AMBER LOVE 10-APR-2013 Thanks for being patient while I skipped a week due to CGS Supershow deadlines. VODKA O’CLOCK is back with special guest SHANNON WHEELER, a wild philosopher who also happens to be that successful cartoonist you know from The New Yorker and his own comic series TOO MUCH COFFEE MAN. From cartoons to coffee enemas, we talk about everything in this episode. He’s also immortal. You have to listen to whole thing to hear about it which is about 90 minutes of existential goodness.
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Shannon has been busy with some side projects including a sequential art project DARK HORSE PRESENTS, a popular anthology of short stories that comes out regularly giving readers chapters of several stories over a period of months. Shannon’s story VILLAIN HOUSE is inspired by the golden days of comics where one-dimensional characters were embodiments of exaggerated traits, often from animals.
“Back in the day, like, Stan Lee just made the dumbest heroes and villains. And as a kid reading it, I just was always into these, like there was an Australian super villain called The Kangaroo. Just awful.” ~SW
Shannon opened up about his creative journey in life when he had phases that changed from interest in comics to fine art to architecture. We talked about how comics are thought of as pedestrian yet there’s elitism also. Creators have gotten harassed and even death threats. Shannon’s political cartoon that got the most backlash was when he tried to point out that while America can have pride, there’s room to have shame about genocide and environmental impact. That’s the far end of the comics spectrum from where his first cartoon in The New Yorker showed a “cats on a Roomba” joke.
He’s also working on THE BIBLE. Mark Russell is writing THE BIBLE in short form cutting back all those pesky lengthy books into mere paragraphs and Shannon is illustrating them. I hope they have coffee in this edition of it. And maybe they could take out all the confusion over homosexuality and women as property. That would be swell.
“Every now and again it’s three in the morning and I’m cursing, like, worrying about something. I wish I drew better or I wish I wrote better. And I think well, holy crap, as good or bad as I am, I’ve been able to do this and- I don’t know. I end up feeling really lucky.” ~SW
As a 19-year-old cartoonist trying to make his way into the newspaper scene, Shannon had to face the question whether his material adequately represented minorities. I guess that’s something people in Berkeley are better at doing than in the New York City region where the two big comic book publishers are located.
Our coffee chat exquisitely informs you, dear listeners, about civet coffee or Kopi Luwak coffee which is what you get when a feliformia critter eats coffee berries and excretes them. Our food conversation evolves into various meat points of contentions such as veal, horse, hot dogs and cultural context. His father is a very different lifestyle, off the grid, more than anyone I know. When Shannon visits him, the task of making coffee is not merely measuring grinds and pushing a button. He has to chop the wood and make the fire before even thinking about the coffee part.
In Shannon’s philosophical retrospectives, we talked about how zombies reflect contemporary consumerism and allow people to kill each other as they probably already want to but with a valid excuse; vampires had historically been used as a metaphor for sexual affairs; science fiction monsters like The Fly were mirrored in the world’s fear of AIDS. My prediction for the thing to replace zombies is bunnies as America backslides in repro/women’s rights since bunnies represent sex (Playboy) and fertility.
I completely brainfart about an hour into the show when we go off about homeland security and flying. I was trying to recall terminal velocity and spaced! BAD NERD! There have been plenty of episodes of Mythbusters where it was integral to the experiments. Doh!
“Oh, I’m immortal!” ~SW
A few times during the show we talked about cats including ancient and modern cat worship. Then as it turns out, Shannon went to SXSW and was hoping to get to see Grumpy Cat. He tells the story of a friend who did get to see her. Grumpy’s line was insane and her schedule actually sounds cruel which some might consider abusive. She’s greasy from thousands of hands touching her, she’s sad and miserable.