Interview: Bernard Chang Gets His Kirby On with the NEW GODS


After chatting with writer Van Jensen about his work on the New 52 versions of the New Gods, it’s only fair to check in with one of the artists putting that vision to the page. Bernard Chang graciously stepped away from the drawing table to share his thoughts on some of Jack Kirby’s greatest creations, what we can look for in Green Lantern Corps in the coming months, and how he envisions each Corps differently.

Matt Santori: Thanks for taking time out to chat up Comicosity, Bernard! Now well into the second act of Godhead, how has the experience reimagining the New Gods characters been for you?

GLCOR_Cv36_dsBernard Chang: Depicting The New 52 version of the New Gods has been a blast. I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunity to work on these legendary characters created by the great Jack Kirby (who we also went to my alma mater, Pratt Institute) ha-ha… Pete Woods did an amazing job providing the initial design for the characters, and I was really impressed with all the details and such, but you know, as I started drawing the story and had to implement all those details on every page and panel, I ended up cursing him by the end of each issue. Pete, you owe me a drink next time I see you…

MSG: In developing the new pantheon, you and the other artists have had to blend original Kirby creations with new characters like Shadowfall. How do you find the balance between making each character unique and having them fit into the existing mythology?

BC: There are a good amount of design cues taken from Kirby’s initial rendition, but also blended with some modern twists that really enhances the technological aspects of the story. Cliff Chiang also had a head start a few months ago when the new gods first made an appearance in his wonder woman issues, so him and Pete really helped define the “look” for this event. And with the additional new characters, we’re able to also be more inclusive with gender and ethnicities…

MSG: In particular, it seems a lot of the New Gods designs seem simple from a distance, but fairly intricate close-up. Can you share a little bit about that thought process and how you find it to work?

BC: All the main new gods characters have fairly distinct silhouettes, so that’s a nod to good design work. Characters like Malhedron have battle armor that is very functional but also maintain similar callbacks to the circular plating and other fashions created by Kirby.

john-stewart-star-sapphireMSG: As John continues to circle back to interactions with the Star Sapphires, what are your impressions of that Corps and how you distinguish them from a Green or Yellow Lantern power set and look?

BC: Each ring draws its power from a distinct emotional range. After mostly drawing Green Lanterns for over a year and a half, it was a lot of fun tackling Sinestro Corps Members in addition to Star Sapphires, Indigos. I approach each with a different set of body posturing and movements. My take on Sinestro is that he is fairly arrogant, he uses a lot of hand gestures when he’s talking. His chin is usually up and often has a disinterested look about him, but you should never ignore that he is also a ruthless villain, despite the Sinestro Corp teaming up with the green lantern corps…

MSG: Has your process changed or evolved since your work for DC on Demon Knights or Supergirl, and is there anything you’re experiencing in the work with Green Lantern Corps that you haven’t prior?

BC: Before starting each title, I develop a parity in my approach to line work and layouts. With Supergirl, I made a conscious effort to keep all the line work very thin, to express the delicate nature of a teen female superhero. I did not utilize a lot of dark shadows or cross-hatching. In fact, during the Supergirl (and Demon Knights runs), I did all the shadow renders on the figures in greytones before sending the final files back to the mother ship.

With Green Lantern Corps, my illustrations have developed to encompass more darker scenes and detailed line work. Especially in sci-fi settings, I wanted to visually express the technological and cultural design aspects in each of the different environments. Each issue, we usually jump between two, three or four different scenes/planets/spaceships, so each deserves their own distinct look. After each issue I’m literally exhausted, ha-ha, but I do think that all the hard work, enthusiasm, and attention to detail is reflected in the final pages.

GLCOR-Cv39-8c2e6Having Marcelo Maiolo on the art team doesn’t hurt either, ha-ha. Marcelo is one of the best colorists in the comic book industry today, and his signature monotone panels really helps heighten the tensions throughout the issues really plays well with the emotional aspects of the series. I also love his color palettes, especially when the scenes change environments from interiors to exterior environments…

MSG: How has the working relationship with writer Van Jensen been, and what does he bring to the scripting that’s unique from an artist’s perspective?

BC: I’ve been very fortunate that both the editors (Matt Idelson, Darren Shan, and Chris Conroy) and Van have allowed me a lot of room to put my own stamp on the story. In many ways, I view the writer as the coach, crafting up game strategies and plays for each game or issue. And then Marcelo and I go out on the field and it’s up to us to put points on the board. Sometimes we might audible, yell stuff like “Omaha” or “kill kill” and find other ways to score. Looking back at our run on Corps, I think we’ve had a pretty good record, ha-ha…

These last few years, I’ve been very fortunate to have worked with some of the top writers in the industry, from James Robinson, Gail Simone, Rob Venditti, Paul Jenkins, to Paul Cornell and now Van. Each of their scripts reads differently than the others. But it’s all about finding the chemistry with the writer, hitting their emotional and conceptual points, and also bringing additional levels of storytelling to each project…


MSG: Any final thoughts or special teases for the next chapter of Godhead in Green Lantern Corps?

BC: During San Diego Comic-Con International this past summer, I designed a few new Green Lantern Corps members at the DC Comics booth with the help of audience members. For anyone that was there, I promised to include them in an upcoming issue. So a few of them make cameos in these issues!

The next issue of Bernard Chang’s Green Lantern Corps arrives in stores Wednesday, December 10 from DC Comics!



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