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Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me: And Other Astute Observations Paperback – August 18, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Bagge made his reputation with the wicked social satire of Hate, but since 2001 he's also produced these short comics for the libertarian magazine Reason—mostly reported pieces about politics and culture, but also some single-page opinion strips. The formula is that Bagge attends some sort of event (the opening of a tribal casino, an exit strategy for the war on drugs conference, a lecture by the author of a book about the founding fathers), observes everyone and mocks them mercilessly. His visual style—in which people are all huge-mouthed, squinty-eyed, rubber-limbed caricatures—is turned up all the way to jeer; it's also pretty funny on its own. Bagge aims his (constitutionally protected) satirical blunderbuss at both the left and the right, and occasionally points it at fellow libertarians and even himself. He follows up a piece in which he eviscerates self-righteous antiwar protesters with one in which he notes his own failure to do much to oppose the Iraq war. And when he meets with Ron Paul, he observes both that Paul was his favorite candidate in the 2008 primaries and that the betrayed part of me just wanted to punch him in his kindly old racist-pandering face. (June)
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“As combative, iconoclastic, and embittered as its title suggests it would be. It is also smart, thought-provoking, and funny as hell. Disconcertingly, you'll agree with at least half of what Bagge says. Then, gratifyingly, you'll realize that everybody is stupid except for you, too.”
- Tim Heffernan, Esquire
“[Bagge's] Reason features... add up to a splendidly funny-and-angry new book... Bagge rejects party-line herd-following in order to raise a uniquely sane voice among political cartoonists... [He is] one terrific cartoonist, with a keen constancy of purpose.”
- Michael H. Price, Fort Worth Business Press
“[M]y favorite comics collection of the year so far... Bagge wickedly and wonderfully shows a truly individualistic viewpoint, an actual bullshit detector raging full blast (occasionally to the point of anxiety-induced overload), with ideas and observations both fearlessly marginalist and unabashedly mainstream (like the best rock and roll, in my opinion)... it is hot and fun.”
- Chris Estey, KEXP
“Honest-to-God reporting…somewhere between an editorial, an essay and a feature article, communicated through Bagge’s familiar big-headed, bendy-armed, super-expressive style.”
- J. Caleb Mozzocco, Las Vegas Weekly
“[Bagge] observes everyone and mocks them mercilessly. His visual style―in which people are all huge-mouthed, squinty-eyed, rubber-limbed caricatures―is turned up all the way to 'jeer'; it’s also pretty funny on its own. Bagge aims his (constitutionally protected) satirical blunderbuss at both the left and the right, and occasionally points it at fellow libertarians and even himself.”
- Publishers Weekly
“Reason's own beloved Peter Bagge has a fantastic collection of a near-decade's worth of political cartooning coming out from Fantagraphics. The content is king but the actual production is nothing short of stunning, filled with the bright, bright colors that Paul Simon used to sing about back when Kodak was still making film.”
- Reason Magazine
“[T]he pieces collected in awesomely-named Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me... are wonderfully entertaining and often fall-on-the-floor funny, even when you find yourself at odds with Bagge’s viewpoint... While his focus may have changed, his work remains as delightful as it did in the alt-comix heyday. Stupid just confirms what many of us already knew: he’s still one of the funniest cartoonists in America today.”
- Chris Mautner, Robot 6
“For those of you familiar only with Bagge’s Gen X tales of angry, lost youth in Hate, the realisation that Bagge has developed into an opinionated, curmudgeonly middle aged man may seem as disturbing as seeing your favourite band of your teens back on stage now they’re all fortysomethings. But there’s no need to fear―Bagge’s middle age self displays all the angry, hilarious energy of his younger self, just with more direction and purpose. [Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me is] definitely one to look forward to.”
- Richard Bruton, The Forbidden Planet International Blog Log
“The book finds Bagge as sharp and irate as ever…Bagge is, thankfully, still possessed of a great sense of humor, especially about himself…but reader’s individual reactions to the strips collected here depend on how much they agree with his choice of targets. And since those targets are fairly wide-ranging, almost anyone reading it is bound to get offended somewhere, which is certainly exactly what Bagge is hoping for.”
- The Onion A.V. Club
“Something for everyone in this educational, humorous and borderline offensive tome. Communicated in Bagge’s trademarked bugged out style...a must-have for fans of incisive political commentary.”
- Kevin Mathews, The Power of Pop
“With great candor and wit, Bagge tackles [the] issues...in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me, a collection of his strips from Reason magazine. As in his previous works like Hate and The Bradleys, Bagge deftly manages to simultaneously anger and amuse the reader with his intensely personal stories about larger topical issues.”
- Rick Klaw, The SF Site: Nexus Graphica
“Like all good political cartoonists, Bagge can be cruel. But he’s also willing to skewer himself when he deserves it... as libertarian polemicists go, he’s a lot more fun than, say, Ayn Rand.”
- The Washington Post
“I don’t always agree with [Peter Bagge's] position [in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me], but his exploration is always great. And hearing other opinions and positions (especially well-informed like his), is almost always worthwhile.”
