By Chris Arrant
Although you may be able to ring off the names of the top creators and editors at the Marvel without problem, many others work under the radar of most fans, doing the little things that need to be done so those other folks can focus on the big picture. They’re like the nameless navy-clad agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—they’re the Marvel interns.
For years, Marvel’s offices have been assisted by a silent army of interns; students giving their time to the company in exchange for college credit and valuable career experience in the world of publishing. Although internships don’t pay, the time they put in earns them sought-after real world experience as they finish their degree and head into the workforce. And for some of these interns, their experience at Marvel provides gateway into a full-time career in the world of comics. Over the years, many future comic professionals have interned at Marvel: writers, artists, letterers, colorists and even editors and office personnel.
UNCANNY X-MEN and ULTIMATES 3 artist Joe Madureira? Former intern.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN writer Dan Slott? Former intern.
Newly minted Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort? Former intern.
But why do it? Why take a non-paying job in the busy big city where you’re at the bottom of a tall ladder? Let Tom tell you.
“Well, obviously, to get a leg up on getting into the business,” explains Brevoort, who began at Marvel as an intern in the summer of 1989. “In the illustration program I attended at the University of Delaware, senior students were required to get and serve an internship at some company or institution related to the field of illustration. In our initial freshman orientation, the head of the department mentioned that they had previously placed one student at Marvel Comics, so I figured that was where I would set my sights.”
Marvel currently averages around 30 interns per semester, working in one of several departments such as Editorial, Digital Media, Production (aka ‘The Bullpen’), Promotions, Legal and even Accounting. Marvel offers internships only to current full-time college students and only if they receive course credit. In addition to the offices in New York City, a Marvel internship can also take one to Marvel Studios in Manhattan Beach, California.
“There are approximately 25 employees currently on staff that were at one point a Marvel intern,” reveals Internship Coordinator Sara DelGreco. “An internship with Marvel does not guarantee a position within the company. [But] if this is an industry you want to pursue then an internship is a great way to network with industry pros.”
The duties of an internship vary between departments, but there’s one common thread: they’re guaranteed to keep busy.
“While the office work was my main assignment, my most important duty as an Editorial intern was to watch and learn how comics were made,” points out writer Marc Sumerak, who interned under Brevoort. “I got to see that happen from the inside and learn important aspects of the creative and production processes that I couldn't even have imagined when I was just a reader. And, even better, those lessons were being taught by some of the biggest names in the industry!”
Although a lot of the job includes making copies and scanning in images, even those tasks involve handling art from some of Marvel’s biggest names.
“The best thing was making copies, which sounds insane, I know, but it was photocopying comic art,” says Marvel Senior Editor Nick Lowe, who interned during the inception of Marvel Knights. “Come on! John Romita Jr., Frank Quitely, Joe [Quesada], Carlos Pacheco, Barry Windsor Smith—it was awesome. I ran errands, filed things, organized comics, etc. The most unexpected [assignment] was when Axel Alonso asked me to read the first INCREDIBLE HULK issue of his editorial run and offer feedback and suggestions. That was a blast.”
The Digital Media department also buzzes with internship activity. In addition to working on articles like this one for Marvel.com, they coordinate the design of Marvel’s web sites as well as online promotions such as on Facebook. David Gallaher, who wrote the recent DARKSTAR AND THE WINTER GUARD series, got his start as a Digital intern.
“I was in charge of answering e-mails, sorting through comics, finding reference, writing articles, writing character bios, dropping of color files, and Xeroxing art for the digital comics,” he recounts. “Unexpectedly, I got to learn Photoshop, how to map out web sites for re-designs, how to debug web sites, and how to manage creative teams to develop digital comics.”
Gallaher’s experiences as an intern proved indispensable as his career took off with the webcomics High Moon and later Box 13.
“Here’s the important part of my career ladder: the relationships I built, the friendships I forged, all sprung from that internship,” Gallaher says. “It was my first impression of the comic industry and their first impression of me—I wanted to be known as the intern who worked hard, paid attention, took direction, and worked at being a real team player. Everything I learned during my internship played a huge part in my success today.
With several of Marvel’s current editors coming from the intern pool and now having interns themselves, it offers a unique perspective as they teach the making of comics and magazines through real experience, and the cycle of “graduation” continues.
“For a long time I had a really strong track record for people who interned for me that later wound up working on staff at Marvel,” Brevoort says. “That list included Kevin Kobasic, Joe Andriani, Gregg Schigiel, Marc Sumerak, Andy Schmidt and more recently Rachel Pinnelas.”
All in all, interning for Marvel provides a fun experience for any comics fan that’s serious about a career in comics and a workplace that doesn’t frown on you for enjoying it.
“I don't think I ever told anyone this story,” begins letterer Joe Caramagna, who interned in 1999 and 2000. “It was very early in my internship, and I was so excited about something I was working on, that I snuck into the bathroom and just started dancing. All of a sudden, the door flew open and it was Joe Quesada! I stopped right away and pretended to air-dry my hands while reaching for a paper towel. I don't think he saw me.
“At least I hope he didn't see me.”
Find out more about interning for Marvel visit our Internship Opportunities page.