Mariko Tamaki

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Mariko Tamaki
Mariko Tamaki by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Born 1975 (age 42–43)
Toronto, Ontario
Occupation Graphic novel writer, performance artist
Nationality Canadian
Period 2000s–present
Notable works Skim, This One Summer

Mariko Tamaki (born 1975) is a Canadian artist and writer. She is known for her graphic novels Skim, Emiko Superstar, and This One Summer, and for several prose works of fiction and non-fiction.[1] In 2016 she began writing for both Marvel and DC Comics.

Early life[edit]

Mariko Tamaki was born in Toronto, Ontario. She is of mixed Japanese Canadian and Jewish Canadian descent.[2] Mariko attended Havergal College, an all girls' secondary school.[3] She studied English literature at McGill University, graduating in 1994.[4]


Tamaki has worked as a writer and performance artist in Toronto, including with Keith Cole's Cheap Queers and in the performance group Pretty Porky & Pissed Off with Joanne Huffa, Allyson Mitchell, Abi Slone, Tracy Tidgwell and Zoe Whittall.[5]

Tamaki published the novel Cover Me in 2000. It is a "poignant story about an adolescent coping with depression". Told in a series of flashbacks, it is about a teenager dealing with cutting and feeling like an outsider in school.[6]

Skim, a collaboration with her cousin Jillian Tamaki, published in 2008 by Groundwood Books, is a graphic novel about a teenage girl and her romantic feelings towards her female teacher; the reciprocity of those feelings remains unclear in the text. The other central story is about the suicide of a classmate's ex-boyfriend who may have been gay. The text is fundamentally "about living in the moments of wrenching transition ...[and] the conflicting need to belong and desire to resist".[7] Tamaki says she did not set out to "make a statement about queerness and youth": "Skim's in love, and kisses a woman, but heck, she's just a kid. She could go on to kiss many people in her future - some of them might be dudes, who knows? I think Skim is more a statement about youth, and the variety of strange experiences that can encapsulate."[8] According to one reviewer, "the expressionistic fluidity of the black and white illustrations serves the purpose of pages of prose"; there is little plot and spare dialogue.[7] Tamaki writes that artists such as Hergé, Igort and Vittorio Giardino as well as Asian art had an influence on her style but her storytelling was rooted in American comics like Daniel Clowes, Chester Brown, and Will Eisner.[9] Skim was originally developed as a short play for Nightwood Theatre.[10]

Emiko Superstar, Tamaki's second graphic novel and first with illustrator Steve Rolston, is about a young woman who feels trapped in her suburban life. It was inspired by performance art and Girlspit, an open mic night event in Montreal.[8] The protagonist is inspired to try performance art after visiting such a space. As one review says, "this is a story about finding oneself, one's voice, and one's true character amidst the trappings of counter-culture fame".[11]

In 2014 Tamaki again collaborated with her cousin Jillian Tamaki, on the graphic novel This One Summer, published by Groundwood Books.

In 2016 it was announced that Tamaki would be writing a new Hulk series starring She-Hulk for Marvel Comics,[12] and the mini-series Supergirl: Being Super for DC Comics.


Skim won an Ignatz Award, a Joe Shuster Award and a Doug Wright Award in 2009, and was a nominee for the "Children's literature (text)" category at the 2008 Governor General's Awards. Tamaki was also awarded an Honour of Distinction by the Dayne Ogilvie Prize, a literary award for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender writers in Canada, in 2012.[13] This One Summer, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, was nominated for a 2014 Ignatz Award,[14] and won the 2015 Michael L. Printz Award and a Caldecott Honor from the American Library Association. In 2016 she won the German Rudolph-Dirks-Award in the category Youth Drama / Coming of Age (for This One Summer).[15]



  1. ^ "Mariko Tamaki". CBC Radio, The Next Chapter, November 12, 2012.
  2. ^ "Tamaki no fake". NOW, June 30, 2005.
  3. ^ Cole, Susan G. (11 January 2001). "Mariko Tamaki". 
  4. ^ "As comics become a cultural force, McGill graduates are making their mark". McGill News, June 17, 2009.
  5. ^ "Quirky Queers". NOW, June 16, 2005.
  6. ^ Muser, Ilyse (October 2001). "Review of Cover Me". Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. 45 (2): 171. 
  7. ^ a b Baxter, Gisele M. (Winter 2009). "The School of Life". Canadian Literature. 203: 133–134. 
  8. ^ a b Whittal, Zoe (Fall 2008). "Graphic Scenes". Herizons. 22 (2): 37–39. 
  9. ^ "Skim: Book Review". Kirkus Reviews. 76 (23): 18. 2008-12-01. 
  10. ^ "Skim, a beautiful graphic novel". Xtra!, March 13, 2008.
  11. ^ Gorman, Michele (March–April 2009). "Getting Graphic: Comic Chick Lit". Library Media Connection. 27 (5): 42. 
  12. ^ "Marvel Announces New Jennifer Walters Hulk Series". 19 September 2016. 
  13. ^ "Slideshow: Amber Dawn, Mariko Tamaki win Writers’ Trust LGBT author honours". Quill & Quire, June 27, 2012.
  14. ^ Canva, Michael (August 18, 2014). "SMALL PRESS EXPO: Here are your nominees for the 2014 SPX Ignatz Awards…". The Washington Post. Retrieved 18 August 2014. 
  15. ^ "Die Gewinner des Rudolph-Dirks-Award 2016". December 3, 2016.
  16. ^ "NYCC: Tamaki Sends Lara Croft on New Adventures in "Tomb Raider II" Series". 8 October 2015. 

External links[edit]