The Eisner Award-winning writer and artist tries to uncover details about his secretive father's experiences as a once-world-famous radio and television personality on the show Quiz Kids, before his memories are erased by dementia.
It’s a fascinating look at the entertainment landscape as it appeared during the crossover from radio to television, as well as an exploration of the realities of Jewish identity in the postwar years. It’s a portrait of the layered nature of identity both public and personal. But mostly, it’s a powerful examination of the relationship between fathers and sons. Kupperman is an incredible talent as a visual storyteller; when you marry that talent with the intense personal connection inherent to this kind of narrative, you get something that is truly special. There’s an idiosyncratic starkness to Kupperman’s art that manages to feel both simple and complex; his drawings elicit a striking depth of detail ... All the Answers is a marvelous example of how transcendent the graphic novel form can be ... a heartfelt gift from son to father, a thoughtful and wryly funny story conveyed in both word and image because that is, quite simply, the best possible way to tell the tale ... unquestionably exceptional.
All the Answers works best as an account of an improbable life, with a peek at America’s bygone celebrity culture and unquenchable thirst for entertainment. There’s also a fascinating propaganda angle to consider: Three of the four main Quiz Kids were Jewish, as was the producer Louis G. Cowan, who (Kupperman theorizes) used the show to humanize the Jews in the thick of World War II ... For an artist known for his off-kilter tableaus, this book has a static look, especially in its rendering of boldfaced names from the past. More problematic are the gaps: mysteries unsolved, re-creations that collapse under the weight of a disclaimer ... Beginning his project in frustration at his father, he ends in frustration with the project itself.
We can never see our parents lives the way they did, or feel what they felt. The only way to string together anything that approaches understanding is by studying whatever trailing wisps of memory persist ... That reconstruction is precisely what All The Answers sets out to do, through Kupperman's assiduous attention to detail, his beleaguered sense of compassion and, ultimately, grace. There's urgency here, too, as over the course of compiling this memoir Michael realizes his father is steadily sinking into dementia ... Kupperman's photorealistic black-and-white art is deliberately and artfully un-realistic here; his panels float on the page like lingering afterimages burned into your retinas. The details have vanished, but the contours of faces, the silhouettes of bodies, persist. This effect heightens the book's tension by visually reinforcing the frangible nature of his father's story—both it, and he, are fading ... What it can do, and very well, is evoke the culture of mid-century America, and Joel Kupperman's place in it. It can also document Michael Kupperman's sense of his own place within his family—in his father's eyes, in particular.