Eight floors down from cartoonist Ben Katchor's studio on John Street, in the financial district, there's a crumbling, freestanding subway sign. The back has fallen off to reveal four bare lightbulbs. Across the street, a store called the Tie Exchange Promises NEW YORK'S MOST BEAUTIFUL TIE COLLECTION.
These slightly antiquated landmarks fit right into the universe of Katchor's weekly strip, "Julius Knipl: Real Estate Photographer," which appears in the giveaway NY Press. The shabbily suited protagonist travels an urbanscape of old skyscrapers and coffee shops—an unspecified city, Katchor is quick to stress, though a lot of people take it for New York. "Julius Knipl" explores such phenomena as the rubber-band salesman, the supermarket special, and the uncanny way a popular song implants itself in your memory. 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.