By Peter Bagge (Fantagraphics Books)
You probably know Peter Bagge as the fiery, wise-mouthed, superbly acerbic cartoonist responsible for incredibly addictive strips about American life that featured in such wonderful magazines as Neat Stuff and Hate, the inimitable Buddy Bradley stories or even his foray into the more-or-less mainstream with DC’s Yeah!
But the graphic ridiculist has a politically active side as cartoonist and societal commentator for the Libertarian publication Reason, a task he has joyously undertaken for nearly a decade. Now a collection of his best strips (perhaps cartoon “op-ed” columns would be a better description) has been compiled by Fantagraphics and a more powerful argument for the concept of Free Speech you could not find anywhere.
In a mostly full-colour format the deliciously fluid drawings and razor-sharp polemical, questioning, highly rational and deeply intimate quandaries and observations of Bagge skewer, spotlight and generally expose the day-to-day aggravation and institutionalized insanity of modern urban life in 47 strips ranging from one to four pages in length.
Divided into War, Sex, Arts, Business, Boondoggles, Tragedy, Politics, and Our Stupid Country, Bagge uncovers and gives a damn good satirizing to such topics as Drugs policy and attitudes, organized religion, gun control, birth control and abortion, education, homelessness and even Libertarianism itself (and just in case you’re too busy to look it up, we’re talking about a philosophy not a political party – although sometimes it’s hard to tell: Libertarianism in its broadest form is simply the advocacy of Free Will and the belief in personal action and responsibility as opposed to the surrender of liberty and decision making to other – for which we usually mean Big Business and governments, not your mother…)
Challenging, iconoclastic and thought-provoking (or else what’s the point?) this is also a superbly engaging entertaining book, and Bagge is the perfect inquisitor; impassioned, deeply involved and not afraid to admit when he’s confused, angry or just plain wrong. This wonderful use of brains, heart and ink should be compulsory reading before anybody is allowed to vote or even voice an opinion (now there’s a topic for discussion…)
© 2009 Peter Bagge. This edition © 2009 Fantagraphics Books, Inc. All rights reserved.