Monday, December 12, 2011

Keith Knight - Cartoonist Survey #251

Award-winning cartoonist, writer and rapper Keith (Keef) Knight was born in August of 1966 in Malden, Massachusetts. He graduated with a degree in graphic design from Salem State College and soon after graduating moved to San Francisco. He is the creator of three popular comic strips, The K Chronicles, The Knight Life and (Th)ink. His comic work has been lauded by Maya Angelou, Spike Lee, Harvey Pekar, cartoonists Lynn Johnston, Garry Trudeau and many others.

The K Chronicles is his weekly, semi-autobiographical comic strip which combines family, politics, race and humor. The strip, which ran for years at, has garnered numerous industry awards including the 2007 Harvey Award for Best Syndicated Strip or Panel and five Glyph Comics Awards for Best Comic Strip. The strips have been collected into multiple editions including the 500 page, “The Complete K Chronicles.” In 1996 an award-winning German film short, “Jetz kommmit ein Karton!” was released that was based on three of the K Chronicles strips. Many of the K Chronicle strips are archived here on Keith’s website.

The second of Keith’s strips, (Th)ink is the weekly single-panel editorial cartoon that covers political and social issues as well as current events. (Th)ink comics have also been collected into compilations with this year’s “Too Small to Fail: Another (Th)ink Anthology” being the most recent. Access the (Th)ink comics archive here.

His third comic strip, The Knight Life, launched in 2008 and was originally syndicated through United Features. It is now syndicated through Universal/Uclick. Much like The K Chronicles, The Knight Life, is semi-autobiographical. Junk mail, re-gifting, hoarding plastic bags, pregnancy, weirdos on the bus and hippies are just a few of the topics Keith touches on in the daily The Knight Life comic strips.

Keith’s comic art has appeared in ESPN the Magazine, L.A. Weekly, Funny Times, The Washington Post, Cracked, MAD Magazine and many other publications. His work has also been featured at many museums and galleries across the globe. He has presented at workshops and on panels with subjects covering cartooning, community-based arts, health, race and media literacy. Keith performed vocals for the 5-piece Hip-Hop/Punk/Garage band, The Marginal Prophets. The band released three CD’s and with their second one, Bohemian Rap CD, winning a California Music Award for Outstanding Rap Album in 2004.

In 2007 Keith and his family moved from the San Francisco Bay area to Los Angeles. Be sure to visit his K Chronicles website to see much more of his work and purchase books, calendars and prints. You should also stop by The Knight Life website and store. Follow Keith here on his blog.

What is your favorite pen to use?

Micron Pigmas. #.08 and .05.

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?

I draw with a standard pencil first.

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?

Photoshop…Gawd bless it.

What type of paper do you use?

300 series smooth bristol.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?

I don't like having nine deadlines a week. I don't like drawing backgrounds.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?

Local one that I physically go to. Graphaids in Culver City, California. Same store Sergio Aragones goes to.

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?

Nope. Just freaking out about deadlines.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?


Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?

Peanuts. Doonesbury. Bloom County. Calvin and Hobbes.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?

See above. Plus Tom the Dancing Bug, Hark! A Vagrant.

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?

I remember the art in a Disney book that I was fascinated by. It was Sleeping Beauty, and there was some creepy shit in there.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?

I went to school for graphic design. Took some drawing courses. That's it.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?

Both. I waste a lot of time on it. Scored a lot of gigs because of it.

Did either of your parents draw?

My dad did. Only with me. We would draw extremely elaborately detailed trees together. It was great. But he never tried to do anything with his skill.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?

My great Uncle Owen. RIP.

Do you keep a sketchbook?

I have dozens of sketchbooks.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?

Yes. I hope to do more teaching soon.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?


Do you collect anything and if so what?


If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?

Daffy Duck.

Are you a righty or lefty?

Lefty. Hardcore lefty.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?

Restaurant reviewer.

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.

I draw in cafes and public spaces. Generally a table in the corner with an eye on the door.

Do you play any musical instruments?

A mean tambourine. And cowbell. I was a rapper in a band.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?


Who is your favorite artist?

As in cartooning? I don't have one. But I like Tony Millionaire's art.

I was lucky enough to see Keith’s slideshow presentation last June when I attended the New England Chapter of the National Cartoonist Society dinner in Somerville, MA. His presentation was not only funny but also very informative. I highly recommend it to everyone.
Here is a scan of the inscription Keith was nice enough to add to his book I purchased at the NEC of NCS dinner.

Thanks again Keith!


Sarah said...

Canuckleheads? humph! :) :P

Bill White said...

Wow! I used to do caricatures with Keith in Boston back when he was a student. Nice guy. Good to see a local boy make good!

P.L. Frederick said...

Keith fans: Will you help support his true graphic novel, "I Was A Teenage Michael Jackson Impersonator!"? Learn more by going to his Kickstarter page. Hurry, your chance ends at 3 pm EST on April 6, 2012!