“Between the Panels” is a bi-weekly interview series focusing on comic book creators of all experience levels, seeking to examine not just what each individual creates, but how they go about creating it.
There’s no mistaking Liam Sharp’s unique art style on a comics page. Whether it’s the Hulk, Wonder Woman, Spawn, Green Lantern, Batman, or any of the myriad other characters he’s interpreted, the pages crackle with a raw electricity that might have been channeled directly from old issues of Heavy Metal or 2000 A.D. Aside from being “just” an artist, Liam is also a novelist, publisher, and most recently the recipient of an honorary doctorate. His current series, Starhenge from Image Comics, may be the apex of his artistry thus far.
First, the particulars…
Your specialties (artist/writer/letterer/inker/etc.): Artist/Writer
Your home base: Northern California
Fanbase Press Contributor Kevin Sharp: The big question to start with is: Why comics? You’re someone who’s done art and writing in other media, so what’s the appeal of the comics format for you as a creator?
Liam Sharp: It’s a really good question. I dunno if I’ve fully drilled down on that one. Oddly, it’s never let me go. I kept trying to leave and it sort of won’t let me go anyway. [It’s] essentially a really ancient form of storytelling: narrative with pictures. You could probably trace that back and could make a strong case —and I know I’m not the first one to make it— that cave paintings were a very early form of narrative art, and therefore could be considered a precursor to comics. Yet it still feels like this sort of poor cousin of art, like it’s still not taken seriously. It’s getting there. And it’s still oddly got a lot of room to evolve and to be taken of advantage of — if you’re a words and pictures guy, which I am, then why not? You don’t need the budget of a movie. I think generally right across the board, many of us love the idea of directing a movie, directing something, and this is a sort of cheap way of doing it. [laughter] There’s so many sides to this, I could probably talk about it forever.
KS: We’ve never had a one-question interview before. [laughter]
LS: What it really gets down to [is], it’s just so full of promise. I never felt that I could really add anything to the fine arts. There’s nothing that occurred to me that felt like I had to do it in terms of fine art, whereas this world of fantasy and science fiction and things that are otherworldly has always sort of spoken to me. I think even the idea of fabulous storytelling, imaginative storytelling, has been frowned on and sort of turned into —fairly recently— a form of art that is not considered high art. And yet, without the power of the imagination, we don’t cross the seas. We don’t steel ourselves to go to battle. We don’t reach for the stars. We don’t fly to the moon, you know, Mars, or wherever else. It’s the power of the imagination. It’s the power of mythology and allegory, as well; in science fiction and fantasy, there’s always a lot of allegory. So, yeah, long-winded answer and probably not very clear, but all of the above.
KS: Before you came to fall in love with that imaginative storytelling and those worlds, what kind of environment did young Liam see growing up in Derby [England]?
LS: It was a really working-class town in the Midlands; it wasn’t even a city when I was young, I marched in the Cub Scouts the day it got city status. It’s where Rolls Royce is, it’s where they got the engines for airplanes. A lot of my extended family worked with Royce on the airplane engines. It was also a hub for the railways, a big station there, a lot of railway building there, train building there. My granddad worked on the boilers late at night through the night. It was steeped in sort of a very working-class tradition, and this notion that you work hard and you accept your position in life and you get on with it. But my dad was never like that, he was quite unusual. So was my mom.
KS: How so?
LS: They aspired. He could have been a great artist, but he wasn’t really supported for it. He didn’t realize what he was missing out on. At the time, there was a Joseph Wright School of Art back then, which you were very lucky if you could get into. My dad was offered a place. He was very dyslexic and really left school when he was 13, but he was very good at art. So, he had this opportunity, which would’ve taken him in a totally different direction, to go to the school, but the nature of [Derby] being as it was, it wasn’t something that you did if you came from that class.
I think he, as a result of that, later on realized that that was a missed opportunity. And when it became very apparent later on that I was that way inclined, they both supported whatever it was that I wanted to do. They really have supported me throughout everything without question, even if they didn’t get it or understand.
