In my last blog posting from earlier in the week, I had mentioned in closing that I need to read Peter Bagge’s latest issue of Hate Annual. That actually put me in the mind of something else of his I’ve been meaning to read, Apocalypse Nerd, that originally came out as a six-issue mini-series from Dark Horse Comics between 2005 and 2007. It’s the story of Perry, who goes with his friend Gordo to spend a weekend in a friend’s remote cabin just hours before North Korea launches a nuclear missile that hits Seattle, where Perry and Gordo are from. As a result, they are stranded in the wilderness and have to begin living as survivalists, complete with a lack of supplies, the need to forage and hunt wild game, and their share of desperate individuals also trying to survive. It’s a pretty good story, and Perry is one of those typical computer/techie nerds who would normally be the last kind of person fit for post-apocalyptic survival. But survive, he does, and eventually he dumps Gordo–or Gordo dumps him–and he makes his way to a women-only encampment where he finds Midge, his female geek counterpart. The two of them end up heading out on their own, doing whatever they need to do–regardless of any civilized sense of morality–to survive. The story is hilarious, classic Peter Bagge, but there’s also a generous dose of violence. But this is something that you might expect to find in one of Bagge’s comics. His exaggerated cartooning style lends itself to these kind of extremes…extremes of emotion, extremes of physical interaction, extremes of scenarios. I liked the book, but I am unsure of the ending. Without giving too much away, the narrative just stops cold. There’s some kind of resolution with Gordo, but the story of Perry and Midge is just left hanging. There’s a small, largely ineffectual, bit of a punchline in the last panel–”Look! I got you a goose!” (you have to read the comic to get the joke)–but that doesn’t do much to provide a satisfying comedic ending. Then again, what kind of comedy ending might you expect from a book about nuclear destruction?
In the original six comic books, Bagge ended every issue with something quite different from the apocalypse story. He included historically based comics about the founding fathers, including pieces on Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Thomas Paine, Alexander Hamilton, John Laurens, and the “Virginia Mafia,” Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe. There are also one-page pieces in color that accompany every issue, “Founding Father Funnies.” These are great short comics, and in many ways they rival the main Apocalypse Nerd storyline. It would be great if Bagge came out with more of the American history-based comics.
I enjoy Bagge’s work. His Buddy Bradley stories from the original Hate comic–Buddy Does Seattle and Buddy Does Jersey–are classics, and 2010′s Other Lives is a perceptive look at the interpersonal dynamics of virtual reality and role playing games. And of course, there’s his work with Gilbert Hernandez, Yeah!. Bagge just recent began a new four-part mini-series for Dark Horse, Reset. Just got my copy of issue #1.