Donald D. Markstein, born March 21, 1947, has been absorbing knowledge about comics and animation for more than half a century now. That's how long it's been since his parents became the first on their block to own a TV set. His fascination with the tiny, flickering, black-and-white re-runs of 1930s theatrical shorts was the beginning of a lifelong interest in cartoons, in all their forms.
Don makes his living as a writer and editor. Most of his work has been outside this particular area of interest, but he's done a fair amount of work in and around cartoons, as well. In 1981, Don and his wife, GiGi Dane, founded Apatoons, a cooperative publication which has, in the years since, featured the work of some of animation's top commentators. He edited Comics Revue, a monthly anthology of newspaper comics, from 1984-87, and 1992-96. In 1992, he edited A Prince Valiant Companion, which, among other things, summarized the princely adventurer's entire career in Sunday comics from 1937-80. In 1994, he edited Hot Tips from Top Comics Creators, a compendium of wisdom about how to make comics, distilled from hundreds of interviews in Comics Interview magazine. As far back as 1970, he wrote an article that just might be the first use of the word "universe" in its present toon-related context.
Given his first name and middle initial (and no, we will not tell you whether or not the D stands for Duck), it's not surprising that he writes Walt Disney comic books — citing his very favorite writer and artist, Carl Barks, as a major influence, of course. Naturally, he's done Donald and Mickey, but his favorite work is on one of the less well-known of the Disney guys, Bucky Bug. Don has also written Eek! the Cat, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and other characters in comic book form.
But his work in and around cartoons is secondary to the fact that he just plain likes them. He eventually accumulated a collection of about 30-35,000 comic books, along with boxes and boxes and boxes of clipped newspaper strips — all eras, all genres, all styles. He enjoys diving around in them like a porpoise, burrowing through them like a gopher, and tossing them up and letting them hit him on the head. He also enjoys writing about himself in the third person. He wasn't able to collect the other major type of cartoonery until he was in his 30s, because of the unfortunate circumstance of home video not yet existing. But he's since made up for lost time, and now has hundreds of hours of animation — again, all eras, all genres, all styles.
Over the years, he's accumulated more than just a big pile of comics and animation — he's picked up a good deal of lore about them as well, to say nothing of a fairly decent reference library. In 1999, he started writing Don Markstein's Toonopedia™, a project he expects to work on for the rest of his life. Part of the reason is to share some of the information he's gathered. But it also works as an excuse to play with toons.