Interview with Comic Book Editing & Project Management Instructor Marc Sumerak!

Marc Sumerak bio photoA new session of our Comic Book Editing & Project Management course is now open for enrollment! This live, online course launches March 20, 2017, led by editor, writer, and publishing professional Marc Sumerak.

Marc began his comics career on the editorial staff of Marvel Comics, developing properties including The Avengers, Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, and The X-Men. Since then, Marc’s reach has expanded to include writing, teaching, professional mentoring, and more! Marc has been a valued part of the Comics Experience staff since 2015, when he began offering professional script critiques on our Creators Workshop, and providing guidance to clients in our mentoring program.

Now, we’re thrilled to have Marc on our teaching faculty as well!

Visit the Comic Book Editing & Project Management page to learn more about how this course can help you develop your professional skills and provide thorough, inside knowledge of the comic book creation process. Enrollment is open, and all are welcome!

Here, Marc talks more about his background, the editor’s role, and what students can expect from his course.


How has the comic editor’s role changed during your time in the industry?

I think, in some ways, the editor has taken a more proactive role in setting the course for the characters they oversee. Especially at the larger publishing houses, there now tends to be a specific predetermined story trajectory planned far in advance, due to any number of factors—from major media events to company-wide crossovers. The editor’s role has become vital in making sure that all of the characters and their individual stories sync up with the greater plans already in motion. A publisher may know the line’s basic publishing milestones a year or two in advance, so it falls to the editor to disseminate that information in a way that allows the talent to plan appropriately.

What are some of your favorite things about editing comics?

I love getting my hands dirty fine-tuning a story, finding what works and stripping out what doesn’t.  Story is where I live and breathe—but even though I’m also a writer, I’m not just referring to the words on the page. So much of a comic book’s story is told through the art and color and lettering as well. If those elements don’t work in perfect unison to tell the best story possible, I haven’t done my job as an editor.

What are some of the things that have surprised you the most about your editing career?

I suppose, more than anything, I’m shocked how much my time as an editor prepared me for my time as a writer. Being an editor didn’t teach me to write, per se, but it did teach me to write comic books. And my unwitting professors were some of the finest creators the medium had to offer in a wide range of disciplines. I got to pore over scripts from Busiek, Johns, and Waid. I got to examine every pencil stroke of Perez, Wieringo, and Bagley up close. I got to figure out what made certain inkers and colorists and letterers the best matches for certain projects. I got to see how a book comes together from start to finish, and how one weak link in that chain can send everything spiraling out of control. While editing, I was able to discover a deeper understanding of every aspect of making comics, and those decisions helped inform the creator that I am today.

What are you most eager to share with your Comic Book Editing & Project Management students?

Brutal honesty. Any Creators Workshop member who has had a script critiqued by me expects no less. I don’t pull punches, but there’s a reason for that. If you’re at the level where you’re truly devoting your time to this craft, you deserve straight talk from someone who cares about your future. And when it comes to new talent, I want to make sure they have the knowledge to succeed and the understanding that it won’t be easy. No script is perfect, but a busy professional editor might not have the time to tell you why yours didn’t make the cut. As a part of CE and this course, it’s our job to give you a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t on every level of the production process so that you—and those you collaborate with—have the best chance at success. My goal is to bring out the best in every story, even if it means burning some of them down along the way.

Is there anything else you’d like prospective students to know about you, or this course?

I think everyone who is interested in making comics should have a fundamental understanding of how comics are made beyond their chosen discipline. Not just how to write a script or compose a page of art, but also a working knowledge of the day-to-day production that goes in to putting a book together on a deadline. All the best comics you read are truly team efforts where each creator brings their best to the table, often under unforgiving circumstances. Whether you’re working with a team of seasoned pros or promising up-and-comers, the best creators share a mutual desire to bring out the best in each other’s work. The only way to truly achieve that is to know what goes into every step of the process.


Comic Book Editing & Project Management starts March 20! Visit the course page here to enroll.

If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!

Posted by Nicole Boose

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