Comics Illustrators of the Week: Michael & Laura Allred

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This week we focus our attention on the “dynamic duo” of making comics, Michael & Laura Allred! Michael, or just Mike as he’s often referred to, drew some of the first “indy” comics I picked up at the first comics shop I used to frequent, The Land of Oohs and Ahs Comics(1980-1995) in Fountain Valley, CA.  I believe he did a signing there in those early days, which, sadly, I missed, but I was able to find many of his first comics there, like Dead Air, Creatures of the Id(which featured the first appearance of his iconic character Madman AKA Frank Einstein), Grafik Muzik, and Graphique Musique, to name a few.

Laura Allred started collaborating with Mike, and experimenting with different types of coloring processes, very early on(1989/1990) in Mike’s career.  They worked together to develop a style that emulated the pop-art style of 1950’s & 60’s magazine advertisements and some earlier European comics.  As Madman grew in popularity during the 90’s, you could see the Allred’s work becoming more refined as the comic moved from smaller publisher, Tundra, to bigger publisher, Dark Horse Comics.  Later, they would start self publishing under the AAA Pop label, starting off with The Atomics in 2000.

In 1997, Mike Allred appeared in Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy as himself, signing copies of Madman at a comics convention, and he drew the artwork for Smith’s Bluntman and Chronic comic.  Speaking of indy films, Mike Allred wrote, starred in, and directed the film Astroesque, which was loosely tied to an album and the Eisner nominated, rock/sci-fi comic, Red Rocket 7.

So, after achieving so much in the ’90’s, what do the Allreds decide to do to kickoff the new millennium?? Why, just co-create one of my favorite super-hero comics of all time, The X-Statix!(with the great comics author Peter Milligan)  They took the beleaguered X-Force comic, blew it up, and relaunched it with a whole new cast of colorful characters, including the enigmatic Doop!  The series ran from 2001 to 2004 with later spin-off books and character appearances in the Marvel Universe.  After X-Statix concluded, the Allreds worked on a very personal project, The Golden Plates, which is a graphic retelling of The Book of Mormon.

The Allreds have been very busy this last decade, illustrating numerous covers, guest artwork duties, co-creating the DC/Vertigo comic iZombie(which is now a hit show on the CW), working with comics legend Neil Gaiman on Metamorpho for DC’s ambitious Wednesday Comics anthology, and they had a memorable run on the Fantastic Four spin-off, FF, with writer Matt Fraction.

Today, you can jump on board their new, original DC/Vertigo series Art Ops(written by Shaun Simon), which just released issue 2 this week, and you can catch up on their dream team project over at Marvel, The Silver Surfer with writer Dan Slott, which is relaunching with a new #1 in early 2016.  They also have a special all-Allred issue of Batman ’66 #30 coming up in December.  You can see some of the great covers they’ve produced for that series above.

I think it’s also worth mentioning that Laura Allred has worked with other artists, besides her husband, including the great Arthur Adams, Seth Fisher, and Geof Darrow, just to name a few.

For the latest art and news from the Allred camp, just follow them on twitter here!

For more comics related art, you can follow me on my website comicstavern.com – Andy Yates

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Categories: Comics

Author:Andy Yates

Andy is a freelance illustrator, and animator. He writes about comics at comicstavern.com. See his work at plumdill.tumblr.com.

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