The Complete Hate
Dec 22, 2020
Fantagraphics has released a gorgeous boxed set of the entirety of Peter Bagge’s Hate—three volumes and 30 years of comics to enjoy. For those perhaps unfamiliar with what many regard as an essential alternative comic from the ’90s, Hate follows the escapades of Buddy Bradley, whose slacker tendencies are only overshadowed by his odd fits of rage, horniness, helplessness, and, occasionally, ambition. Buddy, in fact, is at his funniest when raging; his opinionated rants may not always be justified, but watching Buddy cut some poser to the quick is a nearly unparalleled joy. And Bagge’s loopy, distinctive, sometimes disturbing (and sometimes kind of Muppet-y) art is half the joy, and is naturally the perfect vehicle for his biting humor.
Hate takes place in a strange world of weirdness, and the cast of, well, weirdos, is the best part of the book: girlfriends, roommates, arms-length friends, and even family are all well fleshed out and disturbingly orbit around Buddy, complicating his life and putting him in the oddest situations. Now, truth be told, I read 90% of what’s in this volume as it was coming out, and the new collection was an excellent chance to soak up my missing 10%, as well as revisit the story to answer some questions. Like I said above, Hate is really regarded as an essential ’90s/Gen X-focused work… but does it hold up in the weird world of 2020? Do the prominence of flannel and Seattle music scene make Hate something like a good period piece, with lots of color, or do they date it? I firmly believe it’s more the former, not the latter, and besides, once Buddy and the ever loopy Lisa Leavenworth leave Seattle for the dubious paradise of New Jersey as of book two in this three-volume collection, it becomes far more of an “anywhere, any-when” kind of story, despite the many implausible things that occur.
The art may not be for everyone, but in my book it’s among the best non-standard comic art ever done, and I am sure I laughed even more with my adult sensibilities re-reading this than I even did my first time through. Hate is one of the best books ever made, and this hefty-yet-approachable collection is a great way to enjoy it. (P.S. Definitely not for kids.) (www.fantagraphics.com/products/the-complete-hate)
Author rating: 9/10