A preview of Page 20 from "Justice League" No. 22, written by Geoff Johns with art by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado. The comic hits stores July 10 as three Justice League teams plunge into "Trinity War." (DC Entertainment)Link
A preview of pages 22 and 23 from "Justice League" No. 22, written by Geoff Johns with art by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado. The comic hits stores July 10 as three Justice League teams plunge into "Trinity War." (DC Entertainment)Link
A preview of Page 5 from "Justice League of America" No. 6, written by Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire with art by Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy. The comic hits stores July 17 as three Justice League teams plunge into "Trinity War." (DC Entertainment)Link
A preview of Page 13 from "Justice League of America" No. 6, written by Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire with art by Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy. The comic hits stores July 17 as three Justice League teams plunge into "Trinity War." (DC Entertainment)Link
A preview of Page 9 from "Justice League Dark" No. 22, written by Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes with art by Mikel Janin. The comic hits stores July 24 as three Justice League teams plunge into "Trinity War." (DC Entertainment)Link
A preview of Page 10 from "Justice League Dark" No. 22, written by Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes with art by Mikel Janin. The comic hits stores July 24 as three Justice League teams plunge into "Trinity War." (DC Entertainment)Link
As three Justice League teams plunge into “Trinity War,” the battle lines are being drawn by longtime star artists Ivan Reis and Doug Mahnke and the ascending Mikel Janin.
The conflict that could end the Justice League is almost here: The prelude “Trinity of Sin: Pandora” No. 1 , written by Ray Fawkes with art by Daniel Sampere, arrives Wednesday, followed by the war’s first chapter, “Justice League” No. 22, written by Geoff Johns with art by Reis and Joe Prado, on July 10; “Justice League of America” No. 6, written by Johns and Jeff Lemire with art by Mahnke and Christian Alamy, on July 17; and “Justice League Dark” No. 22, written by Lemire and Fawkes with art by Janin, on July 24. It continues in the three “Justice League” titles with tie-ins through August, leading into Villains Month in September.
The Brazil-based Reis, Minnesota-based Mahnke and Spain-based Janin discussed the crossover event in email interviews with Hero Complex.
Are you collaborating with Doug Mahnke and Mikel Janin on the look of “Trinity War,” and, if so, how is that experience? How do you see each artist’s style contributing to the crossover?
It’s been a huge pleasure working with both of them. They are fantastic artists, each one with their own distinctive style and strengths. But the best thing of it all is that you have the chance to learn a lot, following other artists’ work process and trade art tips and stuff. So at the end of the day, it’s like you’re back in school learning new things from awesome artists.
Any character – or combinations of characters – you were glad to get your hands on? If so, why?
I’m insanely happy to be able to work with Shazam — he’s always been one of my favorite characters. Also a favorite for me is Frankenstein from Justice League Dark. I fell in love with the character the first time he appeared drawn by Doug (Mahnke) years ago.
What was the experience of putting together that massive triptych “Trinity War” cover with Joe Prado? Any interaction between characters in the finished art you’re especially pleased with?
That was crazy! But the result was soooo awesome. Joe and Rod Reis, my colorist, contributed a lot for that bombastic image to work. I’m so lucky to have such an amazing team backing me up. And my favorite part of the whole triple-cover is Martian Manhunter being impaled by Aquaman’s trident, without even noticing it. Because if you pay attention he’s charging in Deadman’s direction.
You’ve drawn many sweeping scenes like that cover — they’re active and complex, but also clean. What is your approach to choreographing such battle sequences?
My major concern is to keep the scenes clean and comprehensible to everyone. I always keep in mind that each book I’m doing is someone’s first comic ever. So I try to keep it as simple as possible, so readers don’t lose their interest, and have an easy experience reading the book.
You’ve been through a few of these major events with Geoff Johns now — “Sinestro Corps War,” “Blackest Night,” “Brightest Day.” How has working on those influenced your approach to “Trinity War,” and how does this crossover stand out from previous ones?
Event books have been bigger and bigger, and more and more important. I don’t think anyone is really prepared for such thing. It’s a Herculean effort for everyone involved. Demands a lot of energy and thinking, you know? But on the other hand, you get older by the second, so …. LOL! Luckly I’m sharing this responsibility with two other great artists, which makes my life a little easier. But the experience you gain by doing something like this is huge, and allows the artist to have a better vision of what he wants in terms of style, layouts and planning. Each event is special in their own way, so it depends on the artist the way he handles it.
How would you characterize your collaboration with Johns?
Not only Geoff, but also with Joe and Rod, honestly, I see us as a group of fans making comics for fans. We have fun.
