Cartoonist MariNaomi creates full worlds on the page, which is no easy feat. Largely working in autobiography and memoir, Mari employs emotionally honest storytelling and clean line work to tackle both the weighty (death, family, spirituality, misogyny, racism), and the everyday (crushes, work, food, clothes, friends) with a through-line of engaging readers as part of the conversation. Reading her work, I always feel I’m in capable hands. Her power is increased because she’s very careful with what she does and doesn’t present on the page. It’s a deceptively simple presentation.
Those of us who create know that simplicity is rarely simple. I’ve zoomed through Mari’s graphic novels Dragon’s Breath and Turning Japanese, but instead of her themes and characters evaporating quickly like cleaning fluid swiped on a pane of glass, they stuck with me in almost invisible and smoky ways. Much like smells trigger deeply embedded memories, Mari’s personal work is resonant, intersectional art of what it’s like to be human. She’s not only developed an enviable crisp craft on the page, it’s masterfully imbued with large doses of heart and humor.
My memory is total shit, so I thought it’d be fun to reintroduce younger versions of Mari to her 2018 self by researching what she’d said in the past. It turned into an unintentional episode of This Is Your Life. –Todd
This interview originally ran in Razorcake #105 which is still available here.