Keren Katz (seen here in a photo by Neta Alonim), Keren Katz is an Israeli-born cartoonist, writer, and the non-fictitious half of The Katz Sisters Duo. She is a graduate of the School of Visual Arts’s MFA Illustration Program. She is the author of the Academic Hour (Secret Acres), nominated for the SPX Ignatz Award for Outstanding Graphic Novel. Her work has been published in anthologies by Smoke Signal, Locust Moon, Rough House, Ink Brick, Retrofit Comics, The Brooklyn Rail, Carrier Pigeon, Seven Stories Press and NOW. Katz is the current Center for Cartoon Studies fellow, and recipient of the SVA Alumni Society 2013 Micro-Grant, the Sequential Artists Workshop’s 2014 Micro Grant, the Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art’s 2015 Silver Medal and Award of Excellence, the 2018 Slate Book Review and the Center for Cartoon Studies sixth annual Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Print Comic (The Academic Hour) and the Cartoon Crossroad Columbus Emerging Talent Prize.


Keren Katz’s comics transcend the medium, the text is poetry, the drawings are dance, the stories are not like anyone else, she is a true original.

– Richard McGuire, author of Here

Rivi coexists at school with a roommate who hosts an internet show in which she washes dishes. A student and fan of the show, Yakov, also appears in the tale, along with Rivi’s father, but despite their presences, the book is most a personal meditation on memory, childhood, and possibilities… …Katz’s figures sometimes show Modigliani-esque exaggerations of standard body proportions, and she makes exceptional use of patterns and color to create two-dimensional textures. People, animals, and buildings are warped, twisted, or “transmuted” in order to strike at deeper emotional truths, and they’re always fascinating to just gaze at. The Backstage of a Dishwashing Webshow may require multiple readings if one is to fully grasp the the beauty and mysterious power of Katz’s work, but it’s time well invested.

– Foreword

The dreamlike narrative is illustrated with colorful, flowing full-page drawings of elegant and elongated human figures in ballooning clothes, always in motion and mixed with birds, architecture, and abstract shapes and patterns, all creating the sense of an unstable, crazy quiltlike reality. With minimal text, Katz’s art loosely recalls highly stylized Art Noveau illustrators like Aubrey Beardsley or Harry Clarke crossed with a jumbled surrealist sensibility.

– Publishers Weekly

Throughout the Backstage of a Dishwashing Webshow, there are running visual motifs, like chickens as props. They express action and emotion but have nothing to do with the actual narrative. It’s a repeating motif that’s the absurd essence of this fundamentally absurd book. Meaning not only constantly shifts, but it’s also possible that meaning itself is a trick. It’s a prop, it’s a script, it’s the behind-the-scenes footage of the illusion. It’s a desperate attempt to create meaning through movement and repetition, to flatten form and form a map of what’s possible to understand about the world. Even as identities shift and change and people disappear, the goal is to keep dancing. In the end, Katz, through the Backstage of a Dishwashing Webshow, tells us that we must keep our heads down and keep moving in the face of these metaphysically shifting sands in order to create our own patterns in the world.

– Your Chicken Enemy

Her books are choreographies, says the artist from Tel Aviv. “Until the age of 19, I danced ballet. All my pictures are of me as I dance. And after every picture I look and develop the movement further.” This movement is always a little different, as in everyday life. “Every night I dance in front of an audience, it’s a little different,” Katz says. As in Milan Kundera’s novel, Immortality, in which the protagonist, also a novelist, develops an entire novel out of the beckoning of an older woman, Keren Katz is also inspired by seemingly banal movements and postures, she says. “Once my brother broke his finger and got two screws to fix the fracture. On the same day my dog died. He wanted to lift my dog up again, but could only do it with his arms. I have dedicated a whole book to this gesture.”

