Thursday, June 06, 2024

Mike (“The Bloody Red”) Baron talks Comics, Books, and More!

 This is another article of mine in a long line of much older articles/interviews that appeared on another site with which I am no longer associated. I am re-posting it here to not only refresh it, for those who may have missed it the first time around, but in an effort to consolidate my online work under my own imprint. This interview was conducted back on May 16th, 2016. 

* * * * * *

When we first “met” Mike Baron it was in 1981, when he and artist Steve “The Dude” Rude delivered the comicbook Nexus into our comic shop (no, not personally, but you get what we mean). That series explored a world that was weirdly-eclectic mashup of superhero and science fiction genres, which was set some 500 years into the future. This was followed (in 1983) by the appearance of The Badger who was (at least nominally) a superhero — although not like we had ever before seen. Perhaps what attracted us personally most about Baron (aside from his very engaging, entertaining, and totally off-the-wall approach to comics archetypes), was that he chose to enter the field, not through the previously-established “corporate” comics (Marvel, DC) but via Indie comics (the newly-minted Capital City, as well as later via Dark Horse, Image, and IDW).

Eventually, he did go on to write for Marvel (PunisherStar Wars), DC (ActionAtlantis Attacks), Valiant (Archer & Armstrong), and others, but he has always been most strongly associated with, and known for Nexus and Badger. Most recently, Baron has switched over from writing most-excellent comics to penning amazingly engaging prose novels, and (as can be expected) has begun to build up a very impressive body of work in this field. Over the years we have had the privilege of not only getting to interview Baron on a couple of occasions, but to actually “friending” him on Facebook and engaging in quite a number of very spirited debates. Having read three of his prose novel (Helmet Head, Whack Job, and DiscoBiker and Skorpio are next we once again find ourselves caught up in the world of Mike Baron, and frankly, we wanted to share our love of his work with all of you.

Between the time we conducted this interview and it appearing on the web, we learned that all Baron’s Josh Pratt novels, beginning with a reissue of Biker will be republished by Liberty Island PressNot only that, but he has also re-launched Badger through Devil’s Due/1First Comics.

**********

Robert J. Sodaro: After years, and years in the comicbook market, writing for not only, Creator-owned, Indie books (that you own), but for what we’ve come to call “Corporate” comics, you have switched over to writing prose novels. Can you tell us why?


Mike Baron: It was my original goal. I have been trying to write novels since college, but it wasn’t until I went through rough times and moved to Colorado that I understood the form. Peter Brandvold the Western writer was instrumental in pounding into me several important lessons, the most important of which is show don’t tell. It took me a long time to find my voice and themes but when they kicked in it was like a thunderclap going off in my skull. I’ve written about the process, which you can find on my blog at www.bloodyredbaron.net.

RJS: Is there a fundamental difference between writing a script for a comicbook and writing a prose novel, and if so, could you give us a brief explanation of what that difference is?

MB: There is a huge difference. Comics are a very forgiving form. I could write comics from the gitgo, even though my method was to simply start drawing the comic out by hand on a legal pad while high on cocaine and vodka. Working panel by panel taught me about pacing, the importance of showing. The bulk of my work on Nexus and Badger was free-style.  I now outline my comic book stories beginning to end. In writing a novel, I make notes months in advance. I work up a fairly detailed outline. I boil it down to a blurb. “Wagon Train in space” (Star Trek.) “Nazi biker zombies” (Helmet Head.) “A ghost who only appears under a blazing sun” (Skorpio.) But these are mere hooks to ensnare and intrigue. My outline covers the entire story, the characters’ motivations and personalities, the beats, the bridges, and the hooks. Novels require concentration. Every word must add to the story. I now apply this to comics, but we have all loved comics where the dialogue doesn’t track with the pictures and comics where it tracks too well.


When I start a novel, I buy a new notebook which I fill with story points, beats, names, technology I intend to use, helpful domain names, and memorable names I made up or got from daytime television. I consult the notebook as I write the novel.

RJS: Do you approach the writing of each differently or is the difference in the execution of the story rather than in its inception?

