Reuben Nominee Profile: Mark Tatulli

Mark Tatulli

As far back as he can remember,

Mark 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.”

Mark’s syndicated career began with the short-lived Bent Halos” comic strip. He succeeded with Heart of the City, which began 20 years ago this Fall.

Mark, a married man with three children, seemed particularly intuitive of the perspectives of a little girl and her busy single mom.

In less than ten years “Heart” was running in just over 100 papers.

“A nice number but not enough to make a living.”

But making a living at cartooning was his dream. So he came up with another kid strip. This one was more fantastical and a bit darker, but as funny as anything on the comics pages. Before a year had passed “Lio” had twice as many clients as Heart.

The creativity, imagination, and humor of Lio even oozes into the book collections.


Both strips speak of very different sides of my personality. One is script-driven and more traditional (HEART), and one is all action with no dialogue and leans toward the darker (LIO). But both are “kid strips,” which tells you a little something about what the two sides of my personality tend to find interesting.

Doing two seven-day-a-week comic strips would seem to be enough for anyone, but Mark also writes illustrated books for the pre-teen set, picture books, and, now, graphic novels.

Mark now has the stuff dreams are made of:

“I’m doing exactly what I want to do. Making comics and books is a lonely occupation, but it’s a control freak’s dream. I am totally in charge of the worlds I’ve created and that’s just the way I like it!”

With Mark’s ingenuity and inventiveness regarding layout, art, and humor both strips have become (and here I am tempted to say cult favorites, but really) favorites of comics fans across the spectrum.

Mark has been nominated four times for The Reuben and four times, including this year, for the divisional comic strip award. He has won the “Silver Reuben,” maybe this year he can pull in The Gold.

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