Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Guttersnipes: Jillian and Mariko Tamaki

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Guttersnipes: Jillian and Mariko Tamaki

TCAF is the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. It is an annual week-long celebration of comics and graphic novels and their creators, featuring readings, interviews, panels, workshops, gallery shows, art installations, and culminating in a two-day exhibition and vendor fair featuring hundreds of comics creators from around the world. The Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2014 will take place Saturday, May 10 and Sunday May 11, at Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge Street). Admission is free. Leading up to the Festival, I'll be interviewing some of the dazzling comic writers and illustrators – particularly the Canadian ones – who have brand-new books out for TCAF.

Jillian Tamaki is a sought-after illustrator for such companies as the New York Times and The New Yorker and has been recognized by Communication Arts Illustrated, Society of Illustrators, and the Society of Publication Designers. Mariko Tamaki is a writer and performer whose work appears in print, on stage, and on the radio. She's the co-creator of the comic Emiko Superstar (with Steve Rolston); the author of the novella, Cover Me, creative non-fiction collections True Lies and Fake ID, and the young adult work, (you) set me on fire. Together, the Tamaki cousins collaborated on the New York Times Best Illustrated Book, Skim, which was also nominated for a Governor General's Literary Award and Eisner Award and won a Doug Wright Award and Ignatz Award. They debut their followup to SkimThis One Summer, at TCAF 2014.


Please describe, as best you can, your new comic book as an equation of movies. (e.g. Passenger 57 + Fried Green Tomatoes – unintentional cannibalism)

JILLIAN: Um. Stand By MeFriday the 13th + Degrassi Jr High?

MARIKO: That sounds about right.

What was your favourite comic book when you were thirteen?

JILLIAN: That was after I was reading Archies but before I read Ghost World.

MARIKO: I was more of a Sweet Valley High-slash-Flowers in the Attic girl, myself.

What was the name and general premise of the first comic book you ever made? (That is, when you were a kid, making comics for your siblings and/or friends?)

JILLIAN: The first zine I made was in high school. It was called Wanker and I think it had, like, snarky quizzes and collaged Archie comics and stuff in it. I don't have a copy because I was so stupid I didn't know you could photocopy zines. I just made one and gave it to a friend I was trying to impress.

MARIKO: When I was in high school, I belonged to an amateur cult where we drew cartoons of each other getting married.  I think in mine I was a scientist and I was marrying a scientist.

Have you been to TCAF before? If so, what’s your favourite TCAF memory? If not, what are you most looking forward to?

JILLIAN: This is my third TCAF. I think I met Chester Brown at the last TCAF and that was pretty amazing.

MARIKO: I think the year we won the Doug Wright Award was pretty cool. We got to virtually meet Bob Rae.

If you could collaborate with one other TCAF guest, who would it be (and why)?

MARIKO: I've always wanted to work with a lot of TCAF people. I love Jeff Lemire's work. That would be pretty awesome.

What do you find the most difficult thing to write? Draw?

JILLIAN: Cars.

TCAF is now over ten years old. What’s the biggest change you've noticed in the world of comics in the past ten years?

JILLIAN: The ebb and flow in the relationship with major book publishers. New interest in comics from the illustration and design community. Tumblr.

MARIKO: Getting on the shelves in bookstores.

This One Summer is printed entirely in shades of blue. What led to that decision?

JILLIAN: We thought it'd look different and cool.

Summer vacations and sex have long been interconnected. Were there any cultural predecessors you had in mind (books, movies) when creating This One Summer?

JILLIAN: Mostly trying to think about the sex-danger-horror / 80s-movies element … then throwing a little pre-teen kid into it.

MARIKO: Not really sexy ones.  Although the summer movie I have seen the most times is Dirty Dancing.

The book touches on depression and how it affects a family. How did you make sure you depicted a family dealing with depression accurately.

JILLIAN: It's up to the reader to determine if we depicted those family dynamics accurately.

MARIKO: Agreed.

There's krumping in this book! Can either of you krump?

JILLIAN: No.

MARIKO: Not as a rule.


This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, is published by Groundwood Books, www.groundwoodbooks.com. Visit torontocomics.com to find out more about TCAF and the Tamakis' appearance at the festival. They also launch This One Summer at a special event Sunday, May 11, at Buddies in Bad Times, hosted by Hannah Sung.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Evan Munday

Evan Munday is the illustrator of the novel Stripmalling, written by Jon Paul Fiorentino (ECW 2009), and is the cartoonist behind the self-published comic book, Quarter-Life Crisis, set in a post-apocalyptic Toronto. He works as a book publicist for Coach House Books. The Dead Kid Detective Agency was his first novel, and in 2013, he published Dial M for Morna, the second book in the Dead Kids series. He lives in Toronto, ON.

Go to Evan Munday’s Author Page