Since Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver delivered “Green Lantern: Rebirth” #1 in the fall of 2005, Hal Jordan has evolved into one of the most popular characters in all of comics. “Green Lantern” is regularly one of DC Comics’ top-selling ongoing series and “Green Lantern Corps” has grown into one of the publisher’s most popular monthly titles, as well.
In this installment of TOTAL RECHARGE, our monthly check in with the writers, artists and editors putting together DC Comics’ line of Green Lantern titles, we spoke with “Green Lantern” artist Doug Mahnke, who has been drawing Hal Jordan’s adventures for more than a year, dating back to “Green Lantern” #43. Mahnke told CBR News that he loves working with Sinestro, the ultimate badass, and that in the issues to come, more will be revealed about Saint Walker, the most elusive member of the Blue Lantern Corps.
You have been drawing Hal Jordan now for more than a year. What is it about the character – and the GL expanded universe – that you enjoy most in terms of its look and feel?
Doug Mahnke: Post-“Blackest Night” definitely has more Earth-bound activity. It’s fun to put Hal, Carol, Larfleeze and the rest of the characters in real world surroundings and contrast that against their powers.
Is there anything specific about Hal’s uniform and ring that appeals to you?
I’m always tweaking something. Getting the mask correct is always a work in progress.
When you’ve been with a character or a series for an extended run, like your current run on “Green Lantern,” how do you keep things fresh? Does the vastness and scope of “Green Lantern” lend itself to more opportunities than is typical?
I feel as if I have just begun “Green Lantern,” so I have yet to experience an extended run feeling. Now plug in Pat Gleason’s run on “Green Lantern Corps” and he might have an insight or two on keeping things fresh. Post-“Blackest Night,” Geoff has us taking off in an excellent new direction, so the series itself feels new for me. As for limitless opportunities, “Green Lantern” is sci-fi, so no limits, for sure.
You are currently drawing an arc featuring the new Guardians. Can you take us around the roster and share your thoughts on what it is you find most appealing about working on Atrocitus, Carol Ferris, Indigo, Larfleeze, Saint Walker and Sinestro?
Geoff has set up interesting qualities to all the new Guardians, stuff I didn’t really expect. For example, under that near-expressionless face, Atrocitus has some complex, emo thing going. This alone makes him fun.
Contrast that with Larfleeze, who is somehow likeable, in his ridiculously selfish ways. Indigo-1 is obviously a mystery remaining to be unraveled. Sinestro commands respect and is a magnificent badass. His negative history with Hal and the loyalty of his corps are intriguing. Saint Walker, I am still unclear on, but I know more is coming. And Carol? A beautiful woman with lots of power and brains, plus a basic disdain for her skimpy costume, what’s not to like?
Last issue featured a battle between Lobo and Atrocitus. Is that the type of scene an artist loves to see in a script? How did you approach these two heavyweights coming toe-to-toe?
Hey, I love Lobo and enjoy any chance to draw him going toe to toe with anyone. It would have been great to have 10 pages of Atrocitus and Lobo reducing everything to rubble within a 10-mile radius.
What’s Geoff Johns like as a collaborator? Does he give you a lot of direction in terms of specific scenes and designs, or does he let you bring his script to life as you envision it?
Geoff is a fantastic comic book mind. The scripts are full and detailed. My job as an artist is to try to fulfill his vision. Occasionally, I will change a detail to suit my art, but it’s always done to get to the heart of what Geoff wants.
Before landing on this assignment, you were obviously familiar with Green Lantern, but were you a fan of the character?
Most of my GL knowledge I have comes from watching Pat Gleason draw “Green Lantern Corps” and reading the trades he had lying around, which included GL. Previous to this, my understanding of GL was through Kyle when I did “JLA.” I didn’t know much of what came before Kyle, but I learned bit by bit. There is a lot to read up on.
Hector Hammond has entered the fray of late. Is that the most distorted head you’ve drawn since The Mask?
Yeah, Hector is a pretty messed up head – lots of head. Just sitting down to draw him throws me off a bit in relation to the normal characters surrounding him. And while the Mask, a.k.a. “Big Head,” is not in the same league for sheer mass, I would almost say the Mask was better mentally adjusted than poor Hector, which is saying a lot.
You have a male Star Sapphire appearing in an upcoming issue. Can you talk about his design and how it differs from his female counterparts?
Well, it would have been something to give the male Predator an equivalent skimpy costume to the ladies. Somehow, I don’t think that would have worked.
With the upcoming Green Lantern movie on everyone’s minds, is there added incentive/pressure/etc. to deliver really big stories in the ongoing series, or do you not pay attention to those sorts of things?
No, I don’t pay attention to those sorts of things. After 22 years in the business, the only pressure I deal with is deadlines.
Before we let you go, I was wondering if you can tell us what tools and techniques you use as an artist?
I don’t use any special tools – pencil, eraser and an angle for ruling lines. Foolishly, I don’t have a decent set of templates, so I tend to hand draw circles and ellipses. One tool, if you could call it that, is a list I have taped to my desk, of qualities I would like to see in my work. Sometimes – especially when on tight deadline – I have to remind myself how to keep things fresh and interesting.
Finally, the “Red Hood” storyline you did with Judd Winick is about to be released as an animated movie. Were you involved at all in its making, and if not, are you interested to see what the animators have done with it?
No, I wasn’t involved. DC did invite me to fly out so I could provide some commentary on the DVD, but I had to decline so I could keep to the tight “Green Lantern” schedule. I look forward to seeing “Batman: Under the Red Hood”on DVD as I am very curious to see it through the eye of an animator.
“Green Lantern” #56, written by Geoff Johns and featuring art and covers by Doug Mahnke, is set to arrive in stores July 28.