The Knight Life: Chivalry Ain’t Dead
Keith Knight‘s first successful* comic strip was The K Chronicles, running in alternative weekly papers. (*I’m judging success here by longevity, running for over a decade, and that it’s usually quite funny.) In May 2008, Knight added to his repertoire, which also included the editorial-style (th)ink, a more traditional newspaper comic strip, The Knight Life.
Like K Chronicles, the daily Knight Life is autobiographical. Chivalry Ain’t Dead contains the first year and four months of the strip in over 200 pages, with added cartoonist commentary on select strips. It’s a big, satisfying read, with three daily strips to a page and the Sunday comics in proper sequence and reprinted in color.
Knight starts by introducing himself, his wife, and their family and friends. Subject matter is daily life. In Keith’s case, that’s frequently funny in twisted fashion as well as creative. Anyone can relate to money struggles — Knight works to find the best value for a dollar and later in the book takes on bigger economic issues — or being afraid of spiders or dealing with increasing age while still wanting to be young and hip. That works both ways when Keith talks with his dad; what it’s about isn’t important, their generation gap is where the laughs come. He also covers sports, urban life, media, technology, the little details of homeownership, and working as a cartoonist.
His loose style is perfect for the strip format, with his emphasis on dialogue and ability to capture key actions briefly but with verve and emotion. Some of his characters are jazzed-up doodles, in the fine tradition of cartoonists like Feiffer. A favorite recurring Sunday strip is “Life’s Little Victories”, celebrating the small things that go right. I also appreciate the way he tackles issues of racism; they’re not his focus, but they’re part of his life, and they’re fair game for commentary, just like any other social issue that makes an appearance. It’s a pleasant alternative to the mostly white comic page. (Today’s strip is particularly pointed.) His observations are relatable while still being fresh and unique.
If you’d like a special edition of the book, you can buy autographed copies with a sketch included direct from Knight. (The publisher provided a review copy.)