It’s time for a Peter Bagge retrospective

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A two part conversation between Peter Bagge (Hate, Reset) and Zak Sally at TCJ.com plants the flag on the idea that Bagge’s achievements need a reassessment:

His editorship of Weirdo followed by Neat Stuff followed by Hate was a run pretty much unparalleled in comics– maybe a handful were as good, but you could count them on one hand (or a couple fingers). And besides, it’s apples and oranges: there was no one like Peter Bagge, and there still isn’t. What you get from him is unlike anything or anyone else, in all the ways that matter. I’ve felt for a while that the rise of so-called “art comics” left Pete somewhat unappreciated in the current landscape of “serious” “literary” “graphic novels,” which I think is a damn shame: his work is still great, above and beyond what the flavor of the decade might be


I’d back tat up; when Magge started out he was always mentioned in the same breath at Los Bros and Clowes, and they were all buddies, but for whatever reason his work has been less appreciated. I could guess at the reasons: his art is more cartoony and not formally stunning, but Bagge’s writing and insights into both sides of a sordid, sad story is unsurpassed, and his editorship of Weirdo helped usher in the generation of alternative comics that would take over the world. Buddy Bradley’s tale is the story of the Tweeners, the groups on the borders of the Baby Boom and Gen X, slackers, grungers and the last generation to consider the record store a hangout. Bagge’s own origin goes back to the days when the idea of being a cartoonist for a living was almost mythic:

Then, while I was in art school, I went into a record store that had a rack full of underground comics, and it was the solo comics by Robert Crumb, in particular, that floored me. What I loved about Robert Crumb’s solo comics was how he treated the traditional comic book format as a blank canvas, and just did whatever he wanted from cover to cover. It was all him: one guy inked it, one guy lettered it, and there were no ads for Twinkles or BB guns. It was just all him. And then there was what he did with it. I loved the way he drew, and I loved his sense of humor just as much as that I loved what he did format-wise. So as soon as I saw that, I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do. And while Crumb was my favorite, I liked many of the other underground cartoonists, too: Gilbert Shelton and Bill Griffith, and a lot of others. Kim Deitch, Robert Armstrong, and Aline Crumb. Sadly, I also assumed that since their comics were so fantastic, they must all be millionaires.


Bagge has a timely book from D&Q coming out later this year: Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story about the birth control pioneer and feminist icon. His non-fiction work in recent years has been sharp and well observed, so it will be interesting to see how the book is received.

Also, man I really need to get my Neat Stuf’s and Weirdos out of storage!

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Comments

  1. jacob lyon goddard says:

    Bagge’s insight into people is among the most astute I’ve ever read.
    Hate was so on point with my 20s (and the same for many I know), that I kept looking to see if he was hiding in my closet with a sketchbook.

    I’d love to see The Beat take on some big interviews like this.

  2. jaroslav hasek says:

    the 2 Fantagraphics collections, Buddy does Seattle and Buddy does NJ, were such a revelation. easily one of the best value buys in all of comics.

    Bagge is a true legend.

  3. Carter says:

    Man, I wish they would collect those Hate Annuals. I feel like the Bagge collection on my bookshelf is lacking.

  4. jacob lyon goddard says:

    I wish they would republish the pre-Hate Buddy collection The Bradley’s.

  5. Our very recently is Peter Bagge’s Other Stuff, which I just finished reading and thought it was great.

    But yes, Peter Bagge is very much under appreciated.

  6. Pete Buser says:

    I met Peter at the Denver Comic Con a couple of weeks ago and he told me he’s having a hard time convincing companies to publish more Hate! I couldn’t believe it.

  7. Just got off the phone with Pete Bagge this morning — he’s confirmed for ASbury Park Comicon 2014.

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