Comic Kam: Not all heroes wear capes — or fight crime

Too Much Coffee Man was a quirky comic strip I used to read on the internet back in the ‘90s. I wouldn’t say it was a web comic, in fact I don’t even know if that was a word yet, but I think the creator just liked to put it online for fun. I’ve picked up a collection of reprint issues here and there over the years, but now Dark Horse Comics has released a massive omnibus reprinting all the TMCM stuff to date.

When I say massive, I mean it. You could drop this book on some kind of small vermin and obliterate it. But don’t do that. I’m just trying to illustrate a point here.

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But I digress. I should probably explain what this book is actually about.

Shannon Wheeler, the author, has created a very unique comic strip. It’s one part Sunday funnies, one part autobiography, one part scathing social/political commentary and just a pinch of the insane ramblings of a madman.

Wheeler documents/satirizes his personal life, business dealings, fan interactions and political views, often in an unflattering manner (frequently drawing himself to look like a modern caveman). It’s not that he tries to talk down to his audience, but rather point out the irony and absurdity of these situations.

One strip is about how everyone he meets keeps telling him they think he should make a cartoon TV show out of TMCM, but when he finally does, people call him a sellout.

At some point it became a trend in independent comics to create autobiographical stories, particularly about (failed) relationships. These comics have never really interested me because, well, I’ve certainly got problems of my own.

TMCM never crosses that line and is definitely not one of those books. You’re still reading a comic about a guy in a red unitard with a coffee mug for a head, and the stories that are based on Wheeler’s experiences make you laugh and think — they’re not used as a cry for sympathy.

Other times, the character travels to space. So that’s really not based on his life at all. Unless Wheeler is actually Buzz Aldrin in disguise — which I doubt.

I mean it’s possible, but I doubt it.

TMCM is fun and more intelligent than your normal comic strip. Except maybe The Far Side. That strip was genius.

Too Much Coffee Man is, however, probably the most useless superhero ever. He never actually fights crime, unless you count being sarcastic as fighting crime. Then he’s pretty much Superman.

Nick Klie is manager of High Octane Comics. For more, visit 250 Third Ave. or call 250-377-8444.

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