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Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer:…

Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: Stories (edition 1996)

by Ben Katchor, Michael Chabon (Contributor)

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210255,654 (4.11)2
Title:Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: Stories
Authors:Ben Katchor
Other authors:Michael Chabon (Contributor)
Info:Little, Brown and Company (1996), Edition: 1st, Paperback, 112 pages
Collections:Your library

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Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: Stories by Ben Katchor


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Time for a naysayer to enter this wall-to-wall palace of 5-star reviews.

To me, reading Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer is a slog. And a slog is the opposite of what the comics medium should deliver.

Comics - with its combination of words and pictures - allows writers the ability to convey information in a way that is far more efficient and readable than prose text. See: Scott McCloud's excellent book on the subject.

Ben Katchor chooses not to use this potential. He instead opts to make the reading experience more taxing than it ought to be.

These Julius Knipl stories are over-written, and and told in deliberately reader unfriendly ways. My biggest irk is the constant use of both narration captions and speech balloons in almost every single panel of the comics. By doing this, Katchor provides his readers with more information than they can absorb at once, forcing them to read and re-read the comic multiple times until they understand what is happening on each of the three layers of narration, dialogue and artwork.

The problem is that Katchor writes his narration and dialogue so that they clash with each other, rather than feed into each other. Masterful works like Alison Bechdel's Fun Home show how comics writers can seamlessly combine the full gamut of narrative and dialogue tools, provided that they are employed with the reader in mind. Katchor seems to write with himself in mind, or anyone else who has a spare couple of minutes to reread the comic and unpick the logic of each strip.

To understand what I mean, read the strip "The Impresario of Human Drudgery" on page 49 of this book: a rare example of a Julius Knipl comic that is told primarily through dialogue, without the narration constantly derailing the reader's attention. Notice how easy and pleasurable that strip is to read! It is a rare contrast to the heavy-handed writing of most Julius Knipl comics. Why couldn't more strips have been written in this light-handed way?

In conclusion: I love the artwork, I love the style, and I usually love the underlying jokes. But I hate the execution.

Then again, the people who love Julius Knipl seem to delight in their dense, cerebral style. So maybe I'm missing the point altogether.

PS: please note that this book is a collection of 89 one-page 'Sunday'-style comics, with an additional 17-page storyline tacked on the end. Despite some readers listing it in their lists of 'favourite graphic novels', this is not a graphic novel. ( )
  aneurysm1985 | Oct 1, 2016 |
When I first encountered Ben Katchor's "Julius Knipl" strip in the pages of Washington DC's City Paper, I found it to be incredibly boring and of inexplicable interest to anyone. But I re-visited Julius Knipl in the pages of the recent anthologies edited by Chris Ware and Ivan Brunetti, which then led me to this book. Oh how my opinion has changed!

I have a completely different appreciation of Julius Knipl now, especially after reading the extended "Evening Combinator" piece that is the coda to this volume. Katchor's ability to capture the dream-life of an urban metropolis is uncanny, and his invariably lonely and disconnected characters are the perfect guides along this obsessive pathway. Personal dislocation amongst the abundance and liveliness of the city is a major theme of all of these pieces, and Katchor draws out the threads of his little stories with the subtlety and artistry of a fine tailor. Julius Knipl is very much an everyman, but Katchor resists the temptation to depict him in a condescending or judgmental manner. This is comics art of the highest degree, and I now find myself to be a major fan. ( )
  dr_zirk | Apr 8, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316482943, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:15 -0400)

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