The nineties get a lot of flack nowadays from comic fans, and some of it is very well deserved. Many things happened in the nineties that made it a very dark decade for the comic industry, many things we would like to forget happened at all, and some things we just can’t seem to let go of. And pouches, so very many pouches.
For as many reasons as there are to speak in hushed tones when referring to comics in that rather fateful decade, there are many more reasons to shout at the sky in praise. Each Tuesday I discuss the many things that made that decade truly a great time to be a fan. This week, I bring you another reason the nineties weren’t all bad.
I discovered this strange and wonderful comic in the mid-nineties, in a small collection at my local bookstore. I was instantly taken by it, it was clever, witty, and spoke to a truth my teenage mind needed to hear.
Too Much Coffee Man made his debut in 1990, as a self-published handmade black & white mini comic. Originally created to promote Wheeler’s upcoming book, Children With Glue, the character became a hit, and has been in production in some form ever since.
A superhero in suit only, TMCM wears skin tight long johns, and has a cup of coffee for a head, but never does typical superhero adventuring. An atypical everyman, TMCM and his pals brood at the local coffee shop or on the living room couch about politics, world events, and the little things that make life surreal. TMCM was originally created as an outlet for Wheeler’s ruminations on life, delving into themes most comics at the time, and still, weren’t.
Full of quirky characters such as Too Much Espresso Guy, Too Much German White Chocolate Woman With Almonds, Underwater Guy, and Mystery Woman, this is anything but your run of the mill capes and tights book. The idiosyncratic “stories” in TMCM are rarely longer than a page or two, angst ridden screeds on what it means to be alive. There is a lot I could relate to in this character, and the series still holds up today.
The award winning series has become a cult favorite, and the characters have gone on to appear in comic strips, zines, webcomics, comic books, magazines, books, and even a successful opera! TMCM has appeared in commercials for converse and Hewlett-Packard, and was almost an animated series for Comedy Central. There’s even a Too Much Coffee Man themed jazz album by musician Bob Dorough.
TMCM will be appearing in the upcoming new format Dark Horse Presents, from, well, Dark Horse Comics, and now’s a great time to jump into those back issues in preparation. I assure you, they are awesome!
Too Much Coffee Man was exactly the book I needed at a time when most superhero books were more quantity than quality, replacing story with glow-in-the-dark covers, and hackneyed dialog, and it was one reason it was great being a comic fan in the nineties. Next week I’ll bring you another.