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.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.