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EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Grant Morrison & Liam Sharp

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The following is an exclusive interview with the new creative team of The Green Lantern, writer Grant Morrison and artist Liam Sharp! Their first issue is out today (November 7th). Below, Morrison and Sharp discuss a ton of topics including their processes and research, designing the cosmos, Carol Ferris, Green Arrow and The Flash, Season 2 and much more. This interview below is an edited transcription of The Green Lantern Corps Podcast which will be released in its entirety soon. Brought to you by TheGreenLanternCorps.com

 

Brandan: This is Green Lantern fan questions 1000 percent. So I have to ask right off the bat. Will we see Carol Ferris? We need Carol Ferris in our lives. Is there any chance that she shows up?

Grant: Nah, she gets talked about quite a lot. But she doesn’t show up yet, she will show up but not from what I can see.

Brandan: Okay, good to know, good to know. Just had to appease the Carol fans out there…

Grant: Of course, there’s a lot of them.

Brandan: Liam, everyone has asked you a million times already. What’s it like to work with Grant? I want to know what’s it like-

Liam: (laughs)

Brandan: –when you finally get that script from Grant, like do you sit down and you burn right through it, or are you putting pen to the paper already?

Liam: Well I didn’t get one, I got multiple. Because uh, such was the enthusiasm for the, for the whole project. Um, but Grant was just tearing right ahead. I mean we had our little conversations before I got the script through, so I had some idea of what was coming. But um, Grants’ scripts are a joy frankly because there, there’s always a personality behind them, and they always get a little beyond the story. You always get a little bit of a, an a-side, and uh, and a detour into like, the thought process and you know, what, what’s happened in his past, and the stuff that you used to write and read, and, and love. You know?

Brandan: Hm.

Liam: Uh, when he was younger, so didn’t you always get these, this extra kind of … additional layer of information. And that’s really good too, because its nice to understand the thinking behind, um, the process, and, and uh you know the heart of it. So I just love that, like I’m beside of it. And there’s a glee to it as well, just like, it makes me smile, I always laugh. There’s always something that just makes me sort of laugh, uh every, every time I read the script.

Brandan: Well this being a Hal Jordan comic, are there a lot of similarities between a young Grant Morrison and a Hal Jordan?

Grant: Nothing, nothing, like him or anything

Brandan: (laughs)

Grant: – Part of, yeah I mean the thing for me was get into this character whose he’s not like me at all, you know, so getting into that guys head, and Hal Jordan had a lot of esteem. He’s got a lot of things, he’s been alive, he’s been dead, he’s been to space, he’s been a bad guy, he’s been this, he’s been that. So, he’s a really complex, and interesting, weird character to get into, if you take him as a whole, you know and that’s actually part of the fun, but now I see he’s nothing like me. I’ve been working hard to get into that guys head.

Liam: He’s got more hair than both of us combined, as well.

Brandan: (laughs)

Grant: Oh yeah, he’s got hair, he’s got serious hair, he leads with his hair.

Brandan: So the series is planned for at least twelve issues…

Grant: Yep

Brandan: And, and I read that you’re treating it like seasons, like a TV series. Uh, if you had to define it to a genre of television, what would you put it as? Is it simply sci-fi?

Grant: Science fiction police procedure. I think the police procedural elements of it is, is really big elements because that’s what drives the stories, and then when you lay it with sci-fi on top of it you get the epic scale, and you get the giant canvas and the universal size of it all. But really it’s about, it’s a cop show, you know, it’s kinda like a classic cop show, with, where every episode kinda got its own little story going on, the B stories, and C stories, and it runs through the seasons. So I kinda really based it on that TV model.

Brandan: Cool, cool.

Liam: One of the thing about that series that, yeah?

Brandan: Go ahead.

Liam: I was just gonna say, the fun thing, the fun thing about the uh, the procedural approach, too means that every issue has this completely unique sort of vibe and it’s its own world. Um, which invites a different way of drawing it, and telling it, and um, it, it’s uh, it’s sort of fascinating. Like you can go from one that’s really quite humorous, to one that’s suddenly kind of gothic and dark, and is much more action based, to you know, any, any sort of different kind of iteration. We go, we go from some of these 70’s vampire type feel, and more into, to a completely um, pulp classics of the 60’s and 70’s vibe in the next one, um, it’s so much fun.

