Metal Skull: Interview with Life Of Agony’s Alan Robert: Yes, Wire Hangers!

Long since responsible for the majority of his band’s visual artwork (and come to think of it, the songwriting as well), Life Of Agony bassist Alan Robert has just created his first comic book mini-series for publisher IDW. Called Wire Hangers, it’s a complex story of kidnapping, murder, corruption and government conspiracies. Clearly Superman need not apply.

In addition to this project, Life Of Agony is also celebrating their 20th anniversary as a band at Starland Ballroom in Sayreville on Nov. 28 by playing their classic River Runs Red album in its entirety. Robert was gracious enough to check in with the following phoner to discuss the latest goings on.

How did the story come together for Wire Hangers?

The real challenge for me was making all the sub-characters, back stories, and really have it believable and make sense for these characters to be interconnected and really cohesive as a story that’s engaging, that has twists and turns and different story arcs to expand on. This is my first experience writing a series of anything. Usually when you write a song, you have a beginning, middle and end, and that’s as far as it goes. With a series, and developing characters and things like that, it’s a whole other set of tools you’re using.

You have to prolong it. I haven’t seen the comic yet, but you have to keep an arc and then expand on it every time.

The cool thing about this story is that at the end of this first series that I’m working on, there’s an open door to really expand it in a big way. To really take it from a mini-series to a full-blown series. That’s my intention with it.

Without giving too much away, can you describe the story of the mini-series?

There is a lot of big reveals in the book, so I don’t want to give too much away, but the basic premise is that there’s a wave of abductions in New York City, and it appears that there’s a serial killer kidnapping people and the people are never heard from again. The kidnappings seem random—all ages, male/female, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t look like the serial killer’s after a certain type of person so it’s even scarier for the public. The mayor, who is up for reelection, puts a once-known hero cop on the case to try and make it look good for him. This cop is really subjected to a lot of corruption these days and isn’t the hero cop he once was, and so there’s a lot of twists and turns and a homeless man that comes out of the woodwork that interjects himself into one of the scenes where a jogger is being kidnapped and opens up another can of worms into what the reality of the situation is. It’s not actually a serial killer. There’s a lot of government conspiracy plots behind what’s going on. That’s the general theme of it.

Sounds, uh, multi-layered.

Yeah (laughs), it’s very complicated. But it’s interesting and there’s a lot of pretty original characters in there.

It’s not something you’d think of immediately: ‘Oh, the guy’s got a bunch of wire hangers on him! Of course!’

Of course, let’s make a comic series (laughs)! This is the mind that I’ve been stuck with for all these years (laughs).