MB: The Founding Fathers are my idea of real heroes. They crafted this nation to allow the maximum personal liberty and tried to restrict government power. They weren’t in it for their egos or the money. They were statesmen and serious men. Politics today is populated by self-serving clowns and demagogues.
SRM: That’s a cynical take on politics that many of your readers, myself included, probably share, and it makes for an interesting contrast with the idealism of mainstream superhero comics. Nexus and Badger strike me as especially cynical takes on the superhero genre. InNexus, for instance, it seems like there’s some ambiguity about whether Horatio Hellpop is enforcing justice out of an innate sense of morality or out of self-interest.
MB: You’re right on the money regarding Nexus. One of the themes is his ambivalence about what he does. And of course a river called Parody runs through Badger. I enjoy seeing other persons’ takes on super heroes.
SRM: As far as the strain of parody in Badger: your comics (and, based on what you’ve shared, your novel) use some pretty sensitive topics for humor—PTSD, mental illness, etc.—and yet they always feel basically warmhearted. They’re tastefully tasteless, if you will. How do you approach black humor, and are there boundaries you would never cross?
MB: People always say there are some things you shouldn’t joke about, but that’s not true. Laughter is a natural, healthy response to tragedy. I mean, what else can you do? I used to think the Holocaust was not comic material but then I saw an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm called “The Survivor.” Even Schindler’s List has humor.
SRM: I like that way of thinking about black humor: that it’s less offensive to the people who are actually going through horrible tragedies because they need humor as a context for their experiences. Doomsday makes comedians of all of us.
That reminds me… is your dystopian comic Ethyl still in the works, and if so, how is it progressing? Or has it been relegated to the back burner?
MB: It is entirely written and I am only waiting for some brave publisher to show interest. Not shopping it around right now as enthusiasm for creator-owned titles, unless self-published, is slim indeed.
SRM: Here’s hoping that comics become a little braver over the next few years. MaybeBanshees will be a shot of adrenalin for the publishing industry as a whole!