Special Award in Graphical Narrative
Michael Dalton Allred
his lifetime achievement in comics
Michael Allred is arguably the apotheosis of modern American comics. He can match Chris Ware in philosophy, Los Bros. Hernandez in family epic (even if his families tend toward the mutant-and-mad-scientist sort), and every pro added together in pure joy and pop verve.
Nowhere are Mike's artistic strengths better on display than in the adventures of his now-classic character Madman, who turns twenty this year — having introduced a broad audience to the Three Nephites as mysterious wise men who arrive in our hero's moment of need, marriage ceremonies performed on alien planets over a prototypical Mormon altar, and a focus on the eternal nature of romantic relationships — once, the Madman of Snap City even meets a friend from the preexistence who teaches him about Spirit Paradise and Spirit Prison, "our eldest brother [who] will raise us up," blood replaced by spirit, Eternal Progression, opposition in all things, and "heavenly parents who live in glory on the celestial planet of Golob."
That depth of spiritual thought has been a hallmark of Mike's work from the beginning — in the first issue of Madman the eponymous hero wonders, "Is God watching me now? I wonder when our sun will die. Will God pack up to watch someone else? Goodnight . . . God." Frank even takes the opportunity to ask Superman if he believes in God during the only Superman/creator-owned character crossover in comics history.
All the same, fans and journalists were shocked in 2004 when Mike announced he was leaving his commercially successful work in order to self-publish a comics adaptation of the Book of Mormon. The Golden Plates is currently interrupted, but in just three issues it set a new standard for Book of Mormon comics, one of the most enduring subjects in Mormon comics art.
Allred's pop-art sensibilities and his wide exposure through seminal titles like Sandman and Fables, massively popular titles like X-Statix (just rereleased as a 1200-page omnibus edition), and work with other artists from all ends of the comics spectrum (professionals and amateurs, big-publisher superheroes and indie weirdies), have made his work simultaneously recognizable and utterly eclectic.
The twentieth anniversary of Madman has already seen the release of Madman: 20th Anniversary Monsters!, essentially a love letter to Mike from dozens upon dozens of the most reputed names in comics.
For his formal experimentation with the art form and storytelling of comics, for his contributions to explicit and implicit Mormon comics, for his in-your-face Mormon religiosity, for his populist pop sensibilities (helped in great measure by his wife and longtime collaborator, colorist Laura Allred), and for simply his excellence as an artist, the Association for Mormon Letters joins those honoring Michael Dalton Allred for his body of work with this special award in graphical narrative.