This interview was originally conducted circa 1997, and annotated in February 2008.
Q: Why did you kill Stinky?
A: Everybody has asked for me to bring Stinky back to the fold, but when I would think about it I couldn’t see Buddy allowing Stinky to be a part of his life again. Buddy’s an evolving character, while Stinky is one of those people who never changes, and it just didn’t make sense that Buddy would hang out with Stinky anymore. I had this story that began in Hate #26 where basically all of Buddy’s loser guy friends are brought together to make Buddy miserable, and that provided me an opportunity to bring Stinky back, but I couldn’t see him sticking around without meeting some horrible fate.
Q: How do you pick who you collaborate with in Hate as well as the strips done by other people that you run?
A: It depends. In Hate #27 I collaborated with R. Crumb because I wrote the story with him in mind and simply hoped he would do it, which he did. I basically try and rope in friends of mine who I’m excited to work with, like Gilbert Hernandez (#26) and Adrian Tomine (#28). As far as the other cartoonists I include, they’re all basically friends of mine whose work I admire and would like to give more exposure to, like Rick Altergott (Doofus) and Pat Moriarity (Big Mouth).
Q: Will you do Buddy Bradley stories forever?
A: Probably not. I’ve always had very specific ideas for Hate from the get-go. When I began the series, I knew that the entire Seattle storyline would end roughly around #15, and somewhere in the middle of that storyline I figured where I wanted the next story cycle to go. Everything for me tends to work itself out in about 15 issues. My first series, Neat Stuff, lasted 15 issues, the black-and-white Hates taking place in Seattle lasted fifteen issues, and the color storyline taking place in New Jersey will run its course with #30. I still haven’t figured out exactly what I will be doing after #30, but I’d like to basically keep doing what I’ve slowly been doing, and that’s expanding Hate into an anthology of sorts. I will keep doing my own stories, as well as collaborating with other people and giving exposure to cartoonists I admire, but Buddy will probably take a back seat for awhile, at least until I have a Buddy story I want to tell bad enough. [Ed. note: This “future” project took form as Hate Annual.]
Q: What’s going on with your TV show?
A: I’m in New York right now working on an animated Hate series for MTV. If all goes well, it will be on the air sometime late this year or early next year. You never know when dealing with the entertainment industry how things will turn out. We’re preparing a pilot that will have to be screened for test audiences. If it tests well, then MTV will commit immediately to a full series and I’ll be a happy guy. If it doesn’t test well we’ll either go back to the drawing board or I’ll be back in Seattle with my tail between my legs. The series will basically adapt the early black-and white issues of Hate. [Ed. note: The series was sadly not picked up despite boffo response from test audiences. Photos of a 2006 presentation of the animatic for the pilot episode can be seen in our Flickr stream.]
Q: Is Buddy Bradley an autobiographical character?
A: I used to tell people that he wasn’t. I mean, he is sort of a younger version of myself, but I think he’s a less well-adjusted version, as well as a more vocal, cantankerous version. One time a year or two ago a magazine asked me to answer a set of questions in Buddy’s voice. It wasn’t until I did this and realized that Buddy’s answers were exactly the same as they would have been if I answered them when I relaized that, yes, I am Buddy Bradley!
Q: What’s up with your band, the Action Suits?
A: Well, because I’m so busy and out of town so much, I’m not really a full-time member of the band anymore. I don’t like to play live — I’m twice as old as the rest of the band and this becomes acutely apparent to me when we play live and makes me uncomfortable. The other guys, Eric and Andy, are basically the Action Suits, and rope in other people to play with them (like me). Right now, Chris Jacobs is drumming for them — he’s a former Fantagraphics publicist who now does the same thing for SubPop Records in Seattle. They also have another guy, Demian Johnston, who plays guitar once in awhile. If we make some more records I plan to play with them in the studio, but my role is sort of secondary in the band at this point. It’s kind of like that band Guided by Voices — that band is basically one guy, Robert Pollard, who gets different people to play with him under the GBV name. Eric and Andy are kind of doing the same thing, roping in different people like me, Al Columbia (another Fantagraphics cartoonist), Steve Fisk (who’s produced stuff by the Screaming Trees and this band called Nirvana) and Chris and Demian. They just recorded a single without me that sounds a lot more rock than the jangly pop tunes we made last year.
By the way, a full-length CD of the band is coming out later this year and will be available through Fantagraphics. It will have all of the singles as well as a few new songs, including one Eric and Andy recorded with a guy named John Ramberg, who’s in one the best bands in Seattle, the Model Rockets. [Ed. note: The CD finally came out, 10 years after this interview, in 2007 on Japan’s PressPop.]
Q: How can I contribute to Hate?
A: Well, send me anything you think I might be interested in c/o Fantagraphics at 7563 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115. If I like it I’ll let you know! [Ed. note: Peter is no longer accepting submissions.]
Q: Are the supporting characters in Hate based on real people?
A: Most are composites of several people. Stinky, for example, basically exemplified some of the worst aspects of several of my quirkier friends. Valerie and Lisa are the same. I don’t want to name names, though, or I won’t have any friends to milk material out of!
Q: What are your favorite comics?
A: The usual suspects. Dan Clowes (Eightball) is probably my favorite contemporary cartoonist, although R. Crumb is my all-time favorite. I also love anything by Jim Woodring (Frank and Jim), Chester Brown (Yummy Fur and Underwater), Charles Burns (Black Hole), Julie Doucet (Dirty Plotte), and too many others to mention. Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, of course. I’ve read Love & Rockets since the beginning and I think their new work for Fantagraphics is better than ever. Basically, get one of the Fantagraphics catalogs by writing them at the same address you can reach me at and you’ll see the kinds of comics I like.