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Sunday, February 10, 2019 

Mike Baron addresses the state of the industry

Bounding Into Comics interviewed Nexus and Badger creator Baron about some of his latest novels, and spoke about his comics experiences too, including Gail Simone's manufactured controversy:
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.”
A smart writer would've just ignored it altogether, but Simone chose to set a poor example, along with how she's become a bad influence on a subset of loyalists. She owes Baron a better apology than she may have already given, and sadly, it's unlikely she's willing to say she's sorry. I'd strongly recommend anybody in the medium with common sense distance themselves from thin-skinned writers of Simone's sort, since she's only setting a bad example for many, and if sales receipts tell anything about her books lately, she's not a big seller, and probably never was (now that I recall, Birds of Prey may have only sold around 30,000 to 40,000 copies when she was writing it in the mid-2000s).
BIC: Simone made note that you reject the term “comicsgate.” How do you see the movement and people who use the label?

Mike: [S]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
Personally, I think "rescue comic books" could make a clearer, better name for a campaign, though it's apparent we're past the point where the Big Two can be. Definitely for as long as they're owned by corporations, and that's the problem: too many products these days are under corporate ownership, because the original owners sold them, apparently not caring enough about their inventions to stick around and try to better them if they slipped in quality.
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.
Of course it's not that they're tired of the superhero theme per se, but rather, the way it's scripted and marketed today. I remember listening to artist Jon Malin on a podcast or two, talking about how today's writers are the products of universities consumed by rabid leftism that's resulted in a poor idea of what art should be like, and they make everything worse by displaying bad manners on social media, which is bad for PR. Based on this, it's no wonder they're dragging down any entertainment branch to the bottom.

And the blacklisting of conservatives, which Baron's no doubt suffered from, and which Simone must've wanted to enforce, are another reason why the medium's going down the drain.

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To be fair to Gail S, the comment about needing more cat ladies was written underneath a photograph of her, so it would have been hard for Mike not to have realized that the comment was about her. But I guess his comment now that he did not have her in mind when he wrote his post, hard as it is to believe, is meant as a kind of apology, or at least an attempt to make nice with her.



Hard to think of Mike Baron as a conservative, at least not a conservative of the right-wing populist anti-diversity conformist variety. His signature creation, Nexus, is about a guy who was raised with and continued to believe in communist ideals, and founded a planetary colony that sheltered and welcomed a diverse group of refugees of all species and planets of origin. And the heroine of the series was bisexual.

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