FOR TOMMY: 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?
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 may go on a bit.
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
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,
PETER: Yeah, that pretty much describes it.
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
PETER: No, not at all! At least, not in the way I used
to be able to pigeonhole them 10-15 yrs ago.
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
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