By Chris Reilly
How to describe Michael Kupperman? Let’s start this off with the most overused word in reviews: Sublime. (I’m using the “to change or cause to change directly from a solid to a vapour or gas without first melting to sublime iodine many mercury salts sublime when heated” definition.) Kupperman weeds out all the NARCs at the party—meaning that if his work does not make you laugh, go back to Omega House and spank some pledges, you joyless freak. Seriously, this man is one of the all-time great comic book satirists (in that he’s so funny that he may be satirizing comedy). He is the kind of funnyman that could point at a flower pot and it would become a very funny flower pot once he brought it to your attention. Through his lens the most mundane thing become seriously funny.
That is one of the most interesting aspects of Kupperman’s work: that he makes things that should not be funny a laugh riot. Read an issue of Tales Designed to Thrizzle and try to explain to someone why a mad scientist convincing a man he has transformed him into a sandwich is funny. The scientist tricks the man into standing on the bottom half of a bun, placing the top half on his head, and says “You are now more sandwich than man.” (Okay, bad example—there is not a single thing not funny about that.) Or try and figure out what is so frigging hysterical about a crazed, knife-wielding Pablo Picasso chasing Mayor McCheese. It is tough, but damn his stuff is funny.
Wait, actually it is so simple to figure out what is hysterical about a crazed, knife-wielding Pablo Picasso chasing Mayor McCheese. I am blowing this one big-time. Let’s just talk to Mike, who I referred to as “Neil” in the first question.
Chris P. Reilly: Neil, tell us why we should read Tales Designed to Thrizzle.
Michael Kupperman: I’ll ignore the “Neil” and read the question that way. [Thanks Mike –Chris.] Why should you read Tales Designed To Thrizzle? To experience the liberating power of laughter. Of course, if you don’t find it funny then there’s really no reason to read it. If you have no sense of humor, stay away.
CPR: What are the origins of Snake ‘N’ Bacon, aside from the fact that one was born and the other processed at a pork factory?
Kupperman: I was up late at night, years ago, and came up with the idea for them at a punchy moment. I never thought they were the greatest of characters, but public demand has kept them alive. It was the editor at Avon (which became Harper Collins) who wanted the book to be titled Snake ‘N’ Bacon’s Cartoon Cabaret; later it was two writers from The Daily Show who developed the show that featured them. I’ve merely acquiesced all along.
CPR: Who could (or should) I recommend your work to?
Kupperman: People who enjoy eccentric humor. Not necessarily comics fans, but they have to be able to read a page. If you enjoy “that sort of thing,” then you’ll enjoy my work, because it is that sort of thing. Weirdoes, smartasses, alienated teens, etc.
CPR: As an artist, what were your earliest influences?
Kupperman: Going potty, etc. But later more artistic influences emerged, such as Tintin, The Smithsonian Book of Newspaper Comics, and SCTV/ Monty Python.
CPR: Whose work do you enjoy currently?
Kupperman: Online there’s a lot of great work being done: K.C. Green, Kate Beaton, John Keogh. Right now I’ve been looking at two Fantagraphics books which are both amazing: the Al Columbia Pim & Francie, which is dark and weird, and their anthology of minicomics from the 80s, Newave! There’s an amazing Mack White strip in there.
CPR: What do you think of the fact that worldwide there are more trampolines stolen yearly than there are cars in the U.S.?
Kupperman: It’s an astonishing fact, and without putting too fine a point on it, I suspect the verisimilitude of that statistic.
CPR: What’s coming up and where can we get us some Michael Kupperman?
Kupperman: More Thrizzle and other comic projects, more TV soon…. Also I’ve been illustrating a host of projects: new writing from A.G. Pasquella and Jack Pendarvis, who you probably remember from their brilliant subtitling of the Turkish Jeffersons on the first Wholphin DVD; an LP compilation from Fayettenam records; and a book by Kristin Schaal and Rich Blomquist, The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex. And much, much more!
CPR: If people want to know your every waking thought, how can they directly link to you on Twitter and stalk you on Facebook?
Kupperman: Easy enough: they’re both under my name. Twitter’s the more immediate, rewarding one: MKupperman on Twitter. I’m on there every day, as you’ve probably noticed.
CPR: Mike, I had to add an extra question for you. Not bad for me—this is the second one out and I am breaking my own rule. Screw it: I might as well make Bonus Question a part of the form Q&A because this will happen 9 out of 10 times with me.
So. Bonus Question: I saw the Snake ‘N’ Bacon pilot online and it took me hours to find it after a friend told me it existed and it was hysterically funny. How did that come to be, what happened to it, and is there a website people who have not seen it can go to and watch it?
Kupperman: Found it here: snake’n'bacon” | Veoh And if that link stops working, you could always bittorrent it….
CPR: Thanks, Michael.
You can order Michael’s Tales Designed To Thrizzle 160-page full-color HC directly from Fantagraphics Books for a scant $24.99. Enter promo code CHRIS and get laughed at.