Peter Bagge (Part I)

“I can count on one hand the number of comic artists whose work is as strong... maybe on two or three fingers... It's a laff riot, what can I tell ya?” - R Crumb

R Crumb is the undisputed god of alternative comics. Only a few artist can even come close and Peter Bagge is one of them. In fact, he’s right at the front of the pack, snapping at Crumb’s heels and trying to trip him up with a long crooked stick.

I asked Bagge a bunch of questions about his work, from the ‘Hate’ days through ‘Sweat Shop’ and into the future. This part focuses on ‘Hate’, while in part 2 we cover everything else from Spiderman to Second Lives, his latest project.

Hate is one of my favourite comics of all time. In ‘Neat Stuff’ Bagge introduced us to the Bradleys who represent that staple of American comedy, the dysfunctional family. Hate follows the continuing misadventures of Buddy, the son of the family.

Over the course of Hate, we watched Buddy as he settled away from his family in Seattle, somehow got a girlfriend, traded her in for her (completely insane) roommate, managed a grunge band, quit this job half way through the band’s first tour, moved back to New Jersey, opened his own store selling over-priced 'collectables', got his crazy girlfriend pregnant, married her, and eventually became a crazy guy with an eye patch and an odd hat who lives at the dump.

Hate made a hero of the misogynistic, misanthropic, misguided Buddy, and he became an icon for slackers and know-it-alls everywhere. He’s the guy who’s got all the answers and knows exactly what everyone else should be doing, but never seems to do anything himself. It also gloriously satirised Seattle in the early nineties, when the city was Mecca for anyone with a flannel shirt, a guitar, a vein full of heroin and a mind full of directionless rage.

In a way, Hate is the ‘Frasier’ of the comics world. They’re both largely set in Seattle, they both began as spin offs, they both star men who think they know it all but in so many ways are clueless idiots, and they’re both properly hilarious. On the other hand, no one in ‘Hate’ puts on a dodgy English accent (I’m looking at you, Daphne’s cousin form Manchester). One-nil Bagge.

Hate ran from 1990 until 1998, and since then Bagge has put out the Hate annual, continuing the adventures of our pock-marked anti-hero as he is dragged into some semblance of adulthood. Anyways, question time!

The last Hate annual was out in December 2007, will there be any more?

“I hope so, but I simply can't afford the time to put another issue together these days! The Annuals don't sell anywhere close to what HATE did in the '90s, and since Fantagraphics pays me a percentage of the sales it winds up being a lot of work for little money. I still intend to do another one, though.”

Hate has become synonymous with the Seattle grunge scene which you were never particularly into. Do you think it helps to write about something with the perspective of an outsider?

“I think it's important to maintain some sort of objectivity, whether it's as an outsider looking in or (more importantly) putting some distance, time and circumstances-wise, between yourself and powerful first hand experiences you've had.”

When I read Hate I was struck by how much it was like a really good TV show. The situations, action and comedy all seem like they could be part of a sitcom, whether animated or otherwise. Other people noticed this too, and it seems a Buddy Bradley show has been on the cards for ever.

Every interview I've read with you you seem to have a Buddy Bradley TV show in the early stages of development. Have you had any luck yet? If not, you should try Adult Swim - I think a Buddy show would fit nicely with what they do.

“It's actually been a year or two since Buddy and/or HATE has been optioned, for the first time in 15 years! I'll gladly talk to anyone who wants to do anything with one of my projects, but I'm not going to go chasing after them. For one thing, a place like The Cartoon Network pays so poorly that I'd be taking a huge financial hit to develop a show with them! And the fees keep getting worse and worse. I'm much better off where I am, doing what I'm doing now.”
What was this for? Was it a pilot or something? I think it's great. Buddy's voice is a bit weird but the animation seems perfectly matched to your drawing style.

“That was made as a lead in to a grunge documentary called HYPE, and while I THINK it was included with the DVD it was dropped from the theatrical release. It was directed and animated by some Ren & Stimpy alumni, and I agree that it looks great. I'm disappointed by the voice direction, though (which is absolutely VITAL to making a cartoon work), and the casting of Buddy Bradley's voice was dreadful. It really killed the cartoon.”
With TV stuff it must be weird because when you make comics everything is up to you, but with TV there's a whole bunch of other people tampering with your ideas. Do you feel comfortable handing over your characters? Do you want to be involved in everything?

“Ideally I like to be as involved as possible -- I want to be in total charge, in fact! Though my lack of experience in animation and television forces me to rely on others. Because of that you're at the other people's mercy to a large degree, and if they're smart and talented you've got it made! If not, you're fucked.”

You really should read Hate. Seriously, it’s brilliant. It might even change your life, you never know.

There’s a mad Greek advert with Buddy Bradley at
And you can find out more about Peter Bagge at

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