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Jillian Tamaki

Jillian Tamaki is a Canadian illustrator and cartoonist who grew up in Calgary, Alberta, and graduated from the Alberta College of Art and Design. She is best known for hugely successful works Skim and This One Summer that she co-created with her cousin, writer Mariko Tamaki. Her web-comic “SuperMutant Magic Academy” is now published as a graphic novel. Tamaki now resides in Toronto.

Tamaki edited and introduced The Best American Comics 2019.

Drawings and Comics

Gilded Lilies

Montreal: Conundrum Press, 2006.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Jillian Tamaki’s first book, Gilded Lilies, collects many of her previously published illustrations (New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, CBC, The New Yorker) as well as new drawings and comics. Included is a reprint of her mini-comic, City of Champions, as well as a new comic, The Tapemines, an 80-page wordless scroll about feral children in forests of cassette tape. With inspirations including German expressionists Georg Grosz and Otto Dix, as well as Japanese and Inuit printmakers, Tamaki’s unique style often celebrates the inherent beauty in the grotesque, while remaining character-driven and focused on observational narrative.

Drawings and Comics

Indoor Voice

Montreal: Drawn & Quarterly, 2010.

Publisher’s Synopsis

Indoor Voice collects pen, brush, ink, watercolor, and collage experiments that show how Tamaki arrives at her illustration work, as well as more polished and personal comics work

Fiction (Short stories, Graphic novel)


Montreal: Drawn & Quarterly, 2017.
PN6733 .T36 B68 2017

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Jenny becomes obsessed with a strange “mirror Facebook,” which presents an alternate, possibly better, version of herself. Helen finds her clothes growing baggy, her shoes looser, and as she shrinks away to nothingness, the world around her recedes as well. The animals of the city briefly open their minds to us, and we see the world as they do. A mysterious music file surfaces on the internet and forms the basis of a utopian society–or is it a cult?

Boundless is at once fantastical and realist, playfully hinting at possible transcendence: from one’s culture, one’s relationship, oneself. This collection of short stories is a showcase for the masterful blend of emotion and humour of award-winning cartoonist Jillian Tamaki.

Awards and Honours

2017 Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada–Comics (Second Prize) designer Jillian Tamaki

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

Our Little Kitchen

Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2020.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

In this lively, rousing picture book from Caldecott Honoree Jillian Tamaki, a crew of resourceful neighbours come together to prepare a meal for their community. With a garden full of produce, a joyfully chaotic kitchen and a friendly meal shared at the table, Our Little Kitchen is a celebration of full bellies and people looking out for one another.

Includes two recipes and an author’s note about the volunteering experience that inspired the book.

Awards and Honours

2020 Governor General’s Literary Award-Young People’s Literature-Illustrated Books, English language (Finalist)
2021 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards; Best Publication for Early Readers (Up to Age 8) (Winner)
2021 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award (Winner)


(Graphic novel ; Young adult)


Co-creator Jillian Tamaki.
Montreal: Drawn & Quarterly, 2023.
forthcoming Sept. 2023

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Spring Break, 2009: Five days, three friends, and one big city.

Over the course of a much-anticipated trip to New York, an unexpected fling blossoms between casual acquaintances and throws a long-term friendship off-balance. Emotional tensions vibrate wildly against the resplendently illustrated backdrop of the city, capturing a spontaneous queer romance in all of its fledgling glory. Slick attention to the details of a bustling, intimidating metropolis are softened with a palette of muted pastels, as though seen through the eyes of first-time travelers. The awe, wonder, and occasional stumble along the way all come to life with stunning accuracy in this sumptuous softcover with gorgeous jacket.


Fiction (Graphic novel ; Young adult)


Pictures by Jillian Tamaki.
Text by Mariko Tamaki.
Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2008.
PN6733 .T34 S55 2008

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Depression, love, sexual identity, crushes, manipulative peers–teen life in all its dramatic complexities is explored in this touching, pitch perfect, literary graphic masterpiece.

Awards and Honours

2009 CBA (Canadian Booksellers’ Association) Libris Awards–Book Design of the Year (Winner)
2009 Doug Wright Awards-Best Book (Winner)
2009 Joe Shuster Awards, Writer (Winner)
2008 Governor General’s Literary Awards–Children’s Text (English) (Finalist)
2008 Ignatz Award–Outstanding Graphic Novel (Winner)

Fiction (Graphic novel)

SuperMutant Magic Academy

Montreal: Drawn & Quarterly, 2015.
PN6733 .T36 S87 2015

Publisher’s Synopsis

Enter the not-so-hallowed halls of SuperMutant Magic Academy and let the teenage apathy wash over you. Wendy, Marsha, Cheddar, Frances, and the other students will be your guides through the D&D games, performance art, unrequited crushes, and spell-class tests that are the staples of life at a school for paranormal teenagers. …

Fiction (Juvenile, Picture book)

They Say Blue

Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2018.

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Caldecott and Printz Honor-winning illustrator Jillian Tamaki brings us a poetic exploration of colour and nature from a young child’s point of view. They Say Blue follows a young girl as she contemplates colours in the known and the unknown, in the immediate world and the world beyond what she can see. The sea looks blue, yet water cupped in her hands is as clear as glass. Is a blue whale blue? She doesn’t know — she hasn’t seen one.

Stunningly beautiful illustrations flow from one spread to the next, as time passes and the imagination takes hold. The world is full of colour, and mystery too, in this first picture book from a highly acclaimed artist.

Awards and Honours

2018 Governor General’s Literary Award, Young People’s Literature, Illustrated Books (Winner)
2019 TD Canadian Children’s Literary Award (Finalist)
2019 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award (Finalist)

Fiction (Graphic novel)

This One Summer

Pictures by Jillian Tamaki.
Text by Mariko Tamaki.
Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2014.
PN6733 .T34 T45 2014

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

Rose and Windy are summer friends whose families have visited Awago Beach for as long as they can remember. But this year is different, and they soon find themselves tangled in teen love and family crisis. From the creators of Skim comes an investigation into the mysterious world of adults.

Awards and Honours

2014 Governor General’s Literary Award–Children’s Literature, Illustration (Winner)
2015 Caldecott Honor Book (ALSC, Association for Library Service to Children, Division of the American Library Association)
2015 Michael L. Printz Award (Honor Book)(YALSA, Young Adult Library Services Association, Division of the American Library Association)


Jillian Tamaki personal website

Interview with Anne Ishii in The Margins (Feb. 12, 2015), Asian American Writers’ Workshop

Interview with Anne Ishii in The Margins (Oct. 9, 2014), Asian American Writers’ Workshop

Publisher Drawn & Quarterly

Publisher Conundrum Press

Publisher Groundwood Books