– Weser Kurier

Katz’s work, like that of Matthew Barney or Mika Rottenberg, has its own logic. Her storytelling voice seems to link the divine nonsense of authors like Daniel Pinkwater, William Steig, or Edward Gorey with surrealist writers like Leonora Carrington. Her comics are Truly Weird, the highest compliment I can give. With drawings executed in confident colored pencil, her figures stretch, bend, and topple in a manner reminiscent of contemporary choreography.

– Matthew Thurber, Artsy

The book is so rich in strange images that attempting to square them all with specific symbolic meaning seems fraught and silly, and perhaps would lead to misguided conclusions: The talk of a growing pencil, for instance, which comes up a few times, could refer to an erection as an instrument of will and agency, but suggests an argument that true agency for a woman comes not through her sexuality but through acts of writing or drawing. How can a young woman argue with the swelling cock of an older man positioned in power, if not through telling her story?

– The Comics Journal

The Academic Hour is a slew of contradictions wrapped up together; it is as delicate as it is intense, as heartbroken as it is joyous. The Academic Hour is one of the most complex, beautiful, and puzzling comics I’ve read in years. It’s a must read, and likely one of the strongest comics published so far in 2017.

– Alex Hoffman, Sequential State

With drawings that hover on the border between clutter and mesmerising orchestration, a well-realised visual/verbal language that is theatrical and physical, and layered themes that address the tensions between influence and authenticity, The Academic Hour represents a vision of the comics form that is distinctly Katz’s own. Equal parts surreal fantasy and personal allegory, The Academic Hour is imaginatively poetic and graceful in its delivery, its earnestness coming through on every page, matching and enlivening the dancerly performances evident in Katz’s drawings.

– Calm Undertones Now Transmitting

It’s told in a sequence of illuminated love letters from Liana to disgraced Professor Pothel, who has a past involving automobile accidents himself – if only at a distance, obsessed over from his bedroom window as a child – and a future as a crashed car himself. It really is pretty pummeled. Please see “spiders” and the bag thereof. It’s when the cemetery starts moving in pursuit of the physical bus that the metaphorical train comes off the tracks completely. Both the words and images tumble onto the page. Everything tumbles. It’s ever so sensual. I’m not entirely sure whether or not this is an amphigory in its truest sense, but the absurdist narrative positively delights in contradictions, contortions and non-sequiturs.

– Page 45

This book reminded me, above all else, of the feeling people sometimes gets that everything and nothing are both just a little bit off to the side, out of reach but not impossibly so. It’s all right there, if you tilt your head just right, angle your arms just so that they can slip through that veil and grab a bit of what’s on the other side. If you angle too far you’ll slide right through and never return, and if you don’t angle them enough you’ll never see a thing. Get yourself and your mind into exactly the right position, take a deep breath and dive right in.

– Optical Sloth

Keren Katz seems to bowl everyone over with her vibrant, zealous elaborate stagings and illustrations. Characters break the constraints of their places and stages, color overwhelms, stories go everywhere.

– The Sequential Artists Workshop (2014 Micro-Grant Award Winner)

Keren’s colorful and detailed drawings certainly make a visually striking—and beautiful—impact and they are all inspired by dance and/or movement.

– Examiner

An artist whose ethereal style of stylized, elongated and graceful figures touched with watercolor have gained quite a following, as well as her ambassadorial approach to spreading the word about Israeli comics.

– Bleeding Cool

It’s safe to say that children in grade school can’t illustrate images this impressive, but still, these Keren Katz renderings have a certain unrefined quality to them that’s evocative of kids’ drawings. This is, of course, a conscious design choice as Katz’s style stands out immensely amidst a sea of computer-generated artistry. Her penchant for leaving things not perfectly colored, her exaggerated human proportions and the overall whimsy of the scenes she depicts are things that make her work endlessly interesting to examine.

– Trendhunter

Children’s book author and illustrator Karen Katz does a lyrical adaptation of Tolstoy’s little-known tales for young readers.

– Brain Pickings, on The Graphic Canon of Children’s Literature



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