Michael Kupperman is an American cartoonist and illustrator. His work has appeared in publications ranging from The New Yorker to Screw. He has two books published, Snake’N'Bacon’s Cartoon Cabaret and Tales Designed to Thrizzle.
Question: Have your cartoons ever gotten you into trouble?
Michael Kupperman: Well, early on I had a, when I was working in these office jobs, I did a character called Mr. Bossman and that was very much inspired by, you know, working in an office and having a boss. And unfortunately, my boss at the time saw them and he was not happy at all. In fact, I was fired very shortly afterwards.
Question: What did he say to you?
Michael Kupperman: I had also done a strip called, what was it, "The Anchorage of A Saboteur," it was a long time ago. And he called me into his office and he said, "I saw that strip and it's about you, I think, because you're sabotaging yourself and you're sabotaging this office," and yeah, we didn't, we weren't simpatico.
But I found, once I had lost the job, I found Mr. Bossman so hard to write, I just didn't have the kind of, you know, impetus any more, you know, to write them.
Question: What puts you in a creative mood?
Michael Kupperman: Boy, that's a tough one. I mean, right now we have a baby, so creating the perfect environment for myself is well nigh impossible. But it's also just trying to stay in a frame of mind. You know, where what you're creating is worthwhile. I think that's the biggest problem most people have is getting into a state of mind where you feel that creating things, you know, is worth the effort. So that's the tough state of mind to stay in.
As far as coming up with humorous, you know, observations or material, being exhausted all the time and, that kind of brings it out, you know, just brings out absurdities. Like Pagus, I think one, I thought of one Easter morning when I was just exhausted and I just woke up and I said, "They're celebrating for Pagus," you know, it just came up. And there you were, you know. So exhaustion, long walks, you know, and trying to stay lighthearted. Those are the things I do.
Question: How does anger make you funny?
Michael Kupperman: No, it's true. There is something about, sometimes anger can really pull the funny out of you. There's a piece in Snake 'n' Bacon about a crazy undertaker, and that was inspired by a family controversy about one of my grandparents and how they were going to be buried. And I think I just sat down at that kind of appeared, you know. Definitely anger can play a part of inspire me. I don't like just expressing anger, though, that doesn't suit my tone, which I think is more detached and ironic. Yeah, I mean, anger can definitely fuel humor, but I don't, what's the word, I don't put it in the foreground. I guess that's what I'm trying to say.
Recorded on December 19, 2009