Five Questions with Mariko Tamaki
RAFAEL/JORGE: Mariko, thanks for answering our questions and congratulations on the well-deserved Caldecott and Printz Honor for, “This One Summer.” You and Jillian really captured that sensation of summer as a teen when the days seem to go by so lazily but also too fast and summer feels like a time to chill-out, but as a teen it was also so full of drama.
QUESTION: “This One Summer,” is such a flawless combination of picture and text, such a pure comic: what was the collaborative process with Jillian like? Did you write a full script, or was it written “Marvel” style, where she worked from an outline and then you went back and added dialogue?
Jillian and I have a very loose approach to comic collaboration. I write a script that looks a lot like a theater script, which is a format I’m used to, focusing on the narration and the dialogue. The visual elements are really up to Jillian. This particular comic involved a little more back and forth, figuring out the story and so on.
QUESTION: Did your collaborations with your cousin (Jillian Tamaki) begin when you were just kids? Does being artistic run in the family and was it encouraged?
Jillian grew up in Calgary, which is pretty far from Toronto, where I grew up. So most of us getting to know each other has been through the process of making, and then promoting, our work together since we started working on Skim. Jillian’s sister, Lauren, is an incredible illustrator. Other than that, Tamakis are mostly lawyers and accountants, patrons of the arts. My dad does make a mean crochet tapestry.
QUESTION: We understand your novel, “Saving Montgomery Sole.” is coming out in the winter of 2016. Is your process of story development for a novel very different from your story development for a graphic novel? What do you like best about each format for telling a story?
I tend to see the story, or at least my part of the story, for comics pretty quickly. It is a little different for novels. Maybe because there’s more writing involved getting from one place to another, and there’s more to fill in. In terms of what I like about each, I like collaborating, a lot, and I love the what comics let’s you do in terms of telling and showing in a story. I love writing descriptions and writing out characters, the details about a person that don’t tend to get laid out as thickly in comics, which I get to do more in prose.
QUESTION: What are you working on next?
I’m currently working on a lesbian love story comic and laying the groundwork for a new YA prose novel.
QUESTION: What’s on your nightstand?
I’ve got “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed, “Winter Town” by Stephen Emond, “The First Bad Man” by Miranda July, “Sticks and Stones” by Emily Bazelon. And a sprig of rosemary. And a box of The Wild Unknown Tarot. And earplugs 🙂
About Mariko Tamaki
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