As the story in The Brave and the Bold: Batman and Wonder Woman builds toward its conclusion, Liam Sharp's work just seems to get more and more detailed.
Inventing a story that fits within Celtic mythology, Sharp found a way to incorporate DC characters into the mix, giving Wonder Woman access to this fairy realm while also bringing in Batman for a murder mystery that threatens its tranquility.
With Brave and the Bold #5 set to be released later this month, Newsarama talked to Sharp about his work on the series and how the world-building he's completing for The Brave and the Bold is good practice for what comes next.
Newsarama: Liam, as detailed and beautiful as your work was on Wonder Woman, it seems even moreso in this series. Do you feel like you've grown as an illustrator while working on Brave and the Bold?
Liam Sharp: I think I'm always growing. All the way through all of my work on Wonder Woman, I've developed. So right from the stuff I was working on with Greg, then into this, I've become much more illustrative.
If anything, I'm an illustrative artist, I think.
Although my art works nicely with color, I think as if they are in black and white. So I put a lot of texture down and, obviously, details… I can't help myself. I just keep going.
Nrama: Do you feel like, as you approached the places you've created and pulled from for this Brave and the Bold story, it called for a detailed, illustrative approach?
Sharp: I do. The Brave and the Bold is very, very inspired by Irish mythology, obviously. And there's a terrific artist called Jim Fitzpatrick who is also a writer. He's famous for the Che Guevara image, which is globally recognized. But he did a couple of books based on Irish mythology called the Book of Conquests and The Silver Arm. And The Silver Arm in particular is the one I used as a reference for this story, featuring as it does the Silver Arm of Nuada.
So they were the real sources. And then I started reading things like Lady Gregory's books, and I mixed it up with Cernunnos, who bears a resemblance to Pan, who's a god of fertility and nature. So he's got elements of Bacchus as well.
So he seemed like an in-road for Diana into the story. He fit nicely as a bridge between the two strands of mythology.
Nrama: Why did you want to utilize Irish mythology in particular for this story?
Sharp: The Celtic mythology is something I've had a huge passion for for, gosh, as long as I can remember. From very early teens, I was into mythology. And then I got more and more into the Celtic side of mythology because it seemed like something we didn't know much about.
When I was at school, I was studying Greek and Roman mythology specifically, and I just thought, I want to know more about Merlin and Arthur and the Irish myths and the Welsh myths and all the big, epic tales that we, for some reason, don't, as an island, seem to know much about or talk about.
There are sort of popular ideas of the Merlin myths. There's an awful lot more that we don't seem to know anything about, particularly the Irish myths.
Nrama: How has it been writing your own comic book for DC, coming from Greg Rucka's script? What was the experience like getting to write your own Wonder Woman story? And how do you think it might have helped prepare you for the next writer you work with?
Sharp: It was both terrifying and exciting. I've written a lot in the past, so I'm not completely alien to writing. It's just that it's been slightly under-the-radar as far as comics go.
Working with Greg, I did want there to be a small aspect of that book's DNA. I mean, in terms of Diana herself, I really tried to get a voice for her that was recognizable as Greg's, because I didn't want her to be a different Diana. I wanted her to be the same Diana that we'd sort of all fallen in love with. It would have seemed weird.
So I tried to literally sort of jump right off the back of our series and keep her voice consistent.
But then the story goes off in a completely different direction.
Working with Greg, I see how he breaks down the scripts into very solid beats, and so I had plotted it out, beat by beat, right through to the end. I did change it a little, but largely it was true to the original concept, which also kind of wrote itself once I'd started it. It was almost like it just had to be.
It wasn't a tough write, in terms of coming up with the plot. I mean, there were challenges, of course.
Nrama: What was the biggest challenge?
Sharp: The hardest thing, I think, was trying to shoe-horn the right amount of the reference material into it, because you can't really cut corners with some of these stories. I trimmed it as much as I could. For example, I compressed the stories of three kings down into one king, just to keep it streamlined.
And I know it's wordy for a lot of people, but if you've ever read the Irish myths, they're all extremely wordy. I trimmed it hugely. My father-in-law, who was a big lover of this material, inspired it because we used to talk about the stories all the time. He did like to tell a story, and I never met an Irishman who didn't like to tell a story in a very wordy way.
I think that aspect of it was true to the material, and I make no apologies for it. I actually like it, as opposed to something that bounces along without much depth. I mean, I like both. I can read a comic without words, but I also like a comic with a lot of words. All of those things have their place, and I think with Irish mythology, you definitely want the words, because that's what gives it the gravitas.
Nrama: What do you hope people take away from your work on Brave and the Bold, and is there anything you can tell us about what's coming up next?
Sharp: With The Brave and the Bold, I wanted to introduce readers to a world that perhaps they weren't familiar with. So the creation of Tir Na Nog was important to me. That's why issue #3 is really just a tour around that land. I mean, Batman's exploring it, and it's an investigation. He's being a detective. But it's a magical realm, and I wanted to draw something beautiful and to really do some solid world-building.
I don't think I'm supposed to talk yet about the next project, but it's a different kind of world-building. So it requires the same sort of thought, to have something feel like it's not superficial. And I add stuff into the world when I build them, to give them a sense of identity and place and history.