Night Fisher

R. Kikuo Johnson, Author
R. Kikuo Johnson, Author . Fantagraphics Books $12.95 (144p) ISBN 978-1-56097-719-3
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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.)

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