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.
Joel Kupperman’s story is here to tell us that there is nothing new under the sun, it’s as it ever was, what happened before happens again, and all those other cliches ... Kupperman pulls it off with both clarity and emotion in such a way that he’s mesmerizing you and taking you by the hand at the same time. You walk through the journey with him, understanding the historical elements while absorbing the personal ones. And amazingly, there’s probably something in here that each of us can apply to our own experience if we dig hard enough ... There are are a lot of lessons in here about family and relationships, but there’s also a lot to say about celebrity, about control of your own life, about finding a purpose, about being insular. It’s a multi-faceted memoir of the collision between the public and the personal, how the tremors move through the decades, and how we would all do well to pop through our cultural bubbles to look back and trace the origins of who we are, why we are this way, and why it sometimes hurts so much when we don’t feel like we actually did anything to make it hurt.
Kupperman, known for the absurdist humor of his Tales Designed to Thrizzle series, turns serious and inward for this poignant memoir ... Kupperman’s solid, line-heavy drawings, which impart credibility to the preposterous concepts of his humorous strips, are equally effective at conveying this real-life drama. His clear-eyed yet touching portrait of his father serves as a a powerful indictment of celebrity culture.
...a complex and deeply moving graphic memoir ... Kupperman is using the language of comics to tell a very different kind of story ... All the Answers is told in nine chapters with a pacing that nearly insists on the book being read in one sitting ... in its refusal to quit the search, All the Answers achieves a devastatingly beautiful portrait of a family and offers ample evidence that a child’s quest for understanding is anything but a trivial pursuit.
For readers used to his oddball sense of humor and arcane references, he's created his most mainstream book yet in All the Answers, the kind of book his own parents would read ... The writing is clear, direct, and poignant—powerful ... Kupperman does a superb job of showing how intrusive fame can be, especially for a child. He paints his own relationship (or lack thereof) with his father equally well.
Author Kupperman explores his father's experience with a mixture of melancholy and awe, as well as something between grief and rage at the way Joel was treated and in turn behaved toward his family ... A heartbreaking, deeply affecting story about fathers and sons that asks questions with no easy answers.
This is all a difficult mix in any presentation, but Kupperman pulls it off with both clarity and emotion in such a way that he’s mesmerizing you and taking you by the hand at the same time. You walk through the journey with him, understanding the historical elements while absorbing the personal ones. And amazingly, there’s probably something in here that each of us can apply to our own experience if we dig hard enough ... For Kupperman, this book appears to be a reckoning, for his own sake and his father’s as well. It’s the stand his father could never take. He didn’t have it in him. But Michael Kupperman does, and it’s such a revealing stand for a son to have to take that I admire him for putting this all down for the rest of us to share.
...moving ... With wit and heart, Michael Kupperman presents a fascinating account of mid-century radio and early television history, the pro-Jewish propaganda entertainment used to counteract anti-Semitism, and the early age of modern celebrity culture ... It’s an easy read, but a tough swallow, as both childhoods seem so rife with tension and unhappiness ... Michael puts together the book in a way that tells his father’s story in a relatively straightforward way ... From a narrative standpoint, the storytelling is relatively standard, with few surprises, in terms of structure. But the art manages to surprise in a few ways.
In its gravity, scope, and personal focus, All the Answers marks a major departure for Kupperman, best known for absurdist humor comics such as Tales Designed to Thrizzle. And yet fans of those comics may still find much to like in Answers ... Most pages feature two or three tiers of wide panels, with Kupperman’s narration atop them. Within these pages, Kupperman often concentrates on a fixed image, zooming in or out down the panels. The effect is something like a comics version of a Ken Burns documentary, with mixed results. On some pages in which Kupperman repeats the same image, the second and third panels come across as a perfunctory, there to accompany lines of prose. Other pages benefit from the zoom ... With the best of these pages, the layouts function like the architecture of the reader’s experience, guiding our motions, moods, and pace ... Kupperman’s renderings of his father and himself are among the book’s most notable visuals, emphasizing the contrasts between the two men ... As a narrator, Kupperman’s tone is cool and at times almost journalistic, which gives the book’s harsher pages a kind of blunt force ... All the Answers becomes a brave piece of storytelling—not only because of Kupperman’s willingness to depart from humor cartooning but also because of his willingness to contemplate not being consistently or adequately loved ... a story about self-worth in constant doubt, good intentions falling short, and ambivalence moving down generations.
The narrative pivots between Kupperman’s reconstruction of stranger-than-fiction moments unearthed from his father’s repressed memory—including the time Joel, a Jewish child on a show developed in part to combat anti-Semitism, met with rabid anti-Semite Henry Ford—and his present-day attempts to get the story straight in the shadow of Joel’s encroaching illness. Kupperman’s varied angles, thick line work, staring seriocomic facial stylings, and sharp prose help turn an already incredible story into an electrifyingly fast-paced, yet intimate memoir about family secrets and the price children can pay for their parents’ ambitions.