Brandan: Yeah, yeah I got a chance to read issue one, and it was so vibrant and striking. So I have to follow up that with, are we gonna see any more Spider-Pirate?

Grant: Yeah, the, the Spider-Pirate, Spider-Pirates in the second issue, quite, he plays quite a prominent role, so yeah she comes back and she might come up again.

Brandan: That’s awesome, I thought he looked phenomenal. Just to look at him.

Liam: She’s fun to draw though.

Grant: (laughs)

Brandan: (laughs)

Grant: Yeah, and I hope, I hope people notice that she has a couple of wooden legs, and she’s got eye patches over eight different eyes. You know, she’s got a couple of eye patches, so we kinda, you know, Liam did all this kind of, pirate detail if you look closely, it’s even funnier.

Liam: Mm-hmm (affirmative) So we definitely, one, yeah one limb is a wooden leg, one limb has got a hook at the end of it.

Brandan: (laughs)

Liam: Why would you do that when you’ve got 8 limbs? It’s so much fun, and when you find out it’s all just a conceit on behalf of the pirate, you know? And the character herself, she’s, she’s not exactly what she seems to be, and it gets funnier and funnier the more you know about her.

Brandan: Looking forward to it. Um, speaking of designs, are you doing any costume redesigns, or anything, any tweaking of the known, of what lantern fans have known so far?

Liam: No you know, I am trying to keep it really simple in terms of the lanterns, so if anything, I’ve made them more simple than I have been. Hal is pretty much the original costume, you know the only difference being that, that the green doesn’t extend to being like a kind of gymnastics outfit. It looks more like you’ve got pants on, which, rather than you know those funny kind of leotard things.

Brandan: Right.

Liam: Um, which I think just works a little bit better for today’s aesthetic. But apart from that it’s a very classic costume, and I haven’t really messed with that, because it’s a uniform, it’s meant to be a uniform. It’s a universal uniform. So, obviously there are some beings who can’t wear those uniforms, because they’re, you know, a virus –

Brandan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Liam: – or a bug, or something like that. So then it’s just about the symbol. I never messed with it too much. It’s funny when you get a new book like this there is often an opportunity and a temptation to try and, get really contemporary and to add that sort of – for a long time everyone was trying to make superheroes look like realistic and add like seams to the costume, and putting wrinkles in when they bend their arms and stuff like that. And I get all of that, but it’s fun just to be really straight down the line with like, this is a Green Lantern, this is a classic costume.

Grant: We were trying to use fun. It was always fun to go back to the original designs because now they look genuinely [cool], and we have done a lot of them. And, in the intervening years there were some characters that have been bulked up, or made more scary, or whatever, but they all wind up looking a little bit the same.

So what, what we did was go back and look at earlier fashions, and think well maybe I’m not planning of that exactly what they look like and that’s kinda even weirder than trying to make them all fit one design aesthetic. So, we’ve gotta get a plan is what people look like 90’s characters, another plan is to look like 40’s character, you know, so we’ve kinda taken all these different looks form the DC universe and all the different cosmic books and all the different science fiction and go back to the kind of plastics sort of thing that makes a more interesting idea to start from creating a new alien world, you know, from a weird old fashioned design and you think what planets of justice and what culture for justice.

Liam: We’ve had fun on some of the uh planets of doing things where, and you’ll see in issue 4, if you’ve gt an eagle eye, you’ll see that, like, some classic architecture that was granted, like, in the 50’s is, we’ve kind of said what was the, what was informed that architecture and so I’ve put sort of plat life and flora in the foreground and you can see echoed in the architecture, just stuff like that and it inspired the, gives a little bit more, I don’t know, roundness to the, roundness to the world, that almost a joke in itself, but um, yeah it just informs that universe you know.

Brandan: Going back and looking at different planets and cosmos, how do you go about researching various aliens? Are you just, you know, google history and picking up your last issue of Adam Strange.

Grant: I just got, yeah, I got a whole bunch of books because DC has been sending me these for years so I’ve got rooms filled with, like, paperback versions of everything. So, I kind of, keep them for research and for this one, I just been going through everything, going back to the old Strange Adventures and Worlds Finest and you know, 90’s stuff, Superboy and the Ravers, just every kind of alien race that’s ever been seen and we’ve been kind of compiling encyclopedias and use them again and help consolidate the whole cosmos. So if you read an old story from the 50’s now, if you read a story from the 70’s or the 90’s, you’ll find some reference to what’s going on in this series. But yeah, so it’s just took me a ton of reading and noting down some cool old-school aliens and giving them a new role.

