Zap! Pow! Bang! Crafting comics: Marvel and Star Wars writer comes to BGSU


Marvel Comics writer Marc Sumerak returned to Bowling Green State University for a day with the English department on Monday.

Sumerak is a 2000 BGSU graduate with a bachelor of fine arts in creative writing who has gone on to work on books, video games and some of the biggest titles in the comic book world, including Iron Man, Star Wars, Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men and Spider-Man.

Along the way, Sumerak has been nominated for an Eisner Award and a Harvey Award, the biggest awards in the comics field.

On his return to campus he shared his experiences and advice with future storytellers. Early in the day he gave a guest presentation on the craft of creating comics. Later in the day Sumerak gave a Q&A session at the BGSU Prout Chapel, followed by a book signing.

“I wanted to be able to come back and give back to the department that I started in, the Creative Writing Department, and be able to share my experiences and my knowledge, garnered over the last two decades, with the next generation of creative writers,” Sumerak said. “This is where I got my start, here at Bowling Green. My trajectory as a writer began right in these classrooms.

“It’s nice to be able to look out at this audience and see so many faces of young writers who are eager to follow the same path. It’s really rewarding.”

What he gave the audience was a master class in comic book writing.

“I find this to be the most exciting writing, when the story takes off on its own,” Sumerak said.

He’s a big fan of collaboration. He had several pieces of advice for would-be writers who want to get into the industry.

“I think it’s really important to know, as a creator, that you don’t have to do it all alone, that you can rely on other people who have specialized talents in other areas to bolster your vision and make it even stronger,” Sumerak said. “The best thing to do is team up with someone who want to tell a story.”

He fondly remembered walking down the halls of his dorm and being able to find someone to work with, whether that be an artist, computer programmer or fellow writer.

Sumerak added that the biggest mistake writers can make is attempting to single-handedly tackle every aspect of the creative process.

“When we work in professional comics we have a designated writer, an artist, an inker a colorist, people who are specialized in their own disciplines, and bring their best to the page, who don’t feel the need to do what everyone else is doing and will put their best on each page,” Sumerak said.

He also recommended workshopping, because it taught him how to get feedback and take criticism constructively.

Before being a writer, Sumerak was a comics fan. The first comic he remembered reading was a Star Wars one. That fandom of the genre led to his writing short fiction and a love for creating characters.

“It was later in my career, when I was working at Marvel, that I would work with all of them. I had no idea, going in, that these legends who wrote the very first comic I read would be people that I called every day,” Sumerak said.

“I started buying comics when I was about 4 years old, about 1982, but my collection really begins regularly about 1984 starting with some Marvel licensed properties with Star Wars and Transformers. Those were some of the earliest comics I collected, and from that point forward I was all in.”

The path he used in getting into comics may not be the one that works for everyone.

“Comic writers come from the strangest places, and they are always looking for new voices at Marvel,” Sumerak said.

No posts to display