BUDDY DOES SEATTLE

Peter Bagge, Author, Everett True, Introduction by
Peter Bagge, Author, Everett True, Introduction by . Fantagraphics $14.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-56097-623-3
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Collecting the complete Buddy Bradley stories from 1990 to 1994, this volume is an intense and frequently witty blast of Seattle-based slacker dysfunction. The title character is perhaps the most honestly portrayed everyman the medium has ever seen, an antihero whose utter obnoxiousness, "who cares" attitude and disdain for everyone and everything around him make him as believable as any comics character can be. A warts-and-all time capsule of lower-class 20-something life in the birthplace of grunge rock, this dense work hurls readers into borderline-disturbing tales. Functionally psychotic girlfriends, drunkenness, narcissistic rock and roll histrionics, graphic yet visually repellant sexual episodes, an edgy sibling reunion, a squirm-inducing mixed race date that culminates in bizarre role-playing, and many other escapades of rock-bottom suburban tragedy are made bearable by Bagge's wildly exaggerated art style and savagely humorous scripts. A sense of despair pervades every panel, but readers won't be able to look away from the train wreck and will find themselves drawn further into this theater of unrepentant losers. The claustrophobic b&w images are deceptively cartoony, the perfect expression of the darkness and tension that make up Bagge's bleak comedic landscape. Definitely not for kids, this is a harsh read that brilliantly wrings uncomfortable laughs from the all-too-familiar minefield of everyday life. (Feb.)

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