Space walking with Allred's 'Spaceman'

While many of you are excited about the work Mike Allred is doing monthly over on Marvel's "X-Force," there are still many others who are disappointed that you're not seeing any new work by Allred on "Madman" or "The Atomics." Well, as you may know, that's going to change soon. Mike Allred's AAA Pop Comics and Oni Press are releasing a series of one-shot spin-off's from "The Atomics" written by Allred with art by some of his favorite creators. "It Girl," the first spin-off, hits stores this April with art by Chyna Clugston-Major. July will see the release of the second spin-off, "Spaceman," on which Allred will be joined by "Sparks" creator Lawrence Marvit. CBR News caught up with Oni Press Editor-In-Chief Jamie Rich and Marvit to talk a bit about "Spaceman."

"'Spaceman' is a product that's been percolating for a while," Rich told CBR News. "If you look, almost a year ago, on the back of 'The Atomics,' Mike Allred started advertising this book and it was one of those cases where he had a character that was going to spin-out of the book and he had someone he wanted to work with, which was Lawrence Marvit."

These spin-offs were a way for Allred to keep those ginchy characters from "The Atomics" in front of readers while Allred's busy with his work on Marvel's "X-Force." Rich and Allred discovered the only way it was going to be possible to do this would be to have Allred write the books and someone else supply the art. In the case of "Spaceman," the book will have a decidedly different feel from "It Girl" or any previous "Madman" project due to Marvit's association with the book. While comic fans know him best for his work on the Slave Labor Graphics series "Sparks," Marvit's background is in animation and he'll bring a lot of that sensibility to "Spaceman."

"In the original genesis of this project Lawrence was going to paint all the backgrounds and Mike was going to do everything else," said Rich. "A year later we are talking to Mike about 'It Girl' and taking over some of the AAA Pop stuff and what happened was that 'Spaceman' became the second collaboration between Oni and AAA Pop. The project also evolved creatively as Lawrence is now penciling all the characters as well as the backgrounds and then Mike will ink the characters and will draw Spaceman. So, there will be this strange sort of animated look to the book. You'll have these amazingly painted backgrounds and then on top of that, as a separate layer, you will have hand drawn and inked characters that are then digitally colored. It's an interesting process because all I've really seen are the pages themselves; I haven't read a script or anything. I'm looking at all these backgrounds with no characters on it and I don't even know the story!"

Here's how it's going to work. Marvit will paint the background for each page which will then be scanned into a computer. Next, Marvit will pencil the figures on a vellum overlay attached to photocopies of the finished backgrounds and those will be sent to Allred, who'll finish them by inking the characters and adding in Spaceman himself. Finally, Mike and Laura Allred will assemble all these pieces on the computer at which point it'll be sent off to the printer and come this July you'll see the finished product in your favorite comic book store.. Now that you know the process by which these books will be produced you have to wonder if there's any advantage to creating a comic this way.

"There really isn't any advantage one way or the other," artist Lawrence Marvit told CBR News. "It's an art direction choice more than anything. We wanted it to feel like an old 'Space Ghost' cartoon. ...it is a bit more labor intensive, but that's about it.

"The hardest thing about this project is making sure to live up to Mike's expectations. This is a guy who's work I've admired for quite some time. I still think his 'Red Rocket 7' is one of the great unsung graphic novels of the last 10 years. I mean, come on, how much pressure is it to do a book with both his and my name on it? A ton!!! I really hope to do well by him and the guys at Oni."

While both Rich and Marvit were pretty close-lipped about the actual story at this point, Marvit did give us some comparisons with which to draw out own conclusions.

"The story is pure Mike Allred!!! It's light fun, with a bit of a retro flavor. If you loved 'The Atomics' you'll love this as well!! It's a straight forward '50s style space adventure type of story. Think of the old DC space stories; 'Adam Strange,' 'Atomic Knights' and 'Space Ranger.' (Anyone out there remember Space Ranger?)"

Allred's taken a very hands-off approach with Marvit on "Spaceman," allowing him to add his own touches based on Allred's script.

"Fool that he is, Mike seems to trust that I can do this! There have been a few small things that have been changed from the script, but all I had to do was call Mike and ask; he always said yes. Having never really done a comic off of someone else's script, I have no idea if this is common or not."

As for the future of Allred's universe of characters, Jamie Rich says Allred's next project will likely be more Madman focused and, he added, the next Madman story arc would be written by director Robert Rodriguez, set to direct the feature film version of "Madman." As for when this might see print, it's going to depend entirely on when the "Madman" film will go into production.

Look for "Spaceman" by Mike Allred and Lawrence Marvit this July from Oni Press and AAA Pop Comics.

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