For comics, however, reaching 30 years, especially in modern times, is an amazing feat, for there are only just a handful of comics and cartoons that have survived that long. 60-year-old Mark Parisi has managed to achieve this rare milestone, but he’s not stopping there, and the number keeps climbing: Mr. Parisi has been doing his “Off the Mark” cartoons ever since 1987, and the number is rounding up to 35 years now.
That’s more than half a solid lifetime of cartoons and comic book lifespan. My bet is, he wouldn’t be doing it if people didn’t appreciate the comics as much as they did: it has reached thousands of newspapers and millions of hearts throughout the years, and been in tons of holiday cards. So without further ado, let’s see how accurate the jokes are; I have a feeling that they’re going to be a little bit “Off the Mark!” Enjoy!
Look, I really don’t know the secrets of his trade and why his cartoons are so appreciated, but I can give you a few educated guesses. Part of what makes them so attractive is their simplicity and the comedic efficiency expressed in just a single panel. The other important factor is the consistency of the style. If I prompted you to imagine a newspaper comic, you’d probably imagine something very similar to what Mark actually does. This “old school” (no offense, Mark) style is extremely recognizable.
Here’s what he told in an interview in the previous post: “I’ve wanted to cartoon since I could hold a crayon. I was inspired by Charles Schulz and MAD Magazine, but it wasn’t until Gary Larson came along that I realized the type of comics I should be doing. Now I’m inspired by everything that happens in life, from pets to pop culture to pandemics.”
This is what Mark told about the origins of the cartoon. “‘Off the Mark’ has been published since 1987, and started small in weekly papers. It’s now nationwide in daily papers, as well as things like national greeting card lines. There are lots of off the Mark cartoon compilation books at offthemark.com, and I also have a HarperCollins series of middle-grade chapter books called Marty Pants.”
He’s happy with the career he has had, but he’s not at all complacent. “I’ve been lucky enough to have people like Paul Newman, ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, and the Dixie Chicks use my cartoons in their projects. Right now I’m working on various projects from official Garbage Pail Kids sketch cards to a middle-grade novel called The Truth About 5th Grade with Kim Tomsic. Keeps me busy and I think being busy is important right about now.”
If you’re an aspiring comic artist, and Mark’s achievements seem daunting, Mr. Parisi has given some encouraging words of wisdom for you: “For a beginner, I would say cartoon because you love it, not because you expect to get rich. Do what resonates with you and you never know what can happen.”
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