In The Green Lantern #7, writer Grant Morrison and artist Liam Sharp utilize illustration and prose to tell a sentimental story about Hal Jordan and the one true love of his life.
But she might not be the character readers expect.
Written almost entirely in prose, The Green Lantern #7 takes place in Emerald Sands, the green world that exists within Hal Jordan’s power ring. As #6 revealed, Hal is now suffering from amnesia and is trapped inside his own ring, where he finds the wizard Myrwhydden (a classic Green Lantern character who was introduced as being imprisoned inside Hal’s ring).
What happens next is best experienced within the issue, but suffice it to say that Morrison and Sharp find a new way to portray the inside of Hal’s power ring. In fact, Sharp (who penciled, inked and colored the issue) utilized the familiar Green Lantern symbol itself to define the structure of the issue’s pages and gave the story’s green-hued environment an other-worldly glow.
Newsarama talked to Sharp about the issue, how he came up with the design for the Emerald Sands, and how the visuals will change again when #8 reunites Hal with Oliver Queen.
Newsarama: Liam, this issue is really beautiful. It’s such a switch in style from the work you’ve been doing on The Green Lantern. The structure, the prose, the colors…
Liam Sharp: Yeah, I think a lot of it is the coloring, because I colored this one myself. So it’s a bit of a jump there, and there’s a few things that make it unique.
I did some crazy things. [Laughs]
When I read the script, I was thinking, OK, this is all inside the ring. How can I do this in a way that I’ve not seen before?
And then I had this idea of using the logo as the panels. I didn’t know if it would work. It seemed like I was making things extra-hard for myself. But I ran it past Grant and Brian [Cunningham], the editor, and they were like, “that would be amazing! Let’s make it work!”
So I just kind of went for it.
Nrama: So it was a challenge you kind of brought on yourself?
Sharp: It was tough, but it was also freeing in an odd way. It meant that we could really look at the illustrative side of things. It didn’t matter so much, because I knew there was going to be prose as opposed to panel-to-panel storytelling.
But it still needed the beats. It still needed to have the images, and it’s the same basic count of panels per page. So it was really tricky to figure it out.
But the more I did it, the more I sort of fell in love with it as a concept. And the more magical it became because of it.
And then the nice thing too was then when I got to sequences that are outside of the ring, to suddenly jump out to those square panels - because we’re not inside it anymore — became really powerful and big moments, you know? It changed the whole process.
I kind of missed it, actually, once I’d come out. I was like, oh, I liked being in the ring.
And then the other thing was the coloring. When I was looking at that, I was like, OK, so the whole thing’s got to be green, right? It’s Emerald Sands. But if I just do it green, that’s not only going to be tough, because we’re going to lose a little bit of magic. There’s just got to be some warmth there. I didn’t want it to be too cold, and too much green can feel cold.
So I had this notion, a bit like Tron really, that what if I underlit it all with an ultraviolet color? Something that suggest technology.
And basically, that’s what I did.
On all the pages, I laid down ultraviolet, and then I worked the greens on top of it. And it gave it a completely unique, weird, twilight feel that absolutely made it very different to the issues before, which is really what we needed, I think, just because it’s such an unusual environment.
Nrama: So you chose to color this issue yourself because you had such a clear idea of what you wanted?
Sharp: Yeah, it’s very hard to put something like that across. So I begged for that one. I wanted to do it.
And they very kindly allowed me to do that. And I think it worked.
Nrama: I don’t know how you’re doing this detailed artwork and inking and now coloring in a monthly series, Liam. It’s insane.
Sharp: [Laughs] Do you know? It was a funny thing. I tore through this issue.
It’s the fastest issue I’ve drawn, weirdly.
I was so much in the zone with it. And it was flowing so well that I actually drew all the pages in two weeks and spent a week to color it.
So the whole thing was done in three weeks.
And I know it’s the team’s favorite issue so far. So there’s no rhyme or reason sometimes why things come together as well as they do.
It’s funny, some of the others that don’t look as detailed took much longer. There doesn’t seem to be a logic behind it half the time.
Nrama: Talk to me about the way you drew Pengowirr, the female manifestation of the power ring. I don’t want to spoil the story too much, but I think that’s the right way to describe this character?
