Seth and Peter Bagge have a conversation in Toronto

November 3, 2013 at 1:24 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Last weekend, in absolutely miserable weather, my wife and I made a quick trip down to Harbourfront for the International Festival of Authors to hear a talk with Seth and Peter Bagge. 

Both my wife and I love graphic novels, and were both readers of Bagge’s work Neat Stuff and Hate. Seth was one of the autobiographical cartoonists who emerged in Toronto in the nineties along with Chester Brown and Joe Matt  and centred in the Beguiling  (the place I rediscovered comics) I saw Seth speak last year with Daniel Handler (Lemony Snickett) at the Toronto Public Library, so this seemed an excellent opportunity to catch both.

We got there early expected a huge crowd, but strangely we were the first ones to show up. We wanted around the Harbourfront Centre for a bit, then joined the few others who had arrived (we stood in line behind Chester Brown). In total there were probably fewer than fifty people in the audience.

The always impeccably dressed Seth spoke first. Known primarily for his work illustrating others’ material, Seth has just finished a new edition of Stephen Leacock’s Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, Leacock’s  humourous account of , well, small town life. I’ve read some Leackock, but not this one. Nevertheless, after Seth’s presentation, I wanted to read this one too. Much was made of Seth’s small town origins, but oddly the town was never mention (It’s Clinton, Ontario by the way, the birthplace of Alice Munro and Steven Truscott). I was generally a city kid, but I did live in Antigonish, Nova Scotia for a year back in the mid-1990s. It’s am interesting experience; Sometimes unpleasant, but sometimes it really does seem like a better way of life.

Peter Bagge was next. I’d always imagined Bagge to look something like his disheveled plaid wearing character Buddy Bradley. He does not. The topic of his talk was his new graphic novel biography of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood. Bagge devoted a large amount of his time to defending the reputation of Sanger from charges of racism stemming from her advocacy of eugenics.   It was a spirited defences, and made the book sound more interesting for it.

Following the two presentations, Bagge and Seth sat and were interviewed by CBC host Brent Bambery where topics ranged from the creative process to the alternative comics community. A very interesting afternoon, and the weather made staying inside a good choice.


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