If you didn't make it out to the recent Comic-Con International in San Diego, then you didn't get to meet U.K. artist sensation Liam Sharp.
But chances are that if you were at the convention, the "Possessed" artist was hard to track down anyway. Sharp's been making a name for himself in the American comic book industry lately and used his time at the convention to further that cause, selling limited edition copies of "The Art of Liam Sharp." Fresh off the convention circuit, Sharp spoke with CBR News about the art book and explains how he chose the pieces to spotlight.
"Actually it was fairly organic," Sharp told CBR News. "It's become the thing to do for the San Diego con to produce sketchbooks, mostly of pinup babe type imagery. I wanted to do one this year, but when I started looking at the stuff I had I realized I had tons of pieces nobody had really seen before, and much of it was in color. That kind of prompted me and my wife to look at printing costs, etc. and we found it wouldn't be insanely expensive to put together quite a glossy package. The sketchbook evolved into a more fully fledged artbook featuring mainly unseen work, some new stuff and a bunch of short stories that previously didn't have a home."
Though American comic book fans may only know Sharp's art from "The Possessed," a mini-series from Wildstorm last year, he's had quite an extensive comic book career and says the acclaimed art book shows a new side of his skills. "You get a lot of color stuff here from long term personal projects. There's a selection of private work that I have on my walls at home, and these are mostly big oil paintings. Then there's the short stories. Writing is a big passion of mine, and when I get an idea I kind of have to get them down. I've never really had a plan for these, but it was great to finally see them in print, serving some kind of purpose at last.
"I don't like to fight inspiration when it comes, even if I don't know where that inspiration is going to take me, or if it's likely to further my career in any way. There's a kind of honesty in that work, I think, that you don't get for commissioned work. It's a genuine labour of love, all about the act of creation - not about making money. Most of the work in the book fits that bill."
The art book showcases a lot of growth in Sharp's draftsmanship, with some gorgeous illustrations that had many convention attendees breathless, but the artist feels he has room to grow. "The moment you think you know it all is the moment you might as well give up. There's always more to learn in every aspect of art, be it writing, painting, drawing, sculpting, or whatever. I think that's probably true about everything in life. I think my color work will hold a few surprises for people, but I've always been eclectic!"
Now that you've read about the book, had it recommended by Rich Johnston and you've seen the art with this article, how do you buy it? "Go to my site, or Bud Plant," explains Sharp. "It's $30, but it's a limited edition of 500 signed and numbered copies. We've set up PayPal now, so hopefully that should make it all easier!
"Thankfully it's selling very quickly, I'm delighted to say, so it's looking extremely likely we'll be going on to do a second edition, and maybe even a hardback later in the year. Plus we're planning a four issue artbook-come-magazine featuring a gallery of unseen Michael Kaluta work, short stories by Steve Niles, Brian Holguin amongst others, and art by myself, Glenn Fabry, some other well-know artists, and a bunch of really talented guys nobody has seen yet. Lots of work! We're aiming to get the first issue launched early next summer. Before that though I'm putting out an illustrated novel I've been working on for years. It's going to be in three volumes, the first one out in December."
Besides pimping his impressive wares, Sharp was MIA for other reasons- he's been making a lot of deals with major companies. If you were lucky enough to speak with him on the final day of the convention, you would've seen a huge smile on his face and vague comments about how he's going to break out in 2005. "In the comics realm I'm working on a Conan proposal, a 'Hawkman/JSA' proposal with Michael Bair, an eight page black and white Vampirella story, which I'm also writing - and right now I'm finishing up a 'Firestorm' issue, and a 'Vampirella/Witchblade' crossover one-shot written by Justin Gray and inked by Jimmy Palmiotti. I can't recall the last time I had so much going on! I'm in the process of developing my short story 'Metawhal Alpha,' featured in the artbook, with a movie development company who loved the concept. So we'll have to see where things go from here...
"As far as other projects go, lots of big possibilities, but nothing I want to spill the beans on... yet! I wouldn't want to get my own hopes up, or make grand declarations, before anything is confirmed! What I can say, though, is if it all comes off I'll be doing a lot of writing in the next year - which is a huge ambition realized. Keep your fingers crossed for me!"
Of course, the big question for Sharp is simple: how much does one of the buffest men in comics (excluding Doug Mahnke and Tom Nguyen) bench press? "LOL! Nah, I'm a pussy cat," says Sharp. "Honestly? I haven't a clue..."