Shout into the Void
Marc Bernardin makes wide strides in both storytelling and journalism.
Everybody in the world wants to have their voice heard. Not in the literal sense of yelling as loud as possible, but of being understood and accepted by people of the same likeness. Nobody wants to be shoved into a box of mischaracterizations and stereotypes, of misconceptions and preconceived notions based upon superficial traits. Journalism and writing as a whole is paving the way for people’s tales and sharing their stories, forcing one’s voice to be heard. Wariness should be held though, as being heard, even just figuring out what to say, is much easier said than done. However, the successful journalist, screenwriter, editor, and comic author Marc Bernardin has created an accomplished and impressive career through a combination of strategies and strengths.
Bernardin was not always the large name he is today he has worked with an abundance of considerably large companies such as the Los Angeles Times, Marvel, DC, GQ, Playboy, Wired, and many others over the course of his time in the industry. In fact, he started out as just another kid living in New York who had a passion for comic books and writing.
”In the beginning, the struggles were as what I think they always are, in getting people to understand what you have to offer,” said Bernardin.
At his first job, Bernardin worked for the very small organization of Starlog that published frequently and was composed of a team of only four individuals, writing and working in the same office as his boss. It was not difficult to gain attention in that environment, however, this contrasted with the second space he was hired at, Entertainment Weekly.
It was already an established business five or six years in, metamorphosing the question of ‘what value can you bring?’ from not just simply outputting content, but providing something that is not already being done by someone else.
“I think the thing that helped me, and then the thing that I think might help a young journalist that wants to get their name out there, is to try to discover, and it’s the thing that everyone will tell you do, and the hardest thing to do, but it’s the necessary thing to do. Which is: decide what your voice is going to be, and who you are going to be in that organization,” said Bernardin.
Some people just came from generally higher quality backgrounds and shone more because of it, making it even more difficult to stand out as a unique entity. Others originated from prestigious schools like Brown, Yale, and Harvard, while Bernardin attended Saint John’s University, a fine one, but it became increasingly more challenging to measure up against such capabilities when he was “the new kid coming in.”
While working at Entertainment Weekly, Bernardin observed the multitudes of various talented people that all had their own voices already created, a color palette covered in geeks and nerds that all had different interests and provided distinct values: soap opera, theater, deep-book, classical music, prog-rock; there was a person for so many different versions of defining what it meant to be a ‘nerd’.
Find the thing that you’re passionate about. The intersection of loves that you have, and then talk about it.
— Marc Bernardin
“I was the science fiction comic book nerd and they didn’t have one of those yet, but hey! I’ll be the guy!,” said Bernardin.
He lucked out with this opportunity due to securing it just as comic books and science fiction were becoming more mainstream, gaining traction and popularity in the public eye. With that, more of the general population would be viewing it and creating diverging opinions.
“I found a place at the intersection of nerd culture, and race. Which is, how do those two things collide? Why is the thing I love to death not inclusive enough to feel like I’m a part of it?”
For someone like Bernardin, as both a minority group and a fan, the explicit exclusions made by certain factions of fandoms he participated in would be completely discouraging and isolating to anyone. The piece of media that is supposed to unite people was dividing them because some wished to live in a fantasy, wanting the characters to mainly consist of mostly white, British people, and directly choosing not to progress forward with the rest of society. That is something that can be written about, that is something that Bernardin has found a voice in, a human experience that might hold similarity with others, but concretely pertaining to him and his life.
“And I think that voice is the thing that will separate you from everybody else. It’s the hardest thing to define but it’s, you know it when you see it. It’s what do you specifically have to say, not about everything, but about the things that you’re passionate about, and what are you passionate about?”
The crossroads of where your interests meet in the middle, of finding what defines you as a person, of finding the experiences that is a story worth writing about, that is journalism. It doesn’t have to be the most shocking thing, it does not have to be the most well-known thing, it can just be what you love and why it matters, and maybe someone else, or a lot of people, will take an interest in that. It’s born of iteration, it’s born of working at it, it’s born of just doing the work and just finding a way to spread the work into the world — Marc Bernardin
It’s born of iteration, it’s born of working at it, it’s born of just doing the work and just finding a way to spread the work into the world
— Marc Bernardin
“It’s born of iteration, it’s born of working at it, it’s born of just doing the work and just finding a way to spread the work into the world,” said Bernardin.
Getting your voice to be heard might be difficult at first, but maybe one day, if you have found what you want to say and keep at it, you can be heard. You can be heard across the thousands of miles of ocean that is filled with other people’s voices; you can become a color on the palette that is unique and desperately wanting to be used. Paint a canvas of your passions with those colors, stand out and speak your story.
“Find the thing that you’re passionate about. The intersection of loves that you have, and then talk about it. And then knock on wood, and somebody will find it interesting, and then hopefully pay you money,” said Bernardin. “Find the thing. And then hammer at it.”