A chuckle for every page of this hefty coffee table collection of graphic essays I thought to myself frequently, Yes, I feel that way also, about various annoying contemporary events like the systematic downgrading of fabric quality and quantity in trousers I notice that women s pants pockets have become non functional due to their shallow or totally fake nature On the pretense of showing a clean hip line , the company is actually saving a lot of money on fabric In the attempt to save money, the place where I buy lunch per pound gives me a stack of napkins that are so thin that I save them to use as tissues Meanwhile, at my gym they have supplied tissues that are so thick they are, in reality, paper towels meant to dry a counter top And a sad architectural observation of the book itself The heavy wide covers caused this library loan to rip off from the leaves, much like when many years ago the overly heavy wide doors of my 1976 AMC Gremlin came undone from their own hinges causing me to rope myself in Maybe a paperback edition will survive better and when that comes out I might have to get my own copy to remind myself that there is one sane mind out there looking at and processing every cultural danger Ben Katchor. From One Of The Most Original And Imaginative American Cartoonists At Work Today Comes A Collection Of Graphic Narratives On The Subjects Of Urban Planning, Product Design, And Architecture A Surrealist Handbook For The Rebuilding Of Society In The Twenty First CenturyBen Katchor, A Master At Twisting Mundane Commodities Into Surreal Objects Of Social Significance, Now Takes On The Many Ways Our Property Influences And Reflects Cultural Values Here Are Window Ledge Pillows Designed Expressly For People Watching And A Forest Of Artificial Trees For Sufferers Of Hay Fever The Brotherhood Of Immaculate Consumption Deals With The Matter Of Products That Outlive Their Owners A School Of Dance Is Based Upon The Choreographic Motion Of Paying With Cash High Visibility Construction Vests Are Marketed To Lonely People As A Method Of Getting Noticed With Cutting Wit Katchor Reveals A World Similar To Our Own Lives Are Defined By Possessions, Consumerism Is A Kind Of Spirituality But Also Slightly, Fabulously Askew Frequently And Brilliantly Bizarre, And Always Mesmerizing, Hand Drying In America Ensures That You Will Never Look At A Building, A Bar Of Soap, Or An ATM The Same Way This is the most creative work I ve read in a while It is a guidebook, approx 160 comics each comic is a collection of descriptive statements about a parallel surreal world Leaving a session immersed in this book felt like waking up from a dream and the accompanying vague recall of disjointed thoughts that kinda sorta have a common theme No book has made me feel like this book left me feeling A world where people watch a highway grand prix, keeping track of the stats of common folk, people who visit particular types of doorways around the world, a museum for souvenirs, a world that employs people to open those annoying self serve sized containers, an unmarked pipe all occupants left alone until one couldn t take it any drilling leading to de pressurization of a citie s soft serve supply, Although they work in slightly different genres, I would put Ben Katchor in the same category with A large approximately one square foot book jam packed with stories one extends across the front and back endpapers.It is almost impossible to discuss Ben Katchor s work without using words like innovative and surreal The stories are almost hyper real as they involve small ideas taken to absurd extremes and the world that creates A man whose job is to break wobbly chairs by sitting in them An epidemic of people trying to cross rooms without touching the floor A house whose roof reflects the state of the bed inside The time when comfy feather elbow pillows almost lead to the eradication of television. If you ve ever read Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer or other strips Ben Katchor publishes in free weeklies, you know the crumbling, sooty urban core in which his characters ply obscure trades at the edge of relevance Hand Drying in America, his latest collection, plays out in the wider arena of the man made environment From the stolid Serpentine Bank for Savings now the Ping Tung Market to the bold mirrored finish of the Poleax Building, or the important work of The Committee for Architectural Neglect, Katchor explores what our structures say about us, and how we live with them Katchor s world is one of details writ large The Crumb Trap, The Cracked Cup Inspector and The Call of the Wall which sheds much needed light on the phenomenon of climbing around one s apartment by clinging to dado moldings elbow the ceiling , he zooms in on the most unzoomable of architectural minutae, particularly those of the fading, brick and plaster city landscape the early 20th Century The Breezeway to Hell, New Uses for Vitreous China, Peabald s Field Guide to the Air Conditioners of North America well, you get the idea.Katchor s a master storyteller, too Every strip takes the reader on a labyrinthine and slyly peculiar journey with a conclusion as