KS: I imagine comics distribution was very different for you growing up there than being in a large, metropolitan area.
LS: Comics was my thing probably from my uncle in, who was in the Merchant Navy. He was this really cool, long-haired guy; his nickname was “Chick.” [He] listened to Jimi Hendrix, he brought these cool albums in. I just thought he was the coolest person in the world. He brought MAD magazine into the house. I think he must have bought the first Daredevil that I can remember — I looked it up and it was the year before I was born. It was a Stilt Man issue by Gene Colan. You know, basically, I just really fell for comics. We had a little newsagent, and I used to go there and pick up whatever random Marvel comics they had in. It was mostly Marvel for me. We didn’t really have access to DC. Obviously, that’s a distribution thing, and I really don’t understand why some areas seemed to get DC.
KS: Even though it sounds like the luck of the draw as to what you might find on the rack, were there any favorites that stood out?
LS: Whenever I saw [John] Buscema I thought, this guy’s really good. There was the Avengers stuff, anything I could get my hands on. The Daredevil annual one year, a British reprint, put it in a sort of hardback. I had a giant-size Hulk treasury that was just fantastic. I loved Conan, the black-and-white magazine format one. Comics in general, I just loved. We had The Dandy, an English kids’ comics. And they were just like fun, crazy comics and crazy. And those, there was a whole bunch of them. And then 2000 A.D.
KS: How about other media? What kinds of worlds were being opened up to you?
LS: It was a growing thing. If you add Friday night double-bill horror that [my] parents used to let me stay up and watch, like Hands of Orlac, Valley of Gwangi, whatever was on those black-and-white horrors. Anything like Jason and the Argonauts or even Demetrius and the Gladiators… I didn’t care if it was people fighting with swords and sandals, giant monsters, stop motion, all of that wonderful stuff. When you get all that together and then discovering comics, that meant that I could get access to more and more of that kind of material — larger than life, mythic material. Discovering also fantasy and science fiction illustrators, and the books of that kind of stuff, was like a revelation to me. I would spend a lot of time in bookshops. I realize now [that] I was an enthusiast. I just didn’t know anybody else — it was a very, very solo pursuit. [laughter]
I’ve still got an aunt, my favorite aunt; whenever I stayed with her, we’d go down to the bookshops. We had no money, but if I found a book —I stumbled across The Studio book, Jeff Jones and Barry Windsor Smith, Bernie Wrightson and Michael Kaluta —she bought it for me. They were always on sale, because they would eventually make their way to a little bookshop in the back of nowhere like Derby, and be in a pile in the corner of the store for not very much money. I would always find gold in those places, so I spent hours in bookshops looking for books that nobody else wanted that I just thought were the best things in the world. All of those things informed my love of illustrated narrative, which I would probably say is my real love above comics.
KS: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. Was there comic story that fits that for you?
LS: The one that always stands out to me is Moon Knight [#26], the “Hit It!” issue by Bill Sienkiewicz and… uh, I’m blanking on the guy who wrote it, annoyingly.
KS: Doug Moench?
LS: Doug Moench! Yeah. I didn’t have any of the rest of the run. I stumbled across that single issue, and it’s only a 16-page story; I guess I would’ve been maybe 15, even 16, but I had a strong idea of what I thought comics could be before then. Then, I saw that and it changed everything. I almost can’t imagine my life before that; it just astounded me. Everything about it: the storytelling, the pacing, the way that he splattered the ink around. I mean, even now that inspires me and Bill does consistently inspire me. Off the back of that, I had to get Elektra Assassin when that came along. That was just amazing. Dave McKean I felt was in the same sort of family, artwise, of narrative storytelling. When I discovered Violent Cases, that was another one that really knocked my socks off.
KS: Both those guys are very different artistically from Buscema. Were your tastes evolving during that time or did you just like a lot of different flavors?
