IGN Comics: Can you each talk about how you got involved?
Van Jensen: I’ve been friends with Rob Venditti for quite a few years and we had worked together on a few non-comics projects. We live in the same city and we both work in comics, so we know each other pretty well. I guess at some point he had passed on copies of my Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer books to the editors at DC and so when the opening came up with Green Lantern Corps, they were familiar with those and kind of were interested in bringing me on at some point. They knew that I had a background in journalism writing about science and covering crime, so with the Green Lantern Corps sort of being the police of the universe, it made sense to bring me in with that background.
Bernard Chang: I was drawing Demon Knights previously, and there was a time when Matt Idelson and Chris Conroy approached me about possibly making the move towards Green Lantern Corps. I’ve always been a big fan of the series, and it’s a nice transition to go from a medieval genre to sc-fi. There are a lot of challenges that go along with it, but it’s an exciting book. And also to be working with Van and Robert – Robert was my writer on Demon Knights – so it was a real natural transition to doing this series.
IGN: Bernard, you mentioned there are new challenges involved in doing the Green Lantern universe. Can you talk a little bit about what those are?
Chang: As an artist, when you deal with science-fiction, there’s always a design component. I want to make sure each culture and each place has its own identity in a book, but also for it to make sense. To have a reason for each place to have different clothing, cultures, different kinds of technology. I have a background in architecture, and form follows function. I really enjoyed that aspect of the storytelling. So much of the characters’ environments can be told just by visually looking at the elements. Although they are very subtle aspects, I really think it makes the story a lot richer and have greater depth. On Demon Knights, it was hard to draw horses; I hadn’t drawn horses before. But I liked drawing horses so much from Demon Knights that one of the new recruits is kind of a horse-like character.
IGN: In terms of the new recruits, what’s the process between you guys for designing them like? Is there a back and forth that happens between you?
Jensen: I mean, I provide some description of their setting and their temperament and what their world is all about. I didn’t go into great detail on physical description. I’ve been a huge fan of Bernard’s for a really long time, and he just has such great design sensibilities. The designs that came back, like he was talking about earlier of building the world through the visual, they took the suggestions I had and just raised it to this whole extra level where you can start to see a cultural history and even a personal history even in just one panel of appearance.
Chang: When Van turned in all the character descriptions, I immediately had a lot of questions. Part of that was also just to explore and pick his brain and see what else I could add to it. I think it’s been a great process. In a comic book, you have a team working together, so there’s always what each person brings to the table. And Van, with his background in journalism, it was really interesting to decipher smaller details – and it’s all in the details that really bring these characters fully to life.
IGN: Are we going to be seeing any of these new recruits in your first issue?
Jensen: Oh yeah. We’ll see them midway through the first issue. Not in the preview section, but they’ll appear later on and continue to have a really big presence in the story.
IGN: Awesome. And as far as the anchor of this title, would you say this is a John Stewart book?
Jensen: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. From the moment that I started on it, it was very much John Stewart’s story. I think it’s a very intentional effort to take the four Earth Lanterns that are so prominent and, they had shared a lot of space previously where at one time some would have more prominence than another, but it was very deliberate to give them each their own book to have the spotlight. So, for John Stewart, who hasn’t really headlined a book in a while now, this is a great opportunity to explore his character.
He’s just such a fascinating character with his background in architecture and the military and how much of a thinker and a doer he is. He’s this natural fit that adds a lot of great leadership to the Corps as they come out of this huge transition and have to figure out what the future of the Green Lantern Corps is going to look like.
IGN: As we saw in Green Lantern #21, one of the primary overarching elements of the GL books right now is rebuilding the ranks of the Corps. As that’s literally the title of your book, can we expect most of that to be handled by you guys?
Jensen: There’s a very basic, practical elements to rebuilding the Corps, which is recruiting new Lanterns. That’s something that we’re exploring; after the Third Army and the First Lantern, the Green Lantern Corps isn’t really looked at as this purely benevolent force anymore. Regular people in the universe equate the Guardians with the Green Lanterns. And since they don’t distinguish between the Third Army and the Guardians and the Lanterns and everything else, they really don’t necessarily look at the Green Lanterns as the good guys anymore.
So what does that mean now for a new recruit, where you get plucked into a Corps that maybe you don’t want to be a part of? That’s something we’re exploring. And also, the Guardians provided so much leadership to the Corps and the old Guardians are gone and the new Guardians are going to be off on their own adventures, so how is the framework of the Corps going to change? What’s the leadership structure going to be? What’s their mission, how are they governed? Those sorts of questions we’re going to see play out over the years to come.
IGN: Robert has a co-plot credit on this book. How do you guys work together, and are you guys going to be working in tandem for a while?
Jensen: Robert almost serves as sort of like an extra editor. He has this great vision for Green Lantern and what’s going on with that book and has some amazing, amazing things in store. He’s a brilliant writer. So, it’s making sure that I’m fitting in with what he’s doing. It’s not like the stories are going to be in a state of constant crossover, but we want to make sure it’s all in the shared universe and a lot of the same characters and overlaps have to match up. He really is providing a lot of help with that, but he also is very helpful in really just guiding me through the ins and outs of monthly comics.
I’ve just done graphic novels before, and it’s a very, very different beast. There are a lot of little rules and stylistic things that I’ve never had any familiarity with, so Rob is able to kind of guide me through that. He, at the same time, is giving me a lot of freedom. I’m scripting the book entirely and pretty much the plots are stuff that I’m generating with some input from him but he’s not dictating things by any means.