Brandan: We just got word that, you weren’t interested in doing monthly comics anymore?

Grant: No, no.

Brandan: I like to think that Hal Jordan was the perfect reason to get you back into it but uh, why were you so averse to coming back?

Grant: I’d kinda done it for soo long, you know, I’d been doing a lot of … stuff a lot of books and at the time I was working on Batman and Action Comics and it was a lot of hard work and at the same time other opportunities would open up. So, you know, I wound up doing a lot of stuff on TV for the past couple years and it was only when Dan Didio said to me, he said ‘do you want to do this book” and I didn’t want to do the book (laughs) and then

Brandan: (laughs)

Grant: I started thinking about it and that was it, you know, I’d come up with ideas for it within minutes that I couldn’t stop thinking about so, I kinda get drawn back in and the way I’ve been explaining it is, the difference now…I’m way ahead, you know, I’m nearly a year ahead on the books.

Brandan: Wow

Grant: As far as the scripts go. So, that makes all the difference, you know? Back in the day, when I was doing the monthly books, I was always behind deadline and it was just killing me. So, this is, this is different, I’m way ahead and it’s gone back to being, like, a hobby, you know? It feels like when I was a kid writing stuff for myself again, it’s much more fun.

Brandan: Are there any lessons that you’ve learned since sticking with the graphic novel format of like Wonder Woman: Earth One? Anything that you can apply from that time away?

Grant: Yeah, I mean, all of these are are ways of doing a story but with Green Lantern, honestly, it’s really been, the stuff that I’ve learned for working TV and the, the whole episodic, the procedural thing, the idea of seasons, you know and you ramp up your whole plot lines within 12 issues and get on to new stuff. I think that all of that’s come from me working in TV and absorbing some of lessons of that format.

Brandan: So, should we not expect this run to be 6 years long like Batman? We don’t wanna burn you out.

Grant: No, I mean, I’m still enjoying it, I’ve got a lot of stuff for, we’re not thinking beyond 12, right now, but I can’t stop thinking (laughs). Once I’m into the book and into the characters I can’t stop coming up with stuff. So yeah, I’ve got ideas but we’ve talk about stuff beyond it, but right now we’re just focusing on the first year.

Brandan: Okay Liam, geez, you’ve done Wonder Woman, you’ve done a Batman book, you’ve, now Green Lantern. Does this feel like a resurgence for you or, like, -cause, you’re ridiculously popular on Twitter now. Like, every time I log on I’m seeing someone praising Liam Sharp. (laughs)

Grant: Lucky you.

Brandan: (laughs)

Grant: (Laughs)

Brandan: Does it feel like a big deal to you?

Liam: Oh no, it absolutely feels like a big deal to me. You know, I kind of fell out of the mainstreams for quite a long time and not by design but just life takes you in different routes sometimes. But I had always missed it, it was always something that I’d hoped one day I could get chance to return to and it isn’t easy, that’s also something you realize, you know, just, there are so few books available, the iconic titles, to have a, to be able to play in.

So, I am very appreciative of the opportunities, put it that way. I realize I’m breathing rarifies air and there’s, I’m one of a handful of people, sort of gifted the opportunity to draw an iconic character and to do a new take on it and to work with a writer of Grant’s caliber as well, you know, I’ve wanted to work with for years. So, everything about it is very exciting and very much a joy and very much a pleasure.

I think that’s also why I’m like, way head of where I need to be, I’m on issue 5 at the moment, which is fairly (laughs) unheard of these days.

Brandan: Yeah (laughs)

Liam: To be so far ahead

Brandan: Yeah

Liam: But honestly I can’t stay away from it. I’m tending to work through the weekends and putting in stupidly long hours drawing it, -cause there’s, I want to do it justice and there’s so much richness in the script, I don’t want to skimp on anything. So, yeah, I do feel it, I’m still pinching myself, it’s been a 3 year come back (laughs) you know, Its not even overnight but it still feels like it’s only just happened to me.

Liam: So, maybe it’s age or whatever, it’s, you kind of don’t take things as much for granted when you put things into a wider perspective, it’s great.

