Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Peter Kuper - Cartoonist Survey #126

Illustrator and cartoonist Peter Kuper was born in September of 1958 in Summit, New Jersey. He grew up in Cleveland, OH and graduated from Cleveland Heights High School. While still in his teens, Peter and his childhood friend, Seth Tobocman published the fanzine “Phanzine” and “G.A.S. Lite” the magazine of the Cleveland Graphic Arts Society. During this period Peter traded R. Crumb some old jazz records for the right to publish some artwork from one of Crumb's sketchbooks in a comic titled Melotoons. From 1976 to 1977 he attended Kent State and then moved to New York City where he studied at both the Pratt Institute and the Art Student League. In 1979 he co-founded the political comix magazine World War 3 Illustrated and is still on its editorial board today.

Teaching comics and illustration at the School of Visual Arts since 1986, he has also taught at Parsons in New York City. He’s created covers for Newsweek, Businessweek, The Progressive and Time. His illustrations and comics have appeared in numerous publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Nation, Harpers and Quarterly Review. Peter has been drawing one of my favorites, Spy vs. Spy for Mad magazine since 1997. He has written and illustrated dozens of books and graphic novels including adaptations of Franz Kafka’s work and Upton Sinclair’s ‘The Jungle’. Other works include Comics Trips, Mind’s Eye, The System, Theo and the Blue Note, Stripped, Sticks and Stones, Speechless, Stop Forgetting to Remember and Diario De Oaxaca : A Sketchbook Journal of Two Years in Mexico. The Society of Newspaper Designers gave him a journalism award in 2001 and The Society of Illustrators have awarded him two gold medals and a silver. Peter lives in Manhattan with his wife and daughter. Stop by Peter’s website and also check out his Drawger page.

What is your favorite pen to use?

Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?

Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?

If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Multicolored pencil, watercolors, paint.

What type of paper do you use?
140 Lb. Arches hot press.

What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Hate is a strong word.

Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Mostly go to a small semi-local shops (New York Central, Pearl Paint).

Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Avoid interview questionnaires.

Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
I have very catholic tastes and listen to many genres besides polka and house music (which sounds like the soundtrack of our destruction).

Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
I was a voracious reader especially Marvel . Spider-Man was probably my favorite...until I discovered underground comix.

What is or was your favorite comic strip?

What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
Harold and the Purple Crayon--I have a few copies at all times.

Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
Kent State, then when I moved to NYC, Art Students League and finally Pratt Institute.

Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?

Did either of your parents draw?
My father dabbled.

Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My parents never discouraged me, but weren't especially supportive. Seth Tobocman and I drew together growing up and he helped me a lot.

Do you keep a sketchbook?
Always and I try to draw daily.

Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
I have on and off since 1986 at School of Visual Arts and also a few years at Parsons. At times I have stopped enjoying it and quit for periods, but these days I enjoy it immensely since I have great students.

Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
Passion, that's what helps create talent.

Do you collect anything and if so what?
Masks from around the world.

If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Bugs Bunny would be my first choice.

Are you a righty or lefty?
Right handed, left-leaning.

If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?

In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
Cartoonist--hey, if you don't know my work why are you reading this?

Do you play any musical instruments?
Barely...wish I did.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
Don't let failure get in your way.

Who is your favorite artist?
Too many to say just one.

Thanks very much Peter.

Coming soon are answers from UK cartoonist, Hunt Emerson.


Anonymous said...

I was just going thru some of my old (early 1980's) Mad, Cray and Cracked magazines and noticed that Kuper was in some of the Crazy's! Along with Gary Hallgren, and Bob Camp, to name a few familure faces. WOW! Once I started to re-read some of the Crazy mags, i noticed how much "underground" humor they had. Although Mad is the standard, I was suprized how much material from Crazy, like Kuper's work, is funnier than Mad's work at the time. The mag ran out of steam in '83 i beleive. It's a shame!

Kudos for David-Waisting Paper for these profiles!!!!

David said...

Thanks Anonymous. It makes me happy to know other people are enjoying and getting something out of the Cartoonist Surveys.