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Pushing RESET with Peter Bagge

Written by Christian Hoffer on Tuesday, April 24 2012 and posted in Features

Peter Bagge stops by the Outhouse to discuss his career and his newest series, Reset!

Peter Bagge is one of the biggest names in alternative comics.  His distinctive, elbowless style and unflinching look at human character have captivated fans for over twenty years.  Bagge stopped by the Outhouse to discuss his latest work, Reset, as well as talk a little bit about his career.

The Outhouse: Just to get things started, what sort of music have you been listening to lately?

Peter Bagge: It's terrible: Almost exclusively music from my youth -- late 60s-early 70s pop and rock.  I'm a typical geezer!  Occasionally I listen to older stuff as well: rock, pop, country and jazz from the '30s - early 60s.

OH: I'm sure you get this question quite often, but what made you decide to become a cartoonist?

PB: It was probably the only thing I had a real knack for, and not much of one at that.  I lacked options!

OH: When reading through your body of work, one of the things that stood out is how brutally honest you are when showcasing human nature.  While most comics are mired in escapism, yours were remarkably insightful.  What made you decide to take such an honest and unflinching look at how people actually act?

PB: I can't write pure escapism.  It's embarrassing, because it's so shallow and pointless, at least from the creative end.  I certainly understand the appeal from the customer's point of view -- in fact I just watched a Mission Impossible movie on an airplane and was thoroughly entertained throughout, but I couldn't imagine writing or drawing such contrived, unreal and unoriginal bullshit.  I want to try to make stuff that digs deep and stays with you. 

reset1OH: I know that Buddy Bradley is the character based off of you, but are there any other characters that you particularly relate to?

PB: I relate to all the principal characters to some degree.  Guy more than the rest perhaps, if only because he's a "creative type" and closer to my age.  I never wanted to be a stand up comic, though.  I love and admire many of them, but to want to do such a thing for a living it seems like you need to possess an intense mix of narcissism and masochism, and I'm lacking in both of those "qualities."

OH: Do you have any plans to revisit Buddy soon?  Is another Hate Annual in the works?  Do you have any set plans on what happens next in Buddy and Lisa's life?  Are they going to grow old together or do you have something entirely different in mind?

PB: I would love to do more HATE ANNUALs, and I have many ideas for Buddy.  Sad thing is, those Annuals don't sell well, and I need to make money.  I can't afford to do one right now.  One day soon, though.

OH: What sort of advice can you give to creators just starting off in small press and alternative comics? 

PB: Just write and draw EXACTLY what you want to.  Don't hold back, and don't compromise.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

OH: How has your cartooning style evolved over the years?  Is there anything you do differently now from when you first got started in cartooning?

PB: I dunno how to answer the latter, other than I would have worked at my drawing a LOT more as a teen.  That's my greatest regret, in fact.  I got off to way too late a start.  As to the former, I feel like my attitude has changed gradually over the years.  It all has to do with age.  I'm not full of piss and vinegar like I used to be.  It's a mixed blessing.

OH: For those unfamiliar with Reset, could you explain the basic concept of the series?

PB: Oh jeez.  It's about this guy.  Named Guy.  He's a washed up loser who sells out by agreeing to relive his life, in a virtual sense.  With other people watching.  Humiliation ensues.

OH: When researching some past interviews you did, I noticed that you mentioned the future of alternative comics was graphic novels.  Why did you decide to release Reset in a miniseries format?

PB: Dark Horse agreed to it.  The only GN I did that wasn't serialized was OTHER LIVES, and that was at DC's insistence.

OH: Is there any advice you'd like to give for those who haven't read any of your work before Reset?

PB:  I don't draw elbows.  Big fucking deal.  Get used to it.

OH: How is Guy Krause different from other characters you've written in the past? 

PB: His best days are behind him or so it seems, so he's looking backwards more than forwards.  It makes him seem more tragic, at least on the surface.

OH: Other Lives, your last story, and Reset seem to mirror each other in how use online gaming.  While Other Lives deals with the escapism involved with video games, Reset deals with using virtual reality to confront one's past failings. Was this deliberate or just a pleasant coincidence?

PB: Both were inspired in part with how involved in computer technology we all are now.  How immersed in it and dependent we are on it.  And how we use it to try to fulfill our sexual, vengeful and violent fantasies.  Most fiction still shows us AWAY from the computer: still walking about outside, doing stuff, having real life adventures and romance.  But in truth we spend 90% of our waking lives in front of these screens now.  We try to pretend that isn't the case because the thought of it is boring and depressing, and it certainly doesn't make for  great "visual", creatively speaking.  but with these two stories I tried to bridge and combine the mundane reality with the convoluted fantasy world of internet use.

OH: Do you have any other projects in the work after Reset?    

PB: Yes, I'm working on a comic book biography of Margaret Sanger for Drawn and Quarterly.  How's that for a change of pace!  No computers in that story.

Peter Bagge's Reset #1 can be found at your local comic book store. 

Written or Contributed by: Christian Hoffer

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About the Author - Christian

Christian is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Christian is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.


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