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Fans of Peter Bagge’s generation-defining, satirical fiction may not realize this, but the cartoonist doubles as an opinionated cuss, and has been contributing provocative (but still hilarious) comic-strip opinion pieces to Reason magazine for the last several years... finally collected in this volume.
Although a libertarian by inclination (hence the Reason gig), Bagge (who lives in the fuzzy-headed, liberal capital of the Northwest, Seattle) is hardly dogmatic, and many of the pieces undermine traditional party lines in favor of a rather personal, rational and informed take on hot-button issues that will force partisan Democrats and Republicans alike to rethink them. And of course, Bagge’s well-researched comic strip “essays” crackle with the same energy and wit that propelled him into the collective Gen X consciousness with his comic book series Hate.
Favorite topics include the erosion of our civil liberties (whether the post-9/11 Bush administration's gradual erosion of the Bill of Rights, the insanity of the war on drugs, or nanny-state meddling), ongoing boondoggles of the American public (for professional sports stadiums or ineffective public transportation systems), the Iraq war (Bagge is vociferously against it), so-called art and so-called entertainment, the homeless, the mall-ification of America, politicians both in general and in particular (including the 2008 presidential race and a revelatory one-on-one with Republican not-so-hopeful Ron Paul that soured Bagge on the candidate forever), the conservative/religious war on sex and drugs, and whether citizens should be allowed to own bazookas. Each piece features the voluble Bagge himself front and center as the puzzled, indignant, or deeply conflicted everyman-on-the-street trying to make sense of this 21st Century.
And of course, every panel is delineated in Bagge’s glorious, laugh-out-loud stretchy 4-color cartoon style, making even his disquisitions on some very serious topics go down as smoothly as Buddy Bradley’s latest escapade.
Let's see what Online Commentary & Diversions are out there:
• Review: "[Michael Kupperman's] work is sublime in the truest sense of the word, speaking to me as a reader in ways that can be discussed and broken down but not quite fully communicated in their Rightness... About the only other humorists who have affected me in the same way were the Marx Brothers... Kupperman saturates each page [of Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1] with crazed ideas, bizarre connections, and references that aren't really references. Even a reader who may not be familiar with what Kupperman's (often obliquely) mocking is still pulled full-tilt into the gag. No matter what the concept, once Kupperman's laid his hands on it, it's no longer recognizable as anything but his." - Rob Clough
• Review: "...[T]he deadpan expressions of the characters [in I Killed Adolf Hitler] say more than pages of words could say... there’s a kinda sweet little love story in there about the protagonist and his girlfriend, and what they find out about themselves and each other in the process of trying to correct history." - Thinking About...
• Profile: "...The Brinkley Girls [was] a sophisticated series capturing the modern American working girl with a combination of glamour, spunk, feminine allure and curly hair..." - "I Want to Be a Brinkley Girl," First Person Singular
• List/Review: "Shouldn't we build a monument of some kind to John Benson? He is responsible for some of the best research, compiling and editing of comics history. [Confessions, Romances, Secrets & Temptations] is... full of excellent and sometimes quite eccentric interviews with St. John romance cartoonists and writers. An indispensible peek inside the industry and its characters." - Dan Nadel's "current favorite books about comics history," Comics Comics
• Review: "...Fletcher Hanks comes across as a villainous sort in his own bylined book [You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation!] — a vessel of combined artistry and wrath, whose published legacy is as nightmarish as it is brilliant. The art reproductions capture vividly both Hanks’ aggressive drawing style and the garish colors of the original Depression-into-wartime publications." - Michael H. Price, Fort Worth Business Press
• Review: "[Peter Bagge's] Reason features... add up to a splendidly funny-and-angry new book called Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me... Bagge rejects party-line herd-following in order to raise a uniquely sane voice among political cartoonists... [He is] one terrific cartoonist, with a keen constancy of purpose." - Michael H. Price, Fort Worth Business Press
