Michael Allred says that Bug! The Adventures of Forager has been "cheap therapy," and his brother Lee says "action and introspection" are key to the Jack Kirby creation.
This week's Bug! #4 continues the brothers' story of the "underdog New God" and his multidimensional chase after Chagra, and resumes the six-issue series after some slight delays.
The Allred brothers spoke to Newsarama about delays and a cancellation scare earlier this year, as well as the upcoming finale and how much Kirby's original work informed their 2017 interpretation of the character.
Newsarama: Lee, Mike, you're at the halfway point in Bug! The Adventures of Forager. How's it been digging into Bug like this?
Lee Allred: It's been a blast! The reader reaction has especially been rewarding. I've been very pleasantly surprised at just how many other Forager fans - both new and old - there are! I met a quite a lot of them in fact at a recent convention up in Portland. Mike and I aren’t the only fans of the little Kirby character with the big heart.
Michael Allred: And that Gerard Way, Jamie S. Rich, and the whole DC Young Animal gang were also jazzed about an underdog “New God” series has made it doubly rewarding.
Nrama: This week' #4 brings in Boston Brand, while the next one crosses over with OMAC - and in the past you've used Sandman. What's it like being able to hopscotch around to all these Jack Kirby creations?
Lee Allred: Right from the start of the project, we had romping through the DC Kirbyverse in mind. With only six issues, we couldn't quite fit in everybody, but hopefully we've made those appearances we could squeeze in memorable! BUG! #4 in particular is chock full of several surprise guests!
Michael Allred: Some of the most satisfying reactions have been from folks who realize we’ve been tying a bow on a few unfinished Jack Kirby jaunts, while creating a standalone adventure.
Nrama: Are there any Kirby creations you won't get a chance to touch on that you would've liked to?
Lee Allred: I especially would have loved to do something gothic and Universal Monster Movie-ish with Kirby's Demon! Kamandi would have been another great character to sandbox.
Michael Allred: Agreed! I’m going to keep the few remaining on my “wish list” in my back pocket. Still hoping to get to ‘em eventually.
Nrama: Has your opinion on Bug changed since you've had a chance to get deep with him and work on him as a character?
Lee Allred: All characters grow the more you write them and the more they appear in print. BUG! The Adventures of Forager, being a self-contained mini-series with a definite story arc, Forager will grow and change and hopefully be a better Bug at the end of our little Bildungsroman.
Michael Allred: Having read all six scripts at this point, Lee nailed it! Forager's arc is thrilling, moving and inspiring. I gotta make sure I don’t drop the ball drawing it.
Nrama: The series, so far, has been more introspective than I thought it would be. Is that something you consciously intended, or is it just part-and-parcel of this character in your minds?
Lee Allred: Yes and yes. My prose fiction outside of comics is introspective, but even if it wasn't, Kirby created Forager as equal parts action and introspection, so it's pretty much baked into the cake: "Who am I? Why am I so different? Where is my true home?"
We're just building on Kirby's foundation.
Michael Allred: It’s cheap therapy for yours truly as well.
Nrama: Several weeks ago news came out that DC was cancelling #5 and #6 to re-solicit them down the road – not delayed, but cancelled and later re-solicited.
Can you clear up what's going on with delays to avoid any more surprises for the readers?
Lee Allred: I don't know really that there’s much to explain. Release dates get juggled all the time. DC Young Animal simply reshuffled our schedule. Part of that process, I'm told, involves cancelling old solicits tied to the old, incorrect release date.
Unfortunately, the reporting of these solicit cancellations came to be taken to mean the series itself was cancelled.
Michael Allred: I herewith declare “cancelled" a “dirty word!
Lee Allred: BUG! was never cancelled. Issue #4 comes out September 20, we skip October, then issue #5 comes out in November and #6 wraps up in December.
Michael Allred: I gotta take some blame here. I take a lot of pride in being reliable and I was spending every free second I had getting a head start drawing Bug! while finishing my epic run on Silver Surfer with Dan Slott. Bug! was to be my follow-up project. But with the Jack Kirby Centennial celebration coming, we rolled the dice on launching early to be a part of it, fully realizing we may have to retool the schedule later. Throw in the challenge of doing an issue of Doom Patrol that Gerard Way wrote specifically for me, which you would have had to drag me off kicking and screaming from…Something had to give, and reworking the schedule for the last two issues of Bug! seemed a reasonable compromise.
Nrama: So looking ahead… Big picture, what are your goals with Bug! and the finale?
Lee Allred: The goal for Bug! has been to create a book readers would have just as much fun reading as we'd have creating. We also wanted to introduce Kirby's Forager to a brand new generation of readers, as well as spark enthusiasm and interest the books and characters Kirby created for DC during the 1970s.
For our big finale we have an E-ticket cosmic rollercoaster ahead with plenty of hairpins turns and spills, chills, and thrills. Without getting into any spoilers, Mike's cover for Bug! #6 hints at some of what we have in store. The dominoes start falling fast and furious in our final issue!
Michael Allred: What he said!