By Leroy Douresseaux
November 17, 2006 - 16:38
ARE WE FEELING SAFER YET?
KEITH KNIGHT PRESS/TOP SHELF PRODUCTIONS
Cartoonist: Keith Knight
128 pp., B&W, $12.95
Keith Knight's (th)ink is a political humor and social commentary strip that appears on news websites (Blacknews and Buzzle.com) and runs in daily and alternative newspapers (including the San Francisco Chronicle, The Funny Times, the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, and the Haight Ashbury Beat). Knight also produces a weekly multi-panel strip, The K Chronicles (kchronicles.com), and contributes to MAD Magazine and ESPN The Magazine. Are We Feeling Safer Yet? is a collection of his (th)ink cartoons.
Although Knight probably calls (th)ink a comic strip, it's more like an ongoing editorial cartoon. Knight is certainly related in terms of comic strips to Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury) and, as an African-American cartoonist, to Aaron McGruder of The Boondocks fame. However, while, Trudeau and McGruder deal with a cast of continuing characters and use them to comment on politics, society, and culture, Knight's cast is America itself, and really that's what an editorial cartoonist generally uses as his cast - our nation, even if, as a group, editorial cartoonists seemed fixated on politicians, in particularly, the sitting President.
Knight is sharp and clever, and his humor and commentary are even sharper. He is, though, not mean-spirited, and he only draws blood when he has to - such as when he uses a guy discovering that his color and white laundry has been mixed to comment on integration (p. 46). Sometimes he cuts a subject because they handed him the blade, as in a Snoop Dogg cartoon about his behavior on stage (p.78).
Knight is probably often compared to McGruder because both are black cartoonists/commentators and both take the Bush Administration to the shed, but there, the similarity ends. Knight belongs on the editorial page. Because he uses black characters and often deals with African-American or Hip-Hop culture doesn't make him different from white cartoonists and commentators who ply their trade on our nation's newspaper editorial sections.
Keith Knight is a funny guy, but he's astute like the good editorial cartoonist should be. What Knight says with pen and ink makes sense, and he's ready for the big time.
Are We Felling Safer Yet? is due for publication in January 2007 and will be distributed by Top Shelf Productions (topshelfcomix.com) through Diamond Book Distributors, and also by Last Gasp (lastgasp.com).