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ORIGINALLY FEATURED 1997  -by Andrew Goletz

Peter Bagge is the creator, writer and artist of Hate, a comic book that if we were going to categorize, would best be described as an alternative, hip, story about the daily life of twenty something Buddy Bradley. If you’re in your 20’s, you’ll be able to relate to this comic. If you’ve ever been in your 20’s, you’ll be able to relate to this comic. And if you’re an old fart who pretends they were never young, well here’s a chance to understand our generation better.

AG: So how did you get into the comic business?

PB: I lost a bet (laughing). Just kidding. I’ve been drawing comics ever since I was a little kid, and it was a goal of mine to get into comics. I couldn’t think of a better way to make a living.

AG: So you’ve always wanted to do a comic?

PB: Well, art school is where it really reached its full realization. I met my then girlfriend (now wife) there and she told me that she liked my drawings and pushed me on and on.

AG: And the self publishing aspect of the business?

PB: Self publishing never really interested me. I always considered it too much like business and not enough time to do what I really liked, which was drawing.  Self publishing served as a means, at the time, to get my material out there and show people my stuff.

AG: Was the decision to do the book in black and white due to financial or creative reasons?

PB: I never really thought about it until recently. I think that the general consensus is that black and white is for a more mature, adult audience and the color is more kiddie like. The old Mads were in color, and that didn’t take anything away from their appeal. I think it even added to it. But to answer your question, it was an economic decision. Before the days of computer colorization, it was very hard and time consuming to do a book in color. Eventually, though, sales reached a point where it could be done in color and it was more convenient to do so.

AG: Did color make the book more accessible to new readers?

PB: Color makes a book like this look more appealing. Someone will go into a store and flip through it maybe thinking ‘this is harmless and appealing’, and be more willing to try it out.

AG: Is this based on your life at all?
PB: Oh yeah! A lot of ideas and stories are. But the weird thing is, they seem to happen after I’ve already written the story. I don’t have these experiences in my life until the story is completed. When I write, it’s fictional, but by the time the issue sees print, it’s happened. An eerie example of this is that my father died while I was working on issue #22. (spoiler- Buddy Bradley’s father passed away in this issue) 

AG: Why did you decide to move Buddy away from Seattle and home to New Jersey?

PB: The first 15 issues of the book had Buddy moving to downtown Seattle with people just like him. They were his own age, they too were on their own for the first time. I enjoyed doing those stories, but I wanted to expand and show more sides to Buddy. There was no interaction with older people or kids in the Seattle stories. I suppose that I could have made him perpetually twenty-something, and just updated the fashions every decade or so, but it was more challenging and interesting for me to add the family dynamic.

AG: Why Jersey?

PB: Haha. It could have been any suburban town. I just picked it at random. The big crisis was how to get Buddy out of the city. I couldn’t have his whole family move to Seattle, so instead I had his relationship disintegrate to the point where he needed to move back home, just to regroup.

AG: And what about the current storyline? From the events in the book, it looks like another change is in store.

PB: I don’t like locking myself into something. I think that this is just another 15 issue long cycle in Buddy’s life, and I can’t really envision anything past issue #30.

AG: You mean with Buddy at home or the comic in general?
PB: I don’t know. If I don’t have any good ideas, I don’t want to do the book just for the sake of doing it.

AG: Are you prepared to walk away from your best selling book?
PB: Not at all. I had a great conversation awhile back with Harvey Kurtzman. We were talking about other creators and how they walked away from their books at the peak of popularity because they thought they could do other things. It turned out that none of these new ideas was accepted by the readers as much as what they were originally doing. His advice was to never walk away and never to give up. It was clear to me in our conversation that he was talking about himself and his own experience with Mad. Everything he did was good, but it wasn’t the same. I don’t want to be in that position. I can’t ignore the fact that this is Fantagraphics’ best selling title. I don’t want to make the same mistakes as people who came before me. I know that if I decide to do something different, it’ll still be with Hate.

AG: What do you mean by that?
PB: It may eventually metamorphosize into an anthology book. We’re trying to put more ads in the book, which would increase our page count by 16. If we do that, we’ll be able to include other creator’s work, and maybe that’s the format that we’ll eventually change into. This way the change wouldn’t be so abrupt. It would still be called Hate, but other creators and myself would do stories featuring characters other than Buddy Bradley.

AG: And the future of Buddy?

PB: More relationship bullshit.

Copyright©2000 Andrew Goletz