Too Much Coffee, Man

This is what happens when you drink too much coffee (courtesy Shannon Wheeler):tmcm080407 Comics and coffee have gone hand-in-hand from the beginning. Given that a comic strip is due once every 24 hours, the harried cartoonist is bound to see that fast-approaching deadline and find herself scrambling for a last-minute energy boost. Sure, you can build yourself up mentally (“I am the funniest person on the planet!”), but when it’s down to you and a smooth white piece of Bristol board paper, sometimes internal energy just won’t cut it.

That’s where coffee comes in. Coffee, like a mermaid to a sailor, gives the cartoonist that extra boost he needs just to keep going. Coffee gives that little extra punch for the punchline.

What could be more American than staying up all night drawing comics and chugging a pot o’ coffee? And yet, I’ve only had half this experience. I don’t drink coffee.

It’s true, dear readers! I don’t drink coffee. Tea, yes. Coffee, no. Am I missing an integral part of the cartooning experience? I have had a “runner’s high,” and have felt a similar phenomenon while drawing for a long time. A focus, a feeling that you could just go on forever. But, without coffee coursing through my veins, was the feeling phony? A sham? Alas, I may never know.

Because while I don’t drink coffee, I do take real human adrenaline. Like Hunter S. Thompson, I find coffee to be a little on the weak side when compared to a car-trunk full of illegal drugs. Here’s Mr. Thompson’s intake:

The sporting editors had also given me $300 in cash, most of which was already spent on extremely dangerous drugs. The trunk of the car looked like a mobile police narcotics lab. We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers…and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls.

Those of you familiar with my work may have already guessed this. That whimsical quality of my writing, the happy cacti drawn so lovingly in the background. All directly stem from the addled mind of an adrenaline junky. Like Mr. Thompson so wisely said:

“That stuff makes pure mescaline seem like ginger beer. You’ll go completely crazy if you take too much.”
I licked the end of the match.. “Where’d you get this?” I asked. “You can’t buy it.”
I shook my head sadly. “Jesus! What kind of monster client have you picked up this time? There’s only one source for this stuff…”
He nodded.
“The adrenaline glands from a living human body,” I said. “It’s no good if you get it out of a corpse.”
“I know,” he replied. “But the guy didn’t have any cash. He’s one of those Satanism freaks. He offered me human blood – said it would make me higher than I’d ever been in my life,” he laughed. “I thought he was kidding, so I told him I’d just as soon have an ounce or so of pure adrenochrome – or maybe just a fresh adrenalin gland to chew on.”

Coffee and comics may be part of the American dream, but I’m sticking with tea and human adrenaline.hunter-and-gonzo

2 replies on “Too Much Coffee, Man”

I like to picture you hunched over your desk, fully concentrated as you work a human adrenal gland around your mouth.

Awesome post, but how can you not drink coffee? Without that stuff my book would have died years ago.


I’d like to think I’m saving a secret weapon for when I’m older. One day when I’m 55 or 60, I’ll have my first sip of coffee. My eyes will widen and the music from 2001 will play in the background. It’ll be like having a second young adulthood.

That’s my plan, anyway.

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