Fan OneAs a longtime Kliban fan (since college in the 70s), I concur with the majority of the positive reviews of Klibanís work, on general principle alone. Just as many stand-up comics from the early 70s onward owe a huge debt to Lenny Bruce, so do Gary Larson and others owe B. Kliban. Big time. I still laugh myself silly over Klibanís work. All of it.
However, I must take polite exception to your lumping all WebTV users together with the idiot who doesnít care for Kliban. Some of us opted for WebTV as a cheap alternative to ditching our otherwise perfectly good antique computers, and I havenít noticed that accessing the internet via computer demonstrates a particular degree of good taste or wit.
Must runóthe tabby is getting out her guitar, and Iíve got to sing along.
[Second Email From Same Reader]
Looked briefly at your site, and will return soon to spend more time. Youíre either a good bit younger than I or you write that way. One of my fondest memories of experiencing Lenny Bruceís work was sitting in my friend Andreaís basement thirty-five years ago, with Andrea, Emily, and Susanne, reading aloud to each other from a paperback copy of How to Talk Dirty and Influence People and laughing ourselves silly. (We were in grade school, but had parents with very hip book and record collections.)
As for Woody Allen, itís all to easy to forget the brilliant standup work of his early days, especially with the dreary crap heís been turning out over the past few years. But he was indeed brilliant. What else would you expect from a man so neurotic that he actually fed coins into a pay phone for fifty minutes three times a week so he could continue his analysis while filming on location?
Fan TwoHey man, thanks for the Kliban reprints. Please donít put my name up on your web page but do consider me a fellow fan if you ever need resources or moral support for a Kliban project...
Best wishes, Chris (censored)
What do you think? Why do you suppose this guy wants his name removed? Can anyone out there think of a good reason? If youíre curious about this strange phenomenon, hereís another flaming example.
Fan ThreeI was very, very happy to see your web page on Hap Kliban. I first fell in love with his special style when I saw in Playboy his cartoon depicting a patient in a doctorís office sitting nude from the waist up on a stool with the doctor listening to his heart and using, instead of a stethoscope, a goose with one foot in each ear and the beak on the patientís chest. The caption was ďOne of us, Mr. Barrows, is a very sick man.Ē My next favorite was the group of tourists standing near a tree on one of whose branches was hanging an upside down skeleton of a man in a cowboy hat playing the banjo next to the skeleton of a 6-foot fish. The caption (coming from the mouth of a tour guide) was something like ď. . . and here is where one of the most unique events in history took place.Ē
I felt strongly compelled to write him a letter c/o Playboy telling him just how special his humor was. He responded by immediately mailing me some of his cartoons which I framed and which still adorn the walls in my home. One which I particularly love depicts a nude man obviously in his apartment, dressed in the costume of a fish holding a can of paint in one hand and a paint brush in the other, and hovering over a frightened woman who is exclaiming ďSo, Marshall, this is why you brought me up here!Ē He was clearly the best ever.
P.S. In the cartoon I described that Kliban sent to me, I neglected one important detail. The guy with the paintbrush wearing a fish suit was also wearing roller skates.
Fan FiveI have collected kliban art since the 70ís. I would like to find a source to get more kliban "stuff". please add my name to the "for Kliban". thanksFan SixLarson is way conventional compared to BK. - JP (Morgan?)Fan SevenFollowing up references to B. Kliban, I stumbled across your site and liked it very much. Would much appreciate any further links you might have to Kliban (Do you know anybody who knew anybody wgho knew him?) as I am writing a feature about him for the Independent newspaper of Great Britain, it being the 10th anniversary of his death and the 25th anniversary of the publication of Cat. In return, I leave the following offering. 6/00 MP (Minister of Parliament?)Fan Eight
[offering edited out]Hi:
The gallery is back up, and I may have made a convert thereby: I have always believed it the right thing to do to duplicate whatís out of print: thanks, and thanks for the return post.
B.K. fan since age 8 (or so):
ps: as art is eternal, we should be glad to wait for a few weeks at a time while archives like this are down, for the sake of their free nature. This ainít e-bay (praise "Bob"!) 8/00 MWS (mini-window-sill?)
Fan Nine (Gentleman Jim)pics/Bkgringo.jpg
But beyond that, running across your site is the best accident Iíve had in a long long time. Thank you!
