Charlie Adlard: The man behind The Walking Dead
We chat to one of the comic's main illustrators
As you're all no doubt aware, Metal Hammer are big fans of comics and The Walking Dead – so it's a pretty big deal for us that we got to meet the man who has been an artist on the comics since issue number seven in 2004. We find out where his ideas come from and what his thoughts are on the TV adaptation.
What brought you into the world of comic books? What got you started?
"Well, to cut a very long story short, when I was about seven, way, way back in 1972 my dad bought me a copy of The Mighty World Of Marvel, which was a British re-print of obviously the old Marvel comics, but it was formatted in an anthology style format, which obviously the UK did better than if it was single stories. And it was in black and white, but it was available for the first time on the news stand and God knows why my dad bought it me? Perhaps he saw it advertised on the telly and he saw me react to it, I don’t know. Yes, comics were advertised on the telly way back then. So, yeah, he bought me that and I think I was drawing before that, but it wasn’t really focused or anything like that. Literally as soon as I read The Mighty World Of Marvel number one, I was focused, I was drawing superheroes from then on and reading comic books. It was as simple as that."
So that was just something of a lightning rod for you, creatively speaking?
"It’s one of my first memories really. Him walking in our living room and he had something behind his back, and I was very excited, what was it, what was it, you know, and it was this comic."
I’ve got to say, my moment was very different. It actually wasn’t a comic book itself, it was actually I Am The Law by Anthrax, a band responsible for bringing so many people into that world obviously based on the life and times of Judge Dredd. Now you worked on that comic as well, was that your first big break? Your first gig?
"Yes it was, it was a baptism of fire, I mean, literally my first professional break was a ten page story for the Dredd magazine written by Alan Grant, and it was a fully painted strip. I wasn’t comfortable with fully painting, but it was of a time in the early ’90s where everybody was fully painting stuff, you know, it was off the back off the Simon Bisley thing, where everything literally had to be in acrylics or oils or whatever. You’d work for days on a page, so it was something that I had just started to experiment with and all of a sudden I found myself getting paid to do it, which was a bit weird. Also it was Judge Dredd haha! The first ever thing you do Judge Dredd, it’s like, God, no pressure then."
Obviously a very different world from what keeps you very busy these days. The world of Walking Dead isn’t one populated by genuinely by heroic types is it? It’s a genuinely apocalyptic and just lightless kind of world. Where do you go for inspiration? To draw a book like that, I mean, you must have some nightmares from time to time?
"No, honestly, I’m sat there whistling a happy tune as I’m drawing The Walking Dead."