In the late 1990s, American comic artist Michael Kupperman bought a stack of men's magazines from the 1950s and 1960s, with titles like Sir!, Real Action and Man's Thrills. "They all had the owner's name stamped on them," Kupperman observed, "but the stamp is slightly illegible, so it's impossible to know if the name is C. Buechtel, C. Brockel, C. Buschol or some other variant. This man--I'm assuming it was a man--spent years acquiring lurid men's magazines and taking them apart, using the contents to form his own hybrid magazines with the pages from several reassembled inside the cover of one. With a grease pencil he'd cross out the headlines on the covers that didn't apply anymore, and stamp his name on the results, along with a number. Why was he doing this? It's not clear. It might have been a need to make the magazines seem like a serious collection, his re-editing emphasizing his sober interest in subjects such as modern fiction and wife-swapping. Maybe this was one way he justified collecting these lurid periodicals, to himself or a spouse. Or maybe it was a version of the impulse that drives many artists (and three-year-olds): a need to remake and impose personal order that comes from some very deep place." Pirate Nightmare Vice Explosion presents highlights from that collection, and takes place in a murky, monochromatic world where mysterious, energetic sin is always happening behind closed doors. Some of it is factual; some of it smells of heady invention.
Michael Kupperman is the author of Tales Designed to Thrizzle, Snake 'n' Bacon's Cartoon Cabaret and Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010 (Fantagraphics). His work has appeared in The New Yorker, McSweeney's and Saturday Night Live.show more