To Top

Rising Stars: Meet MariNaomi

Today we’d like to introduce you to MariNaomi.

Hi MariNaomi, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I started making comics as a hobby in 1997, after discovering autobio comics of punk rock women in underground anthologies. My day job at the time was pretty cool–writing for video games–and I had no intention of making comics my career. When my first graphic memoir came out in 2011, I started getting more comics-related work, and I decided to leave video game work behind. So far, I’ve published four graphic memoirs, a graphic novel trilogy, a book of gag comics, and I have more coming soon. I’ve also done illustration work, art commissions, teaching gigs, and other related work. Recently, I’ve done work for the LA Times (an illustrated op-ed about mask wearing from a Japanese American perspective) and LA County Health (a series of murals in San Gabriel Valley that address anti-Asian hate).

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
In some ways it was smooth, in that I absolutely love the work. But being a marginalized person in the comics industry has always had its challenges. For example, for a long time I was told to dial down my marginalized identities (queer femme Asian American) in order to make my comics more “universal” (which I can only presume equals “white”). This, in part, inspired me to create the Cartoonists of Color and Queer Cartoonists databases in 2014, and eventually the Disabled Cartoonists database (which I am not a member of, just the founder and administrator of). Lately, the industry actually seems to want marginalized perspectives, and that’s brought its own set of demands. So the struggle is to follow my passion and disregard the market. I firmly believe the best art stems from passion, not pandering.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
A few years ago, I published a young adult graphic novel called Losing the Girl. In it, each chapter focuses on a different protagonist and shows the world through their eyes, with each chapter’s illustrations reflecting their distinct worldview. From my understanding, nobody in comics had ever done that before, and I’m proud of adding something new to the form. That book, which was the first in my Life on Earth trilogy, unfortunately got banned in Katy, Texas. This new challenge is something I’m struggling to figure out how to deal with.

If you had to, what characteristic of yours would you give the most credit to?
Career-wise, I couldn’t have gotten anywhere without my dedication, reliability, and love for the craft. I know that sounds like three disparate things, but together they make a pretty strong trifecta for staying in a sometimes under-appreciated but never dull art job.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
(c) MariNaomi

Suggest a Story: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in local stories