World War 3 Illustrated Interview: Peter Kuper on

By Zach Roberts
March 3rd, 2014

A Work of Art in Publishing

We wrote about World War 3 Illustrated's Kickstarter weeks ago, since then it's really been moving. Just in the past couple of  days it met its $15,000 goal to make a hardcover compendium of the magazine.

The Kickstarter still has 9 days left - so there's still time to kick in and get some of the very cool rewards that they're offering. But for those of you who are unsure, or don't even know what World War 3 Illustrated is, Co-Editor Peter Kuper joined to discuss the project.

For the basics on the kickstarter and what they're looking to do - check out's last article on it at the link.

For people who might have never heard of World War 3 Illustrated - could you give us a brief explanation of the magazine?

Peter Kuper: It’s magazine that was founded in 1979 by Seth Tobocman and me when we were in art school at Pratt Institute. We had done comic fanzines as kids, growing up in Cleveland and so the idea of self publishing was familiar. It was  inspired by Ronald Reagan winning the election, the Cold War being in full swing, concerns about impending nuclear war, environmental disasters, homelessness and a deep, deep love of comics. Over the years people have been drawn to this project and now a larger group of editors makes the magazine happen. We just published our 45th issue.

I had always felt frustrated since it seemed like there had been a ton of art movements that we were always too young to join. The Beats,the hippies, missed " The Summer of Love" (drat!) the underground comix, all gone. So we had to create our own movement and that has taken root with a cross- generation of artists, including  Sue Coe, Eric Drooker, Sabrina Jones, Art Spiegelman,Tom Tomorrow, Isabella Bannerman, Sandy Jimenez, Mac McGill , Spain Rodriguez , Kevin Pyle, Peter Bagge, Mumia Abu Jamal and hundreds of others. WW3 is a place to see new artists along side of veteran cartoonists writing and drawing about the world we live in.

One of my favorite issues of WW3 was one of the issues after 9/11 where artists shared their sketchbooks that had art that referenced 9/11 themes. It was really the only place I ever saw anyone confront the idea that preventing 9/11 was a 'lack of imagination.' Did you get a lot of push back from that? 

It's my favorite as well. The issue not only clarified the importance of alternative media--given the impossibility of publishing any ideas that were not a call to arms in any mainstream venues.It was also what helped many of us recover from the tragedy. Writing and drawing about our experiences was a great form of catharsis and a way to connect with other people.

On the contrary to push back, that issue sold more copies than we ever had before and we needed to go back to press to meet the demand. Our release event for the issue was also attended by hundreds of people, whereas previous issues had been mostly contributors. The Library of Congress approached us about the work in that issue and now several pieces, including my cover, are in their permanent collection.

In this world of digital comics have you thought of starting an app or offering the magazine digitally? If not, why not?

We have and are talking about having a digital edition along side of the print one. It has only been a matter of time and organization. Since none of us are paid, everything we do has to slot between our other paid jobs and this has been more than we have had time for. It's coming though.

What problems have you seen in the changing distribution models?

Distribution has always been the hardest aspect about this enterprise. For years we had a record distributor which got into all sorts of great places including tower records and helped us reach an audience outside of comic shops. The current scene is yet another hurdle, but apparently hurdles don't stop us given how long we've been at it.

What do you feel WW3's place in the history of illustrated journalism is?

That's for historians to decide, but since we've been doing journalism in comics for 35 years--long before this was considered a viable form of journalism, they may look kindly on us.

Why PM Press?

Bless their hearts, they were the ones not only willing to step up to the plate, but even suggested we do it all full color and hardcover with no restrictions on length. This is why we are so willing to do a Kickstarter campaign. A book like this is a daunting expense and they not only were willing to take that chance, but have done what they can to make the book affordable.

Why should people who don't consider themselves political support your kickstarter? 

There is very little in this world that is done without constant consideration of "The bottom line" That's is a rare creature in this world and like a lot of other creatures on this planet is nearly extinct. There are few true labors of love out there and this one has survived for decades. What you see in our Kick Starter video is a diverse group of people who have been helped by the very existence of this publication. People who support this campaign are supporting the idea that not everything in this world has a dollar value, that artistic expression and sharing ideas is important and worth encouraging.

You've got a wide selection of really cool 'prizes' - which one would you pick (outside of the book itself)? Personally I love the idea of the gas mask and the copy of WW3 Illustrated.

I find the implication of the gas mask  a bit scary--I'm more of a flower-child. If I had the money I'd go for one of the pieces of original art or a print. Or, wait!  There's several books available including back issues of WW3 and some of my other books with PM including Drawn To New York and a brand new hardcover edition of The System my wordless graphic novel that has been out of print for 15 years! Also there's...gosh, I don't know where to begin, too many great choices.

You can check out all the rewards and watch the kickstarter video by going to their page on

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