Peter Bagge is the psychotic Picasso of cartooning, if Picasso had worked for MAD Magazine. And then tried to bomb MAD magazine.
Damn it! I should have said he was the psychotic BRAQUE of cartooning. Bagge / Braque! Sounds alike, you know? But Picasso won the lottery of cubist fame, and knowing my audience, had I gone with Braque I would have gotten a lot of flak for misspelling the name of the space tiki cat from Adult Swim’s beloved”The Brak Show.”
(It WAS some sort of space tiki cat, right?) Anyway, all I meant is that I love the way Bagge deconstructs figures almost cubistically to achieve kinetic effects. Although his surreal melting-limbs people could just as well make him the Dali of cartooning.
“The man draws FUNNY but he’s a remarkable ARTIST,” is what I’m getting at.
Peter Bagge’s early “Neat Stuff” is, er, neat, but also Nifty, Rad and Gnarly. In 15 issues that ran from 1985 to 1989, Bagge gave us the chaos-in-pigtails of Girly Girl; the well-meaning Chucky Boy; the gas-pipe outbursts of Studs Kirby, a Doris-Day-loving talk show host (as misanthropic as any Ivan Brunetti character); the ineffective manchild that is Junior; and the Bradleys – who put the “fun” in “dysfunctional” and the “ass” in “middle class family.”
The Bradleys were the break-out stars, and Bagge would go on to build his long-running “Hate” around them. Their stories are a sort of foul version of the family sitcom, (before “The Simpsons” came along) and although they provide plenty of gross-out yucks, the foulness covers the wounded guilt of an average family that can’t figure out why they can’t pull themselves together even though they don’t have it bad.
Take the episode “Merry @#%$ Christmas” and the way that the humorous purchase of an over-sized Christmas tree leads to slapstick fights, then a sincere exploration of the religious rift between generations, (“someday you’ll NEED your faith,” predicts the mother) and then culminates in a straight-ahead conversation between the father and the atheist son, in which the father sighs and says he also thinks priests and the such are “lying thieving closet cases” but the women just lap that up, so why take away the faith that helps them cope? Buddy Bradley is outraged by the sexism of the statement: after all, none of his (young) female friends are religious. The father wisely replies that of course they aren’t. NOW.
Is there something to old Bradley’s theory?!
RATING: Definitely COOL!