Friday, March 14, 2008

Madman is cool beans!

The newest issue of Madman came out this week (issue #7) and it's quite the visual treat. This issue is the concluding chapter in the Madman Goes to Space arc and even if you've never picked up an issue of Madman before, take a look at this issue as it's done entirely without dialogue and is one of the best silent comics I've ever "read". Another great single issue to look at for those of you new to Madman is issue #3 (of the new series) as it is another great art showcase, with Allred telling the whole issue by apeing (emulating) the art styles of dozens of artists including Gene Colan, Steve Bissite, Hal Foster, Jack Kirby, Dick Sprang, Walter Simonson, John Byrne, Will Eisner, and too many more to list, all in a single 24 page comic that works as a wonderful homage to great artists from today and yesteryear.

Mike Allred has been writing and drawing Madman since 1992 (taking off from working on the character from time to time though over the years to work on other projects) and now Image is the publishing home for Madman. Last year Image released the Madman Gargantua hardcover which collects just about all of the Madman stories to date (when I first got it I was looking through it and marveling at the scope of Allred's talent even from the beginning, but sadly I haven't blocked aside the time yet to devour and revisit these early adventures). There are several smaller trade paperback collections of Madman, with one of the best as means of an introduction being the Madman / Superman Hullabaloo collection (not in the Gargantua hardcover).

What is Madman? Well it's a superhero book of sorts as Madman (Frank) has powers and fights supervillains, but Madman is actually mostly just Mike Allred's forum for portraying a great love story (Frank aka Madman and his girlfriend, Jo) amidst a back drop which allows him to draw fantastical things like space ships and aliens. Madman stories are mostly light in tone, but Allred also explores existensial concepts in Madman without bogging down the book (I actually often wish that the existential themes were more prominent).

I'd say that Mike Allred's creativity is as rich as Grant Morrison's, but Allred is more centered and more positive than Morrison (and I'm not saying either writer's outlook is better than the others, I'm just offering this from my perspective). If memory serves me correctly, I believe that the expressions "cool beans" and "ginchy" were first used in Madman. A short lived, but great cartoon that some of you may remember came out years ago called Freakazoid (I think it's coming out on dvd this summer) - and even though Allred probably should have sued for plagarism, it was a great cartoon and people that liked it would like Madman (and vice versa).

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