Mike Allred has achieved a lot in his comic book career, from his long-running independent creation Madman to revitalizing Marvel’s X-Force with writer Peter Milligan and his current collaboration with Chris Roberson on Vertigo’s iZombie, which wraps in August.
The letter column of Marvel’s critically acclaimed, Eisner-nominated Daredevil ran a missive from Allred in April's issue #11, proclaiming his admiration of the series and offering to guest-draw an issue. Series editor Stephen Wacker took him up on it, and the end result is August's Daredevil #17, written by series regular Mark Waid and illustrated by Allred.
Allred is a long-time Daredevil fan, and equates the gig to the fulfillment of a childhood dream. In an email interview with Newsarama, the writer/artist talked more about the upcoming issue and the circumstances that led to it, his favorite past Daredevil runs and what's around the corner for him post-iZombie, including further work at Marvel.
Newsarama: Mike, it's been established that the fan letter you recently wrote in to Daredevil directly led to this assignment. What was it about the book that compelled you to write in?
Mike Allred: Words of encouragement have always been very special to me. Even constructive criticism has often been welcome and beneficial. The book has been a source of joy and inspiration for me and I didn't want it to go unsaid. I thought offering to do a guest shot simply enforced the sincerity of my praise.
Nrama: While the answer to this question may be pretty obvious — Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera, Marcos Martin, Khoi Pham, Chris Samnee, etc. — in your opinion, what specific things about this current DD run make the book unique within the current comic book marketplace?
Allred: Amazing talents and great guys all! It feels pure. It has a certain simplicity, but with real depth. And some fun innovations involving Matt Murdock's senses, and lack of.
Nrama: You've noted that you're a Daredevil fan from way back. What qualities do you like about the character?
Allred: I've always been drawn to the heroes who are relatively "normal" and have taken their skills and advantages and enhanced them. Like Batman, for instance. As opposed to Superman who just "is" in his awesomeness. They are incredibly relatable in their almost "normalness". In Matt Murdock's case, he lives a relatively normal life. But, he's blind! And that is one of my greatest fears. Losing my eyesight. Yet, he has other senses, which make up for it. Being blind, ultra sensitive and "fearless" is very appealing.
And he looks really cool.
My Madman and Mister Sensitive [from X-Force] creations are very much inspired by Daredevil. In fact, there was almost a Madman/Daredevil crossover in the mid '90s.
Nrama: And other than the current volume, what are some of your favorite eras of Daredevil?
Allred: Oh, here we go. Something about Daredevil brings out the best in the folks who work on him. I love it all. I dig the first "black and yellow costume" era with Bill Everett, and then Wally Wood. Johnny Romita, and later what his son, JR, did with Frank Miller. Of course the Frank Miller run and what he did with David Mazzucchelli is phenomenal!
I love the Gene Colon stuff. Even the early Barry Smith stuff rocks my world. The more recent stuff with Kevin Smith, Joe Quesada, Brian Michael Bendis, David Mack, Ed Brubaker… Let's just say everybody! Who has had more great talent on it than Daredevil?
And with the current run, it just feels… classic.
Nrama: You definitely have your own distinct style, but is there anything else particularly influencing your visual approach to the character?
Allred: Nope. I can't think about it too much. I can only be me and hope it measures up. I just have to tap into the little kid that could only dream of someday drawing Daredevil and make it the best work I've ever done.
I still can't believe that people pay me to make comic books. As long as that deep love for making comics is there for me I'll never stop. The intellectual approach to constructing pages and storytelling is subconscious and instinctual at this point. After I do my layouts I take a break and then come back with my "harsh critic" glasses on. Then I'm confident to respond to any feedback I may get from the writer and editor. The best collaborations are when everyone is excited about doing their best work. This is definitely that.
Nrama: Obviously you're paired for the issue with series writer Mark Waid, who you haven’t worked with before. How has the collaboration been thus far?
Allred: A dream. It makes me kick myself for not having the guts and initiative before to simply say, "let's do something together.” Who knows what we may have done together before now? I've always admired Mark as a person and his endless well of knowledge. And he's one of the best writers comics has ever had. So, no complaints so far.
Nrama: Without venturing into spoiler territory, what can you share (if anything!) at this point about issue #17? Which characters are involved, other than (duh) Daredevil?
Allred: There's this one dude who does this thing. And Foggy wants to do this other thing. But then something happens which makes all this other stuff happen! But don't tell anyone. We want it to be a surprise.
Nrama: It's been a little while since you last illustrated for Marvel— what's it like being back working in the Marvel Universe? Has your perspective or approach to the characters changed at all in recent years?
Allred: I have a renewed appreciation for all my friends old and new. As well as a stronger and more mature work ethic and focus that I'm going to fly with.
Nrama: With iZombie wrapping up, you've stated that more announcements involving you are coming beyond the Daredevil gig. If I've pieced things together correctly, I believe there's one more guest spot at Marvel, and then something lengthier with them — is that about right? Any indication of when we might hear more about those projects?
Allred: I'm thinking sometime this summer everything will be announced. I'm also finishing a little story for DC with one of my favorite characters. It's co-written with my big brother Lee Allred in the spirit of what we did together on Solo. I'm also doing a short story for Eerie at Dark Horse with Damon Gentry. And, of course, I always try to make time for an annual Madman special.
But other than that it looks like Marvel is going to be keeping me very busy for the foreseeable future.More from Newsarama:
- Ten Major Marvel Characters Who Have Never Been AVENGERS
- Waid Talks What's Next for Critically Acclaimed DAREDEVIL
- Looking Back on X-FORCE and X-STATIX with Mike Allred