MB: It depends on the story. Skorpio incorporates a diary of an 18th century, 22-year-old Portuguese explorer. I read 18th century manuscripts to get in my explorer’s head, to speak with his voice — a young man of letters in a wilderness. When the story snaps back to the present the contemporary voice takes over. I try to convey the maximum in information and emotion with the minimum words. I use a very close point of view, as Pete taught me. When you look at the great illustrators, like Alex TothMike Norton or Steve Rude, they are trying to do the same thing with their brush strokes.

RJS: With a comic you have a collaborator (the artist) do you prefer writing alone or with a collaborator?

MB: I often ask an artist, what do you want to draw? If the artist has good ideas I will incorporate them but I usually trust my own voice on dialogue and captions.


RJS: Your comics were largely superhero/sci-fi, but your books tend towards more to mystery, crime drama, and at least one story we’re going to call “family Friendly/Young Adult” What cause the switch? Why not stick with superheroes and /or sci-fi?

MB: One reason is that comics are uniquely suited to superheroes and sci-fi. Sure there have been superhero novels, but they don’t pack the punch of the comic. This is one area in which comics excel. I’m seeking to broaden my audience. John D. MacDonald is one of my influences and I have tried to channel his ability to touch the pulse of evil and tell his story in an elegiac, almost mournful voice.  I was a MacDonald fan before I discovered comics. He inspired me to write crime stories like Biker, and its sequels, Sons of Privilege and Not Fade Away. I will adapt Biker later this year for Comicmix with artist Chris-Cross.

RJS: Can you tell us a little bit about Helmet Head, Whack JobBiker, and Banshees?

MB: Helmet Head—Nazi biker zombies! Whack Job—spontaneous human combustion and international espionage! Biker—grim crime stuff. Banshees—a satanic rock band comes back from the dead. Those are elevator descriptions. Helmet Head began life as a screenplay, a fresh take on the slasher genre. I have always loved horror, ever since my sister Ellen Jo dragged me to see The Horror of Dracula when I was eight. Scared the shit out of me! I love a good Stephen King or Robert M. McCammon novel, and have tried to bring a fresh take to the horror genre with Helmet Head and Skorpio, which is about a ghost who only appears under a blazing sun.



Banshees has been with me a long time and is my longest book. Rock and horror go together like cocaine and vodka or peanut butter and jelly. Whack Job, which has horror elements, is an idea I’ve had for decades, but it took me a long time to not only find my voice but to find the story. When I found it I shrieked EUREKA! and did the funky chicken. Whack Job has plot twist that will make your head explode. Biker combines my love of motorcycles with the modern noir of John D. My protagonist Josh Pratt is a motorcycle hoodlum who went to prison and found Jesus. He is the opposite of a smart-ass.


RJS: Can you tell us a little bit about Disco, which, by your own admission, is a decidedly different kind of story for you.

MB: I wanted to do a dog story. Ann [Mike’s wife – RJS] kept bugging me to write something she could read. Ann has no patience for gore, crime, and evil. Disco is about a kid who trains an abandoned puppy to become world disc dog champion. It is Rocky for dogs, and my shot at a YA novel, although I wrote it to please myself, as all writers must. It has universal appeal. There’s sex and violence, but I’ve tried to keep it to “PG-13.” Or at least refer to it as romance and action.

RJS: Which of your prose novels have been published?

MB: Helmet Head, Whack Job, Biker, and Skorpio. Wordfire Press will bring out Banshees in the fall. All are available on Amazon.

RJS: Was it an easy jump from comics to prose?

MB: Hells no!

RJS: Having already established yourself as a writer did you have difficult to cross over into prose or do you think that your comicbook writing count against you because it is “just” comics?


MB: Doesn’t count against me. Helps, actually. Modern publishers respect comics. The only difficult part was learning how to write, but having learned, it is as natural as breathing.

RJS: Which do you prefer, comics or prose?

MB: I like ‘em both.

RJS: You’ve been teasing us with a return of your signature characters, Nexus and Badger (With Badger having made a brief appearance in Disco) when can we expect to see them reappear in comicbook format?

