(via an interview with Mari Naomi at Brevity)
Who She Is
Mari Naomi is and author and illustrator. Her work has appeared in over sixty print anthologies, and has been featured on such websites as The Rumpus, The Weeklings, LA Review of Books, XOJane, Buzzfeed and more. Her work for The Rumpus won a SPACE Prize and an honorable mention in Houghton Mifflin’s Best American Comics 2013. MariNaomi toured with the literary roadshow Sister Spit and is the creator and curator of the kickass Cartoonists of Color Database and the LGBTQ Cartoonists Database.
Why You Should Read Her
MariNaomi uses the medium most often associated with superheroes to tell deeply personal stories, to transform the events we think of as small and limited into vast worlds. Her work elevates and illuminates the awkward moments, the tragic, beautiful, and sometimes uncanny that haunts the everyday: a carnivorous pitcher plant brought in to deal with the flies in a studio in Carnivore; the everyday triumphs and humiliations of her romantic history in Kiss & Tell; her work for an illegal hostess bar for Japanese tourists in San Fransisco to learn the language her Japanese mother didn’t teach her (Turning Japanese).
Mari Naomi’s Kiss & Tell is a memoir of her romantic history told fearlessly in vignettes. Her frames give us the sweet along with the humiliating and sometimes dark, all of those moments in our own past we’ve romanticized, forgotten, or tried to. MariNaomi is able to look at her younger self with care and empathy and to bring that young woman’s stories to the page for us all. Even if the stories are different from your own experience in the details, you’ll see hints of yourself in these pages and maybe begin to feel some empathy for your own younger, naive self and the sometimes tragic, sometimes eyerollingly stupid mistakes she made, the terrible things she endured. That girl did the best she could with what she had and MariNaomi reminds us of that with every frame. Sometimes heroism is just surviving. MariNaomi clearly loves her younger self even as she relentlessly, fearlessly reveals her at her best and worst. With every frame she is rescuing our throwaway moments, our secret selves and returning them to us in all their terrible, heroic beauty.
Where To Read Her
Dragon’s Breath (2D Cloud/Uncivilized Books, 2014)
Kiss & Tell: A Romantic Resume, Ages 0 to 22 (Harper Perennial, 2011).
Smoke In Your Eyes series at The Rumpus.
Carnivore at Virginia Quarterly.
Galapagos Travel Diary at The Comics Journal.
Building Community: MariNaomi on Community, Necessity, and Forgiveness an interview with Megan Purdy at Women Write About Comics.
Dragon’s Breath: Chronicles of a Teenage Runaway in MariNaomi’s Graphic Memoir an interview with Grace Jung at Warscapes.