Mike Baron is the Creator of the comic Badger and co-creator of Nexus. He has worked on Marvel’s Punisher and is a contributor to Big Head Press.
I have always been a fan of your work. I first discovered Badger back in the late 1980s. I even painted Badger on a t-shirt because it was impossible to find t-shirts of comic characters back then that weren’t one of the top four spidey, hulk, superman, or batman. I think I was drawn to Badger because of the internal struggle between his personalities. At that time in my life I was struggling with who I was and who I wanted to be. The Badger story spoke to me as a teen in a way other comic characters did not. To show what a fan boy I was I think I still have all the first run of Badger, or at least most of them and they were not easy to come by in rural North Carolina back in the 1980’s.
Anyway I digress on to the questions…
The Hitchhiker asks…
1. What inspired you to create Badger and in a larger sense what inspires all of your creations?
Once Capital accepted Nexus I sought to capitalize by launching another title. The boys insisted on a costumed crime fighter. I was walking down State St. in Madison wondering why a guy would put on a costume and fight crime. He’d have to be crazy. That was the first note. I looked at the shops I was passing. Badger Liquors. Badger Barber Shop. Badger posters. That was the second note. I’d read The Minds of Billy Milligan and it had always stuck with me. I guess I’d been looking to create an MPD super hero all along. I also had those eight pages of Ham the Weather Wizard that Jeff Butler drew so we decided to tack that onto the front of the story and that’s where Ham came from.
The urge to tell a story, to reach an emotional catharsis lies at the heart of all my story telling. It’s the same urge that drives songwriters, I think.
2. How did you get into the comic writing business? What is your advice for someone that is trying to break into the business today?
I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. I’d been working with the Dude for several months when we learned via Steven Grant that Capital City Distribution wanted to branch out into comic publishing. I think the best way for young talent to break into the field is to produce their own comics. You can always get them read and all they take is sweat equity. I would guess that the second most popular route is to go to as many comic conventions as you can and hang out with the editors. Buy them drinks. Get them laid.
3. Comics sales seemed to explode in the 1990’s then sales contracted through the early 2000’s do you think that the trend towards the artist who was also the writer hurt comic sales? (I am a big believer that the artists draws and the writer writes and very few people are good at both) Or was it the internet that hurt sales in that time frame? There seems to be a rebirth in comics today is this due to Hollywood’s discovery of the superhero?
There are some terrific artists out there who for some reason think they can write. There are very talented writer/artists like Mike Mignola. But there are a lot of guys who draw great
who end up with writing assignments probably because it’s easier for the publisher. Some of these guys learn on the job. I don’t see where Hollywood has helped comic sales except in the case
of The Walking Dead. Maybe web comics will expand readership. The plethora of publishers today is due to numerous factors. People are desperate to do comics and will give their work away if it means being published. A lot of licensors are handing out licenses to publishers who don’t pay their talent just to keep the property in the public eye. There are a lot of vanity publishers. The big guys, particularly the big independents like Dark Horse, IDW and Dynamite, are very canny about what they publish. That’s why we see so many licensed properties and so few creator-owned at those houses right now. They are simply going where the money is.
4. What do you think is the future of comics? Is it online or are comics at least “profitable” comics going to stay print and paper for sometime to come?
When Henry Ford introduced the Model T experts quickly announced the extinction of the horse. They forgot that people love horses and collect them. Likewise comics. You can’t ride a comic and it doesn’t nuzzle, but you do get that warm thrilling feeling when you crack open a new book by your favorite creators. Print comics will always be with us. But the future of comics lies online. That’s where the readership will grow. These kids today, these kids…they don’t buy comics. They buy video games. And that’s why we see so many video game based entertainments as well.
You describe scififreehold as a science fiction site. I have written a science fiction novel called WHACK JOB which I plan to release digitally next year. It is guaranteed to blow your mind.
5. Scott Bieser of Big Head Press described you to me as the conservative of the crew there. Tell us a little about your political beliefs?
I think it’s fair to say I’m conservative. Of course Scott’s libertarian. Those guys are crazier than gerbils on acid.
Thank you for the interview. We appreciate your work and look forward to reading your new work WHACK JOB.