The latest issue of Silver Surfer is out this week and his iZombie has been scheduled by the CW. What better time for another gabfest with artist Mike Allred?
Dan Greenfield: What’s the oldest comic that you have now?
Mike Allred: The oldest one that I have is probably Plastic Man # 1. I’m a big Jack Cole fan.
Nice! I can see that in your work. I can definitely see that sensibility. … Was that like a celebratory thing that you got it or how did that come about?
Oh, yeah. Yeah. Probably the early ’90s, we were at a comic book show and I didn’t have enough money for it so my cousin loaned me the money and I grabbed it! (Mike laughs) Yeah, I had to have it. Jack Cole was a huge influence on me so I love it. And I have a Batman #100.
Oh, I have one of those! For me, that’s just the cover. It’s such a great-looking cover. That and Batman #200 are two covers I’ve always really enjoyed. I picked out a reader copy (of #100) and I got a decent price at a show last year in New York. That was one that was on my list. It’s a good one.
I’m pretty sure my Plastic Man #1 is my oldest. It’s in pretty good shape. I’d call it a… (Mike laughs) The staples are kinda rusty but it’s in decent shape. I don’t care about that stuff.
I’m more inclined to get a reader copy than something that’s gonna be sealed up forever. I’m not a collector in that way. I have to absorb the contents. I don’t treat ‘em like trading cards.
Neither do I. I would much rather have one that I know I can just simply open up if I wanted to. I’m not into the CGC thing. … Now, if you’re ever at a show do you take the time to go to the $5 bins and just pick through some old comics, pick up some stuff you’ve never read before just to check it out? I find myself doing that now more than I ever did before.
Yeah, I do do that but I am extremely picky. A lot of times, I’ll look through bins just for the sensory overload, just to absorb the cover illustrations. Just like old record albums, it could be a cover that just strikes me a certain way or I’m looking for particular artists.
I’m probably more artist-driven than writer-driven and I’m also very sentimental. For instance, if there’s an artist that I really love, they could have done like a three-page story in an anthology and I’ll spend whatever just for those three pages because my passion for that artist will be that intense. There’s a lot of alternative artists I really, really love because they brought that kind of rock-and-roll sensibility that record album covers did for me.
Who are some of those artists?
Oh, man. Dan Clowes, Charles Burns, Chester Brown, Dave Cooper, and a lot of more artsy artists like Charles Vess or Michael Kaluta, Jim Woodring… And then there’s the really super-cool designy-type artists like Jim Steranko and… I could go on. Frank Frazetta is huge for me. I love his comic-book stuff as much as — if not more than — his paintings, which is… you know, he’s better known for his paintings.
But he did some really cool comic-book work, which is just stunning. It’s so beautiful. I’m a big EC Comics fan, too. I have the entire Library which is fantastic. It’s slightly oversized and black and white so it’s almost like the Artist’s Editions before there were Artist’s Editions. It’s the next best thing to owning the original art and so I picked up a lot from that, learned a lot from that. You can kind of see what the artist does with a pen or a brush before the coloring comes in, which can obscure a lot of the line art.
Although I do have a few of the comics. I was just talking about getting a comic just for the cover and there’s the issue of Weird Science-Fantasy that Frank Frazetta did the cover for where it’s like your hero is fighting a bunch of cavemen off of a cliff. It’s a really cool cover.
Do you remember the issue number?
It’s #29. I’ve got it sitting right here next to me, right next to Action Comics #338.