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Friday, December 03, 2021 

Mike Baron's Thin Blue Line was rejected by major publishers who shunned the pro-police vision

Front Page Magazine interviewed Baron about his pro-police graphic novel The Thin Blue Line, and it reveals quite a bit about what's gone wrong with the modern industry, morally or otherwise:
Thanks to the political and cultural dominance of the neo-Marxist left, outright war is being waged on American law enforcement today. Democrat leaders have made defunding police departments, which they smear as irredeemably racist, a prominent plank of their party’s platform. Anti-cop rhetoric from politicians and leaders of radical movements like Black Lives Matter, disseminated by the complicit news media, has created a lethal environment on the streets, where police officers are literally targeted for assassination. Cop-hating communists like former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who calls for the abolition of police and has been known to wear socks on the football field depicting officers as pigs, is elevated into a cultural icon, offered lucrative sponsorships and his own show on Netflix.

Enter longtime comic book writer and artist Mike Baron, winner of two Eisner Awards (the comic industry equivalent of the Oscars) among others. Along with police officer Joseph Arnold (on pencils and layouts) and illustrator Jeff Slemons, Baron has created Thin Blue Line, a counter-cultural, police-positive graphic novel which follows officer Valeria Baca and her partner Bob Mack as they fight for their community and their own survival amid rioting in the streets. “Mobs burn down city hall, forcing the officers to improvise on the run, relying only on their training and wits as the mayor’s protestations and eagerness to placate the rioters prove fruitless,” reads the description at the project’s crowdfunding page.

Baron opted to crowdfund the project after the concept was rejected by major publishers, who were repulsed by a story line that presented cops as heroes rather than villains. As of this writing, Thin Blue Line has earned nearly three times its goal on its Indiegogo page; all the 56 pages for the book are completely penciled and inked, and some are fully colored. Only the remaining colors and letters are left to complete the book and send it to the printer.
I'm wondering, and wouldn't be shocked, if Image was one of the shunners? Let's not forget this is a company now saddled with a union that's unlikely to give any backing to Baron's project, based on the MO they've already revealed in their charter. Dark Horse likely didn't accept Thin Blue Line either. If not, that's as telling of what today's "independent" publishers are like as it is about the more mainstream.

Here's more from the interview:
Mark Tapson: Comics aren’t just for kids anymore like they were when I was a boy. Who exactly is the audience for comics today, and why is this an important arena in the culture war?

Mike Baron: The audiences are as disparate and fractured as our country. The audience for Marvel and DC are people who don't read comics, but fervently believe in the official narrative. The audience for independent comics are people who want to become lost in a good story.

My first goal is to entertain. The vast bulk of corporate comics make no attempt to engage, amuse or intrigue the reader, because those writers are not interested in entertainment, leaving comic fans adrift, at least to the point where they are abandoning established publishers and embracing independent comics.

The audience is out there. If your product is outstanding, and by that I mean a story that grabs you on the first page and doesn't let go, the audience will embrace it. Comics are a visual medium, so it helps to have good art.
Of course, the audience Marvel/DC are pandering to is an otherwise nonexistent one. However, it's become increasingly difficult to get any sales figures to attest to that, because as I've noticed in the past year, ICV2's stopped offering such figures for free, if they even continue to give them at all. And if the figures are as dismal as they've been for years, selling far below a million copies a pamphlet, it's no wonder. The publishers today don't want anybody to know what a laughing stock their sales really are.
MT: Surely there is an under-served audience out there hungry for stories about the traditional good guys – the men and women in blue – and surely publishers would be open to catering to that audience. Or would they? What happened when you approached major publishers about the idea for Thin Blue Line?

MB: As I mentioned above, the major publishers are not interested in entertainment. They are interested in indoctrination and “the narrative.” We all know what “the narrative” means. You see it every night on CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, NPR, et al. If you deviate from the narrative, no soup for you!

We submitted TBL to every major publisher. No one was interested. Some of the responses were vicious and obscene.
Which just proves the point how far morality's fallen, with even higher echelons spewing profanity of the most vulgar, proving by extension how desensitized society's become to violence and crudeness. And then you wonder how Hollywood wound up becoing such a quagmire of immorality. Of course, there's conservatives who also have to shoulder much of the blame for where we've arrived. Over past decades, there were would-be conservatives whose only argument was that showbiz is nothing more than immoral and worthless, and it created a whole vacuum that the left was busily filling, and resulted in a situation where you have nothing more than absolute contempt for wholesome values. Peter Pischke alluded to a crucial point in the past several weeks that even now, there's conservatives who're turning blind eyes to the dire situation with comicdom, and that's how some of the best creations have fallen victim to far-left ideologies. Also because many right-wingers won't make any attempt to buy ownership of these classic creations and do their best to restore the coherence they lost.

I'm glad Baron's making an effort to conceive a story that can represent what the mainstream now shun. But the right has to become more serious, and recognize that many classic creations now hostage to mainstream political correctness can't be abandoned as though they're literally worthless. Such complacency is what's led to the downfall of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise too. Rightists who've been ignorant would do well to start reevaluating their lack of interest in saving pop culture from wokeness.

Update: speaking of which, writer Matt Walsh made another important point on the Daily Wire to this effect while promoting a new children's book he's published:
Children have no choice but to rely on the adults around them to guide them through the early stages of life. The young of many different species have this need, to one degree or another, and sometimes in the lesser species, this vulnerability and reliance put them in danger. Rats, for example, will sometimes eat their own young. Lions and scorpions will do the same. Humans have a more ideological version of this. Helpless children are devoured by the leftist indoctrinators. The predator feeds upon the innocence of the child, exploits it, uses it to his own advantage. This is going on everywhere, especially in the books and shows and other forms of entertainment made for kids these days. For a long time, conservatives have essentially surrendered this ground to the Left, like it had surrendered almost everything else, allowing the Left to turn children’s books into vehicles for this cult-like brainwashing, without offering any response or alternative. But it’s time for that to change, which is why I have finally embraced my true calling as a children’s author — cardigan and all — and written my first work of children’s literature, “Johnny the Walrus.”
He's correct, and it's astonishing in retrospect how a movement that supposedly advocates responsibility would abandon both that and creativity in such a way that enabled the left to busily fill a whole vaccum left by the right. It's got to change, even in comicdom.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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