Peter Bagge (pronounced /bæɡ/, as in bag; born December 11, 1957) is an American cartoonist whose best-known work includes the comics Hate and Neat Stuff. His stories often use black humor and exaggerated cartooning to dramatize the reduced expectations of middle-class American youth. He won two Harvey Awards in 1991, one for best cartoonist and one for his work on Hate. Bagge has expressed his libertarian views in features for Reason.
Peter Bagge was born in Peekskill, New York, and grew up in the New York City suburbs. Bagge's father was in the military and Bagge has talked about how his Catholic household was the scene of "lots of drunken fights about money. We were the weirdo outcast kids of the neighborhood. I couldn't get away fast enough." Bagge was confirmed as a teenager; his confirmation name is Peter Christian Paul Bagge (with Paul being an homage to Paul McCartney.)
Moving to New York City in the mid-1970s, Bagge attended the School of Visual Arts for three semesters in 1977 before dropping out to work on Punk Magazine.
Other cartoonists associated with Punk were John Holmstrom, Ken Weiner, and Bruce Carleton; and Bagge worked on his cartooning with them and also J.D. King and Kaz. During this period, the young cartoonists also were the beneficiaries of "useful advice" from Art Spiegelman.
In addition to Punk, Bagge contributed to the notorious underground paper Screw; when Punk folded in 1980, Bagge and Holstrom co-published Comical Funnies. Bagge sent copies of Comical Funnies to underground comics legend Robert Crumb, who liked his work enough to publish a few of Bagge's strips in the anthology Crumb was editing, Weirdo. Eventually, in 1983, Crumb passed on the editorial reins of Weirdo to Bagge, who edited it for three years (and one guest issue in 1989).
Beginning in 1985, Bagge hooked up with alternative comics publisher Fantagraphics to produce his first solo title Neat Stuff, a wild miscellany that introduced such memorable characters as Girly-Girl, Junior, Studs Kirby, The Bradleys, and Buddy Bradley. Neat Stuff ran until 1989.
Hate (1990–1998), Bagge's most well-known comic series, was popular among grunge rock fans, perhaps because it satirized their "alternative" culture. After ending Hate as a regular title, Bagge has produced a series of Hate Annuals.
Bagge created and authored an all-ages comic series for DC Comics called Yeah!, about an all-girl rock band, and featuring art by Gilbert Hernandez. The series lasted for 9 issues, from 1999 to 2000.
Sweatshop, published by DC Comics in 2003, was produced, unlike early issues of Hate, with the help of an art team. Sweatshop, ironically, is about a cartoonist who hits it big. The series was short-lived, ending after six issues.
In 2002, Bagge did his version of Spider-Man for Marvel Comics. He followed this up with a Hulk comic (title The Incorrigible Hulk) which was completed but never released due to a management change at Marvel Comics at the time. From August 2009, The Incorrigible Hulk finally released in serialised form for Marvel Knights's relaunched Strange Tales mini-series.
2010 saw the release of a graphic novel for DC called Other Lives (see below).
2005 – present
From 2005–2007, Bagge worked on Apocalypse Nerd, a comic published by Dark Horse Comics about two average, urban males dealing with the aftermath of a nuclear attack on the Pacific Northwest. Backup stories in Apocalypse Nerd featured historically researched anecdotal tales of America's "founding fathers". The final issue of the six-issue series was published in 2007. A trade paperback collection was released in 2008.
Other Lives is a graphic novel written and drawn by Bagge, and published by DC Comics on their Vertigo imprint in 2010. The story revolves around 4 people, whose real lives—along with their online virtual personas—interact in ultimately disastrous ways.
Reset is a 4-part comic book mini-series written and illustrated by Bagge, and published by Dark Horse. The story revolves around a middle-aged, washed-up comic actor who agrees to take part in the development of a computer application that allows him to relive his life in a virtual sense. The first issue was released in April 2012, with the next 3 following on a monthly basis. A book collection was released in 2012.
