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Mariko Tamaki, Not So Much

by BK Munn
The winners of the 2014 Governor General’s Awards Literary Awards were announced earlier today and cartoonist Jillian Tamaki has won in the Children’s Literature -Illustration category, for her contribution to the graphic novel This One Summer (Groundwood Books), taking home $25,000 in prize money. Tamaki co-created the book with her cousin, the writer Mariko Tamaki, who herself was nominated but did not win in the Children’s Literature -Text category for the same book.
Mariko Tamaki was nominated in 2008 for Skim, the previous book the cousins had worked on together. At the time, the nomination spawned a controversy since the artist was excluded from the nomination, even though both creators insisted it was a totally equal collaboration. Prominent cartoonists from both the U.S. and Canada intervened in the form of an open letter, to which the GG administrators replied, in short, “we’ll take it under consideration going forward.” It looks like the nomination in dual categories this year was an attempt to deal with the apparently thorny problem, but with little success, judging by the response from the winning cousin. Shortly after the announcement was made today, Tamaki commented on Twitter, “You can’t separate words from pictures in comics. So I’m sharing this with @marikotamaki, who is an amazing collaborator and friend.” 51pPqSnhtBL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
To date, the GGs have not nominated a graphic novel in any non-Childrens Literature category.
In a slightly different situation, cartoonist and writer Marianne Dubuc won today in the French-language illustration category for Le lion et l’oiseau (Les Éditions de la Pastèque), a picture book she wrote herself, suggesting that the GGs have less of a problem with single-creator kid lit and YA books.
Of the Calgary-raised, Brooklyn-based Jillian Tamaki’s work, the GG jury made the following statement:
“The tender and touching story of This One Summer comes to life with Jillian Tamaki’s cinematic and evocative illustrations. Fondness for detail, insightful character development and realistic body language convey complex emotions from the first through to the last page. A tour de force of powerful visual storytelling.”
Full List of Winners