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Guest kingfish out of water

Ben Katchor and the living history of the imaginary city

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Anybody here hip to the cartoonist Ben Katchor? He's a contemporary of Bill Griffith (Zippy), Art Spiegelman (Maus) and latter day R. Crumb. He has several collections published, including "Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer," "The Beauty Supply District," and "Jew of New York". His characters tend to inhabit a bustling imaginary urban environment, thick with flashing neon signs, roundabouts to nowhere, parks dedicated to the obscurest possible person or event, and walk-up upon storefront of bizarre little businesses catering to traveling salesmen, highly-specialized city workers and strangely motivated pedestrians. Not only is Katchor's cityscape devoid of recognizable trademarks or chain stores, the entire economy seems to be predicated upon itinerant coffee shops, sun burn parlors, prestige address merchants, compilers of the journal of the ailmentary canal, makers of synthetic cud mix, and other, somehow odder, specialty businesses. 

 

Check out the endpapers to "The Beauty Suppy District." This'll give you an idea of what he's about:

 

BeautySuppyDistrict.jpg

 

It's hard to read, but if someone here can host a larger version, PM me. Katchor's genius is in the devlishly strange details.

 

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I think I first saw Katchors stuff in RAW magazine..this was way back in the 1980s, when I was still living in Sacramento.  I ended up buying his first compliation "Cheap Novelties".  He's become more famous since then. Another cartoonist from that era I like is Eric Drooker...his work is in woodcuts.  I think Drooker used to appear in that World War Three comix mag.

 

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...and walk-up upon storefront of bizarre little businesses catering to traveling salesmen, highly-specialized city workers and strangely motivated pedestrians. Not only is Katchor's cityscape devoid of recognizable trademarks or chain stores, the entire economy seems to be predicated upon itinerant coffee shops, sun burn parlors, prestige address merchants, compilers of the journal of the ailementary canal, makers of synthetic cud mix, and other, somehow odder, specialty businesses. 

 

Leaf through the criss-cross section of a city directory from the 1940s into the 50s , for the blocks on the edges of a downtown, and you will see Julius Knipls' world. 

 

"real estate photographer"...the content providers at the pix subforum here. 

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