unexpected as getting dumped on the New Jersey turnpike after a few minutes in John Malkovich s head In a way that makes you sit up and say Yes That s it, precisely It s great speculative fiction And as much as I like sci fi that boldly goes, even thrilling are those artists who can point out the new life, new civilizations and new ways of thinking about plate glass, curbstones and built in tissue dispensers the stuff of the here and now.A word about Katchor s art his blocky, hulking figures, bare sketches, really though illuminated here in glorious, comic book four color embody the existential, slog that is getting through the day.The only cartoonist to have won the MacArthur Fellowship Genius Grant, Kachtor deserved every penny of that 500,000 His one page strips are so deeply, personally resonant, I feel he draws them just for me. It took me a really long time to get into this book Ben Katchor definitely has a unique style, and I considered quitting this right away After a while, though, I came to realize that he was providing a savvy, wry commentary on societal change which he usually found not for the better Using the transition of everyday objects the shape of home building architecture, technological advances, the transition from flame to electric candles, etc Katchor details and in a way mourns the state of civilization at that moment As this book spans many years worth of drawings, it provides a fascinating timeline over at least 20 years This isn t a book for someone looking for a light, easy, happy read It has humor and fun, to be sure, but it the point made is definitely to be serious and think harder about the things we use and the way we use them There is a lot of waste in the world, and there s just no need for it This is a great book for the environmentally or design conscious, or politicos who need a break from MSNBC. Katchor is the curator of the petty grotesqueries of urban life and capitalism The Brotherhood of Immaculate Consumption Almost awkward, his trembly lines encase a sedate wash of darker colors Nothing is truly bright and shadow is king I m impressed by his diction mallow pink and his background tongue in cheek smart assery But his artifice, and modern pretense, is stripped down via his over the top jokery to the downright lie Each gambit in his metaphors is built on real emotion a curmudgeon s hate of uselessness, a nail biter s fear of betrayal, and the lazy lackadaisical adventure seeking dreams of those in white collars or receiving retirement checks Throughout the book, the power of architecture is held up, ridiculed and worshipped even as he mocks it, the syntactical translation of artistic an historic beauty cannot be denied My favorite strips or vignettes are The Miniature Trash Can, The Body Heat Snatcher, The Tragic History of the Oversized Magazine, Fayoum s Finger, Peabald s Field Guide to Air Conditioners of North America and Forbidden Rooms. So we ve reached this curious point where we ve got graphic novel comic collections of an artist s take on urban planning, architecture, and modern culture But seriously, most of this book revolves around architecture.I m excited to see the medium get to this point.Possibly a little less excited by the book itself It was just a slowish read And frankly, often the pictures were not terribly descriptive I found it to be exactly like those vague yet brilliant architectural statements you hear, The architect was hoping to infuse a sense of the unmade bed when he designed this structure Kind of hilarious Kind of weird Kind of necessary to have captions Maybe that s a statement on architecture Maybe that s how architecture and its artist statements, captions, and conceptualizations make themselves known in a comic I don t know.It really is funny and often thoughtful Peculiar also. This isn t for everyone, but if you re already a Ben Katchor fan, chances are you re going to like this and if you re not familiar with his stuff, it s a perfect introduction The story that begins on the cover and continues on the first few pages of the book, wraps around to the end of the book and concludes on the back cover is one of the best in the book and is squarely aimed at those readers who are given to speculations about the morality and environmental impact of the production of art books and or high end comics compilations like this one It s such an odd and specific bit of satire, but it s pure Ben Katchor.BTW, if you ever get a chance to hear Katchor doing a reading of his works accompanied by his Powerpoint slideshow presentations, do so afterwards, you ll always hear his stories in his wonderful voice, which can only add to their delights.
Ben Katchor born 1951 in Brooklyn, NY is an American cartoonist His comic strip Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer paints an evocative picture of a slightly surreal, historical New York City with a decidedly Jewish sensibility Julius Knipl has been published in several book collections including Cheap Novelties The Pleasure of Urban Decay and The Beauty Supply District Other serialized c
- 160 pages
- Hand-Drying in America and Other Stories
- Ben Katchor
- 13 September 2017 Ben Katchor