Dash Shaw with Dr. Angelique Corthals
Copperman (2016)

In 1899, a man’s body was found inside an ancient tunnel in the copper mines of Chuquicamata. The narrow shaft had collapsed in on him and slowly he had run out of oxygen. His body was found fixed in its last moments, his hands outstretched towards the walls, one clutching the coiled basket with which he had been collecting copper ore. Over time, the copper dust that blanketed him worked its way into his body, gradually replacing his own cells so that he became partially mineralized. He had begun to become a pseudo-morph, literally a “false form:” his skin, now a deep green hue, preserved through its partial conversion into a copper shell.

Claiming the remains as part of his mineral bounty, the mine’s owner sold the body to a local entrepreneur who briefly displayed it in his house before selling it to two Americans who displayed the “Copper Man” at the Chilean Pavilion at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo New York. The banker J.P. Morgan eventually bought Copperman and donated him to the American Museum of Natural History, who determined that he had died in approximately 500 A.D.

10 × 7 inches, 6 pages
Limited-edition offset print comic
Published by The Artist’s Institute