Blah Blah Blog – My So-Called Career In Comics, Part One

A post from my old Marvel blog concerning how I got into the industry.

My So-Called Career In Comics pt. 1

April 28, 2007 | 1:00 AM | By Tom_Brevoort | In General All right, it’s Monday, so it’s the beginning of another new and exciting week-long series! And for this one, I’ve scoured my archives, locating some of the most obscure and pointless ephemera possible. This week, in response to one of the blog posters, I’m going to be talking about my earliest days at Marvel.

As some of you know (and was detailed in the recent Wizard online interview I did with Brian Bendis), I started at Marvel as a college intern in the summer of 1989. Prior to that, I was an Illustration major at the University of Delaware in, well, Delaware. During orientation into the illustration program, the instructors told us that, in our senior year, we’d be required to find and secure an internship in the field somewhere, relating to our major. During that orientation, one of the professors mentioned that they’d previously placed somebody at Marvel Comics for an internship. So I decided that that was going to be me.

So, late in 1988, I sent off letters to both Marvel and DC, asking for information about their respective internship programs. I never heard anything back from DC–I guess they’ve been busy–but at the top of January I received the attached response from Suzanne Gaffney, who was then Marvel’s intern coordinator, among other things.

As you can see from the letter, answering intern requests wasn’t a huge priority–Suzanne got my name wrong in her salutation, and her response talks about high school interns, rather than college interns. But the essential information remained the same. If memory serves, I called her at the phone number on the letter, cleared up the confusion, and then sent her off the appropriate paperwork from the college indicating that I’d be getting credit for the internship, and then we were ready to go. I know some people think it should take more credentials than that to hook up a Marvel internship, but at least in those days, everybody was happy to have an extra pair of unpaid hands around to help out.

I arranged to serve my internship for three months, from the beginning of June through to the end of August, five days a week. This left me weekends to work a fast food job in order to underwrite the entire venture. And none of this would have been possible if not for my grandparents, Gabino and Delma Castro, who let me live with them at their home in Valley Stream, New York for the summer. Without their assistance, I never could have afforded a place in the New York area.

I interned with a number of other people who went on to some small notoriety in comics or a related field. Mark Powers, eventually the X-MEN editor, was a fellow intern. Cynthia Ignacio went on to animate for Disney and worked on a number of their films in the late ’90s. Alex Chun has written a number of books on vintage cartoonists published primarily through Fantagraphics. And I’m sure the other folks on the attached memo went on to lead happy, productive lives.

Not listed on that memo, however, was another member of our intern band, a fellow named Doug whose last name I’ve completely forgotten. Doug was the Antioch intern–one of the higher-ups at Marvel had gone to school at Antioch college, and had set up an internship program through their alumni association. The big difference between a regular intern and an Antioch intern was that the Antioch interns got paid, a fact I regularly groused about to Doug (and at Doug.)

I would up splitting my time as an intern between three editorial offices: the special projects office of Bob Budiansky and Dwayne McDuffie which handled a number of licensing projects, the office of Craig Anderson and Renee Witterstaetter, which put out SILVER SURFER, WHAT IF and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, among others, and the office of Gregory Wright and Evan Skolnick, which produced AVENGERS SPOTLIGHT, ROBOCOP, the MARVEL MASTERWORKS volumes and assorted other projects.

At the end of my first week, Cynthia, editor Marcus McLauren and I went to the movies to see STAR TREK V. Not only was it an awful movie, but it has the honor of being the first film I ever paid Manhattan prices for.

Tomorrow: adventures in interning, and Tom destroys a priceless page of original art!

More later.

Tom B

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