About Mark

Mark Julien is a writer and illustrator based in Kingston, Ontario. He earned an AOCAD in Illustration from the Ontario College of Art & Design and a BDes from Thompson Rivers University in 1999. He was a longtime contributing artist for Genre, Men's Exercise, and Exercise for Men Only magazines, illustrated greeting cards for Village Lighthouse, and illustrated a series of children's books for Curriculum Plus.

Mark also earned his B.Ed. in the Artist in Community Education program at Queen's University in 2008, and is an Ontario Certified Teacher (OCT). He taught visual arts and dramatic arts at the secondary school level with Limestone District School Board, and has been a guest speaker/instructor at Kingston School of Art, Queen’s Faculty of Education, and the Creative Arts Specialized High Skills Major (SHSM) program at Limestone District School Board.

Justin Case and the Closet Monster: Hope was Mark's 2018 debut graphic novel, and was named one of the best LGBT graphic novels of 2018 by The Advocate magazine, nominated for the 2018 Virginia Library Association "Graphic Novel Diversity Award", and for 2018 "Best Graphic Novel" by the Canadian Independent Comics Wiki Awards.

Why I Wrote the Book

In 2005, I lost my father to Alzheimer’s disease. I was never ready to tell him that I am gay, and that I had found the love of my life. He never got to know the real me. I had run out of time. Life in the closet is a very lonely and painful place to be.

I was bullied for being perceived to be gay, beginning in middle school and right through high school. I internalized that hatred and homophobia for many years. I lived my life in denial, trying everything that I could not to be the thing that my bullies hated so much. As a result, I was homophobic, scared, full of shame, and for the longest time felt like I had no voice.

A lot of people have written about what it is like to come out of the closet. And while those stories are important, it was my days in the closet that truly defined the man that I am today. Combining my love of mythology, theology and irreverent, campy wit, I created a story about how to navigate life’s challenges having one foot firmly in the closet and the other planted on the path of self-acceptance. I like to think of it as the conversation that I should have been able to have with my Dad; a way to tell him all of the things that I lacked the courage to share with him when he was alive.

Rejected by multiple publishers and feeling that my story would never be read by others, I decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign in 2018 and was overjoyed that it was successful and enabled me to self-publish my first edition print run. Clearly, there was an audience looking for such a story to read and to embrace.

I have found my voice. I am a proud gay man. I have a lot to say. There are far too few stories out there for gay people, their family and allies. I created the Closet Monsters for those that are alone and struggling. More than anything, my book is about hope.