Fan TenFresh air.. hm, only if youíve been under a rock for a few years. But never mind. I was drawn to your site by the name of Kliban, Lord of Cats and Watermelon; stayed for the unfortunate discussion of the one named Colleen. Fell for the vapid vote-thing like the damned sheep I am, no less excused to find I fell in with the majority, though I suspect (if only out of some fuzzy-minded self-effacing conceit) only because it was the last option on the list, and therefore held the most sticking power, like a stale Post-It, transported by rheumatic camel across the Andes in an unpadded steel box with a case of maple syrup, to find much the same fate as my beloved stuffed squirrel which arrived in England in the same condition.. And why? Because they donít have any freaking maple trees in England, thatís why.. Anyway, thanks for an amusing site. Keep it up.
Fan ElevenI have, I think, understood the 'High Difficulty' Kliban cartoon at pics/bkpig.gif since "Two Guys"'initial publication.We asked a leading scientist for his professional opinion.
The cartoon, which is indeed 'high difficulty', parodies a genre of single-panel cartoon in which a character is speaking, but there is no caption or word balloon. In this genre, which is quaintly antique at this time (or even in Klibanís heyday 20 years ago), the situation portrayed is always one in which we can assume the speaking characterís words, because the situation is stock, classic, well-known ó for example, a little boy who has batted a ball through a window, a wife who has come home to find her husband passionately engaged with another woman, etc. The activity portrayed with the pig, funnel, and shoe, however, is constructed to purposefully defy explanation ó we therefore -cannot- comprehend or imagine what the man is saying, which is a prerequisite for this genre of cartoon.
If there were a slang/folk expression "oh, go pour it in a pigís posterior and beat it with a shoe!", then we might imagine the man ridiculing his wife who took the expression too literallyó-but there is no such expression. The joke is in the parody of the form, and the conventions of the form, that the untitled, uncaptioned cartoon purports to represent.
The cartoon is a brilliant piece of work, which, like much of the late geniusí oeuvre, explores and lampoons the conventions of cartooning itself, and dabbles in quasi-GŲdelian self-reference: the gag is not in the situation which is presented, but the very fact of its presentation.
Bernard S. GreenbergHmm, well I think the guy is basically right. The only thing I could add is that the manís gesture seems to indicate, "thatís enough" and his smile and relaxed attitude indicates that this is a familiar operation for them.
That will be enough cartoon analysis for now.
Take care, Peter
Peter Hornsby, Ph.D.
Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Fan Twelve
Baylor College of Medicine
Fan ThirteenKliban is a cult. You obviously get it. A small circle of friends of mine that go back to school days have had our entire artistic-intellectual-comedic worldview shaped by this guy, and his genius is virtually unknown. I appreciate your promotion of this underrecognized genius.And again...
NilsLarson has his moments, but heís not in the same league. Like most commerically successful cartoonists, Larsonís practically a one-joke guy. Hereís something I wrote about Kliban that I submitted to Amazon.com:Can I just say that that was sweet.Klibanís genius lies in the fact that he was always more than a cartoonist (as his satirical pictures of cartoonists made clear); he was a surreal visionary of quotidian absurdity. I remember when I discovered Kliban. (Doubtless every fan remembers this moment, because it was a moment when his whole comic universe shifted irrevocably.) It was the night I turned fifteen: at my birthday party, a friend gave me The Biggest Tongue in Tunisia. None of us had ever heard of Kliban - my friend had bought it on a whim - but as three of us sat there in the corner and read the book together, we began to laugh, then to howl, and finally to cry; then we read it again; and again. The next week I brought it school and soon we had memorized every drawing in the book. Over the years what can only be described as a Kliban cult developed among my circle of friends, where we would delight in observing "Klibanesque" moments in the so-called "real" world. Fifteen years later, we still take pleasure in citing Kliban at appropriate moments. I remember once sitting in Pamplona, Spain, competing for an hour with a friend to see who could cite more Kliban cartoons; we finally declared a truce. Kliban was a seer - his humor caused you to realize that real world was actually more bizarre than even the biggest trippers had ever realized; in a way, his cartoons were perfectly postmodern: the more you read them, the more they began to seem realistic and the usual attempts to depict reality began to seem fraudulent. Like good philosophy and bad drugs, it was only once you get into the habit that you realized you couldnít (and didnít want to) escape. Quintessentially visual, Klibanís humor was unexcelled at what might be described as visual wordplay. How can one possibly explain the humor of comparing "cucumbers and asparagus" with a "cumbersome apparatus"? (As Kliban observed with mock-paranoia, it was "More than a coincidence.") Only someone too comfortable with reality could fail to see the hilarity of his bizarre juxtaposition of peculiar vegetables with a nonsensical mechanism. Klibanís humor instructed me to observe sublimity in everyday banality. Just the other day I had a Kliban Experience: driving past a Hardw store in Oakland, CA, I observed an obscenely fat man sitting on the back of an empty pickup truck with a huge, badly painted sign that read "Free Bricks." It wasnít funny by itself, but when I thought of Kliban painting than scene, I almost had a fit. Kliban had worldview - and it was far more profoundly, insightfully, and savagely disturbed than the puerile animal fantasies of Gary Larson. Kliban awaits rediscovery - one day in the future, his fiendish genius will be recognized as on par with Andy Warhol. One day some enterprising young art historian will make her name explaining Kliban. If the weirder things get, the more you enjoy them, then Kliban is cartoonist for you.
