I recently caught up with seasoned industry veteran Shannon Wheeler for an email interview. This interview took place before Wheeler’s recent announcement that he was contemplating a project at ACT-I-VATE–I mention this only as an explanation as to why I ask no questions in that regard. As noted in this recent post, his work has frequently been picked up by The New Yorker as of late, while he continues his work on How to Be Happy. And, of course, we get in some discussion about his overall Too Much Coffee Man work. My thanks to Wheeler for his time.
Tim O’Shea: You are a creator with a long, proven track record, who covers a great many concepts in your work (judging by this tag cloud). This page offers me a wealth of topics to ask you about, but I’ll focus on one. In a down economy like this current one, does it make it easier (or even too easy) to tackle consumerism in the strip?
Shannon Wheeler: It makes it easier to criticize capitalism/materialism/consumerism when the economy is South in that you have specific things (like unemployment and poverty) to point at. Some of the humor becomes more poignant because the reality is more harsh. But that’s very external. To me it feels like the humor has stayed the same.
A lot of the cartoons are about my personal struggles. Consumerism is something I wrestle with. I love buying DVDs, collectibles, art. At the same time I think owning things, wanting things, is ridiculous.