Thursday, February 10, 2011

Everybody is Stupid Except for Me

Not so much a graphic novel as a collection of cartoons from Reason Magazine, this book is full of the excoriating wit of Peter Bagge. Bagge has been cartooning since the 1980s, with work frequently appearing in the seminal comics anthology Weirdo. He went on to his own anthology series Neat Stuff, where he drew and wrote stories about suburban families, talk radio DJs, and assorted social misfits, which led into Hate, a series that followed Buddy Bradley as he moved from suburban New Jersey to grunge-era Seattle. His work is highly regarded, and he has won multiple Harvey Awards for his art and writing.

In this collection, Bagge voices his libertarian views to skewer many topics, from political machinations of war, debates over legalizing marijuana, the mall-ification of America, public funding of professional sports complexes, public funding for art, casino gambling, and funding public transportation. He attacks the political right and left, even his own Libertarian Party. Often, he places himself in the story, as a reporter from a swingers convention or a War on Drugs conference and acts as an average Joe, probing into the ridiculous or shaky underpinnings of political stances and opinions. Although not every topic in the book is appropriate in school, an instructor could find many great examples to cherry-pick for instructional use.

All of the reviews I've read about this book show an appreciation for Bagge's loopy art style but also have some reservation about his opinions. Robot 6's Chris Mautner wrote that whether you agree with his views or not, Bagge is "still one of the funniest cartoonists in America today." Esquire's Tim Hefferman opined that the book is as "combative, iconoclastic, and embittered as its title suggests it would be. It is also smart, thought-provoking, and funny as hell." Ashley Cardiff offers a contrasting opinion of the book, eviscerating Bagge's libertarian views. All said, it seems that the book has the potential to amuse and agitate, an indication Bagge did his job well with these cartoons.

Here is a preview from the collection's publisher Fantagraphics Books.

Most of the cartoons featured in the book can be found on Reason's website if you search for them by title.

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