Mike and Laura Allred are an established couple, in life and in work. Laura is the colorist of Madman, the most successful creature invented and designed by Mike, and she is currently one of the best colorist in the North American comicdom.
Mike, has lent his pen to many characters from Marvel and DC Comics universes: last in order of time, the Silver Surfer, the new adventures that soon we will see also in Italy.
The two authors have given us this “double” interview for LoSpazioBianco.
Hello Laura and welcome on LSB.
How did you start your career? What were your original influences and what are the currents?
I’ve always drawn and painted. I don’t know if I ever considered a career in art even though I took art classes in college. But when Michael’s comics started taking off and he got his first opportunity for a color comic book, it just made sense for me to pitch in and have fun with it together.
My biggest influences would be European comics from Moebius, Yves Challand, Daniel Torres. I always love the way Dan Clowes approaches color. Dave Stewart is great. Dave Johnson covers. Lots of influences. Lists can be endless.
Madman, and more generally Mike’s style, has been associated with Pop Art. What do you think of this definition? Did it has influenced your coloring artistic process?
It’s appropriate. The Pop art movement in the 60s took a lot of inspiration from comic books and we just want to take it back.
Right from the beginning Michael simply showed me examples and styles that he liked and how he wanted his colors to look. He is partially color blind and, though he can see and appreciate colors, he has a hard time telling some apart. Over time I got a feel for what he was wanting and we merged with the approach I wanted to take.
How your style has evolved from the time of Grafik Muzik, the first Mike’s full-color comic?
The process was nightmarish originally. Over time I developed my own process where I can confidently combine organic water colors with digital coloring. It’s the perfect balance for me. Confidence would be the main evolution.
Which techniques do you use? What do you think about the digital coloring?
I use digital coloring in Photoshop to make flat colors. We both prefer simple felt colors. But then Michael will water color with grey washes or use graphite to create textures, modeling, and shading on the original art after I’ve scanned the inks. I then scan the original art again and turn his textures into color. That’s how we get that organic “hand made” color look.
Do you collaborate with Mike to the realization of the scripts?
In Mike’s comics stand female figures of great human depth. To which are you more fond of? Which is the most interesting one?
Frank Einstein’s girlfriend, Joe Lombard by far. She’s my doppleganger in many ways, so obviously I’m going to relate to her the most.
Artistic and loving partnership. What are the advantages and the shortcomings?
The main advantage we get to share all the fun and exciting aspects of our careers together. We love traveling and creating together. Early on we were afraid that getting sick of each other might be a shortcoming, but that hasn’t been the case. We’ve only drawn closer and don’t like ver being apart. Cheesy, I know. But we love it. And each other very much.
What differences have you encountered in working with authors such as Dragotta (Spider-Man Fairy Tales #4), Quinones (FF #6) or the great Gilbert Hernandez ( iZombie #12)?
The only real difference is not having them with me in the studio to confirm what they want as I’m working. I just plow ahead and hope they like what I do with their line art.
What do you think about digital comics?
It’s all good. A good story is a good story. Whatever you need to get there is the way to go.
Some anticipation about your future plans? Will we see you at work on Madman again?
Surely. We’re busy doing monthly comics for Marvel and Batman 66 covers for DC as well as various projects other projects. But Madman will always be Home. We’re putting together a big MADMAN 3D special and a HUGE Lil Nemo/Madman strip right now.
Hi Mike and welcome on LSB, too.
What is your favorite thing about your part in Marvel Now and All New Marvel Now?
It feels like I’m living out all my childhood dreams. I’m drawing so many of my lifelong favorites with writers who I really mesh well with. It’s ablest working with Matt Fraction, Dan Slott, and my genius big brother Lee Allred.
What is your relationship with the Marvel fans?
I hope a great one. I’m a fan too, so we have a lot in common.
What did you love about drawing FF?
Everything. Started out crushing on Medusa since she was my first comic book crush and then fell in love with She-Hulk and our new girl. Ms. Thing, along the way.
You drew a Daredevil’s story (Daredevil #17, Aug. 2012). What binds you to the character? How did you prepare for the realization of this story?
I’ve always preferred character’s who are my street level relatable. Daredevil and Madman share many traits. I’m sure DD was in the mix when I blended all my faves to create Madman. From there Mark Waid gave me a killer script. And I just to the leap.
Your works are imbued with a subtle irony. What role has this irony in superhero comics? Can it serve to expose the light ridiculous things behind some stereotypes of the genre?
It sure can. But it’s all a mix. A think you can wink at something and have it grab your heart at the same time.
Madman no more? The character’s prolonged absence is due only to your professional commitments for Marvel Comics?
I try to get at least one Madman project out every year. So I don’t know if I’ll veer do it monthly again. But there will always be something. I like collaborating as much as possible. It’s more of a party on a regular basis. And Madman is pretty much a solo gig. So when I have something more personal to say, I usually save it for Frank “Madman” Einstein.
What can you tell us about the IZombie experience? The series ended for editorial requirements or had exhausted its narrative line?
It was a story with a beginning middle and end. It was a blast to do. Chris Roberson is a terrific writer, and great friend. The story was set in my backyard. Eugene, Oregon. It couldn’t have been more fun. And now it’s being developed into a TV show, so hopefully that will take off and we’ll get even more of it.
In the recent years you have been increasingly “relegated” to the role of artist (Daredevil, Wolverine and the X-Men, FF), do you feel the need to go back to being a complete author? Are you working on a new project creator-owned?
I have more stories to tell than my lifespan will allow. I have that outlet whenever I feel the need. But collaborating with other talents I admire is a rush and allows me to conquer the challenge of a monthly discipline. I love it!
What do you think about digital comics?
I think I’ll always prefer holding paper comic books in my hand, smelling the ink. But digital has incredible advantages and is a great opportunity to get your work out to more people. I have hundreds of comics I can take with me on my iPad. That’s amazing. I can’t drag all my long boxes around with me.
You are the artist of the new series of Silver Surfer. How do you plan to characterize this character? Can you give us some hints of the stories that we in Italy will read very soon?
No hints. You’ll just have to wait and see. We’re gonna give you the ride of a lifetime!
Interview conducted by email on 2013, Dec.