Other Lives shares much with Peter Bagge's satirical oeuvre. It asks what it means to "have a life" (or not be able to get one), a question Bagge began posing in his 1980s Neat Stuff magazine. But in Other Lives, the thematic exploration is much more explicit.
Other Lives focuses on a quartet of misfits, including Javier Ortiz (aka "Otis Boyd"), a bipolar conspiracy theorist; Woodrow Wooley, a divorced, online gambling addict; Vladimir "Vader" Rostov, a self-loathing journalist; and his fiancée, Ivy.
Peter Bagge Returns to Familiar Themes Fans of Peter Bagge's earlier work in Neat Stuff and Hate will find that Other Lives touches upon similar subject matter. For instance, the quartet of oddball characters echoes Bagge's one-page cartoon called "Geniuses" from Neat Stuff. There, five losers give ironic monologues about their ambitious plans.
(Appropriately, "Geniuses" was later reprinted in Junior and Other Losers, from Fantagraphics.)
Other Lives' premise of of grown-up problems being dealt with by people who haven't quite grown up runs through Hate as well. The tragicomic ending of Other Lives even recalls the demise of Buddy Bradley's longtime friend, Leonard "Stinky" Brown, in the later issues of Hate.
Conceptually – and even on the cover – the four characters in the comic are equally emphasized. But some are more fleshed out than others. Vlad has a complex backstory, for example, while Ivy's family ties and characterization as a "bridezilla" remain rather thin.
Bagge's use of virtual worlds also doesn't quite work. The scenes set in "Second World" come off as stilted, likely due to the difficulty (if not impossibility) of translating MMORPG-style gaming into compelling sequential art. Anyway, Second Life may already be passé as a subject of parody.
Despite these flaws, Peter Bagge's Other Lives is still a worthwhile read for fans and non-fans alike. Bagge's unique and masterly gifts for caricature have obviously not diminished, nor has his keen satirical eye – and underlying sympathy – for social misfits deserted him either.