Young Nikkei Cartoonists from Hawai’i Publish Collection

Two of Hawai’i’s best-known cartoonists earlier this month released a new book featuring a collection of their comic strips. Keith has been a fan of their work since he was a student at UH-Manoa.

Deb Aoki’s “Slice O’ Life” and Jon J. Murakami’s “University of Diverse City: The UH Years 1987-1993” is a 164-page double-sided collection that includes Jon’s “Magic Beer Can” saga and “Dole Street Fighter,” plus Deb’s “You’ll Mosh to Anything” and “Mainland Weather Martyrs” comic strips, and their version of the UH campus map, circa 1989.

Before Deb started drawing her weekly Honolulu Advertiser comic strip, Bento Box and before Jon drew Calabash for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and Generation Gap for the Hawaii Herald, they both were cartoonists for Ka Leo O Hawai’i, the University of Hawai’i student newspaper.

Both cartoonists cite their days as Ka Leo cartoonists as being major influences in their professional cartooning careers. After years of having their old fans ask them whatever happened to “Slice O’ Life” and “University of Diverse City,” the pair joined forces (and cleaned out their filing cabinets) to create this blast from UH’s past circa late ’80s – early 90s.

Deb will be at the San Diego Comic Con International from July 25 – 29, 2007 at the San Diego Convention Center, at booth H11. She’ll be promoting “Bento Box” and the “Slice O’ Life / University of Diverse City” books, plus previewing a new “Bento Box” collection that will be available in local and mainland bookstores in October 2007.

Deb will also be promoting “Bento Box” at the the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies annual conference in Portland, Oregon, from June 14 – 16, 2007.

Deb Aoki’s Bento Box is available at select bookstores, including Borders and Barnes & Noble in Honolulu and Nikkei Traditions in San Jose. It is also available online at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, ABEbooks.com, Heritage Source, and Lulu.com. An online preview of the book can be viewed at Lulu.com.

A third-generation Japanese-Okinawan-American gal, Deb was born, raised, educated in and eventually escaped from Hawai’i. Now based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Deb continues to draw her weekly comic strip, “Bento Box” for both Hawai’i and mainland audiences.

“Bento Box” has been a popular weekly feature in the Honolulu Advertiser since 1996, and shares the lighter side of living in the Islands and the ups and downs of being an Asian American single gal looking for love, good food and a not-so-brain-numbing office job on “the mainland.” See the latest comic strips on the Advertiser website or visit www.debaoki.com.

Hawai’i-based cartoonist Jon J. Murakami captures “local-kine” humor with his fun, manga-influenced comics and illustrations. Jon’s comic strips are featured in The Hawaii Herald, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and online at Time Warner Cable’s Hawai’i homepage, Around Hawaii.

Jon illustrates the “Local Kine” greeting cards produced by Maile Way, a company started by Paul and Gayle (Machida) Isono. Paul was UH-Manoa student body president the year after Keith.

Jon’s illustration work can be found in several best-selling children’s books, including “Going to the Zoo in Hawai’i,” which was recently nominated by the Hawaii Book Publishers Association for a Ka Palapala Po’okela Award.

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