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.