Category Archives: Reviews

Ben Katchor’s Opera Reviewed in the New York Times

slug bearers shot

The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island (Or, the Friends of Dr. Rushower), an opera created by Associate Professor of Illustration Ben Katchor and Mark Mulcahy, received an enthusiastic review by New York Times’ critic Ben Brantley yesterday. Here’s an excerpt:

“The Slug Bearers” may deal with subjects common to contemporary satire: fiendish industrial autocrats (in this case, the cackling George Klatter, played by a Lex Luthor-like Stephen Lee Anderson); shortsighted do-gooders; the limited attention span of news gatherers; and the (literal) insubstantiality of a technology-driven culture.

But Mr. Katchor is not an attack artist, and “The Slug Bearers” is neither sendup nor angry social rebuke.

Instead, like much of this artist’s work, it is propelled by a brooding and amused awareness of the strange, individual quirks and appetites that both keep people apart and occasionally bring them together.

This sensibility is conveyed with real enchantment by the set and projection designs of Jim Findlay and Jeff Sugg (subtly enhanced by Russell H. Champa’s lighting), which bring to eye-teasing life Mr. Katchor’s drawings of lonely town (as in New York City) and polluted country (as in the tropical isle of Kayrol). Projections on scrims are used to create some delightful trompe l’oeil moments involving walking amid street traffic, riding elevators and even answering the phone.

These are never mere sight gags, though, but part of a thoroughgoing mise-en-scène that melts boundaries between the real and representational. At the same time there’s a strong, melancholy suggestion that the people who inhabit this flat but fluid landscape can never fully step into the world they live in. (And I mean the characters, not the performers.)

Read the complete review here, listen to a narrated slideshow about the opera’s development here, and as an extra bonus, we present you with a small preview of the show:


The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island (Or, the Friends of Dr. Rushower)
An Opera by Ben Katchor and Mark Mulcahy
Vineyard Theater
108 E. 15th St (btw Union Square and Irving Pl.)
New York, NY

[image by Carol Rosegg]

Chris Mautner interviews Monte Schulz


Over at Panels and Pixels, Chris Mautner has posted an enlightening interview with Monte Schultz, the son of legendary comic artist & Peanuts creator Charles Schulz. They discussed the recent release of David Michaelis’ biography about Charles Schulz and the controversy over how the artist was portrayed. Here’s a brief excerpt:

Q: Ok, so let me read to you a little bit of a quote Michaelis gave to me that didn’t make my story. “How could I write a book about a comic strip genius, how could he not be perceived as a complex person? Maybe it’s an overly complex portrait. Maybe it should be simplified. I should have stepped back and let the sun shine in and lighten up a little. That may be an area where the book could have been greater.”

A: Yeah, I think that if he had let dad … this is something we talked about 10 months ago when we first saw the book. If he had just let dad’s life reveal itself, and it’s interesting because David uses this line, “a live reveals.” But he doesn’t do that in this book. He doesn’t allow a life to be revealed. He makes judgements, he interprets, he mythologyzes, he psychoanalizes. David really didn’t have an interest in telling dad’s life story. He had an interest in analyzing dad’s life and that’s different. Because in doing that he becomes very selective with his wiritng. And I think that’s where the error of the book is.

Yeah, he should have simplified this whole thing. You know what he ought to have done, he ought to have taken himself of the book. If David had removed himself and just let dad’s life reveal itself then he could have alowed his readers to make their own interpretations. In fact, David tells you what to think. He is just not content to let the story reveal itself.


Read the entire text of Chris’s interview here. Other reviews & reactions to the book can be found here & here.

(Image by Charles Schulz, courtesy of United Media)

Documentary and Book about Jay Ryan

jay ryan 3   jay ryan 1   jay ryan 2

Here this a short documentary about Chicago-based screenprinter and musician Jay Ryan. Besides being a former member of the band Braid and a current member of the band Dianogah, Jay is well known for his limited-run, hand-printed posters for events and bands. You might recognize his work from Andrew Bird’s recent album, Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs (below) as well as countless gig signs and illustrations.

andrew bird jay ryan

A book about Jay’s work was already recently produced called, 100 Posters, 134 Squirrels: A Decade of Hot Dogs, Large Mammals, and Independent Rock: The Handcrafted Art of Jay Ryan. With writing by legendary producer Steve Albini and an introduction by rock-journalist Greg Kot, the book explores the history of Jay’s art and his process.

Guy Billout’s book reviewed in the New York Times


The New York Times wrote about artist & long-time Illustration faculty member Guy Billout‘s newest book in their special Children’s Book section.  Here’s an excerpt:

“The illustrator Guy Billout works the narrow but fertile territory where clarity intersects with mystery. It’s a place where the graffiti might read “René Magritte Was Here (de Chirico, Too),” but Billout’s concerns are his own: his drawings (or are they paintings? or both?) often employ tricks of scale and perspective, along with large expanses of deceptively flat color, compositions that resolve in witty visual jokes while tapping deeper currents of unease. They’re bright, figuratively and literally, like dreams dreamt under a noonday desert sun rather than in the usual shape-shifting murk.”

Read the rest of the article about Guy’s book The Frog Who Wanted to See the Sea here.

Read other articles in the New York Times Children’s Book section here.