MADMANMedium: Comic books
Published by: Caliber Press
First Appeared: 1990
Creator: Michael Allred
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The stereotypical comic book superhero, who conflates self-interest with unworthiness and costume wearing with heroism, and perceives a sharp hero/villain dichotomy bordering on Manichaeism, might reasonably be described as
a madman. In fact, here's a superhero who is actually called Madman, and despite being just a little bit over-the-top, in many ways he fits right in.
Madman is the creation of cartoonist Mike Allred, who started out in the less mainstream parts of the comic book industry, working for publishers like Caliber Press (The Crow) and Tundra Publishing (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Even his work for a mainstream publisher like DC Comics includes Prez and Brother Power, The Geek. At the beginning, Allred was inked by Bernie Mireault (Grendel, MacKenzie Queen).
The Madman story starts with him being hit by a car and killed. The body was appropriated by a mad scientist, Dr. Egon Boiffard, who dubbed him Frank Einstein, then used mad scientist techniques to bring him back to life. (Boiffard was a fan of Frank Sinatra and Albert Einstein, not that the name doesn't also function as a pun on that of another guy brought to life by a mad scientist.) Madman wears a mask not to conceal his identity — scarcely necessary when even he doesn't know who he was before — but because he looks just like the reanimated corpse that he is. The rest of his look was designed to resemble Mr. Excitement, a comics character he'd enjoyed in life (and the only thing he remembers clearly from that far back).
The costume wasn't there when Frank debuted, in Caliber's Creatures of the Id, a oneshot comic book that came out in 1990. It was still absent later that year, when he appeared in the three-issue mini-series Grafik Muzik. He put on the outfit and became Madman in a mini-series published by Tundra in 1992, succinctly titled Madman. Tundra published a second mini-series the same year. Each ran three issues. There, and in later appearances, he developed a supporting cast including Dr. Gillespie Flem (another mad scientist), The Atomics (super-powered beatnik villains who converted to heroism), Mott (an alien from the planet Hoople, no relation) and various other weirdos.
Madman's steadiest publisher has been Dark Horse Comics (Flaming Carrot, Hellboy), which launched an ongoing Madman series with a cover date of April, 1994. This series lasted 20 issues, the last one dated December, 2000. Dark Horse has also placed Madman in crossovers, first with Nexus, then Superman, and finally Mireault's own superhero, The Jam. All of Madman's adventures have been collected in trade paperback form by Dark Horse, Tundra, Oni Press or Graphitti Designs.
Madman hasn't quite made the leap into other media yet, tho there's been talk of a movie version almost since the beginning. So far, the closest he's come has been an observation that the animated hero Freakazoid strongly resembles him. Allred's letter to producer Amblin Entertainment elicited no reply.
The character hasn't appeared in a great many comic books lately, but movie talk has been hotter than ever.