Few kids growing up in the Bronx in the 1970s, it seemed, had much interest in comic books, let alone the ambition to write them (or about them) for a living. On the other hand, just about every entertainment journalist harbors their own secret (or not-so-secret) creative dreams, in which they're the one writing the movie or hosting the show, instead of requesting advance copies and bartering for interviews.
In both cases, Marc Bernardin has defied the odds and actually made his dreams a reality. And if that makes him an aspirational figure to young writers, that's cool — he just advises people not to try to take his particular route to comic book success.
"I will warn everybody, the path to breaking into comics, as was explained to me by Mark Waid, is like breaking out of prison," Bernardin, who contributes columns to SYFY WIRE, says in the latest episode of The Fandom Files. "No two people do it the same way, and they always seal up the hole after you get out. Do not follow that path of trying to break into comics, because it will not work. I was the one who managed to be successful."
He's talking in particular about how he jumped from Entertainment Weekly journalist to DC Comics writer — namely, sending publisher Jim Lee an email every week for an entire year pitching his idea, before backing away, admitting he had been an asshole, and having that earnest admission, of all things, unlock the key to the publisher's interest. But he might as well be talking about his larger path, forged two decades ago, during a very different time in showbiz history.
Bernardin first went to L.A. to intern on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a position he won in a scriptwriting contest (he wrote a spec episode in which Khan faces off against Picard). After college, he got a job writing for the iconic sci-fi magazine Starlog and then moved on to EW, where he convinced his skeptical editors that comic books — and San Diego Comic-Con — were worth giving a few lines in the magazine. (He was definitely on to something.)
He had to keep a strict separation of church and state at EW, so once Lee finally answered his email, he slowly moved away from writing about comics to actually writing them. He's written on a long list of titles, from X-Men and Wolverine to Static Shock and his own creations, like the badass book Genius and The Highwaymen, which was his first published comic, written with writing partner Adam Freeman.
On screen, his credits have included the SYFY show Alphas and the upcoming Hulu show Castle Rock. You may actually know him best, however, from his role as the co-host of Kevin Smith's podcast Fatman on Batman, which has continued on almost uninterrupted since Smith's scary heart attack last month. Because he's a veteran podcaster, Bernardin is far better at talking than we are, which makes for an excellent episode — listen below!
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