To prevent any kind of legal repercussions, Peter Kuper created his alter ego, Walter Kurtz in order to tell his biography. Okay, that is probably not why Kuper decided to deliver his autobiography from the eyes of Kurtz, but in this day and age, one certainly could not blame him if he did. On the eve of becoming a father, Kurtz has decided to work on that elusive tell-all book he has been contemplating for years now. However, his goal is to tell it in comic art form and to be as truthful and real about his past as possible. The fact that Kuper has assumed a different identity to do this, raises some interesting questions about art, reality, and where they intertwine or conflict with one another.
In the ten years from 1995 to 2005, Kurtz painstakingly labors over his work, trying to present the truth despite knowing that his perspective will produce an innate bias inexorably casting him as the hero. During this decade of labor, Kurtz faces the fresh challenges of having a family and being supportive of both his wife and daughter. But he confronts other speed bumps along the way. His friendships are crumbling, and his attempts to publish a serious, sincere autobiographical graphic novel are met with questionable results. As he records his laments and foibles in real life during this time, he also flashes back to particular points in childhood and youth to reveal how the two moments in life correlate and complete a better understanding of Kurtz.
As he emerges into puberty in the 1970s, Kurtz’s life consists of friends, drugs (marijuana his drug of choice), and sex. Amazingly, drugs are the easiest part of this upbringing, serving as a social crutch for him and his wavering fair-weather friends to lean upon. When it comes to sex, Kurtz runs from it almost as much as he runs to it. Whether he never got “the birds and the bees” lecture or it was just too weird to deal with, his early attempts at sexual relations are anything but successful.
Kuper’s manner and truth may seem abrasive, but that is only if one takes this graphic novel as anything but for adults. He talks about tripping out, good sex, bad sex, casual sex, and many other taboo topics. But as he ironically mentions in the graphic novel to an editor interested in his work, his purpose is just what the titles says, Stop Forgetting to Remember. In other words, Kuper does not want to hide the difficulties of youth. He does not want to shy away from the real way of life and what teens at his age are really thinking. That is an impressive feat, albeit a distasteful one for some.
Most intriguing about Kuper’s work is the coloring. His flashbacks are colored red, often with exposition printed in white on black background. His backgrounds are dark in his flashbacks, contrasting with the often-bright backgrounds of his story in the present. The present storyline is colored on a grayscale that appears more crisp and defined than his flashbacks. In paying homage to the many great comic influences on his life, several panels mimic these older talents.
Kuper is at the top of his game in this graphic novel with both art and storytelling. Readers will quickly be seduced by his frank, amusing narrative and left wanting more from the man.