Brandan: Congratulations on your fame, super stardom.

Grant: (laughs)

Brandan: Often you’re credited as penciler and inker most of the time, are there any advantages to shouldering both workloads?

Liam: I think with my stuff specifically. The way it’s evolved over the years, I’m very texture heavy. It’s something I actually learned from my mentor, Don Laurence who I trained with, when I was straight out of school, when I was 18 and he was always, like, you know, a lot of people just draw as if everything’s made of on material and actually it’s not, you know, and you can render with just black and white, a multitude of different surfaces and that’s always stuck with me and I think the sort of, texture element has become a big feature in the way I approach things.

It’s kind of hard to explain what those marks are in pencil and expect another inker to interpret it. I do a lot of, that kind of stuff…I don’t, you can’t over think certain textures of organic shapes like trees or alien landscapes or things like that. It’s almost like it has to be a spontaneous thing. So, I think, for me anyway it, it’s almost as quick for me to ink myself and as it is to pencil the pages and I think I would be a pain, a real paint to, uh, for an inker.

Brandan: Right, is that, like, uh, I don’t know, self-deprecation or do you, like (laughs) have terrible experience with inkers behind you?

Grant: (laughs) Go on, throw him under the bus!

Brandan: (laughs) what’s their name?

Liam: (laughs)

Grant: (laughs)

Liam: Grant not at all, um, I just think, I would, it’s hard for me to like, do the short hand and I think, you know, I think it’s a two-way thing to -cause, I don’t even know how I would indicate some of the textures in pencil, if that makes sense, you know. -cause I use things like sponges and bits of old cloth and all sorts of things to get the effect and

Brandan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Liam: I’ll sometimes work white over back, so I’m painting in white paint over a black area to create and effect and that’s also hard to kind of, to, how would I even suggest that to uh, an inker. I’m not sure I’ve figured out a short hand for something like that. Um, whether I’d just have to pencil, put down a load of pencil and the erase those areas, I don’t know, it would be crazy to figure it out. I, I’m not averse to doing something with inkers again, it’s always something, there’s some brilliant people to there and you know like, Scott Williams did a cover of mine for Lord Havok and Suspect, I don’t know, 10 years ago or so and I’m a huge fan of the work that Scott does.

So that was just a joy, uh, having him do that and you know, back in the day, I used to work with him a lot more but I think just as I had progressed, the inking has become a big part of the character of what I do

Brandan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Liam: And you see that with people like, there’s just certain artists who work like that

Brandan: Right

Liam: Yeah it’s not about, I don’t want to throw any inkers under the bus.

Brandan: (laughs)

Liam: Uh, it’s not on them it’s all on me.

Brandan: Okay, getting back to the characters a bit. Is there any character written or even on a Spider Pirate basis that’s shown up that might have that ridiculous, Damian Wayne, instant stardom, gonna be around a long time success, that fans or readers will just latch onto? Have we gotten that far yet?

Grant: I don’t know. You can’t predict that stuff, you know? Damian, I was going to kill him after 4 episodes and then I extended his life a little bit and then he really caught on. So you can’t predict some of that stuff. I mean there’s characters we really like, there a whole bunch of new Green Lanterns, alien Green Lanterns that we think are pretty good and that they will recur and hopefully they will build up their own little followings but nah, you can never…That works in it’s own merit and then like, we leave it to the readers what’s going to last.

Liam: Yeah we both like the Spider Pirate. There’s something really likable about her. She just got this kind of, smiling that is likable. But whether she catches on, I mean who knows. I kinda hope so because she’s a lot of fun and the volcano guy whose just great as well.

Grant: Yeah we love Volg and we love a new character from the planet Xudar, (laughs) She’s a bird headed character who turns up, but we really like her. So, some characters just kind of, you put them on the page and they’re not supposed to do much but they have a kind of, personality and those are 2 of the ones were kind of, we’re bringing back again -cause we just really enjoyed doing them and we thought they had something, an extra spark.

Brandan: Well so far we’ve stayed in space but we got a little taste of things to come [at the end of issue 1], we’re going to get a Green Arrow cameo of some sort…?

Grant: Yeah

Brandan: and I know you mentioned you wanna get The Flash in there maybe. How important is it to make the Green Lantern and the Green Arrow chemistry be reflective of what they’re known for and be really political and challenging with the storytelling?

