Collecting work from the entire career, beginning back in the mid-1980s, of illustrator, cartoonist, and narrative artist Kuper (Mind’s Eye, 2000, etc.), this full-color anthology displays a range and richness of design that places him among the best graphic artists of his time: innovative, insightful, and always compelling. Kuper has experimented with all kinds of media—watercolor, spray-paint, markers, pastels, scratchboard, you name it—and his stencil-cut illustrations have become a signature style. His dead-on images appear in mainstream publications (Time, the New York Times, and New York), as well as in smaller magazines in synch with his own left-wing sympathies, including World War 3, of which he’s coeditor. His black-and-white work, with its woodcut look, gives the proper tone to his elegy for the last New York checker cab and to many other gritty cityscapes. A master of single images, Kuper also takes up the challenge of visual narrative in numerous politically charged pieces about nuclear and environmental disaster. He chronicles his globetrotting in autobiographical comics very much in the ’90s grain. And his adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle suggests how a revitalized Classics Illustrated should look. Kuper also offers the rough work to some of his art, including the various stages of a Time magazine cover. His reverse paintings on framed windows are a truly unexpected pleasure, as are his recent contributions to Mad’s “Spy v. Spy,” which prove that he’s certainly no snob.
Kuper’s generically left politics sometimes dull his arresting images, but his stylistic inventiveness and sophistication make this an essential collection for students of graphic narrative and design.