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The Knight Life’s Little Victories

Keith Knight went home last week.

Cartoonist and Malden native Keith Knight, whose semi-autobiographical series, “Woke,” is airing its second season on Hulu, has been tapped to deliver the graduation address at his alma mater, Salem State University on May 19. Knight has authored and illustrated 19 books and cut three albums with the hip-hop band Marginal Prophets.

The Banner caught up with Knight last week. The following interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

How did growing up in Malden inform your sense of humor?
I think it’s an East Coast sensibility, or Northeast sensibility. You rip on people, you rip on yourself. I think it’s a sign of affection almost. But I also gotta say that the education that I got in the public schools and also at my college really informed my sensibilities. 

The Bay State Banner talked to Keith.

 

It’s not many cartoonists who see decades of national success and notoriety — and even fewer who see a major TV show based on their work. But not many cartoonists are Keith Knight.

The Malden native and Salem State grad is in town this month to accept an honorary degree from his alma mater, and to host a community screening of Hulu’s “Woke,” the show Knight co-created based on his syndicated comic strips “The Knight Life,” “The K Chronicles,” and “(Th)ink.”

Boston.com also catches up with “Dr. Keith Knight.”

The show follows the adventures “Keef Knight,” a Black cartoonist on the verge of national syndication who tries to keep his work as innocuous as possible to appeal to a wider audience — until an incident of police brutality prompts him to, well, wake up to his responsibility as a voice in the Black community. Also, it’s a comedy, complete with talking Sharpie markers and trashcans voiced by the likes of J.B. Smoove and Cedric the Entertainer.

“I would say that my character is the Charlie Brown of activism — he’s trying to do the right thing all the time, but it just keeps on sort of backfiring on him,” Knight explains.

 

This year’s commencement exercises at Salem State University saw a Knight become a double-Viking.

That’s why the “’22H” on nationally renown cartoonist Keith Knight’s credentials might as well stand for “homecoming” rather than “honorary.” To open the fourth of five SSU commencement ceremonies, he became a Doctor of Humane Letters 32 years after first picking up an undergrad degree in graphic design, media and communication at Salem State College in 1990.

“You kids remember that!” he yelled, pointing out to the audience. Then he turned to the group of 64 graduate and 321 undergrad degree recipients he addressed at Saturday’s morning commencement. “I’m speaking to my kids… (turning) You refer to me as doctor! You refer to me as Doctor Dad!”

The Salem News also covers The Knight Life.


above: Mural created by Keefer for Keith Knight Day in Malden

 

Community Comments

#1 Bob Brenner
May/24/2022
@ 5:31 am

“Keith Knight went home last week.”

That’s the first sentence? I thought he had died. Bad lead.

#2 Mike Peterson
May/24/2022
@ 8:47 am

Well, if he said he passed, you might have thought he was a quarterback.

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