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Ben Katchor
Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer
The Beauty Supply District.
Ben Katchor
  Normal Girld  
Ben Katchor    
Interview with Ben Katchor

Excerpt from Normal Girl
 

Ben Katchor, creator of Julius Kniple, Real Estate Photographer, has recently been awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant. In a resultant interview in The New York Times, he compared this to his having won an Obie for a piece [The Carbon Copy Building, A Comic Book Opera in One Act] on which he worked hard for many months—that he could understand but the MacArthur? That was out of the blue. The fact is that Katchor has been transmuting urban grit into comic strip gold for almost twenty years.

His strips, line drawn and gray washed, seem to bring to life the urban landscape ghosted by still-visible advertisements on the bricks of downtown buildings but Katchor's humor is up to the minute in it's remarks on contemporary culture. Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: The Beauty Supply District, a new twenty-four page story, is bound with older strips to form a collection that serves as a portrait of that which lies just beneath the surface of harried urban vision. It is a running commentary on the dialectic of art and commerce and whether all art is commercial. It is also an intellectually giddy version of suddenly seeing the beauty of an architectural detail on a building you've walked past daily for a dozen years. The signage in The Beauty Supply District isn't for ladies glove makers and herbal tonic remedies but for 'Samuel Gross Understatements, Made to Order," a "Senseless Elaboration Parlor," and "Vital Human Interest Distributors" promising the "Latest Emotional Elements" and "New Shipments Daily." It's funny and keen and expressed with the wisdom of a pen that has seen neighborhoods vanish faster than the next big thing.

In this issue of Bold Type, read an interview, listen to Ben Katchor read from his strips, and write to us about your favorite public clocks in NYC.



-- Catherine McWeeney

 
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