The first Liō strip by Mark Tatulli was released was on May 15, 2006. This strip is full of dark and humorous tales and illustrations from the perspective of a grade-schooler. To any outsiders, the mind of Liō may seem extraordinary, but to him it’s commonplace. From monsters under the bed, to robot inventions and weird science, Liō explores the fun yet bizarre realm of a kid’s imagination.
When our editor of Liō, Clint Hooker, was asked why Liō is unique to AMU, he answered with the following.
Liō is just such a rich strip — with wonder, terror, humor, friendship, and so much more ingrained in every single one. Each day is a complete, self-contained moment that is a delight to look at. I often feel like I’m almost crawling into the strip, into Liō’s world, and seeing it from that angle. Mark’s talent in capturing that moment with his artwork allows you to just immerse yourself in his creation and soak it all in. And it’s amazing how much he can say with so little dialogue. You don’t so much READ Liō as much as you TAKE IN Liō. Liō’s a weird kid. But it’s the way Mark allows us as readers to tap into our own weirdness that really makes it resonate, and really what makes it so much fun.
In addition to Clint’s insight, creator Mark Tatulli shared some of his thoughts as well on the past 15 years of Liō.
What, in your opinion, is it about Liō that makes it resonate with so many readers?
To this day, 15 years later, I still don’t know what about Liō resonates with readers. I know that sounds weird, but when I started this strip, my goal was to entertain myself (the only true way to keep doing a daily strip for years and years), and the hope is that others will come along for the ride. Readers like so many things, and when I get fan mail, it’s for all different reasons. For Liō, I draw primarily on my own childhood, and perhaps it just appeals to that child that still believes in magic and monsters that lurks in all of us.
What is your favorite thing about creating the strip and all the characters?
Every day is something new and different, and I try to think, “What is nobody else doing on the comics page today?” The idea of making something that always surprises me excites my creative spirit to no end, and it never gets old.
Over the past 15 years, what is something you look back the most fondly on throughout your creation process with Liō?
The way that Liō and his father and Eva Rose and their blended family of monsters and robots have grown into real people to me. And how they share a real love and respect for their own differences, all on a backdrop of the macabre and mystical. They have become so fully rounded to me, even with no words. But emotional connection needs no words, right?
How has your experience working with AMU been?
AMU and all of its artists and editors have been amazing from square one, and they continue to encourage me and allow me to grow and experiment at my own pace and comfort level. We’ve been partners for 24 years and I couldn’t imagine it any other way. I’m very lucky that Lee Salem plucked me out of the flotsam and jetsam of comic submissions back in 1997.
Is the anything else you would like to add about your cartoonist career?
Comics and cartoons are such an amazing thing to me because they offer endless ways to tell a story, and there’s always something new and different and engaging on the horizon. That just puts the wind in my sails every day, and I am so blessed to be able to make a living this way.
Clint also added his thoughts on what he hopes to see in the years to come for Liō. “Liō takes place outside the limits of a single period of time but manages to remain very current. I’ve particularly enjoyed this past year’s work, with Covid-19 playing a prominent role in Liō’s world, as is has in our own. It’s a fine line to maneuver — trying to give people a reason to smile in the midst of a horrible pandemic. But it’s a testament to Mark’s mastery of the medium than he can do it again and again. Another example of that is when Liō quite literally breaks the walls of his comic strip — first, fourth, fifth — all the walls. They’re among my favorites. And though it’s been 15 years, I think Mark has just scratched the surface of what’s possible with Liō.”
Here’s to fifteen years of Liō, and to many more!