Interview: Peter Kuper and The System and World War 3 Illustrated 1979-2014

by Henry Chamberlain
Comics Grinder
June 23rd, 2014

Peter Kuper is passionate about comics, New York City, and activism. He has established himself as a leading authority on all three subjects in a remarkable career that continues to explore and to grow. Where to begin? Well, many readers will know Mr. Kuper for his continuous work on “Spy vs. Spy” in MAD Magazine, since 1997. In that same year, his landmark graphic novel, “The System” was published. And it all begins with a love for underground comics and pushing the limits. This would lead to “World War 3 Illustrated,” started by Kuper and his childhood friend, Seth Tobocman. All sorts of subversive ideas were percolating between these two cartoonists while growing up in Cleveland. We discuss a key moment that brought things to a boil.

Page 70 from

Page 70 from “The System” by Peter Kuper

In this interview, we focus on “The System” and “World War 3 Illustrated 1979-2014,” both published by PM Press and out this July. During the course of our interview, we get a look into the process behind Kuper’s stencil work, a distinctive style evoking graffiti. It is a heroic style and one that is now part of the past. It was an authentic graffiti style, using actual spray paint aerosol cans. Of course, the time came to move on, for the sake of the environment and one’s own health.

Page 70 rough from

Page 70 rough from “The System”

Red Stencil from page 70,

Red Stencil, Page 70, “The System”

Red Spray Layer, Page 70,

Red Spray Layer, Page 70, “The System”

Peter Kuper proves to be an excellent interview. I think that is because he loves to share information. He is both a great artist and a great teacher. We cap off our interview with a look at his course on graphic novels at Harvard. But, first off, we begin with a look back at the first time that Peter Kuper met R. Crumb, as a boy. I hope you enjoy the interview.

Buy World War 3 Illustrated: 1979–2014:

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