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Talking With Liam Sharp

Updated: Jan 24, 2020

Liam Sharp has been illustrating comics since the 1980's. He first worked on 2000AD where he worked on the popular character Judge Dredd and other stories. From there he went on to work at Marvel UK on the popular DEATH'S HEAD II. Shortly after, he worked on books likes X-MEN, HULK, SPIDER-MAN, VENOM and MAN-THING for Marvel Comics. SUPERMAN and BATMAN for DC Comics, and SPAWN: THE DARK AGES for Todd McFarlane.

His ultra detailed work continued to get better with each passing year. He co-created THE POSSESED with writer Geoff Johns and the controversial title TESTAMENT with Douglas Rushkoff.

After years of working in the industry he landed a high profile book, WONDER WOMAN, for the "Rebirth" initiative of over at DC with writer Greg Rucka. As a long time fan it was awesome to see him gaining even more recognition. He went on to write and draw THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD starring Wonder Woman and Batman with a story set in Celtic mythology, another hit form this amazing creator.

He's currently hard at work on the recently launched THE GREEN LANTERN. Paired with the amazing Grant Morrison, he's delivering the most amazing work of his career and I can't think of a book more suited for his talents.

COMIC LOUNGE: What was your first introduction to comic books?

LIAM SHARP: I honestly can't recall - it's like they were just always there, which is probably true! My dad grew up reading The Eagle, and the classic horror comics, like Eerie, from the US. I had an uncle in the navy who left a few around the house... he loved Mad magazine, and I think he left a Daredevil comic from before I was born, from '67, that featured Matt Murdock's twin brother (that was really just Matt) being a hipster, and introduced me to the evil genius known as Stiltman! Lovely Gene Colan art. I loved how Colan drew Daredevil. 

I also subscribed to Star Wars, the black and white UK reprint, which is where I fell in love with Jim Starlin's 'Adam Warlock', and Byrne and Claremont's 'Starlord'. But there were many more!

COMIC LOUNGE: Who were some of the artists that inspired you to become an artist?

SHARP: More than I can cram into a single interview! But let me see - Don Lawrence, John Buscema, Moebius, Liberatore, Phillip Druillet, Richard Corben, Bill Sienkiewicz, Brian Boland, Dave Gibbons, Glenn Fabry, Mike Mignola, Frank Miller, Gal, Toppi, Eisner, Bernie Wrightson, Geoff Darrow, Alfredo Alcala, Wally Wood, Fernando Fernandez, Michael Kaluta, Barry Windsor Smith... And then there are the great sci-fi and fantasy painters, like Frazetta, Boris Valejo, Jeff Jones, Roger Dean, and so on and on. I never stop discovering new, and incredible artists who inspire me.

COMIC LOUNGE: What was your first published comic book?

SHARP: My first published work was in Don Lawrence's STORM: THE LIVING PLANET'. I really only assisted Don in a small way, and painted three or four panels which he then went in and tidied up. My first solo published work was for 2000AD. I did a future shock, which were short stories with a twist ending. Then I did my first Judge Dredd Story, Bug, which happened to feature the first appearance of P.J.Maybe, who went on to become one of Judge Dredd's most persistent returning villains. 

COMIC LOUNGE: You've worked on so many books over the years, what have been some memorable moments for you?

SHARP: I loved being part of the 2000ad family, and I once got a spontaneous standing ovation at the old UKCAC (UK Comic Art Convention) for my Dredd, P.J.Maybe work, but DEATH'S HEAD II was when things really changed for me. It just captured the zeitgeist and went huge, catching us all by surprise at Marvel UK. Sales went from 30K, to over 300K, and then up to half a million for the launch of the ongoing series. I did a redesign, that sort of fused the looks of predator and terminator, and readers loved it. At that point Marvel took interest, so I ended up doing Spider-Man and Venom stories, a couple of X-MEN issues, and then landed a run on THE INCREDIBLE HULK. It was insane! 

After that the standouts are more personal. I loved the run on MAN-THING I did with J.M.DeMatteis. That was a special book, and largely stands up even today. We really pushed the envelope on that one, and I was able to experiment with my art in a wild and natural way that actually added to the narrative. I learned so much on that. After that I would say I'm proud of my publishing efforts at Mam Tor, and then Madefire. I'm extremely proud of my two published prose books - God Killers (Mam Tor) and Paradise Rex Press, Inc (PS Publishing), the second of which features an afterword by one of my all-time favourite authors, China Miéville, who championed it, and is also a favourite of my current collaborator, Grant Morrison. 

More recently, GEARS OF WAR has some of my best art, and was the biggest selling comic of 2008, though that wasn't widely reported. Often licensed properties are not widely covered in the comics press, and tend to get a little side-lined.

And, of course, working with Greg (Rucka) on WONDER WOMAN: THE LIES AND THE TRUTH was amazing. THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD, which I also wrote, was a dream project I still can't believe I got to do. And now I'm working with Grant Morrison on THE GREEN LANTERN! The last three years have been particularly memorable for all of those reasons! It's been one amazing gig after another for me! 

COMIC LOUNGE: As a fan of yours since THE POSESSED, co-created with Geoff Johns, it's been awesome to see your name become even more recognized. What has this experience been like for you, which started with that WONDER WOMAN relaunch?

SHARP: It's incredibly cathartic. I honestly thought my time had been and gone, and that I would never get another shot at the icons. As we grow older we appreciate how rare such opportunities are, and I think take them far less for granted. When you are young you are just kind of bouncing from one place to the next, and if providence gifts you a chance like that you are not always equipped to either appreciate it, or wisely capitalize on it. I'm doing my damnedest to appreciate every single day I have on these historic books, and to not only honor the legacy of them, but - if I can - elevate them even higher. That only seems fair! You can't just be a journeyman on titles like these. You have to give them the very best you have. 

COMIC LOUNGE: We already talked about GREEN LANTERN in our last interview, but are there any other projects you're currently working on that you can talk about or tease?

SHARP: I'm all-in on THE GREEN LANTERN right now, there's nothing else I have time for! We are planning to Kickstart my unpublished sequel to GODKILLERS in a nice big hardback omnibus called 'Emergency Exit', and that will feature a few never-before-seen black and white illustrations, but comic-wise I hope to have a good long run on GL.

COMIC LOUNGE: What tools do you prefer to use, digital or traditional, for you art?

SHARP: I'm mostly a pen and brush guy, but I do use digital for clean-up and certain cosmic effects. It's great for spaceships and planetary surfaces! 

COMIC LOUNGE: Lastly, what advice would you give to artists trying to make it professionally?

SHARP: Don't worry about style. That will come all by itself. I wasted too many years worrying about the relevance of my style - if it was contemporary, or cool, or fashionable - when I should have just concentrated on how good it was. And by that I mean how clear the storytelling is. Understanding light and shade, and anatomy, and perspective. Putting as much effort into the backgrounds as the characters. Becoming a good actor - because all comic strip artists have to be actors! We have to take the roles of ALL our characters! And we have to be directors, cinematographers, set designers, choreographers, and concept artists all-in-one. It's an incredibly complex, demanding discipline. Don't be too precious or too hard on yourself. We are often our own worst bullies and harshest critics, and that all by itself can hobble us and drain our motivation and enjoyment. Don't EVER compare yourself to anybody else, you'll only find yourself wonting. Be inspired by others, not intimidated. And enjoy it!!!

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