Sunday, September 27, 2009

Everybody Is Stupid Except For Me

and Other Astute Observations

Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations
A Decade's Worth of Cartoon Reporting for Reason Magazine
by Peter Bagge
112 pages, Fantagraphic Books (2009)

I've loved Peter Bagge ever since I started reading his Buddy Bradley and Hate comics back in the Nineties when Seattle's hipster grunge scene was reigning supreme. Post-Hate, Bagge dropped below the radar for a while, had kids, and became a libertarian ("the other 'L' word" in his words). But regardless of his politics or life situation, Bagge has always maintained a critical eye for pretentiousness and pomposity - whether it be from the left or the right - as this collection of comic rants from his Noughties stint at Reason magazine ("the magazine of free minds and free markets") makes clear.

The book is organzied into thematic chapters of comtemporary American stupidity - Stupid Sex, Stupid War, Stupid Business, Stupid Arts, Stupid Politics, Stupid Tragedy, Stupid Boondoggles - culminating in "Our Stupid America." Bagge is even-handed enough to follow-up a dig at war protesters (with whom he sympathizes in idealogy if not execution) with an even harsher lambasting of pro-war zealots, and he even takes his libertarian chums to task - including his beloved Ron Paul ("In Search of the Perfect Human Being") - but what struck me most was his take-down of modern art and artists in "'Real' 'Art'" (Reason magazine, August/September 2004). They already made a movie out of Daniel Clowes' lampooning strip "Art School Confidential" but had Terry Zwigoff elected to make a documentary instead of a narrative film, he might well have used Bagge's cruel observations as source material. Brilliant stuff. I'm sure the old school folks at Baltimore's Schuler School of Fine Arts would be proud!

Real Art, page 1

Real Art, page 2

Real Art, page 3

Real Art, page 4

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