MariNaomi (they/them) is the award-winning author and illustrator of Kiss & Tell: A Romantic Resume, Ages 0 to 22 (Harper Perennial, 2011), Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories (2dcloud/Uncivilized Books, 2014), Turning Japanese (2dcloud, 2016; Extended edition Oni Press, 2023), I Thought YOU Hated ME (Retrofit Comics, 2016), the Life on Earth trilogy (Graphic Universe, 2018-2020), Dirty Produce (Workman Publishing, 2021), and I Thought You Loved Me (Fieldmouse Press, 2023). Their work has appeared in nearly 100 print publications and has been featured on websites such as The New Yorker’s Daily Shouts, The Washington Post, LA Times, The Rumpus, LA Review of Books, Midnight Breakfast, SF Examiner, and BuzzFeed. Their comics have been translated into French (Devenir Japonaise, Editions IMHO, 2021), German, and Russian.
MariNaomi’s comics and paintings have been featured in the Smithsonian, the de Young Museum, the Cartoon Art Museum, the Asian Art Museum, and the Japanese American National Museum.
In 2011 and 2018, Mari toured with the literary roadshow Sister Spit. They are the founder and administrator of the Cartoonists of Color Database, the Queer Cartoonists Database, and the Disabled Cartoonists Database. They have taught classes for the California College of the Arts Comics MFA program, and was a guest editor for PEN Illustrated. They were cohost of the Ask Bi Grlz podcast with author Myriam Gurba.
MariNaomi lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with their partner and a menagerie of beloved rescue animals.
Photo by Geoff Cordner
In the nineties, shortly after I came across Mary Fleener’s contribution to Twisted Sisters: A Collection of Bad Girl Art, a light went on in my creative psyche. Her story, “The Jelly,” about her hot-mess of a roommate, resonated with me. I had stories like that! I should make comics, too! Excitedly, I sat down to make my first comic. That was in February of 1997, and I never stopped.
From childhood, my goal was to write novels, and that’s what I was working towards when autobio comics stole my heart. Over the years I’ve utilized many creative mediums: poetry, prose, fiction, memoir, painting, collage, and on and on. For whatever reason, the comics have been my most consistent passion, my favorite medium in which to express myself.
I write and draw the stories that I want to read: Stories about human relationships, explorations into compassion, the gray areas that make us who we are. By doing so I hope to not only entertain the reader, but to connect with them, make them laugh, make them sad, and ultimately make them feel like they, too, have a story to tell.
~ MariNaomi, Feb. 9, 2016