Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
The Schmooze

Are You Thrizzled?

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:

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.