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Monday, November 10, 2014

Graphic Novel about the rise and decay of the city -- good for high school art

Katchor, Ben (1991)  Cheap Novelties:  The Pleasures of Urban Decay  New York: Penguin

Apparently for years there has been this comic strip that runs in some city newspapers titled "Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer"  It follows a solidly built guy who makes his living taking pictures of properties that are going to be sold.  As he wanders the city of new York, he encounters mystery and magic, dullness and dreariness and he brings to each new job the same existential questions about why some parts of the city change so fast and some stay the same.  I know, it doesn't sound like something that is going to win the most-entertaining award, but the thing is, the character of Julius Knipl knows how to do more than just observe, he knows how to see things that most people miss. 
This would be a great book for a high school art class.  There is nothing majorly objectionable in in (though there is one sequence where Knipl wanders into a meeting of old men who discuss sexual metaphors for the economy and so on.  It is pretty tame stuff (and way in the back of the book) and there is nothing drawn or pictured that might be offensive.  Because of that and the nature of the book, this one is going to get its best reception in a high school art classroom. 

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