• Preview: "It's no secret why Michael Kupperman is a favorite of Robert Smigel and Conan O'Brien — he's one of the most weirdly funny writers around... Tales Designed to Thrizzle is the dirtiest, funniest comic book to come out in a long time." - New York Magazine presents an exclusive 8-page excerpt from Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 1
Hoo-ee, it's time for our post-MoCCA Online Commentary & Diversions catch-up. It's going to take a while to sift through 4-5 days of the comics blogosphere, so to start with these are mostly links that have been sent to me:
• Review: "In what is obviously a labor of love, [C.] Tyler tells the story of her father's time during WWII and her parents' early relationship, skillfully interweaving it with Tyler's own story... provid[ing] a moving, personal portrait of one member of what's become known as 'the greatest generation.' Tyler's use of colored inks gives the line drawings an inviting depth of emotion... The drawings speak with an even greater richness thanks to the evocative words that appear within and around them, commenting upon and adding to the action portrayed in the panels. An important contributor to independent comics since the 1980s, Tyler has made a name for herself with the quirky warmth of her autobiographical stories, and this wonderful book [You'll Never Know Book 1: A Good and Decent Man] is a thoughtful work that greatly adds to the language of the graphic memoir." - Publishers Weekly (Starred Review; scroll to end of page)
• Review: "Jason’s books have always had a cinematic feel, and he seems to examine this more than ever with direct tie-ins to film concepts playing major roles in several of the stories... [A]ll of the stories in Low Moon are entertaining, and fans of Jason should be more than happy to digest five new comics from one of the best in the business." - William Jones, Graphic Novel Reporter
• Review: "Now, Fantagraphics has brought out The Wolverton Bible... I love that Wolverton's Adam and Eve look like Cary Grant and Rita Hayworth, and that the images of Noah’s Ark have the beautifully clean look of a wood carving. Dramatic scenes such as Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, the devastation brought by locusts, and Samson’s blinding, showcase the artist’s talent for visceral, visual storytelling." - Leigh Stein, The New Yorker
• Review: "...[T]he newest issue of Michael Kupperman's mind-bending humor mag, Tales Designed to Thrizzle #5. Six Reasons Why Michael Kupperman Is A Genius (A bullet-pointed review...)" by Rob Clough, High-Low
• Review: "Peter Bagge's Neat Stuff saw the cartoonist at the height of his expressionistic style, and marked the beginning of the mature work he would exhibit in Hate and elsewhere... required reading for Hate fans... Anyone interested in fearless pop-culture satire, not just Peter Bagge, should have a look." - Luke Arnott, suite101.com
• Review: "Blazing Combat reprints all 4 issues of the ground-breaking war series... These are fascinating stories... drawn by some of the top talent in comics... [who] did some of their finest works for this short-lived publication. This new package from Fantagraphics Books is a handsome hardcover... the design work is A+, this time by Adam Grano." - Gary Sassaman, Innocent Bystander
• Interview: Comic Book Resources' Shaun Manning talks to editor Andrei Molotiu about the forthcoming anthology Abstract Comics. Sample quote: "I think that, oftentimes, abstract comics do end up maintaining more of that graphic energy [of superhero comics], and I think that they can draw attention to this very powerful tool in the vocabulary of comics that may have been lost in a number of art and alternative comics."
• Interview: Cartoonist Scott Nickel asks 20 questions of "one of the best cartoonists of his generation," Peter Bagge. Sample quote: "The idea of being a cartoonist was an appealing one to me as a kid, though not as appealing as being a rock star or baseball player."
• Interview: I can't remember if we've linked to this 2008 North Shore News Q&A with Peter Bagge before: "Anyone who claims they're speaking for an entire generation should be stoned to death!"
• Events: Thanks to Comic Book Resources' Timothy Callahan for picking some stuff up at our table at MoCCA and posting a photo of Miss Lasko-Gross signing A Mess of Everything; CBR's Kiel Phegley picks up some of the festival buzz; Publishers Weekly has some Fantagraphics scoop in their MoCCA report as well
• Things to see: Spain's Entrecomics presents a gallery of all of Daniel Clowes's front and back covers for Eightball. Clowes's back cover strips are some of his funniest work, and the later issues feature some stunning wraparounds, so it's well worth checking out. Here's Part I and Part II
Updates of Online Commentary & Diversions may be oddly timed for the rest of the week as we're eyeball deep in MoCCA preparations.
