M. Wartella

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M. Wartella
Born (1976-08-19) August 19, 1976 (age 45)
OccupationCartoonist, animator
Years active1994–present

Michael M. Wartella (born August 19, 1976) is an American underground cartoonist, animator, writer and director based in New York City, generally publishing under the name M. Wartella or just Wartella. He is best known for his work in The Village Voice and on Cartoon Network's MAD.

He is the founder of Brooklyn's Dream Factory Animation,[1] a boutique studio specializing in the production of animated shorts for corporate and indie clients.

Print career[edit]

According to his 2013 autobiography, Strip Show: 25 Years of Comix, Controversy & Copyright Infringement, Wartella began his professional career at age ten [2] producing a weekly comic strip called Clubhouse Kids for a local newspaper, which ran for two years during 1986–1987.

Later, while a student at The University of Virginia,[3] Wartella created the absurdist art comic Ackxhpæz (1994–1996) which he then expanded and nationally self-syndicated to alternative weekly newspapers (as "Nuts") from 1998–2000. The humor in many of the cartoons was controversial as exemplified in a 1999 comic about the Columbine High School massacre which prompted an outcry when it was published in Denver.[4]

From 2007 to 2009, Wartella's intricate single-panel "reportorial" cartoons began appearing regularly in The Village Voice,[5] where he is still listed as an honorary contributor.

Wartella's sequential comics have appeared in Eisner and Harvey Award nominated anthologies from DC Comics and Fantagraphics Books and in magazines including Andy Warhol's Interview and Spin. His illustrations have primarily appeared in "underground" publications including Arthur, Pop Smear, and he was the creator of the infamously rare[citation needed] scratch-off cover of Vice Magazine.

Wartella has also contributed several titles and paintings to the "all-new" series of Wacky Packages trading cards from Topps, and created similar product parody spoofs for Nickelodeon Magazine in the 2000s (decade).

Wartella also did new artwork that appears on the cover of the re-launched MAD Magazine #6 (April 2019) featuring miniature Alfred E. Neumans in an M.C. Escher style cubist background.

Animation career[edit]

Wartella is a noted animator and director. Considered a pioneer of online animation, Wartella was among the earliest to use the animated .gif format to create story-driven independent animation. In 1998, The New York Times described his early animated web short The Dinky Dog Archive as "the Steamboat Willie of the internet".[3]

In the 2000s (decade), Wartella was an artistic contributor to several animated television shows including MTV2's cult hit Wonder Showzen (2005–2006), and Adult Swim's series Superjail! (2008–2009) and Xavier: Renegade Angel (2007-2009).[6]

In 2013, Wartella opened his own full-service production studio, Dream Factory Animation, in Brooklyn NY which has conceived, developed and produced animated programming for clients including Condé Nast, @radical.media, The Creative Agency and Warner Bros.[1]

From 2010 to 2014, he created nearly 300 hand-drawn animated shorts for Cartoon Network's Mad, where his work was featured in every episode during four seasons.[1]

As of 2020, Wartella has directed several music videos[7] combining live action and animation for musical acts including Teddybears, King Tuff and The White Stripes. Wartella's music videos have received accolades from Blender Magazine[8] and Stereogum.[9]


  • Wartella's STRIP SHOW: 25 Years of Comix, Controversy & Copyright Infringement by Wartella, (Burger Records, 2013)
  • Found: Requiem for a Paper Bag (cover) by Davy Rothbart, (Fireside, 2009 ISBN 978-1-4165-6054-8)
  • Chew on This (cover), by Schlosser/Wilson, (Houghton Mifflin, 2006)
  • Hotwire Comix & Capers, ed. by Glenn Head, (Fantagraphics Books, 2006)
  • Bizarro World, ed. by Joey Cavalieri, (DC Comics, 2005)



  1. ^ a b c M.Wartella Launches His Dream Factory in Brooklyn Cartoon Brew, July 13, 2013
  2. ^ Wartella: Gateways Into The Freak Scene, Obey Clothing, October 2013
  3. ^ a b Animator Pursues a Minimal Approach to His Art, The New York Times, March 19, 1998
  4. ^ Sell Your Soul To Evil, Channel 9 (KUSA) News at 10 with reporter Heidi Hemmat, June 23, 1999
  5. ^ M. Wartella starts Runnin’ Scared for Village Voice, Editor & Publisher, July 17, 2007
  6. ^ [1] IMDB Filmography
  7. ^ M. Wartella music videos at IMVDB
  8. ^ "Wartella Bangs Away with The Go"
  9. ^ "The 5 Best Videos of the Week" Stereogum, May 2014

External links[edit]