I imagine the first thing that comes to the average mind when one mentions Mike or Laura Allred, together or separately, is Madman, Mike’s mid-Nineties comics creation that has lived long and is one of the most brilliant comics on shelves even today.
In Mormon circles, they are probably better known for The Golden Plates, their Book of Mormon adaptation.
For both these works, the writing and drawing is done by Mike, with colors by Laura. But their careers stretch far beyond these two titles, deep into the world of popular comics. Mike’s retro-pop stylings are in high demand (look for a collaboration with Neil Gaiman, coming soon) and Laura’s zowie colors for numerous popular titles have won her fan awards time and again. Check out these resumes: (Mike), (Laura).
Speaking as a devout student of Mormon comics, few artists’ work provides as much opportunity for in-depth consideration as that of the Allreds. As time goes on, their Mormonness becomes more and more obvious. In their most recent Madman collection, for instance, they take a look at everything from premortality to polygamy to Johnny Lingo.
They’re a busy couple of people between their art and their music and the maybe-Robert-Rodriguez-will-finally-make-it-this-year Madman movie, but they graciously agreed to be part of the Couple-Creators series.
Q: Were you both creators before meeting each other? Did creation play a role in bringing you together? How does creating together impact your marriage?
We met at BYU-Idaho and were both in the art department. So, we’ve always had that connection.
We were originally worried about getting sick of each other working together full-time, but it’s only brought us closer together.
Q: Since Michael seems to get hit up for more interviews than Laura, the general impression online is that projects you work on together are purely his ideas. How accurate is this?
I’ll give him input, but he really does do pretty much everything except selecting the colors.
Q: The Golden Plates. Doing that project seems like a financial risk and, sadly, it wasn’t a big hit. How did you discuss this project ahead of time, and was that discussion different than previous deciding-to-do-a-project discussions? What sort of strain did its lackluster sales cause? How likely are you to return to either that project or the Joseph Smith bio?
First off, it actually was a huge hit. But not big enough to sustain us financially given the time needed to do it right. So, we simply have to find time to do it when we can. We’re confident once we manage an efficient schedule that it will pick up steam.
Q: Speaking of, what is the relationship between faith, art and spouse?
It just is. We don’t have the words to express that answer correctly.
Q: Of course, you both work on projects apart from each other as well as working together — why is it important to take those jobs?
It’s always good to stretch on outside projects. That’s where we’ll find new inspiration to progress with different techniques and approaches.
Q: Speaking of, artistically, what are the advantages of working on properties owned by other people?
Q: How is it different, working together as opposed to working with other people?
Together we have a rhythm and a comfort zone that can’t be matched.
Q: I know you’ve worked with Mike’s brother Lee. Have you involved other family members in projects as well? How does that turn out?
Our children have created characters or done small coloring jobs and stuff. It’s just extra fun.
Q: How do you balance family and art? Do you think it is easier or harder to be parents, you both being professional creatives? How do your careers affect your children?
We would just say it allows us to involve our children more in what we do, and they’re all creative too in music and art. And working at home just brings us closer together.
Q: At the beginning of your careers, before you were The Famous Allreds, how did you balance art with more mundane needs like rent?
We just plugged away. It’s not much different now except…
Q: How has success changed your approaches to art?
…we have more confidence and it’s a little easier to get things done.
Q: How has success changed your relationship with each other?
Simply more comfort, less stress.
Q: I hear Laura is, first and foremost, a painter. Which begs the question: in addition to comics, what else are you two up to in terms of Fab Art?
Not much lately. I have my hands full with our regular work and spend as much time with the kids as we can.
Q: Any advice for Mormon artist couples like yourselves?
Just don’t be afraid to spend more time together. We love it!