Like thousands of other kids watching PBS in the early 80s, Secret City opened my eyes to art. Now as an adult, I’ve become friends with the man from the TV screen, and I helped him reconnect with another friend he hasn’t seen in almost 30 years.

So walking through San Antonio’s Alamo City Comic Con last year, I kept noticing some simple but effective drawings of blocky robots, playful dragons, and unibears. There was something about it that caught on my memory, but it was a couple of passes before I realized it was Commander Mark.

Mark Kistler had a series of short-lived art programs for kids in the 80s and early 90s, and all generated a cult following as his energetic teaching style and straightforward techniques helped kids all over learn to draw three-dimensional objects for the first time.


Naturally, I asked to interview him, and while discussing the show (which he started straight out of high school!), we got to talking about Joel Gori, the actor who brought the various characters of Secret City to life.

So I tracked down Gori and interviewed him too. Apparently the two were great friends while the show was being produced, but hadn’t seen each other in nearly three decades.


I gave them each the contact information they needed to start talking again, and since Kistler is at Wizard World Philly this weekend, not too far from Gori’s home, they plan to meet again. Pretty dang cool!

Check out my interview with the pair, and the story of how Secret City came to be. Also, if you know anyone who was inspired by Secret City, The Draw Squad, Imagination Station, or any of Mark Kistler’s shows, let me know! I wanted to collect stories of those who were fans as kids!