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Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: Stories (Library) Paperback – September 1, 1996

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Ben Katchor's dreamscape is peopled by transistor radio listeners, door-knob triers, false eyebrow importers, and a late-night-perambulating real estate photographer named Julius Knipl. The vaguely melancholy stories in his eight-panel comic strips reflect a fondness for the forgotten, the obscure, and the merely overlooked. What happens to the city's wholesale calendar salesmen in February? Who buys last year's tinned seedless grapes? Katchor's shadowed line drawings of a gray metropolis evoke musty smells, the shuffling steps of retirees, and a proliferating autumnal chill. Readers who enjoy his work in their local weekly papers, as well as NPR listeners who have been held captive by the "Knipl Radio-Cartoons" will be glad to linger a little longer in the dream life of Katchor's world.


[A]fter years of peregrinating with Knipl in search of vanished places and forgotten dreams, I'm convinced that his creator, Ben Katchor, is the most poetic, deeply layered artist ever to draw a comic strip ... sort of a Max Beckman with dialogue balloons.... Mr. Katchor should take comfort and a great deal of pride in knowing that he has created perhaps the most original comic strip since ... "Krazy Kat" more than 80 years ago. -- The New York Times Book Review, Edward Sorel

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Product Details

  • Series: Library
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (September 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316482943
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316482943
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.3 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #492,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A "knipl" is colloquial Yiddish for a secret stash, like money saved for a rainy day or some last relic of an old way of life. Those populating the unnamed city of Ben Katchor's extended graphic novel are essentially gripped by nostalgia for a way of life that probably never existed. In cartoon vignettes, they pine for the days when you could visit the famed "Pygmy Penitentiary" (attempted breakouts scheduled every hour) and pick up some of Virosh Sherue's bottled rain water on the way home. Many try to preserve their way of life, if only because they fear change ("Static Day" is an official holiday) and grab a hold on the present as if it were a lifeline (one man has dozens of items on lay-away in stores thruought the city, because the goods are kept perpetually new until he has to pick them up). And the city doesn't lack for opportunists - like street toughs who scavenge TV antennae from buildings that have gone cable; tour operators who bus tourists through the decayed parts of the city (the driver soon becomes the primaddona) or show biz operators who conceive of turning manual labor into public spectacle. For much of the city, it's business as usual as reporters for the vile evening combinator scour the city for tales of the dreams of its populace, or as bra-strap statisticians try to chart the rise and fall of the city's fortunes. The titular real estate photographer notes all dispassionately. Katchor parodies and mourns his citizens at the same time, yet he never condescends to them not tries to milk them for tears. Instead, Katchor, through the lens of his alter ego, a real estate photographer seems to have mastered the perfect balance of bittersweet, a quest that, for his charachters, seems one more casualty lost to the years.
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Format: Paperback
Julius Knipl: Real Estate Photographer Stories is a collection of Ben Katchor's comics about about middle-class guys in New York City. At first glance each comic (usually 4 or 8 panels) seems to have no point, and the tone tends to remind me of the Jim books (I Made Some Brownies, And They Were Pretty Good, etc.), but Katchor seems to have staked out some pretty bizarre literary territory with these little stories.
One of my favorites concerns a man who is nearly poked in the eye with an umbrella on a rainy day. He's telling a companion his story, when a bystander overhears and tells him that many city residents are actually suffering from eye injuries on a day like this. This eye-injury enthusiast takes our man to the hospital, to see him "offer condolences to the families of the injured."
Another story concerns a group of volunteers who man phone lines all night, just to take calls from concerned citizens who have heard fire engine or ambulance sirens. Lots of the stories are about businessmen with bizarre, pathetic, or just loopy invention ideas: a suitcase that turns into a wastebasket, a storefront which sells rock candy, but only wholesale...
The text is punctuated by hilarious proper names, such as:
Blood & Sawdust Brand Cirkus Straws
The Ascending Colon, with Horace Bismuth and Vivian Scybala
Citric Acid Council
Viosh Shirue's Natural Rainwater Cistern
Katchor doesn't look down at his characters or approach them with anything similar to condescension. If I am motivated to feel anything at all after reading this, it's a bit more humility and compassion for my fellow man. At times these little stories are laugh-aloud funny, but mostly they just bring a smile and a little chuckle.
I am glad I ran across this book.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Ben Katchor's eerie cityscapes evoke the ruins of the kind of world that appeared to be happening in the background of 1950's films noir, and his fanciful industries, charities, and fraternal organizations hearken back to the same imagined time. Reading his work, one becomes nostalgic for a time that never existed. This form of humor is subtle. In fact, it is not the humor for which I buy Katchor's work as much as it is for that strange feeling of fictional nostalgia. You can get humor anywhere, but Katchor's world view is unique to the man himself. If you ever get jaded, remember this review: immersing yourself in a book of Katchor's is unlike anything you've ever felt before.
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Format: Paperback
I first heard about Ben Katchor when one of his strips had been dramatised on NPR's Weekend Edition. I was leaving Hot Springs, AR enroute for my home off the Jersey Turnpike and had just crossed out of Tennessee when the thickly accented voice of a Brooklynite seaped into the monotony of my drive. An old-time radio serial style program about N.Y.? It was so well-done, I looked for Katchor's collections but it wasn't until 2 and a half years later I found this one in Boston. It's beautiful and poignant, moving in the same rhythms of reading the estate sale announcements, collecting matchbooks and scraps of handwritten notes found in gutters and on sidewalks, assembling lives out of slow, unwitting forgetfulness. The smell of your hands after touching old quilts and photographs, the insides of old coffee tins, the way the light is in thrift stores from Vermont to Flagstaff to Portland, OR. I'm always entranced by slow decay and memory persistent in the manufactured world, preserved by the eccentric, nomadic, relentless, and discontent. This collection is necessary for illuminating the vague sensations of nostalgia and regret we experience, yet these stories are frequently undergirded by Katchor's calm Jewish faith. If this book pleases you, try and find Jem Cohen's documentary film, "Lost Book Found" which coincides nicely with Katchor's work (indeed, they thank each other in their credits). This book is most strongly recommended
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