LS: You make a very astute observation, because even to this day I rotate between both. I’ve just been doing a series of pages for issue four of Starhenge that are very much rooted in ‘70s comics, very much a traditional approach. I recently did a Batman cover that’s much more mainstream than the stuff that I’ve been doing for the last year or so. But I’ve always felt through a good chunk of my career that I’ve done this sort of flip and flop between the two and not been able to somehow unite the two. It’s something that’s been nagging me recently, that whole thing about mainstream and what’s not mainstream and what we should and shouldn’t do. I love both, I really do. I love traditional [art], but I absolutely adore the painted abstract things that really push the boundaries. I really like to challenge myself to be both of those ends, even though they seem incompatible, which has always been a bit confounding.
KS: Because you’ve been going back and forth, maybe you’re not looked at as an artist with a particular “identity.”
LS: What I’m referring to was exemplified [when] my daughter graduated from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. These agents come in basically to do portfolio reviews and they charge the students. For a portfolio, like I think it’s $300, 10 minutes, something ridiculous. And they make a fortune looking at the best people.
They get the pick of the crop from those that have already paid a fortune for their courses. I think it’s disgusting. They shouldn’t do it. The comment that he gave her was that she should find a style that’s uniquely hers and stick to it. And I just think: How is that a good message to an artist? I think an awful lot of the truly great artists evolved and became what they became because they were allowed to not just be the one thing that they were. Picasso doesn’t become Picasso right off the bat and stay Picasso for the rest of his life. How does anyone evolve if they’re told to just stay in their lane? I just think, no, that’s really fundamentally wrong in the education of artists these days. We need to evolve and we need to surprise ourselves and we need to make mistakes and be allowed to make mistakes and grow and take chances and in order to get things right.
I think for me, what’s happened is I’ve spent years and years torn between those two pillars of what is expected, not quite able to get the right job to be the McKean/Sienkiewicz style of artist I would like to have been because —and I know this sounds like a cliché—when you’ve got a young family, you take the job that comes along. Most of those jobs are requiring you to be, to some extent, mainstream and palatable. They’re not requiring you to push the boat out. And I think, for a while, I probably damaged my own career without realizing it by attempting to push the boat out — it wasn’t always clear what you were gonna get from me. Where I’ve been really, really lucky in the last six years is, it’s been an evolution. It starts with Wonder Woman, which is pure mainstream, solid storytelling. Then, it evolves through the Green Lantern and where I’ve got more freedom working with Grant Morrison to play with the storytelling, play with the panels, play with the layouts. At the end of that, DC were great in supporting Batman Reptilian, which was done in sort of Arkham Asylum style, which again, allowed me to just stick in that place and keep evolving it and working on it and holding it, until obviously we get to Starhenge.
KS: If Sienkiewicz had taken that agent’s advice, today we’d have a really good Neal Adams 2.0 and would’ve never seen any of Bill’s unique genius.
LS: Exactly. He had to take a chance. And I was lucky that I did get to push the boat a few times in the past. Once was on Man-Thing with JM DeMatteis, which I absolutely loved. Unfortunately, the story didn’t last beyond eight issues, [but] it’s getting a reputation now as something that people need to look at. That felt like a great moment, but he never led anywhere and it certainly didn’t open any doors to me.
One of the things that Bill once said is, in order to do something like that, you have to get on a book that no one’s really paying attention to, it’s not necessarily got a future or it’s not one of the big books. It’s not one of the ones that the editors or the editor in chiefs [are] looking at, so you can get away with it.
KS: You were certainly able to push yourself in interesting directions even on a mainstream title like Green Lantern.
LS: We did that, certainly towards the end. They were gonna cut it down to six issues, then it was eight issues, then it was 10 issues. Then, it was back down to six and then 12. We were just like, “Let’s just do whatever the hell we want to do and enjoy it as much as we can while we’re on it.” And thankfully, it did end up being the complete 12, and we were able to wrap it up and finish the story.