MB: It looks like December for Badger. Why? You’d have to ask First. One reason is that they’re waiting for all issues to be done so they can gang print them. Another is the sorry saga of artists flaking off, burning out, or self-imploding during the construction of the series.

Nexus will return later this year in an online version courtesy of Rude Dude, and will be reprinted as Sunday tabloids to subscribers.


RJS: With all of the comicbook-to-film movies out there, can we expect to see either a Nexus or a Badger film in our future

MB: We have a tentative deal with a Hong Kong-based production company for a Badger movie.

RJS: Any advice for other comicbook writers who want to jump into the prose market?

MB: Oodles! Get a copy of Elements of Style. Listen to how people really talk. Show, don’t tell. Be original. Keep a close point of view. Avoid the passive tense. Find that rhythm. As in popular song, dynamics are the key. What are dynamics? They are variations in key, mood and tempo that create anticipation, and release. Successful fiction, like a good pop song, depends on tension and release.



Mike Baron, his books, and all artwork associated with them are © & ™ 2024 Mike Baron and the associated artists. All rights reserved.

Funnybook City is © 2024 Robert J. Sodaro, D.B.A. Freelance Ink. All rights reserved.



Robert J. Sodaro is a noted comicbook historian and journalist who began reading comics during the early ‘60s while sitting on the newsstand in his Uncle’s “Mom & Pop” grocery store. He has written about them for virtually every print comicbook publication published during the ‘80s & ‘90s.

Saturday, June 01, 2024

The Yule Cat

Here is a holiday horror story of mine that was posted to an online site that has apparently gone dark, so I'm taking the opportunity to repost it here:



After a decade of living in Australia, Olav Johannsson and his family moved back to Iceland. To be sure, for Olav, the move was more “To” Iceland than “Back To” as, even though Olav had been born on the island, shortly after his birth, his father’s company promoted him and moved him to an office in Australia. Now, a decade later, Jon took another promotion, which moved him back to the land of his own birth. Now while Jon and his wife Helga were happy to return home, Olav was — as could be expected — far less than thrilled. Having, quite literally, grown up in the mid-25s-to-high-30s-Celsius Down Under, to now facing temps from 3 to 12 degrees Celsius was akin to a prison sentence for the young lad. Needless to say, this was an overriding reason that he was such a sullen child upon relocation.

Unfortunately, this attitude proved a tad difficult for him to make friends, especially at the start of the new school year. Still, given the pleasant outgoing nature of Islandic children after a month of him interacting with the locals in his school, he did manage to become friendly with a few of them. Two classmates with whom he became especially close were a pair of twin girls his own age named Gudrun and Kristin.

The girls both had very outgoing and upbeat personalities, making it almost impossible for Olav, even at his most sour moments, to stay grouchy. Soon enough, the three became nearly inseparable. So, even when Olav would gripe about the weather, temperature, or lack of a sandy beach, the girls would look past his mood, and find ways to cheer him up. While his association with the girls did much to lighten his mood, there was always a layer of irritability underlying his personality over having been forced to move from the warmer climes of Australia to the fridged forever of Iceland.

As the end of the calendar year approached, and the temperatures began to drop even further, Olav became more and more sullen, even though Gudrun and Kristin did their level best to keep his spirits up. One Friday, which was also the first of December. As they were departing from their final class of the day, Olav inquired if they wanted to hang out and do something fun so as to cheer himself up. Only the girls declined, citing a chore they had to do at home. Disappointed, Olav headed home resigned to wallowing in his own misery.

Unfortunately, as the weekend and following week wore on, the girls seemed to have less and less time to spend with him. Finally, the following Friday, Olav, determined to get to the bottom of the situation, followed them home, intending to confront them about it. Only when he arrived, it was their mother that met him at the door.

“Hello, Mrs. Sigurdsson, are Gudrun and Kristin at home?”

“Oh, Hello, Olav. Yes, they are home, but they are quite busy just now.”

“Yes, they said something about chores at school. But I have a question about some schoolwork. I promise not to take up too much of their time.”

Sighing, Mrs. Sigurdsson responded, as she let Olav in. “Fine, but only if you promise not to distract them or take up too much of their time.”

