Too Much Coffee Man is back! Technically he never left, but it’s been quite some time since his adventures have been collected in print. The folks at BOOM! Studios have remedied that, with a massive yet attractively priced compilation of strips titled Too Much Coffee Man: Cutie Island.
Self described as a “coffee-themed super-hero parody with universal existential themes” Too Much Coffee Man (or TMCM for short) is the brainchild of Shannon Wheeler. There isn’t much explanation as to why the character wears red buttoned flap pajamas, or why he has a coffee cup for a head. There are all sorts of logistical questions actually, like where does the coffee in his head come from, but it’s not that kind of book. The character is more a mouthpiece from which the author relays autobiographical stories, philosophical meanderings, and musings on daily modern life. Expect a healthy dose of humor as well.
The structure of the book lends itself to being read at a variety of paces. Each page is like a mini chapter, with its own set-up and pay-off. The pages generally run together in a series of related concepts or story pieces, but it doesn’t read as one long narrative, so it is easy to pick it up and put it down at your leisure. This trade paperback is still engaging enough to read in one sitting, but I don’t recommend it.
The beauty of something like this is that you can take as little or as much as you want from it. You decide your own level of involvement. There’s enough there that you can take each sentence at face value, reveling in the irony and puns. They’re thought provoking enough though that it might be better to digest them a bit more, which is why I recommend reading this in segments. Let fridge logic, or actually in this case I should say fridge brilliance, take a hold and you’ll find the words might leap off the page into all sorts of applications in your life.
If Too Much Coffee Man’s perpetual trembling expressions and nervousness start to wear your own nerves thin, fear not, for while he is the title character there is plenty more packed into this 192 page behemoth. Cutie Island is actually its own story, told from the perspective of creatures so cute they need their own island! TMCM himself only dominates the book early on; the rest is filled with a variety of characters and situations to keep the wheels of your mind churning. Wheeler isn’t on his own in this either. Matt Speer writes a section (illustrated by Wheeler) that takes the reader on yet some more separate journeys. Speer’s crafty wordsmithing is especially evident in his poetry, a special highlight for me.
Shannon Wheeler has won awards for his work with the character, and Too Much Coffee Man has garnered enough recognition to find himself featured in commercial advertisements and even an opera. If you’ve been waiting for just the right opportunity to check him out, BOOM! may have just provided it!