I've been putting together Peter Bagge's next Hate Annual (#7) which contains ten pages of his Weekly World News "Bat Boy" strips. The strips are some of my favorite work from Pete and I was curious about how he came to do a comic strip for the notoriously bizarre supermarket tabloid. So for the fans here's some quick Q&A:
JC: With Weekly World News now out of business is there any chance of more Bat Boy stories? It's fun to see the anthropomorphic side of your work. Your style lends itself so strongly to that world.
PB: There's no chance of me doing Bat Boy anywhere again since even though the WWN is no more its parent company, American Media, still exists and still owns the rights. There was talk while I was still doing the strip of an animated Bat Boy TV show, but with the WWN no longer in print I'm sure no one's pushing that idea anymore.
JC: How in the world did that gig come about? Was there a Bagge fan on staff who approached you or were you sitting around cooking up how to break into the wacko tabloid industry?
PB: Yes, as a matter of fact! An assistant editor at WWN named Garry Messick started the ball rolling all on his own.
JC: What is the staff like there? Are they a kind of "The Onion" group of absurdists and dedicated photo-retouchers or is there any sort of genuine conspiracy weirdo vibe to their offices?
PB: Well, first of all we should be discussing them in the past tense! But of course they were all fully aware of the fact that they were just making shit up for laughs. How could they not be? That half their readership actually believed what they wrote totally boggled their minds. Their staff also tended to be young, since the pay was less than great over the last 5 - 10 years, so they'd all eventually move on — often to their sister publication, the National Enquirer, which is where my former editor is now. (AMI also published CRACKED for a long time, so this is the 2nd time in my life that I worked for those mobsters!)
The internet is what ultimately did them in, and it's a shame they didn't follow The Onion's example and shift their focus to the 'net, but the people who ultimately called the shots were old timers who didn't get how the interweb worked at all.
THANKS PETE! I for one will never use the internet again.
Books by Peter Bagge