• Review: "[Harvey] Kurtzman and company aimed high for a more sophisticated humor mag than the competition... Fantagraphics’ package for it is bar none — handsome, sturdy and restored with great care... I was most interested in the behind-the-scenes story of Humbug and the creative process that went into it — not to mention doomed it — and the book’s introduction and exclusive interviews more than satisfy on that count." - Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Review: "In a way, Humbugalmost feels like a goof-humor version of The New Yorker or something. There’s a lot of fairly serious political/social commentary, cloaked in wry rainment. It’s a blend as interesting as any cocktail, and it’s goddamn great to have this stuff easily available. Hats away!" - Byron Coley & Thurston Moore, Arthur Magazine
• Review: "...[U]nparallel parodists Kurtzman and Elder ran rampant for themselves when they published these 11 exceptional issues of comic art anarchy. This two-volume hardcover box set has been reproduced from the original art and digitally restored to make everything look even better than when it first came out in 1957. This long-overdue definitive edition of Humbug is an essential slice of satire from the masters of the genre." - Jeffrey Morgan, Detroit Metro Times
• Review: "Everybody Is Stupid Except For Me [is] a compilation of the notorious Seattle libertarian [Peter Bagge]’s politically (and sexually) charged comics for Reason magazine... It’s great. So colourful (always my favourite part of Pete’s comics) and acerbic and smart-ass, but with a heart and purpose behind the bickering and keenly observes caricatures... It’s too early to say now, but right now I’m thinking it’s perhaps my favourite stuff of his, full stop..." - Everett True
• Review: "Connective Tissue... make[s] for an engaging read... While Darla sounds like she could be a handful, she is a good and sympathetic protagonist, making her a modern-day Alice in a 21st century Wonderland." - Jason Borelli, Beyond Race Magazine
• Preview: Spotlighting comics shipping this week, The Comics Reporter says of Uptight #3: "The previous issue of this series from the great Jordan Crane was super, super strong." Likewise, Chris Mautner at Robot 6: "The latest issue in Jordan Crane’s very good series about ghosts and melancholy comes to town. I feel we should be doing all we can to ensure Crane keeps making comics, don’t you?" And Matthew Brady says: "I missed the second issue of this series, but the first one was great... Check it out if you see it on the shelves."
• Profile: My Adventure Is Your Advantage spotlights the design work of our very own Art Director Jacob Covey, calling him "the bees knees of design" and presenting previously unseen previews of the forthcoming Abstract Comics anthology
• Profile: "[Dash] Shaw's online and bound comics inhabit surreal spaces both cerebral and emotional, leaping from zombie love stories to futuristic set pieces without resorting to predictability... It's probably safe to say he has arrived." - Wired
• Interview: Publishers Weekly's Heidi MacDonald asks our own Eric Reynolds for his thoughts about Book Expo America and its value for comics publishers like us; The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon comments on the interview; meanwhile, The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater gets a few words from Eric on the show floor
Your Online Commentary & Diversions for the first day of June '09:
• Review: "Holy cats!... Wolverton's illustrations [in The Wolverton Bible], done in the same unmistakable, stippled style that characterized his grotesqueries, show off the grim, the violent, and the destructive in the Old Testament, putting the blood and guts in the spotlight. The result is like no illustrated Bible you've ever seen... This is a side of Wolverton I never suspected, but it is perfectly him, humorous, grisly, mad and wonderful." - Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
• Review/Profile: "...Unlovable by Esther Pearl Watson... was for me like discovering a nugget of gold in a sieve! ...really original and fun." - Lezinfo (translated from French)
• Review: "With great candor and wit, [Peter] Bagge tackles [the] issues... in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me, a collection of his strips from Reason Magazine. As in his previous works like Hate and The Bradleys, Bagge deftly manages to simultaneously anger and amuse the reader with his intensely personal stories about larger topical issues." - Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
• Review: "...[T]he comics in this collection [of Blazing Combat] are astounding... The art is reproduced from 'the original printer’s films,' so the work is clear and detailed, with the washes and shading providing depth and a feeling of realism... The stories are still timely." - Johanna Draper Carlson, Comics Worth Reading
• Interview: The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon talks to Bob Fingerman about his latest projects, including Connective Tissue. Sample quote: "I think if I did nothing but comics, I would end up hating comics. For a while there I was actually beginning to hate comics."
