A Month of Writing Stars – Michael Kupperman
Every day this month I’m going to feature a current comic book writing “star,” someone who I think is a very good writer.
I’m mostly going to try to keep from the biggest names as much as possible, because, really, do I need to talk more about the awesomeness of Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Warren Ellis?
Here’s a hilarious comic creator who is slowly getting more and more attention outside the world of comics for his talents.
Michael Kupperman wrote for many different publications for a number of years before his first book came out in 2000, a collection of some of his work (plus new drawings) called Snake ‘n’ Bacon’s Cartoon Cabaret.
The book was named after the two characters who Kupperman are probably most known for, the duo of Snake and Bacon, who are, well, a snake and a piece of bacon. The snake only hisses and the bacon only says bacon-related things (like “I go well in a sandwich,” “Crumble me up and put me in a salad,” “Use a towel to wipe the grease off of me,” etc.) and yet they go on all sorts of misadventures.
They highlight what is perhaps Kupperman’s greatest comedic skill – the ability to sell surreal ideas in the most serious way possible, highlighting the humor all the more vividly.
Robert Smigel was a big fan and had Kupperman do some Snake and Bacon cartoons for Smigel’s TV Funhouse TV series.
A few years back, Kupperman returned to the world of comic book making again with his ongoing series for Fantagraphics called Tales Designed to Thrizzle, using a lot of the same characters from Snake and Bacon (including the titular pair) as well as loads of new characters, such as Hercules (“the public domain superhero”) and The Mannister – A man who can transform himself into the shape of a banister.
Kupperman’s humor is definitely surrealist and absurdist, but it comes in different delivery methods. Sometimes they will just be straightforward jokes, like the Mannister or Pagus – Jesus’ evil twin brother…
Other times, his humor will be more along the lines of examining older works and merely pointing out (through humor, of course) the absurdities of the past that just weren’t visible to readers at the time – heck, the title of the comic is even a bit of a play on those older comic works. You had your Tales to Astonish and your Tales of Suspense, well, here, these are Tales Designed to Thrill AND Dazzle, or Thrizzle, if you would.
You can see what he’s going for in the covers, as well, as they certainly evoke an era where absurdist ideas were not actually SEEN as absurd at the time (this is the general basis for stuff like Superdickery).
Kupperman also plays along with the silly directions people put in books, like “This is the kids section,” as though anyone actually follows the book’s instructions. In the latest issue, Kupperman professes to have designed the book to take exactly one day to read (along with instructions on how to do so).
I also like it when Kupperman puts famous people into silly situations, like Albert Einstein and Mark Twain as Magnum Force-esque police partners, or….
Adult Swim is currently in production on a Snake and Bacon cartoon series, and Kupperman is doing some other comedy writing for television, but luckily, he seems committed to giving us at least one issue of Tales Designed to Thrizzle a year.