Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: The Beauty Supply District

Ben Katchor, Author
Ben Katchor, Author Pantheon Books $22 (112p) ISBN 978-0-375-40105-3
Reviewed on: 05/29/2000
Release date: 06/01/2000
Show other formats
FORMATS
Katchor (The Jew of New York) creates whimsically poetic comic strips out of the observational found-verse he extracts from the petty commercial economy at the grungy low end of classic city life. Katchor transforms hustling salesmen, obscure municipal agencies, nonspecific ethnics and cheapo real estate brokers into wonderfully comic literary surrogates for the real world cast of smalltime urban capitalism. He's equally talented at recreating the brooding, sign-clotted, mix-matched architectural ambience of a charmingly dingy and mammoth city in his quirky but precisely rendered b&w pen-and-wash drawings. The guide to Katchor's unnamed city (it could only be New York) is Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, also the name of the comic strip that Katchor has produced since 1988. This book collects strips published in weekly newspapers from 1994 to 1997, plus one original story. Knipl travels through a virtual Gotham that is both comically strange and completely familiar, visiting the oldest continually vacant storefront in America (""a rare combination of poor location and high rent""). He also stops by the Misspent Youth Center, frequented by a long line of remorseful individuals ""in hope of reclaiming some part of their misspent youth."" The title tale is an original, wittily metaphorical story lamenting the demise of Sensum's Symmetry Shop, in the heart of the city's beauty supply district. One of many cash-and-carry sweatshops in the district aligned with varying aesthetic theories, Sensum's offers ""cumulative impressions"" and quick turnarounds for commercial package design or anonymous advice to painters and composers. But the beauty supply district is soon overrun by trendy ""Meaning"" and ""Context"" vendors, and the shop goes out of business. This is a hands-down brilliant comics collection by one of America's most entertaining and intellectually satisfying cartoonists, a recent recipient of a MacArthur grant. (July)
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!
MORE BOOKS YOU'D LIKE
X