Interning at Marvel Comics fulfilled my dreams of working with comic books.
I proved to be a great resource to the editors. From rote memorization, I knew why Hulk used to be gray, what happened to Spider-Man’s black costume and who Deadpool dated — Death! I knew you couldn’t print “bastard” in a comic. I made copies, organized stuff and picked out colors for the printer, which is a million times harder than it sounds. I even selected the new Marvel Knights’ logo. Hooray for me! Unfortunately, that imprint went extinct a dozen years ago.
I thought the House of Ideas would let their cute intern write an issue or two. Well, it’s not that easy. Marvel’s authors jump through big hoops to write for the world’s biggest comic book producer.
Unfortunately, after one semester, Marvel was finished with me. The next semester, they decided to give somebody else a try. I don’t know why. I can guess. However, here are some lessons I wish (I FREAKING WISH!) I could go back in time and force myself to listen and learn:
• Being tardy doesn’t even fly at KFC. This is Marvel Comics. Coming in early and staying late shows you’re the most dedicated of interns.
• Constantly asking to do something might annoy some editors, but they’ll see your effort and know that you’re the hardest-working guy in the office. You’re kissing ass, but Marvel is where you want to be. You packed up your life and moved to NYC to work here!
• Use the internet to research what each writer, artist, inker and letterer looks like. Never forget anybody’s name or job. The moment you meet some creative talent, latch on and beg to be an understudy.
That next semester, I still needed an internship — and fast. I ended up working for a German guy’s extreme sports blog, partially funded by a weird energy drink company. The blog didn’t last, but that weird drink turned out to be Red Bull. If I had found a way to work for them, I could have just bought Marvel.
For my final semester, I applied not only to Marvel, but also DC (shh, don’t tell anybody). If one didn’t hire me, surely the other would. And how cool would it be to see both companies? I wouldn’t be spying. I’d be in awe. After a lifetime of Marvel, I don’t think I could change my loyalty to DC, but I still would like to learn how they did things.
Bad news. Both publishers denied me. I hung my head and interned in a public relations firm, which taught a great lesson: I don’t want to work in PR.
Some of my interning experiences were neat, while others were a complete waste of time. We moved boxes, organized stuff and delivered mail. So essentially, I’m still paying off student loans for my 21-year-old self to make copies.
At the end of my internship, Marvel did publish something of mine: a letter to the editor in a Punisher comic. That counts as being a writer for Marvel, right? Sort of.
I’m almost two decades too old to be an intern, but still — Make Mine Marvel.
(Here’s a fun fact: I interned at the Colorado Daily 14 years ago. That was one of my best career decisions, where I learned to write and earned my first big-boy job.)