Just badgering you about this for a minute.

§ February 1st, 2016 § Filed under retailing, self-promotion § 8 Comments

So a few weeks back, Johanna wrote a bit about the forthcoming return of the Badger, a character whose prime period was in the 1980s when it was initially published by Capital and then continued by First Comics.

The point of her post was…well, it’s right there in the title: “You Are Not Owed Pre-Orders Because You’ve Been Around Before.” And that’s true, unfortunately. I’d love to order tons of a new Badger series. I enjoyed the original series, picked up all the revivals (which were of…uneven quality, shall we say), and this new series looks like it should be okay, based on the preview that was presented in Comic Shop News a while back. But, frankly, I can’t order a lot, because I don’t know if it’s going to sell that well.

That said, I did order the new Badger series. I ordered enough to have copies on the shelf. Already that probably puts me ahead of a lot of shops that ordered it for their pull lists only, if they ordered it at all. I like the Badger well enough, and have enough fond memories of the comics, to order just a little bit with my heart over my head. I’m reminded a bit of when IDW brought back Grimjack, another character that had been off the stands for quite some time. I loved that old Grimjack comic, but realized that the audience that had followed it back then may no longer still participating in the direct market. I ordered reasonable-if-lowish numbers on that series, and it sold at about what I expected…partially to old fans, but some to new readers, too, and it probably helped that they didn’t pick up where they left off. Instead, they went with a very back-to-basics, no-complicated-backstory Grimjack, which was great for both new readers and longtime fans.

It is almost inherent to the nature of the Badger comics that there is no complicated backstory that one needs to know before jumping into a new adventure with the character. That’s part of its appeal, that elements come and go as needed with minimal explanation. Which brings me to another point…Johanna commented that the Wikipedia description of the character made it sound like a string of clichés, and to someone unfamiliar with the Badger, like presumably a good chunk of folks in today’s comics market, that surely doesn’t do him any favors. A dry description doesn’t accurately represent the actual tone of the book, as I tried to explain in Johanna’s comments. There was an overwhelming sense of…well, just plain weirdness, an off-kilter sense of humor at work in the comic that I could only describe in comparison to writer Mike Baron’s other major series, Nexus. It was wacky when it wanted to be, dead serious when it needed to be, with quirky dialogue and clear storytelling. It was more than the sum of the parts listed in that Wiki entry.

Part of the problem in later Badger revivals (and, in fact, later issues of the original run itself) is that something of that tone was lost, and attempts to recapture it never really quite succeeded, in my opinion. I mean, some of the latter-day Badger comics weren’t bad, but there was a you-can’t-go-home-again thing goin’ on, too.

Now, in that Comic Shop News preview I mentioned, the interview with Baron makes it sound like he’s really up and ready to go with new Badger comics, and it’s very possible it’ll be a return to form for that character. I certainly do hope so. As such, I ordered on this forthcoming Badger series as I did on that IDW Grimjack, suspecting the majority of sales will be to folks who remember Badger from before, with a few sales from new readers giving it a try. It does help that there have been Badger series within relatively recent memory, so it’s not coming to the comic racks completely cold, but, like Johanna noted, it’s still just one title among hundreds of monthly titles.

At the very least, I’d like it to do well for entirely selfish reasons: I want more Badger comics. Especially if they’re good. And I’m hoping this one is.

• • •

In other news: the latest Trouble with Comics Question of the Week is up, and it’s regarding our favorite use of sports in comics. Why not click on that link and see what my response was?

8 Responses to “Just badgering you about this for a minute.”

  • Sir A1! says:

    I remember an interview at AICN where Baron said that in order to prepare to write an issue of the Badger, he’d do a sh*tload of blow and vodka and then just have at it with the keyboard– which explains A LOT.

  • Tim O'Neil says:

    Hmmm. I can’t help but see something . . . I don’t know. Mean spirited seems a bit much, but uncharitable in JDC comments? The idea that “You Are Not Owed Pre-Orders Because You’ve Been Around Before” seems like it makes sense on the face of it, but in the context of long-standing properties with proven track records – albeit in a vastly different marketplace, a “long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” – the fact that there’s no audience now for a book that once had no trouble finding an audience seems to be far more of an indictment of the market than of the title itself. None of which means retailers should order a book that they can’t sell, but it does mean – I think – that that kind of confrontational tone seems petty. Mike Baron paid his dues a long time ago, which doesn’t entitle him to your business, but probably does entitle him to some respect.

    But with that said – moving respectfully to the realm of constructive criticism – just putting the book out and expecting every fan from 1985 to pop back in (is there some guy who comes in every week and asks for new Badger, and has walked away discouraged almost every week for 25 years?) seems like less of recipe for success and more of an invitation to martyrdom. The first question I had reading this was, can I go buy an archive or omnibus edition of the early, most well-regarded run of the character? A quick glance at Amazon revealed that no, there is not. There IS for Nexus, all (or most) of which appears to be in print in a series of moderately priced omnibus editions from a front-of-the-catalog publisher. Nexus is a series that, even if it will never be hot again, I can see remaining in print for a good long time, as its appeal is plain to anyone who picks the book of the shelf. Can you tell me there would be no interest in putting out a similar volume for The Badger from Dark Horse or IDW or Dover or any number of other publishers that have popped up in recent years for the express purpose of building a backlist of out-of-print comics material? (Since you mentioned Grimjack, looks like I can buy the first dozen or so issues of Grimjack for $9.99 for an eBook from Amazon, and there’s a more expensive physical archive also available.)

    That they are trying to bring back Badger without leading with some kind of trade program aimed at rebuilding some awareness among new or lapsed readers seems like the biggest possible mistake for a property like this, the bulk of whose once-sizable audience may not even be reading comics in any form anymore. Baron’s #1 priority should be putting the old Badger back on the market in a sensible format. That the material has fallen so far out of the public eye that it – and he – are left to be represented by unflattering Wikipedia articles is a situation that can be remedied.

  • Chris says:

    I for one am looking forward to the new Badger series, but yeah I haven’t ordered it from my comic shop as I’m an old school fan, don’t buy many floppies these days and my local comic shop doesn’t take over the counter cash orders… :/

    I for one would buy the hell out of TPBs of old Badger issues. I’ve got the first four IDW ones and want more.

    It’s crazy there are no colour reprints of Baron’s old Punisher or Flash (with Jackson Guice art!) series.. although I hope we’ll see some of the former after the new Netflix shows are out.

  • Snark Shark says:


    It’s too bad they stopped with the TPB reprint project. It was good to see that series again!

  • Chris G says:

    JDC’s post might have seemed harsh, but on the other end of the spectrum check out Peter David’s post about the low preorders for Badger – it reeks of clubby entitlement.

  • King of the Moon says:

    Just a little bit of marketing…

    You like your heroes insane? Before Deadpool there was THE BADGER!

    or something

    Now team up The Badger with Wild Dog

  • Old Bull Lee says:

    I’m genuinely asking because I don’t know much about how this part of the industry works:

    How much of the responsibility for marketing, promotion, etc. falls on Mike Baron, and how much on the publisher? This isn’t unique to the comics industry necessarily, but it seems like writers these days must devote half their time to marketing, splitting their time between their craft and social media.

    And how much control does Baron have? Surely he can’t just tell the publisher to crank out a TPB, and self-publishing isn’t always feasible financially.

    And who wrote the Previews solicitation? Baron, some intern, a marketing person? As suggested by King of the Moon, a description that identifies the series as “off-kilter” or even something like “cult classic” would have helped tremendously.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Before Deadpool there was THE BADGER!”

    The Badger is crazier, Deadpool is funnier!