KS: I loved that book and I think it’s amazing, the music you and Grant made together. I’m wondering if there’s a sense that teaming with a superstar writer buys you some carte blanche that another team might not have on the same title. More of a hands-off approach from editorial. Whereas on the flip side, Man-Thing was hands-off because no one treated it as a “big book.”
LS: At the time, DeMatteis was very much in that mold — he’d done Moonshadow and Blood, both terrific. He had a huge commercial, mainstream success with that Spider-Man Kraven story. At the time of doing Man-Thing, I was very happy to be working with him. I think there’s no question that when you get to work with Morrison or people of that caliber, if they’re on the book, they get left alone. That’s the dream place, you know, that’s what I always wanted. That’s what I’ve been waiting for all these years. The times I’ve been most happy, it’s been [when] people have supported that approach to the storytelling, just said, “Go for it.”
KS: Was there an artist who you maybe didn’t appreciate as a budding comics reader, but once you became a pro you could sort of see what you were missing?
KS: Favorite Kirby period?
LS: I really like when Wally Wood was inking him on Challenges of the Unknown.
KS: The Sky Masters era?
LS: Sky Masters is beautiful!
KS: Going back to your childhood briefly, which creative bug bit you first: art or writing?
LS: Pretty much both. I was copying comics very early on. Both my parents say they remember that I did my first comic when I was about seven, and I remember doing it — I actually think it might have been younger because I remember where we were. I’m pretty sure I was six. Anyway, it was on a pad with pullout leaves, a landscape pad. I just started drawing this narrative of these two friends; one had a lion’s head and the other was an Egyptian god-type character with wings and an eagle’s head. It was just some adventure. And my sister cut the whole thing up, ‘cause I’d drawn a suit and beard on her favorite doll in pen and it wouldn’t come off. [laughter] I remember being absolutely gutted that she cut my comic up. I was always starting comics. I would do the first page or the first three pages, fill part of a sketchbook full of grand ideas that never went anywhere.
KS: When you weren’t making comics, was there any art project that sticks out as something you really poured yourself into? Something that got your max effort, max focus?
LS: That’s a really good question. The moment that comes to mind along those lines was, I did an ape’s head on a large piece of paper. Planet of the Apes was out, I loved Planet of the Apes, so it was a very anthropomorphic, like really a man in an ape costume. It was from my imagination, it wasn’t from reference. I would’ve been nine, I guess. My teacher at the time, Eric Cohen, said, “Why don’t you do the whole thing? Draw the whole gorilla.” I ended up drawing this six-foot gorilla that they stuck in the school library, stuck with this big black tape all the way around.
KS: Did you have confidence in your art abilities at that point, at least in relation to your peers?
LS: It’s a weird thing when you just are better than anyone else, you know? When you’re younger, you don’t think about it in terms of… it never made me think I was better than anybody else or cocky. I was very shy, and it wasn’t weirdly wasn’t empowering, which you might imagine it would be. I don’t think I realized what an effect it had on other people. I liked getting the praise, I liked getting recognition. I was all about pleasing people. I drew all the time and made stories and comics, put on plays and crazy things in my bedroom. But, yeah, that gorilla was when I think the teacher was sort of saying [to my parents], “You gotta do something with this kid. He’s a gifted kid and he needs to go somewhere where they’re gonna recognize it and bring the best out of him regarding that.”
KS: Was there any framework back then to envision what an art career might even look like?
LS: I knew I wanted to do imaginative art. I knew I didn’t want to paint pictures of sheep and landscapes and things like that. To me, it was like the idea that if you could paint a dragon and someone could look at it and go, “Yeah, that’s what a dragon would look like,” that was really exciting. Because it’s like, we do this thing where we make something up completely from our heads, things that have never existed and won’t exist. For me, it’s that mythic quality… very exciting and very profound and hugely undervalued. The way that the fine arts establishment sort of looks down on those kinds of themes, unless it’s done in a massive kitsch kind of way, I find absurd really. It’s almost the best example for me of what humans are: this sentient animal that’s roaming this world and is able to extrapolate from its environment things that never were and create things that have never been. That’s all part of the power of the imagination, and the duty and the job of people like me is to spark that imagination.
