|Buddy the Dreamer. By Peter Bagge. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics Books, 1994. 120p. $12.95. ISBN 1-56097-154-1.|
In the first story, Val and Buddy must endure "Valerie's Parents," first at a company bash and then at their upscale ranch home, complete with a pool 20 feet away from the lake. Valerie's mother is a social climber ashamed of her Italian roots; she insists on calling Buddy by his real name Harold. Valerie's father, by contrast, is an earthy (though conservative) businessman who hits it off with Buddy immediately. Valerie, naturally, can't stand either of them, though she's especially disgusted with her mother, who thinks nothing of showing Val's old Barbie collection to Buddy and detailing which doll is which.
The next story, "Paranoia Rules Supreme," creates the unlikely pairing of George and Lisa on a date. The two cannot fathom each other, and the clash of George's shyness, insecurity, and paranoia vs. Lisa's brash, thoughtless, in-your-face behavior results, finally, in George's mad dash for home after Lisa's incredibly crude attempt to seduce him.
This is followed by the two-part saga of Buddy's stint as the manager of Stinky's rock group, which goes through various name and personnel changes before Stinky ends up as the lead singer of Leonard and the Love Gods (Kurt, Kurt, Greg, and Kurt). Though Buddy is rolling in cash for once--mostly "deduction" money that he skims from the band's take--he manages to alienate Valerie by never being around any more. She decamps to France with her boss. And Buddy is starting to hate rock with a passion, especially because the band is totally out of control. The absolute low point is when he and the band begin driving to California to tour; after an argument, they throw Buddy out of the van and fire him as manager.
The final story is "The Nut," in which Buddy makes the enormous mistake of helping Lisa get a job at the used book store where he works. She makes his life both at home and at work a living hell. At one point she shaves her head and dons a potato sack and follows Buddy around yelling at him.
There are also a couple of one-page multi-panel pieces about Lisa and Stinky.
Bagge's rubber-limbed, bug-eyed style perfectly complements the wild stories he tells. He's definitely one of the great humor cartoonists. What's nice is that not only does he chronicle the more extreme behaviors of the characters, but he also catches small and subtle traits, such as how Buddy casually peels the label off a beer bottle as he's talking, or how he cringes when two of the Love Gods ask him to tell the girlfriend of a quitting L.G. to get her fourth abortion.
Especially recommended for the 18-24 crowd, but it should be pretty funny for older folks as well--a good title for reminiscing about one's strange adolescent behavior. However, those readers with fairly delicate sensitivities might find it a tad... overwhelming.
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