- Corey Blake
“A compilation of the notorious Seattle libertarian’s politically (and sexually) charged comics for Reason magazine... It’s great. So colourful (always my favourite part of Pete’s comics) and acerbic and smart-ass, but with a heart and purpose behind the bickering and keenly observes caricatures... It’s too early to say now, but right now I’m thinking it’s perhaps my favourite stuff of his, full stop.”
- Everett True
“There's some great material in [Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me], whether you agree with the opinions or not, since Bagge does some great cartooning and good journalism, providing hilarious insights into topics like art, public transportation, homelessness, and gun ownership.”
- Matthew J. Brady
“Like H.L. Mencken, [Peter] Bagge favors a scorched-earth satirical attack, tearing down arguments by ridicule as much as reason.... It's rare to see a cartoonist branch out into this kind of second act of a career with this much flourish and skill... his work here demands a reader's attention every bit as much as the more famous editorial cartoonists in America... Best of all, Bagge is still funny... and this is a very good thing for both his hardcore fans and new readers alike.”
- Rob Clough
“I've been enjoying cartoonist Peter Bagge's contributions to Reason Magazine for years now... Bagge has been doing really interesting work, mixing field journalism with humor and opinion in an entirely novel way. As an essayist Bagge is never preachy, and he often points out the shortcomings of his fellow libertarians (his account of meeting Ron Paul is particularly funny). He explores more than he rants, and when he does let loose, he's got a healthy sense of self-satire. These comics will piss you off, and that's good.”
- Jesse Brown, Boing Boing
“More than anything, Bagge's work does what it always does with perfection, which is capture people doing exactly what people really do, and how they often think when they think that nobody else thinks that they are thinking it (sorry). His art is constantly moving, perpetually fluid, and instantly recognizable to a 21st century American culture raised on Tex Avery and Bob Clampett cartoons. Whether you agree with his politics or not, Everybody Is Stupid is thought-provoking and, most importantly, hilarious.”
- Monster on a Rope
“Rage of a different kind in Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations by Peter Bagge. This collection of satirical rants from the American libertarian magazine Reason... is philosophically more about punk individualism than Ayn Rand, and artistically the heir to 1980s indie comics. Indeed, Bagge is an indie star, famous for his wonderfully elastic cartooning style and punk-inflected comedies.”
- Roger Sabin, The Observer
“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.”
“[H]is craftsmanship―in the tradition of Mad's Don Martin and Nancy creator Ernie Bushmiller―lies in his ability to reduce his drawings to the simplest possible details needed to tell the story. His rants are funny, but the frictionless gag-delivery systems of his panels are an even more effective rebuke to the willful obscurity of contemporary art.”
- David Stoesz, Seattle Weekly
“These strips are very, very funny, and if they force you to work harder to defend your point of view against Bagge's arguments, is that bad?”
- Robert Boyd, The Great God Pan Is Dead
“Bagge delivers intelligent political insights, biting witticism, and irreverent satire. Everything is of course accompanied by Bagge’s instantly recognizable art style, with his gormless looking, bendy-limbed caricatures, which bring everyone down to the same (silly) level. It’s a brilliant piece of work, and perhaps Bagge’s finest achievement to date.”
- Edward Kaye, Hypergeek
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Bagge seemed to come alive and show his brilliance in the pieces where he acted as a reporter either at a political convention or on the campaign trail; Bagge's gift for caricature and sardonic mockery flourishes in these pages and I found myself laughing and re-thinking beliefs as Bagge was illustrating his ideas rather than mouthing cranky old man tropes.
This book is best read in small doses and the one-pagers are often more successful than the four-page features. Not a major work in Bagge's output but definitely worth reading.
Bagge's intuitions lead him to beliefs best characterized as libertarian- the idea that the rights of the individual are sacred, and that governments cannot- or should not- ever sacrifice the individual for the "common good." Yet unlike some who profess libertarian (or Individualist) philosophies, Bagge is possessed of a strong moral sense that compels him to consider the interests of those who are the worst off in society. This essential tension, combined with Bagge's brilliant art and ear for dialogue, makes his work at once entertaining and thought provoking.
There are few, if any, heroes in Bagge's work. Most politicians strike him as less than admirable, whatever their political leanings. He finds doublespeak and self-interest as common in politicians as in businessmen, and will quickly point out when he sees taffy being distributed, whether by flag waving cultural conservatives or granola chomping communitarians. Bagge peers through the nonsense, and looks at the real dynamics
If you're tired of the sanctimonious rants of Gary Trudeau, Tom Tomorrow and other untalented, doctrinaire posers, take a look at Bagge's work. You'll come away impressed, entertained, and, perhaps, compelled to think about some issues in a new way.
I think I would have prefered reading about Leonard "Stinky" Brown's afterlife as worm food.
At its best, Everybody is Stupid comes off like a rambling email from that deranged relative who spends too much time on internet forums. At its worst, the subjects of its rants are predictable and outdated, often leaving you with the feeling that you had heard the same argument or pointed observation worded better somewhere before.
Save your money and go listen to the maniac at the bus stop instead--at least some of his ideas may be original.