Badger is a comic book character and series created by Mike Baron back in 1983. The star of this series is Norbert Sykes, a regular guy who suffers from multiple personality disorder, and one of Norbert's personalities is Badger, a costumed superhero who battles evil on a regular basis. What's particularly fun, though, is that much of the action is visibly set right here in good ol' Madison.
The series was relaunched last December with a reprint collection of back issues, a new mini-series, Badger Saves the World, and a new one-shot, Badger: Bull. These are only some of the most recent works by Baron, though, who got his start with comics in 1981 while living and working in Madison as an editor with Isthmus. He co-created Nexus along with fellow Madisonian and illustrator Steve Rude, and went on to create many other titles including Spyke and Feud. The winner of two Eisner Awards for Nexus, he has also written for numerous mainstream comic book and graphic novel titles, including The Punisher, The Flash, Star Wars, and Legends of the Dark Knight.
Baron currently lives in Colorado with his two dogs, and recently answered several questions over email from The Daily Page about Badger and its local setting.
The Daily Page: Who is Mike Baron?
Baron: If it ain't me, it must be an identity thief.
How does one actually become a writer of comic books? One starts just writing. Short stories, plays. I'd always been a comic freak. I tried to teach myself to draw for years. And each time I practiced drawing, I'd draw a little comic book. Why not stretch my fiction muscles?
So bit by bit I learned about dialogue, pacing, establishing shots, the vocabulary of the comic book. I consciously broke down comics as I read them, learning what works and what doesn't. A bad comic is just as good a teacher as a good one.
What other writing have you done?
I wrote a novel called Witchblade Demons, based on the Top Cow comic book. I think you can get it for two cents on Amazon. Highly recommended! I'm flogging a novel now -- a thriller set in Wisconsin. I've written a couple screenplays, in the middle of a couple more. I send them to producers I know. They tell me I'm brilliant. Have I got any money?
Just who is Badger?
Badger is the most prominent of Norbert Sykes' multiple personalities. Badger is the embodiment of the animal spirit.
How much of Badger is Baron and how much of Baron is Badger?
Initially, there was quite a bit of co-mingling. About fifteen years ago Badger became a fully realized person in his own right.
What makes Madison a good venue for Badger stories?
Madison is, ah, an eccentric village with many eccentric denizens. Wisconsin in general has a wealth of lore: Paul Bunyan, the hodag, Ed Gein, the giant muskie -- oh honey, don't let me commence!
What's your connection to Madison?
Born in Madison. Graduated from West High School -- only my senior year -- I grew up in South Dakota. Graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in political science. And a fat lot of good it's done me. Moved to Boston after graduation, moved back in '77, lived in Madison through 2003, and will probably return there.
What's next for Badger?
He's cleaning out the United Nations office by office. It's an ugly job but somebody's got to do it.
Even if comics aren't your thing, Baron's quirky humor and the Madison references in Badger make a flip through these books worth your while. You can get your hands on the new issues at Capital City Comics on Monroe Street. More comments by Baron about his work can be found in an interview published several years ago in the comic book compendium Pop Thought.