Mark Crilley was raised in Detroit, Michigan, where he began drawing “almost as soon as I could hold a pencil in my hand.” While at Kalamazoo College, Crilley was befriended by children’s book writer/illustrator (and 2001 Caldecott award winner) David Small. Crilley recalls that this friendship was pivotal in shaping his work.
Upon graduating from college, Crilley embarked on a series of jobs teaching English in the Far East. While living in Japan, in the fall of 1992, he invented Akiko and fashioned her first adventure, a 33-page comic book story entitled “Akiko on the Planet Smoo” which would go on to be published by Sirius Entertainment of Dover, New Jersey.
In 1998, Crilley was chosen by “Entertainment Weekly” magazine for a spot on the “It List”, their annual issue dedicated to the “100 most creative people in entertainment,” sharing the honor with Chris Ware as one of two comic book creators to be featured that year. Since that time Crilley as written and Illustrated a series of novelized adaptations of “Akiko” for young readers for Random House Children’s Books. The first in the series, “Akiko on the Planet Smoo”, was published in March of 2000; the tenth, “Akiko and the Missing Misp”, hit stores in November of 2008. Other publications include: “Billy Clikk: Creatch Battler.” The second book in the series, “Billy Clikk: Rogmasher Rampage,” hit stores in the fall of 2005. His novels have been featured in USA Today, the New York Daily News, and Disney Adventures Magazine, as well as on CNN Headline News.
Crilley’s latest creation, the four-volume manga series “Miki Falls,” was published by HarperCollins over a period of just eight months from 2007 to early 2008. Kirkus reviews called it “stellar” and the American Library Association put it on their official list of recommended graphic novels. It has since been optioned for film development by Paramount Pictures and Brad Pitt’s Plan B production company.