From Publishers Weekly
Unexpectedly, this quasi-autobiographical meditation on fantasy and reality succeeds in being as hilarious as it is heartbreaking. Like Kuper, his alter ego Kurtz is a cartoonist who divides his time between mainstream and independent work while also struggling to be a good husband, father and friend in an unsupportive world. He talks directly to the reader as he describes his goals when he was younger (getting laid, getting high, etc.), how he botched his chances or suffered when he did get what he wanted and how he accepted those successes and failures and then moved on. The story is typical, but Kuper's art shifts from realistic to surreal as the mood changes, and this is where the book really takes off. He plays with a comics reader's head, as when Kurtz's new-daddy desperation convinces him that he's not just a cartoonist but a cartoon so that he slips into a Crumb parody panel, Keep on Parentin'. Kurtz/Kuper does go on developing as a human being, through 9/11 and the despair of being a serious observer in Bush's America, into a surprisingly but satisfyingly hopeful conclusion. This is a very smart, mature work by an artist at the top of his form. (July)
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Kuper's alter ego, Walter Kurtz, reminisces about his path from awkward adolescence to current success as a commercial illustrator and father-to-be. His account incorporates first-person stories, many of which reappear here from Kuper's collection Stripped
(1995), dealing with his efforts to lose his virginity, recreational drug use, and unhealthy relationships. In the present-day setting framing these recollections, Kurtz-Kuper struggles to face adult responsibilities, sacrificing any semblance of the life he once led to the demands of parenthood and incidentally flowing nicely into the current wave of "hip dad" confessionals (e.g., Joe Chiappetta's graphic novel Silly Daddy,
2004). Kuper's newest artwork is of a piece with the decades-old stuff it surrounds, for although he has simplified his distinctive, pseudowoodcut style, his art retains the graphic appeal that has landed his work on the covers of Time
The mainstream readers new to graphic novels should relate to Kuper's heartfelt effort to balance family, work, and friendships as readily as loyal fans identified with the pot-smoking, globe-trotting Kuper of his erstwhile alternative comics. Gordon FlaggCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved