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Night Fisher

Night Fisher

by R. Kikuo Johnson

An intimate, compelling drama of young men on the cusp of adulthood. Johnson explores his characters' relationships with natural ease; his unsentimental portrait of late adolescence is a mature depiction of immature lives.
R. Kikuo Johnson has created an intimate and compelling graphic novel-length drama of young men on the cusp of adulthood. First-rate prep


An intimate, compelling drama of young men on the cusp of adulthood. Johnson explores his characters' relationships with natural ease; his unsentimental portrait of late adolescence is a mature depiction of immature lives.
R. Kikuo Johnson has created an intimate and compelling graphic novel-length drama of young men on the cusp of adulthood. First-rate prep school, S.U.V., and a dream house in the heights: This was the island paradise handed to Loren Foster when he moved to Hawaii with his father six years ago. Now, with the end of high school just around the corner, his best friend, Shane, has grown distant. The rumors say it's hard drugs, and Loren suspects that Shane has left him behind for a new group of friends. What sets Johnson's drama apart is the naturalistic ease with which he explores the relationships of his characters. It is at once an unsentimental portrait of that most awkward period between adolescence and young adulthood and that rarest of things: a mature depiction of immature lives. Visually, Johnson captures the languid tropical climate and strip mall tackiness of Hawaii in a rich chiaroscuro style reminiscent of Milton Caniff combined with the sensual ink work of Paul Pope or Jessica Abel.
2006 Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award Winner; 2006 Harvey Award Winner, Best New Talent.

Editorial Reviews

“Night Fisher is bound to make waves.”
“Starred Review. Johnson draws with a confident bravado that is particularly impressive in a young cartoonist, and his narrative skills are equally assured. His depiction of Hawaii, while creating a visceral sense of place, avoids the standard "tropical paradise" cliches. Much of the story unfolds at night, allowing Johnson to show off his skill at using solid black areas to shape powerful compositions. Seldom has an artist's initial graphic novel been this accomplished and rewarding.”
Robert Stanley Martin - Pol Culture
“Johnson is a first-rate cartoonist in so many ways.... He's definitely a cartoonist to watch, and I look forward to reading his next book.”
Book Collector
“The gritty coming-of-age story also delivers strong plot and dialog like a fistful of poi.”
“The honest and relatable plot keeps the readers attention without needing to fall back on cliche storytelling techniques, all the while building you to anxiously await the next installment. Hopefully Johnson will do another graphic novel with this set of characters soon.”
A. Alba - Hawaii Book Blog
“Drawn with sweeping black brush strokes, [Night Fisher] is done completely in absence of color. This, however, helps to magnify the tone of the story and brings a subtle heaviness to the work. The artwork itself is excellent.... Johnson does a great job conveying character’s moods and emotions through angles, posture, and facial expressions. ...[I]f you enjoy these realistic and unapologetic looks at adolescence I recommend giving Night Fisher a read.”
Steve Ponzo - Multiversity Comics
“A compelling yet unsentimental coming of age story. It’s a portrait of awkward adolescence on the cusp of adulthood illustrated with the darker, more realistic tones of teenage life. Night Fisher is filled with bold artwork, psychological intricacies, and mature depictions of immature actions. ... R. Kikuo Johnson has proven himself as a masterful storyteller in his first graphic novel.”
Andrew Wheeler - The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler
“A closely observed story—specific in its details but broadly recognizable from the lives of a million young men—in an expressive, inky style... an excellent naturalistic story of these young men in this closely examined place.”
Publishers Weekly
Johnson's first graphic novel has a force and elliptical grace that suggests he's been drawing comics and writing fiction for much longer than he really has. It's set on Maui, whose history and economics inform the story's progress, and Johnson draws its landscapes and buildings-as well as the flora that symbolize the island's past-with a sure grasp of what it feels like to be there. The story has more to do with psychological intricacies than with plot: Loren Foster, a private school student and son of a dentist, is in his final year of high school, and his best friend Shane Hokama is drifting away from him and into a seamy crowd. Trying to become a man and ditch his too-innocent image without being destroyed by the transformation, Loren follows Shane into Maui's smalltime underworld, smoking crystal meth and getting dangerously mixed up in petty crime. The bold, high-contrast artwork includes some smart experimental touches: we see most of the story from Loren's point of view: whatever's in the panel (including him) is what he's thinking about. Johnson's storytelling is clear and masterful, and his characters' body language says as much about them as their words. An exciting debut from a talent to watch. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The lulling beauty of Hawaii proves a troubling soporific for a quiet and once-promising teenager. Johnson's debut is not only remarkably assured but astonishingly fresh, one that refuses to trade in the usual hoary high-school cliches. Loren Foster moved from Boston to Maui six years ago with his dentist dad so that he could set up his own practice. Now they live alone in a massive house that they probably can't afford, the too-big yard proving a jungle-like adversary that must be battled constantly (this is a naturalistic piece of work in which the island itself is as much a character as any of the humans). Loren goes to high school, though even years after arriving, he doesn't seem to have quite adjusted. His friends are few and the best one he has, an inveterate social chameleon named Shane, often completely ignores him; the one thing they used to share, going night fishing, they're doing less and less, though it figures prominently in Loren's dreams. Things change, though, when Shane introduces Loren to a band of druggies who indulge in petty crimes to get the cash for their fixes. At this stage, the straight-laced Loren starts slipping: falling asleep in class, blowing off his father, wandering through the warm tropical days in a haze. What really stands out about Johnson's work is not his tale of Loren's growing antisocial tendencies, but the manner in which it is transformed into something greater. The artwork is truly something to behold, its dramatic and transformative lines recreating the island's lush modernity with a sensual power. Panels are shuffled together with a cinematic flair that highlights the florid emotions of adolescence far better than any battery of melodramacould. A dar, grand, sweeping dream of a book.

Product Details

Fantagraphics Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.10(w) x 10.00(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
16 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

R. Kikuo Johnson was born in 1981 on the island of Maui, Hawaii. After graduation from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2003, where he studied comics under the tutelage of David Mazzucchelli, he moved to Brooklyn, NY, where he currently draws comics and plays the ukelele. His first graphic novel, Night Fisher, was published to great acclaim in late 2005, and beginning with the third issue, he contributes to the anthology MOME.

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