mark tatulli, author, book, cartoonist, they came

Frequently Asked Questions

How did you come up with the name LIO?

I wanted a simple name to go with the simple, wordless concept. Just three letters.

I wanted something that almost looked foreign and out-of-place on the comics page.

There’s a famously weird alphabet poem by Edward Gorey called THE GNASHLYCRUMB TINIES, which records the dark deaths of fictional children. “L is for Leo who swallowed some tacks”. I liked the name and just switched up the letters. This is also where I found the name “Desmond”. Check out THE GNASHLY CRUMB TINIES if you get a chance. It’s really cool!

Where do you get your ideas?

Potential gags and story ideas are all around us, everywhere. Go out into the world. The grocery store, the mall, the city, the woods, the library. Everywhere there are seeds waiting for an active imagination. One thing I can tell you: nothing is discovered or created by staring at a blank sheet of paper. That’s a dead end. I’d rather flip through the phone book.

How can I become a cartoonist?

I think every kid starts out as a cartoonist. It’s just a matter of being observant and saying things people can relate to or find clever and fun. Note that I said, “saying things”. Cartooning is mostly writing! You don’t even have to be able to draw well, as long as the artwork has a purpose in the storytelling and the style fits the attitude of what you are saying. And with the internet, there are so many ways to get your creations in front of eyeballs. I wouldn’t recommend pursuing a career in newspaper comics…not because I think newspapers are going away, no, sir, I know comics in the papers will always be with us! But it’s not growing, and fewer syndicates are putting new comics in newspapers. Using the internet is a great way to test your art and build an audience and find your own voice. Don’t try to please anyone except yourself…that’s the only way you will be able to consistently draw and write on a daily basis.

Is HEART in HEART OF THE CITY based on anyone?

HEART was inspired by my daughter Lexa. One day I was sitting in my living room thinking about ideas, and Lexa came bounding down the stairs. She had come back for ballet practice some hours before and was still wearing her pink practice tutu. She had a hole in the knee of her ballet stockings, and her hair was tied up in a dancer’s bun that had started to become unruly. I took one look at her and knew, this is my next character!  And the ideas and gags just started flowing.

Is LIO going to be an animated TV show?

Working on something! As soon as I know more I’ll let you know!

Why are you making graphic novels now?

I always like to challenge myself creatively, especially with different ways of telling stories with words and pictures. And doing graphic novels is definitely the most challenging thing I’ve ever done! Tons of work, but very satisfying when I create something that I like and flows the way I expect. Hopefully readers will like what they see!

Are there going to be any more LIO or HEART OF THE CITY books coming out?

Currently nothing is planned, and I’m so busy on other projects to give that the thought it deserves. But that doesn’t mean it’s never going to happen! We’ll see what the future holds. This is the first place you’ll see any announcement of upcoming books, so please keep checking in!

How did you come up with the concept for LIO?

I always wanted to do a dark, wordless comic strip. And since I already was doing a girl-centric comic strip, it just made sense to create a boy character. LIO is largely based on my own childhood wonders and fears. Growing up, nuclear war and monsters were big fears of my. LIO embraces that stuff and invites it in. I guess that’s my own way of processing those fears. Making fun of stuff that scares me takes the edge off, and LIO is pretty brave in the face of horror.

I also wanted to do a strip that was completely different from what was currently on the comics page. Every day would be something weird or dark or monster-y. The most important thing to me is having fun, and telling the story with only drawings is challenging and exciting!

What’s next for Mark Tatulli?

Well, you got me! Right now my world is tied up in graphic novels and daily/Sunday comic strips. It keeps me so busy that I rarely have time to think of what’s next. But there’s always something new and unexpected to keep life exciting and as soon as that new thing starts to happen, you’ll hear about it here!