|Hate Annual #7
By Peter Bagge
Fantagrahics – saddle-stitched, $4.95
I DIDN’T REALIZE when I started re-reading Apocalypse Nerd for a review that the new Hate Annual was imminent. I don’t read Previews and there aren’t big press releases announcing the new Hate (in fact, it wasn’t even mentioned on PeterBagge.com until it had been out more than a week), so these always catch me by surprise, which is okay. In this case it made a nice Christmas surprise.
Traditionally, Hate was primarily the Buddy Bradley series with some backups, but in the annuals it has evolved into Peter Bagge’s brand name. A new Buddy story typically makes up the first 10 or so pages and the remainder is a showcase of some of Bagge’s work from the preceding year. The only strip that I had already seen was the close encounter of the Cheney kind strip, “Partying with the Dickster,” which originally appeared in The LA Times, so I’m really glad this venue exists for people to find the rest.
The only real problem with the issue is that it’s a bit lighter than previous annuals. I would have liked to have seen some of the articles and essays that have shown up in previous years, and Bagge’s strips from Reason Magazine would have fit in nicely as well (those seem to be permanently archived at reason.com, but I do still hope to see a collection someday).
However, once past the shorter length, the material chosen for this issue is funny stuff. A new Buddy Bradley story always makes me smile, and this year’s installment has plenty of the back-stabbing, plotting, anger and childish behavior that one would expect. A new reader might not see what the big deal is, since the story is fairly short and doesn’t really explain its place in the ongoing life story of Buddy and his family, but character motivations are clear enough and the jokes work on their own.
Batboy, on the other hand, is designed so that someone can jump in anywhere. It’s a weekly strip from the late Weekly World News, and the main character is a cipher, so the focus is instead on moving the story along at a rapid pace, the situation changing almost from strip to strip, with new characters introduced and abandoned along the way. If you’ve read this before, it’s more of the same, and you’ll probably feel however you felt about it before.
The rest of the issue is an unfortunately small number of odds and ends, highlighted by the aforementioned Dick Cheney strip and an old-school comparison between Seattle and New York. It’s all funny stuff, drawn in Bagge’s usual rubbery cartoon style in which characters become enraged at the drop of a hat and bare giant fangs. It’s an appealing style that manages to be simultaneously clean and iconic, and sort of dirty and grungy-looking as the story requires.
All in all, another very fun annual. I just hope next year’s has a bit more heft to it.