MariNaomi, the mixed-race Japanese American writer and illustrator of Kiss & Tell: A Romantic Resume, Ages 0 to 22, talked with Hyphen about her no-holds-barred approach to writing and drawing a funny and fraught sexual past. Her forthcoming graphic novel from 2D Cloud, Turning Japanese, traces her evolving understanding of her Japanese heritage, seeking to learn the language for the first time through employment at a Japanese hostess bar.
Growing up in a predominantly white town [in Marin Country, CA], I was very aware of how different I looked and was paranoid of being fetishized because of my race. There was a period of time, as a young adult working in the customer service industry, when I would be approached every single day by at least one middle-aged white guy inquiring as to my ethnicity. For years. They were mostly polite, but I nonetheless got creeped out. It was so intrusive! I guess you can sense my resulting complex [in Kiss & Tell] where I dump someone each time I realize he has a thing for Asian women. I had a steadfast rule until I was in my 20s of not dating anyone who previously dated an Asian.