COMICS: Doug Mahnke Discusses The Introduction Of The First Arab-American GREEN LANTERN
Green Lantern artist Doug Mahnke talks in detail about some of the more sensitive topics covered in last week's #0 issue, the reason why Simon Baz wears a mask, his role in "The Third Army" and much more. Check it out!
In a lengthy interview with Newsarama, Green Lantern artist Doug Mahnke talked in detail about Simon Baz's introduction in last week's #0 issue and also teased the character's future in the title and exactly why his costume design is so different to that of the other Green Lantern's from Earth. In the issue, Arab-American Simon Baz is a car thief who has spent most of his life being persecuted against after the events of September 11th. Arrested on suspicion of being a terrorist after stealing a van with a bomb in the back, he is detained and about to be tortured before being saved by the fused rings of Hal Jordan and Sinestro. It's a fantastic issue and I highly recommend checking it out. Below are just a few select excerpts from that chat, although you can read the full version by clicking on the link below.
On Tackling The Shocking Events Of 9/11 On The First Page Of Green Lantern #0:
I had been prepared by Geoff for what the story was about. In fact, I was highly anticipating the script. I was very curious as to how it was going to read and what I was going to end up with. Just reading that first page of the script, you know... we're talking about a hugely emotionally charged moment in our history. But also, I like that the first thing we get to portray is just how emotional and shocking and jarring it is for Simon Baz and his family. You know, we only get one page to do it. It would have been nice if we could have come up with more. But the truth is, I think the way we move from that page to the next page, it gives a very clear look into that perspective. Even as simply as we did it, even in the fact that you don't even hear anything from his parents but the shock of what has happened, the horror of this. But there's this underlying sense that these characters are going, "things will never be the same for us." That's what we get to see through Baz over page 2, and how that builds his character.
On The Difficulties Of Portraying The Scenes In Which Baz Is About To Be Tortured:
Actually, I was very careful. I wanted to be sensitive, you know? As far as it is understood, misunderstood, or heated as an issue, this is a moment within a story. And I wanted to do it well for the story and yet be sensitive to that. The story ends up being the driver of that, especially once the dialogue is in and everything is finished. I really turned it over in my mind a lot: "How can I do this best?" Even down to the point where, picking up references for this scene, there aren't any that exist exactly. You know? So I had a concept, and I had to think, you know what? You have to just eventually not worry about whether this is wholly accurate. The point is, we're telling a story and conveying what is going to happen as Baz is being set up for torture. And at the same time, I'm hoping that everybody sees the story for what it is, and not misjudging what is happening there. Do you understand what I mean? People can take offense anywhere in this book if they're thinking about it in a wrong-headed way. We have a character who is under a horrible condition, wrongfully accused, and yeah, that has happened. Thankfully, in our little world, Baz gets to escape.
On How He Went About Designing The Costume For The Character:
Yeah, the costume is by me, and I designed the character before ever reading the script, although I knew who the character was planned to be. For the costume, they asked for something different, and I immediately went to the drawing board. But originally, there was very little input beyond just, "Make him look different from any other Green Lantern." So I got to work. And I still have the sketch I was working on when I was sitting down initially to do it, and then when I got a bunch of it worked up, I got an email with more direction. Geoff threw some parameters out there. So it was back to the drawing board, and I took what I'd done and threw it on the floor. And I got to work. The costume we ended up with is nice and tight. It's a more streamlined costume. The last thing an artist enjoys doing is creating something that they discover, "Aw, this is a lot of work to draw issue to issue." But we ended up with a costume I'm happy with. And Geoff liked it and everyone else was happy with it.
On The Specifics Of Designing Baz's Look In "The New 52" And Why He Wears A Mask:
To really make Baz stand out, I liked the idea of having as much black as possible on his costume, like through the legs, because it has practicality to it from Baz's point of view. I thought about how he would perceive himself, because I think that's part of what goes into making a Green Lantern costume. So thinking about this character, I think it makes sense for him, for example, that he has tread on his boots. But the black fits him because he can be more invisible when he wants to be. And I think that fits his personality. He's a Green Lantern, so we also have the green through the shoulders. And then I played around a lot with the symbol in the middle, because I thought do we always have to do it the same way? Yeah, the Lantern symbol's in there, but I actually spent some time — more than I would have thought — trying to figure out the center and the black. It doesn't necessarily have a meaning. It's just design work as I sit there and noodle around and try to come up with something different that I can actually draw again and again. There are also things that Geoff had picked out. He wanted the sleeves short, exposing some of his arms. Clearly, he wanted to be able to see his tattoo. I played around with one long sleeve, but I thought that was a lot like Black Hand. So I thought, well, maybe that's not the best idea. So I went with symmetrical short sleeves. And then the fact that he pulls a mask down over his face to hide himself. He doesn't want the world to know that he's there. I think it has less to do with being a Green Lantern than he's just trying not to be seen. Of course, we haven't seen that part yet.
On Baz's Role In "The Third Army" And Whether He Will Replace Hal Jordan:
Yeah, and the funny thing is, here was go from this #0 issue with all of this human story to the Third Army story. Although, believe me, there's more human story in [issue #13]; we don't just get to catapult Baz into outer space to go fight it out, or elsewhere on earth yet. We have to warm this guy up a little bit, but things do open up soon. We got Baz for a purpose. I don't know everything [Geoff is] doing yet. But Baz what I do know is that Baz gets to juggle these two things: this emotional issue and then what comes after it. Baz will eventually work his way into the Third Army conflict, and he'll have to put these other things aside. But it will always be a part of Baz. Is he ever going to be Hal Jordan? I don't think Geoff has him set up to be. So he's got to have some special qualities, things that Geoff needs to move the stories forward.
On Whether He Intends To Stay On Green Lantern For The Foreseeable Future:
I have no reason to leave. And frankly, I'm so busy, I can't even conceive of it. And I love what I'm doing with Geoff. I would never walk away from that. I'd be a fool. It's going great. I live under an intense schedule that keeps me right there, in the world of Green Lantern. In the best scenario, I could sit down and draw Green Lantern the rest of my life. But you never know what the future is. I've been at DC for a long time, and I've worked on quite a few books, a variety of projects. And I know I'm not going to spend the next 15 years working on Green Lantern. But it's great for now. And I'm really proud of the stuff I've done with Geoff.
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