Astute readers of all things Shadowline Comics will notice that a new name has joined the staff: The infamous Internet inspiration Marc Lombardi is now being fully recognized with the official title of Communications Director with Shadowline Comics. To celebrate this momentous occasion, Dirk Manning, the writer of NIGHTMARE WORLD and TALES OF MR. RHEE (and a man who knows a thing or two about pimpin’ as well), turned the tables on Marc and made him the subject of this week’s “10 Questions with…” installment.
1) As of GREEN WAKE #5 your name has started showing-up in the Shadowline credits under the title “Communications Director.” We’ll get to the details of what lead up to this in a moment… but first, man, I have to ask: How did it feel to open up that book and see your name in there?
It was a great feeling. Jim Valentino had given me some advance warning that it would be happening soon, but there was no specific issue to look out for. When I went to read Green Wake #5 I flipped the book open and saw my name…it was really special to see it there among people who I truly respect. I have had my name in comics before but never in this sort of capacity. I was mentioned in the special thanks section of Mice Templar when it first began and when the Luna Brothers were working on The Sword I was among the few folks who were listed in the special thanks area for doing essentially focus-group work on each issue prior to publication. And back when I was 15 I won the name-the-letter column contest in Gen 13, but my prize for winning – a Fairchild door poster – must have gotten lost in the mail.
2) With that aside… how about telling us what lead you to this position? How did you first hook-up with Shadowline on a professional level? Did you just walk up to Jim Valentino and say “I want to promote your stuff for a living?” or what?
Back in 2007, when Shadowline was running a contest for what was at the time being called the Shadowline Pimpsquad, I was a regular on the Shadowline section of the Image Forums. Taking part in the contest was something that seemed natural for me to want to do since I was already a big fan. So I changed my message board screennames wherever I posted to "Pimpsquad Marc" and "Shadowline Pimp" and did what I could to raise the awareness of the comics that Shadowline was publishing. I talked up future releases and created banners to use on any of the comic-related message boards where I posted. But I think what helped to put me over the top was that I coordinated an interview with every single major Shadowline creator at the time and managed to talk the folks at CBR into publishing it.
I’d like to think that the interview gave a little bit of promotional value to all of the titles that were currently being published. My reward for winning the contest was great! I managed to snag the entire run of the series of my choice (I selected Bomb Queen), an autographed copy of The Complete Normalman and a commissioned sketch from the Shadowline artist of my choice (I selected Juan Ferreyra, who did a stunning piece of Superman artwork for me). After the contest, Jim and company were wonderful enough to allow me to stay around and help out in the PR and Marketing area and eventually they gave me a moderator spot on the forums. Now I run the website, the social networking aspects of Shadowline and continue to talk up the comics as often as possible.
3) People across the Internet may recognize you from the days you used to post everywhere as “Pimpsquad Marc” or “Shadowline Pimp.” Do you have any formal degree or training in communications or publicity work?
No, I have had no formal training in publicity work. I have a degree in Journalism and when I was younger I envisioned myself working as a beat reporter for my beloved Phillies for one of the Philadelphia area newspapers. After college I went on to work as an intern at Philadelphia magazine, where my boss happened to be Duane Swierczynski – who now of course writes comics for Marvel and DC. Talking comics with him in 1996 and 1997 made me realize that there was no reason why I couldn’t do both – work in journalism and still not only be a fan of comics but also be involved in working on them. Clearly that’s something he was a little better at because I’m working in logistics instead of writing but still doing promotional stuff for Shadowline, while Duane is quite successful at writing both novels and comics.
Even though I never had any formal training, what I’ve been doing at Shadowline has come naturally to me. It’s very easy to promote something when you’re passionate about it and I can truly say that I don’t think there has been a single comic book from Shadowline since I’ve been involved with working for them that I didn’t like.
4) You obviously love comics, but do you have any aspirations to write or draw your own comics someday… or are you content just being a reader?
I’m a writer, so writing comics or even editing is something I’d love to be able to do with regularity. I actually have my comic-writing debut coming up in October in The Gathering #5. It’s an anthology series from an independent publisher that was originally created so that a “gathering” of fans from Brian Michael Bendis’ Jinxworld forum could get their big breaks in comics. My debut will be a two-page story in the Romance issue, and having already seen the two pages come to life thanks to artists Johnny Coker and Travis Howard…the feeling was incredible. It’s a different feeling than seeing my name attached to articles I’ve written so it’s natural for me to want to have that feeling many more times again. Yes, I would like very much to develop my skills as a comic writer at some point – but only when I am truly ready. I want to earn my chance, not be given one.
5) What are some of your favorite comics that you’re reading right now?
