Indie comics veteran Van Jensen, writer of Snow White, Through a Glass, Darkly and the Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer series is co-writing Green Lantern Corps, starting with issue #21. He talks with DCComicsNews.com about the future of the series and John Stewart.
DC Comics News: In a book like Green Lantern Corps you have a lot of toys to play with in your sandbox. Besides the central character of John Stewart are there any other characters that you are planning on focusing on in the title?
Van Jensen: The good and bad thing about the Green Lantern Corps is that there are thousands of great characters. It’s good because there’s a lot to work with, but bad because it’s impossible to give every character his or her due. So I’ve picked some characters to focus on in the immediate future. Obviously John is the main one, but we’ll be seeing a lot of Kilowog, Salaak, Soranik Natu, Fatality and a handful of new recruits. But other favorites will appear from time to time, and we’ll focus more on other characters going forward.
DCN: Since this is your first monthly book what do you think the biggest challenges have been when compared to the graphic novel format you used for your Pinocchio books?
VJ: Graphic novels are very different, because you can let the story sprawl and grow as big as you want. With monthly comics, the page constraint is a huge factor. I’ve had to learn on the fly how to be very concise in my storytelling, and how to write dialogue to fit that tighter structure. There are also a ton of little stylistic things, like how to write sound effects, how to toss a line of dialogue into a caption on a following page, the ideal number of panels per page, etc. There’s also a lot more research involved, making sure that I’m not tracking muddy footprints all over continuity.
DCN: What Green Lantern material did you read when preparing to write Green Lantern Corps? Did you have any favorites?
VJ: I only really had time to read most of the New 52 GL and GLC issues before starting on the book. Normally, I would do much more reading before getting going, but we were facing a time crunch. Since then, I’ve reread everything from the beginning of Geoff Johns’ run. Right now I’m starting through the Silver Age GL comics, and I just finally tracked down copies of Green Lantern: Mosaic, and I’m really looking forward to reading those.
DCN: Green Lantern Corps is one of five monthly titles that happen in the Green Lantern universe. Do you have an open dialogue with the writers of the other books?
VJ: We all email pretty regularly, and then we have conference calls from time to time to check in with each other and see what plot elements are coming up. Our editors (Matt Idelson and Chris Conroy) also do a great job of keeping us all up to date. And since Rob Venditti and I are both in Atlanta and have been friends for years, we talk and meet up so often that our wives probably get annoyed with us. It’s a great group of writers, and I feel very fortunate to work with them.
DCN: If you had the opportunity to write another DC character besides those in Green Lantern Corps who would it be?
VJ: DC has an amazing roster of heroes (and villains), and so it’s hard to narrow it down. Like every other writer (or fan), I have a Batman story stocked away, in case that opportunity ever came up. I also have a Creeper story that I’d love to write, something connecting to his Ditko origin.
DCN: There was this crazy rumor that John would die? Is anything like that really happening?
I was already working on a storyline starring John Stewart for the long term when those rumors started going around. So it was pretty weird to be caught in the middle of that, when I knew that it wasn’t true. All I can say is that I never had a plan to kill John, and no one at DC ever asked me to kill John. He’s a great character, and my goal is to write the best John Stewart story that’s ever been told. One that doesn’t end with his death.
VJ: How will your books connect to the main Green Lantern books?
There’s going to be a close alignment. Hal is in charge of the Corps going forward, so he’ll be a presence in Green Lantern Corps, even if he doesn’t show up directly. Rob and I want to have these books exist in an obviously shared universe (we talk constantly about making sure details line up from book to book), but that doesn’t mean we’ll be seeing nonstop crossovers.
DCN: Any new Lanterns joining the team? Will you be creating new heroes or villains?
We’ll see four new recruits in Green Lantern Corps #21. Each of them has a very unique story and background. We’re exploring a couple of ideas. One is that willpower takes many different forms. The other is that becoming a Green Lantern is not the grand achievement that it once was. The Corps is viewed as a threat after the Third Army and the First Lantern devastated much of the universe. So the citizenry of the universe no longer see the Green Lanterns as heroes. And that will bring a whole host of challenges as we go forward.
Have you seen the Bruce Timm Justice League cartoon? I loved how John Stewart was portrayed in that. Will you take any influences from the Cartoon?
VJ: I have! I love Timm’s work. I grew up on Batman: TAS, and I came back to Justice League a little later. That show did a great job of painting John as thoughtful, strong, courageous and conflicted. He’s a really introspective guy who has lived through much more than pretty much anyone else. But he’s also a doer, someone who will roll up his sleeves and do the necessary work. We’ll see a lot of that from him going forward as he helps to rebuild the Corps.
Will his run focus more on the Earth lanterns like it is currently or will we get some great stories about the lesser known Lanterns like the pre-reboot series?
VJ: The only Earth Lantern we’ll see is John, for the most part. Otherwise, this is going to be a big space adventure series. And so we’ll be focusing a lot on other GLs. Rest assured, I have a dog-eared copy of Secret Files and Origins, and I’ve picked out a lot of characters both well known and obscure to bring into the book.
Thought on incorporating any ideas or themes from the Green Lantern cartoon?
VJ: I hate to say it, but I haven’t yet seen the Green Lantern cartoon. Hoping to make time to watch it in the near future, though!
Thoughts if his and Geoff Johns’s run will flow together.
VJ: We’re all big fans of Geoff and Peter Tomasi and Tony Bedard and the many others who have worked on the Green Lantern universe, and we absolutely are working to make this transition as seamless as possible. Luckily for us, Geoff and Peter have created a conclusion to their run that serves as a perfect ending point for them, but it leaves us with a fascinating new status quo to explore. That said, we very much want to put our own stamp on these books, and you’ll see that both in a slightly different tone and some big, big developments coming very soon.