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‘All The Answers: A Graphic Memoir’ (review)

All The Answers: A Graphic Memoir
Written and Illustrated By Michael Kupperman
Published by Gallery 13
ISBN-13: 978-1501166433
Released 5/15/18 / $25.00


Today I had All The Answers—literally. This graphic novel, by Eisner Award winner Michael Kupperman, came at me from two sides this week.

First, a co-worker offered me an Advance Reading Copy of it and then I got an email wanting to know if I’d like an ARC. I wasn’t really familiar with Kupperman’s work before this but I was definitely familiar with his father which is kind of the whole point of the book.

I first became a fan of old-time radio back in the early 1970s when a substitute teacher brought in an LP of The Shadow to play for us one day rather than actually come up with a lesson.

By the end of the decade, I had amassed a goodly collection of radio episodes on audio cassettes. I continued to get them throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s before moving on to DVDs and MP3s.

Michael Kupperman is the son of Joel Kupperman, certainly the most famous and recognizable of radio’s Quiz Kids from the long-running show of that name. This is a book about Michael and his father.

Quiz Kids was not really a game show, more just an excuse for an ever-changing panel of smart youngsters with cute voices to entertain radio listeners by answering seemingly baffling, complex questions.

Premiering on the show very early in his school career, Joel won the listeners’ hearts and stayed with the series on radio and television far longer than any of the other kids (which included later Star Trek movie showrunner Harve Bennett!). But like most success stories, things were never really what they seemed.

All The Answers is son Michael’s attempt at making some sense of the life his father never spoke of and how it affected their relationship, such as it was. Make no mistake, you get the fascinating, never before told story of a true entertainment star of his day, but underneath that it’s also the story of a dysfunctional family, a dysfunctional industry, and a dysfunctional country. It’s a story of remembering and forgetting and how both can affect us all.

And in the end, it’s Michael’s own story, because we are all made of who and what came before us.

Joel Kupperman was a child star and he grew up unhappy and exploited, chewed up and then spit out by America in the time-honored way of show business. This predictably led to relationship issues with people in the real world and later with his own family.

I was particularly impressed with Michael’s deceptively simple art style. Filled with photo reference and reminiscent of several webcomics, the artist makes particularly creative use of lines, patterns, screens, and blacks. It’s the pacing of his powerful, sometimes quietly painful, storytelling that pulls it all together, though.

Ultimately we see that Joel the math prodigy didn’t really have all the answers but maybe his son Michael has found a few. Me, I have a math prodigy son myself, and this book makes me all too aware that there’s a lot more to life than knowing All The Answers.

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