Created by Mike Baron and first appearing in 1983, the Badger was among one of the more notable heroes in indie comics of the 1980s. The character was part of the brief-lived imprint from Capital City Distribution, a comics distributor. The Badger was a costumed vigilante named Norbert Sykes, who was a Vietnam war veteran suffering from multiple personality disorder and his adventures consisted mainly of dispensing bare-fisted justice to bullies and aggressors of the innocent, but always according to his own warped perceptions.
“The Badger” is now set to return in an all-new adventure written by creator Mike Baron, and he successfully launched a Kickstarter campaign in order to fund the publication himself. You can check out the campaign here.
Chris Braly: Let’s talk about your latest crowdfunding project, a prose novel for Badger. Give me the elevator pitch for someone not familiar with the character.
Mike Baron: Badger is a multiple personality, only one of whom is a costumed crime fighter. He is a skilled martial artist who can watch a technique once and repeat it flawlessly. He was inspired by the book THE MINDS OF BILLY MILLIGAN, by Daniel Keyes. Also, when the boys at Capital Comics said “give us a costumed crime fighter,” I asked myself, “why would anybody put on a costume and fight crime? They’d have to be crazy!”
BOING! And I named him ‘Badger’ because Wisconsin… don’tcha know.
CB: When did you create Badger and where did the idea come from?
MB: I approached Jeff Butler about doing a comic. What do you want to draw, Jeff? He wanted to draw druids. So I wrote a ten page story about an obnoxious druid who so enraged his druid neighbors, they took up a collection and hired some Vikings to drop him off the edge of the earth. Jeff drew it, we showed it to Capital Comics, and they said, “Nah, give us a costumed crime fighter.” Jeff said, “well this is some of my best work! I don’t want it to go to waste!” So I incorporated it as the first ten pages of Badger #1.
When Ham wakes up fifteen centuries later, he’s in a padded cell in the Nakoma Mental Health Center. Badger’s in the next cell. They decide to team up. I rewrote the origin in the BATTLE OF THE FIVE WIZARDS several years ago, and put in a lot more detail about Badger’s enlistment and experiences in Afghanistan. His only super power, which really isn’t, is an unusual rapport with animals. He can charm the birds out of the trees. Badger is most comfortable as Badger. There are six other personalities, but Badger is a live wire.
CB: Were you surprised by comic readers’ response to the character? What do you think is the appeal?
MB: Humor and pathos. Most of the stories are funny, but some delve into serious issues. MPD is always due to severe childhood trauma, and we couldn’t gloss over that. Most of the stories feature Badger who is unpredictable, explosive, and funny. One of the recurring themes is his dialogue with departed luminaries. Warren Oates is a constant companion. He has met Elvis and Bruce Lee. Readers can take these stories as Badger’s hallucinations, or they can take them literally. The Duke, Charles Mingus, and Marlene Dietrich are regulars. I love entertainment that depicts historic figures.
CB: Now this is a prose novel, not a comic book. You’ve been doing a lot of prose work in the last decade or so. What are some other comics to prose projects you’ve done?
CB: I noticed some cool artwork on the Kickstarter page. Are there any illustrations in this book? What artists are featured?
MB: Steve Rude is doing a pin-up. If we meet our goal, we will introduce a stretch goal offering a series of Badger illustrations by Jeff Butler, Steve Butler, Geraldo Borges and others.
CB: Let’s get back to the story. Where did this latest idea come from? Have you been wanting to tell this story for a while?
MB: Yes. This upsets the table. It begins with Badger quitting Ham and opening is own martial arts school. It’s also about the blues.
In an apocalyptic adventure that turns his world upside down, Badger quits Ham to open his own martial arts studio and befriends legendary blues guitarist Dalton Seaberry. Years ago, Dalton made a deal with the devil. Now the bill has come due, as Badger and Dalton must duel the devil himself.
A kangaroo, a cassowary, and a komodo lizard enter Badger’s dojo, all wanting to fight Badger. A satanic cycle gang called the Vong steal Seaberry’s guitar and form a band using Hendrix’ Strat, Keith Moon’s drums, and Jaco Pastorius’ bass. Ham promotes a Battle of the Bands. Dalton Seaberry versus The Vong, with the fate of the Earth in the balance.
CB: You have several projects going right now, don’t you. Can you run down some of the books you currently have in the works and what the current status is?
MB: My Florida Man graphic novel will make your head explode and your eyes pop out of your skull. Richard Meyer is offering a three issue Nexus series that Kelsey Shannon is illustrating. The first issue is available as an add-on to his Impossible Stars graphic novel. The Nexus/Lonestar/Bigfoot Bill cross over is a 48 page GN that Matt Weldon is illustrating. It’s on Indiegogo. Go look at the art. It’s a mind blower.
CB: Mike you appear to be super busy! Any final word for our readers?
MB: I have three rules. One: it’s my job to entertain. Every part of the story must entertain. There are no dry patches or water treading. Two: show don’t tell. Seems so simple but it’s not, even in prose. Especially in prose. Three: be original. We are all unique. I bring my world view and experience to everything I write, but I always remember rule number one.