Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1 (Fantagraphics)

thrizzle-header.jpgRetro art mixes with postmodern wisecracks in this collection of Michael Kupperman’s hilarious comic series.



256 pgs. full color; $24.99 Hardcover

(W / A: Michael Kupperman)


Either you think Michael Kupperman’s stuff is hilarious or you don’t. And if you don’t, well, that’s sad, because you suck and you have no friends.

For instance, if you think Mickey Rourke suddenly appearing in your office to sell you pubic-hair stenciling kits is funny, you are correct. (One of the stencils, "Death of a Bullfighter," "started as a novel but then [Rourke] realized the story would work better within the medium of pubic hair.")

You might enjoy the abbreviated adventures of "Drunken Pirate District Attorney." How about a line-up of Dick Tracy’s yet-more-crazy villains, including "Mount Rushmore Face" and "Ordinary Guy Face"?

The cover to Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1 by Michael Kupperman. Click for a larger image.Kupperman has created a world with its own humor/"Dadaist" vibe, as he puts it in one meta-strip, and no critical breakdown can really relate its LOL-charm. His zany parodies of back-of-the-comic-book and back-of-the-magazine ads, radio melodramas, great moments in history, etc. let the air out of the stiff, pompous and absurd-to-begin-with.

Much of the charm resides in his art, heavily hatched, shadowed, stippled, and Benday-dotted in an old-fashioned style. He slams the retro up against his postmodern wisecracks, and it works nearly every time. (His stuff often reminds me of a similar master of bleeding comedy from old-fashioned stiffness, Glen Baxter.) This new omnibus of all four of his can’t-miss gems from Fantagraphics not only makes it easy to get his out-of-print stuff, it’s the only way to go—that’s because the reprints are in color for the first time, and it just looks really nice.

Recently, the Cartoon Network has run some new animated shorts by Kupperman with the title "Snake ‘n’ Bacon," a long-running gag of his. It would be nice if the cartoons had the same goofy charm as their 2D counterparts, but they’re not really clicking for me. Similarly, the New Yorker tried to animate some of their cartoons online, and they lose much of the drollness of the originals from the magazine.

Arguably, like Mickey Rourke’s pubic stencil kits, Kupperman’s brilliant oeuvre is best left in its chosen medium. | Byron Kerman

Click here for more info on Tales Designed to Thrizzle and to read a 10-page preview, courtesy of Fantagraphics!


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