Category Archives: Dogs

Dogs by Mike Baron

DOGS

Years ago, the reclusive Canadian ninja/lumberjack/artist Neil Hansen, who drew Badger, Whisper, Punisher, and his own Epic series Untamed, came to visit in Madison. I had to leave for a convention. I told Neil he could stay at my house and use my motorcycle, but he had to draw something. I gave him a script that came to me in a nightmare, about a man and his dog. When I returned, Neil had penciled, inked, and lettered it. I showed it to people over the years, but there was no place for it in civilized society.

The last time Neil drew, he provided covers for my IDW Badgers. I have seldom encountered a greater talent, yet Neil has not taken pencil to paper in years. I asked him recently if he would, and he told me that he had tried, but the fire had left him. I’m certain that if I assigned Badger to run Neil’s life, he would be drawing in no time.

Less years ago, I was kickin’ it with peripatetic pulp prophet Paul Pope, who drew the cover of the new Badger #1. Paul said he had carte blanche to do an eight page strange sports story for DC, and invited me to write something. I have always been fascinated with disc dogs, which is a strange sport indeed. I wrote “Fluke,” but by then Paul had vanished.

Cesar Madarro sent a friend request and a story request. I gave him “Fluke” and he hit it out of the park. Cesar told me he had also illustrated a Fabian Nicieza story called “Mad Dog,” and sent me that as well.

My partner Steve Rude and I sought to syndicate Nexus and I thought of my old pal Jay Kennedy, EIC at King Features Syndicate, forgetting that Jay had drowned in Costa Rica in 2007. I sought Jay Kennedy on Facebook, and a Jay Kennedy enthusiastically responded. This Jay Kennedy lived in Massachusetts and was also an artist. He was puzzled by my syndication request but we figured it out. When I told him about Dogs he asked me to write him a short script.

Now I had a whole comic worth of dog stories. All I needed was a cover. I turned to Badger artist and old friend, Mike Norton, whose Battlepug now has three volumes out from Dark Horse. Mike has also drawn for Marvel and draws the popular Revival book for Image, with writer Tim Seeley. Mike Jones did the colors. Finally, our Baby Badger logo was drawn by Badger artist extraordinaire Val Mayerik, who illustrates the current run.

If Dogs proves popular, I plan another book about skinks.

The New Dog by Mike Baron

THE NEW DOG

So we got a new dog. His name is Bob, in honor of the previous Bob, who passed away a year ago. I hate to put a dog down. But if you love dogs and have them, it’s inevitable. The old Bob was a wonderful, obedient pet. After my late wife died of an overdose, Bob was my only companion for several months, until I decided to get him a playmate. I turned to karate pal Veterinarian Robin Van Metre who has a line on every stray dog in northern Colorado. She took me to a no-kill shelter in Loveland where I arbitrarily chose the little furball who looked somewhat like a collie/German shepherd mix. Freddie is a delightful dog.

Then I married Ann. Several years ago Robin asked if anyone would be willing to take her dog “Cali,” whom some brainless college student had dropped off an a shelter after deciding she didn’t really want the responsibility, and I volunteered. “Cali” is a Boston terrier/pug mix with a ferocious personality. We renamed her Mack due to her resemblance to the hood ornament on a Mack truck. When it time to return Mack, Ann clutched her and said, “We’re keeping this dog!”

Robin was delighted. “You saved our marriage!”

Mack bit a chunk out of Freddie’s face a week after we got her. No reason. She just wanted to establish who was top dog. She left old Bob alone. We have had Mack for about four years now and we love her deeply. She is a great dog.

Old Bob wasn’t doing so well. His rear legs began to give out and in the dead of winter he could hardly make it up the stairs to the deck. I laid carpet down on every step, and covered the kitchen floor with carpets so his rear legs wouldn’t go out from under him. But the handwriting was on the wall. Last February I took him to the park and we played catch for awhile. Bob loved playing catch. Then I took him to the vet and had him put down, in my arms. I tear up at the thought of Bob. Not so much for my late wife.

So Ann said, “When are we going to get another dog?” It’s always best to get them in the summer when they’re easier to house train. We went to All Aboard Animal Rescue at a pet store and Ann came back holding this goofy looking noodle dog with the big ears. Meet the new Bob.

Bob is part German shepherd, collie, and perhaps a touch of doberman due to the ears and coloring. Like all my dogs, he chews whatever’s at hand including valuable books and furniture. I have already lost two valuable books to him. But whatcha gonna do? That’s how puppies are. They have to chew and we have to provide them with quality chewables. Which brings me to the Tibetan dog chews at Poudre Valley Feed. Made from petrified yak milk, they are forty dollars a pound. The cheapest all natural animal part are buffalo ears at a buck an ear. At Poudre Valley, pet food is more expensive than human food.

Bob got house trained real quick by the other dogs. Now we are working on preserving what’s left of our infrastructure and trying to get him to stop barking. The house is awash in dog hair. Most of it from Freddie. Forget conventional vacuums. I use a shop vac and plan to get a new one shortly. It’s the only way.

Bob & Mack puppyBob puppyFreddie Mike

At the Dog Park by Mike Baron

By Mike Baron, Writer of Nexus and Badger. Cali on Mike's Chair

 

AT THE DOG PARK

 

The dog park is three acres of enclosed wood chips on which dogs like to dine, from which we can see Long’s Peak gleaming in the sunlight. Long’s Peak is over fourteen thousand feet and sixty miles away. People die every year on Long’s Peak because they think it’s an easy climb. I don’t know why they think that.

The more dogs, the more activity. A half dozen or less encourages sloth and introspection but when the mutts mount up, so do the dogs! They circle like a large Hadron Collider attracting other dogs as small planets snagged by gravity, usually in a counter-clockwise direction. Archimedes observed how a whirlpool of dogs sucks in all other dogs.

I am down to two dogs following the passing of the immortal Bob. Freddie and Mack LOVE big balls. You wouldn’t think a twenty-pound dog could get a soccer ball in her mouth. WRONGGGGG! This dude brings a giant knot to the playground and the dogs go berserk, especially Freddie and Mack who are obsessed with BIG BALLS. The giant knot is just that—an inch thick hauser twisted into a five pound sphere with two ropes running out the poles. Dude tossed the giant knot and Mack got there first. Gripping the hauser in her steel trap jaws, she led a dozen dogs on a deranged dervish in the dirt to the detriment of none.

This morning at the park I met a guy named Rod. I told him I wrote comics and he told me that his grandfather, Milton Wohl, was one of the original Fleischer Brothers animators in Florida, and had worked on the early Popeye and Woody Woodpecker cartoons. In the Army during World War II, Wohl’s bunkmates were Charles Addams and Bill Mauldin.

You meet interesting people at the dog park.