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13 Oct 2022

In the Wilds of Brooklyn: Roz Chast and Ben Katchor in Conversation

6:00-7.15 p.m. EDT

A Newsweek article published in 1943 characterized Morris Hirshfield as an old man who lived, “way out in… the Wilds of Brooklyn.” In this program, Ben Katchor and Roz Chast will take this primitivizing and elitist observation as a starting point to reflect on Hirshfield’s story as a Jewish European immigrant who worked his way up the trade to become a tailor, then a successful business-owner, and later a celebrated self-taught painter in New York City.

A cartoonist at The New Yorker, Chast translates the mundane in semi-confessional “clunky” comics, confronting New Yorkers’ anxieties with both humor and compassion. In his signature black-and-white pen-and-wash drawings, the graphic-novelist Katchor revives bygone architecture, activities and characters to offer a historical, yet multidimensional, portrait of the city.

Both natives of Brooklyn, these two extraordinary storytellers will take us into an exquisite journey where everyday urban experience is turned into insightful art. This program will chronicle for us moments, places and themes that compose New York City’s fabric and identity, while contributing to a better understanding of Hirshfield’s life and work as a Brooklyn-based Jewish artist.

Space is limited; advance registration is required. Please RSVP to reserve your spot here, and consider making a donation to support ongoing virtual programming.

Instructions for joining with a Zoom link and password will be provided by email upon registration confirmation under “Additional Information.” Closed captioning will be provided in English. For questions or to request accessibility accommodations, please email

Roz Chast is an acclaimed cartoonist who has published hundreds of pieces in The New Yorker for almost four decades. Author of the award-winning, best-selling memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Bloomsbury, 2014), Chast was the subject of the Museum of the City of New York’s 2016 exhibition, Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs. She has written and illustrated many children’s books, including a collaboration with Steve Martin on the children’s book The Alphabet from A to Y with Bonus Letter Z!, contributed to numerous humor collections, and lectured widely.

Ben Katchor is an American cartoonist and illustrator. Along with his long-running comic-strip work—Julius Knipl, Real-Estate Photographer, The Cardboard Valise, Hotel & Farm, The Jew of New York, and, most recently, The Dairy Restaurant —Katchor has also collaborated with musician Mark Mulcahy on a number of works for musical theatre. These works include The Rosenbach Company (a tragi-comedy about the life and times of Abe Rosenbach, the preeminent rare-book dealer of the 20th century); The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island, or, The Friends of Dr. Rushower, an absurdist romance about the chemical emissions and addictive soft-drinks of a ruined tropical factory-island; A Checkroom Romance, about the culture and architecture of coat-checkrooms; and Up From the Stacks, about a page working the stacks of the New York Public Library in 1975. His TED Talk is titled Comics of Bygone New York. He is an Associate Professor at Parsons School of Design, The New School.


Left: Roz Chast, illustration from Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York (Bloomsbury), 2017, watercolor over pen and ink. Courtesy of the Artist. 

Right: Ben Katchor, drawing from The Dairy Restaurant (Schocken/NextBook), 2020. Courtesy of the Artist. 

6:00 pm–7:15 pm

Virtual; free with registration