Let’s just call this the year of Keith Knight. The San Francisco--based cartoonist draws two weekly syndicated comics strips, a daily syndicated strip that appears in the Washington Post and elsewhere; and occasional cartoons for Mad magazine and ESPN magazine--all of this when he’s not performing with his occasional band, The Marginal Prophets. Now, on top of this impressive output, Dark Horse is publishing TheComplete K Chronicles: A Comprehensive Collection of Keith Knight’s Award Winning Strip, a gigantic 500-page omnibus of some of Knight’s funniest and most eccentrically insightful cartoons of the past 15 years.

The K Chronicles are generally stories taken from Knight’s life and retold in his signature antic visual cartoon style for maximum comedic effect. The book offers hundreds of cartoons, among them several on guns (“Do you see this bulge in my pants,” says a father to his son); in another he discovers a Starbucks has been built into his apartment (“I heard that they were putting them in weird places”); and then there’s “the evil that roommates do... what’s that awful smell?”

“I’ve known Keith’s work since I was in college,” said Dark Horse’s Shawna Gore, the editor of the book. “I’ve always loved his work. His cartooning is pointed. He combines humor and social commentary and does it without being didactic. He’s hilarious.” Gore said she got a call from another of her Dark Horse authors, Too Much Coffee Man creator Shannon Wheeler, who told her that he was talking to Knight at some comic convention and that Knight was looking for a new publisher. From there, she said, she exchanged e-mails with Knight. “I said ‘yes’ to the book right away and it was really easy to get it approved.”

Gore said the first printing will be 5000 copies and that Knight, who makes appearances around the country, would organize a lot of the promotional events. “He’s his own PR machine,” she said. But Dark Horse will look beyond the comic shop market for sales. “We expect it to do well at online retailers,” said Gore, who also expects schools and libraries to be interested. “We’re going to be patient.”

The book includes cartoons from across the history of K Chronicles, which was first published in 1993 in the Bay Guardian before it began running regularly in the San Francisco Weekly. The book is an oversized volume that collects the previous four out-of-print collections. The foreword is by Eisner Award--winning cartoonist Kyle Baker and, at 500 pages, the book looks like a major metropolitan phone book. “Yes, it’s big,” Gore acknowledged, “but it really shows off the details of Keith’s art. Aand the cover image, which came out of a funny conversation with Keith on the phone, is hilarious.” On many pages, Knight also provides short comments about the development of many of the cartoons

In a phone interview, Knight outlined the various comic strips he works on each week. There’s K Chronicles, a weekly, strip based on his life that runs on Slate.com and in alternative print weeklies; (Th)ink, a single-panel editorial cartoon that looks at politics and current events and runs in black newspapers and alternative weeklies; and The Knight Life, a daily comics strip syndicated in the Washington Post, the Boston Herald and elsewhere. Knight explained that he started doing a version of K Chronicles in college, “but it was kind of pedestrian. It wasn’t until I got to San Francisco and discovered indie and underground comix, like Matt Groening’s Life in Hell, that I knew where to go with the strip.”

K Chronicles is a like a comical anthropology of contemporary life in which Knight lampoons everything from politics to his own marriage (the new book is dedicated to his soon-to-be-born son, Jasper Owen Knight). “Where do my ideas come from?” Knight asks. “Whatever’s going on around me. I think of the comics strip as being a blog before there were blogs.” At the moment, he’s working on a new strip about environmental scientists who can tell what kind of drugs are being used in urban areas by testing the sewage. “L.A. will turn out to be a big cocaine town,” Knight joked, “and I got this idea talking to a guy in a coffee shop.”

His advice to young cartoonists? “Perseverance,” Knight said right away. “A lot of the editors that publish my stuff, first read my strip when they were in college,” Knight explained, his Dark Horse editor among them. “Now they’ve got jobs in the business.”

“There’s no one straight way to make it in this business,” he continued. “People need to see you two or three times before they start taking you seriously. And learn from everyone, even from cartoonists whose work you don’t like!”