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Monday, June 24, 2019

Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: The Beauty Supply District (Humor) (Graphic Novel)

by Ben Katchor  

Publisher: Pantheon (August 12, 2003)

Hardcover, 120 pages

The extension fallacy is when an arguer takes a statement and exaggerates the parameters so much that it becomes completely ridiculous idea. This perfectly defines the humor in The Beauty Supply District. The strips revolve around the nuances of city life. Much of them are concerned the variances of architecture in a New York City-esque environment. The constant raising and destruction of buildings, as depicted in this book, paints a picture of a city landscape that drifts back and forth like an ocean current, where the occupants try to find stability and meaning in a chaotic ever shifting concrete jungle.

The stories take mundane aspects and illuminate them to ridiculous heights. From tours of a shop that had been vacant since 1964. To a group of men at an office obsessed with their fire extinguisher. To a rich man who owns a private vintage bus and, for kicks, drives along an actual route picking people up. To the longer story of The Beauty Supply District, where many obsessions collide in a bizarre manner.

These strips were originally published in various alternative and indie magazines and newspapers across Canada and the US. Katchor draws the strip in a loose, sketchy pen-and-ink style overlaid with a gray watercolor wash. The backgrounds are detailed and drawn from a wide variety of shifting perspectives. A typical strip is made up of eight or nine panels captioned with crooked, hand-lettered boxes. The captions and drawings often follow independent narrative threads, sometimes with ironic effects, with the captions contradicting or reinforcing the visuals. The dreamlike strip displays a nostalgic tone for New York City, and its Jewish heritage in particular. The strip's city is populated with small businesses that had never existed and that are often implausible, but reminiscent of a New York in the days of large numbers of immigrants before the dominance of large corporate chains

For more readings, try books by Rex Hurst. 

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