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Getting Down to the Bitter Root with Sanford Greene

Updated: Jan 24, 2020


Sanford Greene has been drawing comic for over 15 years. One of his first major projects was on WONDER GIRL for DC Comics. He's always had a "different" style that made him stand out. His style has progressed into something so bombastic and unique that it's instantly recognizable.

A couple years ago, he and David Walker did a critically acclaimed and fan favorite run on POWER MAN & IRON FIST. It was on this book that I first discovered his art and I've been a fan ever since. Every page of that series was full of humor, energy and balls to the wall action.

When BITTER ROOT was announced with the same creative team, and Chuck Brown, I immediately knew I was gonna pick it up. The book is about a family of monster hunters, set in the 1920's, during the Harlem Renaissance. How could you not want to pick this book up? The first issue has already sold out and has been a huge hit. Getting a chance to chat with Sanford about the book and hearing how passionate he is about it, makes me hope that this book stays around for a long time. If you haven't picked up the book yet, do it!!!

THIS INTERVIEW TOOK PLACE BEFORE THE RELEASE OF BITTER ROOT

Comic Lounge: Growing up, what artists or comics made you decide to become a comic book creator?

Sanford Greene: I think the biggest titles were MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE and SPIDER-MAN TEAM-UP. I was never really a big fan of the single character titles. I liked the team books, X-Men and Avengers. Those books that really stood out to me were those books that I mentioned because they had mainstream characters teaming up with obscure characters. That's how I learned about the Marvel Universe. It was awesome to see Spidey team up with Captain Britain. You can learn more about those characters when they're in those environments, in a title with a well know character like Spidey. Then you have that standpoint from the obscure character comes across just as important as the major character. So I always thought that was kind of cool. That's what influenced me.

Comic Lounge: I know POWER MAN AND IRON FIST was kind of a breakout book for you, but what was the first book you worked on in the comic book industry?

Greene: Oh man, we're going back a bit. I say it's a breakout book, but it's my breakout book the second time around. I think my first big moment was a mini-series over at DC Comics, WONDER GIRL in 2006. My style was definitely a lot different. For lack of a better word, a lot more cartoony. It was almost a derogatory statement back then, but now it's fully embraced. My style had a lot more open line, clean. WONDER GIRL was pretty awesome because I got to do characters like Robin and Wonder Woman. That was my first breakout.

Then I started doing other stuff, a little bit of everything. I did Batman, the animated version. I did LEGION OF SUPERHEROES. The I bounced to Marvel and did some Spider-Man, Hulk, you name it, I did a lot of stuff. That was during the transition of my style, I was trying to go a little bit away from the cartoony style. My editors didn't like it at the time, but I knew I had to break away from that. I also did the relaunch for RUNAWAYS, which got me really in the realm of attention at Marvel. Which helped me land POWER MAN AND IRON FIST.

Comic Lounge: When you landed the POWER MAN AND IRON FIST book was it a huge deal for you? Were they characters you followed as a kid?

Greene: That goes back to my love for MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE. It was Spider-Man and another character. or two that they introduce you to and Luke Cage was one of those characters. I remember seeing him in the back of the comics, for the house ads. They would put headshots of all these different characters when they would advertise the holiday specials that you could mail order. I would be just enamored looking at that list of headshots and trying to figure out who's who. I remember seeing Luke Cage in those ads, and he was one of the few characters I didn't know.

When I saw him again, in an actual comic, I was like "Oh man!". You know he's a brown man, a man of color, and he looked like me. It made me that much more, want to dive in and learn who he is, because to some degree I saw myself in him. That's where he quickly became one of my favorite characters. Also that tiara was kinda dope. You know back then the bombastic stuff was real popular, he had a pimp shirt and a tiara. To me it wasn't a tiara, it was a like a headband.

Comic Lounge: So you're about to launch a new book with David Walker, called BITTER ROOT. What about the relationship you guys built with him, working on POWER MAN & IRON FIST, led you guys to wanting to work on a creator owned book?

Greene: A lot of things actually. POWER MAN & IRON FIST gained a lot of popularity because of the Netflix shows. To be real, we weren't really getting a lot of love "the powers that be", because of what we created, to some degree they're not really obligated to do that. It would be nice to be acknowledged for some of the directions we took those characters, but at the same time they did what they did.