Leave Your Spandex At the Door v.2.0: Mike Allred on Dead Girl action!

Welcome to Leave Your Spandex At the Door v.2.0! After 7 months of hiatus, I decided to take the cheap route to cheap publicity and relaunch my column with a new number 1. Iain “noone writes in the Roundtable” Burnside said relaunching is for scum (hi mr Quesada, how’s Bill?), so I’ll be keeping the old numbering in nifty brackets to show off. So welcome to LYSAD v.2 #1 (52). Hope you survive me and my boring intro paragraphs.Leave Your Spandex At the Door is a kinda-weekly column with a vague objective of pimping indie and ‘edgy’ mainstream comics you really should be reading dammit!

To hit things off for this fresh start, I’m honoured to present an interview with my favourite artist and isnpiration: Mike Allred! Pete Milligan and Mike’s X-Force (later X-Statix) was a case of love at first sight for me. I knew from seeing the very first character pin-ups that it was a book that would grab me by the balls and shake my world around. And it did (ouch)! Pete and Mike took over a book that had lost its edge and raison-d’etre too many years ago, threw all preconceptions about what could be done on an X-book out of the window and introduced readers to the new Marvel Age. Forget Morrison, this was the book that really broke the boundaries: mutant superheroes as the ultimate spoiled celebrities. They had won the public’s adoration, but they soon learned it came with a steep price. The missions and the lifestyles they lead to keep the public’s affections had an unprecedented high death rate and would lead to the defilement of their selves. After three years of intense ups and downs the title had shifted through more mutants than all other x-titles piled together, a much discussed name change and an even more publicised media disaster in the form of a botched Princess Diana storyline. In the very last issue, the X-Statix went down in a blaze as their last mission ended in a spectacular bloodshed that resulted in the death of all members.

Well, apart from Dead Girl, who was already dead. And now more alone than ever as the last surviving X-Static. Or is she? Mike Allred has all the answers as he talks to the Nexus about the new X-Statix presents: Dead Girl mini-series that ships in January, written by Pete Milligan, with pencils by Nick Dragotta, inks and covers by Mike Allred and colours by Laura Allred! Many thanks go out to new X-Statix editor Warren Simons for providing the Nexus with the covers and preview images from the first issue.

STORY: It’s hard to keep a good girl down…especially when she’s Dead! That’s right, True Believers, hold onto you’re freaking hats! After a brief hiatus caused by their, ahem, deaths, everyone’s favorite mutants are back! And this time, they’re bringing a host of…questions with them. Like why do some heroes and villains keep on dying, only to return from the dead? And why do other heroes and villains bite the bullet, only to remain dead? Who decides on this craziness? Is it some karmic wheel in the sky? Some fickle finger of fate? Or is it just some guy in the marketing department? Well, one such deceased villain, named The Pitiful One, is going to find out. When the Pitiful One decides that he’s tired of being dead, he assembles a posse of Marvel’s deadest villains to attack the world of the living. And it’s up to Doctor Strange to stop him and his evil cohorts—but he needs help from…well, you know. With Kraven the Hunter, Tike Alicar, and a few other surprise, dead guests. PRICE: $2.99IN STORES: 01-18-2006

THE STORY: When a bloodthirsty gang of dead villains – including the original Mysterio, Kraven the Hunter, and the enigmatic Pitiful One – cross over to our mortal plain and begin killing everybody in sight – it’s up to one man – nay, one Doctor – and one girl – nay, one Dead Girl – to fix things! Everyone’s favorite deceased superheroes – including Ant-Man, the Phantom Rider, and someone very, very sensitive”¦return! (And if those sound like slim pickings, maybe they are”¦but that’s just because all the cool heroes have already come back to life”¦) WARNING: DON’T MISS THE EXTREMELY EMOTIONAL RETURN OF MISTER SENSITIVE! HE’LL CRY IF YOU DON’T READ THIS! PRICE:$2.99IN STORES: 02-15-2006

Manolis Vamvounis:Hello Mike, and welcome to the Nexus! To start things off, can you tell us ‘who is Dead Girl’?

Mike Allred: Exactly how it sounds. She’s a girl who is dead only she overcomes that handicap for herself and sometimes others.

Manolis:Why did you choose Dead Girl for this first solo X-Statix series?

Mike: Well, since all of the characters were killed off she was the only one who kept her status. And with her help we good put a twist on that old chestnut of bringing back dead characters.

Manolis: Which X-Statix do you think has the greatest potential to maintain his/her own title?

Mike: Guy Smith aka Mister Sensitive has always been my favorite character with three or four of the others a close second.

Manolis:Will this title be accessible to readers not familiar with Dead Girl and the world of X-Statix. What does someone need to know before going in this title?

