Peter Bagge is one of my favorite cartoonists. I was introduced to his work when it appeared in Robert Crumb's legendary Weirdo magazine. (Crumb later made Bagge the editor. When I was in my 20s I sent some of my samples to Weirdo. On his hand-written rejection postcard Bagge wrote, "You gotta be your own worst critic." Excellent advice!)
Bagge also created two long-running comic book series for Fantagraphics: Neat Stuff, a grab-bag of comic stories featuring a cast of recurring characters, and Hate, a comic that depicted the self-destruction of the Bradleys, a Seattle family (where Bagge lives). I eagerly snapped up each issue as it appeared on the rack.
Bagge also writes funny, curmudgeonly comics for Reason magazine, which are collected in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me: And Other Astute Observations.
Bagge's latest comic book is a four-issue mini science fiction series called Reset, published by Dark Horse and now collected in a single volume. Reset begins in an enforced DUI education classroom. One of the people in the class is a has-been actor named Guy Krause. He's grumpy, bitter, and broke, so when he meets a woman in the class who offers to pay him to be a human guinea pig in a virtual reality experiment that will cause him to re-experience his life from early adulthood up to his current middle age, he accepts the offer without question. Through the experiment Guy is given a second chance to make decisions that could possibly lead him to a better place (or an imaginary better place).
As the story progresses, we begin to see clues that there are Truman Show-like elements at play -- where does reality and virtual reality begin and end? Who is behind the curtains? And does Krause really have a say in what is happening to him?
It's great to see Bagge mining new territory, and at the same time retaining his sharp sense of humor.
In 2012, Kim Stanley Robinson published 2312, imagining how the world and its neighbors might look in 300 years, loosely coupled with the seminal Red Mars books, a futuristically pastoral novel about the way that technology can celebrate the glories of nature; in 2015, Robinson followed it up with Aurora, the best book I read that year, which used 2312’s futures to demolish the idea that we can treat space colonization (and other muscular technological projects) as Plan B for climate change — a belief that is very comforting to those who don’t or can’t imagine transforming capitalism into a political system that doesn’t demolish the planet. Now, with New York 2140, Robinson starts to connect the dots between these different futures with a bold, exhilarating story of life in a permanent climate crisis, where most people come together in adversity, but where a small rump of greedy, powerful people get in their way.
Last December, I published my review of Andrew “bunnie” Huang’s astoundingly great book The Hardware Hacker: Adventures in Making and Breaking Hardware — without realizing that the book’s release had been delayed because the published decided to do some very fancy and cool stuff with the printing process.
It’s been fifteen years since the first edition of educator Rosalind Wiseman’s Queen Bees and Wannabes was published; now in its third edition — updated with current, timely material about social media and other fast-moving subjects, as well as reflections from girls who were raised on the techniques in the previous editions — the book is a compassionate, aware, and intensely practical guide to navigating the toxic, gendered lives of young girls in a diverse, politicized world.
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