Interview: Shannon Wheeler – Too Much Coffee Man


interview by bushman

What was your first introduction to comics?
The cartoons in Playboy. I was young enough to be more interested in the comics than the naked ladies.

How did you pay the bills when first trying to break into the field?
I worked at a video store. I moved from the (expensive) Bay Area to the (cheaper) Austin Texas, mostly so I could work a part-time job and draw comics with the rest of my time.

What is the best thing about your job?
I like getting free stuff in the mail. No. The best thing about my job is that I can be proud of what I’ve done. I look back at my comics and they’re my creation. I pulled the ideas from the back of my head and wrestled them onto the paper. At the end of creating a cartoon I really like, I feel really good. Another good thing about my job is that I don’t feel like I’m wasting my life. I’ve worked crappy jobs and at the end of the day I feel ripped off. I think to myself “I just spent an entire day selling art supplies to talentless trust-fund children. Blech.” When that day is gone I feel like something has been stolen from me. If I finish a comic book I feel like I’ve actually done something.


Essentially, what is Too Much Coffee Man the comic all about?
Essentially it’s about ideas. I have an insight like “money is a placebo because it only works if people believe in it” or “smells are better than photos because they bring back more memories”. Then I try and work a cartoon around that idea. I’m looking for a funny way to communicate thoughts I have about life. Too Much Coffee Man is just a convenient delivery method for my ideas.

What outside art related work have you done?
‘I’ve done a lot of newspaper illustrations. I like doing CD covers. I did a book cover for Henry Rollins. Lately I’ve done art for web sites. Whatever stuff comes my way. I’m pretty open to doing whatever. I’ve worked some high paying jobs and I’ve done work for super cheap too. I’ve posted a bunch of it on my web site for anyone who’s interested.


Do you care about your character?
Yes. I started Too Much Coffee Man as a gimmick. But it’s really turned into something that has stolen my heart and soul. I didn’t expect it. He was a joke character. I was making fun of iconographic images, super heroes, and coffee drinkers. But he’s become my voice.

Where do you want this comic to take you?
Japan. I really want to go to Japan. I know you meant it in a more abstract way. I’d like my comic to provide me with a good way of communicating the stuff that’s in my head. Sometimes my ideas come through clearly. Most of the time it’s a struggle. I’d like to reach the point where the ideas flow out easily and clearly. The older artists make it look easy and natural. I want it to be easy and natural for me instead of the neurotic struggle that it is for me now.

Last words, anything?
All my comics are free to read on my web site.