Back in 1982, we ran a pictorial in which the gonzo comedian Andy Kaufman engaged in a wrestling match with Miss September 1981 Susan Smith. (Kaufman lost, badly.) Thirty-five years later, we’re proud to announce the release, in February 2018, of a graphic novel that revisits Kaufman’s brilliant and tragically short career—a career that thrived audience discomfort, confusion and anger, delivered by a man whose death at 35 is still viewed by some as an extremely slow-burning hoax.
Author and artist Box Brown, whose book Tetris: The Games People Play came out earlier this year, returns to the biographical chops he displayed in his best-selling book Andre the Giant: Life and Legend. Andy Kaufman has been cast into legend many times over, most notably by Milos Forman in the 1999 biopic Man on the Moon. But Brown, judging by his previous work, seems uniquely suited to create a portrait of the artist that’s quieter and more relatable than most—while still delving into the batshit insanity to which Kaufman devoted his professional life.
“Andy Kaufman has fascinated me for years,” Brown says. “I was too young to remember his runs on David Letterman and Saturday Night Live. But because of Man on the Moon, Comedy Central started re-airing Andy Kaufman’s performances. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen. He was extremely influential in the comedy world, but I think still misunderstood and often emulated with varying results.”
Below, get a first look at some pages from the book. Brown even created two exclusive two-color panels for us, both largely inspired by that 1982 Playboy pictorial; you’ll find those up top and at the bottom.
Note: While the images created exclusively for this article are two-color, Is This Guy for Real? will be in black and white.