Reason Podcast

Peter Bagge on Underground Comics, Immigration, and Being a Libertarian Artist: Podcast

The cartoonist talks about being libertarian, why Marvel is OK with "serums" but not drugs, and how comic books have evolved over the past 30 years.

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In the new issue of Reason (subscribe now for as little at $14.97 a year!), legendary comics artist Peter Bagge contributes "Immigration Grunts," a four-page cartoon essay about people trying to help refugees and asylum-seekers stuck in a federal immigration facility in Tacoma, Washington.

Bagge's career started in the 1970s and he is probably best-known as the creator of Hate, an underground comic that helped to define alternative culture in the 1990s. He has been drawing for Reason for almost 20 years (his Reason archive is online here and his 2013 collection of Reason work, Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me, is available at Amazon).

On today's Reason Podcast, I talk with Bagge about his new Reason essay, how he chooses topics to draw, and what it's like to be working in a medium that was once considered unserious but is now heralded as a legitimate art form. We also talk about his forthcoming graphic novel, Credo: The Rose Wilder Lane Story, which tells the life story of one of the founding figures of the modern libertarian movement who also helped craft her mother's stories about her frontier childhood into the beloved Little House on the Prairie books.

Bagge dishes on how his libertarian politics often put him at odds with his fellow cartoonists and reminsces about his apprenticeship to Robert Crumb, arguably the most-important underground-comics artist of them all. Crumb was a "wonderful mentor," says Bagge, who notes that the two don't agree on politics. "I once asked him, 'Bob, what are your politics?" says Bagge with a laugh, "and he said 'I believe in a communist dictatorship with me as the dictator.'" He also tells a fantastic story about how the higher-ups at Marvel balked at a Hulk comic he drew in which the title character took drugs until he called the substances serums instead.

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14 responses to “Peter Bagge on Underground Comics, Immigration, and Being a Libertarian Artist: Podcast

  1. Well there ya go — just rename drugs as serums. End of the War On Drugs and we won, they won, everybody won.

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  2. Yeah, but Marvel still better than D.C! Everyone knows that! Marvel has like gay superheroes, all D.C. has is a bicurious billionaire and his youthful ward.

    1. Renee Montoya? Kate Kane? John Constantine? Midnighter and Apollo?

  3. P-Bag’s voice sounds like that severed robot head on Alien. Sheesh.

  4. R. Crumb had a 1989 comic piece in Weirdo where he meets Tha Donald! It was hilarious.

  5. I know some of these Christian Extremists who want to help refugees. Despicable.

  6. Your communist character you interviewed has surprisingly mainstream attitudes.

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  8. Say what you will about Peter Bagge, but his Spanish translation of the Margaret Sanger book may help free South America from papal Comstock laws. I can’t wait for the Lolita Lebr?n cartoon book!

  9. It’s still funny to me that Reason has such a legendary underground artist as Bagge writing for them. Don’t you lose him Reason. He’s one of the best.

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  11. Well, unless you can get them all together and can use a bomb. Hmmm, sayyyy, are there are any places you can think of where central planners are collected together?

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