• Title: ‘Teenage Tupelo The Book’
  • Editor and Writer: John Michael McCarthy
  • Contributors: John Beifuss, Darin Ipema, D’Lana Tunnell, Kristen Hobbs, Sophie Couch, Dawn Ashcraft, Will O’Loughlen, Neil Wexler, Jed Leland, Paul Gaita, Victoria Renard, Emmy Collins, Mike Hunchback, Scottie Diablo, Dallas Browning Nicholson, Chico Harris, Rusty Crump, Larry Nager, Susan Ellis, Jody Callahan, Alex Greene, Esgar Acelaredo, David Smay, Alan Fox, Greg Akers, Scott R. Miller, Andria Lisle, John Floyd, Scott Bomar, Justin Thompson, Jeff Goggans, Scott Bomar, Paul Woodard, Edd Hurt, Jack Moskovitz, Neil Shapiro, Sherianne Bangham, Dave Tosh, Madelyn Zimmerman, Mr. Bear, Kenneth Weinert, Georgia Tann, Gwen Norman, and Chris Davis.
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics
  • Year Released: 2023
  • ISBN: 9781683969068
  • Page Count: 336
  • Format: Hardcover (full color)
  • Dimensions: 12.4″ × 12.3″
  • Price: US$75
John Michael ‘Mike’ McCarthy aka JMM back in the 1990’s, around the time of the release of ‘Teenage Tupelo’ the film / ‘TTTF.’

Billed as, “a semi-auto-bio sexploitation comedy-drama that asks the question, ‘Want to see some naked pictures of my mother?’”, John Michael ‘Mike’ McCarthy’s aka JMM’s ‘Teenage Tupelo: The Book’ /’TTTB’ from Fantagraphics dives into decades worth of content related to the man, his work, and artistic endeavours.
The book, named after Mike’s 1995 film of the same name, is both an act of self-reflection with a tongue-in-cheek charm; and a celebration of all things crass, erotic, and loud.

My first impression of ’TTTB’ is that of wonderment. The massive 6-pound, 336-page book offers up images of nudes and monsters, coupled with a liberal amount of music – often mixing the three. Existing like the classic teenage masturbatory fantasy of finding a stash of comics, records, and nudie mags in a relatives’ attic.
Given the magnitude of the compendium, the instant visceral reaction is pure nostalgic bliss, perfectly presented in glossy coloured pages. Before approaching the writing within, there is an instant joy in just experiencing the book by flipping through its pages and letting the eyes wander.

Mike has had a long history with Fantagraphics, the publisher of ’TTTB,’ beginning back in the early 1990s when they released various comics of his. With ’TTTB’ feeling like a perfect pairing of creator and publisher, created with a mutual understanding of the importance of presentation and good ole fashioned design. No page exists as mere walls of text, with every essay and interview inside scattered with photos and ephemera that provide a personalized and introspective look at Mike and those in his life.

A sample of ‘Teenage Tupelo’ the book / ‘TTTB.’

Admittedly, the sheer volume of the book can be intimidating at first, especially for those only recently introduced to Mike’s work. However, the approach is not just to obsess and tout the work of Mike alone, with the release capturing a certain place and time while sending positive vibes into the future. Making it enjoyable for those not yet immersed in all things JMM.

This is exemplified early in the book as the initial essays provided by Mike use ‘Teenage Tupelo The Film’ / ‘TTTF’ as a means to introduce the legacy of Something Weird Video, founded in 1990 by Mike Vraney in Seattle, Washington. The first few pages emphasizing the importance of Something Weird in bringing ‘TTTF’ to broader distribution, as well as outlining the company’s legacy of releasing long-lost nudie and exploitation classics unto the world which would have otherwise been lost to time.
The section on Something Weird Video is just one of the many essays, interviews, reviews, and excerpts from Mike and the books’ many contributors that make their way into the collection. With ’TTTB’ having 89 sections inter-spliced with full-page spreads related to the subject matter at hand. Each chapter building the lore around ‘TTTF’ and Mike, that by the time you get to the more personal chapters, there is already a welcome familiarity and desire to dig deep into such content.
This works particularly well in the multiple essays from Mike’s muse and buxom screen goddess, D’Lana Tunnel. Which provide a reflection on her career and relationship with Mike, read with a comforting familiarity already established by the plethora of content that came before.

One of the many behind the scenes photos that appear in ‘TTTB.’ This one shows D’Lana Tunnel, one of the stars of ‘TTTF.’

There is no one essay in the book that lacks information or entertainment, often striking a balance of the two, especially through Mike himself as he muses and reflects on his various artistic passions. The chapters on Mike’s comics being a personal favorite; given my love for underground comics as a whole.

There is no denying that ’TTTB’ is an exercise in indulgence, especially considering its bulky presentation. However, it is far greater than most deep dives into a creator’s world I have seen before. A vast step-up from what more well-known publishers such as Taschen regularly release; both stylistically and content-wise.
With Mike’s personal touch making a huge difference: an artist reflecting on his life and career, versus some third party trying to honour another artist.
The book is a labour of love, a singular vision radiating around the charisma of Mike, his collaborators, and those who inspire him. A little indulgence was indeed needed to properly bring together such a project.

A still from ‘TTTF.’

At its most rudimentary, ’TTTB’ can be enjoyed through the photography, images, and ephemera within that emphasize an eroticism and chaos honed through decades of love for underground cinema, art. And music.
At its most complex, it maps a career made through a self-assured determination and embraces an artistic spirit that has been honed into a uniquely defined aesthetic.

‘TTTF’ may have been released in 1995, but bringing it back to the forefront with the book solidifies JMM’s status as the continued champion for exploitation cinema that he is. A world where women are works of art and men are slimy, horny delinquents.

’TTTB,’ in relation to the film, also works as an ideal companion piece. As it exists as a masterful compendium touching on every aspect of production – from actors and music, to distribution. It also offers an abundance of lore – even a purposely obtuse and somewhat slimy character such as Hugh B. Brooks is humanized in the book, beyond the caricature he plays in the film. D’Lana Tunnel, a picturesque buxom beauty pulled straight from the world of Russ Meyer, is also given further cause to adore when considering the essays she penned for ’TTTB.’
Indeed, the 2023 blu-ray release of ‘TTTF’ by Mike’s Guerrilla Monster Films is packed with so many special features, including director commentary and behind-the-scenes footage, that it feels almost essential to grab in addition to the book release.

The only disconnect a reader will have with ’TTTB’ is going to be if they are just not interested in exploitation cinema, rock and roll, and adoration of the female form (what dull lives they must live!) While this seems obvious, it is still worthy of note, as while Mike is the focus, the book goes far beyond him to create an inspiring homage to the artistic process that you will have a hard time matching in both thoroughness and passion.

‘TTTB’ in a raunchy no-slipcase photo, coupled with the recent blu-ray reissue of ‘TTTF’ for some very naughty duel media action.