Peter Bagge – Everybody is Stupid Except for Me (Fantagraphics 2009)

everybody-is-stupidPeter Bagge is an interesting proposition, a political satirist for Reason magazine for many years, railing against wars and oppression and corruption and at the same time railing against the railers, the protestors, the anti-oppressors, the anti-war, the anti-corruption and these uneasy cartoons floating in the murky middle ground between righteously right wing and liberally left-wing are collected in the amusingly titled ‘Everybody is Stupid Except Me.’ His style is frenetic, usually using a representation of him, the sweaty nervous nervous, as the crux of all his points. The stories are like pictoral articles, investigating scenes and issues and presenting both sides of the argument, sometimes through vox pop or illustrations of a diagrammatic nature to bolster the reportage. It’s impressive stuff and he certainly knows his bones when talking about the homeless crisis in San Francisco or the hypocrisies behind the abstinence movement. His drawings are busy and curt, always cutting and always railing against most forms of authority. It’s in his work that we find ourselves questioning our liberal attitudes. Are we right? Are we patronisingly right? Are we peacenik commies? Unfortunately, Bagge himself comes across as ambivalent about some areas himself and leaves us guessing as to his political sentiments. Is this good journalism? Is it the direct confusion of a man unable to place himself on one side of the fence? Or is it just liberal-baiting hectoring from a man who ‘mostly’ disagreed with the Bush government. It’s probably a mixture of all three. These are good comics, fun to read and definitely funny, definitely searing and when he hits a target he gets it right. Also there’s something to be said for the journalist tone of the writing and the structure of the strips would translate well into a proper newspaper, were he so inclined. Is everyone stupid except for Peter Bagge? Well, we’ll never quite be sure. But then, neither will he.

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