Interview with my favorite writer/artist, Mike Allred!


April 2008

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A lot of people know that G-Man here is a big fan of Mike Allred. Interviewing him was like a dream come true.

Comic Vine: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Let's star with Madman Atomic Comics. I might have a bone to pick with you. In issue 6. It seems that Joe dies! I got the impression that perhaps Haley Foofoo intentionally brought Joe there to die (since Horn accused her of having a crush on her). Will Haley be making an appearance now that Frank is back on Earth? Does she have a crush on him?

Mike Allred: Well, Joe is not dead. She's currently sharing It Girl's body. Some big changes a-comin'! Haley will make another appearance.

CV: I've "read" the silent issue, 7, a few times. At the end of 6, It Girl is still seemingly herself but in 7, she takes on some qualities of Joe. I got to read issue 8 (thanks to Image) and we see Luna Joe. Is this a "you have to wait and see" bit as to whether or not Joe will be back separated from It Girl? Would you consider her a separate character from Joe since she's a combination of Joe and It Girl? (In our database, I created a new "character" page for her).

MA: I would call this a "stage". Again, BIG changes...Fun changes...

CV: Issue 8 (out in May) is the perfect "jump on point" for new readers. You just finished the "Madman in Space" story arc. Any hints as to what's in store for Frank and company next? Single stories? Another arc?

MA: Mostly short, one to two issue stories. There'll be underlying continuity and character developments, but I'm eager to do some rapid fire bursts with the plots.

CV: Being that the comic isn't just called "Madman" and the Atomics have played a pretty big role, will they continue to make appearances?

MA: Fer sure!

CV: How about other characters such as the G-Men from Hell? They haven't been seen since Madman Comics (G-Men from Hell part 4). Re-reading through my (awesome) copy of Madman Gargantua, Dean Crept walks away and says "Someday." What about Chow Skip-Wang, Agent of Tri-Eye?

MA: No plans for the G-Men any time soon. But Chow will be showing up.

CV:
How much of his past does Frank now remember? How much of his days as Zane Townsend? Flashback stories or better left a mystery?


MA:
I'd say he remembers about as much as I remember my 13th birthday party. A bit hazy. But clearer. Soon he'll be confronted by relationships from his past.


CV: Did Frank really swallow Mondstadt's goon, Jake's eye or is did he just think that he did as recently mentioned?

MA: He actually didn't. He convinced Jake that he did, and also initially convinced himself as this was the "discovery" of this ability. I regard the first three-issue series as a "trippy-just-woke-up-don't-have-bearings-yet" version of reality. Thus the odd 2-color nightmare vibe.

CV: I see. About how long does it take you on average to complete an issue?

MA: About a month, but I've been playing and experimenting with various innovations this past year which have put me behind some. I think we're locked in now and should be able to get back to a monthly schedule soon.

CV: Did issue 3, with all the homage's to your favorite artists in individual panels take longer?

MA: Sure did! Prime example. Almost every issue of this new series has me trying something new. I've been energized to push my boundaries. I'm lit up up for it, but now the new discipline is efficiency and timing. Gotta keep the book on time.

CV: I know you get asked this a lot. Any news on the Madman movie? I know you're doing it on your terms so it's done right. That's great. I heard Robert Rodriguez won't be able to direct but will produce. That true? Any beans you can spill? Will it follow the comic or be a "new" story?

MA: Robert is involved in the exact same way he was with Frank and Quentin on Sin City. We don't want George Huang to have to leave the Director's Guild, and so he'll get sole credit as director. But it's very much a collaboration among the three of us.

We're real close with the screenplay now. I'm about 99% happy with it. If the studio signs off on it, hope to get a start date sometime this year.

CV: Awesome. You've dabbled with different formats in comics. Red Rocket 7 was the size of an LP album cover and Vertical from Vertigo measured about 3 1/2" x 10". Any other wacky ideas? Did you just want a change of pace?

MA: Who knows. Nothing planned. For now the wacky ideas will be kept between standard covers in th standard shape and size.

Issue number nine may be the wackiest yet with a continuous left to right looping tracking action sequence that will result in one gigantic single panel. But then back to "the new discipline".

CV: Cool. I have the CD by your band The Gear. Was there every a second CD? Plans for one?

MA: There were plans and much material, but then I renewed my commitment to comics with forming AAA Pop and publishing The Atomics on a monthly schedule. Movies may be the most tempting detour from comics, but unless the Madman movie spawns sequels, there isn't much that could keep me from sticking to an exclusive production of comics. That's where my chi is.

CV: "G-Men From Hell" came out in 2000 and featured Gary Busey and Tate Donovan. How involved were you on the film? (I know I can easily dig out my DVD copy). What did you think about how it turned out?

MA: I did next to nothing on that one. Funny since they put my name above the title. The first 2-thirds is very faithful to my Grafik Muzik comics, which was surprising since I wouldn't let them use Frank or Joe. I was amazed at the cast they assembled on a very small budget! We visited the set which resulted in my cameo at the end of the flick. Christopher Coppola really impressed me and the whole cast was crazy nice. And in the end I was very happy with it. It's the kind of cult film that would end up being one of my faves even if I wasn't involved. It has a off-center David Lynch "otherness" to it.

