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‘The Complete Hate’ (review)

The Complete Hate
By Peter Bagge
Published by Fantagraphics Books


I was really hoping I might end up disliking the new three volume set, The Complete Hate by Peter Bagge, if only so I could come up with some clever lines like, “Well, my hate for this set is complete, all right,” or maybe, “There’s a lot of hate here, both in the set and FOR the set!”

But no, ‘twas not to be, as Fantagraphics has done its usual exemplary job in collecting 20 years of Peter Bagge’s most personal work in this collection. Editor Eric Reynolds and book designer Keeli McCarthy would seem to be the ones due the most credit for this project with the late Kim (no relation) Thompson credited as editor of the original long-running series that began in 1990.

As should be expected, Bagge himself offers up a long and informative Introduction. After that, the color covers for the original issues of Hate open the book—as they do, also, in the other two volumes—followed in Volume One by more than 300 pages of the densely packed stories of Buddy Bradley that appeared in the first 15 issues of one of the most successful indy comics of its day.

Bagge’s black and white art and stories have a classic underground feel to them and yet are also reminiscent of old-time newspaper strips with the long continuities and visually outlandish continuing characters. The artist’s unique style references everything from Max Fleischer and Tex Avery cartoons to Harold Gray and R. Crumb at his most idiosyncratic. In real life, Bagge would follow Crumb as editor of Weirdo.

The stories are uncensored but not as consistently visually explicit as the early undergrounds. When it comes to language, though, all bets are off and Bagge masterfully utilizes the English language right from the beginning both in his storytelling and his creative use of more colorful words and expressions.

My favorite story is in Volume One and deals with Buddy’s long involvement in bringing unexpected success to his best friend/sidekick’s rock group, which they proceed to quickly screw up.

Volume Two reprints issues 16-30, which added color. The characters’ relationships progress and the characters age (a decision Bagge questions in his Intro). If one thinks of this Hate collection as a career-spanning box set a la rock music, then Volume Three contains all the extras. Volume Three collects, again in color, all the various other Hate-related comics Bagge came out with through the years.

It took a while for Peter Bagge’s work to grow on me back in the day but once it did, there’s no denying he’s been one of the most impressive cartoonists of his generation.

While it’s lovely to see all this Hate collected in one huge set, reading it all in order proves the old adage that too much of anything is still too much. Buy it, but read it slowly to savor the intricacies of Buddy Bradley’s world, Peter Bagge’s world, our world.

Booksteve recommends.



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