Interview - Mike Baron and Steve Rude

There are characters that have lasted seemingly forever. Superman, Batman and Captain America all come to mind. There's another character who recently turned 30 in Nexus and has never really disappeared. Instead, the character has shown longevity as well. He's not quite as old as the three earlier mentioned heroes, but he's getting there.

Writer Mike Baron and illustrator Steve Rude are poised to bring the character back in Dark Horse Presents #12. The two managed to find time to talk to Omnicomic about Nexus, Fusionkasting and the comic climate now versus then.

Omnicomic: Nexus was originally created in 1981. Can you lend any insights into the climate at the time that prompted you to create him?

Steve Rude: The creative climate at the beginning of the 80's was a great time to be young and ambitious. Something in the traditional comic distribution area seemed ready to change--to blow out of it's security cocoon and become something new and untried.

A few brave and insightful people were attempting to produce and market their own comics in different parts of the country other than New York. Mike Baron picked up on this upcoming trend and approached a local Madison, WI. comics distribution outfit. He offered them a 12-page introduction to a new creation of his called Nexus.

All my memories of those days were electrically charged with optimism. It was a very exciting time.

Mike Baron: Nexus came out of our skulls more than the client, although we've always been inspired by real life events. When Milton and John asked for a costumed superhero I tried to think of the most dramatic elements I could. That's why I made him an executioner of mass murderers.

Omnicomic: What would you say is the most important thing to his longevity?

Rude: I would imagine the secret to any character's longevity is the creator's drive to tell more stories. Nexus and Sundra are still barely in their 30's, and as long as Baron and I possess our creative faculties, they still have a lot of stories to tell.

Baron: Unique stories and art that deliver a denser, more satisfying experience than most comics.

Omnicomic: Did the two of you collaborate closely on the look and feel of Nexus?

Rude: Yes, creating Nexus was a true collaboration. Baron thought up all the basics of the characters, their history, and where they lived, and I just came in to visualize it. I was 24 at the time and Baron was a few years older and wiser.

Baron: Indeed. We used to go over my crude thumbnails side by side for hours.

Omnicomic: Do you find writing the character (Mike) or illustrating (Steve) Nexus any easier/more difficult now considering the character is over three decades old? Is there a continuity in look and characterization you seek to maintain? Or you do feel he needs to adapt to modern day looks and issues?

Rude: Adapting to the modern look of today's artistry in comics is simply not for me. Most everything in the way that I've drawn Nexus, in the past, or certainly in these upcoming stories, relies on my ongoing study of past masters like Kirby, Raymond, and Roy Crane.

Baron: I find it easier because I have more tools at my command know the characters so well. Of course every now and then Dude will remind me..."Whaaaaat? When did they get married?"

One of the things that makes the series unique is Dude's art so there is no need to adopt to any other look. The look is unique.

Omnicomic: How did you come up with the idea of Fusionkasting? Is there a secret fascination with science seeping through to comics here?

Rude: Baron will answer.

Baron: Not so much fascination as a desire to provide solid scientific underpinning. Which of course is risible in a comic book but we do it anyway. The whole thing about interplanetary travel via black holes is based on a non-fiction book called The Iron Sun.

Omnicomic: Hopefully this isn't a sore subject, but what are your thoughts on the Nexus: Liberator series? My understanding is that neither of you were involved with it.

Rude: Can't really say I did more than just glance over much of the Liberator series. I'm sure the creative team tried their hardest. Nexus is not an easy book to adapt to.

Baron: I regret that I have not read it.

Omnicomic: Nexus is slated to appear in Dark Horse Presents #12. Where in the Nexus chronology does this story fit?

Rude: The chronology picks up where Space Opera, the last Nexus series to be published in 2008(?), left off.

Baron: Directly follows the events in Space Opera.

Omnicomic: The Dark Horse Presents series is really bringing in some great stories and talent. Did the series' format feel right for bringing Nexus back after the most recent hiatus?

Rude: The only problem I have with being in DHP is something that I've discussed with Mike Richardson, which is much of the content in the book has a lot of swearing and occasional nudity. While Nexus may walk the edge at times, it's still intended for pretty much all ages.

Other than that, the format is certainly deadline friendly for me, since I'm now drawing, inking, and lettering the stories, which will eventually be collected as one massive storyline.

Baron: It certainly fits Dude's schedule. Much easier to proceed step by step than in seven league strides. When we're finished, it's going to be a long journey.

Omnicomic: What inspired you to bring Nexus back in Dark Horse Presents? Is this a precursor to seeing the character in an ongoing series again?

Rude: The possibility that Nexus will again have it's own individual series is up to fan demand and Dark Horse publisher Mike Richardson. Until then, the adventures of Nexus will be an ongoing series in DHP.

Baron: The time seemed right and yes, this is an ongoing series but it will appear in DHP.

Omnicomic: What are your thoughts on the digital versus print divide? Do you see digital overtaking print at any point?

Rude: The world of digital publishing will no doubt be decided by someone other than myself. But being of the 60's/70's generation, I will always be one to prefer a "real book" in my hands.

Baron: I don't know. Digital will probably overtake print. I don’t like it.

A comic is something you hold in your hands, but I understand we've got generations of kids out there who are perfectly at ease with digital comics and more power to them. Just as long as actual comics exist.

Omnicomic: What conventions (if any) are either of you planning to attend this year?

Rude: Personally, having done so many shows for the last 25 years, I'm not in a hurry to attend them as regularly. I'd mostly just prefer to stay home and work!

Baron: Denver Comic Con June 15 - 17

Omnicomic: Do you have any tips for indie and/or small press creators to create and maintain a work for over thirty years?

Rude: Yes. Stay true to what's in your "heart" and forge ahead without fear.

Baron: Make it great!

Omnicomic: Anything you want to plug while you have the floor?

Rude: In the near future will be a release of a film documentary called "Rude Dude", produced by New York filmmaker Ian Fischer. It will appear at Sundance and various other art theaters around the country and perhaps beyond. It definitely promises to be more than a standard, "seen it before" documentary!

I will also be teaching my first 4-day Painting workshop in Sept. The website has details.

Baron: I would like to plug this hole in the floor before I fall in it and break my neck.