Karasik, Paul 1956-
KARASIK, Paul 1956-
PERSONAL: Born 1956, in Washington, DC; son of Monroe and Joan Karasik. Education: Graduated from Pratt Institute, 1981; studied at School of Visual Arts.
ADDRESSES: Home—West Tisbury, MA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Picador, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.
CAREER: Cartoonist. Instructor in cartooning at School of Visual Arts, New York, NY, Packer Collegiate, Brooklyn, NY, and Scuola de Comics, Florence, Italy. Publisher, Bad News.
AWARDS, HONORS: Best Foreign Comic of the Year citation (Spain), 1999, and included among best 100 comics of the century by Comics Journal, both for City of Glass; best books of 2004 citation, Comics Journal, for The Ride Together.
(With David Mazzucchelli) City of Glass (graphic novel; adaptation of the novel by Paul Auster), Avon (New York, NY), 1994, with a new introduction, Picador (New York, NY), 2004.
(With Judy Karasik) The Ride Together: A Brother and Sister's Memoir of Autism in the Family, Washington Square Press (New York, NY), 2003.
Formerly associate editor, Raw.
City of Glass has been translated into French, Italian, German, Japanese, and Spanish.
Lawrence Treat, Crime and Puzzlement 3: 24 Solve-Them-Yourself Picture Mysteries, David R. Godine (Boston, MA), 1988.
Lawrence Treat, Crime and Puzzlement 5, on Martha's Vineyard, Mostly: 24 Solve-Them-Yourself Picture Mysteries, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 1993.
Lawrence Treat, Get a Clue 1: 25 Picture Mysteries, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1997.
Lawrence Treat, Get a Clue 2: 25 More Picture Mysteries, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1997.
Contributor of cartoons to New Yorker and Nickelodeon.
SIDELIGHTS: Paul Karasik is a well-known cartoonist who won praise for his work on the graphic-novel adaptation of Paul Auster's City of Glass and, later, for his innovative book about his autistic brother, The Ride Together: A Brother and Sister's Memoir of Autism in the Family, which he coauthored with his sister, Judy Karasik. He grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and studied at the Pratt Institute and the School of Visual Arts in New York City. His teachers included Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman, and Art Spiegelman. With Spiegelman, Karasik became involved in the influential magazine Raw, and also began teaching and selling his drawings to such respected periodicals as the New Yorker.
In 1994, Karasik collaborated with David Mazzucchelli to create a graphic adaptation of Auster's existentialist novel City of Glass. The story concerns Daniel Quinn, a poet who lives in New York City. After his wife and son die, he leads a quiet, rather desolate life, making a living as a mystery writer. He begins to receive repeated telephone calls from someone who has confused him with a detective who has the same name as the book's author: Paul Auster. Eventually, Quinn's curiosity compels him to take on the Auster persona and the case, which involves protecting Peter Stillman, a young man who was tortured by his father. Stillman's father sought to reveal the true language of God by inflicting sensory deprivation on his son for many years. Quinn is soon caught up in the obsessions of the Stillmans and drifts increasingly far from his own identity.
Auster's book is a philosophical novel, seemingly not well-suited for a graphic rendition, according to Library Journal reviewer Steve Raiteri. Still, according to the critic, Karasik and Mazzucchelli have produced a "masterly adaptation," one which shows a "deep understanding" of the possibilities of the graphic novel. A Publishers Weekly writer found that the adaptation actually "deepens the darkness and power" of the original book, adding "a whole new set of resonances to Auster's story, about the things images can and can't represent when language fails." Karasik told Bill Kartalopoulos in an interview for IndyWorld.com that he had already read Auster's work when asked to adapt it and that work on the project came easily to him.
City of Glass is frequently referred to as a "formal" graphic novel, and Karasik has said he is interested in the "formal aspects of comics." Asked by Kartalopoulos to explain, Karasik said that it is important to learn "how to use icons as symbolic language to convey the essence of your ideas. Because comics are pictures and we're programmed to decipher symbolic language in our day-to-day life, the artist can speak in pictures, and know that he can be understood. When you combine symbols, you convey meanings." Karasik further mused, "Sometimes you get led into formal solutions by following one element at the expense of others—you get obsessed with a character, or you get obsessed with a visual element, or you get obsessed with an idea, and those obsessions generate things you wouldn't have imagined to begin with. And then you go back and pare, use your rational tools, your formal tools, but keep the elements from your messy obsession alive. It's not a rational process, but there are rational pieces to the process."
