Spider-Talent 3 - Peter Bagge (Philosphy)

 In: Rave > 2001
 Posted: 2001
 Staff: Nathan Chattaway (E-Mail)

According to the latest CBG, Peter Bagge (the writer/artist/creator of "Hate") has been asked to write a Spider-Man story for Tangled Web. Bagge admitted that he had never read ANY Spidey stories before. When he read some Lee/Ditko issues to bone up, he was (he said) less than impressed. In spite of this, Axel Alonso is stoked about getting Bagge to do a story.

"Bagge admitted that he had never read ANY Spidey stories before. When he read some Lee/Ditko issues to bone up, he was (he said) less than impressed."

That sentence begs some curious questions...

Bagge had never read Spider-Man. But Bagge is a comic artist of some years (born in 1957). The mainstream of comics is a story of Marvel and DC, of Super-Man and Batman, of The Fantastic Four, X-Men and Spider-Man.

I see only three possible excuses for Bagge's never having read Spidey, or any Lee creations.

Option 1: Bagge either totally rejects the bland mainstream of comicdom - so much that he refuses on principle to sully his mind. He believes the history of comics to be a positive menace to the future.

Option 2: Bagge considers that his own work is setting out in a new direction. It's not that he despises the mainstream, but he didn't want to risk hurting the freshness of his own work with distractions, or stale ideas. He holds the history of comics to be essentially irrelevant.

Option 3: Bagge is a lazy bugger, who can't be bothered to learn about the roots of the domain that pays his way in life. If he was a writer, he would say "William Shakes-what?" As a painter... "Rennwaar? Never heard-a the guy!".

My formal training is in the sciences. Mathematics, in fact. As a mathematician, you have no choice but to start at the beginning, and put layer upon layer, extending your understanding, until (with skill and perseverence) you may one day reach the forefront, and start to consider a fresh field. Even PhD students in maths will generally not perform original research.

As an artist, you have an alternative option. Throw away the book, and just do what you feel.

What a luxury!

Perhaps some of the greatest creations, some of the most ground-breaking work, will come from those he care nothing for the past, and who follow their own direction. But when all is said and done, will those creators truly understand how their own work fits within the entire structure of their domain? Does Peter Bagge comprehend the relevence of his contribution. Does he know if it is fresh or recycled, challenging or mundane, cohesive or irrelevant.

Does it matter?

He could write a Spider-Man story having never read a single comic. It might be superb! Unfortunately, it probably wouldn't really be Spider-Man.

There is a dilemma here. How can you contribute something new to a huge body of existing material (e.g. writing a new Spider-Man comic to augment the existing 2000), without understanding what has already been done. But how can you create something truly new - once you have weighed yourself down with the generations of past ideas, used-up characters, and worn-out scenarios.

Of course, this is the challenge to the artist in this situation. They must study and understand what has been done, without permitting that to subtract or distract from what they themselves wish to do.

Peter Bagge says he wasn't impressed by Lee and Ditko's work. What sacriledge! What impudence! What strength of character!

More power to the man. Read it, understand it, and then think what you want to think - do what you want to do.

It seems to me like Axel Alonso and Joe Quesada are doing what editors are really there to do... finding and guiding talent with the burning desire to create something new.

Nice to see that happening at Marvel once more.

Nathan Chattaway adds another worthy point...

I think someone like Bagge with zero exposure to the world of Spidey is exactly the sort of writer they should be signing up to write for Tangled Web. After all, the whole point of this series is to give us stories about the people around Spider-Man, with wildly differing viewpoints. If the writer has no handle on Spidey, he will portray with authenticity the viewpoint of, say, a down-on-his-luck family man who is suddenly thrust into a Spidey related situation.

The average joe in NYC knows what Spidey looks like, but they don't know if he can be trusted, or even if he's human. I think Peter Bagge will do a memorable job, and I'm enjoying TW so far.

 In: Rave > 2001
 Posted: 2001
 Staff: Nathan Chattaway (E-Mail)