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.

Stanford Chandler
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