Mark Zingarelli is a cartoonist, illustrator and writer who was born in Pittsburgh, PA in 1952. Like most professional cartoonists and illustrators, he became interested in drawing as child. He attended The Ivy School of Professional Art for a short period before going to the University of Pittsburgh in 1971 where he majored in art and film-making. He graduated in 1975 and moved to San Diego, CA where he worked as manager of an art store while doing freelance illustration for local publications. He soon became a full-time freelance illustrator and cartoonist living and working in San Diego. In 1980 he moved to Seattle, WA and started doing a comic strip restaurant review column called Eatin’ Out with Eddie for the Seattle based entertainment tabloid The Rocket. Soon some of his comic work started appearing in Robert Crumb’s comix anthology Weirdo. Mark met Crumb who introduced him to both Harvey Pekar and Art Spiegelman. Through Spiegelman he was able to land a lot of illustration work for The New Yorker, and Pekar used him as one of the cartoonists for his “American Splendor” comics. In the late 90’s he moved his family back to Pennsylvania to the small town he grew up in where he still lives today.
A member of the National Cartoonists’ Society, Mark has now been a professional illustrator and cartoonist for over 35 years with his work appearing in most of the major magazines and newspapers in the U.S. He has drawn covers for The New Yorker, Fortune, Newsweek, Business Week and others. His illustrations and comics are often seen in Sports Illustrated, The Washington Post, Esquire, the Boston Globe, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, Kiplinger’s and more. He also has done illustrations for many book publishers including Simon & Schuster, Harcourt Brace, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Little, Brown and Company, Scholastic and Penguin USA. Mark’s illustration work has been used by corporations such as Snapple, Nintendo, AT&T, Polaroid and Microsoft. Visit his House of Zing website to learn more about him and to see more examples of his work.
What is your favorite pen to use?
I use a lot of different pens, for different purposes (but I primarily use brushes for most of my inking). My favorite fixed point pen is no longer available in the U.S. It was the Rotring Rapidoliner. However, among my favorite pens still available are the Pigma Microns in various sizes and the old Koh-I-Noor and Rotring Rapidographs. I also use dip pens with a number of nibs. Hunts, Brauses, Gillotts, and recently a bunch of new Japanese nibs.
Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
I draw in pencil first, using soft-leaded (B & 2B) Staedtler Mars Lumographs. For very fine detail work I use a Pentel Mechanical pencil with HB or B .005 leads.
Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
I used to paint by hand, but nearly all my professional work is colored on the computer with Photoshop, its’ filters and regular tools.
If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
When I colored by hand, I used a combination of Winsor Newton Designer Gouache, Winsor Newton Watercolors, and a limited use of different dyes and colored inks…all with brushes and with air brush.
What type of paper do you use?
Strathmore 500 (both cold-press & hot pressed), 2-3 ply. I also use a lot of Borden & Riley #234 Paris Paper for Pens (a smooth bleedproof all-purpose paper).
What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Animals are not a favorite subject.
Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
When I lived in cities like Seattle or San Diego going directly to the retail store was my usual practice. I also managed an art store in San Diego when I was starting my freelance career and I knew that store inside and out.
These days, I buy most of my art supplies from online sources. Selections are better and pricing is very competitive on a number of items I regularly but. There are also certain inks that I use that are just not sold locally.
Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Beyond the sacrifice of a red rooster, no.
Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I have a Pandora account so I listen to different genres depending on what kind of work I’m doing in the studio. I also have thousands and thousands of songs on my iTunes so I switch back and forth. And sometimes I just want to listen to talk so I will play downloaded podcasts of This American Life, Bill Maher and others.
Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I read EC comics, adored MAD Magazine, and some DC titles. I liked Superman and Batman and was not a fan of the Marvel Universe. (I came to Marvel much later in life with the discovery of Jack Kirby.) However, I was crazy for war comics…Joe Kubert’s work wowed me as a kid. Enemy Ace and of course, Sgt. Rock and Easy Company were the issues I couldn’t live without. Also loved Famous Monsters of Filmland, the Warren publications, Blazing Combat, Eerie and Creepy.
What is or was your favorite comic strip?
As a kid I liked NANCY…(quit your snickering)…then I loved Calvin & Hobbes, Gary Larson’s The Far Side…these days I like Dan Piraro’s Bizarro (Cartoonist Survey #28), Stephan Pastis’ Pearls Before Swine, and Trudeau’s Doonesbury.
What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
I had a few...Dinosaurs-A Giant Golden Book…illustrated by Rudolph Zallinger (don’t have a copy now)…How and Why Dinosaurs (don’t have a copy now)…The White Company by A.C. Doyle and illustrated by N.C. Wyeth (don’t have it now)… The Boy's King Arthur: Sir Thomas Malory's History of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table also illustrated by N.C. Wyeth (don’t have a copy now). Wish I had all 4 of these books back.
Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Had Saturday morning art lessons for a couple of summers at a local art museum as a kid. Attended an “art school” for a year after high school where I learned to spec type for typesetting and had a marvelous figure drawing instructor, but basically I’m self-taught.
Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
A blessing of sorts. Definitely NOT a curse.
Did either of your parents draw?
My father was my first art teacher though he wouldn’t have considered himself any good.
Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
Certainly, my father.
Do you keep a sketchbook?
Not in the usual sense. I keep notebooks which actually have more notes than drawings.
Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
Yes and yes.
Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Talent is important, but it’s sort of wasted if you don’t have passion.
Do you collect anything and if so what?
Is this a trick question? I collect all sorts of oddities. Don’t all of us?
If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
I have a pretty good imagination, but I can’t think of a single animated cartoon character I’d like to be.
Are you a righty or lefty?
If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
Lovely, fully-stocked, and my haven.
Do you play any musical instruments?
Not these days. Used to play the trombone and the harmonica.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Make sure you really, really love it and be prepared to never stop learning from the experience. A lifetime isn’t enough time to do all of it so enjoy the time you have and make the most of every second you are able to draw.
Who is your favorite artist?
Several artists are among my favorites. I cannot possibly narrow it down to one.
Thanks again Mark!