Marvel Heroes

Marvel Visits the Rebecca School

Follow Marvel editor Bill Rosemann as he speaks with a special group of students about making comic books!

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Bill Rosemann at the Rebecca School (photo by Billy Gomberg)

Photos by Billy Gomberg

By TJ Dietsch

“The children are our future.”

It's not just a song lyric or a nice bit of sentimentality, but a true statement especially when it comes to comics. In an effort to spread the good word about sequential storytelling, Marvel Editor Bill Rosemann earlier this month visited The Rebecca School, a therapeutic school for children with neurodevelopmental disorders of relating and communicating, including PDD and Autism. While there, Rosemann showed the 10 members of the school’s Comic Book Club the various steps it takes to make a comic and also looked at their art samples.

“I was excited to hear that the Rebecca School had a comic book club—something I would have loved to belong to while in school—and honored to represent Marvel,” Rosemann says.

Zach Freeman, the school's art teacher and manager of the Comic Book Club said that Rosemann's visit came as the result of an attempted office tour.

“I got in touch with Bill via emailing Marvel to set up a tour of their offices,” Freeman says. "We were told that was not a possibility, but that one of the editors might be able to visit the students at the school. Thanks to the efforts of Jeff Klein, John Turitzin, David Bogart and David Gabriel, I was put in touch with Bill and he was kind enough to share his time, knowledge and passion of Marvel comic books with us. It is something the students and I will remember for the rest of our lives."

Marvel at the Rebecca School (photo by Billy Gomberg)

The Rebecca School's Comic Book Club consists of a group of students who get together to not only talk about comics, but also try their hand at drawing their own heroes and villains.

“Some of the group's favorite Marvel characters include Iron Man, Spider-Man, Thor, Venom, Wolverine, Sentinels and Nick Fury, to name a few,” Freeman says. “The success of the Marvel movies has been a huge motivator in shaping the list.”

To explain how comics get made, Rosemann took artwork in various stages of the production process to show what all goes on between the covers.

“Thanks to Irene Lee in Marvel’s very own Bullpen, I had large printouts of each key stage in the creation of a comic book page: the script, the pencils, the inks, the colors and the lettering," Rosemann explains. “By seeing each different layer, the students were able to understand how creating a comic book is truly a team effort.

“The right visual aids can help make a complicated process easy to grasp, so seeing the individual steps—especially since they were printed out at large, Marvel-sized art boards—was much more excited and effective than me just discussing the creative process," he continues. “Also, the page in question was from an issue of AVENGERS ARENA, so the students loved seeing work by real Marvel creators like Dennis Hopeless, Kev Walker, Jean-Francois Beaulieu and Joe Caramagna. I also shared a cover, and the students really seemed to enjoy getting an up-close look at a large version of Mike Deodato’s amazing art.”

Marvel at the Rebecca School (photo by Billy Gomberg)

Getting an inside look at the process really opened the students’ eyes to all the work that goes into making a Marvel comic.

“The students were in awe of all the steps and people that are necessary to make a comic book come to life,” Freeman notes. “They stared wide-eyed as Bill showed them examples of the pencil, ink, color and dialogue stages of a book.”

Rosemann reveals that he saw some solid raw talent when the students showed him their artwork: “It was a reminder that tomorrow’s next big stars are sharpening their pencils today.”

The presentation also got some of the students more interested in working in comics, Freeman says.

“Since our meeting with Bill, one of our older students has asked to intern at Marvel, saying he would love to work on comics via the computer, maybe become involved as someone that does the digital color.”

Freeman adds that Rosemann's talk inspired the club in another way, by influencing their yearly group-painted mural.

“The students have decided that this year's comic book club project would be a heroes versus villains mural,” he says. “Upon completion it will hang in the school lobby as the past years murals where one of heroes and one of villains currently hang.”

Bill Rosemann at the Rebecca School (photo by Billy Gomberg)

Both men understand the importance of giving kids a place to talk about their passion for comics and also encourage them to be creative on their own.

“This is the club's third year in existence,” Freeman says. “The school promotes and encourages the passions and interests of its students, thus the Comic Book Club was born. I myself being hugely passionate about comic books since I was student, the Comic Book Club is an extension of the shared love we—the students and I—have for the medium." 

Rosemann goes on to explain how kids come primed for the bigger-than-reality stories presented in Marvel's comics:

"We usually most fondly and powerfully remember our favorite bits of pop culture—whether that’s hearing a song or watching a movie or reading a book—when we first encountered them, which is usually as kids. That’s especially true of comic books, when our minds are primed to absorb the larger than life exploits of these brightly dressed heroes and the important lessons they teach. There is no Marvel without our readers, especially our youngest readers!"

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