Too Much Coffee Man

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Too Much Coffee Man
Too Much Coffee Man
Art by Shannon Wheeler.
Publication information
Publisher Adhesive Comics (1993–2005)
Dark Horse Comics (1994–2011)
Boom Studios (2012)
First appearance Too Much Coffee Man Minicomic (1990)
Created by Shannon Wheeler
In-story information
Species Human?
Place of origin Coffee shops and apartments on Earth
Partnerships Too Much Espresso Guy
Too Much German White Chocolate Woman With Almonds
Underwater Guy
Mystery Woman
Abilities Existentialist debater
Too Much Coffee Man
Series publication information
Schedule Irregular
Format Ongoing series
Genre Independent
Publication date (Adhesive Comics)
July 1993 – Feb. 2005
Number of issues 20
Main character(s) Too Much Coffee Man
Creative team
Writer(s) Shannon Wheeler
Artist(s) Shannon Wheeler
Collected editions
Too Much Coffee Man Omnibus ISBN 1-59582-307-7
Too Much Coffee Man: Cutie Island and Other Stories ISBN 1-60886-098-1

Too Much Coffee Man (TMCM) is an American satirical superhero created by cartoonist Shannon Wheeler. Too Much Coffee Man wears what appears to be a spandex version of old-fashioned red "long johns" with a large mug attached atop his head. He is an anxious Everyman who broods about the state of the world, from politics to people, exchanging thoughts with friends and readers.

The strip is most often presented as a single page in alternative press newspapers, though occasionally the story arc stretches into multi-page stories. TMCM has appeared in comic strips, minicomics, webcomics, comic books, magazines, books, and operas. The Too Much Coffee Man comic book won the 1995 Eisner Award for Best New Series.[1]

Shannon Wheeler said he created Too Much Coffee Man to make more accessible themes he had begun in a college newspaper. He said in 2011:

In 1991, I drew an autobiographical cartoon for The Daily Texan with themes of alienation and loneliness. When I described it, people's eyes glazed over. As a cheap gag, I started Too Much Coffee Man. I still address the same themes, except now there's coffee. People like coffee.[2]

Publication history[edit]

Newspaper strip[edit]

Too Much Coffee Man started as a one-page ongoing strip running in various alternative newspapers in 1991.

With the January 23, 2006, installment, the "Too Much Coffee Man" strip was retitled "How to Be Happy, with Too Much Coffee Man".[3] On February 6, 2006, the title was simplified to "How to Be Happy", and Too Much Coffee Man did not appear in the strip again until January 21, 2008.[4]


The Too Much Coffee Man Minicomic was first issued in 1990 in many different formats, even one issued as a one-inch square, as a self-promotion for Wheeler's book Children with Glue (Blackbird Comics, 1991). The minicomics were self-published, photocopied and handmade by Wheeler in initial runs of 300 black-and-white copies.

Wheeler self-published the Too Much Coffee Man comic book via his own imprint Adhesive Comics between 1993 and 2005. The first five issues were dated from July 1993 to February 1996. These were followed by three annual issues of Too Much Coffee Man's Color Special from 1996–1998. In July 1988, Adhesive released Too Much Coffee Man #8, thus skipping issues #6 and 7. After issue #10 (Dec. 2000), the comic became Too Much Coffee Man Magazine, featuring stories, articles, and reviews alongside TMCM material.

From 1994 to 1996, Too Much Coffee Man stories ran in the Dark Horse Comics anthology series Dark Horse Presents, in issues #92-95, and #100-111. Dark Horse collected all the TMCM stories from Dark Horse Presents in the 1997 special Too Much Coffee Man "Saves the Universe".[5]


With the earnings from a Converse shoe commercial, Wheeler purchased a computer, launched his website on December 7, 1995,[6] and began posting his comics online. He continues to post new and newly colored Too Much Coffee Man cartoons on his website every week.

Plot and characters[edit]

Too Much Coffee Man — Visually, the character is a parody of superheroes, which since their inception have been colloquially referred to by industry professionals as "long-underwear characters". Too Much Coffee Man wears literal long underwear, dressing in what appears to be a spandex version of old-fashioned red "long johns" (full-body underwear with a buttoned flap on the back for bodily functions) with a large mug attached atop his head; it remains unclear whether he is wearing it or whether it is physically part of him. He rarely sleeps and his nerves are shot from an excess of caffeine. He spends most time in his apartment or at the local coffee shop with his often pessimistic cohorts, debating politics and the toils of urban society. He has also been in outer space and in a U.S. prison.

Too Much Espresso Guy — Too Much Coffee Man's cynical friend. The espresso cup atop his head is strapped on in an obvious way.

Too Much German White Chocolate Woman With Almonds — their mutual friend. She is pale-skinned, worries a lot, and has large almonds on her face.

Underwater Guy — another mutual friend, who wears a wetsuit with a diving snorkel and mask.

Mystery Woman — Too Much Coffee Man's secret love.

Collected editions[edit]

In other media[edit]


In 1994, Converse shoe company licensed the rights to use Too Much Coffee Man for a 15-second commercial spot, first airing during a Saturday Night Live episode. The character has also been used in advertising for Hewlett-Packard.[citation needed] Marvel Comics and the cable television network Comedy Central were developing a potential animated series or special with the production company Nelvana in 2000 and 2001. However, the project was abandoned after both Wheeler and Comedy Central agreed that the script lacked quality.[7]


In 2000, jazz musician Bob Dorough recorded a CD entitled Too Much Coffee Man. The character appears on the cover, drawn by Shannon Wheeler, and there is a title track (originally intended to be music for an animated series based on the character) as well as a cover of the Richard Miles composition "The Coffee Song".[8]


The Too Much Coffee Man Opera appeared on stage for the first time in 2006. Wheeler and composer Daniel Steven Crafts adapted the strip into what the press called as "the world's first comic-book-to-opera adaptation." Too Much Coffee Man Opera debuted at Brunish Hall at the Center for Performing Arts in Portland, Oregon, on September 22, 2006.[9] A sample performance, which preceded the debut, was given at the Opera America convention in Seattle, Washington.[10]

Wheeler later teamed with Portland-based comic Carolyn Main to write a second act. This new, extended version, dubbed Too Much Coffee Man: The Refill, debuted again at Brunish Hall in April 2008.[11]


  1. ^ "1995 Eisner Awards: For works published in 1994". Archived from the original on April 27, 2011. Retrieved September 23, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Shannon Wheeler: Funny and Tragic is Funnier than Funny". The Cartoon Bank Blog, The New Yorker. March 15, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Too Much Coffee Man official site". 
  4. ^ "How to Be Happy". January 21, 2008. 
  5. ^ "Too Much Coffee Man Special". Dark Horse Comic's official site. Retrieved April 28, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Review and Analysis of". Server insiders. Retrieved April 28, 2012. 
  7. ^ Tom Waters (August 16, 2002). "Shannon Wheeler and The Slow Roasted Death Star: An interview with the creator of Too Much Coffee Man!". Acid logic. Retrieved April 28, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Bob Dorough: Too Much Coffee Man". All About Jazz. 
  9. ^ Joseph Gallivan (September 2006, 29). "Coffee fan tutti: Caffeinated comic character goes to the opera". Portland Tribune. Retrieved April 28, 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  10. ^ Warmoth, Brian (April 2, 2007). "Wearing the Cup". Wizard. 
  11. ^ Rick Marshall (March 19, 2008). "‘Too Much Coffee Man’ Opera Gets a Sequel". Comic Mix. Retrieved April 28, 2012. 

External links[edit]