This past year has been rather kind to Jeff Lemire. He not only became an Eisner nominated writer, but Animal Man was the surprise hit of DC’s New 52 lineup, Sweet Tooth inched closer to it’s inevitable finale, Justice League Dark entertained readers across the globe and he wrapped up an exciting run on Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. Needless to say, Jeff Lemire was a busy man in 2012, but he plans to carry this white-hot momentum into the New Year.
Lemire was recently named as the new writer of Green Arrow. Despite the character’s high profile, Green Arrow widely thought to be a character that has never reached his max potential. Luckily, Lemire has promised to mold the Emerald Archer into the character he was destined to be.
I was fortunate enough to get a chance to talk to the talented Jeff Lemire about a number of topics including his plans for Green Arrow, his busy work schedule, Sweet Tooth’s final issue and much, much more.
RCB: Let’s start with Green Arrow. You’ve said that you want to “build a huge new mythology around Green Arrow’s legacy.” Could you possibly shed some light on what fans can expect to experience with Jeff Lemire at the helm?
Lemire: I want to strip Ollie down to the bone and then build him back up into the hero he is destined to be. In addition to learning how to become a better hero, this will also include a growing social consciousness for Ollie, which will start to inform all of his decisions moving forward. I think Green Arrow’s politics are a necessary part of the character.
Some specific things to look for, a brand new villain called KOMODO, who has mysterious ties to Oliver’s late Father, Robert Queen. Komodo arrives in Seattle in issue #17 and starts to dismantle the lives of both Ollie Queen and Green Arrow, attacking him on all fronts.
This will be the start of a huge story that will peel the layers back on Ollie’s past and his secret destiny to be the world’s greatest archer.
RCB: Its no secret that Green Arrow is a character that has always had the potential to be a major player in the DCU, but has never truly captured that level of success. What is your game plan for elevating Green Arrow’s profile in the DCU?
Lemire: Quite simply telling good stories. The title has to be strong on its own before I start worrying about crossovers etc. We need to build a solid base and make Ollie a relatable and compelling character.
RCB: What do you consider to be the biggest influence on your Green Arrow run?
Lemire: The biggest influences on my run are Mike Grell’s Green Arrow run, Bendis’ Daredevil, Dennis O’Neil and Denys Cowans’ Question and Frank Miller‘s Daredevil. I want to try to capture the feeling I had while reading those great books without ripping them off.
RCB: Your partner in crime on Green Arrow is artist Andrea Sorrentino. What does Sorrentino bring to the table for your darker, street level version of the character?
Lemire: In terms of general tone, I want the book to be very aggressive. Fast-paced action. International in scope, but still very grounded in reality. A noir-laced crime-superhero saga. And Andrea Sorrentino’s amazing art is perfectly suited for that. Bold, distinct and dark, but also graceful.
RCB: Green Arrow is a member of Geoff Johns’ brand new Justice League of America. Do you have any input with how the character will be used in that series and can we expect to see any of the fallout of Oliver Queen’s actions in JLA spill over into the pages of Green Arrow?
Lemire: Geoff and I are in constant contact. But, we both need our books to stand on their own as well, so as long as we are consistent with who Green Arrow is, we are both free to tell our own stories with him.
RCB: 2013 looks like it will be a busy year for Jeff Lemire. You’ll be writing Green Arrow, Justice League Dark, Animal Man and both writing and providing the art for Trillium. How do you plan on doing all of this work and will you ever have a chance to sleep?
Lemire: I stagger my workload. Meaning I’ll work really hard on Animal Man one month and get really far ahead, exhaust all my ideas and energy for that title, then I can put it away for a couple of months and focus on JLD or Green Arrow. That way the workload is never as large as it may seem. Of course this requires a lot of planning ahead and organization.
I will probably hold off on starting TRILLIUM for at few months, because there is another graphic novel I want to work on first. It’s a very personal story and more in the vein of Essex County or The Underwater Welder than my other work. I just need a little break from the schedule if drawing a monthly comic before I dive into Trillium.
RCB: You’ve been fortunate enough to work with some immensely talented artists like Mikel Janin, Steve Pugh and Andrea Sorrentino, but you’re also a pretty accomplished artist yourself. How does your creative process differ from when you’re providing the art as opposed to somebody else?
Lemire: I love that I can do both. I get to draw my own stuff, and get all the satisfaction that comes with that, but I also get to collaborate with these amazing talents. So when I am writing for another artist, I shut that part of my brain off and trust in them completely. That frees me up to really focus in on plot, character etc.
RCB: Unfortunately, the 40-issue epic Sweet Tooth will soon be coming to an end. How did you know that it was time to bring Gus’ adventures to a close?
Lemire: I always knew where the story would end, just not when. And as I wrapped up the Unnatural Habitats storyline in Issue 32, I just knew it was time to get there. If I had extended it any more, it would have been just for the sake of extending it, rather than servicing the story or the characters.
Plus, after three and a half years of drawing a monthly book, I wanted to move on to new ideas.
RCB: At NYCC fans were excited to learn about Trillium, your upcoming, ambitious creator-owned project. What can readers expect from this exciting new mini-series?
Lemire: Well, like I said, there is one other graphic novel that I want to do first, and then I’ll dive into Trillium. After doing a big sci-fi/horror book like Sweet Tooth for almost 4 years and writing all the DCU stuff, which I love doing, I just needed to do something more grounded and personal, like Essex County was, before doing another big sci-fi book.
So I’ll recharge my batteries that way then dive into Trillium this summer. And when I do, I want to try and tell a really great sc-fi love story. A time-spanning epic set partially in deep space in the far future, and partially in the amazon jungle in 1921. It’s about the history of exploration, from the great age of explorers in the early 20th century to the far future and the natural conclusion of man’s exploration. And that is embodied by these two characters that somehow meet across time and fall in love, bringing about the end of everything.
Green Arrow #17 hits stores Feburary 6th, Sweet Tooth concludes with issue #40 on Janurary 9th and if you wish to stay as up to date as possible on all of Jeff Lemire’s wonderful projects then be sure to visit his official blog. We also encourage fans of Jeff Lemire’s work to follow him on Twitter @jefflemire.
Also, be sure keep an eye out next week for my interview with Lemire’s Green Arrow partner in crime - Andrea Sorrentino!