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Maui-born illustrator's new novella depicts a local family working through grief and relationships

R. Kikuo Johnson

The work of Maui-born cartoonist and illustrator R. Kikuo Johnson appears regularly in books, ads, periodicals, animation and on front covers of The New Yorker. He was awarded a gold medal in the 2018 Editorial Category by the Society of Illustrators.

r kikuko johnson the new yorker cover
Courtesy The New Yorker
The April 5, 2021 edition of The New Yorker, front cover illustration by R. Kikuo Johnson.

Although COVID has kept this snowbird away from the islands, he usually sees his Maui ʻohana once a year. He was able to visit virtually last weekend as a featured guest at the Hawaiʻi Book and Music Festival.

The Conversation caught up with the Brooklyn-based artist to talk about his process and his new graphic novella "No One Else" — coming out Nov. 9. It follows three Maui family members as they navigate life, grief, and relationships.

R. Kikuo Johnson will be in Honolulu for a book signing at Bas Bookshop on Dec. 10. This interview aired on The Conversation on Nov. 4, 2021.

Lillian Tsang is the senior producer of The Conversation. She has been part of the talk show team since it first aired in 2011. Contact her at
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