Daily Graphic Novel Recommendation 219

Night Fisher

by R. Kikuo Johnson
Genre notes: day-in-life, crime, highschool, Hawaii, meth
144 pages
ISBN: 1560977191 (Amazon)

Johnson came on the scene with a roar of critical approval back in 2005 with his story of prep schools, Hawaii, and meth. That he didn't stay king of the hill always saddened me, but if he's doing things he loves, that's great.

(Also, there's no money in comics if you're not shilling tights or snappy-pattered sci-fi shenanigans or autobio about when you were a 12yo girl. Nothing wrong with those things but markets being what they are, it's virtually impossible to make a living in comics that don't sit squarely in one of a handful of genres.)

Annnnyway. Night Fisher looks a lot like Stray Bullets. Johnson's art and tonal sense is wonderful. The way he focuses his camera is artful. And like Lapham, he's not just doing straight crime but examining a life led. In Johnson's case, he's much deeper into the territory of the literary fiction novella than his in-genre contemporaries, and he uses the conceits of the form to portray motifs that give background music to the proceedings. Panels depict knot-tying instructions, recreations of placards illustrating local flora, maps of the islands' evolution, flights of fancy. It's all very interesting, even if not plot-forwarding. Especially when not plot forwarding.

And there are moments that move and break against your heart. Lovely, lovely work. I loved his greta-for-kids fable The Shark King, but I'll be honest that I want more than anything to see another effort from Johnson that equals or surpasses what he accomplished with Night Fisher.

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