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Malden cartoonist returns home

Posted by Alix Roy  June 1, 2010 10:04 AM

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keith_pic1.jpgYears ago, Keith Knight would visit the Malden Public Library and pull Doonesbury and Peanuts comic books from the shelves. Those were the only series available, Knight recalled, and he devoured them.
 
On Thursday, Knight will return to the scene of his youth, this time as an acclaimed cartoonist whose award-winning comics have been collected in nine books. His latest, entitled “The Knight Life: Chivalry Ain’t Dead,” inspired the impromptu book tour, which stops in Malden and Somerville.

On Thursday, Knight will deliver one of his trademark “lectures,” which are more like stand-up comedy with visual aids, he said in an interview. Because his appearance is open to all ages, Knight said he'll focus a little less on the political and social humor he's become known for, and a little more on the creative process. He plans to bring along some original art to show the pen-and-pencil efforts that result in published strips.

“More and more people are trying this on computers but I really like the idea of having original art,” he said. “It helps being able to show people the mistakes, all the pencil marks ... sometimes I have to completely redo something.”

Knight began drawing comics in grade school but points to a high school English project as the pivotal moment where he realized his dream of becoming a professional cartoonist. Mr. Hinds, an English teacher at Malden High School, agreed to let Knight pass in a comic book based on George Orwell's "Animal Farm" instead of a traditional report. The result was parody of the novel in which students took over the school. It earned Knight an A++ and a suggestion from Hinds that he start a syndicated comic strip.

“That really kind of pushed me,” Knight recalled. “I thought that if I could get away with this as a job that would be great.”

Today, Knight publishes a weekly, semi-autobiographical comic strip called "The K Chronicles," as well as a daily syndicated comic entitled The Knight Life. He also draws single-panel comics based on political and current events known as "(Th)ink."
 
Although he currently resides on the West Coast, Knight returns to the Malden area periodically to visit friends and family. Traveling east has its perks, he admits, naming lobster rolls as a top draw. Anything else?

“I don't have to argue with the bartender to put on a hockey game,” he laughs.

Knight will be speaking and signing copies of his new book on Thursday, June 3 at 7 p.m. at the Malden Public Library, 36 Salem Street. The event is free and open to the public.


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