'Shorty's Eurolog', from the SKiN GRAFT newsletter (1994).

Mark Shippy is a Chicago-based guitarist and visual artist. Operating under the banner of Shippydrome Enterprises, he has been involved in music/sound production, independent comics, animation and writer of stories and creative content. Since the 1980s, he has been performing with several bands from the Chicago area, for instance Shorty and U.S. Maple.

Early music career
Originally from Crystal Lake, Illinois, Mark Douglas Shippy had his first experiences with performing as a guitarist in the local art rock group the Muckrakers. In DeKalb, west of Chicago, he teamed up with vocalist Al Johnson, with whom he formed several bands in the following years. In the spring of 1988, they placed an ad for musicians to participate in their first, still unnamed project. Joined by two musicians from Chicago's punk scene, they began playing under ever-changing names, such as Dragster, and Bomb. After some personel changes, the noiserock/math-rock band settled on the name Snailboy, releasing two singles in 1990-1991, before continuing as Shorty, consising of Mark Shippy, Al Johnson, Luke Frampton and Todd Lamparelli.

SKiN GRAFT
Around this same period, Shippy was also working as an indie cartoonist in the Chicago area. Designing pamphlets and comics, much of his output was dedicated to his band, especially after Shorty was picked up by the SKiN GRAFT Records label. Founded by Chicago art school students Mark Fischer and Rob Syers, SKiN GRAFT was notable for adding self-published and punk-inspired comix to the inner sleeves of their LP, EP and single releases. For Shorty's 1993 single 'Kaput!', Mark Shippy did most of the graphic design, as well as several pages for the comic book insert. Other contributors to this release were SKiN GRAFT cartoonists Mark Fischer, Rob Syers and Dan Grzeca. Together with the cartoonist Kurt Diesel, Shippy provided the artwork for the 1994 Shorty EP 'Fresh Breath'. In 1994, Mark Shippy created the one-page comic 'Shorty's Euro-Log' for the SKiN GRAFT newsletter, covering the group's European tour.

U.S. Maple and other bands
After touring both America and Europe, Shorty broke up in July 1994. At DeKalb's Northern Illinois University, Mark Shippy and Al Johnson then teamed up with two former members from the Mercury Players, forming the noise rock band U.S. Maple. Performing and recording since 1995, the band set out to "devise a working method for reorganizing Rock and Roll, keeping only what they felt were its most important core elements". Experimental and influential, Mark Shippy became notable for his idiosyncratic guitar stylings.

Shorty broke up in July 1994, and Shortly after they broke up in July of 1994, Mark Shippy was struck by a car and suffered minor injuries. Eventually he recovered and started a new group called U.S. Maple. For their first releases, they remained on the SKiN GRAFT label, with the 1995 single 'Stuck' having graphic design by Mark Shippy, Kurt Diesel, Mark Fischer and Scott Groeniger. The band was later picked up by the Drag City label, releasing a total of five LP records until disbanding in 2007. Since then, Mark Shippy has expanded his creative collaborations. With former U.S. Maple drummer Pat Samson, he played in the band Miracle Condition and with Jim Sykes, he formed the two-piece band Invisible Things. In later years, he formed bands like Hidden Rifles (2014) and Taste Rubber (2022), while also recording as a threesome with Ben Billington and guitarist Daniel Wyche on the jazz rock album 'The Eventual Warp Cat' (2019). With violinist Alex Cunningham, he released an album with guitar and violin improvisations, called 'Ghost Note' (2021).

Shippydrome Enterprises
In addition to his performing and recording work as a musician, Mark Shippy has also been active in graphic design, illustration and content creation through his Shippydrome Enterprises SP firm. He has been active in creative marketing, advertising, technical writing and copy editing, as well as character creation and story creation for animation. One of the projects he worked on was the animated sci-fi cartoon 'Strangeness Gets Weirder - Episode I: Bob & Wayne in Space', written and directed by John Marc Bimonte.


Cover art for Shorty's 'Kaput!' single (1993).

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