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Tuesday, 27 September 2016

New D+Q: Ben Katchor's Cheap Novelties: The Pleasures of Urban Decay

We are so proud and excited that Drawn & Quarterly acquired the rights to this seminal graphic novel by Ben Katchor, originally published in 1991 at the dawn of the current golden age of graphic novels. Cheap Novelties: The Pleasures of Urban Decay follows Julius Knipl, real estate photographer, who catalogues the changing city, as the strange, the cheap and the seedy are pushed out for the new and the streamlined.


This new edition is a beautiful hardcover!


The endpapers are worth careful study. They are covered in advertisements for such products as "Weeping Man Noise Maker," "Flesh Colored Paint" and "Miracle Sucking Stone."


Katchor's narrative does an remarkable job of predicting the gentrification that will hit cities like New York (and Montreal) decades later.


Mr. Knipl takes great joy from abandoned buildings, old soda fountains, "dead storage" businesses, and other urban detritus and relics. With his camera and his endless walking, he lovingly records these disappearing elements of a restless metropolis.


This is an observant, melancholy book that reminds us that cities, like public tastes in soda, are constantly changing—perhaps not always for the better.

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