Did the Web Kill Underground Comic Books?

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What would induce one of the stars of the alternative comics world to jump from print to bytes? According to Peter Bagge, the caustic 43-year-old former writer/artist of Neat Stuff, Hate and other indie-comics hits (i.e., titles that sell more than 10,000 copies), the impetus to work for such outlets as Suck and Adobe Systems resulted from the continuing decline of comics sales.

"I wanted to do comics all my life," says Bagge from his home in Seattle, "and now I'm out of the comics biz entirely but not by choice. Hate was way too grueling to keep doing for diminishing returns. Fewer new readers were buying it, while older readers were becoming impossible-to-please pains in the ass. Then I began writing Yeah!, a kids' comic, and the kids who saw it loved it. But kids don't go to comic shops anymore. Suburban comic stores don't want kids coming in for fear of porn charges."