Since returning to the world of mainstream comics, Liam Sharp has been pretty hard to miss. From his highly acclaimed relaunch of Wonder Woman alongside writer Greg Rucka and fellow artist Nicola Scott to his revival of DC’s iconic THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD franchise, Sharp’s successfully reminded all of us why the realm of superhero comics had embraced his detailed, lush artistic style in the first place. It’s hard to imagine a comic project that’s more high profile than relaunching Wonder Woman during her 75th anniversary year, right before the premiere of her first live action movie. But if one exists, Sharp may very well have found it. At San Diego Comic-Con this summer, it was announced that he’ll be teaming up with none other than Grant Morrison—another acclaimed creator who’s returning to DC after a hiatus—for THE GREEN LANTERN, which will carry the emerald torch of the beloved character well into the new year.
We recently caught up with Sharp to discuss his latest DC resurgence, and particularly how it’s been working on a project, which, in his words, there was no way he was going to turn down.
First Wonder Woman and now this, how do you keep getting yourself involved in such major projects?
All my boats came in at once. But I’ve been waiting a long time for them, to be fair! It’s funny how things work out. Wonder Woman was so unexpected. It’s all about timing. I had been working with Madefire, and it came to a point where there really wasn’t anything for me to do there anymore. It was all set up and working. It was time to let my baby go and leave it in the hands of the people who were taking it forward.
I really, really needed to get back to drawing again. I’d been missing it. I hadn’t drawn much for five or six years. I also really missed the mainstream. It’s funny. I hadn’t intended to fall out of the mainstream. It just sort of happened.
So, I just started drawing various mainstream characters. I’ve known Jim Lee for a long time, and I was sending him pictures I’d drawn of things like Batman in his cave—just for the fun of it. It wasn’t like I was pitching. But then, I heard that a particular artist had turned down Wonder Woman, and I didn’t immediately think that it would be perfect for me. Just that it was interesting. But I got home that night and I had this Red Sonja piece that I had drawn that was very Barry Windsor Smith-like. Almost pre-Raphaelite, with lots of leaves and flowers, and these vines growing over this statue of Death. I looked at it and I just thought, “Huh, you could do Wonder Woman like that.”
From Wonder Woman #2
I’d never really considered her before, and oddly I never thought about drawing that book. But I realized that it would be an amazing book for me—it’s actually all the things I love. There’s so much richness to her world. I just woke up thinking about it the next day, so I sent that Red Sonja picture to Jim with a note about how you could draw Wonder Woman a lot like this, and he just said, “Yeah, you could! Have you drawn Wonder Woman before?”
And I said, “No, but I will!”
So, I drew this sort of three-panel, triptych thing, and sent it to him. Then a few months later, I was doing it. It was incredible. And to get to work with Greg [Rucka], as well. His version is just fantastic. I just really fell in love with her.
So, how did you get involved with The Green Lantern?
I was working on Brave and the Bold. I had two issues left to go, and I was thinking about how I needed to line something up. As an artist, you always have to think ahead. I pitched some kind of left field ideas to Dan DiDio, and Dan just said, “Yeah, yeah, we’re not going to do that. We need you to draw HAWKMAN!”
And I was thinking, okay! I could see that because I’d drawn that one cover, which people seemed to love. It’s probably the most viral image I’d ever drawn.
So, I thought, “Okay, Hawkman, that’ll be interesting.”
But then Scott Snyder was like, “No, no! We’d love for you to be part of the JUSTICE LEAGUE team.”
I’d drawn that one issue of Justice League, and I’d really enjoyed it. So, it seemed that I had some stuff to think about. I had some options.
From The Brave and the Bold: Batman and Wonder Woman #1
Then, almost 24 hours later, Dan calls me and says, “Okay, this is totally left field, but how would you feel about working on Green Lantern with Grant?”
That was it. Grant and I had seemed to be in each other’s trajectories for a while. I met Grant at the Wonder Woman premiere, and we just started talking. Before we knew it, the afterparty was over and we’re still gabbing away and coming up with ideas. We started talking then about doing something together. We’d never worked together, but we’ve both been in the industry for a very long time and like each other’s work. So, when this came up, there was no way I was going to turn it down. The stars just seemed to align.
Grant Morrison is known for writing challenging material. I’m curious, how does that affect you as an artist? You’re the one who has to bring these ideas to life, after all.
I really enjoy his scripts. They’re so entertaining because he’ll go off on a tangent halfway through a description of a scene and start talking about his influences, stuff he read when he was a kid, and the sort of pulp stuff he did and didn’t like. You get all his insight. He obviously loves writing so much. There’s a glee to his scripts that’s palpable.
But at the same time, he throws so much at you. The description for panel 2, page 2 is like four pages long! I’m just like, “Oh my god! This is half an issue! How am I going to fit everything into this page?”
There are also very specific references to characters from years and years ago. When I was initially reading the script, I was just constantly on the internet. Some of these are so obscure that the referencing goes really deep. You have to really look to find it. He knows his stuff.
The Green Lantern #1 Cover
I love that he’s not trying to reboot it or start from scratch. He’s trying to be really respectful to everything that’s come before. I think long-term Green Lantern fans are going to have a lot of fun with all of the Easter eggs that are buried in there—specific references to specific scenes. There’s a scene that very much echoes the Abin Sur origin. It’s not a rework of the origin, but it echoes it intentionally.
I know Grant wanted it to feel like if you’ve never read Green Lantern before, you could pick this up and start here.
Your work on Wonder Woman as well as Brave and the Bold both draw heavily from fantasy and mythology. Green Lantern is usually more science fiction. How’s it felt changing gears like that?
I’m a fan of science fiction and a fan of fantasy. They’re probably the two genres that I’m most drawn to visually. I didn’t want to become just the fantasy guy. I drew nineteen issues of Wonder Woman that leaned heavily towards mythological themes. I’m a huge fan of mythology and anthropology. I’m very much an armchair anthropologist. It’s been a passion of mine since I was a kid.
From The Brave and the Bold: Batman and Wonder Woman #1
But nothing allows you to become visually unfettered quite like sci-fi. I like the challenge of making sure the alien societies don’t look too much like Earth. I want to take them as far as I can and make them as different as I can.
We’ve been looking a lot at European comics, a lot of bande dessinée. They’ve been an influence, but also pulp. It’s got an old school feel to it.
Is there a character or element of The Green Lantern so far that’s really stood out to you?
He’s just such a cool-looking character. I just love that costume. Ever since I was a kid, he’s had one of my favorite costumes. I don’t know what it is about it. I remember hearing once when I was younger that green is the color you should stay clear of, and yet here I am having drawn the Hulk and now Green Lantern.
I like the fact that we’re going to be able to do so much world building, and on such a scale, over so many issues. As an artist, it’s never a dull moment on that book. There are a lot of exciting things. It’s definitely not talking heads issue after issue.
THE GREEN LANTERN #1 by Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp is in stores on November 7, 2018.