Mariko Tamaki

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Mariko Tamaki
Tamaki in 2018
Tamaki in 2018
Born1975 (age 48–49)
Toronto, Canada
OccupationGraphic novel writer, performance artist
Notable worksSkim, 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. She has twice been named a runner-up for the Michael L. Printz Award.

Early life[edit]

Mariko Tamaki was born in Toronto, Ontario. She is of Japanese and Jewish 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]

Tamaki performed at experimental feminist performance art festival Edgy Women in Montreal twice in 2006 and 2010.[12]

In 2014 Tamaki again collaborated with 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,[13] and the mini-series Supergirl: Being Super for DC Comics.

In 2017 she began writing novel adaptations of the Lumberjanes comic series.[14]

Tamaki's graphic novel collaboration with artist Rosemary Valero-O'Connell, Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me was released in May 2019 by First Second Books.[15] Freddy's rocky relationship with Laura leaves her heartbroken and neglectful of her true friends. In this queer coming-of-age story, Freddy learns to let go of a toxic relationship and value the people in her life who make her a better person.

In November 2019, Tamaki came back to Marvel for a four-part mini-series called "Spider-Man & Venom: Double Trouble".[16]

Tamaki began writing the ongoing Wonder Woman series with #759[17] from DC Comics. Her run concluded with #769, and was collected in its entirety in a trade paperback titled Lords and Liars.[18]

Tamaki's graphic novel I Am Not Starfire was released on 10 August 2021 as part of the YA original graphic novel series from DC Comics.[19] Yoshi Yoshitani provided art for the standalone story, which centers Teen Titans legend Starfire's daughter Mandy Koriand'r, who plans on "moving to France to escape the family spotlight and not go to college" despite her famous mother's protestations.

In January 2021, as part of DC's Future State event, Tamaki and artist Dan Mora collaborated on Dark Detective with colors by Jordie Bellaire. The series ran for four issues from January to February. In March, Tamaki, Mora, and Bellaire became the new creative team for Detective Comics beginning with #1034. According to Comic Book Resources (CBR), Tamaki's appointment as the writer of Detective Comics makes her the first female lead-writer of the title's publication history. Her run concluded with #1061.[20]


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.[21] This One Summer, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, was nominated for a 2014 Ignatz Award,[22] 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).[23] In 2019, Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me won the Ignatz Award for Outstanding Graphic Novel[24] as well as the Best Children's or Young Adult Book Award from the Harvey Awards.[25] Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me was also awarded the 2020 Walter Award in the Teen Category,[26] and received the Eisner Award for Best Publication for Teens. That same year, she also received the Eisner Award for Best Writer, for Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me (First Second/Macmillan), Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass (DC), and Archie (Archie).[27]


  • Cover Me (2000, ISBN 9780969806493)
  • True Lies: The Book of Bad Advice (2002, ISBN 9780889614024)
  • Fake ID (2005, ISBN 9780889614499)
  • Skim, with Jillian Tamaki (2008, ISBN 9788861238282)
  • Emiko Superstar, with Steve Rolston (2008, ISBN 9781401215361)
  • (You) Set Me on Fire (2012, ISBN 9780143180937)
  • This One Summer, with Jillian Tamaki (2014, ISBN 159643774X)
  • Tomb Raider (2016)[28]
  • Saving Montgomery Sole (2016, ISBN 9781626722712)
  • Supergirl: Being Super (2016-2017)
  • X-23 (2018)
  • Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell (2019, ISBN 9781250312846)
  • Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass, illustrated by Steve Pugh (2019, ISBN 9781401283292)
  • Spider-Man & Venom: Double Trouble (2020, ISBN 9781302920395)
  • Wonder Woman, #759-769 (2020, ISBN 978-1779510228)
  • Thor & Loki: Double Trouble (2021)
  • Dark Detective, #1-4, illustrated by Dan Mora (2021)
  • I am Not Starfire, illustrated by Yoshi Yoshitani (2021, ISBN 9781779501264)
  • Detective Comics, #1034-1061 (2021-2022)
  • Anne of Greenville (2022, ISBN 9781368078405)
  • Roaming, with Jillian Tamaki (2023, ISBN 9781770464339)

Lumberjanes novels, all illustrated by Brooklyn Allen


  • Volume 1: Deconstructed (2017)
  • Volume 2: Let Them Eat Cake (2018)
  • Volume 3: Jen Walters Must Die (2018)


  1. ^ "Mariko Tamaki". CBC Radio, The Next Chapter, 12 November 2012.
  2. ^ "Tamaki no fake". NOW. 30 June 2005. Archived from the original on 12 January 2014. The title of this collection of essays reflects a theme in Tamaki's work: the paradox of her identity. She's half Jewish and half Japanese, which translates as "Asian" to ignorant people.
  3. ^ Cole, Susan G. (11 January 2001). "Mariko Tamaki". Havergal (Tamaki's alma mater)
  4. ^ "As comics become a cultural force, McGill graduates are making their mark". McGill News. 17 June 2009. Archived from the original on 7 January 2014. It's a safe bet that no one was more surprised by MARIKO TAMAKI's sudden, overnight success in the comics realm than Tamaki, BA'94, herself.
  5. ^ "Quirky Queers". NOW, 16 June 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. 1 December 2008.
  10. ^ "Skim, a beautiful graphic novel" Archived 3 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Xtra!, 13 March 2008.
  11. ^ Gorman, Michele (March–April 2009). "Getting Graphic: Comic Chick Lit". Library Media Connection. 27 (5): 42.
  12. ^ Samuel-s303-18. "Archives / Edgy Women". Studio 303. Retrieved 10 July 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ "Marvel Announces New Jennifer Walters Hulk Series". 19 September 2016.
  14. ^ "See an Exclusive Look at the Cover for the First 'Lumberjanes' Novel". Entertainment Weekly.
  15. ^ "Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me". Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  16. ^ "Venom Finally Gets His Own Theme Song in Spider-Man & Venom: Double Trouble #1 [Preview]". 3 November 2019.
  17. ^ "Mariko Tamaki is the new mind behind Wonder Woman comic book". CBC Radio. 27 March 2020. Retrieved 24 January 2024.
  18. ^ "WONDER WOMAN: LORDS & LIARS". DC. Retrieved 24 January 2024.
  19. ^ Johnson, Rich (30 November 2020). "Meet Starfire's Gay Goth Daughter Mandy, in I Am Not Starfire YA OGN". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  21. ^ "Slideshow: Amber Dawn, Mariko Tamaki win Writers’ Trust LGBT author honours". Quill & Quire, 27 June 2012.
  22. ^ Canva, Michael (18 August 2014). "SMALL PRESS EXPO: Here are your nominees for the 2014 SPX Ignatz Awards…". The Washington Post. Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  23. ^ "Die Gewinner des Rudolph-Dirks-Award 2016". 3 December 2016.
  24. ^ MacDonald, Heidi (16 September 2019). "'Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me' leads 2019 Ignatz Award winners". Retrieved 25 September 2019.
  25. ^ Arrant, Chris (5 October 2019). "And the Winners of the 2019 HARVEY AWARDS are..." Newsarama.
  26. ^ "2020 Walter Awards". We Need Diverse Books. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
  27. ^ "And the winners of the 2020 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards are..." Newsarama. 25 July 2020. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  28. ^ "NYCC: Tamaki Sends Lara Croft on New Adventures in "Tomb Raider II" Series". 8 October 2015.

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