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Ben+Katchor%3A+Conversations

Ben Katchor: Conversations

Edited by Ian Gordon

192 pages (approx.), 6 x 9 inches, 30 b&w illustrations (approx.), introduction, chronology, index

9781496815811 Printed casebinding $50.00S

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"Like the popcorn industry, the economics of comicstrip and picturestory writing require that one produce a lot of material."

Author Michael Chabon described Ben Katchor (b. 1951) as "the creator of the last great American comic strip." Katchor's comic strip Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, which began in 1988, brought him to the attention of the readers of alternative weekly newspapers along with a coterie of artists who have gone on to public acclaim. In the mid-1990s, NPR ran audio versions of several Julius Knipl stories, narrated by Katchor and starring Jerry Stiller in the title role.

An early contributor to RAW, Katchor has contributed to Forward, New Yorker, Slate, and weekly newspapers. He edited and published two issues of Picture Story, which featured his own work, with articles and stories by Peter Blegvad, Jerry Moriarty, and Mark Beyer. In addition to being a dramatist, Katchor has been the subject of profiles in the New Yorker, a recipient of a MacArthur "Genius Grant" and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a fellow at both the American Academy in Berlin and the New York Public Library.

Katchor's work is often described as zany or bizarre, and author Douglas Wolk has characterized his work as "one or two notches too far" beyond an absurdist reality. And yet the work resonates with its audience because, as was the case with Knipl's journey through the wilderness of a decaying city, absurdity was only what was usefully available; absurdity was the reality. Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: Stories presaged the themes of Katchor's work: a concern with the past, an interest in the intersection of Jewish identity and a secular commercial culture, and the limits and possibilities of urban life.

Ian Gordon, Singapore, is a cultural historian at the National University of Singapore, where he is the convenor of American studies. He is author of several books, most recently Superman: The Persistence of an American Icon, and coeditor of Film and Comic Books and The Comics of Charles Schulz: The Good Grief of Modern Life, published by University Press of Mississippi.

192 pages (approx.), 6 x 9 inches, 30 b&w illustrations (approx.), introduction, chronology, index