Sunday, January 15, 2017

Other Lives

Other Lives is an exploration of identity as filtered through the technology we use, in this case online avatars. It focuses on the relationships between four people. Vader Ryderbeck is a neurotic journalist who uses an obvious pseudonym and whose insecurities threaten his relationship with his girlfriend Ivy. She is the family rebel, an Asian girl who moved out of her conservative parents' home and lives with a white boy. In writing a story, Vader encounters two friends from the past. One, Otis, claims to be an ex-federal agent, although this seems unlikely as he lives with his mother and gets caught in some untruths. The second is Woodrow, a gamer with a gambling problem whose marriage does not seem as solid as he claims.
Of course, the real-life foibles, insecurities, and personality issues each character has spills over into the virtual world, here a Second Life parody named Second World. And the result of all this interplay is conflict and some strained relationships when Ivy and Woodrow become embroiled in an online dalliance. I felt that the story was an interesting one that hits on ideas of truth, identity, and our many "real-life" relationships as they function both face-to-face and in electronic spaces. Certainly, the characters may be stock stereotypes but in the end they help tell a thoughtful and entertaining tale.

This book's creator Peter Bagge is one of my all time favorite comics makers. A multiple award winner with decades of comics to his credit, he created the seminal alternative comics series Neat Stuff and Hate and served as editor of the underground comics holdover anthology Weirdo. He has also created a number of graphic novels, including Woman Rebel, Apocalypse Nerd,  and Reset. More recently, he has been a frequent contributor to publications like Reason magazine (see his collection Everybody is Stupid Except for Me) and Vice Magazine (the Musical Urban Legends column).

The reviews I have read about this book have been a mixed bag full of lots of critiques. Alice Parker remarked that it "is clearly the work of a professional, but one that seems to have lacked editorial oversight." Shawn O'Rourke concluded, "Other Lives is an interesting story that confirms why Peter Bagge has become a acclaimed name in the art comic world." R.S. Martin wrote, "Bagge’s explicit theme is that the Internet has led to people assuming multiple identities within their lives, but he doesn’t develop it into any greater insight or irony. As such, it always takes a back seat to the character comedy."

Other Lives was published by Vertigo, and they have info about it here.

No comments:

Post a Comment