The Slutty Eye: The Exceptional One

In Peter Bagge's new compilation of comics, Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations (Fantagraphics, $16.99), there's an account of Bagge's visit to the Henry a few years ago, complete with actual quotes from viewers standing in front of a pile of Roy McMakin's absurdist furniture ("The brochure doesn't explain why this is important"). Though this and the other comics in the book were created for a national audience (via Reason, the libertarian magazine in which they were originally published), Everybody Is Stupid turns out also to be a rude form of local history—from the grand opening of a Tulalip tribe casino to the Monorail farce—in which everyone involved looks either stupid or angry. As for his own art, Bagge makes no great claims. "They actually look better when they're shrunk down for publication," he says of the original drawings on display at the Fantagraphics store to promote the book. This is true, by the way: With his clean, calculated style, there's no delicate spontaneity revealed by scrutinizing the pen strokes. But his 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. 

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