Sharp: Yeah, that’s right. She’s the power ring.
Grant wanted her to have milky eyes, as if she was a little bit blind. But everything in there is falling apart a bit. It’s a crazy kind of environment. So she’s getting by on wits. So we wanted it to be a bit raggedy.
The world is not what it was - Emerald Sands had its glory days in the past. And obviously, with the power running down, everything is sort of crumbling and falling apart, and it’s getting overgrown with sort of virtual ivy.
But we didn’t want to give away straight away where he is or who she is, because they’re both in a sort of amnesiac state.
But also, it’s a love story, this issue. Grant said he found himself getting really emotional three times during the writing of the script. This was before I read it, he said, oh I got really emotional writing this one. And I thought, oh God, what’s he done?
And I read it, and I was like, d*** you! I did too! I said, I thought you’d done something terrible and there was going to be some awful moment. And he said, no, no, the things that make me upset are sweet things. It’s about kindness — that’s the stuff that really gets to me.
This is a sentimental issue. It definitely is.
To me, this is the one true love of his life.
And we’ve not seen it depicted like this before. There’s a deep, deep affection between these two, even though they’ve never realized it in this way. It’s a symbiotic relationship, completely.
And he couldn’t be Hal Jordan the Green Lantern without her.
And it’s nice to see this characterization, I think, of the ring for the first time.
Nrama: It made sense with who Hal Jordan is.
Sharp: Yeah, completely. All of these things come from somewhere. Myrwhydden is an old character, but making him more like the Wizard of Oz-type character and having this kind of storybook element to it.
And then those weird Ministers - the shark Minister guys carrying their eyeballs around. They’re so strange. I loved that.
Weirdly, in my nightmares, I often have sharks, even though I’ve never lived by the sea. When I was young, I don’t know why I had sharks sort of prowling my nightmares. But I do.
So having those Ministers in there was very appropriate. It was fun to kind of do little surreal touches like putting the ripples of light on them as if they’re under the water, even though they’re not technically under the water. It just gives it that subterranean kind of feel.
It all feels enclosed somehow.
Nrama: So wait, Grant came up with the idea that these Ministers from the dream of Myrwhydden were sharks, and yet you already had this dream-connection to sharks. And Grant didn’t know it.
Sharp: Yeah, yeah. It’s very symbiotic, our relationship. It’s mostly telepathic I think!
Nrama: From this issue, you’re changing styles again, I assume, because The Green Lantern #8 has Hal teaming up with Green Arrow. More street-level? Or are you done with that issue yet?
Sharp: I’ve just finished issue #9, so yes, I’m done with issue #8.
There’s a very, very big nod to the series that is most famous for bringing those two characters together, so I did my best to pay homage to Neal Adams. It’s not easy to do at all, as I discovered.
If you try to imitate genius, it’s a joke. It’s very hard to do.
But hopefully, people will enjoy the nod.
It’s a huge, huge jump stylistically from issue #7 to issue #8.
And then issue #9 goes off in a whole different direction yet again. It never stops, which makes this job enjoyable.
Nrama: Well, yeah, issue #9 takes place on a fantasy, Medieval-type planet. I thought maybe you would enjoy that one.
Sharp: Yeah. It’s funny though, it always surprises me what I really find myself enjoying. It’s not always the obvious stuff. Sometimes it’s the less obvious stuff.
Especially the sci-fi. You know? I’ve been fairly well known for my fantasy for quite a long time. And actually, science fiction has always been a huge part of my inner landscape and the things that I love. So it’s interesting how you get to defined despite yourself, and it’s quite nice to have the opportunity to sort of redefine yourself.
Nrama: I think with this series, you’re getting to show that there is no one note that you play.
Sharp: Well that’s nice to hear, thank you.
Nrama: Is there anything else you want to tell fans about The Green Lantern #7?
Sharp: Just that we’re all really proud of it. I loved what Grant wrote. The prose is just delightful. It’s such a beautiful read. I pored and pored over it. I’ve looked at it almost too much, you know? I need to give it some distance. But I’m glad you liked it. We’re all proud of it.