Publishers of Bagge's articles, illustrations and comics include suck.com, Reason, MAD Magazine, and the Weekly World News, with the strip "Adventures of Batboy". In January 2008, Bagge contributed illustrations to toonlet, an online comic construction web site.
Starting with the February 2009 issue, the popular science and technology magazine Discover Magazine has featured a continuing series of History of Science comic strips created by Peter Bagge. Bagge’s comics feature key characters and events from scientific history.
Bagge is the subject of the first volume of TwoMorrows Publishing's new Comics Introspective series of books, published in 2007. Peter Bagge: Conversations, a collection of interviews with Bagge spanning 3 decades, will be released in 2015 from the University Press of Mississippi.
Woman Rebel, a full length graphic novel biography about birth control advocate Margaret Sanger, and published by Drawn and Quarterly was released to much critical acclaim in late 2013.
In 2003, Bagge became a contributing writer with the libertarian magazine Reason in whose pages he has published both prose and comics pieces over the years. 2009 saw the release of a collection of Bagge's Reason work called Everybody is Stupid Except for Me (And Other Astute Observations). A second edition was released in late 2013.
Animation and music
Bagge made a series of animated commercials for Round Table Pizza. In 2001 Bagge collaborated with comedian Dana Gould to produce the Macromedia Flash Internet cartoon Murry Wilson: Rock 'N' Roll Dad. The four-episode series premiered on Icebox.com.
Bagge played drums and sang in the band The Action Suits, which also includes Eric Reynolds, Andy Schmidt, and producer Steve Fisk. Their sole CD was released in 2007. Bagge currently plays guitar and sings for his current band, Can You Imagine?, which features Steve Fisk on keyboards. Can You Imagine? have 2 full-length CDs of all original material.
Bagge's signature elastic, kinetic art style is a product of his love for 1940s Warner Brothers cartoons (especially those directed by Bob Clampett). Bagge has said that he "always wanted to capture that sense of movement and exaggeration in a static format. In retrospect this sounds like a futile thing to attempt, but I think I wound up pulling it off better than I ever thought I would."
Bagge lives in Seattle with his wife Joanne, who contributes coloring work on his art.
Bagge has long been openly libertarian in his politics, and many of his comics feature references to this. He opposed the Iraq War and criticized George W Bush. Bagge voted for Libertarian presidential candidate Harry Browne in 2000 and Democrat John Kerry in 2004 because he "wanted to fire Bush." When asked who he was voting for in the 2008 election, he wrote: "If the polls in my home state are close: Obama (McCain is simply too incompetent these days to be president). If not, I'll make a protest vote for [Bob] Barr." In a follow-up article in Reason, Bagge stated, "I wound up voting for Barr, and I stand by that vote more now than I did then!"
Bagge collected his work for Reason expressing his Libertarian views in the book Everybody is Stupid Except Me: and Other Astute Observations. Bagge has continued with his strips covering libertarian issues in Hate Annual.
Bagge won the 1991 Harvey Award for Best Cartoonist. In addition, Hate won the 1991 Harvey Award for Best New Series., and has been nominated for various Harvey wards in 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999. Bagge was presented with an Inkpot Award at San Diego Comic-Con International 2010 in recognition of his achievements in comics.
He was nominated for Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards several times:
- 1991 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards - Nominee - Best Writer/Artist: (Hate [Fantagraphics])
- 1992 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards - Nominee - Best Writer: (Hate [Fantagraphics])
- 1993 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards - Nominee - Best Writer: (Hate [Fantagraphics])
- 1993 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards - Nominee - Best Writer/Artist: (Hate [Fantagraphics])
- 1995 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards - Nominee - Best Colorist: (for Hate [Fantagraphics])
- 2010 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards - Nominee—Best Humor publication: (for Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me, And Other Astute Observations [Fantagraphics])
Bagge was also the recipient of a 2014 United States Artists ward, and is now a Rockefeller Fellow for Literature.