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The Rise of the American Comics ArtistCreators and Contexts$
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Paul Williams and James Lyons

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9781604737929

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781604737929.001.0001

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Too Much Commerce Man? shannon Wheeler and the Ironies of the “Rebel Cell”

Too Much Commerce Man? shannon Wheeler and the Ironies of the “Rebel Cell”

(p.90) Chapter Six Too Much Commerce Man? shannon Wheeler and the Ironies of the “Rebel Cell”
The Rise of the American Comics Artist

James Lyons

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines how the cultural currency of nonconformity that alternative comics profess might reap the very financial rewards they mock. It cites Shannon Wheeler’s Too Much Coffee Man as an example, highlighting the transaction between profit, popularity, and providing an alternative to “mainstream” (superhero) comics. Too Much Coffee Man began as photocopied mini-comics that eventually evolved into a weekly, full-color comic strip and spawned t-shirts, mugs, and even an animated television commercial. Around that time that Wheeler created Too Much Coffee Man, there had been remarkable explosion in the number of coffeehouses across the United States. Instead of commenting on the “coffee culture” phenomenon as typified by Starbucks, however, the cartoons focused on what Wheeler saw as the widespread misrepresentation of the lawsuit filed by Stella Liebeck against McDonald’s after she spilled McDonald’s coffee in her lap and suffered third-degree burns. The chapter also discusses how Wheeler found an opportunity for enhanced creative expressivity in opera, the “square” art form for social elites, and in a lot of ways may be considered the antithesis of countercultural rebelliousness.

Keywords:   alternative comics, Shannon Wheeler, Too Much Coffee, television commercial, coffeehouses, coffee culture, cartoons, lawsuit, McDonald’s, opera

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