Marc Sumerak is a comics professional who has had the advantage of seeing the industry on both sides of publishing. He’s been an editor, moved to writing, and now he also mentors aspiring writers for Comics Experience. His newest published project is Guardians of the Galaxy: Creating Marvel’s Spacefaring Super Heroes–The Complete Comics History. We talked to him about his successful, wide-ranging career.
Hi, Marc! Tell us a little about your background in the comics industry.
I started at Marvel in 1999 as an editorial intern. My first writing gig, Avengers Casebook 1999, came out after that year. That was followed by a four-year stint on staff as an Assistant Editor to Tom Brevoort in the Avengers office. In 2004, I began my career as a freelance writer and have been going strong ever since. I’ve worked on hundreds of books for Marvel and have also worked for a number of other publishers, including Insight Editions, Scholastic, and more.
How did your work as an editor influence and help your career as a writer?
As an editor, I had a chance to learn from the best, even when they didn’t know they were teaching me. Every day I got to read scripts by the industry’s best—guys like Kurt Busiek, Mark Waid, Geoff Johns, and Fabian Nicieza—and study them to find out what made them work. I also got to understand exactly what an editor was looking for in a script (and a writer), which made things much easier when I switched to the other side of the table.
You’ve written instructional material, marketing, comics, and video games. What are some of your favorite media and genres to write in? Is there a work you’re particularly proud of?
The comic book industry will always be where my heart is, but I’ve loved expanding into other mediums as well. I especially love when I get to apply my deep knowledge of popular comic book universes into an informative project for another publisher. One of my books from last year, Hidden Universe Travel Guide: The Complete Marvel Cosmos, let me take a look at the Marvel Universe from a totally different—and really fun—angle.
How long have you been mentoring for Comics Experience? Can you tell us what kind of interactions aspiring creators would have with you as a mentor?
I have been providing writing critiques for CE since 2014 and have also been a mentor for the last couple years. I even had a chance to teach the Editing and Project Management course last month. Anyone who gets me for a critique, as a mentor, or as an instructor can expect brutally honest feedback that pulls no punches, but hopefully points out exactly how a story can be focused and strengthened for the best possible end results.
What’s the most important advice you can give to creators?
Context is key. So many times, young writers and artists build elaborate worlds in their heads and forget to actually put all of the essential information of the final page. Remember: comic fans can read your pages, but not your minds. If all of the important info isn’t presented within the story itself, the only one who will truly be able to enjoy the story is you!
Tell us about your new book with Marvel, Guardians of the Galaxy: Creating Marvel’s Spacefaring
Super Heroes—The Complete Comics History. How did the project come about? What will readers
learn from it?
This book focuses on almost fifty years of history of the Guardians of the galaxy in their various comic book incarnations—from the original team from the thirty-first century to the modern day version we all know and love. It’s a giant-size hardcover jam-packed full of gorgeous art, creator interviews, and inside info, all wrapped in a gorgeous new cover by Dale Keown. For any fan of the Guardians, this book is a must-own!
Interested in getting one-on-one coaching from a comics professional? Learn more about Comic Experience’s mentorships here.
Posted by Jennifer de Guzman