Comic book author and novelist Mike Baron continues to put pen to paper as he just recently released a new novel, Disco. Baron is known for his comic book runs on both Punisher and Flash as well as Badger and Nexus. In fact, he introduced Microchip with Klaus Janson in The Punisher #4 back in 1987. I got to chat with Mike about Disco as well as his recent social media experience Gail Simone. We also talked about his views on the current happenings in the comic book industry.
Bounding Into Comics (BIC): You recently released a new novel, Disco, what can you tell me about it?
Mike Baron (Mike): A boy from a broken family adopts a mongrel pup and trains it to be World Disc Dog Champion.
BIC: What is the World Disc Dog Championships? Is that a real event?
Mike: It’s an amalgam of the Frisbee Dog World Championship and the Skyhoundz Disc Dog Championship.
BIC: What inspired you to do a story about a boy and his dog?
Mike: I’d been thinking of the story forever.
I got a dog in 1993, a big old mutt named Lucy, who loved to chase the Frisbee. She was no Ashley Whippet, but she could grab some air. I started looking at disc dog videos and training. Years later, I asked my wife Ann if she would read one my novels or comics and she said, “I can’t read that! They’re all too gruesome! Why don’t you write something I can read? I realized it was time to write the story.
BIC: Do you still have a dog and do you play frisbee with them?
Mike: I have two mutts. Bob will chase the Frisbee, but right now he’s recuperating from a pulled tendon, and it’s thirteen degrees outside. Old Bob, the greatest dog who ever lived, loved to grab big air when catching a Frisbee.
BIC: You’re known for a lot of superhero work, why did you decide to do a more slice of life novel?
Mike: With the exception of the Nexus novel which I just finished, all my novels are as real as I can make them. I can’t buy into a story unless I believe it could actually happen. There are many sci fi stories that achieve this goal, such as Alien, or 2001: A Space Odyssey. I would rather describe the world in which we live than make up my own. I come from a small town. There were no novels about disc dogs so I made one.
BIC: Is there anything you want readers to take away from Disco?
Mike: When a young person finds direction and a purpose in life, it puts him, her, or it on the road to maturity and happiness.
BIC: You recently caught the ire of fellow comic book writer Gail Simone, what was that experience like?
Mike: Gail’s comments were unwarranted and malicious. In response to a Twitter feed that said, “We need more cat ladies writing comics,” I wrote “Some are!” It was just a snarky comment. I did not have Gail in mind. She chose to make it personal and summon her army of flying monkeys, talking heads and sock puppets to attack me. I got hate mail from overseas. In the end, however, it helped me. A lot of people read what she wrote and thought, “Why would she take offense to such an innocuous comment? It doesn’t make sense.”
BIC: Simone made note that you reject the term “comicsgate.” How do you see the movement and people who use the label?
Mike: ome of my best friends identify as Comicsgate. I think it’s a silly term. I make no secret that I’m a conservative. It just makes sense to me. Mobs have a habit of labeling “the other” and excoriating them. Like Juden. I’m Jewish too. I like this quote: ComicsGate is the “controversy” of comics fans who don’t like identity politics being shoved down their throats, and the comics creators who think being told “I don’t like your work” is “harassment” and that we’re all Nazis. –Sean Rowland
BIC: The comic industry has posted two negative years in a row. Why do you think sales have declined?
Mike: People are overlooking the rise of video games as an alternative to comics. The fact is, most mainstream comics don’t provide much entertainment for your dollar, and can’t compete with the immersive experience of a good video game. Also Sean’s quote. The writer’s first duty is to entertain, not to shove an agenda down the reader’s throat. The low sales on certain mainstream titles reflect this.
BIC: Do you think it can recover? How so?
Mike: I don’t know. It may be that people are tired of superheroes. I don’t think so, I just think most of the writers working today don’t know how to entertain. My goal as a writer is to grab the reader by the throat, so that he, she, or it experiences the story from inside, unaware that he, she, or it is consuming an artifice. That’s why I value believability.
I’m also fielding a comic through Cautionary later this year that should upset the apple cart. FLORIDA MAN. “Gary Duba’s having a bad day. There’s a snake in his toilet, a rabid raccoon in the yard, and his girl Crystal’s in jail for getting naked at a Waffle House and licking the manager. With his best friend, Floyd, Gary sets out to sell his prized Barry Bonds rookie card to raise the five hundred needed for bail. But things get out of hand.”
BIC: Do you have any other projects in the works?
Mike: I have three more Josh Pratt BAD ROAD RISING books completed, which Liberty Island will publish. Josh is a reformed motorcycle hoodlum who went to prison and found God, got out and tries to turn his life around. In the tradition of John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee. John D. is the reason I’m writing today. It’s my take on the anti-hero, Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe and Dashiell Hammett’s The Continental Op. The stories are grim, my friends, yet shot through with dark humor.
BIC: Do you have a desire to return to either Marvel or DC Comics and write stories about the Punisher or Flash?
Mike: I would like to write Master of Kung Fu, and I would write The Flash again.
BIC: Is there a comic book that you’ve read in the past couple of years that you would recommend?You can purchase Mike Baron’s Disco: A Novel on Amazon right here.