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WAITING FOR TOMMY: PETER BAGGE
BY RICHARD JOHNSTON

Peter Bagge is one of my favorite comics creators for a myriad of reasons, all of which seem to interconnect and create this spike in my unhealthy interest in his comics. But there are so many things his work is not. There isn't the interlaying structural complexity of Alan Moore. There's no portrayal of an awareness of space of Frank Quitely. The language doesn't buzz like Bendis of Millar. It doesn't portray a reality that Pekar or Clowes do. There's no sense of emotion that comes with Chris Ware. So why on earth am I going on about what he's not?

Peter Bagge's comics are the closest I've found to really, really good pop music. The kind of stuff that brightens a specific few minutes of your day without any truly definable reason why. He spins tales that are short, yet grow together. Characters that burn into your head, events that tattoo themselves into your skin. A combination of simplistic and clean cartooning, with a dazzling sense of page design. Characters that are not real, yet reflect a reality, creating their own. It's fake, but it's real.

It's been a while since the hey day of Hate. When every cool hipster on the street was getting their three minute buzz with a comic. Yet I find both his continuing comics work -- opinion pieces and work for DC, on Yeah, Sweatshop, and Marvel on the comic-of-the-year, Meglomaniacal Spider-Man -- to still summon that burst of energy that pop music stopped doing a long time ago.

It's not fair, how dare he manipulate me like I'm thirteen again, though he's never heard my name?

I'll introduce myself.

It's possible I may go on a bit.

RICHARD JOHNSTON: Hate Annual is a mixture of comic strips, interviews, reviews, opinion pieces - is there anything you write or draw which doesn't end up in the Hate Annual?
PETER BAGGE: Hmm. Apparently not! Unless there's some sort of conflict. Contractual or otherwise. The thing is, I WANT to be able collect the wide variety of bits I'm working on these days into one place, and that's partly why HATE ANNUAL exists.

RICHARD: I like that. A kind of The Complete Peter Bagge. What kind of criteria do you draw for what goes in and what goes out? Anything more than "I like it, and they'd better like it too, damn them"?
PETER
: Yeah, that pretty much describes it.

RICHARD: I like to imagine you, screaming at the computer as you type. "Not interested in the architecture of 14th Century Spanish Churches? Well f**k you then!" So, do you have any sense of audience?
PETER: No, not at all! At least, not in the way I used to be able to pigeonhole them 10-15 yrs ago.

RICHARD: So it's a kind of "you look into the abyss, and the abyss very occasionally sends back a sarcastic e-mail"? Do you find this frustrating or liberating? Does not having a sense of audience affect your work at all? Chris Ware talks about having a kind of "Look at me! Don't look at me" relationship when creating stuff. If you don't have a concept of an audience, are you truly fulfilling the artist's dream of having an audience of one, yourself? Sales can't be that bad...
PETER: Sales are a lot lower than they were in HATE's "heyday," though they still are okay, relatively speaking. And I suppose it is liberating to not feel obliged to adhere to my audience's expectations, since at this point I have no idea what that would entail. Still, I'd much prefer to receive lots of feedback, either positive or negative. You kidding?

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 Continued Here...

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