Peter Kuper

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Peter Kuper
Peter Kuper.jpg
Kuper at the 2014 Bangalore Comic Con
Born (1958-09-22) September 22, 1958 (age 56)
Summit, New Jersey
Nationality American
Area(s) Artist, writer
Notable works
World War 3 Illustrated
Spy vs. Spy
The System
Give It Up!
The Metamorphosis
Awards Society of Illustrators gold medal, 2004, silver medal 2009, gold medal 2010

Peter Kuper (born September 22, 1958) is an American alternative cartoonist and illustrator, best known for his autobiographical, political, and social observations.

Kuper's work in comics and illustration frequently combines techniques from both disciplines, and often takes the form of wordless comic strips. Kuper remarked on this, "I initially put comics on one side and my illustration in another compartment, but over the years I found that it was difficult to compartmentalize like that. The two have merged together so that they're really inseparable."[1]

Early life[edit]

Peter Kuper was born in Summit, New Jersey, and moved to Cleveland, Ohio when he was six years old, where he graduated from Cleveland Heights High School in 1976.[2] He attended Kent State University in 1976–1977, then moved to New York City in 1977, where he studied at Art Students League and the Pratt Institute[3] (along with his childhood friend and World War 3 Illustrated co-founder Seth Tobocman). In 1970 Kuper and Tobocman published their first fanzine, "Phanzine" and in 1971 published "G.A.S Lite" the official magazine of the Cleveland Graphic Arts Society. In 1972 Kuper 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 that lasted for two issues. For a short period he acted as studio assistant for cartoonist Howard Chaykin.[4]

Kuper has traveled extensively through Latin America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, much of which he documented in his 1992 book, ComicsTrips: A Journal of Travels Through Africa and Southeast Asia. He lived in Israel in 1969–70. Though permanently based in New York City, Kuper and his wife and daughter resided in the Mexican state of Oaxaca 2006–2008, where he documented an ongoing teachers' strike and other aspects of Mexico in his book Diario de Oaxaca.[5][6]


Kuper sketching at the New York Comic Con, October 10, 2010.

Besides his contributions to the political anthology World War 3 Illustrated, which he co-founded[7] in 1979 with Seth Tobocman, Kuper is currently best known for taking over Spy vs. Spy for Mad magazine; it had passed through various hands after its creator Antonio Prohías retired, but Kuper's version has appeared without interruption since 1997.[7]

Kuper has produced numerous graphic novels which have been translated into French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Swedish and Greek, including award-winning adaptations of Franz Kafka's Give It Up! and the Metamorphosis.

Kuper's Eye of the Beholder was the first comic strip to ever regularly appear in the New York Times and his autobiography Stop Forgetting to Remember covers the birth of his daughter, 9/11, and other vicissitudes in his life from 1995–2005. His most recent book Diario De Oaxaca is a sketchbook journal of his time in living in Mexico (2006–2008).


As an illustrator, Kuper has produced covers for Time,[1] Newsweek,[1] Businessweek[citation needed] and The Progressive.[citation needed] He has done hundreds of illustrations for newspapers including The New York Times[citation needed] and for magazines such as Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and The New Yorker.[1] Kuper has been co-art director of the political illustration group INX[8] since 1988.


Al Jaffee, Peter Kuper, and Sam Viviano, and Paul Levitz at a panel at Columbia University in early 2014

Comics work includes:

  • 2013 – Tercer ojo, collected Spanish edition of Mind's Eye (Editorial Robot)
  • 2010 – Alicia en el País de las Maravillas, Illustrated Spanish edition of Alice in Wonderland (Sexto Piso)
  • 2009 – Diario De Oaxaca : A Sketchbook Journal of Two Years in Mexico (PM Press/Sexto Piso)
  • 2007 – Stop Forgetting To Remember: The Autobiography of Walter Kurtz,[9] hardcover (Crown)
  • 2006 – Theo and The Blue Note, children’s book (Viking)
  • 2004 – The Jungle, (hardcover reissue) adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s novel (NBM)
  • 2004 – Sticks and Stones, a novel in pictures (Three Rivers Press)
  • 2003 – The Metamorphosis, and adaptation of Franz Kafka's short story (Crown)
  • 2001 – Speechless, a retrospective collection, hardcover (Top Shelf Productions)
  • 2000 – Mind’s Eye, a collection of syndicated strips, hardcover, (NBM)
  • 2000 – Topsy Turvy, a collection of political comic strips, trade paperback (Eye Press)
  • 1997 – The System, (collected as a single book) softbound, (DC/Vertigo)
  • 1996 – Eye of the Beholder, a collection of syndicated strips, softbound (NBM)
  • 1995 – World War 3: Confrontational Comics, co-editor of anthology (4 Walls,8 Windows)
  • 1995 – Give It Up!, comics adaptation of Franz Kafka short stories, hardbound, (NBM)
  • 1995 – Stripped, An Unauthorized Autobiography, softbound (Fantagraphics)
  • 1993–1994 – Wild Life, comics by the author, comic format, two issues (Fantagraphics)
  • 1992 – ComicsTrips: A Journal of Travels Through Africa and Southeast Asia, travel-related comics by the author (Tundra and then re-issued by NBM)
  • 1991–1993 – Bleeding Heart, comics by the author, comic format, five issues (Fantagraphics)
  • 1991 – The Jungle, comics adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s novel (First, Classics Illustrated)
  • 1989 – World War 3 Illustrated, co-editor of anthology (Fantagraphics)
  • 1988 – Life and Death, collection of author’s comics, magazine format (Fantagraphics)
  • 1987 – New York City, collection of author’s comics, soft-bound (Fantagraphics)
  • 1984 – The Last Cat Book, illustrating an essay by Robert E.Howard, soft-bound (Dodd Mead)

Other publications[edit]

  • Le Sketch #04 (2007, Le Sketch) – mini-comic with sketches


Kuper won a journalism award from The Society of Newspaper Designers in 2001. His wordless picture story Sticks and Stones was awarded the 2004 gold medal and his comic "This Is Not A Comic" won a silver medal in 2009 both from the Society of Illustrators. He won another gold medal in the sequential arts category from the Society of Illustrators in 2010.


  1. ^ a b c d Palmer, Tom Jr. (August 1997). "Kuper's Comics". Wizard (72). pp. 104–5. 
  2. ^ Kaltenbach, Chris. "MICA exhibit, symposium leaping from comics pages", The Baltimore Sun, January 29, 2004. Accessed February 20, 2011. "Peter Kuper. Birthplace Summit N.J. moved to Cleveland at age 6."
  3. ^ Biography in HeightsArts: A Nonprofit Arts Organization. Retrieved August 4, 2008.
  4. ^ Worcester, Kenton. "Waxing Politick," (an interview with Seth Tobocman) The Comics Journal #233 (May 11, 2001). Retrieved August 4, 2008.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Lorah, Michael C. "Peter Kuper on Stop Forgetting to Remember and More", Newsarama (April 7, 2007). Retrieved August 4, 2008.
  7. ^ a b Neil Gaiman, ed., The Best American Comics 2010 (Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010), 321
  8. ^
  9. ^

External links[edit]