KS: In young Liam’s mind, were there jobs where one got paid to create imaginative art? Comics, obviously, but anything else?
LS: When I was younger, I used to collect Star Wars comics. I loved Star Wars. During that time, I think I wanted to do comics. And then, as I discovered more sophisticated —well, again, I’m doing what everyone else does by saying comics were not sophisticated— but more sophisticated [art], richer, leaning towards either progressive artistic techniques or extrapolations of reality in different and varied ways. Whether it’s someone like Liberatore or Richard Corben or Bill Sienkiewicz or any number of people who you could just see were working extra hard with what they were doing to elevate it.
I started getting different kinds of interests. I started reading Heavy Metal magazine. I discovered that whole European scene and the underground market. Great fancy artists like Frazetta and Boris Vallejo. The Roger Dean books. Any number of amazing science fiction and fantasy illustrators. All of these lead to rabbit holes. So, there was a point then that I wanted to do Frazetta, Jeff Jones, that kind of oil painting book covers. I was sure that’s what I was gonna do.
KS: Did you have an idea of that marketplace and how you might break into it?
LS: By the time I got to working age, that sort of paperback market was on its last legs, if not altogether gone. The massive Heavy Metal boom of the late ’70s, early ’80s —it had just become its own thing and a little bit more safe, if anything. It didn’t feel as kind of wild and exciting anymore. That’s when I came across Don Lawrence by pure chance. I was 17 and my art teacher, Andrew Price, got me into this prep school, which was very strange, being a working-class kid in this very nice private school, very much like Hogwarts. I went from there to Eastbourne College [and] Andrew Price was very supportive. He had a mutual friend of Don Lawrence’s who heard that Don was looking for an assistant. And the funny thing is, I knew Don’s art, but I didn’t know his name. [laughter] Because books would be reprinted without the names of artists on them.
Anyway, as soon as I looked up who he was, it was a flash of lightning. Oh my god, he lives nearby. This guy’s one of the most amazing artists I’ve ever seen. He was working on a book called Storm. We met and I spent a few weeks in the summer with him, painting and life drawing. He was basically getting a handle on me to see, you know, whether he felt that I could become his assistant with a view to learning his style, taking over the book. It led to a job a year later.
KS: And were comics on your radar at all during this time?
LS: I had sort of stopped seeing American mainstream comics. They sort of were off my radar, and they really stayed that way until I started working with Don. Then, there was this massive— I guess that would’ve been ‘85, ‘86 —resurgence and lots of news suddenly about comics. Watchmen became a big deal. Don showed me The Dark Knight Returns and I just thought, This is terrible. Really, really crap. [laughter] He just laughed and said, “You’ve gotta read it. It’s got so much wit, it’s so clever. Give it a go.” And I read the whole lot in one sitting. By the time I finished it, I was completely converted. You know, I was judging it against Buscema and I hadn’t seen it for the storytelling and the energy and the panel-to-panel dynamics of the thing. Then, like I mentioned earlier, we had Elektra Assassin, and tons of amazing stuff was happening in the mid ’80s that [was] really changing American comics. A whole bunch of brilliant things I’d missed. Barry Smith had been doing little Iron Man one-offs. Alan Davis doing Excalibur, what a charming read that was. So, I found my way back into the mainstream via Don, weirdly, because I thought Don was gonna take me into the European comic marketplace.
KS: You mentioned that your dad was artistic, but he wasn’t in the right place and time where that was something he could seriously pursue. Did you ever feel internal pressure to succeed in this field, given that in a way you were going to be living the dream he never could?
