Lawrence Weschler A Wanderer In The Perfect City Essay

Ben Katchor (born November 19, 1951 in Brooklyn, New York) is an Americancartoonist and illustrator best known for his critically acclaimed comic stripJulius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer. He has contributed comics and drawings to The Forward, The New Yorker,Metropolis magazine, and weekly newspapers in the United States. A Guggenheim Fellowship and MacArthur Fellowship recipient, Katchor was described by author Michael Chabon as "the creator of the last great American comic strip."[1]



Katchor contributed occasional illustrations while on staff for The Kingsman, the student newspaper of Brooklyn College, and he was an early contributor to RAW. He edited and published two issues of Picture Story, which featured his own work, with articles and stories by Peter Blegvad, Jerry Moriarty, Mark Beyer and Martin Millard.

In 1993, Katchor was the subject of a lengthy profile by Lawrence Weschler in The New Yorker[2] and an extended essay by John Crowley in The Yale Review (1998).

His comics have been translated into French, Italian, German, Spanish and Japanese.[citation needed]

Katchor wrote and illustrated a "weeklong electronic journal" for Slate in 1997, and he contributed articles to the now-defunct Civilization: The Magazine of the Library of Congress.

Katchor was the guest editor of the 2017 edition of Best American Comics.


  • Julius Knipl – paints a fictional version of New York City with a decidedly Jewish/urban sensibility. Julius Knipl has been published in several book collections including Cheap Novelties: The Pleasure of Urban Decay (Penguin), Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: Stories, with a forward by Michael Chabon (Little, Brown & Co.), and The Beauty Supply District (Pantheon Books).
  • The Cardboard Valise – A weekly strip chronicling the travels of Emile Delilah to a variety of imaginary nations. It was expanded, collected and published by Pantheon Books in 2011.
  • Hotel & Farm – A weekly strip dealing, over alternating weeks, with hotel culture and agriculture. It appeared in weekly newspapers in the U.S.
  • Shoehorn Technique – A weekly strip exploring the possibilities of human mobility across socio-economic strata in an imaginary city. Temporarily suspended after 52-weeks.
  • Metropolis series – Since 1998, Katchor has produced a monthly strip for the back-page of Metropolis magazine dealing with the topics of architecture and urban design. Katchor's operas The Carbon Copy Building and The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island were adapted from strips in this series. The strips were collected in the 2013 book [1] Hand-Drying in America and other stories (Pantheon Books). This series ended in December 2016.
  • "Our Mental Age" - An online comic-strip series started 2017.


Katchor has written several works of musical theater, including The Rosenbach Company (a tragi-comedy about the life and times of Abe Rosenbach, the preeminent rare-book dealer of the 20th century); ''The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island, or, The Friends of Dr. Rushower, an absurdist romance about the chemical emissions and addictive soft-drinks of a ruined tropical factory-island; "A Checkroom Romance," about the culture and architecture of coat-checkrooms and "Up From the Stacks," about a page working the stacks of the New York Public Library in 1975. All feature music by Mark Mulcahy.


Katchor has been an associate professor at Parsons The New School since 2007.[3] He also gives "illustrated lectures" at colleges and museums accompanied by slide projections of his work. Since 2012 he has run the New York Comics & Picture-story Symposium at Parsons, a weekly symposium for the study of text-image work.


Katchor won an Obie Award for his collaboration with Bang on a Can on The Carbon Copy Building, a "comic book opera" based on his writings and drawings that premiered in 1999. The same year, he was the subject of Pleasures of Urban Decay, a documentary by the San Francisco filmmaker Samuel Ball. The first cartoonist to receive a MacArthur Fellowship, Katchor has also received a Guggenheim Fellowship and is a fellow of the American Academy in Berlin.[citation needed]


  • Picture Story 2 (editor and contributor) (self-published, 1986)
  • Cheap Novelties: The Pleasures of Urban Decay (Penguin, 1991)
  • Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: Stories (Little, Brown & Co., 1996)
  • The Jew of New York (Pantheon Books, 1998)
  • Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer: The Beauty Supply District (Pantheon Books, 2000)
  • The Cardboard Valise (Pantheon Books, 2011)
  • Hand-Drying in America (Pantheon Books, 2013)
  • "Conversations: Ben Katchor," edited by Ian Gordon (Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2018)


External links[edit]

  1. ^Chabon, Michael. Maps and Legends (McSweeney's, 2008).
  2. ^Lawrence Weschler, "A Wanderer in the Perfect City," The New Yorker (August 9, 1993), pp. 58-66.
  3. ^Parsons, The New School.

