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Worlds away from Joe Sacco's in-depth comics journalism are the short comics essays that Peter Bagge did for the libertarian magazine Reason. Where Sacco engages a single issue or event with extensive interviewing and realistic drawings, Bagge's shorter pieces tackle a wide array of subject matter, rendering his straightforward opinions in his expressively stretchy, cartoonish style.
Short and to the Point
Many know Bagge from the outrageously funny Buddy Bradley stories he published in Hate Magazine. Fewer may remember that he also wrote many essays for Hate, where he unapologetically offered up his take on everything from music to politics. Thankfully, Reason magazine allowed him to continue his explorations and tirades, and now a decade of comics essays are available in a standalone book, Everybody is Stupid Except For Me, and Other Astute Observations.
Multiple Issues, Limited Attention
Covering an anti-war rally before the start of the Iraq War, Bagge's own pacifist feelings are overwhelmed by the myriad piggyback causes competing for attention, the childishly passive-aggressive alpha males, and the retired 1960s radicals who insist that they are not influencing their children's participation in the rally. Other pieces explore the politics of alternate sexual lifestyles, gun ownership, government-funded art, mass transit, Christian rock, and casinos.
Tales from the Primary
Chronicling the 2008 New Hampshire Presidential Primary, Bagge gives the reader wonderfully elastic caricatures of the various candidates, highlighting everything from John McCain's icy stare to Hillary Clinton's butt to Ron Paul's befuddling puppy-dog stare, with a few speeches in between.
What He Says is What He Means
While his opinions are blunt and sometimes simply framed, they are honest and straightforward in a time when political correctness and partisanship tend to straightjacket a lot of what is publicly said. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more thoughtful and varied collection of comics journalist essays, and you definitely won't find any that are illustrated as fantastically as Peter Bagge's are. You can read a preview of the book here, and borrow our library's copy to read the rest.
Chris Gray is an Extra Help Librarian (mostly working in San Carlos, Foster City, and Pacifica). He is 30 years old and moved to San Francisco from southwest Florida in March of 2009. When he’s not reading science fiction, comics, or cookbooks, he likes to listen to all kinds of music, hang out in parks looking for animals, cook, and make abstract video art.