An illustrated memoir by renowned New Yorker cartoonist Bruce Eric Kaplan.
“If The Little Prince had crash-landed, instead of in the Sahara, into a middle-class Jewish home in Maplewood, N.J. in the late 1960s, it might feel something like I Was a Child.”—The Hollywood Reporter
Bruce Eric Kaplan, also known as BEK, is one of the most celebrated and admired cartoonists in America. I Was a Child is the story of his childhood in suburban New Jersey, detailing the small moments we all experience: going to school, playing with friends, family dinners, watching TV on a hot summer night, and so on. It would seem like a conventional childhood, although Kaplan's anecdotes are accompanied by his signature drawings of family outings and life at home-road trips, milk crates, hamsters, ashtrays, a toupee, a platypus, and much more. Kaplan's cartoons, although simple, are never straightforward; they encompass an easy irony and dark humor that often cuts straight to the truth of experience. Brilliantly relatable and genuinely moving, I Was a Child is about our attempts to understand the mysteries that are our parents, our families, and ourselves.
New Yorker cartoonist Kaplan (Everything Is Going to Be Okay) recalls the somewhat stifling years of his conventional childhood in Maplewood, N.J., in his first nonfiction endeavor. The young Kaplan finds solace in television's "clarity of emotions," empathizing with I Love Lucy, idealizing the Newhart's marriage, and treating the annual airing of The Wizard of Oz with profound reverence. Kaplan's distinct imagery captures the vaguely suffocating aura of the family home: the giant cabinet record player, everything "repaired with Scotch tape," and the TV antenna assisted by tin foil. Further, '60s and '70s nostalgia abounds, as Kaplan lovingly recalls baseball card packages with stale gum, Jonny Quest, and S&H Green Stamps rewards from the grocery store. The memoir is, of course, peppered with Kaplan's famously simple illustrations depicting subjects like Lucille Ball, a childhood friend's unhinged mother, Barbara Streisand's nose, and Superman pushing a manual lawnmower. Fans of Kaplan's art will find a similar style in his prose: quick, humorous sketches of the everyday, with the occasional moment of pure poetry.