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Cheap Novelties: The Pleasures of Urban Decay, with Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer

4.32  ·  Rating Details ·  131 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
In a vast and shadowy city of old skyscrapers, neglected warehouses, juice stands, and coffee shops, Julius Knip, a rumpled, middle-aged man in a suit and hat, wanders the streets photographing buildins and pondering the details: the scent of the past that seeps into the present;the ghosts of other values and cultures embedded in the urban landscape; people and behaviors a ...more
Paperback, 108 pages
Published October 1st 1991 by Penguin (Non-Classics) (first published 1991)
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Oct 11, 2016 Pantelis marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I am thrilled! The early years of the eternally middle-aged paragon of modern psychogeography!
David Schaafsma
Mar 26, 2017 David Schaafsma rated it really liked it
I first read Katchor’s (1996) Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer, the middle book of THREE books about Knipl, a real estate photographer, and this one is the first collection, from 1991. The third, Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: The Beauty Supply District (2000). These are strips collected from The Jewish Daily Forward and other magazines. They create a kind of nostalgic, humorous, absurdist view of NYC, with a decidedly Jewish edge. The focus is on architecture, maybe, but it is al ...more
Stewart Tame
Jan 01, 2017 Stewart Tame rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm always happy to read Ben Katchor's work. There's a poetry in his evocations of older modes of city living. His dusty store shelves and dingy cafeterias are familiar to anyone who's wandered the side streets of any major city.

The book consists of a series of Katchor's Julius Knipl strips, followed by a longer story revolving around one of Knipl's photography assignments and all the various people he encounters on the way. Knipl, a real estate photographer, is a perfect character for Katchor t
Dec 30, 2015 Adam rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, humor, art
Absurdist humor, and deeply, sadly cynical, but a marvel of insight into what makes people and cities tick. The drawings are rough, but detailed and fascinating. And the writing is like listening to an inner monologue wrought from a lifetime of hope and disappointment. Truly unique!
Nov 06, 2016 Laurent rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Geniale grafiek van een van de belangrijkste graphic novel auteurs van dit moment. Subliem, doordacht, diepzinnig, grappig, veellagig, literair. Superlatieven schieten tekort. Aanrader!
Jan 03, 2013 Kurt rated it really liked it
This is a comic strip that took a while to get into my system, but it came to really stick in my mind. No punchlines, mostly ambiguous stories of a world that's disappearing.
May 08, 2017 Helen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults.
Recommended to Helen by: No-one.
This wonderful book consists of two parts: The first page is a collection of one-page incidents/musings about the protagonist, the real estate photographer Mr. Knipl, which usually wrap up with either a gag, ironic ending, or sad commentary on how things have changed, or some inexplicable ending. Each page starts with a drawing of a cheap novelty - a giveaway or promotional item - that advertises Mr. Knipl's business. For some reason, I found these illustrations of promo items great - they "resu ...more
Steve Hersh
Nov 06, 2016 Steve Hersh rated it it was amazing
One of the best comic strips I've ever read. Perfect, just perfect.
Jan 11, 2017 Ollie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is nice and simple, and maybe our review of it should be the same.
Comics get a bad rap for being only about superheroes so their potential for telling common everyday stories is often ignored or overlooked. As a medium they can tell stories as subtle and personal as any other art form, and Cheap Novelties is as good of an example as any.

Knowing nothing about Ben Katchor I went into this book as a complete blank slate and found myself completely charmed by the subject of Julius Knipl a
Rose Gowen
May 25, 2017 Rose Gowen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Is Ben Katchor a genius? I think so.
Drew Lerman
Jun 19, 2017 Drew Lerman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The greatest thing in the world. Gorgeous, witty, silly, melancholy, meditative, and so IMAGINATIVE. (Katchor is obviously a serious old socialist but he has the imagination of a smart hypercurious kid.) Pure pleasure. This is why New York was invented, so Ben Katchor could process it thus.
Emilia P
Feb 08, 2017 Emilia P rated it liked it
Shelves: comic-books
Ehhhh Katchor how can all your stuff be so of a piece and each think be so weirdly, individually clever at the same time? Just as it says, urban decay, wondering at the minutae of city life. Not too bad, but not too memorable either.
Nov 18, 2013 Stephen rated it it was amazing
Obviously, some of the stories in this book strain credibility as to whether the objects or services could have ever existed, but IF they did, it's kinda nice to think that someone would have remembered them.

I think of Katchor's books somewhat similarly to how I place the works of Ware and Deitz. All have these vulnerable characters, crazy and innovative stories, and yet most of them are right here in the real world of real people.

If you haven't read Katchor, find some of his stuff. I can't e
Jesse Cohn
Sep 09, 2007 Jesse Cohn rated it liked it
Shelves: graphicnovel
Katchor was still developing his style when he wrote these, but they're still lovely.
Rachel Davies
Aug 30, 2016 Rachel Davies rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
very good yes very nice
Ben Schaffer
Nov 29, 2014 Ben Schaffer rated it it was amazing
Nov 22, 2016 Sardonyx rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was so unusual but interesting as heck! I found myself pondering some of the weird ways of yore that he brings up in the strips.
Feb 19, 2011 Abraham rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novel
The first Julius Knipl book. This guy is brilliant and I can't say why.
Hal Johnson
Hal Johnson rated it it was amazing
Aug 15, 2010
Christelle rated it did not like it
Feb 24, 2012
David Alex
David Alex rated it really liked it
Dec 10, 2016
Josh Ronsen
Josh Ronsen rated it it was amazing
Aug 29, 2013
Robert Gomez
Robert Gomez rated it really liked it
Oct 15, 2009
Jarret rated it really liked it
May 29, 2013
Apr 20, 2017 Marissa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I... I GET it, I think? But it's non-linear, and it's more than a bit dry to try and sit and read through all at once. It's one of those things that, I'm glad someone did it, I'm glad it exists, I just didn't particularly enjoy the final product.
Byrd rated it it was amazing
Oct 09, 2016
Liz rated it liked it
Oct 09, 2016
Ken French
Ken French rated it it was amazing
Jul 11, 2014
Quinn Slobodian
Quinn Slobodian rated it it was amazing
Aug 12, 2007
Jonathan Mills
Jonathan Mills rated it it was amazing
Jun 02, 2013
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Ben Katchor (born 1951 in Brooklyn, NY) is an American cartoonist. His comic strip Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer paints an evocative picture of a slightly surreal, historical New York City with a decidedly Jewish sensibility. Julius Knipl has been published in several book collections including Cheap Novelties: The Pleasure of Urban Decay and The Beauty Supply District. Other serialized c ...more
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