The Arty Semite

Are You Thrizzled?

By Benjamin Ivry

  • Print
  • Share Share

If you liked Eli Valley’s Bucky Shvitz, you may soon be asking yourself: “Am I thrizzled?”

Among the many innovative cartoonists published by the Seattle-based Fantagraphics Books, Michael Kupperman is surely one of the most original. Kupperman popped up a decade ago as the writer and illustrator of the offbeat “Snake ‘n’ Bacon’s Cartoon Cabaret” from HarperCollins, in which the two title heroes resemble one another, but not all that much.

Failed resemblances and other vague disappointments are also the hallmark of Kupperman’s illustrations for the Lemony Snicket series, also from HarperCollins. In 2005, Kupperman hit his stride with the comic book series “Tales Designed To Thrizzle,” of which No. 6 has just appeared, to the delight of Robert Smigel and other fans.

The attractions are obvious: In one story, Jungle Princess, a red-haired beauty, wears a leopard skin bikini and a conical hat somewhere between Lady Guinevere’s hennin and the pointed headgear which Jews were forced to don in medieval Europe. Jungle Princess is a magazine editor-publisher who has time for seemingly irrelevant, and even misleading comments like “Leonard Nimoy is an excellent singer.”

In another narrative, “All About Drainage,” characters who hauntingly resemble the Jewish actors Eli Wallach and Lee Grant (born Lyova Haskell Rosenthal) enact a sordid backstage drama. The superhero duo “Twain and Einstein,” born one day when Kupperman reportedly discovered that these two notables were “sort of indistinguishable,” play “rockin’ chase music” on a Stratocaster, after which Einstein comments: “Good thing I was wearing my silver lamé pantsuit and platform shoes.”

Ironically capturing the crassest pop commercialization of these two Americans is Kupperman’s delight. His readers, who follow his tweets and official website, may know that Kupperman’s unusual take on reality may be partly inspired by his father, University of Connecticut philosopher and ethicist Joel J. Kupperman, whose many acclaimed books from Oxford University Press address abstract subjects like value, character, and related intangibles.

The elder Kupperman began public life as a 1940s Quiz Kid on the celebrated radio show, and this still-remembered media deformation of childhood — Jewish American poet Marilyn Hacker was another of these smarty-pants tykes — surely played a role in Michael Kupperman’s creatively ingenious comic books.

Watch Michael Kupperman at a 2009 appearance at the Strand Book Store:


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Michael Kupperman, Comic Books, Fantagraphics

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.