Interviewed by Isaac Diaz and Shawn Swanson of HeroSpy
To see Rest of Interview click on the picture of Mark!
Hero Spy: How did you break into comic book writing?
Marc Sumerak: My first writing gig actually came around when I was still in college. I had just finished an editorial internship at Marvel Comics, and editor Tom Brevoort (who had been my supervisor during that period) contacted me about doing a research project detailing Kurt Busiek & George Perez’s run on AVENGERS. That was released as the AVENGERS CASEBOOK 1999 and was my first professional writing credit.
After that project, I graduated from college, moved to NYC and spent almost 4 years on the Marvel editorial staff working with Tom and the rest of the crew on hundreds of comics. It really was a dream come true.
When I left staff in 2003 and moved back to Ohio, I was asked to pitch some ideas that had been developing as an editor — one of which was GUARDIANS. That book made it to the shelves, and I guess someone liked it because more work followed. So here I am now! (Wow, that sounds a lot easier than it really was…)
Hero: How did you come up with the comic “Guardians”?
MS: GUARDIANS was inspired by a lot of things from my childhood. Games I played with neighborhood friends, adventures we had, classic 80s movies and pop culture we grew up with. It also came from a desire to tell a real coming of age story set within the expanses of the Marvel Universe. The book just naturally evolved from there — the idea of an old group of friends coming back together to live up to a dream they used to share. But with a cool cosmic twist, of course!
Hero: Did marvel assign Casey Jones to that project or had you already had him in mind?
MS: I had worked with Casey a few times during my editorial days and was always a huuge fan of his work. He was definitely on the top of my list when it came to possible artists, but it was really the editor’s call to make. Luckily, he must have felt that Casey was the right guy as well…and the stars lined up in a way that Mr. Jones was available to do the project! I truly couldn’t have been happier with the work that Casey did on the book and the life he brought to those characters.
Hero: You’ve had the good fortune and talent to write on titles such as Fantastic Four and SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED, are there any books or characters in particular that you are dying to write?
MS: The Marvel Universe is such an amazing sandbox to play in. I’m genuinely thrilled to be able to put words in the mouths of any of its characters. I’ve already had the chance to write for some of my favorites in various titles (Thing, Spider-Man, Captain America), but if I had to choose another character I’d love to write… maybe Thor. Or Justice (from the New Warriors and Avengers). Ooh, and there’s always Speedball! I’ve always had a thing for the “little guys” in the hero game.
Hero: I know that you have a creator owned project in the works, what can you tell us about that?
MS: Unfortunately, nothing to report at the moment. It’s on the back burner until I can get some of my other work cleared… and I really don’t want to give away that much until it’s ready to talk about. But when it hits, it should be a whole lot of fun!
Hero: What or who inspired you to write comic books?
MS: Comics inspired me. Plain and simple. I grew up reading them and always wanted to be a part of that world. To touch those characters and help add to their legacies. It wasn’t one book or one creator in particular… it was just the art form as a whole that drew me in.
Hero: Do you have any advice for the millions of writers out there trying to break into the world of comics?
MS: Everyone I know has a different story when it comes to breaking in… and unfortunately, there’s no way that’s any better or easier than another. What works for one guys doesn’t for another. It’s really just a strange combination of talent, persistance and luck.
So the best advice I can give is this: Keep studying and honing your craft. Read everything you can get your hands on — comics, books about comics, and books in general. And never give up. Just because you don’t break in right away doesn’t mean you won’t somewhere down the road!
Hero: Writing a comic book script is tricky, it’s an awful lot like writing a movie script, is there any advice you can give for writing a great script?
MS: Again, it all depends on how you define a great script. To me, a great script is one where the characters live and breathe beyond the boundaries of the panel. Where they have a human side that makes them much more than just super powers and 4-color spandex. That comes through a deep understanding of the characters and their relationships with each other, both in the context of the script and beyond. Don’t forget, the strognest moments in a comic aren’t always the big throwdowns with the bad guys!
Hero: You were an editor with Marvel for four years. That must have given you a much grounded approach to comic writing. What did you learn about your trade from that experience?
MS: Honestly, everything I currently know about comics I learned from my time as an editor. That’s not to say I didn’t know stuff about comics before that time period… I really thought I did. But looking at the process from the inside gave me a totally different perspective on what it takes to put together one of these puppies every thirty days. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of that very few people are fortunate enough to get to see up close.
Specifically, I had the opportunity to read scripts from the greatest talents in the industry, and to see them take shape from concept to finished work. I learned what true collaboration between a writer, artist and a creative team really meant. And I uncovered important tricks of the trade that became invaluable tools when I decided to try my hand at writing. I honestly had no idea what it took to craft a comic before actually becoming a part of the process… and I would never be where I am today without that time!
Hero: I’m sure when you go see a movie you are thinking about how it was written, what would you consider one of the best movies ever written?
MS: That’s a tough one. There are dozens of “classics” that I could rattle off that are near perfect movies from the writing side… but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I enjoyed watching them! When it comes to movies I really liked, “Rushmore” tops the list. I can watch that movie over and over and never get sick of it. It just nails every beat so perfectly. It’s so well crafted in every aspect, from script to score.
Hero: Have you ever done any drawing?
MS: Yes. And if you ever saw it, you’d know the reason why I’m a writer!
Hero: Wizard magazine had an article of the best stories in comic book history; I think one was Infinity Gauntlet. What would you consider a great story in Comics history?
MS: There are just too many to count, and so many of the stories I love are just really solid single issues, not big events. But when it comes to the big epic stories, “Dark Phoenix Saga”, “Kree Skrull War”, “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, “Watchmen”, “Death of Gwen Stacy” and “Daredevil: Born Again” are some of my favorites. And, though not technically one story, the first 100 issues of FANTASTIC FOUR absolutely rock!
Hero: When you are not writing, what do you do…sleep? Besides Sleeping.
MS: When not writing or sleeping, I try to spend as much time as I can with friends and family… and my Xbox360.
Hero: What would be your favorite Character that you have written for?
MS: I’ve always had a soft spot for the Thing, thanks to the early Stan & Jack FF issues. And I’ve really been having a blast with both Jack & Katie Power from POWER PACK. Those kids are like the devil and angel on my shoulders… and I’m honestly not sure which is which sometimes!
Hero: Last Question: What’s your favorite fast food joint?
MS: Not sure if they really qualify as “fast food”, but I love me some Chipotle and Qdoba. Mmmm… Burritos.
Hero: So, what do you have coming up?
Ms: Two more issues of AVENGERS & POWER PACK ASSEMBLE! hitting in June and July. New FRANKLIN RICHARDS: SON OF A GENIUS one-shot (“SUPER SUMMER SPECTACULAR”) in July. That’s all I can announce at the moment… but there’s defintley more fun to come!
Herospy would like to thank Mark Sumerak for this interview and answering our questions, which can be silly sometimes. To see more from this talented person go to his website SURMERAK!