As vice president and creative director at Marvel Games, Bill Rosemann is the man in charge of making sure each video game with Marvel characters looks and feels authentic. For Rosemann, it's not just about getting the look of Spider-Man right (although that is a huge part of the job), it's making sure the dialogue, story and the overall feel of a growing number of Marvel video games connect with Marvel Comics fans and gamers alike.
"Or, to boil it all down, I wield my mighty nerd brain to help our collaborators make the best generation of Marvel games for players around the world," Roseman told SYFY WIRE.
Admittedly, it's a dream job for Rosemann, who has been with Marvel for over two decades. In January, Rosemann was promoted, so in addition to working on games like MARVEL Contest of Champions, the upcoming Marvel's Iron Man VR, and Marvel's Spider-Man, he's also focused on pushing the Marvel Games team and Marvel itself to be the best they can be.
But how do you get a job like that? For Rosemann, the path took several twists and turns and started with a shot in the dark. From his first job as a beat reporter for Marvel Age; to writer and editor for titles like Black Panther, Avengers Academy, Ms. Marvel, War Machine, Black Widow, and the reimagined Guardians of the Galaxy; to Spider-Man balloon wrangler in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Rosemann has achieved his dream, becoming a true brand ambassador for Marvel, in charge of "growing" the next generation of True Believers.
You've said that you really never stopped reading comics and landed a gig at Marvel after college. Can you tell me about that period of your life? What was that job like for the first couple of years?
I graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor's degree in English, zero contacts, and a naive dream of making a career in comics. Luckily, after mailing every editor at Marvel and DC a cover letter and resume, Steve Saffel noticed that I wrote for my college's newspaper, gave me a call, and asked me if I wanted to write an article for Marvel Age magazine. For the next two years, I bounced between entry-level jobs in PR and publishing, barely making enough money for food and NYC rent, while writing articles during my nights and weekends.
Finally, Steve recommended I apply for a copywriting spot filling in for a staffer who was taking time off for maternity leave. She decided not to return to full-time work, they offered me the position, and I somehow found myself reaching my crazy dream of joining the full-time staff of Marvel.
What comics do you remember gravitating towards when you were younger, aside from Spider-Man? Did you collect? Do you still collect? What are some favorite runs in recent memory?
While I read everything I could get my hands on, the focus of my early comic book diet was Marvel mainstays like Spider-Man, Daredevil, the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. During my teenage years I was, of course, obsessed with the X-Men, the poster children for puberty. While I was never a collector of back issues, which I couldn't afford, I always followed my favorite writers and artists, such as Frank Miller, John Byrne, George Perez, Walt Simonson, Bill Sienkiewicz, and John Romita Jr., plus the legends we owe everything to, like Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, John Romita, John Buscema, and Jack Kirby.
As for current runs, I give a True Believer thumbs-up to Thor by Jason Aaron, Esad Ribic, Mike Del Mundo & Russell Dauterman; Venom by Donny Cates & Ryan Stegman; and Immortal Hulk by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett.
Tell me about moving over to Marvel Games. Was that a slow process, or just an opening that popped up? What do you love about working in video games?
I was lucky enough to join Marvel Games a little over four years ago, when our leader Jay Ong reassembled the team with a new mission to collaborate with the best partners to unleash a bold new era. It was a sudden jump from NYC to L.A., but one that had roots going way back to my childhood and teenage fascination with video games … I even had a summer job in an arcade!
What's so cool is that everything I learned while creating Marvel comics – a focus on characters, story, and authenticity – directly maps to making Marvel games, and the added bonus is that gamers get to take their favorite Super Heroes and Super Villains in their own hands and control the action. It's that extra level of connectivity and interaction that makes games such a powerful and forward-thinking medium.
Let's talk Marvel's Spider-Man for the PS4. Why do you think it was so successful? Can it be recreated with other characters?
The success of Marvel's Spider-Man — both the amazing critical response and the spectacular sales numbers — was a result of a rare collaboration with industry-leading talent like Insomniac Games and PlayStation, combined with a reverence and love for Spidey himself. Yes, they nailed the core wish fulfillment of web-slinging and battling awesome villains through Marvel's New York City, but Bryan Intihar and the team at Insomniac also wisely choose to be innovative by focusing on the man under the mask and consistently delivered the magic that happens when Spider-Man's superhuman world collides with Peter Parker's human world.
Insomniac Games and PlayStation "got" Spider-Man, and proved as long as we pour our love for Marvel into what we create and fully embrace the core of what makes our characters uniquely special, the sky is the limit.
What advice would you give to someone aspiring to do what you do?
Never stop learning, hustling, helping, and dreaming!