Interview: Life of Agony's Alan Robert Discusses His New Horror Comic, 'Crawl to Me'
Best known as the vocalist/bassist for hardcore stalwarts Life of Agony, Alan Robert has also of late been cranking out wicked horror comics.
Here, Robert describes his history with the medium and his transformation into a full-fledged comic author and illustrator.
Also make sure to enter for a chance to win a custom 'Crawl to Me' Dean Deceiver X designed by Alan Robert, and check out the gallery of Robert's comics below.
GUITAR WORLD: When did you first get into comics?
ALAN ROBERT I must've been nine or ten years old when my dad broke out his old, weathered cardboard box full of Silver Age comics for me to look at. I'm talking about books like Spiderman #1, early issues of Fantastic Four and The Incredible Hulk, as well as stacks of vintage Detective and Action Comics starring Batman and Superman. I was blown away by the loads of books he'd saved. It made a huge impression on me. I was already drawing pretty well for my age at the time, so seeing those books inspired me to create my own stories for characters I came up with. Later on, in my teenage years, I started my own collection, picking up books like The Punisher and hittin' the NY Comic Cons to get my comics signed by the artists.
Our audience primarily knows you as a musician, but you’ve also become well known in the comic world. Can you describe the chain of events that led you to create and publish your own graphic novels?
Well, even before Life of Agony got signed to Roadrunner Records in '92, I had gone to art school on a scholarship here in New York. I intended on becoming a comic artist and was taught by legendary Thor artist, Walt Simonson. The year I graduated was the same year the band got signed, so I had to make a choice: comics or music. Well, I basically jumped in the van and never looked back. LOA built our music career, year after year, recording several albums and touring all over the world, but I never lost my passion for making comics. I continued to develop this one idea, called Wire Hangers, on the road and in the studio. Eventually, in 2009, I finally got it to the point where I was ready to present it to publishers.
I remember setting up a Twitter account that year and I began following my favorite comic artists and authors. One of those authors also happen to be Chris Ryall, the Editor In Chief of IDW Publishing. He really dug the animated short I created for Wire Hangers that was posted on my site and soon after, we had a deal in place. It happened very quickly once I put the idea out there and I was so grateful to be published, especially by my favorite comics publisher. IDW is an award-winning publisher who puts out books like 30 Days of Night, Transformers, True Blood and Locke & Key.
Once Wire Hangers came out, it was received extremely well by horror and comic fans and went on to win the 2010 Cover of the Year Award by ComicMonsters.com. That was a huge achievement for me, being it was my first series. We actually beat out established books and franchises like Vampirella and Aliens Vs. Predator. It was really amazing. Now, IDW just released the first book of my second horror series, Crawl to Me. The reviews have been incredible and some movie makers have already approached me with interest in adapting it into a feature film. So, we shall see...
You illustrated and wrote Crawl to Me. What’s the most challenging part of putting these graphic novels together?
The hardest part about creating these books is hitting the print deadlines. Somehow, I always manage to hand 'em in on time, but man, it's tough. I literally do everything you see in the book, the writing, the penciling, the inking, the coloring, the lettering and the book layout. Thankfully, I have some guest cover artists to contribute some variant cover art because each issue is published with three different covers. You see, with comics, usually there's a whole team of people in place that deliver the art and story to the publisher. But, I found that I work best solo. Working this way gives me complete creative freedom to tell the stories the way that I envision them in my head.
My process is not typical at all, either. Because I don't hand off the script to a penciler to draw, I don't find that I need to write a panel by panel script. I generally write a short book outline describing the key points I want to hit in those 22 pages per issue. Then I create thumbnail drawings of how the pages will flow, and then I'll create the finished art. It is only at that stage, when the art is complete, that I write the dialogue for the characters. Most people would think that that is a backwards approach, but because I have the whole story brewing in my head already, it's what works best for me. It's really strange, I know.
Crawl to Me, Sample Page 1
Crawl to Me, Sample Page 2
Crawl to Me, Sample Page 3