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Panpa Bulletin : August September 2007
PANPA Bulletin August -September 2007 13 news "Lio" speaks the international language of laughter Acomic strip with no words has become a hit in Asia. "Lio", created by Mark Tatulli, can be found in every major English language newspaper in Asia, including the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, the Straits Times in Singapore, The New Straits Times in Malaysia and the Bangkok Post in Thailand. "Lio" is distributed by Atlantic Syndication, the international division of Universal Press Syndicate (UPS). Why Lio is catching on? Curious and inventive, Lio is a young boy with a wild imagination who often combines his extraordinary fantasies with everyday life, resulting in an enter- taining and wholly unique world of his own design. Tatulli says Lio is "a reflection of what I was fascinated in as a child," -- a world populated by monsters, robots, cepha- lopods, aliens, insects, deep sea crea- tures and all manner of other ideas that have captivated children (and plenty of adults) since time began. Such things might seem gross or weird to an average kid on the comics page, but Lio is decidedly not the average comics character. His sense of curiosity is rewarded with a sense of wonder as his fearlessness and optimism allow him to endlessly conjure the impossible, the fantastic and the downright awesome. And the best part? It's not all in his head. "Lio's world is really happening, it's just that generally he's the only one who sees it or cares to see it... this is normal to him. "He takes it in stride and in some cases revels in it. "Kids have really intense fears driven by fertile imaginations. "It's only when they get older that their imaginations become dulled by explained realities," says Tatulli. Luckily, reality is what Lio makes it. The internal machinery of Lio's fertile mind is front-and-centre in the strip, his ideas big enough to speak for them- selves, the wordless panels stripping the visual medium down to its essence -- a lean throwback to both literal infancy and that of cartooning itself. Tatulli has his reasons for opting for such a potentially difficult stylistic choice: "So many comics today are text- heavy and because of the limited space, very little room is left for artwork. "In 'Lio', the art is the writing," he says. "I can take full advantage of the space allotted. "It's very liberating for a cartoonist who loves to draw. "Each strip is like a mini puzzle -- there is no verbal punch line, no rim shot. "You have to look at the series of pan- els and kind of put things together." "By eliminating the language barrier with his pantomime strip, Tatulli has drawn together an international commu- nity based on the many universals in the life of a young boy," says Kristin Norell, managing director, Asia, for Atlantic Syndication. "At a time when international rela- tions are strained and complex, Tatulli has given a universal audience a charm- ing escape into a world filled with distinctive humour and the creative innocence of youth." "I've always loved pantomime strips, there's something kitschy about them, and I wanted to explore that arena while updating the format to appeal to a modern audience," Tatulli continues. "Plus, this format will work well with an international audience. "Nothing will be lost in translation... because there is no translation! "Heck, you don't even have to know how to read! "ruly a comic for all peoples of the earth!" "Lio" is already approaching a client list of 275 in the U.S. Tatulli, 44, often uses his family, com- posed of his wife and three children, as inspiration for his comics. In addition to "Lio," Tatulli also cre- ated the popular strip "Heart of the City," about a young girl's adventures in Philadelphia.