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The Comic Book Alphabet of Cool – K

We continue our tour through the alphabet, with a different cool comic book item each day, from A to Z!

Today we look at one of the funniest comic book writers out there…

NOTE: I just remembered I featured Kupperman for Month of Writing Stars, so forget this, I’m just going to re-use most of that material along with a review of his latest issue of Tales Designed to Thrizzle!

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 doing 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.

Speaking of which, the latest issue (#5) came out the other week, and it was one of his best issues yet!

It opens with a two-page text feature on stars of yesteryear, and they are amazingly hilarious, including Teodore “Shouty” Jackson, a fellow who was popular in the early days of talking pictures and Oscar Wilde III, who showed up claiming to be Oscar Wilde’s grandson, and threatening to sue anyone who suggested that his grandfather was anything but a ladies man.

There’s a couple of quick site gags, and then he goes into an extended Einstein and Twain series of jokes, where he depicts the pair in a variety of different styles of old comics (like Archie Comics, mystery comics, crime comics, etc.) It’s fifteen pages of hilarity!

There’s an awesomely bizarre story of the origin of the Monkees, then a longer tale of a man who has his legs turned into “Sexy women legs” by aliens for a surprise reason.

If any of that sounds cool to you (and it should), you should get a copy of the latest issue of Tales Designed to Thrizzle (and the previous issues, as well, of course).

Kupperman’s ART is quite good, too, by the way. He nails each different style he is going for perfectly.

Oh, awesome, Fantagraphics has a four page preview up, and it’s from the Twain/Einstein part of the book! Huzzah for you readers out there!

Makeout session. You’re a cad, Twain!!

11 Comments

The cartoon premiered last week, it’s online here:

http://www.adultswim.com/video/?episodeID=8a250aae21346166012134ed9c120008

In classic adult swim fashion, there won’t be more episodes for a while, if ever. And Kupperman’s got a website these days:

http://mkupperman2.wordpress.com/

He posted a lot of the Twain & Einstein stuff there.

The latest issue of Tales is the only one I’ve read, but I didn’t find it as uproarious as I’d expected. A few mildly amusing bits that might induce a chuckle or two, but that’s about it.

Bill: WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU KUPPERMAN IS A GENIUS YOU SUCK AND SHOULD BE HUNTED DOWN LIKE THE DOG YOU ARE!!!!!111!!!!!111!!!!!!

Yeah, I enjoyed the only issue I own (#2), but from what I’ve seen of the other stuff, a tiny bit of Kupperman goes a really long way. I don’t see any need to buy another issue.

That said, I’m looking forward to Kupperman’s Marvel story in All Select Comics.

I don’t get you people. You crack up at Joss Whedon and Peter David and you sigh at Michael Kupperman.

No, wait. I totally get you.

I don’t think I’ve ever cracked up at either Whedon or David. I’ve smiled at David, even at some of his dumb puns, but Whedon doesn’t seem funny at all. I laughed more at issue #2 of Tales Designed to Thrizzle more than I’ve ever laughed at Whedon or David, but when I checked out issue #3, it seemed like he was telling the same jokes. Even I love a comedian, if I see the same routine dozens of times, it’s not going to be funny anymore.

As is the case whenever I feel like getting passive-aggressive, I really do hope smarter people than I, like you, Dan, let me know which creators, television shows, movies and bands we lesser mortals can’t find any fault with and must love with all our hearts. Then we’ll all be happy – we’ll be happy because we can finally read, watch, or listen to something tasteful, and you’ll be happy because everyone will like what you do. It’s the best of both worlds!

Kupperberg is good, but not really my thing. I think, in my case, it’s a case of guilt-by-association with the kind of “LOLRandom!” humor that’s so popular among mindless attention whores and teenagers (but I repeat myself). It’s not that kind of humor, it’s obvious that there’s more thought going into it than that, but I can’t stop my mind from reacting instinctively against it enough to really get into it. So it’s not him, it’s me.

That said, he (at least I think it was him) did a re-imagining of Wuthering Heights as an EC comic that I found hysterical. That sort of thing, I can get into easier than Snake ‘n’ Bacon.

It was R. Sikoryak who did that – and he is a genius!

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

The Kupperberg Quasar story is three pages of Quasar and Sinistro havign a wizards’ duel with their respective yellow power jewelry. Except they keept making Magic: The Gathering cards: neither thinks of making, say, a bat.

I bought Snake N Bacon eight? nine? years ago and I still love it. Too bad it’s outta print. The only thing I’ve ever seen that’s funnier is Steve Purcell’s Sam And Max.

Tales Designed to Thrizzle is always a must-have, double-bag item, as we used to say. When? Back when.

The bitter nerd angle is not flattering, Greg.

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