Cultural Commissions – Keith Knight

The Wallace Initiative commissioned  working papers/artistic responses from Bay Area artists about deepening, expanding, and diversifying cultural participation, hoping to generate new ideas and spark conversations between regional artists and arts organizations.

Keith Knight, humor-based cartoonist and graphic novelist, draws a cartoon strip about the flight of black residents and artists from San Francisco. Click here to download a PDF of Moving B(l)ack to San Francisco.

…was born and raised in the Boston area. Weaned on a steady diet of Star Wars, hip-hop, racism and Warner Bros. cartoons, Keith started drawing comics in grade school. After graduating from college with a degree in graphic design, he drove out to San Francisco in the early ’90s. It was in the Bay Area where he developed his trademark cartooning style that has been described as a cross between Calvin & Hobbes and underground comix.

Keith Knight is part of a new generation of talented young African-American artists who infuse their work with urgency, edge, humor, satire, politics and race. His art has appeared in various publications worldwide, including  the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle,, Ebony, ESPN the MagazineL.A. WeeklyMAD Magazine, and  the Funny Times .

His comic musings on race have garnered accolades and stirred controversies, prompting CNN to tap him to grade America on its progress concerning issues of race.

AWARDS: Keith Knight  won the 2007 Harvey Award and the 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2010 Glyph Awards for Best Comic Strip.  At the 2010 Comic Con International, Keith was awarded the 2010Inkpot Award. The Inkpot is a special award that Comic-Con International gives to a handful of folks every year for their achievements in their respective genres. Previous recipients include Charles Schulz, Harvey Pekar, Jules Feiffer, R. Crumb, and Sergio Aragones, to name a few.

Three of his comix were the basis of an award-winning live-action short film, Jetzt Kommt Ein Karton, in Germany. His comic art has appeared in museums and galleries from San Francisco (CA) to Angoulême (France).

BOOKS: Keith’s work has been collected in 10 books so far: six collections of his multi-panel strip,the K Chronicles, two collections of his single panel (th)ink, titled Red,White, Black & Blue and Are We Feeling Safer Yet?, and one collection of his nationally syndicated, daily newspaper comic strip,The Knight Life. He also co-wrote and illustrated The Beginner’s Guide to Community-Based Art.

MUSIC: His semi-conscious hip-hop band, the Marginal Prophets, will kick your ass!! Their last disc,Bohemian Rap CD, won the California Music Award for Outstanding Rap Album, beating out rap heavyweights Paris, Aceyalone, E-40, Too-Short, and Ice Cube’s Westside Connection. Hip-hop music with a punk-rock aesthetic!!

SPEAKING GIGS: Keith Knight is available to perform his hilarious and inspirational multimedia comic strip slideshow at your campus, library, community center or church. Keith has also led many workshops and panel discussions about various issues, including Cartooning is Serious Businessand Comic Con’s Nappy Hour. For more details, contact the artist at

(note: To view the PDFs on this page, you will need Adobe Reader. Please visit the Adobe website to download the latest version for free.)


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In 2008, The San Francisco Foundation (TSFF) and Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund (GFTA) embarked on a four-year funding partnership to encourage systemic and sustainable structural change in the relationships of Bay Area arts organizations to their audiences, supported by the Wallace Foundation. Community offerings during the grant period (2008-2011) included seminars, workshops, large public convenings, implementation grants, development of a regional shared mailing list, and expansion of the website.


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