Alan Robert is the type who backs you up at the bar. A tight-fisted Goodfella who plays a mean bass when he's on stage, and a comic book writer/artist when he's not attached to an amplifier. He is one of many musicians who are now spreading their wings in the comic book "all-fly" zone, and with his new book Killogy from IDW Publishing hitting the streets, we took a couple of minutes to pick Alan's brain on where he's been, and where he's going.
PREVIEWSworld: So how did you find time to approach Frank Vincent, Marky Ramone, and Brea Grant to make them characters in the Killogy series? Did all of you find yourselves at the same party one night in the Hollywood Hills, and it spiraled into a brainstorm session?
Alan Robert: Well, let's just say I made them an offer they couldn't refuse (laughs). No, seriously, there was no Hollywood Hills involved. Frank and Marky are both very much New York area guys and Brea lives out in Texas. Actually, the first time I had dinner with Frank was at a great Italian place, appropriately named "Goodfellas Restaurante" out in Jersey. I was about 40 minutes late... traffic sucked that night, so when I walked in the joint, I thought I was definitely gonna get whacked (laughs). But Frank was super cool and down-to-earth right off the bat. We both have a professional music background, so we chatted for a long time about performing and his experiences as a session drummer. He told me some fantastic stories about how he and Joe Pesci became friends, band mates, and eventually actors together. For me, it was a great night. I had grown up on Frank's films, so to meet him and now to work with him on Killogy is a real thrill. Frank is very excited about being part of the project too, I know he gets a big kick out of seeing himself as a comic book character.
I had met Marky a few years back through a mutual friend, so he knew my band Life of Agony and also played my punk band Spoiler NYC on his Sirius XM radio show. Once Frank came on board, I pitched Marky the idea up at the Sirius office. His character was a baseball bat wielding street thug and he loved it right away.
Brea is a big horror fan, and a comic author besides being a talented actress, and she signed on shortly after Marky. IDW's EIC, Chris Ryall, had introduced us.
The idea of casting a comic book was a lot of fun for me and I'd never seen it done before. It was exciting to see it all come together.
PREVIEWSworld: As you have star power coming into this project as "characters," how does that affect delivering a product to IDW on schedule? Is the approval process testy, or did you have everything worked out with approvals already in place before IDW solicited Killogy?
Alan Robert: We had established the approval process early on, so I gotta say, thankfully it's been a piece of cake. I have a lot of respect for all three celebs and I'm very conscious about keeping them all in the loop with everything involved with the project. I constantly send them preview pages as I go so that everyone's comfortable with the way they're being depicted. It's very important to me that they all feel good about it. Since I handle both writing and artwork duties, I don't work with a hard script, just loose story outlines. The stars actually read their characters dialogue in panel along with the artwork. So far, it has gone incredibly smooth with no complaints. The series has received some great reviews and everyone involved is really stoked about it.
PREVIEWSworld: You have a strong rep as a bassist because of Life of Agony. And yet, now, you're working on a film for your IDW comic books, Wire Hangers and Crawl to Me. Which do you find more enjoyable? Music or making comics? Or is it two different sports, and you find you're an eager jock for both Olympics?
Alan Robert: I've been a professional musician for over 20 years, but have been drawing since I'm about four years old. I enjoy making music and comics equally, but I admit that the thought of seeing one of my stories come to life on the big screen might just trump everything I've done previously. I know just how difficult it is to get a film made, so to see how far these projects have come in such a relatively short time is a bit mind blowing.
Crawl to Me has a terrifying script, the adaptation was really well written by TJ Cimfel and David White. They did a great job with it. Now we're in the process of meeting with a few interested directors to hear their take on how they'd tackle the material. It's a contained psychological thriller with a limited cast.
Wire Hangers on the other hand has a ton of CGI so that's a much longer process. It's more visual in a sense because we're approaching it similar to how they approached the Sin City movie - shooting actors against green screen sets; creating the Wire Hangers world digitally. The "Cypra" Wire Hangers costume is practical though, designed by master monster effects man, Robert Hall (Almost Human VFX).
PREVIEWSworld: Wire Hangers dove into the serial killer subgenre and Crawl to Me was more of a horror-based thriller. How would you classify Killogy?
Alan Robert: Killogy is like a mash-up between Goodfellas and The Twilight Zone. Goodfellas in the sense that it has some dark comedy with its NY mobster characters and plot points, and The Twilight Zone in the way that it tells three short stories that center around celebrity guest stars. There's also the zombie element which ties the short stories together, so you have some horror scares in there too.
PREVIEWSworld: You studied cartooning under Walter Simonson at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, where you graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. How did your education prepare you for life as a professional writer/artist?
Alan Robert: I believe that everything I've done leading up to this point has helped me achieve my goals as a comic book creator. I've had a lot of experience writing songs which helped me tell stories, for one thing. All throughout my music career I've contributed artwork for the band's merchandise and album packaging, as well as storyboarding music videos. All of those things helped to round out my skills as an artist and writer. The things I learned under Simonson were more directly comic book-oriented and enabled me to focus on page layouts and story pacing. Walt is a great teacher and I owe him a lot. I was especially thankful that he was kind enough to write the foreword for my Crawl to Me graphic novel. It is one of the best I've ever read. If you haven't seen it, you should definitely check it out.