Mark Tatulli and “Lio”

By Stanford Chandler

Just as Lio, Mark Tatulli’s brilliant comic creation, faces up to monsters (real or imagined), the cartoonist confronts the economic mess into which newspapers have fallen as a  result of 21st century technology – boldly. “The Internet,” he says, “is definitely the way to go.”

He also tells us that “Cartoons and comics don’t change that much, but the delivery method will. Newspapers are in trouble, but cartoonists can always make a living. Now if we can just make good money on the Internet…”

Lio by Mark TatulliTatulli does however, accept the reality of what the industry is facing. And while cartoons may not change intrinsically, “Newspaper comic stripping a it’s seen now HAS changed completely. Comics used to be part of the daily conversation nationally. Now it’s not even a footnote unless something really dramatic happens.”

As far back as he can remember, he was, “always a cartoonist. I drew cartoons for my elementary, junior high and high school papers.” He was lucky too. “My parents and teachers always encouraged me,” he reminisces.

In that earlier period, he enjoyed, “simple strips with funny drawing: ‘Peanuts’ (Charles Schulz), ‘Henry’ (Carl Anderson) , ‘Ferd’nand’ (Henrik Rehr) and ‘Garfield’  (Jim Davis ).’ “Bloom County” (Berk Breathed) and “Calvin and Hobbes” ( Bill Waterson) intrigued him, as he puts it, “when I got older.” I can’t help but note that the  genius of the silent humor of Henry and the wonderful spirit of Calvin are certainly evoked in Tatulli’s young hero, Lio, too.

Some cartoonists I’ve worked with can’t see themselves as any other artist than themselves, but Tatulli would have no objection, it seems, to being Walt Disney or Charles Schulz. “Who wouldn’t,” he challenged, “want to be a cartoonist that changed the face of popular culture.”

And just how would one become an artist to follow in the likes of a Schulz, a Disney or a Tatulli?  In his words, “If you really want it, practice, practice, practice.”

You’re right on the Mark, Tatulli.

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Stanford Chandler

Stanford Chandler began writing when his parents gave him an Underwood Portable typewriter for his 8th birthday, the machine he still uses to this day. He has written for dozens of papers, including The New York Enquirer, Manchester Guardian, Mainichi Daily News and the Humor Times. His work with cartoonists is currently under the auspices of the San Francisco Cartoon Art Museum.

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  • Donotspam

    Schulz? Seriously? Tatulli would like that, but seems to lack the grasp on universal truths Schulz so elegantly rendered. 

    Tatulli’s recent strip about Peanuts stripped what little interest I had in Lio. Trying to convince readers that Charlie Brown isn’t relevant proves how irrelevant Lio is.

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  • pascal behr

    I love Lio. I don’t really care if he is compared w/ Charles Schultz or anyone else – Lio is in my heart. I like his friends. He loves what he has and his father – a damaged person – in turn loves Lio – even though the father is really unusual. I wept when they visited Lio’s mother’s gravesite. I have done that too, as my mother died when I was rather young. One can tell that Lio’s father misses the boy’s mother and is trying to survive emotionally. Lio and his father sort of help each other thru what shows up in their lives. Either a mean girl interest of Lio’s or just trying to get thru the day for the father. I love his squid friend too. Lio is enchanting and I enjoy it. Pascal Behr

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