In the aftermath of the Civil War, the great westward expansion of America was fraught with dangers both overt and hidden. Along the Osage Trail outside the tiny village of Cherryvale, Kansas, the Bender Inn seemed a haven for weary travelers, and one could not help but be enchanted by Kate Bender, the mysterious and beautiful proprietor. However, visitors had a way of disappearing, and time has dubbed it “The Devil’s Inn.” In part one of a three-part serial, witness the construction of the inn and the formation of a partnership that would lead to unspeakable horrors in this true story of murder on the plains.
Bestselling comic writer Michael L. Frizell teams up with noted artist and illustrator D.A. Frizell to capture the twisted underbelly of the west in Bender – Volume 1, the opening salvo in a three-part serial event chronicling the true story of America’s first family of serial killers, the bloody Benders.
Bender is the culmination of the brothers’ love for the medium, the childhood stories two brothers concocted to make rural Kansas a bit more exciting to them, and their desire to tell the stories of real people in extraordinary circumstances. Michael credits his fourth grade teacher, the late Fern Morrow Wood, author of The Benders: Keepers of the Devil’s Inn, with planting the idea for the graphic novel. “Our family moved from New Jersey to Cherryvale, Kansas in 1977, and I wasn’t adjusting well to the change,” the author said. “Ms. Wood noticed how morose – and bored – I was. She shared that I lived in a town where exciting, and often scary things, happened. She fired my imagination with tales of the Bender clan. I guess her stories stuck with me.”
Wood’s stories about the Bender family also had a lasting effect on David and influenced his art. “Fern Wood often brought me special paper and pencils in order to keep me from drawing all over my homework assignments,” says David. “She would bring me articles cut from magazines about movie special effects and artists like Frank Frazetta to reward me for passing grades on homework assignments.” David is a freelance graphic designer and illustrator, working with bands Avenged Sevenfold, Wednesday 13, and other, but he’s never forgotten Wood’s enthusiasm for her students and the story of the Benders. “Her face would light up when it came to talking about the bloody Benders and I was always fascinated by the story.”