Creative Quarantine: Cartoonist/Author Ken Krimstein

Ken_Krimstein Ken Krimstein

1: How are you holding up?

Pretty well, although, now, in early August, with all the uncertainty, it’s safe to say the novelty of wearing masks, zoom meetings, and sourdough bread has more than worn off.

Even what they’re calling baseball seems artificial and kind of sad.


I like it, I think it’s cute | Unpublished cartoon © Ken Krimstein 2020

2. Has Covid-19 had an effect on your work? If so, in what way?

In the immediate sense it has given me time to work like a banshee on finishing my next book, “When I Grow Up – The Lost Autobiographies of pre-World War II Yiddish Teens,” another graphic work of non-fiction coming out in 2021. I’m also working on the early stages of another biography as well as dipping my toe back in the waters of weekly submissions to “The New Yorker.”

I finally got around to reading “Watership Down,” as well as pretty much everything by Charles Portis.

As for how it might have affected the form and content of the work, it’s impossible to say.


Work in progress from an upcoming book… © Ken Krimstein 2020

3. Is there anything you’ve added to your practice that you’d like to keep after this is over?

I’ve enjoyed working with ink and paint on paper. I’ve enjoyed some Zoom calls with fellow cartoonists. I’ve actually kind of enjoyed teaching online. I’ve discovered and subscribed to many amazing online libraries and archives. Oh, and I really like some of the Bill Evans and Mahavishnu Orchestra concerts I’ve been watching on YouTube.



4. Of the artists you follow, who’s handling this particularly well?

The guitarist Bill Frisell seems to post some nice videos from his home.


Unpublished page from “Three Escapes…” © Ken Krimstein 2020

Dali Llama © Ken Krimstein 2020

Illustration for the article — ‘How the State Reads Queer Refugees” from Polity of Literature © Ken Krimstein 2020

Ken Krimstein’s graphic novel/biography of Hannah Arendt, “The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt — A Tyranny of Truth” (Bloomsbury 2018)  was a finalist for the 2019 Society of Midland Author’s Award, a finalist for the Jewish Book Council’s 2018 National Jewish Book Awards, a finalist for the 2019 Chautauqua Literary Prize, one of the best graphic novels of the year by Forbes, and made the top ten lists of The Comics Journal. In addition, Krimstein has published cartoons in the New Yorker, Punch, the Wall Street Journal, and has written for New York Observer’s “New Yorker’s Diary” and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Yankee Pot Roast, and Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood. He is the author of Kvetch as Kvetch Can, and teaches at De Paul University. Ken is also currently teaching at The Write Workshops. He lives in Evanston, Illinois.