Evan Skolnick

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Evan Skolnick is an American writer, editor and producer who has created content in a wide variety of media including newspapers, magazines, comic books, books, websites, CD-ROMs, computer games and video games. He is probably best known as a former Marvel Comics editor and writer due to his involvement in prominent series such as Doctor Strange, Ghost Rider 2099 and New Warriors. He is currently a producer and editorial director for Vicarious Visions, a division of the video game publisher Activision.[1]

Biography[edit]

Early years[edit]

Skolnick was born in 1966 in Hartford, Connecticut, and grew up in several suburbs east of the city. From an early age his interest in both writing and art was apparent, and when he was 15 he began publication of Phantasy magazine, a small fanzine devoted to the then-wildly popular Dungeons & Dragons “paper and dice” role-playing games. The magazine’s popularity grew to the point that two local Connecticut newspapers, the Hartford Courant and the Journal Inquirer, ran stories profiling the teenaged magazine publisher.[2][3]

College[edit]

At the University of Connecticut, Skolnick initially enrolled as a journalism major but, not wanting to be pigeonholed, decided to split his education across his various interests. He took advantage of the university’s progressive “individualized major” program and was approved for a major entitled English/Journalism/Graphic Design.

As if to foreshadow things to come, Skolnick juggled academic study with the creation of his daily comic strip called "Askew", which ran five days a week in the university's Daily Campus newspaper for three semesters.

After completing his studies and several internships with the Hartford Advocate weekly newspapers, he graduated in 1988 and took a job as a reporter at a local newspaper, while regularly visiting New York City in search of a career position at a magazine or – as a pipe dream – Marvel Comics.

Marvel Comics[edit]

In December 1988, Skolnick was hired by Marvel Comics as an editorial assistant. Within six months he had been promoted to assistant editor, and over the course of the next few years worked with a succession of Marvel editors including Gregory Wright, Sid Jacobson and. ultimately. Fabian Nicieza, on a wide variety of properties ranging from RoboCop to Barbie to Bill & Ted to Wonder Man. All the while Skolnick was doggedly pitching various series concepts, including an over-pitched Turbo limited series proposal. He was continually rejected and told to focus on pitching fill-in stories for existing series, but his driving interest at the time was the creation of new series, or pitching to write for major new planned publications. Skolnick’s behind-the-scenes trials and tribulations in trying to get a Turbo mini-series published at Marvel Comics were described in detail in a letters column in New Warriors Vol. 1 #73, the very issue in which one of the Turbo characters is killed.[4]

Eventually Skolnick heeded the advice of his superiors at Marvel and began to pitch and land small writing jobs on existing series, such as Iron Man, RoboCop and NFL Superpro. This semi-regular writing work bore fruit when Skolnick was selected to be the regular writer of the Terminator 2 monthly series, timed to premiere with the release of the highly anticipated film in 1991. Skolnick’s proposal for the monthly series was very popular within Marvel’s editorial ranks, and a talented but then-little-known penciler named Joe Quesada was chosen to be the regular penciler. However, the pitch's core concept conflicted with the plans of the owners of the T2 license, Lightstorm Entertainment, and a deadlock between the two companies over creative issues prevented the series from ever seeing the light of day.

Deflated but not defeated, Skolnick continued to sharpen his editorial and story-pitching skills under the mentorship of Nicieza, writing several prominent annuals for series such as Excalibur and Deathlok, and ultimately landing the regular writing post on New Warriors, from which Nicieza had decided to resign from issue #53.

Meanwhile, Skolnick’s editorial abilities had not gone unnoticed, and in 1992 he was promoted to associate editor under gthe roup editor Bobbie Chase, charged with revitalizing the Dr. Strange monthly series and launching Ghost Rider 2099. Under his guidance, both titles were critically lauded and experienced relatively strong sales, taking into account the general sagging of the comic book market at that time. He also presided over the revamp of Marvel Year in Review (1992 and 1993 editions), changing the sedate Marvel-Universe-based news magazine into a scathingly satirical publication that few could believe actually made it to print.

However, financial and political pressures forced Skolnick (and many others) to leave Marvel in 1995 as part of the first of a series of downsizings experienced by the leading comic book publisher. He persevered as a freelance writer for Marvel afterward, continuing to write New Warriors and assorted Spider-Man-related one-shots and fill-in stories. With the continually imploding comic books market, however, New Warriors was cancelled and Skolnick soon found himself with less and less writing work from Marvel. He picked up several jobs from Archie Comics but it seemed possible that his career in comic books might be ending.