I’m going to sound like an Image junkie but I’m deeply in love with The Walking Dead, Hack/Slash, Chew, Morning Glories, Green Wake, Mice Templar and Proof. I also love Fables, Criminal, Irredeemable and Incorruptable. I adore what Mike Costa is doing with Cobra and the Transformers ongoing. I miss the hell out of Jay Farber’s Dynamo 5. I wish the fan-base was there to support such a finely crafted book. And then there’s stuff I’m reading in trades such as Locke & Key and Scalped and I’ve been dying to get into Invincible and Ultimate Spider-Man.
6) Anyone who’s been paying attention knows that Shadowline has really been firing on all cylinders lately… but what’s a Shadowline book past or present that – in your estimation – people may have missed or not paid enough attention to as they should have the first time around?
Let me start by saying that I’m glad that many of the current books are getting the fan support they deserve, but I think that Emissary was the biggest one I could think of that never received the support it deserved. With a plot by Jim Valentino and the scripting handled by J.R. Rand early on and Christopher Long as the series wrapped, it was a great concept. It was a superhero story, but at it's heart were issues dealing with race, politics and this underlying idea that something just isn't as it seems. On top of that, Juan Ferreyra’s art was gorgeous (as always). It’s amazing to me that Juan is not mentioned in the same breath as folks like Ethan Van Sciver and Frank Quitely. When Emissary ended with the 6th issue I wanted to read more. Sadly it wasn’t meant to be.
7) Let’s play some Shadowline question-association games for a moment. In honor of the upcoming XENOHOLICS, tell us, Marc… honestly… do you believe in aliens?
I do. Call Mulder and Scully on me, but I am indeed a believer. It’s hard to think that in this insanely huge universe that we are the only forms of intelligent life out there. I mean, it’s downright scary to think otherwise. We can’t possibly be the best thing going in the universe, right? We don’t even have flying cars yet! And when they do show up, I hope they're the Stephen Spielberg E.T. kind and not the Ridley Scott acidy-spit kind
8) Complete this sentence: “My NIGHTMARE WORLD would be a world without...”
Starchy foods. Or pizza. I’m a foodie at heart. I love to eat and my wife is an amazing cook. I’m not so bad myself in the kitchen but she’s top notch. Her pasta with meatballs and gravy (Italians who grew up in South Philly call it gravy, not sauce) is something I would eat all of the time. I could eat pizza every day and not grow tired of it. I love bread and potatoes and rice. I couldn’t imagine not being able to eat a sandwich. What’s a Reuben without the rye bread? What’s a burger without the bun? No starch? That’s a world I don’t want to live in!
9) In honor of MORNING GLORIES… what “clique” or group did you run with in high school?
I was somewhat a sporty geek. Sort of a cross between the Emilio Estevez and Anthony Michael Hall characters from The Breakfast Club. I went to a high school that was renowned for academics so it was essentially an entire school of nerds. I was in the middle level of coolness among them. I played a lot of football during lunch so people there got to see the more animalistic side of me instead of just the dorky, braniac, comic-reading side.
10) Bring us home with some practical promotional wisdom, man: What’s the best advice you can give other creators out there regarding how to promote their work online without being all annoying and/or “spammy” about it?
The best possible advice I could give is to be yourself. Creators who self-promote or people who work for companies on the promotional side should be certain that they are not creating an internet persona that is not true to who they are. You shouldn’t be purposefully controversial or say wacky things in order to get attention. Be open to the fans. Without them you are nothing. Be respectful of the opinions of others and be grateful for the advice you receive from others who have paved the way for you. He may not realize it, but I’ve studied Jim Valentino’s work because I respect the heck out of him. I’ve taken a lot of insight from interviews he’s given and from tips that he has provided on writing scripts and plotting. Preventing yourself from being “spammy” is a fine line to walk. Creators are going to be excited about their work and are going to want to share it. Just be sure that it’s not the only thing you talk about. If you join a comic book message board, be sure to take part in the community for a while before talking incessantly about your upcoming comic. Don’t sign up and immediately have your first 15 posts be about “Amazing Dude #1, now in the Diamond catalog!” Lastly, when you’re working at a convention, be sure to maintain a level of professionalism. You are not a sideshow barker calling people over to see your oddities. You are not a game show host. You are not a miniature candy store luring people with sweets and then passing your comic off onto them. You are an artist or a writer or both and you should be sure to let your comic stand on its own. Be approachable, be pleasant and be sincere. But most importantly I stand by the assertion that you must be yourself.
As Shadowline's Communications Director, Marc wants to remind readers of this site to check out the new webcomics posted every Tuesday through Thursday. He also wants you to remember to follow Shadowline on Twitter, Facebook and even now on Google+! And be sure to check out all of the Shadowline titles each and every month so he will be able to continue promoting the comics.