“Thank you, muchly, ma’am” Olav responded as he entered and headed towards the girl’s rooms. As he ascended the stairs to their bedrooms, he heard noises coming from a room just off the common hall. Upon entering the room, which appeared to be some sort of sewing room, he saw both girls dutifully working on measuring, cutting, and stitching clothing.

Olav cleared his throat, causing the girls to both stop, and look in his direction. “Ah, hey Gudrun, Kristin. What’s going on?”

“Olav, ah, hello. Mother let you in?” Kristin asked.

“Yes, I told her I had a question about schoolwork, but truthfully, I was really wondering why you’ve both been avoiding me all week. I thought we were friends.”

“Oh, we most certainly are friends, Olav.” Gudrun responded, “But we really have to get this done before the 25th.”

“Get what done?” Olav asked? “What are you doing?”

“Were making our Christmas clothes.” Kirstin replied.

“We need to get them done before the holiday or the Yule Cat will get us.” Gudrun chimed in.

“The…yule…cat?” Olav repeated. “Wh-whatever are you talking about?”

The girls looked at each other, then at Olav. “The Yule Cat.” They said in unison.

“What the heck is a Yule Cat, and what does that have to do with making clothes?”

“Children who don’t have new clothes by Christmas will get eaten by the Yule Cat.” Kristin exclaimed.

“That’s right, you grew up in Australia, so you probably didn’t have any Yule Cats down there.” Gudrun continued. “You should hurry home and ask your parents. They grew up here, so I’m surprised they haven’t told you.”

With that, the girls hurried him out and returned to their sewing. Confused. Olav left the Sigurdsson’s and headed home. Upon entering his house, he found his mother in the kitchen, baking bread. “Mom, what’s the Yule Cat?” he asked as he sat at the kitchen table.

“What’s that, dear?” his mother responded as she paused in her breadmaking.

“The Yule Cat. I was over the Sigurdssons talking to the girls to find out why they’ve been ducking me for a week, they were sewing Christmas clothes and told me this goofy story about a Yule Cat that was going to eat them if they didn’t finish making the clothes before Christmas.”

Picking up a towel to wipe her hands, Mrs. Johannsson sighed as she sat down. “Olav, The Yule Cat is an old superstition here in Iceland. The story goes that if children don’t receive new clothes by Christmas, this giant cat will come to their house to eat them. Honestly, it is really a tale told by parents to get their children to sew new clothes for themselves so that they have something new to wear for the holidays.”

“Then, why am I not making new clothes?”

“Well, first of all, as I said, it is just an old myth that has been around since the 1600s, and second, when we moved here from Australia, we bought you a tonne of new clothing. Not to mention, that with this recent raise of his, your father makes a good deal of money, so it isn’t necessary for you to waste your time learning how to sew just so that you have something to wear.”

“But aren’t you afraid that I’m going to get eaten?

Mrs. Johannsson laughed. “No, sweetie, like I’ve said it’s just a myth. It isn’t real.”

“What’s not real?” Came Mr. Johannsson’s voice from the front hallway as he arrived home from work.

“The Yule Cat.” Replied Olav. “But if it isn’t real, then why are Gudrun and Kristin making clothes, so they don’t get eaten?”

Pulling up a chair to the table, Mr. Johannsson sat down. “Well, as I’m sure your mother already told you, it’s an old Icelandic Christmas myth. Every country has them. The Yule Cat is known as Jólakötturinn and is a huge and vicious cat that is often described as lurking about the snowy countryside here in Iceland during the Christmas season. It is said that he will eat people who have not received any new clothes to wear before Christmas Eve. He’s said to be the house pet of a witch named Grýla, her husband, Leppalúði and their sons, the vicious and mischievous Yule Lads.

“Now the Yule Lads — sometimes referred to as Yuletide-lads or even Yulemen — are a group of 13 mischievous pranksters who are said to steal from or otherwise harass the population of local villages. Each of them has very descriptive names that generally convey their favourite way of causing mischief. The boys themselves arrive one by one over the final 13 nights leading up to Christmas and either leave small gifts in shoes that children place on windowsills, or a rotten potato in the shoe instead, if the child has been disobedient.”