Grant: Yeah, again, that’s one the issues that I’ve just written and we really, we kind of, honestly have fun. We have fun with the whole relevant era but it’s about the relationship between Hal and Ollie and I think that’s the heart of the thing, it’s kind of this odd couple thing and the two of them really get on well, they’re like, really good friends. So I kind of wanted to show that male friendship and in the comic in a way I don’t think they have seen it before, you know, they just put on funny voices and kind of

Brandan: (laughs)

Grant: But at the same time, yeah there is a political allegory in there but there’s a science fiction thing. We’re also, we’re having some fun with the whole relevance concept and I think, you’ll see what we mean when the issue comes out and it kind of all gets turned on it’s head a little bit but it’s basically, and I’m really into exploring the friendship between the two because I think it really interesting and it’s kinda, you know, there a lot of conflict and you know, it’s like two brothers, that don’t quite get on but love each other.

Brandan: And you were going to mention the Flash?

Grant: Yeah I mean the Flash, if he turns up, he will probably be in the same team ups but in season 2. That’s if we get to season 2, so, he’s not in the first year at all but yeah, he definitely [could show up] and again that’s a totally different kind of relationship between the two of them, you know, it’s much more like two cops. But again more playful I think.

So, yeah we wanted, all of Jordans’ relationships I think are really important and we can explore different ones in all of the books that are coming up.

Brandan: With Hal being… and this is speaking on the first issue, Hal gets to curse, Hal get to have sex, he gets to punch guys…

Grant: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Brandan: That all Hal Jordan, like bare essential Hal Jordan, how important was it to get that tone of the book out in the first issue? That you want to establish, Hey, Hal Jordan gets around, you know he curses.

Grant: Yeah, with that, I mean, the first issue kind of like the mission statement for the series, so it kind of has to work on a bunch levels. Its kind of, introducing the whole concept, we get to see the Corps and the we get to see this one guy from Earth whose Hal Jordan and he’s a guy and we reveal what the Corps does and what he does so it’s kind of very much an issue setting up so that anyone who doesn’t know Green Lantern can come in and understand exactly what I going on.

But yeah, for me it was important to get across the feeling of that Hal Jordan that I’ve known since I was a kid and he’s, he’s a brawler (laughs), you know, he a tough guy and he kind of he’s an adventurer and he goes out and about and yeah, he’s tough, he has sex, he’s kind of, he the kind of character who’s a little bit out of date now. You know he’s like a cowboy whose lived past the old west or he’s like a 1970’s movie star who’s somehow still young.

Brandan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Grant: So, he he’s a weird sort of character whose doesn’t quite fit into the planet but as I said we don’t want to make that a melancholy thing. This isn’t a guy who seems wistful about the planet Earth or, you know, he doesn’t fit in, he just lives on a way bigger scale, you know, he lives in a canvas that’s gigantic and the planet Earth is a very small and provincial and kinda dumb place as far as Hal Jordan’s concerned. He still loves it and he’s got a lot of friends here.

So we’re not playing his as the kind of guy whose got problems because I think that I wanted to do this as a superhero, you know a guy who’s been through a lot and has dealt with and is over it and is now, well who’s this guy, as I’ve said before it’s getting into the head of that guy, the test pilot, the astronaut, the right stuff, the guy who’s seen it and done it and whose not traumatized and not dealing with issues, it think is really exciting about Jordan I think that’s who he is, he’s a very different type of character, you know? He gets it done and he doesn’t scare and he doesn’t have, you know, he doesn’t woe in his feelings.

Brandan: Yeah, no fear.

Liam: Like silver surfer in reverse in a way, in those characters you’ve got the big cosmic characters that are slowly finding their humanity and their place on Earth. This is a guy who had his humanize and place on Earth and is trying to almost, he’s just about clinging to his humanity but he’s really becoming a more of a more cosmic being you know, he’s, it’s an interesting different journey I the opposite direction.

Grant: Oh right yeah, so just to add to finalize it, all the divisions on the planet Earth, they look weird to Hal Jordan -cause he he’s had the long view from say outside. So, everything looks a bit like kindergarten to him.

Brandan: Alright, well fellas, thank you for your time, I really really appreciate it and wish you all the best of luck.

Liam: Pleasure, thanks for that.

Grant: Thanks man.

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