Michael Allred has been writing and drawing comics for just over twenty years now, most notably creating Madman and Red Rocket 7. His drawing style is unmistakable, with classic 1950s lines and Ditkoesque motion, usually colored in strong shades by his wife Laura, a two-time Eisner nominee. Allred has teamed up with writer Chris Roberson on I, Zombie, a supernatural story about a down-to-earth zombie who ties up loose ends for the owners of the brains she eats. Allred took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for the Portland Comic Book Examiner about his comic work present and past, his music, and his upcoming projects.
How did you come to pair up with Chris Roberson on I, Zombie?
My very first editor, Shelly Bond, from the Comico days, has kept in touch and pulled me to Vertigo now and then, but [was] always asking for an ongoing series. She told me about an idea Chris had that got me excited and got us together. The three of us brainstormed and set to work with what you see now.
How detailed are Roberson’s scripts – do you do a lot of the staging, or is the script very detailed (a la Alan Moore)?
VERY detailed. He allows me to stray if I choose to, but haven’t found the need. GREAT writer.
Vampires, a zombie, a ghost, and a were-terrier — are there more supernatural creatures yet to be revealed? More to be learned about the shadowy Corporation that’s sending its monster hunters into Eugene?
Much much more.
Did you do a lot of cemetery research, since much of Gwen’s time is spent there?
I sure did. I’ve always been intrigued and spent more than a normal amount of time in graveyards.
Your lead character, zombie Gwen Dylan, bears a passing resemblance to rock star Debbie Harry – is that an intentional homage, or just the way the character evolved?
Huh, really? Yeah, I guess it does kind of look like her. There is no sexier rocker that I know of. She’s always been there consciously and subconsciously, so I would go with natural progression.
Diogenes’ knife bridging the gutter on page 17 of issue 1 was a striking center to a visually interesting page – whose idea was that? Is the character’s name a reference to the Greek ‘Cynical’ philosopher?
I think it was my idea. I’d have to dig up the script to be sure. And yes.
You live in Portland, and Roberson lives in Austin, TX – how did Eugene, OR become the setting for the book?
We wanted the setting to be a place largely untapped. And Chris suggested it, which I thought was a brilliant idea. It made it extra fun to play in my backyard.
What’s the best part of having your wife as your colorist?
She constantly works at my side, and she’s a joy to look at. Also, I get to watch the magic happen first hand.
You requested to have Neil Gaiman work with you on the Wednesday Comics Metamorpho story – why was he your choice? Have you worked with him before?
I worked with him on Sandman [and] a Green Lantern special… I was excited about Coraline coming out at the time, and so he was an easy first choice.
In part 2 of this three-part Q&A, Allred talks about his band The Gear’s new album and his history with the Dandy Warhols.