10.8 x 8.5
112 Pgs
$26.95 CAD/$22.95 USD

The classic graphic novel by the landmark cartoonist back in print for its 25th anniversary

Cheap Novelties is an early testament to Ben Katchor’s extraordinary prescience as both a gifted cartoonist and an astute urban chronicler. Rumpled, middle-aged Julius Knipl photographs a vanishing city -- an urban landscape of low-rent apartment buildings, obsolete industries, monuments to forgotten people and events, and countless sources of inexpensive food. In Katchor’s signature pen and ink wash style, Cheap Novelties is a portrait of what we have lost to gentrification, globalization, and the malling of America that is as moving today as it was twenty-five years ago.

In 1991, the original Cheap Novelties appeared in an unassuming paperback from the RAW contributor; it would become one of the first graphic novels of the contemporary graphic novel golden age and set the stage for Katchor as he is now regarded– a modern day cartooning genius.  Drawn & Quarterly’s 25th anniversary edition will be a deluxe hardcover reformatted to Katchor’s original vision.

Praise for Cheap Novelties

Ben Katchor sent his comic-strip character Julius Knipl, real-estate photographer, roaming through the city... in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Home to hand-painted window ads, 50-cent hot dogs and deli walls plastered with photos of dead celebrity customers, Knipl’s version of New York is long gone. Now, 25 years after its original publication, Mr. Katchor’s pen-and-ink wash collection, Cheap Novelties, returns with its wandering hero.

Wall Street Journal

The staccato vignettes, where narration and dialogue noisily intermix with one another like the cacophony of a busy street, are about pure pleasure.


The spirit of anonymous invention highlights each strip, a subtle reminder of how the vast details of popular culture appear and disappear constantly, leaving behind tantalizingly ambiguous clues. Occasionally Katchor boils this down almost didactically…[but] Mostly Katchor tantalizes, leaving the interpretation to the reader.

The Nation

Ben Katchor’s distinctive comic strips tell the singular story of a surreal city and the people who live and work there... Attempting to describe these strips isn’t easy: they broadcast on an exclusive frequency and, like the works of novelist Steven Millhauser, turn the odd minutiae of urban life into the stuff of strange and compelling narrative. Cheap Novelties funnels the passage of time and a cultural history rare for the medium.

Paste Magazine

Boxy black-and-white shopkeepers and suits rattle around a pre-gentrification Manhattan, where low rent, wages, and prices supplemented a not so underground economy of winking favors and mile-long tabs.

New Yorker

Ben Katchor is the Joseph Mitchell — that irreplaceable New Yorker scribe — of the graphic novel.. Mr. Katchor’s distinctive line is wistful, his voice quiet, subtle — all the better to make the reader lean closer, to stop and stare as the past recedes.

Dana Jennings, New York Times

Deadpan and literate, the strip is like a dream of some black-and-white forties movie stumbled across on late-night TV, full of high angles looking down on vacant streets, jarring close-ups, and dated colloquialisms.

New York Magazine

How can we yearn for something that never was? For little things forever lost that were never ours? Ben Katchor’s melancholy impregnates every frame of these beautiful stories.  Silent despair, obscure industrial minutiae, memories of lost diners, the whispered prayer of multi-dwelling laws are but a fraction of the many enigmas pondered in Cheap Novelties. Under Katchor’s pious, amorous gaze wonder blooms in this urban Babylon. Novelty items transmogrify into prodigies that encapsulate our fragility, beauty and fleeting existence. A masterpiece of graphic narrative.

Guillermo del Toro, Filmmaker

Twenty-five years on, [Cheap Novelties'] observations of what is lost as cityscapes evolve and shift due to gentrification and changing demographics are still fresh and relevant.

The Guardian

Ben Katchor is a recorder of vanished and vanishing places, a poet of the vast metropolis of New York. He notices, crucially, what others walk by, fail to see and generally disregard—a man living in the mosaic while seeing its details.

Alexander Theroux, Bomb Magazine

Cheap Novelties: The Pleasures Of Urban Decay is one of those magical books that changes the way the reader views the world after its been consumed.

AV Club

Cheap Novelties is timeless and intriguing.

AM New York
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