Are you collaborating with Ivan Reis and Mikel Janin on the look of “Trinity War,” and, if so, how is that experience? How do you see each artist’s style contributing to the crossover?
Truly collaborating? No, but as I see the fantastic pencils, inks, and colors come in I am inspired to do the best job possible. All the styles are detail-oriented and top-notch.
Any character — or combinations of characters — you were glad to get your hands on? If so, why?
Drawing the primary Justice League characters is like coming home. I’ve spent time with them in the past, and know how to work them. The JLA is different, with characters I’m quite familiar with such as the Green Lantern, Simon Baz and Martian Manhunter, but characters I’ve never encountered like Vibe, or Element Woman and there is a bit of a learning curve in how to draw them doing what they do, or knowing their limits. Throwing JL Dark in there is just dangling Frankenstein in front of me … I love that guy, having truly enjoyed drawing him in “Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein” several years ago.
What about “Trinity War” stands out from other major stories you’ve worked on?
Well, three Justice Leagues is a lot of characters to keep track of, but having been a part of many large events the drawing is business as usual.
You worked with Geoff Johns for four years on “Green Lantern” and now are joining him on “JLA.” How would you describe your collaboration?
I love Geoff”s knowledge, control and twists and turns he can bring to a story. Geoff has a great passion for the medium, and he can infect you with it. He knows how to write so a story is worth reading and remembering.
Geoff knows my strengths and style, and takes that into account when writing. As far as collaboration goes, he writes it and I draw it.
About 10 years ago, you had a run on a very different “Justice League of America,” though Martian Manhunter was there too. How would you compare this team with that team?
It’s a New 52 Justice League vs. the old Justice League. The characters themselves have different relationships. In my run it was Batman and Wonder Woman making eyes at each other, where now it is Superman and Wonder Woman. In the end it is large-scale storytelling, with lots of power either way.
How are you approaching drawing the individual members of this team?
I just try to make them look cool. I do have trouble making Superman look young, though. I always see him as such a titan, and skipping the spit curl always takes some remembering.
Are you collaborating with Ivan Reis and Doug Mahnke on the look of “Trinity War,” and, if so, how is that experience? How do you see each artist’s style contributing to the crossover?
Definitely, we’re collaborating, sharing the pages as they’re done, so we can reference each other’s work, which is totally needed in such a crossover. Not only Ivan and Doug, but Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire [writers], Joe Prado and Oclair Albert [inkers], Rod Reis or Jeromy Cox [colorists] as well as Brian Cunningham and Kate Stewart [editors], we all are working very closely to bring our best to the table. It’s a big collaborative work, and the experience has been huge. It’s beyond awesomeness being in the middle of this team, in such a big event.
Any character — or combinations of characters — you were glad to get your hands on in this crossover? If so, why?
Yes! Pretty much every character I love is in the book, and it’s really exciting having the opportunity to handle all of them. Particularly, I’m a big fan of Superman, so it’s great having him in the book, as well as Wonder Woman, Batman, Hawkman …. I’m having a lot of fun drawing them, enjoying each panel more than ever.
You started with DC in 2011 and now are working right in the thick of its major summer crossover event. Can you talk about that journey, and how you’re approaching your contributions to “Trinity War”?
Yes, time goes fast! A few years ago I was sending sample pages to DC, and now I’m there with all this amazing team around. I think I’ve grown as an artist within the company in these two years. Being in “Justice League Dark” has been a great school to learn a lot, from handling big groups of characters to work on my dynamics or facial expressions. I’m glad this event comes when I feel more confident in my art, and hopefully I will be able to do something not so horrible beside the big artists in the team!
Your attention to facial expressions helps ground all the magical elements in “JLD.” How do you approach the individual personalities of the teammates in drawing them?
All these characters have a long story behind them, and have been drawn by many great artists, so there’s a big iconicity associated to them. I try to honor this story in a graphical way, so I can give each character his/her own distinctive personality, while keeping the icon behind.
You’re working with two writers — Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes — who are artists in their own right. How does that relationship work? Do they give you more room than other writers might to experiment?
I’m super happy working with so talented writers. I’ve been really lucky with the writers I’ve being attached to during my work at DC, from J.T. Krul, to Peter Milligan or James Tynion. Jeff and Ray are artists too, but they have a different take on books when they write and draw, or when they just write, so there’s not a big difference with other writers’ scripts. They all leave me room for experimenting and having fun.
Before becoming a professional comics artist, you were an architect. How has your work in architecture informed your work in comics?
Probably my previous work as an architect has a big influence on how I handle my comic work. Visualizing and planifying before drawing a line, the way I place the elements on the page, the space, scale or light are all there, in a similar way in both disciplines.
— Blake Hennon | @BlakeHennon
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