Kafka the person, and especially Kafka the person in relation to his father, Hermann, will never not make me laugh. This comic refers to Franz’s assertion in the piece usually called “Letter to His Father” (Brief an den Vater) that he and his father are different because he takes after his mother’s family, the Löwys. (Franz makes a lot of assertions in his Brief, which ran to forty-five typewritten pages.) It refers also to the fact, or what I’m told is the fact, that Kafka chewed each bite hundreds of times, a process known as “Fletcherizing.” Apparently no scientific evidence backs up Horace Fletcher‘s claim that this will endow a person with health and strength (and neither does the fact that Kafka died of TB at age forty), but I’m sure that when Fletcherism was popular there was plenty of anecdotal evidence that sitting at the table with a Fletcherist is highly unpleasant.

I don’t know if Hermann Kafka was really such a lousy father as Franz claimed. It’s possible that no human father would have been able to avoid traumatizing a son who was afraid of mice and offended by the letter K.

This comic took me far too long to assemble and I’m not entirely pleased with it, but I like Franz in the middle panel. He captures, if not something about the real Franz Kafka, at least something about me.