Logan Kaufman: Do you get a lot of people
asking, "What have you been doing since Hate ended"?
Apocalypse Nerd #3 just came out, and the new
Hate annual is coming out soon...
Peter Bagge: Yes, I get asked -- usually
by my fellow cartoonists, which is pretty galling!
Especially since Hate still does come out, albeit
in the form of the Annuals.
Logan: Why do you think there is that
perception? Especially amongst other artists?
It seems like they would follow what other artists
were up to.
Peter Bagge: Because if they're like me
they never go to comic shops anymore, and thus
have no idea what's coming out these days. Of
course, I'd like to think they'd all be so into
my work that they'd be totally up on every stupid
little thing I do, but that's too much to ask,
I guess! As for me: if my publishers didn't occasionally
send me new titles by other artists I'd be just
Logan: Do you try and keep up with the
work of artists you know?
Peter Bagge: Yeah, the good ones!
Logan: Are you ever self conscious about
not keeping up with new artists? That you should
be a "champion for the art form" because
of your relative tenure?
Peter Bagge: Oh, I see the work of everyone
soon enough. I'm not that bad.
Logan: It seems like there is a lot of
tension between some comic artists. I always envisioned
it being a big brotherhood until I discovered
the Comics Journal message board...
Peter Bagge: Oh, well, that thing is just
pure craziness! Lots of late-night drunken venting
-- though such is the nature of all message boards,
I guess. Cartoonists are just like any other group
of people when it comes to dealing with each other:
they can be your most supportive allies or your
worst enemies, depending on countless variables.
Logan: It almost seemed cutthroat though,
like certain people viewing everyone else as a
direct threat to stealing their bone. Is there
a lot of competitive agression in the comic world?
Peter Bagge: I'd say there's a lot of
creative competition in comics, which is good.
Not much back-stabbing goes on though, since
so little money is to be made. It's a low-stakes
field, so there's not much incentive to be evil
in the way you're suggesting. This isn't exactly
Hollywood we're talking about here!
Logan: Some of the worst arguments that involved
your stuff had to do with various Reason strips,
so were perhaps more politically based?
Peter Bagge: Yeah. Some people really
get on their high horse when it comes to politics,
in that you must be some kind of a monster if
you don't totally agree with them about everything.
Logan: How did you first get involved
with writing for Reason?
Peter Bagge: I was doing work for a website
called Suck.com five or so years ago, whose roster
of contributors included many people who also
contributed to Reason. When Suck went under they
asked me if I'd like to contribute to Reason on
a regular basis as well.
Logan: Do they give you assignments to
work with, or do you mostly come up with your
own subject matter?
Peter Bagge: We both come up with ideas,
but the editor has the final say.
Logan: I assume most of the articles roughly
express your views, but how seriously do you expect
them to be taken? You tackle some fairly large
issues for a four-page comic.
Peter Bagge: The comics always accurately
express my own views, so of course I hope they're
taken seriously! But yes, I sometimes bite off
more than I can chew in four pages. I need to limit
the focus more in future strips.
Logan: Do you ever consider using essay
form and using illustration as a side, or is keeping
within the confines of a strip the end goal?
Peter Bagge: It's what Reason wants. I
used to do illustrated essays for Suck.com, most
of which have been reprinted in Hate Annuals. I
could go either way. Doing them in comic form
is harder, but more rewarding, I'd say. I'm still
not particularly satisfied with the way they've
been turning out -- I'm still struggling with
how to make them work to best effect, basically.
I also wish I didn't have to keep them at four pages.
More wiggle room would be nice.
Logan: Any specific self-critiques?
Peter Bagge: Not really. Just wish some
of them were longer and less verbose.
Logan: Eventually you'll collect the Reason
strips, correct? How long will it take to get
a full book's worth of material?
Peter Bagge: It'll probably be three more
years from now. There isn't enough material for
a book yet.
Logan: How about the Hate Annuals and Bat
Peter Bagge: No trade paperback for Bat Boy -- I
quit doing them at the end of last year, so there's
only been a hundred installments by me. Not enough for
Logan: Were they not interested in doing
more, or was it just too time consuming with your
other projects going on?
Peter Bagge: They wanted to lower the
page rates across the board due to shrinking revenues..
Once that sort of talk started up I figured it
was time to move on!
Logan: The reason I ask about collecting
things into trade paperbacks is a lot of people
are moving towards only reading collections...
Peter Bagge: It has to do with where they're
sold. In a nutshell: comic shops pander to super
hero comic fans, who ONLY read super hero comics.
