The first book dedicated to exploring the comics of Ben Katchor
The recipient of a 2000 MacArthur fellowship, Ben Katchor (b. 1951) is a beloved comics artist with a career spanning four decades. Published in indie weeklies across the United States, his comics are known for evoking the sensorium of the modern metropolis. As part of the Biographix series edited by Frederick Luis Aldama, Ben Katchor offers scholars and fans a thorough overview of the artist’s career from 1988 to 2020.
In some of his early strips published in the 1980s in the New York Press and Forward, Katchor introduced one of his quintessential characters, Julius Knipl, a real estate photographer. By crafting Knipl as an urban flâneur prone to wandering, Katchor was able to variously demonstrate his absurd humor and linguistic whimsy alongside narratives packed with social critique. Three volumes collecting the Julius Knipl strips, Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer; Cheap Novelties: The Pleasures of Urban Decay; and The Beauty Supply District, helped cement Katchor as a distinguished comics artist and social commentator. Later works, such as The Cardboard Valise, Hand-Drying in America, and The Dairy Restaurant, have diversified his comics legacy.
Rooted in close analyses of the artist’s numerous series and collections, each chapter in Ben Katchor is dedicated to a distinct aspect of the urban experience. Individual pages from Katchor’s work depict not only the visual, but also the auditory, tactile, and olfactory dimensions of life in the city.