Things We Like: “Other Lives,” Kidrobot’s “Carnies,” and King Fausto
A good deal of the action in “Other Lives” does not actually take place. That is to say that most of what happens in this graphic novel is confined to the headspace of its wildly dysfunctional cast, and it coalesces into a sort of thesis on the various forms of alternate reality. This takes place in the form of immersion in online role-playing via “Second World”, in stories told to hide addictions, in a rapidly digressing family history, and in the convictions that cling to wildly unlikely conspiracy theories. So much of the forward momentum of a person’s life is governed by what they imagine themselves to be.
But of course, it’s Peter Bagge, so the seriousness of this exploration is subverted by his signature hyperbolic style. Bagge is best known for his ongoing comic “Hate,” which chronicles the lives of lovable degenerates in the most compelling way since Dostoevsky. Bagge has excelled in all forms of comic art; in addition to his comics and graphic novels, he is prolific in his production of strips and political cartoons. His particular focus is on the misfits of society, and he presents them in a way that makes them look like everyman. The point being, everyone is a misfit, a deviant, a pervert, just in their own particular way.
So, in “Other Lives” you get to see the cast of outcasts– who might to all outward appearances seem normal– in pathetic and hilarious situations. You’ll see Vlad beating a female crack addict senseless; Ivy walking around absent-minded with a robotic dog penis strapped to her crotch; Otis trying to pick up girls at a bar with tales of torturing suspected terrorists; and the absolute worst, Woodrow spying on his neighbors in a seedy motel with a homemade periscope. This is thinking filth. – Christopher Sabatini
Brandt Peters’ “Carnies” by Kidrobot
Usually I go to lengths to explain the things I celebrate in this weekly column. I’m not going to do that with “Carnies,” one of the latest series of plastic mini-figures from Kidrobot. The charms of the “Carnies” figures, designed by artist Brandt Peters, should be fairly obvious to anyone who’s read this far: It’s a set of action figures based on circus freaks. The drunken narwhal in the bowler hat speaks for itself. My advice to you: Keep buying up figures until you luck into finding the box that contains the three-headed, three-tailed sheep. – Geoff Carter
Do you like those crazy old 1920s Max Fleischer cartoons? If you do, then you may find yourself falling in love with director Richard Elfman’s zany film “Forbidden Zone.” When young and beautiful Frenchy Herculese (Marie Pascal-Elfman) falls through a door to the sixth dimension located in the family basement and steals the heart of King Fausto (Herve’ Villechaize), Fausto’s domineering wife Queen Doris (Susan Tyrell) is not amused. In a fit of jealous rage she imprisons Frenchy, and the Hercules family along with the chicken-obsessed Squeezit Henderson (Matthew Bright) must enter the bizarre underworld to rescue her. “Forbidden Zone” is a chaotic musical with great music and unforgettable performances. Young Danny Elfman even makes an appearance, as do his friends The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. – Rhias Hall
Read David Wahl’s homage to “Forbidden Zone” here!