About Mark Dean

The Artist known as Mark Dean, alias Marko Dino, began his artistic journey through life, on the dusty wind swept plains of West Texas when approximately four months after conception he became bored with the routine of life in the womb and began to etch murals on the walls of his prenatal “cave” with his newly formed fingernails (much to the chagrin of his mother). He’d almost completed an especially intricate and elaborate expressionistic rendering when all hell broke loose and he was thrust headfirst into the land of the grown-ups. Despite his desperate cries of protest, his abstract masterpieces were discarded in the ensuing mayhem of post birth events and sadly, lost to posterity forever.

Resigned to the waste of his works of embryonic genius he set out on his preordained Piscean destiny to forge a path in the “outer world”. Mark learned early on that crayons, pencils and pens were actually even better tools than fingernails to express his particular (some say, “peculiar”) vision. Discovering the wonderful inventions of paper and posterboard after the loss of even more masterpieces created on house walls and countertops, Mark set out to master the craft of his passion and began to study the Masters; DC Comics, Stan Lee, MAD Magazine, you know, the whole pantheon.

Then came school days. It wasn’t long until Mark became known as the “Class Artist”. He also soon discovered that nothing so pleased his friends and classmates as when he drew portraits poking fun at grown-ups. Schoolteachers, church busybodies, Little League coaches, Scout Masters, Board of Education Directors, and even parents became fair game for his caricatures and captions. This practice stood him well and carried on into high school where he even won an award in state competition for his one panel cartoon strip, “Que Pasa?” in the school’s weekly news magazine, the Monterey Mirror.

Entering the landscape of higher education, however, a rude awakening awaited Mark when he came to realize that in Texas Tech University’s art department, “Class Artists” were a dime a dozen. Shaken but not stirred, he decided upon a bold maneuver to recapture the promise of his antepartum glory days, to study and perfect “serious art”. Having done so, Mark then became an Advertising Art Major. It was his Waterloo. After two years of struggle, not only did he find his talents were totally incompatible with the inane asperity of “commercial art”, but that most of his “instructors” were more concerned with their own personal career prosperity than the enlightenment of their pupils.

A drastic change began to blow in the wild West Texas wind!

Disenchanted with the status quo and bored again as before his ill-fated Placenta Period, Mark decided to swipe the table clean and raise the stakes to boot. He would become his art. He would embody his vision. He would expand his canvas. He would use his very being as his brush, and toss his own fat into the furnace. He would join the Theatre Department!

Luckily, there Mark found a couple of sympathetic Masters of the dramatic discipline who gave him the tools and training he would need to embark on the next leg of his adventure. Armed thus with the knowledge and ability to succeed in his newfound medium, he forsook an official degree and launched himself again, head first, into his new endeavor and made a beeline for NYC.

In New York he worked with some of the living legends of the “experimental” genre like Ruth Maleczech and Lee Breuer of the Mabou Mines, becoming a charter member of their Rez-Cher-Chez Studio, “Slasher Film” pioneer and cult icon Andy Milligan, and was even anointed the heir-apparent apprentice to the “Grandfather of the modern avant-garde”, the late great Jack Smith, who dubbed him “Marco Dino”. Mark performed at downtown venues such as the original Mudd Club, Pyramid Club, Danceteria, St. Mark’s Church and Inroads Theatre. He garnered the praise of his contemporaries and earned the unofficial title of “The Hottest Actor in the East Village”. He’d set out to become the best unknown underground avant-garde performer of his generation and succeeded beyond his wildest dreams! Have you ever heard of him? Well, ha! There you are!!!

Anonymity had its allure and perks alright, but something deep down inside Mark’s primordial being cried out for recognition and release, so, after much soul searching and introspection, he at long last uncovered the source of his discord and discontent. He missed making fun of stuff. He missed lampooning society with his crayons and his trusty pen & pencil. He missed poking fun at the grown-ups!

So now, with a modified moniker, having come full circle and finally accepting the mantle of “Cartoonist”, he’s back, slashing a sardonic swath through society’s solicitude and etching his opinions on the membranes of mendacious minds with the fury of a frustrated fetus. Beware grown-ups, Marko Dino rides again!

Most of the above is absolutely true. If you don’t believe it, just ask me, er, him.

By the way, I’ve, er, Mark, has not only had a couple of his cartoons accepted into the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) in NYC, but was also included in their recent “Toon Town” exhibit.