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The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Marvel’ous author returns to BG

For him, it was a homecoming; for them, it was a unique learning experience.

He is Marc Sumerak, BGSU alum and writer for Marvel Comics.

They are the students who saw him present his latest work — “Power Pack,” a comic book that goes on sale next month — last night in the Union as part of an alumni reading series.

It was a first for the Creative Writing Program’s reading series, as it has never featured a comic book author before.

“All the elements of creative writing is present in comic books,” Sumerak said, naming elements like characters, plot structure and dialog as examples.

He detailed how comic book production differs from writing a short story, such as the inclusion of several people on a single project — authors, editors, pencilers, inkers, colorists and others.

“And one of the nicest surprises of collaborative storytelling,” Sumerak said, “is that everyone is working to put their best work on the page.”

Sumerak also gave some advice to the crowd of about 50, most of whom were creative writing majors.

“If you can find a person in your [writing] group who can be brutal with your story, take advantage of that,” he said.

In an interview before the presentation, Sumerak, who earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University, said writing workshops were invaluable to him. “Workshops got me ready to be edited, they got me ready to edit.”

Reaching out to aspiring writers, Sumerak said, “Don’t be afraid to look beyond the standard forms you’re used to writing. Make sure you’re aware of the other things that are out there.”

“There’s a lot of rejection in any publishing industry. Sure, it’s not easy to take rejection. If you need to, take as couple of days, recoup, and never give up,” he said.

After discussing the comic book industry in his presentation, Sumerak moved on to reading the first several pages of Power Pack’s first issue. He showed each panel one-by-one on a projector hooked up to a laptop computer while reading from the comic’s original script.

Each of Sumerak’s scripts include a description of what the artwork might look like. These descriptions are for the pencilers who draw each panel’s scene, who work separately from Sumerak.

In Power Pack’s case, the artists live in Japan.

“My scripts need to be sent to a translator before they are given to the artists,” Sumerak said. This causes him to write his descriptions as simply as possible, avoiding any vernacular that might not translate well into Japanese.

He read the descriptions last night to show how the artists interpreted his envisioning of each scene.

Sumerak, a Cleveland native, began working at Marvel Comics in an internship while he was still a junior at the University.

“It was a very unique experience to hold a piece of original artwork, knowing it was gonna go into a comic book,” Sumerak said. “It really opened my eyes that this could be a career.”

His first published work came in the form of a guide to past issues of the comic book series “Avengers” called, “Avengers Casebook 1999.” It was released while Sumerak was still a BGSU senior.

In March of 2000, just months before he would graduate, Sumerak got a call from the editor at Marvel he apprenticed under, Tom Brevoort.

Brevoort offered Sumerak a job as assistant editor, a position Marvel held until Sumerak graduated and could move to New York City.

“It wasn’t necessarily hard to do,” Sumerak recalled, “but there was a lot of hard work involved.” There was definitely a lot of competition, he said, and one misstep could have meant losing his chance.

“I made sure I stayed as late as I needed to, making sure those deadlines were met,” he said.

“It was a good mix of good luck, timing and talent — with an emphasis on good luck and timing.”

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