Mariko Tamaki

Writer, Artist, Graphic Novelist

Mariko Tamaki is the author of the YA novel Saving Montgomery Sole and the co-creator of award-winning comics This One Summer and Skim (with Jillian Tamaki), and Emiko Superstar (Steve Rolston). In 2015, This One Summer received Printz and Caldecott Honors, the Eisner for Best Graphic Album–New, Canada’s Governor General’s award, and 4 starred reviews. Her 2019 Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me is the recipient of 5 starred reviews, including Kirkus and Horn Book, and was named a Printz Honor Book and as the “Best Children’s or Young Adult Book” at the Harvey Awards  – as well as receiving the 2020 Walter Dean Myers Award. Mariko maintains a solid fascination with the complex process by which teenagers become, or try to become, grown-ups.


She has also written for BOOM! Studios, Marvel, and DC Comics, working with She-Hulk and Supergirl.


Mariko Tamaki began her career as a playwright and performance artist in Toronto, Ontario, working with fat activists Pretty, Porky and Pissed Off and performing and writing plays for Buddies in Bad Times Theater, a world leader in developing queer voices for the stage.  Her first film, “Happy 16th Birthday, Kevin,” premiered at the Inside Out Festival in 2013.


In addition to her literary work, Mariko holds a Master’s in Women’s Studies and worked for two years on a doctorate in Linguistic Anthropology.  Her academic research focused on accents used in drag cabaret performances.  Her research inspired an ongoing obsession with the way people talk. You can follow her on Twitter.

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First Second Books

Laura Dean, the most popular girl in high school, was Frederica Riley's dream girl: charming, confident, and SO cute. There's just one problem: Laura Dean is maybe not the greatest girlfriend. Author Mariko Tamaki and illustrator Rosemary Valero-O’Connell bring to life a sweet and spirited tale of young love in Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, a graphic novel that asks us to consider what happens when we ditch the toxic relationships we crave to embrace the healthy ones we need.

Square Fish

A beautiful and offbeat novel from Mariko Tamaki, co-creator of the bestselling Printz Honor and Caldecott Honor Book, This One Summer.

Hardcover; Paperback
First Second Books

A 2015 Caldecott Honor and 2015 Michael L. Printz Honor book. The gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about a girl on the cusp of childhood - a story of renewal and revelation.

Introduction to Comics A basic 411 of how words and pictures combine to make up the stories we call comics.
Talk An overview of the elements that make up the speech patterns we use to build characters.
The Evolution of One Feminist Reader/Writer A brief history of the books that combined to influence the work I do today. With a breakdown of the different writers, poets, television shows and films, the storytelling and storytellers that were forced on me in high school and made me love storytelling.
Why Teenagers? What makes teenagers so fascinating? Probably the thing that makes being a teenager so hard. A list of all the reasons being a teenager sucks, an illustrated journey.
How to Write a Super Story This talk looks at the practice of writing superhero stories. First, it’s an examination of the art of storytelling, the component parts of any story, and how they apply to a story about heroes and villains. How do elements like plot, character, story arc, and pacing work in a story about someone who has to save the day? Second, Mariko looks at how my work as a Young Adult author, and the personal stories in books like Skim and This One Summer, have shaped her own personal take on the superhero narrative. She looks at the stories that have inspired her, from Alice Munro to Gene Yang, and discuss how a variety of works and influences have affected her approach to writing comics about characters that are more than, but also, human. Finally, Mariko talks with the audience about how their personal experiences and histories could work to shape new stories about new heroes.

Check out Mariko Tamaki’s Q&A with CBC on her work on the Wonder Woman comic book. Mariko has co-written a episodes for the upcoming SYFY series “Vagrant Queen.” The 2020 Walter Dean Myers Award goes to Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me. Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me named as one of the best graphic novels of 2019 by The Washing Post. Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me named “Best Children’s or Young Adult Book” at the Harvey Awards. Mariko and her plans for her new imprint “Surely Books.” calls Mariko Tamaki the best new superhero writer of 2018. USA TODAY’s The Mothership podcast interviews Mariko Tamaki. Mariko Tamaki wins the 2015 Eisner Award for This One Summer. Mariko sits down with the New Times to discuss her recent work, YA writing, and queer lit. Listen to Mariko on CBC’s DNTO  and The Next Chapter. Check out more interviews with Mariko from Paste Magazine, Comics Allianceand Publisher’s Weekly. Fine out more about Mariko Tamaki and follow her on Twitter.

Praise for Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me "Tamaki and Valero-O'Connell's tender-hearted narrative sings with real, honest emotion that will resonate with anyone trying to figure out love."
The New York Times

"The visual storytelling is precise and thoughtful, and it’s evident that the artist has spent a lot of time designing spaces that feel lived in and characters who immediately exhibit specific personalities... Tamaki excels when she’s writing stories about young women discovering their strength in times of crisis, and Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me falls right in her creative sweet spot."
—the A.V. Club

"Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me is the perfect next read for fans of Love, Simon and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, books about young love and struggling to figure out what it means... It’s exactly the sort of book that a lot of teens need to read to feel a little less alone, and a good gateway graphic novel for fans of Netflix’s new glut of romances or a stepping-stone for readers ready to graduate from graphic novels like The Baby-Sitters Club adaptations to more complicated, nuanced stories."

"Pithy dialogue is neatly trimmed to speech-bubble size, and the manga-esque styling suits characters to a T, from doe-eyed, love-smitten Freddy to lean, angular a cautionary tale or as an invitation to a pity party, this packs catharsis into every frame."
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, STARRED REVIEW

"Touching gently but powerfully on topics of bullying, homophobia, and toxic relationships, this superb graphic novel has its finger on the pulse of teenage concerns."

"This exploration of toxic relationships and social dynamics at the cusp of adulthood is, like its cast, sharp and dazzling."
Publisher's Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

"Tamaki explores the nuances of both romantic and platonic relationships with raw tenderness and honesty. Valero-O'Connell's art is realistic and expressive, bringing the characters to life through dynamic grayscale illustrations featuring highlights of millennial pink...a triumphant queer coming-of-age story that will make your heart ache and soar."

"Relatable, heart-wrenching, and often funny... Black-and-white panel illustrations with pink accents provide additional characterization and feature a cast diverse in race, gender identity, and body type."

"Tamaki and Valero-O’Connell do bring to life an artful narrative of relationships—old, new, harmful, and healing—and what happens when you learn to navigate them."
School Library Journal

"A stunning visual of spirited young love and relatable characters... Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me will appeal to a variety of readers with its air of real-life romance blended with the search for identity and friendship."

Praise for This One Summer "This book is poignant and melancholy, and it will be swiftly recognizable to those who only recently hovered at the cusp of adolesence."

"This captivating graphic novel presents a fully realized picture of a particular time in a young girl's life, an in-between summer filled with yearning and a sense of ephemerality."
- School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

"A summer of family drama, secrets and change in a small beach town . . . Keenly observed and gorgeously illustrated - a triumph."
- Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

"With a light touch, the Tamakis capture the struggle of growing up in a patchwork of summer moments . . . Wistful, touching, and perfectly bittersweet."