Hard Times For the Funnies

Question: How has the economic crisis affected your business?

Michael Kupperman: I'd say things are in a crises state right now. Publishing is obviously collapsing. But for people who do what I do, comics and illustration, that's been happening for a while, I think since 2000, things have been fairly lousy. And I just think the situation we're all facing right now is that it's easier than ever in human history for people to produce material of any kind, films, writing, art. And they can disseminate it very easily on the internet. The big question right now is how will people get paid? I think business kind of doesn't want to pay for, you know, things any more, for, you know, certain kinds of artistic production. So I think we're all kind of facing a crises point right now. Making a living from illustration is, I'd say just about impossible these days, and making a living from comics, it's not going to be a very good living, let's put it that way.

 

Question: Are you concerned about being too strange and not funny?

Michael Kupperman: Yeah, I'm fairly conscious of that, of trying to be funny in a way that communicates so that it's not just a strangeness, but if it's, if there's strangeness, it's pointing to something. You know, there's a lot, I was very influenced by Raw Magazine, which is very design heavy and, you know, used a lot of amazing artists, Chris Ware came out of that, you know, who used beautiful design, and, you know, or who had very artistic styles. And I made a decision years ago to go more for the funny and let the style come afterwards.

 

Question: Are there any television shows or publications you enjoy?

Michael Kupperman: Well, I think there are some shows on American TV that are incredibly smart, like 30 Rock, I think is very smart. We enjoy The Office, my wife and I. Southpark, I think is still very smart. Although we don't actually have TV and every time we're around it, it's just horrifying what it's become. I said on Twitter the other day, it's like an old friend who was always a little flaky, but now they're just a gibbering, crack-addicted, masturbating maniac, you know. Having said that, we also love Lost, and we have a weakness for reality shows, which, and we sometimes indulge. We just watched, what is it, Scream Queens, on VH1. They really know what they're doing with their crappy reality TV, it's just compelling.

But then also in England, thanks to the internet now, it's very easy to watch a lot of English stuff, so I've been watching Peep Show, which is great, the IT Crowd, Stuart Lee's Comedy Vehicle, The Thick of It. There's a lot of really amazing stuff coming out of England.

 

Question: Do the British always lead in comedy?

Michael Kupperman: I think they have the lead in verbal wit, in, you know, sarcasm, irony, and so on, I think the British are the world leaders, yes.

 

Question: Does American comedy lead in any areas?

Michael Kupperman: Well, I think Americans are better at the brash and the noisy, and that's not always a bad thing. I think Southpark, for example, can be noisy and brash, but when it decides to make a point, they really make their point, you know? They can, you know, really go overboard sometimes, but I think it's what they do best.

 Recorded December 19, 2009

Like most media types, Cartoonists can barely eke out a living these days.

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