Mike: It’s wonderfully clear for the uninitiated.

Manolis:What is the premise of this series?

Mike: Dead doin’s are happenin’ and with the help of Dr. Strange, Dead Girl Is brought into the mix. How’s that for brevity?

Manolis:Who is the Pitiful One and what is his big beef?

Mike: I can’t tell you yet. I can say he’s a supervillain that’s REEEEAAAL tired of getting stomped by the good guys.

Manolis:Which characters make up his posse?

Mike: Tike for one which is a bit of a shocker considering where we find him at the beginning of the tale–Miss America, Mysterio, and Kraven make up his band.

Manolis:In this series Dead Girl meets a host of dead marvel characters, as seen on the cover to issue 1. Which Marvel dead character did you have the most fun drawing on that cover? There are some easily recognisable faces and some more obscure ones. Can you give us a roll call? (btw, that is easily the best rendition of Mockingbird’s mask I have ever seen. She’s a favourite character of mine).

Mike: I’ll leave it for the eagle eyes among you to sort ’em out. But I will say I’m thrilled to breathe new life into Gwen Stacy.

Manolis: How about the real Princess Di? –snicker-

Mike: Not funny (well, maybe a bit).

Manolis:If you had to sum up Dead Girl in a sort of capsule review, what would you say?

Mike: She’s nifty!

Manolis:An important fact about X-Statix and your X-Force before it, is that whenever you needed a fill-in artist to help relieve your workload, you always hand-picked them for the specific issue. This isn’t Nick Dragotta’s first venture into the world of X-Statix, as he has already done a Vivisector fill-in issue. How did you first learn about
him? What do you think he contributes to the X-Statix mythos?

Mike: Axel Alonso DUG HIM UP somewhere. He’s alumni–Nuff said!

Manolis:Your contribution to this series, apart from the covers, is inking over Nick’s pencils. How does it feel going over someone else’s pencils featuring characters you’ve become so familiar with drawing, and what do you think of Nick’s rendition of these characters you created?

Mike: He’s terrific and I’m having a blast “tracing” him. It’s a huge kick seeing how someone else visualizes a scene and then I get to put my own stamp on it.

Manolis: Your Solo project was lettered by your long-time associate, Nate Piekos of Blambot studios. What does Nate bring into every project that makes him so important to you?

Mike: He has a CLASSIC feel with his style. It’s timeless as opposed to trendy.

Manolis: Will he be the letterer in the Dead Girl mini?

Mike: Yeah, if we’re lucky.

Manolis: What is the current status of the X-Statix team? Are they all dead?

Mike: Yep.

Manolis: In the final issue of X-Statix they all suffered what I would term ‘’comicbook deaths”, without any of them actually dying on panel.

Mike: Oh, they’re dead all right.

Manolis: How are the X-Statix affected by the new post-House of M Marvel directive concerning the reduction of mutants to more manageable numbers? Are the X-Statix part of the editorial mutant list or will some of them lose their powers?

Mike: I honestly have no idea.

Manolis: Is X-Statix going to return to its Celeb-reality roots or is there going to be another raison d’etre for the team? If X-S is going to be something different, what can fans look forward to, certainly not just another mutant book?

Mike: We’re talking, but I can’t share any details yet.

Manolis: How has Dead Girl evolved from her first appearance? What has changed about her personality and her relationships?

Mike: She has healthier teeth and gums.

Manolis: A slowly developing subplot in the X-Statix run was the relationship between the Anarchist and Dead Girl. It started off as a press-bubble, but it developed into a uniquely dysfunctional affair. What did you think the connection was between these two characters?

Mike: They simply had that natural “vibe” for each other. Chemistry. They just clicked.

Manolis: Will Tike Alicar be playing an important role in this series?

Mike: Yupperooney!

Manolis: How did she originally come to be?

Mike: She died.

Manolis: How did Pete first describe her to you?

Mike: He said to draw a girl who is dead.

Manolis: What inspired the look of Dead Girl?

Mike: Not a big secret. I wanted to play with the look of a female version of my character Frank “Madman” Einstein–who was dead.

Manolis: Since her first issue Dead Girl has kept discovering new powers. Originally accused of being a novelty, she has since proved she can break her members apart and keep motor control of them, she can reform her body, talk to dead people, read dead bodies, visit the land of the dead, summon ghosts and even fly in one instance. Will she be showing any new powers in this mini?

Mike: Yuh-sir!

Manolis:Which one is your favourite Dead Girl power?

Mike: She can talk.

Manolis: Just a statement: Dr. Strange looks so cool! Did you base him on Robert Goulet?

Mike: HA! Not consciously.

