There are a few comics at DC that require a lot of references, and an extraordinary amount of drawing time — with hordes of different costumed characters and aliens from different worlds.
Tyler Kirkham, who just became a DC-exclusive artist, is starting his DC career on a book that's probably the toughest of them all — Green Lantern Corps.
"All the diverse characters and worlds I get to draw — it's so fun putting my own take on so many characters," said Kirkham, who starts on the title in October. "It's also a challenge keeping up with all of them. It's a fun one too.
"I am needing quite a bit of reference due to all the characters in this book," he laughed. "There are so many I just want to make sure they are right. I will get it down at some point."
Kirkham, who lives in Utah, will join writer Tony Bedard on Green Lantern Corps with Green Lantern #53. DC also revealed a cover by Kirkham for a comic called Untold Tales of the Black Lanterns #1 — a title the publisher isn't explaining quite yet.
But Kirkham said he can't say much about the mystery of the Black Lanterns, because he was just told what to draw for the cover, not what it all meant. "I was told who should be on it, and I just designed the layout based around those characters," he said.
Kirkham most recently worked on comics for Marvel, including Ultimate Fantastic Four, Ultimatum and Phoenix Warsong. But he said the chance to work on a new set of characters in the diverse DC universe is what appealed to him about the career change.
"The [DC] characters are so iconic and classic," Kirkham said. "It's a privilege to work on any of them to be honest. I really like drawing superhero stuff. Also the fact that I haven't been able to draw much on them them is exciting."
Because he began his comics career under the direction of artist Marc Silvestri at his Top Cow studio — on titles like Strykeforce, Broken Trinity and The Gift — Kirkham believes his style still reflects Silvestri's influence.
"[I'm] also trying my own techniques," he said. "And I take inspirations from a lot of other artists, like Jim Lee, Joe Mad[ureira], Dave Finch, Steve McNiven, Leinil Yu."
For his first arc on Green Lantern Corps, Kirkham is getting to focus on Sinestro Corps members and "the more alien looking characters."
"They are just very fun to draw and try to put my own swing on them," he said. "Like in [Issue] #53, I got to draw some Sinestro Corps characters, Arkillo and Maash, as well as a new member, No Brainer. Had a blast on that scene. I'm having fun on all of them though, Kyle and Soranik alike."
As the cover for Issue #53 reveals, Kirkham even got to revamp an old adversary for the Green Lantern Corps that's connected to the Sinestro Corps homeworld, Qward
"I got to redesign a villain for this story arc —The Weaponer," Kirkham said. "He created Sinestro's ring. He's a blacksmith, very Renaissance looking."
The artist said he's only drawn one issue, so he hasn't gotten his hands on John Stewart or Ganthet yet, since Issue #53 concentrates on Kyle Ryaner and Soranik Natu.
"Kyle Is really fun to draw so far," he said. "I like his attitude too. He's easy-going until times get tough, then he has to get serious. It's kinda like me. I am very easy-going and rarely get mad or upset. I like his mask too. Its fun trying to show emotion through a mask like that."
Working with Bedard on Green Lantern Corps has given the artist a lot of freedom, allowing him to develop his style for the comic while influencing the storytelling. "Tony is very cool about letting me highlight certain things on the pages, or letting me rearrange panels if I feel they need to be. Or changing angles or objects the lantern characters might be creating. Basically, he is not limiting me to stay in the lines."
As Kirkham keeps breaking out those references for the varied characters and worlds of Green Lantern Corps, he's also hoping DC fans are happy with what he brings to the comic.
"I'm very excited about this opportunity to be working at DC, and to be working on a title like this," he said. "The folks at DC have been super cool to work with and I'm looking forward to having a lot of fun. Also, I'm working with an amazing team. Tony of course; Batt on inks... he's best in the biz; and Nei [Ruffino] on colors. I've always wanted to work with her. I really hope everyone enjoys the book. I will do my best to make it as cool as possible and help Tony deliver a good story through art."