Fan FourteenDear Bacon:I hope this wonít be awkward, but since you emailed, I was wondering if you might be interested in going out for some dinner and a movie?
Thank you for providing a wonderful selection of Klibanís cartoons for others to enjoy. I typed "Kliban" in the search engine hoping to find a poster or two, and was lucky enough to come across your site.
I can vividly remember the day in 1976 that I went to the mall with my younger brother (I was 21, he 18) and, browsing in a bookstore, came upon the book "Cat". The two of us sat in a corner and devoured the book, laughing non-stop. A few months later he presented me with a copy for my birthday (including a photo of me at age 10 sitting with our own cat, taped to the inside cover) and personalized with notes he had annotated to various drawings. It is still one of my most prized possessions.
Re: the Guest Explanations to "No Idea" from "Two Guys Fooling Around..." : I commend Bernard S. Greenberg (Fan Eleven) and Peter Hornsby, Ph.D. for their erudite and entertaining analysis. Itís a rare pleasure to come across writing that is intelligent, wry and insightful (and unexpected, in such a transient setting). "Oh, go pour it in a pigís posterior and beat it with a shoe!" may not be an actual expression, but it should be. One of the greatest things about art is that everyone who views it sees something different - no right or wrong, just varying perceptions. Mr. Greenberg saw a man bemusedly teasing his wife; Mr. Hornsby added that the man indicated "thatís enough", in a relaxed attitude indicative of familiar operation for them. My take is somewhat different - although the man is smiling, he does not seem relaxed. He appears eager to please, but almost embarrassed. She, on the other hand, although apparently offering him a swine infused beverage of some sort, looks bored, annoyed, and secretly wishing he would refuse further refreshments (which, credit Mr. Hornsby, he is) and leave. My gut reaction is that this is a couple on a first date (note her dress and his suit - a husband would probably at least have removed the jacket after coming home from the office before sitting down to relax with a sparkling glass of pig swill). She realizes thereís no way thereís going to be a second date (he senses this too), but still feels obliged to observe the niceties such an awkward situation requires. But hey, maybe Iím reading way too much into this (which is half the fun!).
I look forward to perusing the rest of your website.
Fan FifteenEnjoyed reading information on the Kliban site. Have been a long time fan of his illustrations, have most of his books, multiple copies of his Cat Art books. Have collected all the Cat Theme calendars that have come out the last 4 or 5 years. His humor was and is still so unique, that you can still look at any of his illustrations and find new twists..he truly was not appreciated enough when he was among us. Thanks for keeping the site up. Patty
Fan SixteenHi, I found your site when looking for info on Kliban, and noticed that your selection of cartoons has the section "found on the Internet", and I have the books theyíre from.
I found them in a book store called Myopic while in Chicago. They had a few copies of each.
In the store I found an oldish edtion of Cat, but more interestingly Tiny Footprints, Whack Your Porcupine, and Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head.
The "Internet" pics are certainly in those three books, but the Biggest Tongue and Two Guys ones are new to me.
Do you already have all this lot, or are you interested in getting some scans?
Fan SeventeenHi Martin,
Out of a feeling of indebtedness, Iíve been recently searching for information on B. Kliban and came across your biography. I was saddened to hear that he is no longer with us. I cartoon for a living now and his books are still my bibles of inspiration. I have been a great Kliban fan since the seventies when I, like yourself, 'stumbled' across him.
I appreciated your well-written biography and found it most informative, but there is one needling point that I have been unable to come up with and perhaps you could help me: How did he die?
Thank you so much. I would welcome any other anecdotal information about him you may wish to share.
Fan Eighteen"Tail" explanation on this Kliban...This is the fourth blind mouse that didnít have his tail cut off with a carving knife and we see him experiencing the pain of survivor syndrome. "Why didnít it happen to me?" Argh!!
B Kliban Cartoons Home