Stephen Kroninger
Katchor: The Cardboard Valise

 This post is to alert you to two Ben Katchor events. The first is the recent publication of his latest book "The Cardboard Valise."
 Ben's been a friend for many years. He has one of the richest imaginations and minds of anyone I've known and I've know quite a few rich minds and imaginations over the years. Reading his picture-stories has been one of the great pleasures of my life. I'm always happy for a new collection. This latest one doesn't dissapoint.

 The New York Times calls Ben Katchor, "the most poetic, deeply layered artist ever to draw a comic strip." In recognition of his innovative use of the cartoon medium, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation gave Katchor one of its prestigious fellowships (colloquially know as "MacArthur Genius Grants").

In bestowing its fellowship, the MacArthur Foundation said, "Katchor has distilled through the medium of the comic strip an art rich with history, sociology, fiction and poetry. His meditations on urban life represent a sustained effort to re imagine the history of New York, recalling the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century city of words, with its hundreds of placards and signs, inscriptions and sandwich boards, lost places of entertainment and instruction, and forgotten forms of craft and industry."

"Mr. Katchor should take comfort and a great deal of pride in knowing that he has created the most original comic strip since George Herriman introduced 'Krazy Kat' more than 80 years ago." - New York Times Book Review

AND Some reviews for The Cardboard Valise.

 (starred review) In this winsomely haunting graphic novel from Katchor. . . Set in a world tilted about 45 degrees away from reality . . .  Rarely have books that made this little sense made so much sense. (Feb.) –Publisher’s Weekly
Katchor . . . does what every great artist does: clarifies things you knew but didn’t know you knew, or didn’t know how to articulate. Spend some time with his work, and then take a walk.  –Newsweek

Ben Katchor is the best world-builder in comics today. –The Comics Journal

“. . .  a work of great beauty and eccentricity . . . [Katchor] performs that often promised yet rarely accomplished feat of transforming the mundane into the sublime. –The Globe and Mail

“. . . the reader finds herself pulled in a new direction with every page, deep into a city far more interesting than our own . . .” – The Washington Post

“Wonderful…a pleasantly flimsy repository for an inexhaustible imagination. Open to any page and you’ll be surprised anew.” –The Washington Post

“It’s in those spaces where understanding eludes the reader and where meaning nonetheless makes itself felt, that Katchor’s signature poetry lies.” –Publishers Weekly Comics Weekly

“Defies narrative convention…creatively charged.” –Kirkus

“Artist and storyteller Katchor has achieved the goal Borges only imagined. Exiting this oneiric, shamanic, yet utterly naturalistic and sensual masterpiece, the reader steps out into a revitalized continuum richer and more exotic than the one he or she inhabited prior to the reading, a realm full of strange, alluring and bewildering lands, populated by oddball folks with odder customs.  Never again will our common globe seem like a small, homogenous, boring place…The Cardboard Valise is worldbuilding on the order of Jan Morris’s Hav, Austin Tappan Wright’s Islandia, Brian Aldiss’s Malacia, and Ursula Le Guin’s Orsinia: places that are attached to our world by extradimensional roads, down which only the sharpest and most sensitive of literary guides can lead one.  Get your ticket immediately!” –Barnes and Noble Review
“A surreal travelogue…a vast panorama of humane hamburger stands, exquisitely ethereal ethnic restaurants, ancient restroom ruins and wilds tracts of land that fit neatly next to high-rise hotels.” –Brooklyn Daily Eagle

“History, humor, and a generous dose of surrealness combine to make you think you’re walking down the back streets of Oz…Katchor is plainly steeped in the tropes of his craft, but ultimately he is uncategorizable, a man apart.”–Culture Books

“Katchor is the best world-builder in comics today…The Cardboard Valise feels like something you can open up, fall into, and stroll around in. It’s fascinating and funny and endlessly enveloping to look at, but its delights and distortions alike are ultimately a reflection of ourselves.” –The Comics Journal

“Anyone familiar with [Katchor’s] work will recognize his grotesque eccentrics (or maybe his eccentric grotesques), the off-kilter angles and depths of field in every panel, not to mention the banal objects granted strange value and the wonderful prose…There is an exhilaration and freedom here—a license to invent and destroy.” –Tablet Magazine

“Katchor’s work has the unusual distinction of being known…for its startling poetry, dreamily familiar urban landscapes, and revelations about the arcane systems and inner workings of city life…provocative, moving work.” –

“Katchor has made an entire world out of his narrow domain, and it’s as rich and vast (and sad and hilarious) a world as any writer or artist working today has concocted.” –Shelfari

“The appearance of a new Katchor collection is always reason to celebrate… Katchor is a true, rare, untarnished New York treasure — the kind of artist who can concoct a fantastical made-up world, but one that ensures you’ll never see the real world in quite the same way again.” –The 6th Floor blog

“His whimsical, mournful metaphysical verbal gags and scratchy visual poems are at once the most conceptual and conversational comics being made, and for my taste the best ever made…it’s only March, but surely Katchor is the automatic writer-artist of the year.” –ComicCritique Blog

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