Alan Robert is the bassist for Life Of Agony and the frontsman for Spoiler NYC. He's also got a comic book out from IDW next year, Wire Hangers, an abduction/conspiracy/journalist horror comic. As he told me in our recent Twinterview, he's been working on it for a long time…
Rich: Many musicians/actors create comics they've little to do with. Now there's a move to getting down and dirty. Why was this your way?
Alan: I can only speak for myself and my own situation. Before I was a pro musician, I studied Cartooning with Walt Simonson in NY
I intended to go into drawing comics back then, but my band Life of Agony just got a worldwide deal with Roadrunner Records
So I followed that path for many years. It's our 20 year anniv. as a band actually. But, I've always loved comics and finally made the time to make Wire Hangers come to life. It's been a long time coming for me.
Rich: How long has Wire Hangers been in your head?
Alan: Gotta be around 10 years now. I really started focusing on character dev and plot when I was on the road with Ozzy in 98 As things got busier with writing new records and such, I would put it down for up to 6 months and then dust it off when things slowed down in my life.I can't say things are slow right now, heh, but I am super excited to do this now more than evr I've been really determined since the start of '09 to get this out there and have rearranged my schedule to make time for it Now that my friends at @idwpublishing are putting it out next year I am beyond excited to make this the best it can possibly b Esp doing all of the writing and art, Ive certainly got my hands full. But, it gives me a level of freedom that I normally wouldn't have when working with other artists. I can change things on the fly when I see ways to improve the script And really pay attention to the small details like no one else can, because I have the entire story laid out in my head.
Rich: To what extent is it still true to those initial ideas – is it a period piece, set in nineties themes and concerns?
Alan: This first mini-series takes place in present day NY, but there are flashbacks incorporated throughout. Recently, I've actually added a really interesting twist that I think will open the doors to a possible spin-off, down the line. That's the beauty of doing it all yourself.
Rich:I believe the appropriate American term is "that's what she said"
Alan: I was afraid you were gonna go there… ; )
Rich:Do you separate the musical and the illustrative sides in your head or is it part and parcel of the same thing for you?
Alan: It's all very incestuous for me cuz I've always created art for the bands I'm in and other bnds like Puddle of Mudd, 3 Doors and Shinedown. Evrything from album art , swag, to posters and websites. Its in my blood I guess. So, the comic comes really natural for me. Esp because Ive written music video treatments before so Im awre how particular it can be to write a scrnplay. Somewhere within the 10 yrs of conceiving the Wire Hangers idea, I wrote the first act as a movie, but went back to writing as a comic because I really was inspired by some of the darker comics out there at the time. Esp work by @templesmith and and dave mckean. Dave actually created album packaging for one of my LOA records: Soul Searching Sun. So, it really all goes back to my love for comics and love for the storytelling format.
Rich:Well, some creators provide music tracks for their comics, recommended songs to read along to. What's a good Wire Hangers track?
Alan: Anything off of Aphex Twin would be suited. But, when I work I usually have some punk rock tunes on. Social D, Rancid, Sex Pistols are all favs. My love of punk is why I started Spoiler NYC. Something about the energy of punk rock gets me motivated to pull all nighters workin on the comic ; )
Rich:I guess few people expect the rock and roll late night lifestyle to be hunched over a drawing board getting a nose just right?
Alan: Funny right? I actually got a ton of pages done touring in Europe this summer with Faith No More. I would draw all day Do the show, then get back on the tour bus and color the pages. Here's some in progress shots from that run
Alan: You'd be surprised just how much time there is to kill waiting around to do a 1.5 hour
Rich: Wire Hangers revolves around global conspiracy – do you have your own conspiracy beliefes or is it just grist for good fiction?
Alan: Let's put it this way. I don't believe Americans landed on the moon, There is no magic bullet and I'd love to go fishing in Loch Ness. Yeesh just hit my 666 tweet. The devil made me do it
Rich: I've been fishing in Loch Ness. You know Buzz Aldrin might try to punch you over that?
Alan: Good Ol Buzz. He's got nuthin on OJ in Capricorn One
Rich: How are you expecting the attention of comics fans to differ from music fans?
Alan: I think there will be a lot of crossover with music fans getting turned on by the comics and vice versa. I'm hoping that the comic community will not just look at this series as just another one of those musicians giving a go at a book because that's really not the case with me. Ive had a huge passion to create comics goin back to being a kid selling B&W comic stories in the local brooklyn, ny shop i grew up near. Its something ive always wanted to do and now i have the best of both worlds of music and art. Its a great balance for me to be able to create all these ideas. Another thing, is that I think that the Wire Hangers story is unique enough to stand on its own two feet. Even without the music tie-in. So, I'm hoping that comic fans will give it a chance and check it out. theres a trailer for the book
Rich: So you're not expecting an ever crazier level of fan than you're used to?
Agent_M: Just found out Alan Roberts from Life Of Agony is on Twitter -and he's making comics! AWESOME! Remember seeing LOA in '96. Woo!
Alan: The crazier the better! One of the best part about the Cons are the costumes. I think thats the biggest form of flattery for an artist or a creator. To see some fans walk in dressed as some of your characters. At least, I'd be blown away if that happens with Wire Hangers. Im excited to see people's reaction to the series. I think Its twisted enough to hold horror fans interest. There's enough blood n guts for some of my die-hard horror friends that have seen it so farand its not a vampire story or anything like that that been so popular. its more complex and unexpected
Rich: Ryan Penagos, Marvel editor @Agent_M just found out you're on Twitter and he's ever so excited. Would you ever work for Marvel?
Alan: That's awesome! I grew up on Mike Zeck, esp his Punisher series so I would never rule anything out. Oh and my daughter loves Disney. heh
And as Ryan continued to confess his undying love for Alan, I made my excuses and left them to it…