Drawn to it outside and in, Part I


My inbox is on overload. Several juicy items have intimate acts of drawing at their heart but take place in extroverted settings. Here’s a peek at one. More later on another one. And for even more, see my PW review next Wed.


Ben Katchor all over the place

I went out to Swarthmore yesterday to the McCabe library to see the drawings done by Ben Katchor, the graphic artist and MacArthur genius (class of 2000). I was not familiar with the work except for having seen a few panels pulled out of context here and there. I’m sorry I’m giving you only a few panels out of context here but the larger storyboards don’t translate well into tiny illustrations on artblog. (top image is black and white single panel cartoon, larger than most in the show)


After spending an hour with this large, 25-storyboard show I ran right out and bought a book — “The Beauty Supply District,” (one of Katchor’s Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer books.) Katchor’s drawing is superb — muscular city-scapes with just enough detail and seemingly no false starts. And the stories are rich with social commentary — about cities and people. They’re humorous, inventive and altogether captivating. (image is detail from panel ruminating on overuse of electricity — the guy can’t keep his eyes off the lights running down the aisle. He’s oblivious to the movie.)


The show at McCabe is up until Oct. 12. I highly recommend a trip out there. There’s a formal reception for the artist on Sept. 28, at 4 p.m. and Katchor, who apparently performs his work as well as drawing and publishing it, will give a performance later the same night (8 p.m.) in the Science Center, Room 199.

Alert for cartoonists: Katchor’s giving a one-hour drawing and writing master class on Wednesday, Sept. 29 (1:15 to 2:30 p.m.). All events are free and open to the public. To register for the master class call 610-328-8489.


What I really loved about the whole Katchor enterprise is the mind at work creating worlds both wackily inventive and stingingly subversive. One story line has grafitti artists cleaning up the city scape and gilding — everything from a subway entrance to a bridge. (image) The city powers are unhappy because the gilded city is so high maintenance so they run around applying gesso over everthing. The topsy-turvy take on grafitti versus official public response is just plain funny.


Katchor at the Fringe

Meanwhile in town at the Fringe Festival, Katchor and musical collaborator Mark Mulcahy have a musical theatre piece celebrating the mysterious and wonderful Rosenbach brothers: The Rosenbach Company: A Tragicomedy.

The marriage of the whimsical book artist Katchor and the idiosyncratic Rosenbach brothers (collectors of furnishings touched by celebrities and first editions of many of the world’s great books) is inspired.

The Rosenbach Museum and Library produced it in conjunction with their 50th anniversary. Performances will take place at The Adrienne Theater on Friday, Sept. 10, Saturday, Sept. 11, and Sunday, Sept. 12, with a post-show conversation with the artists following the Saturday matinee. $15 ($12 students, seniors, & Rosenbach members) Call 215-413-1318 or order online.