Marisa Acocella Marchetto

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Marisa Acocella Marchetto
Marchetto at the 2015 Texas Book Festival
Marchetto at the 2015 Texas Book Festival
Born1962 (age 58–59)
New Jersey, U.S.
Notable worksAnn Tenna
Cancer Vixen
Just Who the Hell is She, Anyway?
Silvano Marchetto
(m. 2004)

Marisa Acocella Marchetto (born 1962 in New Jersey) is an American cartoonist. She is the author of the New York Times best-selling graphic novel Ann Tenna, the graphic memoir Cancer Vixen, and Just Who the Hell is She, Anyway? She is also a cartoonist for The New Yorker and a columnist for W magazine's website. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Glamour, and O, The Oprah Magazine.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Marisa Marchetto was born in 1962, in New Jersey. She grew up in Roselle Park, New Jersey,[2] where she was one of four children. She currently lives in New York.[3] Her father was a pharmacist, and her mother, Violetta, was a shoe designer. In her first drawings, Marchetto drew copies of her mother's shoe designs.[3]

She attended the Pratt Institute in New York City, where she studied painting and eventually earned a degree from New York City's School of Visual Arts.[3]

In 2004 she married former restaurant owner Silvano Marchetto. Three weeks before the wedding Marchetto was diagnosed with breast cancer. Despite her diagnosis, the wedding went as planned, and she began her treatments.[3] She used her diagnosis of breast cancer as an inspiration for her popular graphic memoir Cancer Vixen. While undergoing chemotherapy, surgeries, and radiation treatments, she chose to refer to herself as a "cancer vixen" rather than a "cancer victim." Marchetto drew about her life with breast cancer which eventually led to her popular graphic memoir Cancer Vixen.[3]


After Marchetto graduated from the Pratt Institute she went on to work as an art director at J. Walter Thompson, a major Madison Avenue agency. There she met colleague Robert Kirshenbuam. After working at J. Walter Thompson for four years, Marchetto and Kirshenbuam left and became founders of Kirshenbuam and Bond, a boutique ad agency. After a few years at the ad agency, Marchetto moved on to be a senior vice president at Young & Rubicam.

While at Young & Rubicam, Marchetto began to create a comic strip titled She. The heroine in the comic strip served as her alter ego, and in 1993 the strip became a regular feature in the women's magazine Mirabella. The cartoon strip followed the heroine with her struggles of what to wear and questioning her choices in life. Marchetto took a leave of absence from her job at Young & Rubicam to work on her graphic novel, Just Who the Hell is She, Anyway? The Autobiography of She, featuring the same character "She" from the Mirabella strip. After publishing Just Who the Hell is She, Anyway? in 1994, Marchetto never returned to her job at Young & Rubicam.

In the period 2000–2001, Acocella produced the semi-regular comics journalism strip The Strip for The New York Times, often on the topic of fashion.

In 2006 Knopf released Marchetto's graphic memoir, Cancer Vixen: A True Story, about her 2004-2005 battle with breast cancer. Details in the memoir include her seeking cancer treatment without health insurance, which she had allowed to lapse. Cancer Vixen was one of Time's top ten graphic memoirs. Cancer Vixen was first published in Glamour magazine as a six-page cartoon.[4] In 2006 released as a graphic memoir book which depicts a woman with cancer who chooses to live her life stylishly and fiercely, despite living with an illness. Marchetto's story is considered as a notable piece of literature in the breast cancer community. Her memoir has inspired the culture of not becoming a victim to breast cancer, but rather to be a "vixen."[citation needed] In 2013, HBO announced it was developing a Cancer Vixen film starring Cate Blanchett as Marisa Acocella Marchetto;[5] as of 2020 the film is still in development.

Ann Tenna, released in September 2015 by Knopf, is a New York Times best-selling graphic novel about an influential gossip columnist who has a near-fatal accident. She is brought face-to-face with her higher self, who challenges her to change her life for the better.[6] Marchetto has said that having a life-threatening breast cancer diagnosis informed the story arc of Ann Tenna.[7]

Marchetto currently is a cartoonist for The New Yorker.[8]

Charitable work[edit]

Marchetto has donated a portion of her Cancer Vixen royalties to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and is the founder of The Cancer Vixen Fund, which has funded free mammograms for uninsured women in New York City. The renamed Marisa Acocella Marchetto Foundation funds free integrative therapies and free cold capping for women to prevent hair loss from chemotherapy at the Mount Sinai Dubin Breast Center and the Mount Sinai Beth Israel Comprehensive Cancer Center. The foundation also supports a complete empowerment program that includes yoga, Chi Qong, journaling, exercise, meditation, and nutrition. The Foundation's mission is "No breast left behind."[9]


  • Just Who the Hell is She, Anyway? The Autobiography of She (Crown Books, 1994)
  • Cancer Vixen: A True Story (Knopf, 2006)
  • Ann Tenna (Knopf, 2015)


  1. ^ "About". Marisa Acocella Marchetto. Retrieved 2015-10-01.
  2. ^ Schlesinger, Toni. "Cancer Vixen Tells All", New York Observer, October 2, 2006. Accessed August 12, 2019. "Ms. Marchetto grew up in a split-level home in Roselle Park, N.J."
  3. ^ a b c d e "Marisa Acocella Marchetto Biography - life, family, children, parents, story, school, mother, young, book - Newsmakers Cumulation". Retrieved 2018-11-10.
  4. ^ Sulik, Gayle (2014). "Connecting From Off Campus - UF Libraries". Gender and Society. 28 (5): 655–678. doi:10.1177/0891243214540991. JSTOR 44288182.
  5. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (12 March 2013). "Cate Blanchett Developing 'Cancer Vixen' at HBO". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 15 September 2013.
  6. ^ "Ann Tenna". Marisa Acocella Marchetto. Retrieved 2015-10-08.
  7. ^ "PEN DIY with Marisa Marchetto: How to Use Death as Your Life Coach". September 16, 2015. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
  8. ^ "About — Marisa Acocella Marchetto". Marisa Acocella Marchetto. Retrieved 2018-12-02.
  9. ^ "Marisa Acocella Marchetto Foundation". Retrieved October 1, 2015.

External links[edit]