Interview with a Legend: Mark Sparacio Talks Shop with Thalo
By: Dawn Dubriel
Legendary Marvel and D.C. Comics artist, Mark Sparacio, took time out of his busy schedule to talk with thalo, and gave us the low down on how to make it to the top. I met Mark in his current hometown of Boca Raton, at a Lynn University’s Library event, where he spoke with students and showcased his work. He is extremely approachable and friendly, so we stayed in touch! Have a look at the gallery to see all of your famous favorites from new and old films, comics, and cartoons! My personal favorites are of course Jean Gray from X-Men, Wonder Woman, Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games, and Star Wars. If I could pick any power to have from X-Men, a question I have contemplated, I would probably choose the indestructible female Wolverine, but I would be on Professor X’s side, and not have been destroyed. You can see such power and prowess in Mark’s work; he is truly an amazing artist who inspires us all to be great.
thalo: When did you realize yourself as an artist, and what did you do about it?
Mark Sparacio: Since I was a kid, I have always loved creating, writing, designing, drawing, and painting characters and comics in general. I've always loved the process of creating a drawing or painting and I knew that to get better I would have to go to college. I chose the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, primarily because the classes were taught by professionals, NOT professors. Even as a kid, I understood the importance of being taught by someone who was working in the industry as opposed to someone who went to school to be a teacher and hadn't spent any time working in the industry. I was taught by teachers who were full-time Illustrators painting movie posters, record album covers, book covers, magazine covers, illustrations for national advertisements, and comics.
I was very lucky to be taught Sequential Art by Will Eisner, considered to be the creator of the Graphic Novel.
th: How did you get into comics?
MS: While I was in my last semester at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, my sequential art teacher Will Eisner, offered me a job as his assistant, coloring the Spirit Sunday comic strips that Dennis Kitchen was reprinting in the Spirit Magazine. At the same time United Artists asked me to paint a movie poster for an English film directed by Peter Greenaway called The Draughtsman’s Contract. Although I really (I mean really!) wanted to work for Will, he suggested becoming a freelance illustrator and so after some initial reluctance, I did. After a very successful career as an illustrator, I decided in 2002 to pursue my lifelong ambition ~ of being a comic book artist. In September 2002, at the Baltimore ComicCon, I met Billy Tucci, creator, writer and artist of Shi. I showed him some samples of my work and we discussed doing a cover for his comic, Shi: The Illustrated Warrior. My first ever published comic book cover was the collaboration Billy and I did for issue #5 of that series, with Billy doing the pencils and I doing a painting from those pencils.
th: How did you get hired by the big guys, D.C. Comics and Marvel?
MS: After doing a bunch more work with Bill, I branched out on my own and started working for D.C. Comic's creating the Cover for Green Lantern #175. I did many other assignments for D.C. as well as for Marvel, Darkhorse, Moonstone, Heroic, IDW, Comics Buyer's Guide, Overstreet Price Guide, etc...
th: What are you working on, now?
MS: Now I am working on two creator-owned comic book/graphic novel series: Omega Paradox and a second graphic novel to be debuted at San Diego Comic-Con in 2017. I also do many, many private commissions for collectors all over the country and the world.
th: What inspires you?
MS: What inspires me is other artists’ work. I like to paint and draw comics, so I have a very wide variety of influences and inspiration. Some of my favorite illustrators/painters are:
Norman Rockwell, J.C. Leyendeker, Coles Phillips, Howard Pyle, N.C.Wyeth, George Petty, Gil Elvgren, Alberto Vargas, Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo and Drew Struzan.
Some of my favorite comic book artists are:
Will Eisner, Lou Fine, Reed Crandell, Mac Raboy, Alex Schomburg, Hal Foster, Alex Raymond, Jack Kirby, Russ Heath, Gil Kane, Neal Adams, Jim Steranko, Herb Trimpe, Marie Severin, Marshall Rogers, Mike Golden, Paul Gulacy, Pat Broderick, Jim Starlin, Alex Saviuk, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, John Byrne, Esteban Maroto, Ramon Torrents, John Bolton, Tim Conrad, George Perez and Berni Wrightson.
Put all of those artists’ work together, mix it around, and you have my inspiration. That, and I like to create. I enjoy the process and feel a lot of satisfaction once the project or assignment is complete.
th: What are your goals and dreams?
MS: My goals and dreams are to continue being a productive artist; creating work that is liked and remembered by people. After all, the artwork and stories I create and produce will hopefully outlast me and be my legacy.
th: What advice would you give to amateurs who want to go pro?
MS: In my opinion, training is the key. I was very lucky to attend the School of Visual Arts and have Will Eisner as a teacher, so I would recommend to any aspiring artist to try to seek out the best art school available. Once enrolled, find the best teachers in that school, and work their tail off. Listen to constructive criticism and never, ever give up. Also, learn the computer AND have good drawing and design skills. Never give up. You won’t ever know what your potential is if you give up.
To see connect with Mark Sparacios and see his work, visit his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mark.sparacio.9 and his latest projects, here: http://OmegaParadox.net
Photos courtesy of Mark Sparacios