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We are nearing the first full year of writer Grant Morrison and artist Liam Sharp's run on The Green Lantern, which has presented a perfectly odd, spastic take on Hal Jordan and his mythology. So far, their run is irreverent, contemplative, and completely unpredictable.
Arguably, Morrison and Sharp's take is the most exciting the Green Lantern book has ever been, following Jordan on his strange, deep-space cop adventures as the Green Lantern goes undercover and navigates various alien cultures. In many ways, The Green Lantern recaptures the era of experimental storytelling last seen in the 1970s, back when the superhero genre was bending into previously unimaginable shapes; Morrison's wild ideas and Sharp's stunning art not only allow the reader to escape their life but feel like they're actually experiencing the final frontier.
SYFY WIRE caught up with Morrison and Sharp on the eve of The Green Lantern #8, which features a fan-favorite team-up of Jordan and Oliver Queen (aka the Green Arrow) as a nod to the legendary Green Lantern/Green Arrow stories by Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams. We spoke about some of the artistic choices made and the deep dives into DC history. And, through it all, Morrison wonders if they're getting it right.
You've both mentioned before how The Green Lantern was influenced by the Franco-Belgian Bande Dessinée movement, 2000 AD, and others, but is this upcoming tale also an homage to Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams' Green Lantern/Green Arrow run?
Morrison: Absolutely. You're right. The idea was, "can we take that '70s [movement] and do something modern with it?" So the whole idea was to take all of Denny's vocabulary and for Liam to take those weird things that Neal Adams did that only Liam noticed, and channel that '70s style, that exploitation from their Green Arrow stories.
Sharp: It's tough to do Neal Adams justice. I didn't want it to be too slavish but hopefully enough that you know that's what we were going for. There's also some [Jack] Kirby stuff... with Xeen Arrow and Glorigold. The crazy stuff. I love it.
Drugs were going to play a part in this story, but I don't think readers are going to be prepared for what you have planned.
Morrison: [Laughs] I was definitely going for that French Connection, that '70s ridiculous vibe. The hard thing is to tell a simple story with these archetypes.
Sharp: You want to feel this connection that these two have even though they're polar opposites and represent different points of view. But they're also friends. They love each other. It's sweet too because Hal is always clearing off — he never stays anywhere long.
Morrison: Can you trust this man? Yeah, he's good, he's honest, he's brilliant, he'll stand by you and never leave your side, but he wouldn't be your husband or wife. He's monstrous but I love that he's an American airman doing f***ing good.
Sharp: Yeah, I've definitely learned to love Hal a lot during this. There's something sad about it, a certain melancholy to him.
Morrison: How does it feel when you hear old British men talking about him and superhero archetypes? Are we getting it right?
I feel like there's a time warp that you've managed to tap into. You've mined from DC Comics history like Xeen Arrow and Myrwhydden. It's an esoteric place that you've managed to put Hal in and the fact that it's taking place in The Green Lantern is just so fascinating. Visually, I'm floored because I've never felt like we've ventured into space like you are with Liam's art on the book.
Morrison: Yeah! It's Victorian and weird-like. That's the esoteric weird world of old comics we live in. I wanted to accept it for what it is and be a part of that.
Sharp: It's paying homage to what we grew up reading, really, and this is a love letter to comics. We were talking earlier and we said it's like we absorbed America through the TV, through film and comics, but we weren't there. It was very alien to us, but it was very familiar vernacular. We could all talk about it on the playground but we weren't actually living it. It's an observer's view of Americana from the outside. So I think what Grant is getting at is: "How close are we to getting it right?"
Morrison: This is the best arc that Green Lantern's had for f***ing six decades, since Gil Kane! C'mon now! Even if I had nothing to do with it, Liam has secured its place amongst all of modern sci-fi comics coming out every month. We're doing the best bulls*** you've ever seen!
Sharp: Thanks, man. I've taken the whole task very seriously. There's not a page that isn't heavily considered, but we're having a lot of fun too.
What inspired you to use these older characters and rogues?
Morrison: They actually speak to this simulation-ism. There [are] these strong ideas that we're living in a fantasy, it's not real, that some evil f***nut must be in charge of it and I think that appeals to some people. What is real? What is illusion? We're stuck.
Sharp: Even with the flat-earthers out there, when they look at their view that we're all in a simulation of some kind under a big dome being watched by someone who apparently cares.
Morrison: Exactly, it's like a kind of porn where I want to spend an hour and a half watching you — all of you. [Both laugh]
Do you think the Green Lantern was previously untapped, so he had the most potential to do things with that you wouldn't have been able to do with any other character?
Morrison: I couldn't have thought of a better character and a better artist to do at end of my career. It's true. You'll outlive me. [Laughs]
Sharp: I'm not that far behind you, friend. Grant breaks my heart when he says these things. It's a bittersweetness in knowing that we're doing this. It's such a joy doing all of it. Everything's finite and I realized recently you can see it in Kirby's [later] works that he's speeding up because he's got so much to tell. That's why it's exploding on the page the way it is. [He] developed that quick style to be able to get these stories out of his head.
I think we both got to a point where this stuff matters to us, hugely, and comics are a big part of our lives. We're doing stuff that's relevant and is part of that ongoing mythology, even though it's the stuff of your childhood, deciphered from another world that was new to us. We're both from poor backgrounds; we never imagined in a million years that we'd be getting to do this stuff. It makes for some very interesting thinking, to say the least.
The Green Lantern is similar to All-Star Superman, telling one-issue stories as opposed to writing a six-issue arc. How did you come to trust that this was the way to go?
Morrison: Yeah, I have to be fast, I have to be over in a moment. You could spend the rest of your life dissecting every moment of the choices we made to make this piece of art. It's such a beautiful concept though, isn't it? It's so bright and colorful. Hopefully, we've convinced people that human beings are that cool. I wish we were that cool.
Sharp: It's the opposite of Silver Surfer, who is trying to find humanity.
Morrison: F***ing Norin Radd, man. Liam Sharp, what we could do with 12 issues of that!
Sharp: Yet, I feel [Green Lantern] has all of that, it's just from another perspective. It's a lost man trying to find redemption in outer space. We both love all of those cosmic comics.
You're only halfway through your run on The Green Lantern. Is there anything else you want to tease about upcoming issues?
Morrison: We're trying really hard to entertain the people who read these books. So we have to write things that will totally f***ing appeal to their sensibilities [Laughs]. This is next-level superheroes, a 22nd-century kind of thing we're doing here. It's a total blast!
Check out our preview of The Green Lantern #8 with unlettered Liam Sharp art below.