Michael Allred is the type of artist whose work is instantly recognizable on any comic book cover. His dynamic characters and unique style have made Allred an in demand artist for over three decades.
Along with his artwork, Allred has also created and co-created some of the quirkiest heroes over that same time period, such as his trademark character Madman, iZombie, X-Statix, and his latest from Dark Horse Comics, X-Ray Robot.
Although the world-wide pandemic delayed the second issue of X-Ray Robot for nearly six months, the psychedelic robot is back on schedule, and Conskipper is celebrating with this exclusive interview with one of comics living legends.
What was the genesis of your new Dark Horse Comic X-Ray Robot?
Michael Allred: Most of my story concepts come almost directly from my dreams. I have very vivid almost psychedelic, while very realistic, dreams. They are vey impactful, and I’m always stunned to see places and people that I have no memory of in my waking life. Daniel Chabon and I had been trying to meet up to talk about something to work on together, and I’d been promising Mike Richardson to bring something to Dark Horse again. When Daniel and I met up I threw a few of my ideas at him and he quickly focused on X-Ray Robot. And so the starting gun went off.
How would compare X-Ray Robot to some of your previous work in terms of art and story?
Allred: Well, virtually all of my creator-owned solo work links together. Some more obvious than others. I’ve been referring to it as my “MADMANiverse”. Storywise, this is my time travel jigsaw puzzle. Artwise, I’m constantly experimenting with technique in a constant effort to grow and progress, but in a subtle smooth consistent way.
Most of your work features an innocent protagonist thrown into forces beyond their control. Do you see Professor Saunders in this light?
Allred: For sure. It’s often useful to have at least one character mirroring the confusion or shock a reader might be experiencing when thrown into a story moves fast with no quick easy answers. By having someone to relate to they have something to hang onto through the whiplash turns.
There seems to be a lot of nods to 50’s sci-fi in X-Ray Robot, yet it also comes off as a very modern story (such as Marnie asserting herself immediately with her boss). How do you balance those elements?
Allred: Classic sci-fi is in my DNA, and I’m also constantly tapping into the zeitgeist. I’m constantly surrounded by strong women who demand equality and respect. It’s impossible to be married to a powerhouse like Laura and not be massively inspired by her.
Many fans have fond memories of your work on X-Statix. Memories of working on that title with Peter?
Allred: I could write an entire book on just those experiences. My single favorite memory would have to be knocking down the Comics Code Authority with our first issue.
Your David Bowie graphic novel biography was recently released. Was this a real labor of love for you? Was it intimidating at all?
Allred: Funny, cuz it was probably the easiest thing I’ve ever done. Bowie has been a beautiful obsession for most of my life. I’ve been endlessly fascinated by him. Steve Horton had wrote a script, and it was the breeziest thing ever to fill in the blanks and expand upon it to my satisfaction with the number of pages we were given. In fact, the most difficult aspect was having to leave stuff out. It was pure joy. Couldn’t call it a labor of love, because my enthusiasm powered me through and left me energized instead of exhausted from any labor. Sometimes it’s hard to remember even drawing it.
Any plans for more stories featuring Madman?
Allred: Absolutely! Always. So much I want to do. So little time.
Other projects that you can discuss or hint at?
Allred: I’m currently working on a new X-Men series with Peter Milligan which builds on what we did with X-Statix. And I’m doing another music project to follow up on Bowie, but I can’t say what it is yet. I can say I’m working on it with one of my besties, the real life Professor Saunders, Professor Benjamin Saunders, but he is no innocent protagonist on this baby. Wink.
X-Ray Robot #2 is currently available at finer comic book shops everywhere. Issue #3 will be released on October 28.