Top 5: Marisa Acocella, Cartoonist and Author


The background: You probably recognize Marisa’s name from her clever, female-empowering New Yorker cartoons, or maybe from her other work that has appeared in The New York Times, Glamour, and O, (among other publications). The prolific cartoonist and writer is the author of the New York Times bestselling graphic novels Ann Tenna, Just Who the Hell Is She Anyway?. and Cancer Vixen, which was named one of Time’s top ten graphic memoirs. A breast cancer survivor, Marisa is the founder and chair of the Marisa Acocella Empowerment Program at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Comprehensive Cancer Center, which, (thanks to grants from Bloomingdale’s) funds the free program that includes holistic therapies and journaling classes and more for women with breast cancer and breast cancer survivors. Her new graphic novel The Big She-Bang , which reimagines history from the female point of view and not as written by a “bunch of men about a bunch of men” drops on November 17th, so preorder now!

Hometown: Jersey City

Self-described style: Motorcycle-jacket-obsessed/Artgirl/Clean/Simple/Urban/Bohemian

Style icons: Diana Rigg as Emma Peel when she wore that fab Leather jumpsuit, Casual Jackie in Capri, Italy. Tiffany Jones, the super chic comic strip about a single girl photographer in ’70s swinging London. My mom with her big blond streaks in her long black Cher-hair in her ’60s Pucci dresses and her ’70s DVF Wrap dresses. The most iconic power suit of all– “Le Smoking”, the scandalous tuxedo first designed by Yves Saint Laurent in 1966, and worn by Catherine Denueve, Bianca Jagger and in those iconic photographs by Helmut Newton. Betty Gatroux and Loulou de la Falaise in Yves Saint Laurent’s Safari Collection—all very Artemis the huntress goddess to me. Patti Smith in her Horses and Radio Ethiopia phase. Iman. Lupita. Jody Comer in The White Princess. Jody Comer in Killing Eve. Basically Jody Comer.

Things I can’t live without: Moleskine red unlined 5×8 notebooks: I write in them every day. They bring out the OCD in me and I have 25 unopened in reserve in my cabinet. Muji .05 pens: I prefer them because they don’t bleed. (as much.) Christophe Robin Regenerating Hair Mask with Prickly Pear Seed Oil: I once had global hair breakage from going platinum, and I had to cut my hair short. It’s long now and I want to keep it that way. I put this mask on before I swim and then after I wash my hair. Quercetin, Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc: My dad has a Ph.D in nutrition, and this is the formula he gave me to keep my immune system strong and possibly help block Covid. I’ve been on this protocol since March and it’s been working for me. And if I get a sniffle I’ll just increase my dose of Vitamin C. Sunlight: And speaking of Vitamin D, the sun is the best form of it there is.

  1. Saint Jane Lipstick in Divine. For the longest time I went without wearing lipstick, (who didn’t in this pandemic?) and I missed it. Lipstick always made me feel powerful. I felt like I needed a little something emotionally. So after the lockdown I walked over to Credo and I found out about this line. Each lipstick has a micro dose (60 mg) of CBD. According to their website, “Saint Jane is the Saint of Healing”. Well, I can’t say that the cbd calmed me down exactly, but the shade I chose did work for me on a spiritual level–I wrote a graphic novel about saints, shevolutionaries and the divine feminine, and it just so happens that my favorite shade is this rosey-mauve called DIVINE.

  1. Stuart Weitzman Norah Chelsea Boots. True story: My mother, Violetta, was the shoe designer for Delman in the late ’50s and early ’60s. And one day she received a call from “Jackie” who wanted a shoe designed for her for a special occasion. Jackie was a size 11, and in those days, a fashionable shoe in that large size was impossible to find. The occasion? JFK’s inauguration. My mother designed Jackie’s shoes. In fact, when Jackie called, she was pregnant with John-John and my mother was pregnant with me. So my love of shoes isn’t just in the blood, it’s in the placenta. And lately what I love is a lug heel. I love a platform. I love a Chelsea boot and anything from Stuart Weitzman is a win-win-win. Besides it comes in Black patent. Which I also love.

3. Crest 3D Whitestrips Supreme Flexfit Whitening Kit. I drink black coffee, and a lot of it. So, my teeth aren’t exactly ultra bright. And now that I’m on a book tour during a pandemic, mostly doing live events on Insta and Facebook, my face is seen up close. I needed to do something fast. These are recommended by my dentist, and anyway, after this Covid year WHO CAN SPLURGE and GET THEIR TEETH LASER-BLEACHED?

4. Rag & Bone The Vee Tee. It’s not too thin that its totally transparent (that’s it in the photo, above!) It’s not too short that it almost looks like a baby tee. It’s not too long and it looks great in a half tuck with a cool black leather belt that’s got a butch buckle.


5. The Book of Runes: A Compass For Navigating in Turbulent Times. I usually read my Tarot cards when I want to discern what’s happening around me, but this year of  ADD/OCD./PTSD, what I don’t have is an attention span for a Celtic cross 10 card reading. So instead, I’ve been consulting an ancient oracle that dates back to 200 AD–the Viking runes (Ancient alphabets etched on stones). The vikings consulted the runes when sailing under cloudy skies — they  were their diviner for “true north”. I like them because I can draw a single rune, and the answers they give are profound and pretty accurate. All you have to do is reach into the velvet bag (that comes with the book), then pull a rune. Well, I actually before I do that, I’ll say a prayer to Mary, and the saints for the guidance, protection and wisdom of the Divine Feminine, and go through my “true north”. And these days, who doesn’t want to look up?



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  1. That story about Jackie O is divine!! I’m happy to find out she was a size 11, as I am a 9.5 and always feel self-conscious about my scuba fins.

  2. LOVE LOVE LOVE. I’m currently undergoing chemo for breast cancer and re-read “Cancer Vixen” just after my diagnosis, having read it when it first came out. It was the best thing for me – down to earth, funny, and gave me a real idea of what to expect. Now I adore her style, too, and hope my boobs look as great as hers when my cancer is gone!!! 🙂

    1. I used Christophe Robin Regenerating Hair Mask with Prickly Pear, you only need the size of a nickel. Sometimes I just condition my hair because it’s so fine, and I swim so that helps.

  3. I have a friend who moved to Belgium about three years ago and we were just talking about Jackie O. I couldn’t wait to share with her Marisa’s intel on her shoe size. As someone who is a large size 10, I can attest to the frustrations of trying to find great shoes even today. Can’t imagine how hard it was back then. I mean, who has ever seen great vintage shoes larger than a 7.5 narrow??

  4. I’ve always loved your featured people – and I particularly love Marisa. Her amazing cartoons/drawings “Just who the hell is SHE anyway?” and her “Cancer Vixen” reshaped the dialogue of what it means to be female. Her drawings are witty inventive and show you can be strong, courageous and drop dead glamorous.
    Thank you for this feature – I loved the Jackie story as well !

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