I didn’t move to New York City to meet movie stars, watch musicals, eat sushi or meet girls. Well, I wanted to meet girls, but that wasn’t the main reason I packed my bags.
I wanted to watch the creation of a comic book from an idea to a story that kids buy with their lawn-mowing money. In order to do that, I needed to intern at Marvel Comics. The only way to do that was to major in English at NYU.
Marvel accepted me as an intern in my second semester, which made life amazing. They didn’t interview me, which was lucky for me because back then I still didn’t know how to tie a tie, iron trousers, shave or look like anything but a bumbling doofus. Luckily, I’d be working at a comic book publisher, not Goldman Sachs.
The first day, I expected to see Spider-Man, Stan Lee or the Comic Book Guy from “The Simpsons” walking around saying, “Worst comic ever.”
Disappointingly, the House of Ideas looked like a regular old office with a lot of decorations. Yeah, guys looked nerdy, but some were really bad-ass. Long hair. All black. Nail polish. And not every employee was a Marvel zombie. They created their own comic books and characters. Blasphemy!
This was back in 2001. The first “X-Men” movie came out not even a year earlier. If you didn’t know, Marvel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1998, so I was happy they still put ink on comic book paper. I’d heard rumors about a “Spider-Man” movie, but I always said, “I’ll believe it when I’m in the theater watching him spin webs any size, catching thieves just like flies.”
I wondered if I’d work with X-Men, Spider-Man or the Fantastic Four. I don’t know anybody who cared about the Avengers until about a decade ago.
The internship coordinator looked so cute! At that time in my life, I had maybe kissed two or three girls. I hoped someday the coordinator would ask for my help with something. My dream is still to marry my boss at Marvel Comics.
But that didn’t happen. Instead, she assigned me to the Marvel Knights imprint. Ever hear of Moon Knight or the Inhumans? No? Well, maybe you’ve heard of Daredevil, Black Panther or (one of my many favorites) the Punisher.
My internship grew a lot more interesting. What did I do there? Stay tuned, True Believers!
(As a quick aside, back then I didn’t know much about much about women in the workplace. Men ruled the show at Marvel’s House of Ideas, but some of the biggest editors and bosses were women. Was it male dominated? Yeah, and the comic book world still generally is.)