70: Mark Evanier and Laraine Newman

Connie Conehead

Mark Evanier by Gage Skidmore found in Wikipedia
Mark Evanier by Gage Skidmore, found in Wikipedia

I have been following the blog of Mark Evanier since 2004 or 2005. But he’s been producing News From ME since December 18, 2000. He was a kid who cared – OK, obsessed – about comic books, and has written comics or about comics and related business for most of his life.

Mark had the very good fortune to become an assistant to Jack Kirby, from whom he learned a tremendous amount, not just the creative aspect but the visionary nature of “the King.” Mark attended every San Diego Comic-Con from the beginning until COVID, and none since, except online. He has directed animated TV shows. As a result, he knows a large number of imaginative folks in the comic book industry and show business.

Evanier is a historian of the industry. He has worked on the reprinting of his all-time favorite comic strip, Pogo by Walt Kelly, and he was a Pogo fan even before he met and went out with Walt’s late daughter, Carolyn.

Mark has been a gambler in Las Vegas and a magician, pretty good at them apparently, though he’s soured on the former. He is also an expert on his favorite movie, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. His 30+ year practice of feeding stray cats ended in 2021.

In memory of

Mark always notes the deaths of creative people who you and I may have never heard of or had forgotten, obscure comic book artists, unsung animators, working actors, comedians of the past. He’s been involved with the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing. “The award goes to someone whose body of work has not been properly rewarded in terms of credit and/or compensation.”

He posts a link almost daily of a notable segment of an old Ed Sullivan segment, an obscure music video, a comedy routine, film clips of Los Angeles or Las Vegas back in the day, or occasionally interviews he’s involved with. Guesting on Sid Krofft’s weekly Sunday afternoon video podcast on Instagram. Talking with film critic Leonard Maltin. Chatting with his best male friend, Sergio Aragonés, with whom he works on Groo the Wanderer.

Mark’s blog has regular segments. Dispatches From the Fortress of Semi-Solitude addresses how he’s been coping with the pandemic; fortunately, as a writer, he’s used to working alone. He’s a fan of Costco, where he can buy in bulk.

Personal history

Tales of My Childhood, Tales of My Father, and Tales of My Mother are obviously biographical. Mark notes: “I am of Jewish heritage but only on my father’s side. Because my mother was Catholic and both families frowned on two such people getting married, they basically raised me to be nothing in particular. This has worked out a lot better than folks who are devout to one faith or another would probably admit.”

He likes to post Hannukka videos during the season and find several ways to spell the holiday. His caring father hated his job but stayed to provide for the family. Most of the stories about his mother that I recall involved the last decade of her life when she could barely walk or see, as he helped provide for her care.

He writes occasionally that there are “Things I Don’t Have An Opinion About,” especially when people think he should. Conversely, he can be fascinated by the fluctuating price of, say, a certain package of Planters Salted Cashews on Amazon.

Here’s a quiz he completed in October 2021.

Live from New York

 

Laraine Newman at Comic Con 2011
Cartoon Voices II – Room 6A, Sunday 11:30-12:45 Comic Con 2011

Laraine Newman is best known for being one of the original members of the cast of Saturday Night Live (1975-1980), creating characters such as Connie Conehead and the Valley Girl Sherry. But long before that, in Los Angeles at the age of 19, she and “her older sister Tracy were founding members of the comedy troupe The Groundlings — which has become a launchpad for numerous SNL cast members.”

In her audio memoir, May You Live in Interesting Times – here’s one story – she says her career has been, “modest but steady and extremely fulfilling.” Much of her current employment has involved doing voice work, including Garfield segments voice-directed by her friend Mark Evanier, twenty minutes her senior. He reviewed her memoir quite favorably; he wanted MORE than the nine hours she provided. Check out a photo of the two of them together.

In fact, you couldn’t do much better keeping up with Laraine Newman than to search News from ME for her name. She shows up quite frequently. Also, check out these videos.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

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