Monday, January 28, 2008

Real Live Slug Bearers

I don't know what to make of this, but I wish I was there to see it.

Ben Katchor is the genius behind the comic strip Julius Knipl:Real Estate Photographer. Since at least the 1980's, Katchor has been chronicling the melancholy existence of a city which looks exactly like New York, yet is somehow stranger, sadder, more Jewish. Knipl, the man of the title, is an incidental player in this imaginary metropolis. Like most of the characters who wander out of Katchor's grey wash, Knipl is middle aged and alone, and passes his days by paying careful attention to insignificant details. Katchor's drawings are replete with verbal and visual puns, masquerading as the clutter of the city. He is the only cartoonist I know of who works exclusively in grey guaches, and is also, notably, the only cartoonist I know of to have won a MacArthur "Genius Grant."

As if that wasn't enough, Katchor has now written a new musical called "The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island," which is playing in New York City, at the Vineyard Theater, as of yesterday. According to the website, "The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island follows the exploits of a New York philanthropist to bring the modern poetry of instructional pamphlets to a group of exploited island workers." Now why didn't I think of that? With music by Mark Mulcahy of Miracle Legion. Sure to be fascinating.

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