This week, Mike Allred talks about awesome Silver Age DC … and then we segue into what he’s digging now.
Mike and I were chatting long distance — he on the West Coast, me on East. He had a stack of comics next to him and we just kind of riffed off of what was on his pile … and ended up talking a bit about Darwyn Cooke…
Dan Greenfield: What other comics do you have sitting there next to you?
Mike Allred: There’s Justice League of America # 64 which I remember being around the house. It was one of my brother’s comics. It’s got this really cool cover of the Red Tornado smashing right between the Justice Society.
Dan: Oh, yeah!
Mike: I love those guys! Doctor Fate and Hourman and Black Canary and Starman. I loved that stuff. I always loved the crossovers between the Justice League and the Justice Society. I liked the whole Earth One/Earth Two stuff.
Dan: I came full circle on that. And, again, because of that weird neurotic completist element, I was also a continuity nerd and the idea of Brave and the Bold used to make my mind melt because, “Wait a minute Bob Haney’s writing stories with characters that can’t possibly meet!” It would drive me bananas! (Mike laughs) By the time Crisis on Infinite Earths finally came around, I was ready, man! Anything with a red sky in it, I was all over it! I was really excited about the idea that they merged the world and they made it all one thing and then, as time went on…I found that they lost SO much of what made DC special and what made comics special!
That magical quality was lost when they got rid of the Multiverse and I’m so glad that it’s back. The idea of the “Mirror, Mirror” universe, you know? There’s so much storytelling potential in those. I always liked it when Huntress would team up with Batman on Earth-One. There would be two panels next to each other and they’d be running to wherever they were running to and she’d be thinking, “Oh, my. He’s like my father but he’s so much younger,” and he’s thinking, “Boy, I wonder if I’d ever have a daughter like her.”
There was just something about that I always found really, really intriguing. And I do remember that Red Tornado cover. Have you read Multiversity?
Mike: Oh, no, no! I’m looking forward to that, though. It’s on my Must Read…I have a Must Read stack almost as tall as me. (Mike laughs). And that’s one of the exciting things about today. There’s so much great stuff it’s almost impossible to get to it all.
Dan: Let me ask you about that. Tell me about, say, five books that you like right now …
Mike: Oh, man…Well…I love Batman ’66. To me, it’s a miracle that that comic book exists. To me, it was like an after-school ritual to come home and watch the Batman TV show and I took it very seriously as a kid. I didn’t see how goofy it was (Mike laughs) ‘til many years later. But I love that that comic exists.
I love Daredevil, what Mark Waid and what Chris Samnee are doing. I think it’s a phenomenal comic book. I really like pretty much anything that Brian Bendis writes. I love Guardians of the Galaxy, the movie, and I think the comic is terrific. … Oh, gosh. There’s SO much. I’m always uncomfortable making any kind of list because…I mean, I did this on Facebook and once I start listing stuff it’s like, “Oh, I can’t forget that, I can’t leave THAT out, can’t leave THAT out…” She-Hulk is something good. I really like the current She-Hulk series and Javier Pulido, the artist on that, is an artist I’ve really liked a long time. Aw, man!
The Private Eye by Brian Vaughn and Marcos Martin? It’s like a digital-only thing but it’s fantastic! It’s really, really, REALLY good! I love that. That’s one of my favorite things happening right now. And I’m excited to see more Nexus from Mike Baron and Steve Rude. Dark Horse Presents is a lot of fun. You’ll see Damon Gentry and Aaron Conley’s stuff in there.One of my favorite books in the past year was the graphic novel they did called Sabertooth Swordsman.
It’s a blast! It’s fun and energetic and kicky. Oh, and another comic that I’m loving to pieces right now is Nightworld by Adam McGovern and Paolo Leandri.
Dan: We’ve done stuff on the site about that. It’s a great-looking book.
Mike: I picked up the last issue of Jonah Hex. You know, Jimmy Palmiotti’s been writing that and the last issue, Darwyn drew the entire issue — Darwyn Cooke, who’s a great friend of ours.
Dan: What I liked about that issue is that it was a different… I mean, it was most definitely a Darwyn Cooke comic — I’m a layman so forgive my terminology, I’m sure it’ll be off — but I found that it had such a cleaner style. You didn’t have the darker inks. It was a much more precise, cleaner version of his artwork. And I thought it was a wonderful choice, especially since that’s sort of the look that book had anyway.
But did that strike you at all? This is Darwyn Cooke but it’s a somewhat different Darwyn Cooke than we’ve grown accustomed to seeing over the last number of years.
Mike: Well, it could be because we’re pals but I see a lot of his stuff that a lot of people don’t see and he can do anything! He has a very deep well of styles. There’s the New Frontier style, which is probably the most well-known. I think that’s probably the most successful thing he’s done. If you look at his Catwoman stuff, he did like a really raw … there was the very, kind of, clean, pure style and then there was the very raw, almost kind of a sketchy style. Then there’s the Parker books. But then a lot of his design stuff — because he comes from a commercial background. He did a lot of music design work before he then tripped into animation and then comics. But he can do a lot of different styles. I think he was the first X-Force guest artist when Peter Milligan and I revamped X-Force and X-Statix.
Mike: In one issue, when he was doing flashbacks, he went from a really bold line to kind of a scritchy thin line with these kind of loose panel shapes. So the thing I love most about Darwyn’s work is just all of the different ways he finds to lay something out or to tell a story. There is that one consistent thread that kind of pulls it together so you can instantly recognize it as his work, but there’s SO many different textures and ways that he can diversify that recognizable style. It’s pretty exciting!
Dan: You know, it’s funny that you say that and I swear I’m not saying this to blow smoke but it occurred to me as you were talking that the only two issues of Solo — the single issues that I have — are yours and his. (Mike laughs) ‘
Mike: Also, one thing that goes to the top of my must-read list — whenever a new issue of Love & Rockets comes out, it goes right to the top. The Hernandez Brothers — after Barry Smith — were probably the creators that made it clear to me that THIS is what I wanted to do.
They’re amazing storytellers and surprise and entertain me with every single thing they do.