Artist Feature: Mark Marella
Mark Marella is an Southern California based artist, who recently held a panel on the intersection between tokusatsu and anime at this past Anime Los Angeles in January 2017.
In addition to his Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr account, Mark’s pieces can also be found and purchased through various conventions he will attend in the area, including Titan Con held at Cal State Fullerton and the upcoming Japan World Heroes convention in August.
Can you tell us about your personal background and what drove you to become an artist?
I graduated as Graphic Designer from Cal Poly Pomona and I’m currently pursuing to be a Storyboard Artist for TV Animation. I would say what got me to become an artist was that I just drew Sonic the Hedgehog a lot back in middle school as well as drawing any of my favorite video games and anime I was into at the time, such as Final Fantasy, Bleach, Kingdom Hearts, Gundam, Zone of the Enders, etc.
I also love seeing process work of an art piece so would watch the “behind the scenes” of an animated series or film, video games, or an illustration piece. Seeing process work fills me with inspiration because I get see artists’ mindset and what steps they took in creating a piece.
Were you a fan of Power Rangers or any Japanese tokusatsu (i.e. Super Sentai, Ultraman, Godzilla) growing up?
I watched the tokusatsu shows that were airing in the Philippines at the time. So, I grew up watching Kamen Rider Black, Shaider, Bioman, Maskman, Turboranger, Fiveman, Jetman, Jiban, Janperson, Sol Brain, and I think a little bit of Gavan.
Can you walk us through the process when creating a piece?
[Mark wrote out his process on his art Tumblr using Kamen Rider W and reposted here with permission]
- Step 1 I draw a bunch of quick and loose sketches. I try to find the story in the pose and make sure it has a clear silhouette
- Step 2 I pick the pose I like the most and I start giving it volume
- Step 3 I turn it into a silhouette to check if the post is clear
- Step 4 I keep pushing the pose more to make more dynamic and give it more energy
- Step 5 I keep pushing pose and making adjustments. I check for simple anatomy to make sure the limbs and body position look natural
- Step 6 I start to rough in some of the design details
- Step 7 Cleaning up the roughs and drawing in the final lines
- Step Final I flip the image around to see if it’s more interesting to look at the opposite side. From there I just threw in the colors and play around with it.
What are some of the experiences you’ve had tabling at various conventions?
Meeting new people and meeting new artist and networking with. It helps me build my audience and improve my communication skills. It also helps me to learn the business side of being artist because I would [have to] eventually.
Can you tell us more about the “Anime x Tokusatsu” panel you hosted at Anime Los Angeles and what inspired it?
Well, it’s mainly just me flexing my brain of various fun facts on how tokusatsu and anime influence one another.
The major one is how Hideaki Anno is a huge tokusatsu fan (Ultraman, Godzilla) and use those elements in his most famous work, Neon Genesis Evangelion. Anno himself has directed some tokusatsu himself such as Giant God Warrior Appears in Tokyo, The Cutie Honey movie, and most recently, Shin Godzilla.
A lot of anime and video games tend to parody or take influence from Tokusatsu. Some examples include:
- Dragonball Z’s Great Saiyaman = Kamen Rider
- Sailor Moon = Magical Girl Super Sentai
- Girls unz Panzer doing Dairanger‘s roll call
- Viewtiful Joe & The Wonderful 101 = Heavy influence on almost every tokusatsu show
- Wonder Green doing Sharivan’s henshin poses
- Also, there’s Akibaranger that literally mixes anime and tokusatsu
[We also] have voice actors who have worked on both anime and tokusatsu, like Jouji Nakata [who] starred in Flashman and Liveman and he also voiced Alucard in Hellsing and Kirie Kotmine in the Fate series. There is also Seki Tomokazu (Domon from G Gundam, Anime Tenchou from Lucky Star) who is a huge tokusatsu fan and will cameo or voice in a toku show no matter how small or big the role.
[In addition, there’s] Mamoru Miyano who voices Ultraman Zero [and nearly every ‘pretty boy’ in anime]. [Lastly, there’s] Mao Ichiminchi who started as Luka Milfy/Gokai Yellow in Gokaiger and now landed several major anime roles, like Luluco from Space Patrol Luluco, Hikari in Digimon Tri, and Sayaka Miyata in Keijo!!.
Which artist(s) most inspired you?
Currently, the amazing people at Studio TRIGGER are my biggest influence because the type of animation they make is what I love to see more off in anime– from Hiroyuki Imaishii’s wild and crazy directing (Kill la Kill, Space Patrol Luluco) to Yo Yoshinari’s (Little Witch Academia) beautiful and dynamic animation cuts. I would say all of Studio TRIGGER’s work are just generally expressive and lively even when they are not even animated (e.g. Inferno Cop, Ninja Slayer)
Another thing what I love about them is that they also take influence in western animation and are fans of western pop-culture. They’ve done collaboration with Pixar, Titmouse, and Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe! I personally believe that their major shows are very tokusatsu influenced. In fact, in one of the concept art for Kill la Kill shows that Ryuko’s transformation sequence would involve her doing the classic Kamen Rider pose!
Also, in Ninja Slayer the Animation, Ninja Slayer’s anime designs has heavy influence in Henshin Ninja Jiraya’s design. On top of that they made an animated short to the tokusatsu series, Gridman!
Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to share?
I would love to accomplish a lot this year. I’m currently pursuing to be a Storyboard Artist for TV animation and currently building a strong portfolio to get hired at a studio. I also want to have my first art book published before July and I’ll be participating in March of Robots in the month of March, so that I will have a body of work for the art book.
Mark Marella’s work can be found on his Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr accounts. He also plans on opening a Twitch account some time soon to livestream some of his upcoming pieces.
He will be tabling at Cal State Fullerton’s Titan Con, the college’s free convention held on April 29, 2017. For more information about Titan Con, visit the event’s Facebook page here.
Furthermore, he plans on tabling at the upcoming Japan World Heroes convention in August and Robo Toy Fest in October. Both conventions will be held in the Pasadena Convention Center and run by Scott Zillner, the same person behind the biannual Power Morphicon.