More About the Author
Alan Robert is the creator of several critically acclaimed comic series: Wire Hangers, Crawl to Me (in development to become a motion picture), Killogy, & The Shunned One (2014). Robert is also well known as the bassist/songwriter for the hard rock group Life of Agony for over two decades.
In July 2011, IDW Publishing released the first issue of "Crawl To Me," a stunning horror comic series from creator Alan Robert. The story, about a young family forced to cope with a series of disturbing events, was applauded by Ain't It Cool News for being "gorgeous and terrifying." Fangoria promised that "readers will be blown away by the story and artwork of this psychological thriller," and ComicMonsters.com fans voted it "Best Mini-Series of the Year" (beating out top-selling books Hellboy and Locke & Key).
Less than six months later, IDW released "Crawl to Me" as a graphic novel that collected all four issues of the original series. The book sold out within days of its release. Shortly after, it was announced that the acclaimed mini-series was in development to become a live-action feature film with screenwriters TJ Cimfel and David White attached. In 2013, a completed screenplay caught the attention of director Victor Garcia (Gallows Hill) who quickly signed on. The "Crawl to Me" movie will be produced by Rodar y Rodar (The Orphanage) along with creator Alan Robert and his producing partners Jeff Mazzola (Descent) and Chris White (My Super Psycho Sweet 16 franchise).
"I remember feeling awestruck the first time I saw the completed version of the graphic novel," says Alan. "I didn't think there could be a greater feeling of accomplishment. But the thought of the book becoming a feature film is pretty mind-blowing. I've read the screenplay and it's safe to say that this is going to be one hell of a frightening movie."
A Brooklyn native, Alan's journey as a comic book creator began at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, where he attended on a scholarship and studied cartooning under legendary Thor comic writer/artist Walt Simonson. "I was a pretty shy kid, but I was able to express myself by drawing, which also helped me make friends. I remember kids gathering around me in the school cafeteria, watching me draw some pretty horrific things," he laughs. "I recognized early on that I was able to connect with people on a whole different level through art. And I fell in love with comics after reading my father's silver age collection." He cites Mike Zeck's work on The Punisher: Limited Series as being particularly influential, inspiring him to create lo-fi, Xerox-copied comics which he sold in the neighborhood comic shops. "I wound up tracking him down at a convention," recalls Alan. "I wanted his advice on my portfolio. He was encouraging, very helpful and had some great pointers."
As for being a comic book fan studying with Simonson, Alan says, "imagine being a rookie baseball player and having Babe Ruth as your hitting coach--that's what it was like to have Walt as a cartooning teacher. He's one of the greats and I learned a lot from him."
Years later, Simonson wrote the intro for the "Crawl To Me" graphic novel. In it, he pointed out the inside front cover and splash in issue No. 2, writing, "It's as clever a graphic device for opening a story as I've seen in a long time. I can't take any credit for it," he mused, "but I certainly plan on swiping it at the earliest possible opportunity!"
"Walt always got the best out of me," says Alan. "He helped me to develop the confidence to express myself through storytelling. When I reconnected with him recently at NY Comic Con, he was very excited when I showed him the 'Crawl to Me' books. Having him contribute an introduction to my graphic novel was a real full-circle experience. It's an honor that he did that for me."
Though he graduated from SVA with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Alan's career in comic books was put on hold when his band Life Of Agony was offered a record deal. Forced to make a choice, he opted for music. "Initially, bass playing and music was more of a hobby than anything else, but the band seemed to have a momentum that couldn't be stopped," he remembers. "At the same time, the mechanics of making comics and cartooning started to seem a bit tedious. I loved drawing, but I was young and playing exciting rock shows on the weekends seemed a lot more fun than slaving over a drawing table trying to get three-point perspective just right," he laughs. "So I jumped in the van and we drove out west to kick off a tour with a band called The Genitorturers, who would bring audience members on stage and do body piercings while they performed. We stayed in fleabag motels and truck stops and there was no road crew to help us. It was just the four guys in the band and a friend of ours who drove the van. It was insane but we loved every minute of it."
"Luckily, I had a lot of support back home," he says. "My mom was a teacher and my dad was an assistant principal at a Brooklyn elementary school. My dad actually bought me my first bass. I think it was exciting for them to see the band get signed and gain popularity. My dad always had one strict rule: he wanted me to graduate college before pursuing music full-time. He wanted me to have a degree to fall back on if the band didn't work out. It was smart and I respected it."
It wasn't exactly a bad career move: though they started out as a hardcore band with a cult following, Life Of Agony went on to sell more than a million albums over the course of a 20-year span. During that time, they played to sold-out audiences around the world, including headlining stints for European festival crowds of more than 500,000 people. They shared stages with some of the biggest names in rock, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ozzy Osbourne and Metallica, and in 2005, the video for their single "Love To Let You Down" received an MTV2 nomination for "Video of the Year."
But Alan never lost his passion for comics and continued to develop an idea called Wire Hangers.
"I remember coming up with the concept when Life of Agony was on the road supporting Ozzy. Whenever we were touring or in the recording studio, I would find myself sketching out characters on the back of lyric sheets and leaving voicemail messages for myself with scene dialogue. One day I decided to finally do something about it and approached IDW with the idea. They had published some of my favorite comics, like 30 Days of Night and Welcome to Hoxford and it seemed like the perfect home for this dark, gritty story with tons of textures and atmosphere. IDW agreed and in 2010 released Wire Hangers to critical acclaim.
"As a new guy on the scene, I was really nervous about the critics' reaction. But it turned out great and I was accepted right off the bat. The books have received tons of positive reviews and some awards and developed a really loyal fan base. I'm super-excited to keep building this momentum going. It's a great tight-knit community."
Alan is currently putting the finishing touches on his highly anticipated new project, Killogy, a Twilight Zone-esque tale of three strangers, all accused of murder, sitting impatiently inside a dingy police holding cell waiting to be arraigned. One by one, the characters recount the events which led to their unforseen arrests and, to their surprise, their stories are mysteriously intertwined. The three characters are based on the likenesses of actor Frank Vincent ("Goodfellas, "The Sopranos"), Ramones drummer Marky Ramone and actress Brea Grant ("Heroes," "Dexter").
"As the story developed, I found myself modeling the characters after these known celebrities because that's how I kept envisioning them in my head. I had no idea if I could even get ahold of these people, let alone get them involved in my crazy idea. But I put some feelers out there to see if they would be interested. It turns out that Brea Grant is a big horror comic fan and had written We Will Bury You for IDW, so she was a good fit right away. Marky Ramone and I have a mutual friend, so I met with him in person and he really loved the idea. He digs comics a lot and he especially liked the idea of his character using a baseball bat as a weapon. Frank Vincent is an old friend of my film production partner, Jeff Mazzola, so he connected us. Frank had never been involved with comics before but he's done voiceovers for animated films and video games recently, so this wasn't too much of a departure for him. He was actually very excited about it, especially the artwork. For me, working with these amazingly talented people on an original concept like this is a dream come true."
"I went into art school determined to become a professional illustrator, came out a rock and roll musician and then found a way to do both," he laughs. "Life is strange that way. You never know where it's gonna take you. But you gotta be able to adapt and just roll with it. It's all about the journey."