'Jake the Fake Keeps it Real' Explores Imposter Syndrome in Adolescence

Apr 17, 2017

Cartoonist Keith Knight juggles a lot of deadlines. He’s the creator of not one, not two, but three different comic strips: The Knight Life, Th(ink) and The K Chronicles. They all straddle the line between what we’d consider mainstream and underground comics. But the last strip in that list is a weekly, semi-autobiographical strip that’s allowed him to share his distinctive view of the world, that of a middle-age African American cartoonist.

His latest project is based on someone else’s semi-autobiographical work. Comedian Craig Robinson has acted in everything from the TV show The Office to the movie Hot Tub Time Machine, and he’s the co-author of the book Jake the Fake Keeps it Real along with writer Adam Mansbach.

It’s about a sixth grader dealing with impostor syndrome in his first year at an arts magnet school, and it’s loosely based on Craig’s experience as a fledgling musician discovering his calling as a comedian. Knight did the illustrations, and while he’s always known he wanted to be a cartoonist, he says the protagonist’s journey resonates with him.

“I always knew what I wanted to do, I just didn’t know how I’d get there… But I had a twin sister who didn’t know what she wanted to do, so she’s done everything. And in some ways I admire all the different experiences she’s had,” he says.