LS: [My parents] have always been, “You need to do what makes you happy.” I definitely put massive amounts of pressure on myself, but I think a lot of that came through school. The expectations of all the people around you, when you are consistently celebrated again and again and again— all the way through from birth up until [age] 18, I was the best artist I personally knew. And then I get into the industry and start meeting people who are far, far better. But it is weird when you are in that bubble for a prolonged amount of time, because rather than give you a massive ego, it has the opposite of effect of putting a huge amount of pressure on you to be huge.
I remember going to somebody’s 30th birthday, a few years after I’d left school. I wasn’t doing very well. One of the girls who had been in my school was like, “Oh, I thought you’d have gone to America and made millions by now.” Absolutely crushing. [laughter] There just was this general expectation to be hugely successful. And also, some of those other kids who were in my art classes went into more mainstream work within, say, advertising agencies and things like that. They quite often did make millions. I definitely questioned the decisions I’d made.
KS: What did “success” in the field look like in your mind?
LS: I’d be lying if I said that I was never interested in the money, because that’s human nature. [That’s] the way the world is designed these days, whether we like it or not. That sort of pressure is put on us, the expectation of getting a job and doing well and raising a family and progressing through life, through a set of fairly rigid expectations about what you might have leading up to when you are finally retired— which of course [artists] don’t do unless we have to. In order to do that, you need consistent work and you need to be consistently doing better and better, and that just doesn’t happen in our field. It doesn’t. So, unless you get a big break, the chances are you can do okay. Or you can just about scrape by. Or you get a massive break and you do very, very well, but most of us don’t even though it seems that way sometimes. The hardest thing to try to learn is to not judge yourself against other people. If I judge myself against many of my friends who I’ve been in the business with in the last 35 years, I have not done financially nearly as well as a lot of them. But I’ve done better than a lot of them, too. There’s just such a massive sort of curve about the difference between huge success and middling along.
KS: If the arts had never worked out— writing or drawing— what would have been an acceptable Plan B career path?
LS: Anthropologist or zoologist.
KS: Is there an art technique that you’ve never played with in all your studies that, if you were just set free with unlimited time, you’d want to try and master?
KS: Like a Michelangelo-type of sculpture?
LS: I’d give it a bloody good shot. Michelangelo was one of my absolute early heroes. Him and Rodan. I had a little sculpture of the Thinker and I drew it from every angle. It’s bucket list to go and see the Pieta and the David. David in particular always blew my mind. I posted on Twitter that when I look at my work and then the Pieta, which [he] did at 22, I just think I’ve got so far to go. And people like saying, “You can’t compare yourself against Michelangelo.” I was thinking, Well, why not? That’s insulting in a way, to say you can’t. If we’re gonna treat comics as art, then why not? If we’re gonna see that as a goal, you don’t reach the moon unless you shoot for the stars. I’m not comparing myself to Michelangelo, but I am definitely inspired by him.
KS: Let’s jump to your current series, Starhenge, which presents the Arthurian mythos through a hybrid fantasy/science fiction lens. These legends are some well-trod ground, from books to movies to even comics with things like Camelot 3000. What lit the fire for you to take on this material in the wake of so many other versions?
LS: Because there’s so much… People always jump off from the Thomas Mallory point; we don’t go back to the Geoffrey of Monmouth point, which is really, really fascinating. It’s funny because this is the setup and Arthur is definitely a part of it in the first six issues, but … it won’t ultimately be an Arthur book, or even a Merlin book. To answer your question, one of the things I love about Geoffrey of Monmouth, which no one’s touched on, is that his version, which is a pseudo-history [that] serves exactly the same purpose as Virgil’s Aeneid. That was written for Augustus, so that he could claim to have been a descendant of Aeneas who was a demigod— therefore the Roman emperors were directly connected to the gods.
Monmouth takes that and brings it to England. Aeneas has a son, Brutus. Brutus comes to England, lands at the rock of Totnes, and founds the kings of Britain. The subsequent kings of Britain… are all therefore related to Aeneas, and the gods of Olympus. Which is funny, because it’s in Christian times, and Monmouth was a monk. But his Arthur is fascinating because he’s nothing like the later one that comes with Thomas Mallory… He fights the Picts and he wins. He goes to Iceland, he fights Iceland, he wins. He goes to Ireland, conquers all of Ireland. He goes to Europe. He starts fighting the Romans and he’s literally heading for the Alps in order to sack Rome and take over the empire when he gets the news. That is an Alexander the Great-level King Arthur. That’s a whole different king, you know?