• Interview: Robot 6's Tim O'Shea talks to Supermen! editor Greg Sadowski about the collection of Golden Age hero stories. Sample quote: "I never liked those 'Archive' editions where they bleach out the old colors and replace them with modern coloring methods printed on glossy paper. That whitewashes all the distinction out of those vintage books and transforms them into a cloyingly slick and artificial product."
• Video: From Paul Hornschemeier's blog: "Via Tuono Pettinato on Facebook: A Peanuts documentary (broken into 5 parts on YouTube) where Charles Schulz discusses the making of the animated Peanuts and the role of music. It's great footage, and makes me miss Schulz's genius all the more."
• Review: "Something for everyone in this educational, humorous and borderline offensive tome. Communicated in Bagge’s trademarked bugged out style, [Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me] is a must-have for fans of incisive political commentary." - Kevin Mathews, The Power of Pop
• Review: "...Supermen! provides a concise glimpse into what the early comic books were like back when the medium was really fresh... Today’s readers will be surprised at how some of the material from a supposed more naive times really comes across rather grim and gritty... The 20 stories on view here provide an intriguing insight of where many of our modern day comic book heroes may have originated from, even if indirectly." - Kevin Mathews, The Power of Pop
• Review: "Petey & Pussy is surreal, rude, crass, crude with studied obnoxiousness, and bitterly, bitingly funny in a perfect post-modern manner... an utterly captivating world of bawdy, grown-up laughs that only the most po-faced conservative could resist. Adult fun for slacker smart-asses of all ages guaranteed to make your beer spurt out of your nose so read carefully..." - Win Wiaceck, Now Read This!
• Review: "The Humbug set from Fantagraphics is out and it's great. Fine printing and binding will keep this slipcased two-volume set looking good long after the rest of us are gone." - Harry Lee Green, Hairy Green Eyeball
• Review: "Maybe the business was too young, or maybe these characters were just a warm-up for what was to come so they didn't quite stick, but they are just as cool as any early Superman or Batman comic. The comics are all really neat to read, crude and unfiltered... So if you’re a comics fan, especially of the early stuff, this book is a must-have... [Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941] is gritty and exciting, so definitely go check it out!" - Tom Hardej, CC2K
• Review: "A fantastic companion to 2007’s Fletcher Hanks retrospective I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets!, [Supermen!] is pure pop culture heaven... While it’s easy to see why these characters have been been consigned to the dustbin of history, there’s an undeniable charm to practically every story in here... The only problem with this book is that it leaves you wanting more..." - Kevin Church
• Review: "...Sam's Strip was an interesting comic in its own right. The phrase 'ahead of its own time' is one that's bandied about frequently when discussing it, and even now the juxtapositions within it are occasionally surreal enough to cause amusement through their sheer audacity... As small a fact as it may be, the near-flawless execution of the book helps to make it feel like more of a prestige package, a celebration of the series rather than just a cheap cash-in... [T]his straightforward but well-made collection is a thoroughly worthy purchase." - Andrew Williams, Den of Geek
• Preview: "Illustrator Nell Brinkley's women were the Roaring Twenties' answer to the aloof Gibson Girl. Curly-haired, rambunctious and more than a bit naughty, the Brinkley Girls were a national sensation..." - She's a Betty
• Preview: "For those of you familiar only with [Peter] Bagge’s Gen X tales of angry, lost youth in Hate, the realisation that Bagge has developed into an opinionated, curmudgeonly middle aged man may seem as disturbing as seeing your favourite band of your teens back on stage now they’re all 40 somethings. But there’s no need to fear -- Bagge’s middle age self displays all the angry, hilarious energy of his younger self, just with more direction and purpose. [Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me is] definitely one to look forward to." - Richard Bruton, The Forbidden Planet International Blog Log
• Interview: Amazon.com's Omnivoracious blog sat down for a chat with Jaime Hernandez at Emerald City ComiCon. Sample quote: "I like to get goofy, off-the-wall [comics], just to have a box of 50s or 60s stuff that doesn’t really make sense. You know, I like to open the box once in a while to look at it for fun stuff, inspiration. Looking at an old comic gets me excited to do comics sometimes."