Wednesday, March 15, 2017

“Read a Damn Book – 010: Snake ‘n’ Bacon’s Cartoon Cabaret”

[Originally posted 10 Mar 2017. ---RFY]

Michael Kupperman – Snake ‘n’ Bacon’s Cartoon Cabaret (2000)

This book is shear genius. I first discovered Snake ‘n’ Bacon at a cut-out bookshop in Seaside, Oregon (USA), probably about ten years ago, and I’ve repurchased this book once, because I keep loaning it out to different people (to try and spread the insanity), and forgot who I loaned it to. BUT IT WAS WORTH IT!

With this book, Michael Kupperman has created an absurdist masterpiece. In these pages is a series of very short (usually only a page or two long, sometimes as short as two or three panels), very bizarre, often nonsensical stories featuring odd characters, like Love’s Tiny Robot, the Rabid District Attorney, Underpants-on-His-Head-Man, Sherlockules (a combination of Sherlock Holmes and Hercules), and The Mannister (the superhero who can turn into a banister and stop people from falling down stairs.) Kupperman also works a number of historical figures into his stories. Picasso, Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, Roger Daltrey, and Edgar Allan Poe all make classic appearances. There are comic book parodies, literary parodies, advertising parodies, mystery parodies, and lots of just plain old strange shit.

And speaking of strange, the main characters, Snake and Bacon, appear in numerous weird little stories in the “cabaret,” but regardless of what is happening around them, Snake only hisses, and Bacon says something like “Put me in a cheeseburger” or “Use a paper towel to wipe off excess grease.” Like I said: GENIUS!

Kupperman’s art is also great, often mimicking whatever style of story he’s making fun of, and at times the art is almost as detailed as an old fashioned wood-block print, similar to the illustrations for some of the old Alice in Wonderland books I’ve read or ancient prints of witches being tortured by the Church. In a very real sense, some of his images can actually be quite haunting, and would be super creepy if the stories around them weren’t so crazy.

I love this book, and I’ve read it at least six times, and I’m sure I’ll read it again before the year is out. It’s crazy and creepy (and not very kid friendly), and I recommend it for anyone who loves comics, who loves to hate comics, who enjoys Monty Python style cleverness, or who wonders what it would be like if Salvador Dali teamed up with the Three Stooges and Mighty Mouse to make a series of comic strips about dating and dream interpretation. A nearly perfect creation…

—Richard F. Yates

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