By R.C. Samo
As the second day of the inaugural Long Beach Comic-Con dwindles and the crowds disperse, Mark Dos Santos, renowned comic book artist, sits in an overcrowded restaurant located at the Pike and discusses life in the industry.
Joined by his wife of almost 16 years, Jennifer, 34, Dos Santos jokingly confesses about their meeting, “She was a streetwalker and I was a bum,” clarifying these were the characters they portrayed in the cast of Guys and Dolls.
Before getting into comics, Dos Santos, 35, was in the U.S. Army. After finishing his time as an enlisted soldier, he studied at the Joe Kubert School of Cartooning and Graphic Art in New Jersey, with a focus in animation. He wasn’t much of a comic book reader, but was influenced by Japanese Anime.
“They taught us everything in the first year; it wasn’t until year two when we became specialized in animation or comics,” say Dos Santos, wedged between his wife and the entire news staff of Fanboy Nation.
After moving to California just in time to watch the animation industry take a nosedive, both of the Dos Santos worked as property managers for a storage company while Mark drew the short-lived comic Air Space. He realized, “You know, comics are basically storyboards, and that’s what I wanted to do in animation anyway.”
In reference to Air Space, Dos Santos said, “Everything we could do wrong, we did,” from picking the wrong publisher, to paying too much for the print.
Most comic fans are familiar with Dos Santos’ run on Fall of Cthulhu, Cthulhu Tales, and Eureka, but what some wouldn’t realize is that he has inspired films as well. His office was the inspiration for the set of one of the funniest movies of this decade.
“They were looking for toy and memorabilia collectors for a movie and the scout came to my house. She saw the two giant display cases full of Lords of the Rings and thought it was cool. I then said, ‘Well, wait, you should see the office.’ She walked into my office, took six pictures, and walked out. I asked what the title of the movie was, but she kept avoiding it.”
She revealed the title to be none other than The 40-Year-Old Virgin, to which Dos Santos replied, “Oh, well, I’m married.” Not long after, a friend of Dos Santos saw the film and said that he couldn’t stop laughing because the opening scene reminded him of Mark.
Dos Santos’ life is not all comics and collectibles. On a trip to Brazil for his grandfather’s birthday, Mark and Jennifer were able to prank his mother.
Taking separate cars to the mall, Jennifer rode with her mother-in-law as she crocheted a blanket. As they were leaving the mall, Jennifer lost track of Mark’s mother and began wondering around the parking lot. As Mark, his aunt, and father were making their way to the car, Jennifer came running out, screaming “They left me, they left me!”
As Jennifer blushes in the booth and digs her nails into his arm, Mark continues, “My mom saw the crochet stuff in the backseat and called us asking if Jen was with us. We told her to stay quiet and my dad said, ‘No, I thought she was with you.’
“So we pulled up to the house and my aunt ran to the bathroom because she couldn’t contain herself and my mom kept asking me and my dad where Jen was. We continued to deny where she was and mom said, ‘Stop messing around Mark! Where’s Jennifer!?!’”
Dos Santos’ mother sprinted to the car. Her heart sank as she saw Jennifer seated in the back of the car. It was one of those rare moments that won’t be forgotten.
You can find Mark Dos Santos’ artwork monthly in Eureka, at www.markdossantos.com, and keep your eyes open for a Imperial written by Steven Seagle with Dos Santos at the drawing board, coming in 2010 from Man of Action and Image Comics.