I’ve run into Tyler Kirkham a couple times at conventions. He’s a great, down-to-earth guy… which is funny since he’s illustrating one of the most cosmic tales at DC Comics since the launch of the New 52. I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions recently about his work on the GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS series and his own creator-owned projects.
BC: Kyle Rayner has been a key GREEN LANTERN character for almost 20 years. As an artist, when you were first presented with the opportunity to work with the character, did you look back at his previous adventures to define the character in your mind, or did you let the new scripts you were working from define the character for you?
Kirkham: Yeah, to be honest, I hadn’t read a ton of GREEN LANTERN books in the past. So I had a lot to catch up on. I am still learning my GL history. DC sent me a bunch of trades when I was starting. Thank goodness for search engines. There are so many worlds and characters in the GL universe, it was overwhelming at first.
BC: GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS features a cast of human-like and very alien creatures. What do you see as the challenges of drawing such a diverse cast?
Kirkham: The fact that they all seem to dislike each other and they don’t trust one another, so everyone is blaming everyone. Now that we are a few issues in, we are starting to see the big picture. There is still a lot of drama between the cast, especially with Arkillo and Saint Walker. Even though Saint Walker helps Arkillo get his tongue back, they still bicker. Saint just wants to help, but like I said, Arkillo doesn’t quite trust anyone yet.
BC: Visually, is there a particular character that you have the most fun with?
Kirkham: Kyle and Arkillo are very fun to draw! They are so far apart from each other as far as looks go, Kyle being a full-blown human, and Arkillo being the most monstrous character on the team. I am also having a lot of fun drawing Glomulus, though. He is always doing and saying silly things. One thing I’ve tried to do is keep each character’s ring energy looking unique to their respective rings, even if its just the energy outline that surrounds the characters.
BC: Looking back on “The Weaponer,” a story arc that ran in GREEN LANTERN CORPS, I noticed that the Thunderers of Qward no longer had the bug-eyed look that was so distinctive (and, to me, a bit tough on the eyes). Are you to thank for the change in their appearance? What prompted the change?
Kirkham: Yes, I felt the same way. I knew I was gonna be drawing a lot of them, and just didn’t think they looked that menacing with the big eyes. With some of them trying to take down the Weaponer, I wanted them to look more serious, so I typically gave them some glare on their visors. Although there were one or two spots that I did the big eyes, I still kept them a bit more subtle, though. I didn’t want to throw that element out the window all together.
BC: What’s the collaborative creative process like in working with Tony Bedard, the writer of NEW GUARDIANS?
I’m very glad that I still work with Tony. We worked together so easily on CORPS that DC wanted to keep us a team. DC also likes the way we handle Kyle. So that’s why we got moved to NEW GUARDIANS. At first, I was scared to leave GLC, but I’m having a ton of fun on NEW GUARDIANS.
Kirkham: It’s not your traditional team book. There is a lot of inner conflict within this group. Also, this is the book that will explore the GREEN LANTERN universe the most. With a member from each faction, the stories are limitless. I think people would like to know more about all colors of the emotional spectrum!
BC: Is there any character from the classic GREEN LANTERN mythos that you haven’t illustrated often, but would love to draw more?
Kirkham: Hal Jordan. I’ve only gotten to draw him a few times, and that was in a yellow lantern costume during “War of the Green Lanterns.” Hal is obviously the most iconic Lantern. It would be fun to take on that character at some point!
BC: You’ve done “real world” landscapes before (for example, when you worked on THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN), and now you’re working on the epic, cosmic scale of GREEN LANTERN. Do you feel that your art style lends to any particular environment, or perhaps, would you say you have a preference?
Kirkham: I can say that I have a lot more fun drawing science fiction or alien landscapes. It just allows for more creativity. I did have a chance to draw alien stuff in ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR, which i really enjoyed!
BC: What other New 52 title or titles are you particularly fond of?
Kirkham: I’m really loving the BATMAN titles. The art and story is fantastic in all of them. I also love JUSTICE LEAGUE. Jim Lee has been a favorite artist of mine for as long as I’ve been reading comics. He is one of the guys that inspired me to draw.
BC: When you aren’t busy working on GREEN LANTERN, you’ve been hard at work on your own creator-owned projects. What can you tell us about THE MONARCHY?
Kirkham: THE MONARCHY is something that I created a while ago with Amanda McMurray. She has done stuff for DC and Aspen. It’s a 140-page graphic novel that we just recently wrapped up. The art is all digitally painted by Philip Fuller. It’s about an ancient order that’s been around for a long time, cursed because they use the stolen seven powers of creation. As part of the curse, they have to combat the evil and monsters that lurk in the shadows of our world. They also do this in hopes of redeeming themselves with God. It’s now modern day, and our main character Andy discovers that he is the last of the line and must choose whether or not to continue the legacy.
BC: I’d also heard that you have a children’s book hitting the marketplace shortly. Care to elaborate?
Kirkham: Yeah, it’s called MY BEST FRIEND’S A BOOGER! I worked on it with my little brother. It’s available now at comic shops, book stores, and online (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.). It’s about a young boy who is homesick with a bad head cold. He has been taking a lot of cold medicine. He sneezes and feels wiggling in his hand. There, he finds a little green booger dude, a creature only he can see. He ends up having an adventure, overcoming the class bully with this booger’s help.