- Exhibitors / Artists
Born 3/2/52 in Santa Monica, California. Mark is one of those people who made the long, hard struggle to Hollywood all the way from West Los Angeles. "Evanier" (pronounced ev-uh-near) is not French; it was probably made up by some Immigration Officer at Ellis Island one day who said, "Hey, here come some more Jews! Let's give them real stupid last names!" He prefers being on a first name basis with everyone if only because "Mark" is easier to spell.
His father had the worst job in the world: He worked for the Internal Revenue Service. Hated it. As a result, he urged his only kid to do whatever he wanted to in life, as long as he loved it. At about age eight, Mark decided he would love to be a professional writer and that, by God, was that. He has never had a "Plan B" since. His decision was only reinforced when The Dick Van Dyke Show debuted and he jumped to the conclusion, sadly erroneous, that all writers get to sleep with women who look like Laura Petrie.
Mark started reading 'n' collecting comic books shortly after he got out of the womb but didn't figure on them for a career since the business, he thought, was wholly in New York and didn't cotton to outta-towners. It turned out that was only partly true — and would become even less true as the years went by. He graduated high school in '69, became a professional writer about a week later when he sold a mess of articles to a couple of local magazines, and have never been without work since.
The week after his first sale, Mark met Jack Kirby, one of the true geniuses of his lifetime. Soon after, Jack asked Steve Sherman and Mark if they would like to become his assistants. They thought it over for, oh, about three seconds before agreeing. There was never any money in the job, but to "apprentice" like that was invaluable, for reasons he is still coming to understand. You may too if you read a book Mark wrote, Kirby: King of Comics, which came out in 2008.
About the same time he started working for Jack, Mark started writing foreign comics for Disney Studios — that is, stories of Donald Duck and Goofy that were published overseas. This led to his writing stories for the American Disney comics, which were then published by Western Publishing Company, aka Gold Key Comics. This, in turn, led to Mark working on other Gold Key Comics — primarily the Warner Brothers characters (Bugs, Daffy, Porky, et al) but also Woody Woodpecker, Scooby Doo and others. It was on Scooby Doo that he was first teamed with one of his favorite artists, Dan Spiegle. Dan and Mark worked together for over a quarter of a century after that.
Around '74, Mark spent a year running an overseas comic book division for the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate, writing comics of Tarzan and Korak (the latter drawn by Mr. Spiegle) and he also met a very fine writer from Pittsburgh named Dennis Palumbo, who'd moved to L.A. to try his hand at TV work. As young comedy writers tend to come in pairs, they decided to team up and try to get work. They wrote for The Nancy Walker Show (it was cancelled in 13 weeks), they wrote for The McLean Stevenson Show (it was cancelled in 6), they sold a series to CBS (it never got on) and then they got hired as story editors for Welcome Back, Kotter and wrote a few other things that did okay.
After Kotter, Dennis and Mark decided to go their separate ways, parting as friends. He began writing for (and eventually running) the Hanna-Barbera comic book division, where he again did — among other books — Scooby Doo, drawn by Dan Spiegle. He also began writing TV shows either on his own or in tandem with a clever lady named Marion C. Freeman.
Eventually, Mark somehow became typed as a variety show writer and wrote many a special or series in that dying genre, thereby hastening its demise. Most of them were for the legendary Sid and Marty Krofft and included the infamous Pink Lady and Jeff, which toplined two Japanese ladies who spoke almost no English, and a series with the Bay City Rollers, who spoke English but were no more intelligible.
He also started writing cartoon shows: Scooby Doo, Plastic Man, Thundarr the Barbarian, The Trollkins, ABC Weekend Special, CBS Storybreak, Rickety Rocket, Superman: The Animated Series and many others. Mark story-edited Richie Rich for a couple of years, wrote the pilots for Dungeons & Dragons, The Wuzzles and a few series from which he removed my name. Somewhere in there, he wrote That's Incredible! for three years and a whole lotta material for stand-up comedians.
Throughout all this, Mark dabbled in and out of comic books, including Blackhawk, which he wrote (and later edited) for DC and which featured spectacular artwork by Dan Spiegle. But he also started doing a lot of what we call "creator-owned" comic books. F'rinstance, his longtime pal Sergio Aragonés asked him to become his co-conspirator on Groo the Wanderer, which has become one of the longest-running comic books of those owned by creators and not companies. And him and his pal Will Meugniot created (Mark wrote, he drew at first) a super-hero book called The DNAgents. That led to a spin-off called Crossfire, which was drawn by Dan Spiegle and which is probably my favorite of all the non-comical comic books he has written.
Mark's favorite animation project is Garfield and Friends, which was the top-rated Saturday morn show on CBS for most of its seven year run. A close contender would be Mother Goose & Grimm, based on Mike Peters' brilliant newspaper strip. He has also written for Pryor's Place, Bob (the series wherein Mr. Newhart played a comic book artist), The Half-Hour Comedy Hour, a couple of specials with Dick Clark, a script for Cheers which they bought but didn't film, a number of shows he wished they hadn't filmed, and a number of stand-up comedians. Until she finally won one, he told people he was becoming "The Susan Lucci of the writing Emmys," being oft-nominated but never a bride. Since 2009, Mark has been Supervising Producer on The Garfield Show, which is seen in darn near every country on the planet and in every language. He has no idea what a Supervising Producer is supposed to do but he writes, story-edits and directs the voices.
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