“And you’re just telling me all of this now?” Olav exclaimed, looking from one parent to another.

“Again, we didn’t ever tell you because A) it is just an ancient myth, and B) because we were living in Australia, over 15,000 kilometers away from Iceland, and frankly I sincerely doubt that anyone in Australia had ever heard of the Yule Cat.” His father stated. “Now, while your mother and I grew up with these silly myths, we saw no reason to burden you with them, because they’re simply not real.”

“Not to mention,” Mrs. Johannsson interjected. “Being so far away, for so long, it never occurred to us that anyone here still believed in there being a giant cat that would eat you if you didn’t have new clothes by Christmas. So really while you don’t need to worry about it, you shouldn’t tease the girls — or any of your friends who might still believe — about it just being as mythical as Santa or Thor.”

Olav mulled all this information over for a moment, then smiled, and said, “Okay, I get it. It’s like all the really cool stories that the Aboriginals tell. Everyone is entitled to their own belief system.”

Clapping his hand on his son’s back, Mr. Johannsson smiled and exclaimed, “That’s my boy.” Then, looking at his wife inquired, “Now, what’s for dinner?”

Muchly calmed down and mostly mollified by his parents’ explanation, Olav promised that he wouldn’t say anything to the girls (or anyone else at school) about what he had been told. Taking his promise, a step farther, he would check in with the girls every couple of days on their progress with their new Christmas clothes. Finally, on Christmas Eve, when the whole district was gathered together for a community celebration, the girls showed up with their new clothes.

“Olav, where are your new clothes?” Kristin exclaimed.

“Oh, they’re home,” Olav fibbed, still not wanting to disillusion the girls.

“Aren’t you worried about the Yule Cat?” Gudrun gasped.

“Not really, I’m saving them for Christmas Day.”

Both girls seemed relieved by his admission, and the three of them then went on to enjoy the Holiday pageant. As it wound down, the girls headed home, and Olav headed back to his house. While his parents had gone straight back to their house, Olav opted to take a longer route, as he wanted to see all of the festive lights strung around their village. Everything seemed so much more joyous than their township in Australia. In spite of the bitter cold, the snow, and the lack of beaches, Olav was actually beginning to feel good.

As he was nearing his home, he felt as if he was being followed. A couple of times he caught sight of a shadow, just at the edge of his peripheral vision. As he continued on his way, he couldn’t quite shake the feeling that someone or something was tailing him. At first, he thought that it might really be The Yule Cat, but the rational part of his brain took over and he soon convinced himself that it was just Gudrun and Kirstin, pranking him.

As he finally came to the walkway of his front door, he could most assuredly feel a presence behind him. Stopping at the front gate, he heard a low-pitched growl, so he decided to put an end to this charade and call the girls out. Spinning around quickly, he shouted, “Okay girls, I know it’s you…oh crap.”

The following morning, the Johannssons couldn’t find Olav in his room. Calling over to the Sigurdssons they learned that he wasn’t there either. More calls around the village revealed that not only was Olav missing, but so were as many as 16 children. None of whom had made new Christmas clothes.

 

# # #

 

Learn more about the Yule Cat here.


Saturday, March 30, 2024

My days under the Malibu Sun!


Way back in the early '90s I was writing for, well, virtually every comicbook magazine under the sun. As if that wasn't enough, I was also penning articles directly for several of the major comicbook companies as well, including Marvel (Marvel Age, Marvel Year in Review), Dark Horse, Image (Extreme), Valiant/Acclaim, DC, and of course, Malibu. (I was also writing for JC Comics, a non sports card magazine, a phone card mag, as well as a couple of computer gamming publications.) Recently, while going through some old files, I came across a copy of The Malibu Sun #30 (Oct. '93) — a newsletter/'zine dedicated to Malibu projects — where I got to interview Barry Windsor-Smith. This is the interview that was printed.


Rune in the Ultraverse: An Enlightening Conversation with Barry Windsor-Smith

 

After leaving Valiant, Barry Windsor-Smith signed up to join the crew over at Malibu’s Ultraverse, co-creating (along with Editor-In-Chief Chris Ulm) Rune, an other-worldly vampire living on Earth.