Manolis: I know you are a huge fan, especially after the G-Men from Hell movie. His casting as the Devil there was inspired!

Mike: It was.

Manolis: Marvel has opened a competition to decide their all-time best covers. Which ones would you like to see there?

Mike: Mine.

Manolis: Which ones of your covers for this and the previous series are you most proud of?

Mike: Seriously? Probably the one with the big boney hand of death pointing at Edie, Guy, Tike and Doop. The one with the big red curtain.

Manolis:What is your favourite X-Statix story?

Mike: The first one and the last one (especially the Guy Smith/Tony Stark issue).

Manolis: You write and draw your own stories in Golden Plates and Madman/the Atomics before that. With X-Statix you received full scripts from Pete though. How much input did you have in the writing/plotting process?

Mike: Very little. We (Peter, Axel and I) talked a lot at the beginning essentially building the ship and then launching it. But, quite happily, every suggestion I ever made Pete worked in. I rarely was anything but jazzed with each new script. We tuned in to each other very quickly.

Manolis: Do you have any stories that you want to write about these characters?

Mike: I wrote one when it looked like Peter might be falling behind, I’ve since adapted it for an upcoming issue of my new MADMAN Atomic Comics series.

Manolis: The most important event during your run was of course Edie’s death which served as a turning point for the series. You’ve revealed before that you didn’t know which of the Big Three was going to die until the last minute. Have you ever regretted killing Edie, and how do you think the book would have been affected if Tike or Guy had died instead? With the return of What If recently, I would really like to see the idea explored in a oneshot.

Mike: Actually Tike’s number was up originally and we talked it out and realized Edie’s death would carry the most impact. She’s GREAT character and a huge loss, but it was that loss which created so much of the dramatic punch of what followed.

Manolis: Guy Smith was unquestionably the star of the old title, and a big focus of the book was always on his relationships, first with Edie and then with Venus. Venus had gotten a lot of grief from the Friends Of Edie for dating her old boyfriend after her death, but what was your opinion as a reader of the title?

Mike: X-Force? Perfect. X-Statix? Hindered.

Manolis: I know you get Di questions every time you get asked about X-Statix. Is this still a red button topic at Marvel, or can we hope to one day see your original Lady Di X-Statix pages online or in print? You have a long succesfull history of self-publishing, so would you ever consider publishing the original story with Peter from AAAPop?

Mike: I don’t know how that would be possible. Unless Marvel gave us the characters and I don’t see that happening. I don’t think I’d like to revisit it at all anyway. It was the one dark era on the whole experience.

Manolis: Comics have always been accused of featuring a so-called ”revolving door of deat”. Even holy goats like Bucky, the Jason Todd Robn and even Thunderbird seem to be clawing their way out of the grave recently. Do you agree with the resurrection and revamping of these old characters?

Mike: Not usually.

Manolis: Does it take away from the significance of the original stories?

Mike: Yes.

Manolis: For example, would bringing back Edie now take away from the magic of X-Force 128?

Mike: I think she would make for one of the rare exceptions. I could write a book on my feelings on the subject –and just might.

Manolis: As a fan, would you rather see an old character get revamped for a story or a
new character created?

Mike: Easy. NEW character! Except for the Dead Girl series, of course.

Manolis: I read an old Legend interview you had done where you had taken an extremely negative position in this matter? Do you think we’ve reached a point after 40-50 years of continuity where the company characters (spider-man, batman, superman and etc) don’t have any more good stories left in them and should they make way for a newer generation of characters?

Mike: I don’t think there could ever be a cap on good stories for great characters. I just resent re-tooling characters to fit a story when new characters would work as good or better.
WATCHMEN; end of argument.

Manolis: I enjoyed your Batman-A Go Go story from Solo, showing the camp 60s Batman (Adam West version) suddenly engulfed in today’s grim and gritty Gotham City and having to question his relevance in today’s violence-crazed society. Do you think that innocent version of Batman could still be relevant today?

Mike: Of course. I like the Boy Scout Batman and see a natural thread to what Frank Miller introduced.

Manolis: Could a Batusi Batman prove more popular to today’s generation than the Burton Dark Knight archetype?

Mike: I actually think the Burton Batman was consistent to the “Batusi Batman”. The innocence –the sincere desire to do good. Believe it or not, I’m rarely a fan of parody or the “nudge nudge wink wink” take on things. Remember when I was first exposed to the Batman TV show I was a little kid watching it everyday in reruns who took it very seriously. I was an adult, “post Dark Knight”, when I had the chance to see it again. As goofy as it is, I can still see it through the filter of my childhood and so have great affection and respect for it–which I’m sure I wouldn’t have if I was an older kid or teenager. Nostalgia maybe. But it holds a crazy kind of magic for me instead of the disillusionment that most childhood memories bare when exposed to the cold light of adulthood. Having said that, I’m still waiting for the perfect Batman movie.
One tiny suggestion: Someone should design a costume where Batman can actually move his neck!

