Mahnke Business - Talking with the New Green Lantern Artist
Mahnke Named New GL Artist
As Newsarama reported, Doug Mahnke will work with writer Geoff Johns on the Green Lantern title during and after this summer's Blackest Night event.
Mahnke has been working in the comics industry several years, being one of the creators behind The Mask series for Dark Horse Comics in the '90s. More recently, the artist has been working for DC Comics, providing pencils for projects like Batman and Black Adam: The Dark Age, and helping out with the last two issues of Final Crisis.
While the upcoming “Agent Orange” storyline in Green Lantern is being penciled by Philip Tan, the regular penciler on the series has been Ivan Reis since 2006. Once Blackest Night begins, Reis will become the artist on the eight-issue Blackest Night mini-series that is beginning in July as Mahnke takes over the regular title with issue #43 in July.
Newsarama talked to Mahnke about the new job as Green Lantern penciler and found out that somebody at DC should make sure North Branch, Minn., stays safe from harm.
Newsarama: Doug, were you a Green Lantern fan before you got this job?
Doug Mahnke: Thankfully, yeah. Thought it's not by merely being interested in Green Lantern. Pat Gleason and I have been friends since he was a kid. And his work on the Corps got me picking up the books that he was working on. So I've seen everything he's done, which connected me to the books. And I've enjoyed the stories. I got to know the mythos behind it. And I got to appreciate Green Lantern. I knew that the characters were well-loved -- Hal specifically -- and I got to follow along the re-emergence of Hal. So yeah, it's through Pat, basically.
NRAMA: You share a studio with Pat, right?
DM: Yeah. We're about a year and a half into that. We don't live that far from each other, and we were both working in our respective studios quietly and by ourselves. But we decided we'd make things more interesting. Camaraderie goes a long way toward getting through the day sometimes. Working with him has been a joy.
NRAMA: So you guys are going to be on Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps at the same time, sharing a studio while you do it?
DM: Yeah. Like we say, if a bomb was dropped up here on North Branch, Minnesota, that would wipe out the team. It'll wipe out the books and put DC under terrible stress.
NRAMA: Let's talk about Hal Jordan. Do you know what look you're going for with the hero? Do you know how you want to draw the character?
DM: A lot better than when I started working on Superman: The Man of Steel years ago. I really knew very little of Superman, and going onto the book was intimidating and daunting, from my lack of knowledge and understanding what the fans expect. At least I have the advantage now of knowing what's been going on, following the books, and just seeing how more than one artist has worked with him.
He's a classic character, and that's the look he has. And it's nice that he doesn't have a cape. I can relate to that a little better.
NRAMA: You don't like capes, huh?
DM: It's not that I don't like them. You can do a lot of fun things with capes. But when it came to Superman, I remember it was absolutely confusion and befuddlement because I'd never drawn anything with a cape. There was a learning curve there. A small one, but nonetheless, it tripped me up.
The great thing about the Green Lanterns is that they're very streamlined with a clean design. They're cool characters, and Hal obviously is the front runner of all that. I've read all the trades and I know all the players pretty well. I prepared myself, although I guess it was not intentional. Here I am all of the sudden on the book.
NRAMA: You're already working on the Green Lantern issues that will be part of Blackest Night, right? Is there anything you can tell us about your reaction to what you've seen of the story so far?
DM: Well, after I saw the first issue that I was doing, I told Eddie Berganza: "Oh, I see why you guys have me on this book." Because I'm good with monsters and moody, macabre things. I'm very good at them, and we're dealing with some of that in Blackest Night. At least I'm a good pick where that's concerned. I'm definitely a good match for that.
Geoff's scripts are very meticulous and they're very good. But I haven't seen a lot of what's coming down the strip. They haven't told me much. I just know basics. I've just seen the first issue, and it's a lot of set-up, obviously. It's a lot of character development.
NRAMA: With Green Lantern, there are so many characters. And I'm sure you've noticed that working with Pat. I think he draws about 300 characters per issue sometimes. Is that intimidating as an artist?
DM: I can get into this. I'm not necessarily looking forward to it. I have very little choice. I've seen Pat sigh very heavily as he says he's read the script and discovered that he has to draw yet another page that contains 100 characters. And yeah, it's not the same time as working on something like Batman. We've talked about that. "You get Batman, and maybe there are a couple of other guys. That's easy!!" But something like Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps? You're never that lucky.
But I'm warming up to it. Even the team books I've had have never had anything of this magnitude. When I worked on JLA and Justice League Elite, I never had to draw hundreds of characters. Well, hundreds is probably putting it a little broad. But at least the focus was on a few and not a staggering amount of many. But that's part of the book, and hopefully I can have some fun with it.
NRAMA: Why do you think you were seen as a good artist for Green Lantern? You mentioned your strength for the "macabre" before, but is it more than that?
DM: Yeah. I mean, even though I said the macabre aspect of Blackest Night and the stuff that's going to be in this story suits stuff that I can do, I've done enough straight superhero stuff and heroic art, so I'm sure there's just something about my art that caught their eye. I'm a good draftsman. I'm a good artist. But you'd have to ask Berganza and company about the thought that went into it. I mean, I must be doing something right if DC keeps giving me more work.
NRAMA: It seems like one of your strengths is to be "on time." At least, that seemed to be why you were turned toward for Final Crisis.
DM: Yeah, you have no idea what I went through to get that done. There really wasn't much time between when the final, full, finished script was delivered to me and the drop-dead penciling date. I can't even tell you how many pages a day I had to do to finish it. And I finished at 7 a.m. on my final day. But they made it worth my while and I was highly motivated.
So yes, I have a lot of drawing endurance and I'm fast when I need to be. You're given a deadline and you really want to hit it. I've done that several times in the course of my career when things got tough and I had to get things done. I don't think I've ever forced a book to ship late. I've come close. Things have gotten really tight before. If push comes to shove and they need someone to get things done, I guess they know I can do it. I don't particularly want to be relied on to do that [laughs], but if it happens, it happens. And I'll do it.
NRAMA: Do you have any favorite Green Lantern characters among those that you'll now get to draw?
DM: Well, I'm not sure who I'll get to draw right away. I know we're dealing with all the colored Lanterns and Sinestro and a lot of really cool stuff. As far as favorite characters, I've enjoyed watching Mongul as Pat's drawn him in Corps. If I end up getting to draw him, that would be fun. And Sinestro is obviously very interesting. He's multi-faceted, and he's going to be big in it. And then Hal would be a favorite. I just really want to make sure I do Hal right and that people like it.
I'm following in the steps of some awesome artists, and I want to make sure that whatever I do can fit right in with the rest of them. And I don't want the fans to feel any ripple or shock. This is their character, the one they know and love. And I hope they can accept what I'm doing and feel like they're getting a good story and not be shocked by any of the art.
NRAMA: Anything else you want to tell Green Lantern fans?
DM: It's really interesting to work on something like this, especially watching it continue to gain in popularity. It's a good place to be. I was really happy to be offered Green Lantern and I graciously accepted it. I know I'm in a good place at the moment. And because of that, I just want to do a good job.