 

Robert J. Sodaro: How or why did you end up at Malibu?

Barry Windsor-Smith: I don’t mean to be flippant, but why not? They’re a good company; they’ve got a lot of good stuff going for them. I like all the people that I’ve met there so far. The Ultraverse sounds like a good idea. I got talking with them. I’ve been talking with everybody since I quit Valiant. I’ve been talking with Dark Horse’s Mike Richardson; I’ve been talking with Jim Lee at Image. In the case of Malibu, it was just one of the groups that I was talking to, and Chris Ulm had a concept in mind...I can’t remember the original title. We discussed it, and we changed the title to Fuzion. It was about a group of kids who were experimented on without their knowledge, back in the ‘60s or ‘70s. These four disparate kids were an attempt to make super soldiers, that sort of a thing, by scientific means they were given the power of cold fusion. The power only works when all four of them are in the same spot at the same time. It’s actually a lot more interesting than that. I’m not describing it very well.

 

RJS: When you say “…in the same spot.” How close do they have to be to each other?

BWS: When they touch; I think it’s all down to physical contact. If they are separated, there is no power. This was all done in secrecy, when they were kids, and they don’t know what happened to them. Their past lives have been eradicated. They’ve been put into different lifestyles and kept separate until the power can be harnessed by the bad guys. That was the original concept. That concept still stands, but we added a great deal to it because I picked up on the fact that one of the bad guys was named Rune and that he was a 10,000-year-old vampire, floating around in the background. I said, “Heck, why do we have a 10,000-year-old vampire floating around in the background? Let’s bring him up front here. He’s interesting.” So, from that initial talk with Chris, we developed an entire plot and storyline based around this character called Rune. A bizarre, evil-looking guy, who sucks blood and all that sort of stuff, as vampires have a tendency to do. There is more to it than that. Rune is a dying creature. He’s not earthly, for one. I don’t think we’ve sorted out where we want him to come from— outer space, or another dimension — we’re certain he isn’t human. He is in the process of dying from some alien form of cancer. It’s explained in the first storyline for Rune. He is in search of power that will sustain his life. This is how he comes in contact with the kids, who are not adults, these four characters from this clandestine thing called The Fusion Project. That’s basically where the interaction comes from.

 

RJS: What is the title of title book going to be?


BWS:
It was Fusion, but now it’s going to be called Rune. We’re calling the three-page format introductory series, which appears in each October Ultraverse issue, Rune. We’ve got a plot, we’ve got character drawings, we’ve got personalities worked out, and all this other stuff, but as I’m working on it, which is always the case with me, I change things as I go along. I’m directing the story, and I see something about this character that didn’t occur to me before, that I could add to, or take away from, or get rid of entirely. When I’m working on a project, it’s very much in a state of flux. Something I can tell you on Thursday, might be old news by Saturday, because I’ve already thrown it out, or I’ve added something by Sunday morning that changes the whole direction of the damn thing. This is basically the way I work, the way I’ve always worked. There is nothing written in stone at this moment. As I stage the stories, who knows what is going to happen.

 

RJS: So, it’s starting in October as a back-up feature?

BWS: Yes.

 

RJS: ln all of the Ultraverse books?

BWS: In all of the Ultraverse books, yes. It’s 11in all. So, the Rune story will be coming out as a back-up in each of those books, and it will run for 11 issues, in different titles all the way through until we’re done w:tth the story.

RJS: It’s part of the Ultraverse?

BWS: Yes, this is definitely Ultraverse stuff.

 

RJS: You will be writing and drawing on Rune?

BWS: In the case of Rune, I’m plotting the story, but Chris Ulm is doing the scripting at the moment. That’s to say that things can change at any given time, but that’s the layout right now. I’ve done three stories so far. I’ve done an awful lot of ad material for it too. It’s a pretty intriguing character. Very much a Barry Windsor­Smith character.

RJS: What makes him a Barry Windsor-Smith character?


