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Comic book biggies Warren Ellis and Michael Allred on Bacardi’s new  graphic novel  and global trends

When Bacardi recently decided to give its history a ‘graphic’ twist, it threw out a double baited hook, reeling in two big names of the comic book industry: Warren Ellis and Michael Allred. “I decided to do The Spirit of Bacardi after reading the background material and discovering wonderful stories. Also, it gave me a chance to collaborate for the first time with Michael, whose work I’ve admired since he began in comics,” says Ellis, the author behind titles like Iron Man Extremis and Transmetropolitan. A sentiment echoed by Allred.

“The project, with an iconic historical figure like Emilio Bacardi, struck me as an exciting challenge. And I got to work with Warren,” says the artist who created Madman and X-Statix, adding that the only difference between this book and his earlier work with Marvel comics is that “no one is wearing a cape”.

While they mostly corresponded over email and brainstormed on the internet, the two found that their utter faith in each other’s talent made not meeting in person less of a disadvantage. “In fact, it was thrilling and we’d love to work together again,” admits Allred, who recalls that little details like adding drops of Bacardi Gold rum to the inks (“to make it a part of the novel’s DNA”) kept things fun.
Speaking about their work, Ellis says that while it’s been a long, hard road for comic books, “the world now accepts that mature storytelling and rich diversity can and does happen in comics.” As for trends, Alldred adds, “The best trends are the increasing diversity—it seems the variety of storytelling just keeps expanding. Also, the digital comic are making it easier to have independent work seen.”

Details: bacardi.com

—Surya Praphulla Kumar