Sunday Page: Mike Allred su Love & Rockets

Every week on “Sunday Page” an author has to choose a single page from a comic book. It could be for sentimental reasons o for a particular technical achievement. The conversation could lose itself in the open water of the comic book world but it will always start with the question: «If you had to choose a page from a comic book you love, what would you choose and why?».

This Sunday I’m out with Michael Allred, comic book artist and writer most famous for his independent comics creation, Madman. His style is often compared to pop art, as well as commercial and comic art of the 1950s and 1960s. Among his most famous works, we can cite X-Force, X-Statix, FF, Silver Surfer and iZOMBIE. His latest effort is the comic book biography of David Bowie, Bowie.

So much narrowing down to do, but ultimately settled on Los Bros. Love & Rockets, and then to a Jaime story and then a definitive page from a definitive story, Mechanics. So many different ways I could have gone… Love & Rockets remains one of the most inspiring works I’ve ever experienced, and actually opened my eyes to writing and drawing my own comics.

Why did you pick this particular work?

With this early Jaime Hernandez Mechanics story from Love & Rockets #2 I was knocked out with a thrilling adventure story that was told through letters written to Hopey from Maggie.  I’d never seen anything like it.  So fresh and natural, but peppered with sci-fi genre elements. Jaime could jump from snapshots, like photos sent with the letters to Hopey, to the actual events she’s describing in the letters, and it all flows wonderfully.  It’s all so casual, capturing the attraction between Maggie and Race, and yet their environment is rich with little and big discoveries.

Do you remember when and how you discovered this comic book?

I was teaching Television production at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado and the son of a man who previously had my job there was just starting a career writing comics. This was Steven T. Seagle who ended up co-creating Ben 10 and Big Hero 6.

I had been gifted the first few issues of Mister X that the Hernandez Brothers had done, and loved them intensely.  After meeting Steve he told me that if I liked Mister X then Love & Rockets would melt my brain. I picked up the first collections and he was right. I became obsessed and hunted down everything I could by them and to this day buy and re-buy everything they do.

What clicked in you when you first read this story that made you go “ok, I know what my job will be”?

Love & Rockets opened my eyes to the unlimited potential of storytelling in comics. The early issues not only had three brothers creating their own stories, but each of their own stories varied in style, genre, technique and subject matter. And all very naturalistic, relaxed and electric at the same time.  I wanted the freedom to tell any kind of story I wanted without restriction, and so I created my own umbrella title, Graphique Musique, when we lived in Europe, and later renamed it Grafik Muzik when we moved back to the U.S. And soon my hobby became a career.

Is there a lesson, as an author, that your learned reading this book?

The Hernandez Brothers showed me that there are no boundaries when it comes to graphic storytelling. It’s invigorating to experiment and expand the potential of the art form. Follow your passions and try to make each new thing you do the best thing you’ve ever done.