BWS: Well, he’s sort of on the dark side, rather than the heroic stuff that I’ve been known for. This guy is very unusual looking. He’s got lumps all over him. Not quite like the Thing, or anything like that, but as I say, this guy has some sort of alien form of cancer, and he’s got a pretty distorted body. Even with the distortion, I’m drawing him technically well. You have to look at him twice to realize he’s got bulges and bumps where he really shouldn’t have.

RJS: He’s going to be the central character of this series?

BWS: He will certainly be the central villain, without a doubt. A central character? Not quite sure. The installments, starting in October, are all about Rune. When we blend Rune into the Fusion storyline, it will be an ensemble cast. The way I like to do things is to see which characters come to the fore. Who does the most talking? Who is going to have the most action on stage, as it were. Rune will be a major character, like Dr. Doom is the major villain for the FF, or something like that.

 

RJS: Don’t you think it’s unusual to name the book after the villain?

BWS: What isn’t unusual? I don’t know that the one should follow any form of previously planned...

RJS: it’s easy to get your readers .to identify with the hero, it’s not so easy to identify with an anti-hero, to make the villain a sympathetic character, is like making a movie about Hitler, and showing him as a sympathetic character.

BWS: This answer isn’t right on the money, but, if you went to see a movie about Hitler, you would know what the outcome was, and know about the character before you went there. Let’s say, the Terminator — the first Terminator — the Terminator was the villain. I think that’s a reasonable effort at explaining my decision there.

RJS: The analogy works very well, so you’re making him quite the  unhandsome character...

BWS: He’s actually very ugly indeed. It’s a test of my own story-telling skills. If you look at Wolverine, he’s not exactly Patrick Swayze.

 

RJS: What about naming the series after the villain?


BWS:
I think it’s acceptable that the series is named after the villain. The villain isn’t attractive, but he’s dynamic, vicious, and evil beyond description. Being inhuman, he has no scruples whatsoever. The weight humans carry around, even the bad guys, simply comes from an entirely different perspective. Again, not unlike the Terminator, now that his name has come up. He has arms and legs, but as I say, he’s vastly distorted.

 

RJS: How is it that he came to Earth?

BWS: I haven’t the foggiest. I know it’s going to dawn on me or Chris at some point. Then it’s, “Of course! That’s what we were trying to think of!” So, we’re leaving that go until the right idea pops into one of our heads.

 

RJS: Getting back to you coming ever to Malibu, why was it that you left Valiant?

BWS: Obviously I’ve been asked this question a thousand times. There was a whole period there, when my lawyer advised that I shouldn’t speak about it. I did temper myself very well. It’s a long story. I wasn’t happy at Valiant. That you can certainly quote me on.

 

RJS: Let me ask you this: Did it have anything to do with Jim (Shooter, founder of Defiant) leaving? Did things get worse after Jim left?

BWS: It had nothing whatsoever to do with Jim leaving. The company changed radically when Jim left, or was forced to leave, rather. The intention was to change it for the better. I was there as an executive for about a year. I guess I just felt like a fifth wheel there, to be honest. I was their best writer, and their best artist. That made me feel out of place.

 

RJS: Going from the creative to the business end of it. Was that upsetting to you? Would you rather be...

BWS: Obviously, I would rather be a creator. If I was an executive type, I would have been an executive a long time ago. It’s just not my cup of tea. Being of the aesthetic nature, and also being an executive, I would have liked to have had more control of the quality of the work. I spent a year there, basically, teaching the younger members of the team how to do what they do, trying to teach the colorists the theory of color.

 

RJS: ls this the only project you’re working on for Malibu at the moment?

BWS: It’s a big enough project it should be the only. One I’m working on. Yes, it’s the only one I’m working on. I’m working on the first 30-odd pages in the first three installments, and then the first three or four books of Rune I’ll be producing. We’ll take it from there. That’s where the contract takes me, so we’ll see as we go along. I’m certainly having a good time with the people at Malibu. They’re very nice folks indeed. I’m enjoying their company.

 


# # #


Mike (“The Bloody Red”) Baron talks Comics, Books, and More!

  This is another article of mine in a long line of much older articles/interviews that appeared on another site with which I am no longer a...