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Tales Designed To Thrizzle #4
posted August 7, 2008
Fantagraphics, comic book, 32 pages, August 2008, $4.50
One of the great disappointments to be found living in the age a decade or more after the who-knew heyday of the alternative comic book is that one has to wonder if Michael Kupperman's Tales Designed To Thrizzle
series is reaching anywhere near its potential audience. A fourth issues brings with it the concept of a comedic workbook by which a family can spend the entire day reading a page every half-hour. This is complete nonsense, of course, but it underline just how dense this particular comic book is. It may not take you a full 16-hour work day to consume, but it will take you three, four, or even five times as long as most comic books these days. Given the nature of Kupperman's humor, you'll like return to this comic as well.
Kupperman uses a lot of text-driven humor here, breaking slightly with the relentless onslaught of strips introducing deliciously stupid high concept after deliciously stupid high concept in favor of taking past characters and stories for a work out. One of the longer stories features the Scaredy Kids, the Bittern, the Manister (sort of) and a battery of supporting characters that may be new or old, I'm not sure: Jungle Princess, Robot Ben Franklin, Tony Mortadella and Tony Monte Cristo (no relation to the sandwich) and has the patented Kupperman straight-faced absurdity: "Jungle Princess! Feed us some exposition!" Other stories find Kupperman stretching a bit into satirical takes on advertisements and various presentational styles from orthodox presentations of kid fiction, the more straitlaced the better. I found it greatly satisfying in addition to being funny, and if I had left left the comics shop of 1993 with this in hand, I would have had a very good late afternoon taking it all in. I like how restless and unsettled it feels.