2004 NEA Holiday Special:
Spotting Santa by Spot the Frog creator, Mark Heath

25 November 2004

    The joyous, festive, heartwarming season has come around again. It is time to announce this year’s NEA Holiday Special, beginning November 29th and running until Chrismas Day.

    (Drum roll, please)

    Ta da! Presenting …

"Spotting Santa", by Spot the Frog creator Mark Heath!

    "Spotting Santa" has a truly jolly theme, as described in the United Media Feature Syndicate release:

    “A few days before Christmas, Spot’s friend and landlord Karl comes home with a surprise for Spot and his fellow frog, Buddy. Karl has grown a beard. The beard makes him look so much like Santa Claus that Spot and Buddy start to believe Karl really is Santa. The frog friends decide to travel to the North Pole to try to prove Karl’s true identity. When their snow train gets stuck in a storm en route, Karl rescues them, and finally reveals his connection to Santa.”

    With sweet "Spot the Frog" as the star, Spotting Santa will no doubt bring a warm Christmas spirit to its many enchanted readers.

    Mark Heath is new to the comic strip syndication audience, but his work is very familiar to fans of magazine illustration. He began his career in illustration at the young age of 20, gradually finding steady, big- market customers for his art.

    Far from being a stellar student, Mark’s grades in his major of English at the University of New Hampshire were disappointing "C"s. His goal was to be a teacher who would write short stories. It turned out he didn’t want to be a teacher at all, but was more interested in writing.

spot 3

    Wanting to be good at whatever he was going to do, Mark turned to cartooning, something he had dabbled in for years. His first cartoon sale in 1980 was to Wildbird Magazine. *(1) Several years later, Reader's Digest purchased Mark’s second cartoon and he found a slow but steady demand for his work. In the meantime, the struggling illustrator worked in bookstores, motels, stores, and at a cabinet factory. The low-level jobs motivated him to draw because “few things are more inspirational, if one is toying with the idea of freelancing, than working in a cold factory in winter, or suffering a tie in summer.” *(2)

    Freelance illustration became Mark’s career, with his artwork published in Women’s World, Pirate Writings, American Scientist, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and others. He has created greeting cards for Recycled Paper Greetings, Renaissance Greetings, Marcel Schurman Fine Arts, and online animated greeting cards for Amazon.com. Mark wrote a book on the art of cartooning in 1998, Drawing Cartoons, published by North Light Books.

    The idea for the froggy comic strip was incidental. Developed initially as a gag in another strip that Mark was testing, Spot the Frog was sparked. (In that joke, a man named Winslow fell into a puddle of frog eggs and one of the eggs spoke to him.) *(1) After a few years in creation, United Media Features Syndicate snapped up the comic and hopped Spot the Frog into syndication on January 5, 2004, calling it “a charming, sweetly funny new strip.”

    Adorable Spot, who lives in a house with a caring, grandfatherly man named Karl, still has devoted marsh friends who reside in the swamp. (Spot’s friend Buddy is a CSI fan.) Spot the Frog is a positive, happy comic strip, whose main character will happily swim in the dishwater or frolic in the falling leaves. It is perfect for this year’s NEA Holiday Special.

    Mark lives in Providence, Rhode Island with his sweetheart, Mary.

    Cheers to Mark Heath and Spot the Frog. "Spotting Santa" just might send them on their way to well-earned success.

    Starting November 29, 2004, be sure watch for installments of "Spotting Santa"! It'll only be available for a short time.


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Information about Mark Heath:
*(1)*(2) http://www.comics.com/comics/spotthefrog/html/about_author.html

Spot the Frog home page with loads of colourful information, cartooning advice and funny stuff:

Mark Heath’s illustration home page with more great stuff:

© Susanna McLeod 2004
(Originally published in The Cartoonists on suite101.com.)