Manolis: Was that the actual movie Cheetahman costume in the last page of Solo?

Mike: Uh-Huh.

Manolis: Have you ever dressed as Cheetahman or Madman for Halloween?

Mike: Maybe. Also, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Veteran’s Day.

Manolis: Is there any truth in the old rumours about Rob Liefeld’s comments to you regarding you taking over X-Force?

Mike: You mean on the internet? I never did talk to him about it at all. I’ve had one conversation with him that I can remember and that was about ten years ago. We use to have the same manager in Hollywood, but I fired him.

Manolis: Have you talked to him again since he reclaimed his trademark with last yea’s mini-series?

Mike: Nope. I honestly don’t know him to where I could give an informed opinion of him. I know folks who hate him and folks who adore him. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and choose to believe he’s a super great guy and leave it at that.

Manolis: What are your current favourite artists from the newest generation to break in to the industry?

Mike: I think James Jean is a master! The perfect mix of technology and classic painting.

Manolis: Is there someone you haven’t worked with that you want to snag for your next writing project or the next X-Statix mini or fill-in?

Mike: Lots of talent out there. I don’t want to start an incomplete list. James Jean just sent me a groovy print so he came to mind immediately and deserves a plug (it pays to send me free goodies Gang!).

Manolis: The recent huge success of sin city has made me really hopeful about film realisation of Indy comics projects. Has the success of the movie affected the plans for the Madman movie by Robert Rodriguez?

Mike: It’s opened up the possibilities of what we can do in a major way. All good!

Manolis: There’s talk of Sin City, but will that be shot before the Madman movie?

Mike: Not sure. We seem to be full-throttle right now. But everything needs to fall into place properly.

Manolis: Would you be interested to have a co-director role in the movie, like Frank miller had for SC?

Mike: You bet! And Robert insists on it.

Manolis: How did Robert react to having his likeness and name as a Marvel character, El Guapo?

Mike: He dug it.

Manolis: And what did he tell you when you had him amputated and then killed by a zombie pop star?

Mike: He merely wept. Actually, I created a MADMAN character for him who still lives and can be seen on the lunchbox so he’s a happy camper.

Manolis: I stole this question from an old Nexus interview, but I love it to bits: If you were to blow-up (God forbid) right now, what would you want people to remember about Mike Allred?

Mike: Honest. Kind. –and he smelled good.

Manolis: As one of the more successful Indy creators – which is your preference as a creator: self-publishing, publishing with a smaller house, or working for the big ‘M’?

Mike: I truly enjoy all of the above for different reasons and no preference. I guess the cool thing would be to say “indy all the way”, but it’s all great fun.

Manolis: What would you advise the newest generation of artists?

Mike: Do your own stuff. Stretch. Keep your options open. Have a good time or don’t bother.

Manolis: Which comics are you enjoying right now?

Mike: You’re killing me. I just caught on to G0dland. Suh-weet!

Manolis: Are you following any of the current brouhaha with Infinity Crisis or House of M?

Mike: What’s that? Just kidding.

Manolis:What do you think of Pete Milligan’s X-Men? With the return of annuals in marvel this year, could we perhaps see an X-Men annual written by Pete and drawn by you?

Mike: I’m ready!

Manolis: Out of all the X-Statix characters you’ve created, who do you think is the most likely to break out of the title and into the mainstream X-Men team?

Mike: Doop Jr.

Manolis: What has the fan reception been so far on the Golden Plates?

Mike: That’s a strange question. I think there’s a split there. But overall VERY positive and gratifying.

Manolis: Issue 3 just came out, and I was impressed with how your style seems so naturally suited to both the superhero genre and this religious drama setting.

Mike: We’re trying. Still, I’m approaching it as a true historical record.

Manolis: What about Madman?

Mike: His planets are lining up.

Manolis: Any plans for specials, TPB’s, nifty merchandise?

Mike: Absolutely!

Manolis: It’s such a fun world to visit that many many people would like to see more of it more often. It’s one of the few funny comic books out there.

Mike: Thanks, but I don’t see the humor in it. If the Movie takes off as planned I’ll move on the back log I’ve been piling up for the event.
Pure ginchiness!

Manolis: Thank you so much for answering my questions Mike, everyone at the Nexus is anxiously waiting for the first issue!

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If you want to discuss this interview you can drop me an email or visit the new official LYS@D discussion thread.

Manolis Vamvounis
a.k.a. Doc Dooplove

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