KS: Was he your way in?
LS: We briefly meet that Arthur. That I think is where I feel really glad that nobody touched on that version before. This feels like almost a conquering hero, like Alexander. Obviously, Monmouth [was] getting his stories from other sources that that he references, but a bit obliquely— so obviously things have been lost to us, but there’s a significant amount of story there. It’s great for ideas and being inspired. So, that was kind of really the jumping-off point, but I didn’t want it to just be a laborious sort of retelling or adaptation of those books, because I think that would’ve been a little bit too specific for a general audience.
KS: As someone who’s currently doing double duty, if given the choice, would you rather be the illustrator on a script by a great writer or write a script for a great artist to illustrate?
LS: Uh, it’s a really good question. I would like to write a script for Bill Sienkiewicz, please. Or Dave McKean.
KS: No pressure there, right?
LS: I love writing. I’ve had the privilege of working with quite a few amazing writers, particularly in recent times, and I think that’ll probably continue for a little while, because there’s a few others I haven’t worked with that I know would like to work with me. I mean, I have been consistently frustrated at not being able to get scripts off the ground, and I have sometimes begged to be allowed just to write books. I’d love a shot at writing a series and not touching it [artwise] at all. Unfortunately, that has eluded me. I think it’s really hard until people see your writing enough, ‘cause they don’t trust you.
KS: To wrap up, please tell the audience where to find your work, what you’ve got out now and what’s upcoming. There’s Starhenge and also a class called “Imaginary Worldbuilding for Comic Book Drawing.”
LS: That I’m really proud of. They approached me. The basis of that comes from something Don Lawrence said to me; the heart of that whole course is a section that I’ve sort of called “the corridor.” He gave me a script and one of the panels was two characters walking along a corridor. I started penciling it out, and then he came behind me and just started chuckling. He said, “What is that you’ve drawn?” I said, “Well, it’s two people walking along a corridor” and he said, “It’s just two people in an empty box, it doesn’t tell you anything.” Then, he sort of talked about how that corridor could be made of meat, could be made of wood, it didn’t have to be square, it could be circular, it could twist. Really, it was the beginning of a lesson that lasted me the rest of my life and for the rest of my working career. It’s not about going from A to B to C; it’s the why and the wherefores and all of the extra stuff you can add in order to really build up a substantial world.
We have issue three of Starhenge [out now], so there’s three more issues after that. It’s been a joy. I’m literally on the last 12 pages, doing the last two issues back to back, covering all my bases and wrapping everything up. The hardback is gonna be coming from Image. It’s gonna be oversized, gonna have extra stuff — all the covers and possibly some early script stuff as well. I want to make that a really beautiful book. We’ll probably do a shop version on our site too, with a dust jacket.
KS: Do you have a rough timetable on that after the series wraps up?
LS: That’s due out in March. Then is the X-O Manowar series that I’m doing with Michael Conrad and Becky Cloonan. Both delightful people and they’ve got a great script that’s really right up my street. Really rollicking fun.
Another exciting thing is that actor Ian Shaw, son of actor Robert Shaw, [who’s] just had a great show on at the West End in London, has read for Audible my novel, God Killers. Hopefully, the way we’re looking at the minute, it should be out by end of September, but definitely the end of the year.
At some point after that next year, Roots Publishing, based in Portland, [are] doing the sequel of God Killers. They’re also gonna reprint God Killers, and then there’s third book of related stories. I’ll have a bunch of literature back on the shelves, which I’m very excited about.
Find more information about Liam’s online course here: Imaginary Worldbuilding for Comic Book Drawing
*This interview was edited for length.