Updated: Jan 24, 2020
Mike Baron has been writing comics for over 36 years. He has worked on so many beloved characters, but he is best known for co-creating NEXUS with Steve Rude and BADGER as well.
After gaining recognition he went on to relaunch THE FLASH, after CRISIS ON INFINTE EARTHS, starring Wally West as the lead. He also wrote an awesome run on THE PUNISHER where he and artist Klaus Janson created the character Microchip. Those are just a couple examples of the amazing work produced by this prolific writer.
He's currently hard at work on numerous projects, including a return to NEXUS in the near future.
COMIC LOUNGE: When did you first become a comic book fan?
MIKE BARON: As a wee tyke in South Dakota, I picked up my first Uncle Scrooge comic and was hopelessly addicted. I tracked the great man down when I was twelve and he sent me a sketch. I urge all creators to study Carl Barks. He was a master of characterization, pacing, and plotting.
COMIC LOUNGE: Who were some of the writers that inspired you to become a writer?
BARON: Carl Barks, John D. MacDonald, and Philip Jose Farmer.
COMIC LOUNGE: You've been writing comics for over 30 years, where do you draw inspiration from? What is your process when starting a new project?
BARON: I begin making notes in a legal pad by hand. The characters, the story arc, anything and everything that might relate to the story. When I see the shape of the story, I do a detailed outline that not only charts the plot, but also gives insight into the characters and their motivations. It’s important to make your outline as entertaining as possible. It’s not for your eyes alone, but for anyone who wants to know what the story’s about. You’ve got to grab the reader by the throat and drag him, her, or it into the narrative to the exclusion of all other stimulation. Inspiration can come from anywhere. It can come from a character’s name. It can come from a title without a story. I’m trying to build a story around “Drunk Octopus Wants To Fight.” But I’m having a hard time. Suggestions welcome.
COMIC LOUNGE: You're probably best known for creating NEXUS with Steve Rude, where did the idea for the character come from?
BARON: I strove for a situation that was inherently dramatic. What if, I asked myself, every time the lead character shows up, somebody dies? What would be his justification? An executioner of mass murderers. I mapped out the first twelve pages. I used to write comics by drawing each page out by hand including all images, words, and captions. I had a few thoughts on the character design as well, including the lightning bolt and the visor.
COMIC LOUNGE: I spoke with Steve recently, and he said there were plans for NEXUS. Can you talk a little about what's in store for the book?
BARON: We have developed a ton of new material which Dark Horse will publish next year. About five years ago, Steve decided he would publish it himself and hired me to write the pages. These became the giant Sunday foldouts that he produced, but they never caught on, as they were difficult to ship and impossible to rack. As editor and publisher, Steve exercised his prerogative and changed all my dialog. So if the new material doesn’t sound like the Nexus of old, that’s why. We are working on new material right now.
COMIC LOUNGE: You also created BADGER around the same time as NEXUS. Where did the idea for him come from? Do you have any plans for Badger in the future?
BARON: They asked for a costumed crime fighter. I asked myself, why would anyone put on a costume and fight crime? They’d have to be crazy! I was reading The Minds of Billy Milligan at the time and everything fell into place. I was also walking down State St. in Madison. Badger Liquors. Badger Pub. Badger Posters. It hit me! He was the Badger! Badger appears in the new Nexus, and I’m planning on kickstarting a Badger GN in the spring, with an amazing artist, Jeff Slemons.
COMIC LOUNGE: You've written so many characters at Marvel and DC Comics, my favorite was the short FLASH run. What was it like when you relaunched the book starring Wally West?
BARON: It was like...it was like chocolate!
COMIC LOUNGE: Would you ever work for Marvel and DC Comics again?
COMIC LOUNGE: Are there any other projects you're currently working on that you can talk about or tease?
BARON: Oh honey, don’t let me commence! Liberty Island will publish my novel DISCO shortly. It’s a heartwarming tale for the whole family about a boy who adopts a mongrel pup and trains it to be World Disc Dog Champion. I have written the first issue of OUTLANDER, coming next year from Cautionary Comics. OUTLANDER is about a seventh century Scots warrior ripped out of space and time by an alien race who needs him to defeat another alien race, that threatens to destroy the Earth. This is cosmic stuff, like Galactus and Warlock. I have also written the first issue of THE WRAITH, a sort of OFFWORLDER counterpart, in which a Seminole Indian is transformed by the enemy aliens that first appear in OFFWORLDER to be Earth’s nemesis. I’m enclosing some art from Offworlder by Jordi Armengol.
There are now four BAD ROAD RISING novels, featuring reformed motorcycle hoodlum Josh Pratt. The first is Biker: http://a.co/d/ffFcyeb Sons of Privilege is two. Not Fade Away is three. Sons of Bitches is four. Next year, Cautionary is adapting Sons of Bitches into a graphic novel.
Please visit my website at www.bloodyredbaron.net.
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COMIC LOUNGE: What advice would you give a writer trying to make it in the comic book industry? Or trying to develop their own book?
BARON: There is no better way to attract an editor’s attention than by putting out your own comic. But it has to be good. If it’s halfway decent, most editors will read it. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make sure it counts. At every show I attend, there are creators who have splurged hundreds of dollars for a table, offering their own comics. Some are good. Any creator worth his, her, or its salt can tell at a glance whether the art is professional or not. Good art will drag a reader through an awful story, but bad art will prevent a good story from being read.