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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Leroy Douresseaux on HATE ANNUAL #9

HATE ANNUAL #9
FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS

CARTOONIST: Peter Bagge
COLORS: Joanne Bagge
28pp, Color, $4.95

It’s one of my favorite times of the year, whenever it is that it happens during the year. It’s time for our annual dose of Hate because the new Hate Annual is out!

Hate Annual #9 opens to find Buddy Bradley and his wife, Lisa Leavenworth-Bradley, enjoying the American dream… or some off-kilter, but nonetheless sweet version of it. In “Heaven,” Buddy is a thriving businessman with Buddy & Jay’s Scrap Metal Emporium, a business he owns with his pal, Jay. Lisa is happy (or as happy as she is capable of being) and their son, Harold, is a thriving, red-bloodied American boy.

Next up is “Hell,” which depicts a trip to Seattle to visit Lisa’s parents. They find Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, perverted relatives, swinging neighbors, a shady “brother,” and more dysfunction than the law should allow. Plus, Bagge takes on the modern state of the state in “The Home of the Brave,” and he gives readers the all-you-need-to-know about Belgium in “Stuff I Know About Belgium.”

Readers needing their Peter Bagge and/or Hate fix will always get it, to some degree, in the Hate Annual. Hate Annual #9, however, is one of the better editions, and that’s probably because of what Bagge presents here. “Heaven” and “Hell” appeases by giving us a peak at what’s going on in Buddy’s life right now, but we also get a hefty narrative that gives us something akin to the classic madness that was Buddy and Lisa’s life in Seattle.

“Heaven” is fluffy and sweet, and I must admit to being happy that Buddy is happy and doing fairly well. “Hell” offers what Bagge has always been good at – character writing. He can nail down a character in just a few panels, so even bit players can have a major impact in shaping the story. The “Hell” installment of Buddy and Lisa Bradley’s adventures is simply good stuff and makes me miss Hate even more.

Meanwhile, Bagge’s sharp wit and knack for social commentary and criticism (one of the hallmarks of the original Hate) is evident in “The Home of the Brave.” In eight single-panel cartoons, Bagge skewers the attitudes born of our past decade of hatreds and fears. Bagge can spin satirical gold and poke fun at our national nightmare as well as people paid much more than him for doing it (John Stewart, Stephen Colbert).

A


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