A Good Habit

  • Share
  • Read Later
I drink about two cups a day — black, no sugar. It's not clear how much Too Much Coffee Man drinks, but it got him his name. Rotund in the middle, with meager limbs and a permanent case of the jitters, he resembles a superhero only by dressing in a unitard with "TMCM" on the front. The top of his head explodes up and out into the shape of a giant coffee cup. Originally a tossed-off doodle, Shannon Wheeler's character first appeared in the mid-nineties and has now encompasses both comix collections and a magazine inspired by the character. "Too Much Coffee Man's Amusing Musings" (Dark Horse; $12.95; 144pp.) is the third collection of the character's antics, while "Too Much Coffee Man," the magazine (Adhesive Comics; $4.95; 64pp.) has just released its third issue.

TMCM has adventures mostly of the existential kind. In one strip he moves to a country shack to get away from it all only to discover an even more determined isolationist living under the floorboards. Climbing down to "see how an anti-social person lives," he finds it packed with "counter-culture" material goods. A friend to the powerless by being powerless himself, TMCM worries about the environment, feels alone at parties, and just generally gets tense and anxious. Obsessed with all the drudgery that fills up his day he rushes to complete it all only to end up standing around not knowing what to do with the free time.

The black and white drawings combine simple cartooniness with careful shading for depth and substance. Wheeler has a lot of fun mixing things up, playing with layouts, panel sizes and angles. Most of the strips are short, though even the longer ones have a strange tendency to feel disconnected from page to page. One of the most cohesive and best of the lot doesn't even have TMCM in it. Instead, Wheeler re-examines the case of the woman who spilled McDonald's coffee on herself and sued, and in the end makes a case for the legitimacy of the woman's lawsuit.

Shannon Wheeler's Too Much Coffee Man freaks out

"Too Much Coffee Man" the magazine is a bi-monthly humor publication with comix in it. Other than a thread of coffee-related stories, the editorial direction seems muddled. It reads like a 'zine with high production values. The latest issue includes reviews of a new line of pocket tools, drip coffee makers, and CDs, along with a few vaguely humorous essays. The centerpiece, an article about pornography videos aimed at the religious right ("Debbi Does Sodom," "The Two Marys"), makes a pretty cheeky practical joke. The comix are still the best part with contributions from Rick Geary, Graham Annable and Shannon Wheeler. It all looks really nice but it's no "National Lampoon."

"Too Much Coffee Man's Amusing Musings" does a much better job of saying smart, funny things than the re-vamped "Too Much Coffee Man." Shannon Wheeler has some sharp things to say about consumerism, the media and the state of the world. He says them best through his over-caffinated, insecure superhero. It makes for excellent reading when you can't sleep.

"Amusing Musings" can be found at most comicbook stores and larger bookstores. "Too Much Coffee Man," the magazine, can be found at comic stores and places with an alternative media selection.