As most writers and creators have throughout time, usually leave a part of themselves within their stories. Anyone who has read Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, can see through andromorphic personifications, how he subtly examines his love of fiction. Anyone who has read Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles, can see how he blended his love of outsiders, the occult and dystopia, into an awesome tale of saving the world. Then there is Kieron Gillen and Jamie McElvie’s brilliant yet highly underrated Phonogram, which combines occult elements with slice of life.
There is also my personal favorite, Hip Hop Family Tree, where Ed Piskor’s love for the genre and the culture seeps through every page and illustration. Then there are the books Gene Luen Yang, such as American Born Chinese, which tells of growing up as both American and Chinese. One of his most recent books, Boxers, and Saints, is not as personal as it speaks about the Boxer Rebellion, but many of his musings find their way into the book regardless. The one book that I was a Kickstarter backer to, Shmuck, by the brilliant and gone too soon, Seth Kushner, showed just how much of a light he was in this world, through his sometimes-subversive humor and humanity.
As all these books spoke to me, so does the creative illuminations that MariNaomi brings with her seminal work, Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories, which provides many of her meditations on life, through real world interactions. There are more than a few standouts in this collection of individual stories, such as “Dragon’s Breath”, where she speaks of her grandfather, who she saw in one light, but never knew the complete truth about him, until years later after his passing. Then there is “The Quits”, where speaks of the attraction to smoking that many of us whose parents smoked, remembered thinking it was cool, as she eventually falls victim to the same addiction, until someone close, meets a fatal consequence because of it. The last standout that I will mention which really grabbed my attention, was “The Song in My head”, which starts as a funny meeting of kindred spirits but ends in a beautiful yet melancholic dedication to a one close friend.
Altogether, a collection of short stories which are simple, irreverent, complicated, and soulful all at the same time. The stories by MariNaomi, are a myriad of memories from her life, which are just short enough to digest but long enough to affect you. The illustrations are always easy on the eyes, as she blends a simplistic cartoon style with a complex palette. Overall, an excellent collection, which will have the reader yearning for more.
Story: MariNaomi Art: MariNaomi
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy