Thursday Comics Hangover: Jeff Bezos, destroyer of worlds

Sam Henderson’s Magic Whistle comic recently transitioned from a one-cartoonist show to a humor anthology comic, and it’s very much been a delight. But you should know that the latest issue, number 3.2 — no, I have no idea what kind of numbering system he’s working on — opens with a comic that every Seattleite should read.

Seattle cartoonist Tom Van Deusen’s six-page strip “Bezos” opens with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos pouring himself a coffee in a nice-but-not-extravagant kitchen. He talks to his cylindrical Amazon Echo device in the corner. “Good morning, Alexa,” he says. “Good morning, Jeff Bezos,” Alexa replies.

Bezos takes a sip of coffee. He stares at his e-reader. Then he exclaims: “I love reading on my Amazon Kindle! Why would anyone want to read a book? All those pages — BLECH!” He turns back to the black cylinder on his kitchen counter: “Alexa, did I ever tell you that I hate books?”

“Yes, Jeff Bezos,” the Echo replies.

The strip goes on from there, opening as a parody of Amazon-style consumer technology but then spinning into outright farce as Bezos goes on a rampage around town. Van Deusen packs a lot of stuff into six pages, and I’d hate to spoil it all. But without giving too much away, I want to tell you that — and in a year that saw the end of Intruder, this is really saying something — this is one of the most important Seattle comics to be published in 2016.

In these six pages, Van Deusen renders the creator of Amazon as a pathetic figure, an egomaniac, a narcissist, a loser, a needy creep, a conqueror, and a sad sack. His Bezos is a prism depicting nearly every single popular belief Seattleites hold about the man, an inconsistent enigma who barely seems aware of the disastrous consequences of his actions because he can barely hold his own fragile identity together.

“Bezos” is sarcastic, furious, funny, and more than a little bit mean. It doesn’t feel like a goofy comic strip about a popular figure. It feels, somehow, like journalism. Somewhere in this spray of black-and-white panels about giant robots and the horror of modern interior design, Van Deusen managed to squeeze in the entirety of Seattle’s current dilemma.