On Friday, May 24, fans and colleagues gathered at Avalon Bardot Theater in Hollywood, CA to honor Geoff Johns and his nine-year run on DC Comics’ “Green Lantern.” Dubbed Greenest Night, the evening, co-sponsored by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and Comic Book Resources, saw Johns mingling with the attendees, signing comics and reminiscing about spending nearly a decade charting the adventures of Hal Jordan, Sinestro and the rest of the Corps, Green or otherwise.
But the highlight of the night was Johns and CBR Executive Producer Jonah Weiland’s on-stage discussion of the writer’s journey from up and coming comics pro to the man who made Hal Jordan cool again, providing tens of thousands of fans thousands of pages of entertainment along the way. Below, CBR presents the first half of their conversation, with Part Two coming up tomorrow.
On being trumped by Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” footage at the initial announcement of “Green Lantern: Rebirth” at Wizard World Chicago: I barely remember that, to be honest. I remember them saying they were going to show Batman footage and I was like, “Awesome!” I just wanted to see the Batman footage. But back then, bringing back Hal Jordan was considered a risky move. It sounds a bit weird now. People were like, “Why are you going to do that?” I’d heard the same thing when I did “Teen Titans” a year earlier with Mike McKone, people were like, “It’s going to get cancelled in six months. Why are you going to waste your time on ‘Teen Titans?’ Why are you going to waste your time on ‘JSA?’ Why are you going to waste your time on ‘Hawkman?’ Why are you going to waste your time on ‘Booster Gold?'” I think I’ve heard that most of my career, but I really was excited about Green Lantern. At that panel, I don’t remember a whole lot, except, “Oh, I can finally talk about it.” “Green Lantern” was selling 25,000, maybe. There was one book. It was Kyle and Kyle was fine. Hal Jordan had been gone for 10 years, so I think there were just a lot of questions: “Is this going to work? How are they going to do this?” I like skepticism. I like when people are like, “Why are they going to launch a ‘Booster Gold’ book or a ‘Teen Titans’ book or an ‘Aquaman?'” — I thrive off of challenges like that.
On taking on a less-well known character for DC now that he’s done with the GLC: I don’t know. I love every character at DC, except for Rampage. Those of you who know Rampage, it’s a She-Hulk ripoff and I like She-Hulk, so– Anyway, I’ve always liked every DC character — Metamorpho or Blue Beetle, I’ve always been attracted to the characters that I didn’t know anything about. I think if you do anything in life with passion and care and love that you’re going to do well. At least it’s worth trying. You don’t hit home runs every time, but there’s no character at DC — if they said Metamorpho? Sure. Metal Men? Sure, let’s go for it. I think there’s potential in all these concept and characters, so I’ve never really shied away from that.
On what was going through his mind when writing his final issue of “Green Lantern”: “This better be good.” A lot of mixed emotions. I was really emotional writing it, especially the last ten or twelve pages. I actually wrote those first and they were the hardest to write. All the stuff with Sinestro and Hal and the subsequent characters in the future. It was sad, but that’s why it was so happy at the end. I wanted to send these characters off in a positive way and “All Will Be Well” is something that I actually live by now, so all will be well at the end of the day, and I wanted people to read that issue and walk away from it fulfilled and excited. It is a little sad, but also happy that they were on this journey with us for nine years. It was tough, it took a long time to write that book because it was so damn big, but it was very emotional. It was not like writing the last issue of “Booster Gold” where I was like, “Oh, thank God. I am done! Godspeed, Booster Gold.”
On the collaborative process of “Green Lantern”: I have to give so much credit to the writers and artists that I’ve work with on “Green Lantern,” because it is a Corps. It’s a combination of creative people from editors to colorists — Alex Sinclair on “Green Lantern” lit that book up, and without light, “Green Lantern” doesn’t work. But with Doug and Ivan and Carlos and Ethan, getting those pages in are the realization of story, so getting those pages from Doug on the last issue was really powerful and emotional and again, a little sad, but also thoughtful. Every page that came in looked as beautiful as they always do. It was exciting.