Acclaim Comics[edit]

Into this difficult time arrived Skolnick’s mentor and friend, Fabian Nicieza, who had just been named senior vice president and editor-in- chief of Acclaim Comics. Nicieza hired Skolnick to be his right-hand man at the new Acclaim Comics, assigning him the title of senior editor and charging him with the successful launching of the high-risk Acclaim Young Readers program. The concept was to create new comic book content with high-profile licenses and package them like young reader storybooks, to be marketed and sold not in direct market comic book stores but in bookstores.

While the launching of the massive amount of licensed content from Disney and Fox/Saban was a creative success, marketing and distribution were poorly executed and initial sales proved disappointing. The costly program was cancelled by Acclaim within a few months of first publication.

Skolnick moved into overseeing much of the Valiant Heroes line of super hero comics, while directly editing and revamping X-O Manowar. While the Valiant Heroes series was critically well received and enjoyed enthusiastic cult followings, it was never competitive from a sales perspective when compared with Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Image Comics or Dark Horse Comics, and was not profitable for the parent company Acclaim Entertainment. Eventually, Acclaim decided to cut tits losses, reducing the Acclaim Comics staff to a skeleton crew and relocating them from their headquarters in Manhattan to Acclaim’s central office in Glen Cove, Long Island. Nicieza left the company shortly after this move and Skolnick stayed on for less than a year as creative director, overseeing development of some comic books but mostly strategy guides based on Acclaim video games. He left Acclaim over a dispute concerning a comic book creator who was denied credit in one of the company’s video games.

Interactive development[edit]

Disillusioned with the continually eroding comic book market, Skolnick decided to apply his years of creative project management to the rapidly growing field of CD-ROM and website development. After “getting his feet wet” for a year at a New Jersey interactive agency for clients such as ADP and Paine Webber, Skolnick was hired in 1999 by NYC-based CyberAction Inc., a developer of “digital trading cards” delivered via CD-ROM and the Web. The concept was unique and major licenses such as Star Trek and Major League Baseball made for interesting content. But when the Internet bubble burst in 2001, CyberAction lost its funding and Skolnick was forced to once again look for a new challenge. He found it, in the video game business.

Video games[edit]

Skolnick had several dalliances with the video game business well before entering it. At Marvel, he was the managing editor of the Double Dragon limited series, based on the popular arcade game. At Acclaim, he wrote for and edited several video game strategy guides. And at Archie Comics he plotted a back-up story starring Sonic the Hedgehog.

Skolnick was hired in 2001 as senior producer at Hyperspace Cowgirls, a small interactive studio based in Manhattan that was moving from developing websites and CD-ROMs to developing video games. Here he learned more about video game development and oversaw the production of THQ titles such as Britney's Dance Beat for PC, Stuart Little 2 for PC, and Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron for Game Boy Advance.

A combination of poor cash flow controls and a lack of bridge funding doomed Hyperspace Cowgirls in 2002, and Skolnick moved upstate to work as a producer for the prominent video game developer Vicarious Visions, where he remains today. In addition to managing the development of titles such as Crash Bandicoot Purple, Shrek 2: Beg for Mercy!, Ultimate Spider-Man GBA, Over the Hedge DS, and Guitar Hero III Wii, Skolnick is also as the company’s editorial director, providing writing and editing guidance across all Vicarious Visions titles.

Since 2006, he has lectured a number of times at the Game Developers Conferences on writing for video games.[5][6][7] In 2008, he contributed a chapter to Professional Techniques for Video Game Writing published by A K Peters. He is credited as being a lead writer for Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, set for release in fall 2009.

In July 2011, Skolnick was hired as lead narrative designer at LucasArts and moved to San Francisco.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ https://www.cmpevents.com/GD08/a.asp?option=G&V=3&id=409293
  2. ^ Waterman, Glenn (29 december 1981). "Phantasy Mag for Phantasy World", Journal Inquirer, p. 19.
  3. ^ Tomas, Jan (24 May 1982). "Fantasy Fan, 15, Turns Publisher", Hartford Courant, p. B6.
  4. ^ Skolnick, Evan (w), Zircher, Patrick (p), Pepoy, Andrew (i). "Damn the Torpedoes" New Warriors 73: 32 (July 1996), Marvel Comics
  5. ^ http://store.cmpgame.com/product.php?id=40&cat=
  6. ^ https://www.cmpevents.com/GD07/a.asp?option=C&V=11&SessID=3810
  7. ^ http://kotaku.com/gaming/austin-gdc-2007/game-writing-meets-star-trek-296679.php
  8. ^ Linkedin profile

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Fabian Nicieza
New Warriors writer
1994–1996
Succeeded by
Jay Faerber