When the collection came out in 2008, I bought it at San Diego Comic Con for my dad for his 51st birthday. At Comic Con, I was working at the table for the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, and Keith Knight was one of their featured artists coming in to draw for them. When he did, he signed my copy for my dad and drew him a sort of birthday card, wishing him a happy 21st birthday. It was great. My dad’s still got it hung up next to his cartooning table. Yes, my dad’s a cartoonist and there’s no doubt he helped in my ambitions to be one, too, in my own way.
When I met Knight at Comic Con, he was such a cool guy, really friendly and everything (though it probably helped that I was hanging out with Summerlea Kashar, now the Executive Director of the Cartoon Art Museum and her now husband, who knew Keith well). If I remember correctly, he complimented me on my new Han Solo shirt and I blushed, a bit star-struck.
I’d read Knight’s book, Fear of a Black Marker, when I was probably 13. Re-reading some of that material, it’s pretty clear I didn’t get it the first time. I’ll be honest: I haven’t made it through The Complete K Chronicles yet. It’s a book that I’d love to have on my coffee table or night stand and work through over a few months, taking it section by section. There’s something about newspaper comics that want to be read over time, not zipped through, similar to television shows (though god knows I’m the first to say “Next!” after the first or second episode in a row of a good show).
Nearly a quarter of the way into this clever, insightful and, thought not dated, marker of rapidly changing times, I find myself with a need to take a breather. There’s great energy in Knight’s comic, and in the first hundred or so pages, his career is building and baffling and he’s meeting Harvey Pekar, going to Cons, getting recognized on the street… and I’m not sure if it’s jealousy or if I’m reading these strips as a fair warning, but I think I’m getting a lesson in how to and how not to get into comics.
I mean, I’ve no delusions of grandeur, of “making it big”; my biggest dream is to hang out with my favorite comic makers and help get their work the type of attention it deserves. So, thanks, Keith. Thanks for being a good guy and somewhat scaring my straight, but mostly showing me it happens to the best.