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Meet Mark Martinez

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mark Martinez.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
My story is a long and winding road. As a kid, I was always drawing, but I became easily self-conscious about my art because I didn’t know how to handle criticism and eventually didn’t think I was cut out to be an artist. Still, I would occasionally doodle and make something featuring my favorite characters from comics, tv, movies, and video games. I still had that itch, but I still didn’t think I was cut out for it. As I got older, I did other stuff like play in bands, and for a while, I was an actor and comedian, I even did a podcast for a time like everyone in LA. I enjoyed playing music and performing, but even then, I liked designing flyers and promo stuff for whatever I was doing. I still had that itch, but I avoided it. It intimidated me. Eventually, I got burned out on all that and came back to my love of comics. The library had given me access to tons of books, and I took advantage and started writing small stuff with my friends, which eventually lead to producing an anthology. Again, I didn’t think I could draw because by this time I was in my twenties and thought I was too late, but eventually, I came around and used that library access to get art books and started to teach myself how to draw. One thing that gave me a huge boost were the close friends I’ve met and made in the comics community; they’ve really supported and encouraged me through this comic’s birth. I’ve made a few books since and I’m proud, and it even got me to return to college and get my B.F.A. My art has improved significantly, and I am very excited about the stuff to come.

Please tell us about your art.
I make comics. I write and draw all my stories, or I will collaborate with someone. My collaborations have all involved me writing with another artist drawing, and although haven’t drawn someone else’s story yet, I look forward to that day. I usually come up with an idea and develop it by bouncing it off my partner or friends, or really anyone that has the time to listen, eventually writing it out into an outline or script for myself and get to it. The art is the hardest part because you’re not just putting images to words, but telling a story visually and clearly communicating those ideas.

I feel compelled to tell stories and share them as comics. Specifically, in comics, because I enjoy comics, to me, comics is a very complex art form that, when done well, can be understood by anyone. The messages are in my stories aren’t just about my experience, but my point of view and how those stories have been inspired by personal experiences, whether that encompasses love, loss, relationships, marginalization, reflection, etc. My hope with those stories is that people enjoy them, they connect to them, and hopefully, they can come back to them. Some of the best stories for me can get better as you get older because your growth can give you a richer appreciation for messages. I’d like my stories to comfort my readers to say, “Hey, you’re not alone.” At the same time, some of my stories are very, “I thought of this cool thing” and hope that my readers can enjoy that as well.

My art is me and much like myself, it is evolving constantly. I look at my stuff from two years ago when I had decided to make my first comic to today, and I can see myself really incorporating the things I learn. I would call it cartoony, with hints of manga/anime inspiration. I have 30+ years of influences all brewing and coming out at once as I continue to refine it.

We often hear from artists that being an artist can be lonely. Any advice for those looking to connect with other artists?
Making art is a solitary task, usually, but I have a good amount of comics buds near and far. The internet and social media has helped connect artists in a variety of ways, whether it’s from being in the same industry, mutual appreciation of a work, or just having mutual friends. If the online art community isn’t your bag, I recommend meetups, conventions, or just hanging out at events at your local comic book or book store. I met most of my partner and close friends at all of the previously listed places and am very grateful for it. The best advice for making these connections is to not be a jerk or be looking solely to network. Getting to know someone just to get ahead is disingenuous, so I recommend getting to know the people that are at your level because that’s a good support system. My partner, my friends, and I are all rooting for one another. The connections you make either simply by liking similar things or being assigned a table net to someone you don’t know who’s art you like, or you just get along with could hopefully be the start of a great friendship.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
I have my books at some comic shops in and around Los Angeles, such as A Shop Called Quest and Nostalgic Books if you want to support me and your local comic book store. You can also find my work at my website, which links to my store, markeldude.com. I also have a twitter and Instagram (@markeldude) where I post my art as well as my jokes. I always keep people posted of when they can catch me at a comic book convention, usually here in LA, around the country, and or around the world.

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Mark Martinez

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