The following is an exclusive interview with the upcoming writer of Green Lantern, Geoffrey Thorne. We discuss a few topics ranging from the tone of the series, what fans can expect, the infamous Hal Jordan, the Emotional Spectrum and more.
TheGreenLanternCorps.com: Let’s start with art. You’re working with Dexter Soy and later will be rejoined with your Future State Green Lantern artist, Tom Raney. How has that collaboration been with both of these men and what do they bring to the table?
Geoffrey Thorne: Hm. Well, obviously they have wildly different styles. I am still learning Dexter but he adds a lot of dynamism and energy to my scripts which are often fairly detailed. Both of them, poor guys, were required to draw a cast of thousands, literally in their first time out of the gate. Tom, in this instance, adds a sort of HEAVY METAL/2000 AD vibe to the stories that I felt was perfect for the tone I wanted to strike. His designs for a lot of this are the ones we’ll be using going forward.
TheGLC: DC announced that Young Justice’s Teen Lanteen Keli Quintela and Far Sector’s Jo Mullein will be joining John Stewart as a part of the cast of this series. That’s huge news. What does it mean to you to bring these POC characters into a bigger spotlight and do you view this series as a John Stewart book or a team book?
Thorne: That’s a tough one to answer without spoilers. Without being too evasive, this book will very much be a book about John Stewart’s journey AND a book about the Green Lantern Corps as a whole and their place in the DCU, going forward. A lot of predictions about how things will be configured are WAY off. That’s all I think it’s safe to say.
I don’t actually care that Keli, Simon and Jo are POC. I care about their characters. Simon, in particular, I felt had not had much time to shine so it will be fun to flesh him out in a setting that’s different than we’ve seen him occupy before. Same with Jo. She’s been on her own for her entire time in the DCU. Now she’s got to deal with- well- a LOT, all at once, essentially, again, on her own. Who her allies will be and how her team takes shape will be quite different, again, than anything that’s been speculated. keli? Well she’s a big fat liar, isn’t she? And what’s up with that glove, anyway?
Their ethnicity adds great context and flavor to their characters for me to play with but it’s by no means a definitive or deciding factor in their inclusion in these stories.
I don’t take on gigs based on the ethnicities of the characters involved and don’t write to assert any particular agenda in that regard. I say this both to those people who are anti inclusion in comics and to those who are extremely pro. I’m not a soldier in that war; I’m a writer of fiction. I get to play every card in the deck and I will, as needed
My motivation here is to tell a fun, interesting, sometimes brutal science fiction story, involving various Green Lanterns and others, most of whom are not even human beings.
TheGLC: Some artists shy away from horses. Some dread massive cityscape details. As a writer, what element do you view as your personal Kryptonite?
Thorne: Comedy, I suppose. I’m not a fan of slapstick, puns or jokes involving cruelty or disparaging/shaming people so my humor will be more in the vein of sarcasm when it’s employed.
TheGLC: If the tone or genre of this series could be compared to a movie or television show, what would it be?
Thorne: Science fiction action-adventure, war movie and political thriller.
TheGLC: Much has been said about you and Hal Jordan. How about we keep it short, simple and sweet? Is there a chance we see Hal Jordan in your story?
Thorne: Yep. Hal shows up. All the Lanterns make appearances. Nearly all the Lanterns currently alive and on duty make an appearance. Poor things. heh, heh, heh.
TheGLC: How much value to do you place on the reactive nature of readership? We only get to see the story 20 pages at a time, so what may make us angry now may pay off with excitement later. Do you take reactions to the published works in account as you’re writing the later issues?
Thorne: I don’t worry about that stuff at all. Some people will love what we make. Some will hate it. Some will be indifferent. Same as always. I just hope the story I’m trying to tell comes through clearly, as I mean it, and the artists get to flex and have some fun with it. Everyone who buys a copy of the book has also bought the right to any opinion of the book they want. I’m not allowed to get upset when people don’t like something any more than I should be throwing parties when someone loves something.
Tell the story. That’s it.
TheGLC: You once said that someone would have to be an exceptional writer to tackle complex social issues within the superhero comic story space. John Stewart has been one of those go-to characters when writers attempt such a thing. Can readers expect you to do the same in Green Lantern?
That depends on what you mean when you say “complex social issues.” If you mean ‘will I be writing a thinly disguised book about American politics in 2021?’ then, no. Not at all. If you mean ‘will I be pressing buttons of loyalty, fairness, democracy and justice?’ then, yes.
[Writer Brian K.] Vaughan’s PRIDE OF BAGHDAD is a good example of using comics as a medium to tell a political story. As is BITCH PLANET. I don’t personally believe that mainstream Big 2 superhero comics were designed to support all the weight of SPECIFIC political and social issues. They almost always crack under that weight, IMO. More political writers, perhaps braver ones than me, may try it but, more often than not, they fail.
It’s not that writers SHOULDN’T try it, but, IMO, it raises the bar of difficulty. In any case, when you’re talking about truth and justice, you should be hitting all those buttons anyway, right? And SONE characters lend themselves to these sorts of stories more than others. Brandon Easton’s SUPERMAN story in Truth & Justice is about prison reform as much as anything else but Clark Kent is a REPORTER so it makes sense that more real-world topics will come up in his stories. THOR? Not so much. FAR SECTOR is a perfect example of a writer who is adept at alluding to and allegorizing real world concerns without screaming in your face “HEY! I’m talking about THIS!” And so on. So it can be done under specific circumstances and by writers who are better equipped to grapple. Most of us aren’t that good, frankly.
Me? I’m just trying to tell a good story. That’s plenty difficult enough.
TheGLC: Continuing on that note, as a Black man, I often feel the need to support Black creators regardless of my interest level. As a Black man writing this series, do you feel any added pressure being a POC writing POC’s to an audience that mostly isn’t? And how much does your own race and experiences play into your writing, particularly with a cast like this?
Thorne: Buy the books you like. Support the artists whose work pleases you. You’re going to do that anyway so why pretend otherwise? I have never bought and will never buy any piece of art simply because the creators have the same skin color as me. Not recommended. Support excellence. Just don’t PENALIZE or avoid the work of people who don’t look like you because they don’t look like you. Judge the work as the work.
As to the second question, I don’t really do much of anything “as a black man.” I AM a black man so, automatically, everything about my experience in the United States in the 20th and 21st centuries informs how I approach life and storytelling. I don’t need to stand on a podium and shout about my blackness or my black perspective. If someone thinks those things aren’t clear in my work I submit they haven’t read enough of my work.
TheGLC: And because I’m an ultra geek for them and their potential, I must ask…will we see Carol Ferris and/or the Star Sapphires? I suppose I should just broaden it to ask if the rest of the emotional spectrum of lanterns will play a role in the series but that would be truly disingenuous.
Thorne: Hm. I don’t want to say “No” because I might want to use them at some point, but this will absolutely not be a book about the “Emotional Spectrum” and the conflicts between its various Lantern Corps. So, do not expect rehashing of anything you’ve read before. Such appearances will be few and FAR between for the most part.
TheGLC: Again, thank you for your time sir.
Thorne: No worries. It’s always nice to be asked to a dance.