CV: An employee at my local comic store wanted me to ask when the next Golden Plates is due. I know you're focusing on Madman Atomic Comics right now. Any tentative date in mind?

MA: No. Sadly. I just can't afford to do it right now. It barely pays for itself since I don't have the time to produce it and market it and keep it going. It's a juggling act in its complexity. I need someone to just drop a big pile of cash in front of me so that I can work on it full-time, finish it up, and then break it into the market. At that point in its completed form I think it's the kind of thing that would stay in print forever. Carving out the time to get it to that point is what's difficult.


CV: You've had some minor issues with the major publishers (having to change Princess Di in X-Statix and the long awaited printing of the Teen Titans Lost Annual), any hard feelings? I suppose that's the great thing about working on your own creation at a publisher like Image.


MA: No hard feelings at all. I have closure on both. We went out with a bang on X-Statix. But, Man, oh Man would that "Di" story have rocked the world! I hope no one has hard feelings about me. I can be tactful, but it's hard for me to hold back what I really think. And why should I?



CV: Exactly. Most artists have a distinct style of their own. Your work is instantly recognizable. As far as your wife's colors, how the heck does she do it? She is the only colorist that I can easily tell when she's colored something.


MA: Laura simply has an amazing color sense. She has a natural ability to find the perfect combination of colors that work together that provide the perfect mood for whatever book she's working on. For the Madman books she gives me punchy without overwhelming the art. It's easy to go crazy with modeling and airbrushing. Laura has gone that route when a company or artist has asked for it. But a smart collaborator will trust her instincts. Laura just keeps it simple and that's her strength.

CV: You did a Madman/Superman crossover and Savage Dragon, would you ever consider crossing over with another major character?

MA: Sure! That's always a good time. I like the idea of all comic book universe being able to overlap each other. I don't have any in mind though. CV: Has anyone ever questioned the physics involved with Frank hollowing out a yo-yo an filling it with lead?MA: Nope. Just me. I question everything and then move on.

CV:
Is there a particular time of day you prefer to work?MA: Nine to five Monday through Friday. But sometimes it's nine to midnight Monday through Saturday.

CV: Do you prefer to work in silence or with music blaring? Any song or band of choice to get you pumped up?

MA: I don't like working in silence. I prefer to write with music playing. Sometimes silence. But when I'm in the final stages of drawing/inking, that's when the TV seems to go on with an old movie or fun stuff to listen to. I listen to TV a lot, DVR comedy talk shows (Letterman, O'Brien, Kimmel etc), Keith Oberman, old movies. Kids are always running around screaming, laughing, crying--crawling on top of me. Lately I discovered Left of Center on Sirius Satellite Radio. Arcade Fire is a recent favorite. My music is always a combination of classics (Bowie, Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Who, Zeppelin, Pink Floyd) and new alternative.

CV: Is there any comics on the stands now that you faithfully read?

MA: Darwyn Cooke's Spirit blew me away. I'm excited about Jeff Smith's new series RASL. I always pick up everything by the Hernadez Brothers. I'm jazzed that Erik Larsen keeps pumping out The Dragon. What a commitment! It's cool that Steve Rude and Mike Baron are doing Nexus again, and Matt Wagner on Grendel. I love a lot of stuff! It all depends on the creators. Like, I don't pick up Batman or Spider-man unless the creative team lights me up. I'm definitely drawn to more personal creator controlled work.


CV: I own a page of original art from issue 8 (page 8) with the Puke. At the end of the issue, Frank traps him in a jar and takes him to Dr. Flem to be cured. Any plans on "the Return of the Puke"?

MA: Wow! He was always in line to return. Now I'll move him up the queue!

CV: When can we get more Madman merchandise? (I know another Madman figure was just recently released).

MA: Whenever I can find the time to produce it or when licensors approach me with nifty ideas for product. I imagine a movie would open up that can of worms.

CV: What's your favorite topping on pizza?

MA: Canadian bacon and pineapple! No question.

CV: Do you have a special Madman thesaurus for all the words you use (snappy, ginchy, etc)?

MA: Hah! I'll get to work on one.

CV: Were you really a tv reporter in Europe? How did that come about?


MA: Yup. I was a rock n roll DJ in and then out of college. An Air Force recruiter would bring in commercials for us to play and I got to know him pretty well. When Laura got pregnant with our first child the recruiter told me I could do what I was doing for the Air Force and have free babies (free housing, dental care, etc.). He convinced me and I ended up teaching TV production at the Air Force Academy and then was a reporter for AFRTS in Europe where I did stories on everything for East German refugees in Berlin to tourism in Amsterdam. It was pretty great. I think that's one of the reasons we rarely travel anymore. We got it well out of us and love being where we are.

CV: Anything else we can look forward to?

MA: No. Nothing. The world ends tomorrow (nudge nudge wink wink).

CV:
Yikes!
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