“This is a great place to work.
It really is.”
Will Allred’s world is filled with vampires. And not the cute, “sparkly” kind adored by teenage girls that grace movie and television screens. His are grittier and for an older audience.
After work and on weekends, one might find Allred working on another installment of “Diary of Night,” a graphic novel series he authors that chronicles Catherine Morrison who, at 927 years old, copes in present-day society as a vampire.
During the day, when vampires normally sleep, Allred is the associate director of technology for Sam M. Walton College of Business’s Technology Center. He handles the college’s information systems, which includes several dozen servers as well as data storage, security and printer networking.
“Any projects that involve IT probably involve me,” he says.
At NorthWest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville, Allred puts IT aside and is known as “Dr. Allred,” English instructor. He recently earned his Ph.D. in English here at the University of Arkansas. Though he has a bachelor’s degree in economics, which he earned at Walton College, it was his love for literature and writing that kept him pushing on with his education, he says.
“I’ve always been a reader, and I’m probably a bit ADD in that I don’t like to be bored,” he says.
Allred, who grew up in Madison County, still lives there and commutes each day from his home in Huntsville that he shares with his wife, Stacy, and twin sons, Mike and Alex. He began working for the Technology Center at Walton College in early 2001, utilizing skills he acquired since childhood, when he first tinkered with his father’s 40-megabyte hard drive computer with large floppy disks. Years later, he created a computer network in his home, complete with a server, directory and e-mail domain, he says.
“I had this whole, mini-Walton College set up,” he says.
Now that he works at the Walton College with its much larger server, he has nothing but praise for Sandy Kizer, Technology Center director, along with other center staff, whom he says have kept “the eyes on the future” by offering a system that’s well ahead of other universities of the same caliber.
“This is a great place to work,” he says. “It really is.”
And while the Technology Center keeps forging ahead, so does Allred. This is where the vampires come into play.
Allred says he’s been a fan of comic books ever since childhood and has always loved how stories are presented. “Just for efficiency, nothing works better than words and pictures,” he says. He says an entire scene of a story can be told through a single comic panel.
He says he has always been fascinated with the immortality of vampires and, as a result, it allows him to draw upon all sorts of historical events to tell a story. It also allows him to experiment with Victorian dialogue, which he enjoys, he says. “Diary of Night,” which is published by Bloodfire Studios, is illustrated by his partner Gene Gonzales, who lives in Florida.
“And because I’m a glutton for punishment, I’m three chapters into a novel,” he says. Then it’s back to work, making sure the college’s computers are online and everything is in working order.