Ken Krimstein
Author, Cartoonist

Ken Krimstein is an award-winning author and cartoonist. His book, When I Grow Up – The Lost Autobiographies of Six Yiddish Teens, is one of NPR’s favorite reads of 2021. It also featured on Washington Post’s “Top Ten Graphic Novels of 2021” and is one of the Notable Fall reads by the Chicago Tribune. For his book on Hannah Arendt, Ken Krimstein has presented lectures at many venues (including universities, art galleries, cultural organizations) in the United States and Canada and the UK. He’s also presented in-person at the Jewish Museum in Berlin and the Literaturhaus in Munich.

Ken was a featured speaker at The Chicago Humanities Festival in 2019. He talked about Hannah Arendt in-person to over three hundred people.

In February 2019, the Spertus Institute created a six-month installation in its lobby for The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt. The event was launched with Ken’s interview on-stage by Alexandra Salomon, editor of WBEZ, Chicago’s NPR station. 600 people attended.  The Institute on Arendt held subsequent panel events and lectures. Ken discussed the revival of Yiddish in current culture.

Ken has also presented lectures on his book of Jewish cartoons through the Jewish Book Council. He presented these lectures at Kvetch as Kvetch Can at JCC’s, Jewish book festivals, and synagogues around the country. In addition to being a creative director in NYC for 20 years, and doing countless presentations and speeches, he’s been a professional lecturer at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and DePaul University for 10 years, and has lectured to advertising industry groups and professional organizations on topics including creativity, strategy and innovation, brand marketing, design, and idea generation around the country.

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WHEN I GROW UPThe Lost Autobiographies of Six Yiddish Teenagers
Bloomsbury Publishing

When I Grow Up is The New Yorker cartoonist Ken Krimstein’s new graphic nonfiction book, based on six of hundreds of newly discovered, never-before-published autobiographies of Eastern European Jewish teens on the brink of WWII—found hidden in a Lithuanian church cellar.

When I Grow Up Discovering the lost teenagers of “Yiddishuania,” my journey discovering their stories, as told in my graphic narrative: “When I Grow Up - The Lost Autobiographies of Six Yiddish Teenagers”.
Climbing Everest Every Tuesday What it’s like to be a cartoonist for The New Yorker Magazine.
Kvetch as Kvetch Can — Jewish Cartoons A presentation of my humor book of gag cartoons on all things Jewish, which can be expanded into a longer presentation that I’ve given as part of a short course for Bard College: It Only Hurts When I Laugh — What is it with Jews and Cartoons?
There are no Dangerous Thoughts — Thinking Itself Is Dangerous What Hannah Arendt can teach us about how to think, how to live, and how to get along with one another — from my graphic narrative: The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt - A Tyranny of Truth.
Winning in the Virtual Bazaar — A Physical-Digital design-oriented way to thrive in our brave new world Based on a book proposal and my teaching regarding creativity and human-centric marketing strategy.
Graphic History—Why It Works, Why It Matters Understanding history has never been more important and new directions in graphic narratives from Maus to When I Grow Up are enlightening readers from all quarters.
Graphic Narratives—Reading, Creating, and Appreciating Them: It’s not just for bubblegum wrappers anymore.

Read this Chicago Magazine article about Ken Krimstein speaking about salvaging the stories of pre-Holocaust Jewish youths.

Krimstein illustrates in Haaretz about life in the 1930’s as a Jewish Teen.

"It was such a pleasure for our south suburban Jewish community to hear the story of YIVO holding a contest in the late 1930s asking Yiddish speaking teenagers to send in written accounts of their lives and how many of these texts were discovered five years ago in a church cellar in Lithuania. It was fascinating too to hear about your journey to Lithuania, the translation of the texts, and your decision on how to visually depict these anonymous teenagers. Your book is very beautiful and moving and I will always treasure owning a copy with your inscription in it."
-Shir Tikvah
Praise for When I Grow Up: The Lost Autobiographies of Six Yiddish Teenagers “Poignant … Ken Krimstein's latest book sketches a powerful portrait of Eastern European Jewish youths, full of angst and optimism, on the eve of the Holocaust … Yearning is, in fact, the collection's dominant emotion.”
--Chicago Magazine

“Deeply affecting yet often joyful … these recovered works form the basis of Krimstein's narrative, and the fact that almost all of the young writers perished at the hands of the Nazis casts an ominous shadow. Yet the six young people who come alive in pencil and watercolor are hopeful, defiant, lovelorn, and smart … Krimstein's loose-lined drawings shift between sobriety and humor, while footnotes provide context … By depicting the personalities of youth lost-with easy beauty and a lack of preciosity-rather than how they died, Krimstein conveys the depth of human and cultural loss that much more profoundly.”
―Publishers Weekly, starred review