Lawrence Weschler (born 1952) is an author of works of creative nonfiction.

A graduate of Cowell College of the University of California, Santa Cruz (1974), Weschler was for over twenty years (1981–2002) a staff writer at The New Yorker, where his work shuttled between political tragedies and cultural comedies. He is a two-time winner of the George Polk Awards—for Cultural Reporting in 1988 and Magazine Reporting in 1992—and was also a recipient of the Lannan Literary Award (1998).

His books of political reportage include The Passion of Poland (1984); A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers (1990); and Calamities of Exile: Three Nonfiction Novellas (1998).

His “Passions and Wonders” series currently comprises Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: A Life of Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin (1982); David Hockney’s Cameraworks (1984); Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder (1995); A Wanderer in the Perfect City: Selected Passion Pieces (1998) Boggs: A Comedy of Values (1999); Robert Irwin: Getty Garden (2002); Vermeer in Bosnia (2004); and Everything that Rises: A Book of Convergences (February 2006). Mr. Wilson was shortlisted for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Everything that Rises received the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism.

Recent books include a considerably expanded edition of Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, comprising thirty years of conversations with Robert Irwin; a companion volume, True to Life: Twenty Five Years of Conversation with David Hockney; Liza Lou (a monograph out of Rizzoli); Tara Donovan, the catalog for the artist’s recent exhibition at Boston’s Institute for Contemporary Art, and Deborah Butterfield, the catalog for a survey of the artist’s work at the LA Louver Gallery. His latest addition to “Passions and Wonders,” the collection Uncanny Valley: Adventures in the Narrative, came out from Counterpoint in October 2011.

Weschler has taught, variously, at Princeton, Columbia, UCSC, Bard, Vassar, Sarah Lawrence, and NYU, where he is now distinguished writer in residence at the Carter Journalism Institute.

He recently graduated to director emeritus of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU, where he has been a fellow since 1991 and was director from 2001–2013, and from which base he had tried to start his own semiannual journal of writing and visual culture, Omnivore. He is also the artistic director emeritus, still actively engaged, with the Chicago Humanities Festival, and curator for New York Live Ideas, an annual body-based humanities collaboration with Bill T. Jones and his NY Live Arts. He is a contributing editor to McSweeney’s, The Threepenny Review, and The Virginia Quarterly Review; curator at large of the DVD quarterly Wholphin; (recently retired) chair of the Sundance (formerly Soros) Documentary Film Fund; and director of the Ernst Toch Society, dedicated to the promulgation of the music of his grandfather, the noted Weimar emigre composer. He recently launched “Pillow of Air,” a monthly “Amble through the worlds of the visual” column in The Believer.


  • Solidarity: Poland in the Season of Its Passion (1982)
  • Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: A Life of Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin (1982)
  • The Passion of Poland: From Solidarity through the State of War (1984)
  • A Miracle, a Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers (1990)
  • Shapinsky’s Karma, Boggs’s Bills, and Other True-life Tales (1990)
  • Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder (1995)
  • A Wanderer in the Perfect City: Selected Passion Pieces (1998)
  • Calamities of Exile: Three Nonfiction Novellas (1998)
  • Boggs: A Comedy of Values (1999)
  • Vermeer in Bosnia (2004)
  • Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences (2006)
  • True To Life: Twenty-Five Years of Conversations with David Hockney (2008)
  • Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: Over Thirty Years of Conversations with Robert Irwin (Expanded Edition) (2008)
  • Uncanny Valley: Adventures in the Narrative (2011)


  • "The Talk of the Town: Notes and Comment" The New Yorker 60/49 (January 21, 1985): 21–22. Talk piece on disarmament.
  • "The Talk of the Town: Notes and Comment" The New Yorker 60/52 (February 11, 1985): 27–28. Talk piece on Polish political situation.
  • "The Paralyzed Cyclops: Mediating a Vivid, Decades-Long Argument between Two Giants of Contemporary Art" The Believer 6/9 [58] (November/December 2008): 23–25. Robert Irwin & David Hockney.
  • A Rare Personal Look at Oliver Sachs's Early Career (2015)

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