It’s filled with comedic moments. So with that said, my true sensibility runs on the dark side. What can I say; I enjoy gallows humor.
TOS: Given how familiar you are with Huston’s run to date on the book, are there any elements, themes or other aspects you hope to tap in particular while working on the book?
MB: Moon Knight is all about redemption. I’ll be playing in that arena. Also, watching the relationship develop with Marlene, Frenchie and the rest of the crew. What dust gets kicked up. All good stuff.
TOS: I know you’re a long-time fan of Moon Knight, but how much did you know about Frank Castle before taking on that recent Punisher One-Shot?
MB: I was not a huge Punisher fan until I discovered Garth Ennis’ Punisher. I’ve said this in other interviews, but Garth got me hooked on the title. His writing on the book is extremely compelling. So, after I read many of his runs I knew I had to approach the book a little differently, especially coming out of the gate. After bouncing around ideas with Axel, I decided to write a story from the criminal’s point of view. Now, by no means do I think this has never been done before, but I thought it could be a nice way to play in this world and tell a cool story that feels satisfying. At the end of the day, I had a lot of fun writing it and loved what artist Laurence Campbell brought to the table. He really raised the bar. I couldn’t be more pleased.