Gulf Stream: Artist draws on experience in interview with students

Artist Mark Sparacio shows off a work in progress to Gulf Stream School students, who also check out a cover illustration from a Captain America comic book. Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star

By Rich Pollack
The questions for comic book artist Mark Sparacio came faster than a speeding bullet as art students at Gulf Stream School fired them one right after another.
    “Are there artists who inspired you?” came one question.
    “Do you work on several pieces at one time?” came another.
    “Do you draw anything besides comic book heroes?” asked yet a third seventh-grader.
    The artist, whose work includes cover drawings of characters ranging from Captain America to Princess Leia from Star Wars, seemed impressed by the queries.
    “These are all great questions,” Sparacio said as he fielded dozens of inquiries from the students gathered around him — while at the same time putting some touches on a couple of pieces.
    Well known in the comic book world, especially among those who make it to comic book conventions and are wiling to plunk down anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000 for one of his originals, Sparacio has made a living for more than 30 years drawing heroes for the likes of Marvel and DC comics.
    He’s also been the artist behind several movie posters for some of Hollywood’s biggest studios and has created the artwork for the packaging of dozens of toys, lunch boxes and trading cards.
    Now living in South Florida and working as an adjunct instructor at Digital Media Arts College in Boca Raton while at the same time creating his own comic book — Omega Paradox — Sparacio was at the Gulf Stream School last month sharing his experience with seventh- and eighth-graders and hoping to inspire students to do their best, no matter what they do.
 “All of the students he’s meeting have had experience with painting, so this is a nice tie-in to the curriculum,” said Hillary Pemberton, the school’s art director, who added that most of the students had created their own comic books as part of a fifth-grade project. “This is an opportunity for them to enjoy comic books as an art form.”
    During his time with the students, Sparacio explained that his education at New York’s School of Visual Arts under well-known artist Will Eisner helped pave the way for his success.
    Still, he said, he works hard, putting in as many as 16 to 18 hours a day to make deadlines.
    And that led to one more question, one that drew a chuckle from Sparacio and the others in the room.
    “Do you drink a lot of Red Bull?” one student asked.      

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