The Washington Post

BEN KATCHOR: The curb appeal of the ‘Hand-Drying’ cartoonist’s sharp urban wit

BEN KATCHOR, one of our best architecturally minded cartoonists, is hopscotching the continent to support his big and beautiful new graphic book, “Hand-Drying in America (and Other Stories).” (He speaks at D.C.’s Sixth & I Historic Synagogue tonight.) And all that travel stokes his thirst for city sites that are unique and original.

“At one of these college towns, somebody wanted to take me to a Starbucks,” Katchor tells us by phone from San Francisco, midway through his tour. “To go to a Starbucks, I would have to be dying of thirst. I will go very far out of my way to find some privately owned and individually [run] place to avoid a chain store.”

Katchor’s work, too, is utterly original, as his scratched lines and deviously deadpan language skewer the civic sameness of retail chains.

Goethe said “architecture is frozen music,” but in Katchor’s corporate chainscape, urban architecture becomes like piped-in and peddled smooth jazz — designed to be agreeable, but repellent to the lover of rough edges and raw roots.

To read Comic Riffs’ entire new piece on Katchor and “Hand-Drying,” feel free to check out THIS LINK..

"Hand-Drying in America: And Other Stories" by Ben Katchor. (Pantheon)

Writer/artist/visual storyteller Michael Cavna is creator of the "Comic Riffs" column and graphic-novel reviewer for The Post's Book World. He relishes sharp-eyed satire in most any form.


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