Writer Mike Baron has been promoting a work on Indiegogo called Offworlder. As I have so little money if you gave me 500 dollars I'd not have a penny since I owe people money, and I tend to dislike kickstarter and crowdfunding in general when I saw the art in passing, and I thought it looked good and wished them well. Then saw that it wasn't getting much traction, despite what looks to be a quality idea and stunning art to go along with what I am sure would be fine story by Mike Baron. I could have said, well I won't get to read it anyway, and moved on, but I thought I'd try to do something for the Baronmeister and his friends. Here then is the result of a chat with Michael Baron about Offworlder, now running on IndieGogo.
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Tell me what is the initial premise of OFFWORLDER?
This is Ben Henderson's story, based on his Scots ancestor, James Gunn. Ben sent me a loose outline and I put it together.
Should I know who Ben Henderson is?
Ben is founder of Cautionary Comics. He put out Ravage! with Chuck Dixon. He prefers to remain in the background.
Who is your artist, what inspired your story and concept?
Jordi Armengol has a unique vision. Just look at his pages.
You offer to people in your promotion, you’ve never seen art like this, is he a confluence of great artists in his inspirations, or does he represent an unique voice in art?
This book would kill in black and white. His work here reminds me of Barry Smith hitting his stride on Conan. Not that they're similar, but they have that same impact. You just look at it and say wow!
With art like Jordi's does it allow you to tell a story in a style that is new as well as just the look? Does he give you unique angles and new looks?
Well the script comes first. Then Jordi's interpretation, which enhances the story.
Yes, I understand that, I’m saying, whenever comics had a new voice, whether Kirby, Rude, Gulacy or Steranko, Adams or Kane they gave you a visual that you'd never seen done before.
Oh, yes, Jordi's doing that.
To write a script with true sounding dialogue, does the writer, in this case YOU, have to research, or do you make it up based on what the audience might know, and go from there? Like a form of jazz.
I read Stacy Schiff's Cleopatra and it was a real eye opener re: the Egyptian part. As for dialogue, I try to be original without being cute.
Umm, dude, no one will mistake you for cute. Sorry man.
Too many writers recycle phrases. "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore!"
I think you mean, coy glib, fancy without substance?
"Move it, people!"
"We have to talk."
"Let's get outta here"?
Yeah. Ready-made plug-in bits.
I have three rules. 1. Entertain. 2. Show, don't tell. 3. Be original.
Also, no mayonnaise.
With history as part of the subject, what level of knowledge do you need to make it work?
Just enough to fool the readers!
I have a couple of history degrees so I do have an opinion...
Ah, well I strive for accuracy.
So, you've familiarized yourself with the era? with books and stuff? or have you a background in history of the era?
No. The goal is to craft a compelling story, not to show off knowledge of history. Only if it fits the story. For example, I learned that the ancient Egyptian royalty were obsessed with cleanliness, which informed my portrayal of Sa'Ra.
OK but accuracy, where do you have that in you? From viewing movies, or general knowledge, interest?
Never from movies! Those are secondary sources. Encyclopedia. History. The internet is the greatest tool for writers since the written word.
Does it help to have an interest in the area of writing, or, does being someone without any expertise have an advantage coming into a story, being that they don't have preconceived myths and fables or even boring facts to guide them?
I am fascinated with story. What it is. What makes it tick. I learned the hard way. I know what makes a good story. The story rules. What is the story? That's the first lesson I teach. What's your story about? Grab me by the throat.
So, you come into anything wanting just a story to release, not an exercise in how well it'll fit the world others might have knowledge about?
No. my goal is to grab the reader by the throat.
A writer of some popularity wrote a story in a city in a country where he had more than a dozen factual errors, and people I know from that place said it was so egregious they hated the work. I liked the work in question, how do you avoid things like that?
Rule number one: entertain. There are always nits to pick and people looking to assert their class and special knowledge.
Not sure I agree, as they paid their money, they wanted to be entertained, and, as I said, I thought it was a good story. But this is an interview with you, the readers won't care if I agree. So, getting back to the comic, OffWorlder, tell me more about the story? A Scotsman unleashed against a modern world, or does he kill aliens as they enter his world?
Seventh century Scotland. Henry Gunn leads his clan in a ferocious battle with Viking invaders. But with victory in sight, he is ripped from space and time by an alien race. The Ananaki seek a champion to stop another alien race from conquering all known space. Aided by the Egyptian goddess Sa’Ra, Gunn undergoes a hideous transformation, becoming something other than human, able to move through time and space at will, yet unable to save his wife and child. The fate of civilization rests on the shoulders of a troubled demi-god. In the tradition of The Stars My Destination and The Silver Surfer, Offworlder is a star-spanning science fiction saga that will keep you riveted from first page to last. "What is your story about?" Nazi biker zombies. Sometimes that's all you need.
As a person who writes comics that happen in a historic period, I find no one gives one shit about the world of ancient warriors based on facts. So I understand what you are saying. Plus, no historically accurate comic will feature aliens.
The goal is to create entertainment that sucks you in. Avoid any anachronisms that would jar the reader out of the story. Like a rap soundtrack to a historical movie.
Well, there was a version of Romeo and Juliet that was done with Leo DeCaprio and Claire Danes and they used a modern soundtrack. It was good, for what it was.
Haven't seen it. I've been meaning to watch Moulin Rouge.
If I can drop a name of a great Shakespeare film of a period, Richard III with the guy who played Gandalf and Magneto, holy shit that was fantastic.
My favorite version.
I am not a fan of most Shakespeare because by the time I figure out what they are talking about they are four or five paragraphs away, but, if they make it work with great visuals and the dialogue is placed well, you can pick up clues from the context of the scene. Actually saying that I am not a fan of most Shakespeare isn't actually fair, I am not a fan of most presentations of his work. What he did was obviously magnificent.
Chimes At Midnight
Mel Gibson's Hamlet
So are there any other comics that you'd offer would give a feel of the Offworlder, other than Silver Surfer or Stars my destination? Or in books, how about Poul Anderson's High Crusade?
Nah. Been a long time. I strive for originality. I have confidence in my voice.
You should hear me sing "Tears Of A Clown."
I can almost certainly say I will prefer Smokey Robinson's but I grant you, I haven't heard you sing, just talk.
By the excellence of the art and Mike's writer way about him, I hope you might choose to fund this work.