So alternative comic publishers fare better in
attracting new readers via book stores, whose
customers read BOOKS, and who automatically assume
COMIC books are retarded. It would be great if
everyone judged both books AND comic books by
their content and not their format, but apparently
that's way too much to ask for, even from Harvard
graduates. ESPECIALLY from Harvard grads!
Logan: Don't you think some of that has
to do with the convenience, though? I read basically
everything Fantagraphics does, but when they release
a comic I find myself thinking "I can't wait until
that comes out as a book so I can read it." Comics
seem like something I'd lose or accidently destroy
Peter Bagge: You must be a reckless fellow!
It also sounds like you prefer the book format,
which is fine. I like the comic book format. I
think there should be both.
Logan: Some argue that people like me
hurt the market, since if nobody buys issue one
of a comic and just wait for the eventual collection,
it makes it less likely there can be enough issues
to collect. Do you see it that way or do you think
the sales all balance out in the end?
Peter Bagge: I never heard that argument!
I'd say that if even if you just buy the collections
you're doing the comics business a lot more good
than most people.
Logan: It is a debate you'd hear after
"Could Superman Beat Up?" had been thoroughly
exhausted - so if you haven't been to a comic
store in awhile...What do you prefer about standard
Peter Bagge: I like the length and feel
of 'em. Easy to read in one sitting. I'm sure
the appeal is also a nostalgic one for me.
Logan: Have you ever thought about doing
a direct graphic novel or are you more comfortable
in doing standard format comics as well?
Peter Bagge: I'd always rather serialize
it first. I guess I'm impatient for what I'm working
on to be seen!
Logan: Speaking of your work being seen:
You've had seemingly dozens of television projects
rumoured over the years...
Peter Bagge: More like four or five projects,
most of them being Hate. Hate went into development
twice years ago, but never cleared the final hurdles
to wind up on the air. It's always being optioned
by someone for some reason. Yeah! has been optioned
more than once, too.
Logan: What were the hurdles? Did they
ever make it as far as a pilot, or did they get
burnt in development hell along the way?
Peter Bagge: No pilots were made, just
pilot scripts and/or animated test runs. There's
always a million reasons why something doesn't
wind up on the air. With MTV it was mainly due
to a new president who killed everything in development,
and with HBO... I dunno! They didn't like the
pilot script, I guess. I didn't ask!
Logan: It seems kind of like the perfect
storm for getting something done. Tony Millionaire
looks like he'll be getting Drinky Crow on Adult
Swim so there should be some awareness of comics
as a source material right now, animation is cheaper
now so perhaps companies aren't quite as afraid
to try things, and there really is a lot of good
stuff out there right now...Has there been any
new interest in getting your ideas to the screen?
Peter Bagge: Not really! Well, it's the
same as always: lots of vague "interest" that
leads to nothing. I'm still open for any showbiz-related
opportunity that arises, but I'm not counting
on anything. Whatever happens, happens.
Logan: When someone shows interest, do
you really have to push it to make it happen,
or can you really even affect the thinking of
a network at all?
Peter Bagge: Most people who option Hate
-- or want to option it -- want to make a live
action indie film out of it. Once they do option
it they'll approach their handful of connections
with it. If none of them bite, they usually just
sit on it until the option lapses.
Logan: Hate Annuals, Apocalypse Nerd,
and the Reason strips; Are you working on anything
else right now?
Peter Bagge: Just odd freelance jobs.
The above is more than enough to keep me busy!
Logan: What takes the place of Apocalypse
Nerd after issue six? Are you always thinking
a few projects ahead, or do you try and wrap up
other projects first?
Peter Bagge: That's still a ways away
at the pace I'm going, but right now I'm thinking
more Founding Fathers stories, in the form of
longer, more detailed biographical profiles, might
be the way to go. Or historical biographies in
general. I don't know what format these will be
Logan: In your interview with Johnny Ryan,
you said that most new alternative comics were
"Too la-ti-da for my taste..." Any worries
about that getting thrown at you (like now!) with
a series of historical biographies?
Peter Bagge: Only if they come off as
la-di-da when I'm done with them!
Logan: How about the Hate Annuals? At
one point you had considered taking an extended
break from them. Do you have a point in your mind
where Buddy's story will eventually conclude?
Peter Bagge: Part of the duel purpose
of the Annuals is to gather and reprint the wide
variety of freelance work I do into one place.
SO as long as I have plenty of that material laying
around to help fill up an issue I figure I'll
keep putting them out.
Logan: Seeing Buddy Bradley in an old
folks home might be too much, though. I think
he'd be a prime candidate for a heart attack...
Peter Bagge: At the risk of sounding morbid,
I'm sure I'll be dead or in a home myself before