Karasik's collaboration with his sister, Judy Karasik, resulted in another innovative book, The Ride Together. The Karasiks grew up with an autistic sibling, David, and their joint memoir uses prose and cartoons to show both what it is like to live with an autistic family member, and what life is like for the autistic person. David behaved compulsively, repeatedly acting out parts of television programs he had memorized. He could retain large amounts of very complex information, yet could not hold a normal conversation. He could be loving and gentle, but also had a violent, unpleasant side. Judy Karasik's prose sections relate stories from the coauthors' youth and experiences, while Paul Karasik's drawing "immerses you in the experience," commented Andrew Wheeler in Ninth Art. David's parents committed themselves to nurturing him despite his frustrating condition, and their caring attitude is reflected in that of their other children. The Ride Together is a "genuinely moving sentiment that never devolves into cheap sentimentality," recommended Carole Goldberg in the Hartford Courant.
In his attempt to portray the alternate reality that David experiences, Karasik has characters walking out of television sets; quiet sounds are portrayed as disturbingly loud; and a ticking clock is shown as the allabsorbing object David sometimes found it to be. Library Journal reviewer Corey Seeman called The Ride Together a "remarkable" book that "fills an important gap in the literature, complementing the parental view found in most autism narratives." Booklist contributor Ray Olson commended Karasik for letting "us see that his brother, although he behaves peculiarly, is fully lovable as well as bewildering and sometimes heartbreaking." The book ends by showing David in the present, living in a community home for people with autism. According to another Booklist writer, Coney Seeman, the drawings in the book "provide images of David and his behavior that crystallize in the reader's mind. We see that David is different, but not so different perhaps. Ultimately, this is a work about the way that people talk to each other."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Karasik, Paul, and Judy Karasik, The Ride Together: A Brother and Sister's Memoir of Autism in the Family, Washington Square Press (New York, NY), 2003.
Booklist, January 2, 2003, Ray Olson, review of The Ride Together: A Brother and Sister's Memoir of Autism in the Family, p. 815.
Entertainment Weekly, January 17, 2003, Marc Bernardin, review of The Ride Together, p. 84.
Ganzfeld, fall, 2000, Dan Nadel, interview with Karasik.
Hartford Courant, January 5, 2003, Carole Goldberg, review of The Ride Together, p. G2.
Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry January, 2004, Beth Kephart, review of The Ride Together, p. 112.
Library Journal, November 15, 2002, Corey Seeman, review of The Ride Together, p. 88, "Sibling Rivalry: Judy and Paul Karasik's The Ride Togther," p. 89; July, 2004, review of City of Glass, p. 62.
New York Times, June 10, 2003, review of The Ride Together, p. F5.
Publishers Weekly, July 18, 1994, review of City of Glass, p. 241; November 11, 2002, review of The Ride Together, p. 49; May 17, 2004, review of City of Glass, p. 36.
School Library Journal, August, 2004, Matthew L. Moffett, review of City of Glass, p. 148.
Sentinel, April 24, 2003, Caroline Hsu, review of The Ride Together.
Washington, DC City Paper, February 14, 2003, Louis Bayard, review of The Ride Together.
Washington Post, October 10, 2004, Paul Di Fillippo, review of City of Glass, p. T9.
Worcester Telegram & Gazette, January 16, 2003, Pamela H. Sacks, "Text, Comics Offer Lesson in Autism," p. C3.
Year in Review, April, 2004, Dirk Deppey, review of The Ride Together, p. 39.
IndyWorld.com, http://www.indyworld.com/indy/ (November 10, 2004), Bill Kartalopoulos, interview with Karasik.
NinthArt.com, www.ninthart.com/ (November 15, 2002), Andrew Wheeler, review of The Ride Together.
The Ride Together Web site, http://www.theridetogether.com/ (November 10, 2004).*