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Interview: Doug Mahnke Talks Baz, Masks, Guns and GREEN LANTERN #0

Why is the new Green Lantern carrying a gun? Who's idea was the mask? Find out these answers plus if Mahnke's planning on leaving the title any time soon.

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By now you should have heard that there's a new Green Lantern in town. This week's GREEN LANTERN #0 not only introduces the newest Green Lantern but also marks the first Arab-American Green Lantern, Simon Baz.

Doug Mahnke has been working on GREEN LANTERN with Geoff Johns for years now. With this new character debuting, we took the opportunity to ask about his design along with everything else Green Lantern-related.

There will be some possible minor spoilers for GREEN LANTERN #0, so you've been warned.

Comic Vine: What was the process in designing Baz? How much input did Geoff give in the character design?

Doug Mahnke: The only suggestion was that he be different from any other look that we've had for a GL character, regarding the costuming. I had been working on a drawing, something highly different, and then Geoff came back with some actual parameters that definitely took what I had been working on and threw it off the drawing table. Then I started fresh. I still have the old one lying around so maybe we'll have the chance to use it at a later date.

You just see what's already been done and think differently. You sit down and say, "Well, how can we approach this?" Eventually you work up something that everyone likes. One thing that was included was the mask, which is something we only see on the cover. We don't see him in costume yet [in GREEN LANTERN #0] until his second issue. Are there any other Green Lanterns that have had a full face mask? No. That alone makes it different.

== TEASER ==

CV: I was going to ask, whose idea was the full mask?

DM: Geoff. As far as I know, it was Geoff's. It wasn't mine. Who knows what I would have come up with but it wouldn't have been that.

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CV: The cover to issue #0, Baz has a gun. Why does he have a gun? Is he going to keep it?

DM: I think that's the plan. At least it is within the design. The idea is that Baz is a car thief. As a human being, I imagine he carried a firearm. When doing the dirty work, he'd have to protect himself. It's a possibility that, hey, this ring may eventually not work in my favor. In other words, he has a back up plan, which is kind of different for a Green Lantern. At least an Earth-based one.

CV: So it's a regular gun and not a construct or anything?

DM: Yeah, it's just a regular gun. He wears it on his hip. At least that's the plan for the moment.

CV: He'll use real bullets and not construct ones?

DM: I guess that's up to Geoff. We haven't really gotten that far into it. At least me personally. I don't really know what Geoff has planned. I'm not sure if it's something we're really going to see. I guess that's something that Geoff will be presenting to the readers. It'd be odd to have it just as an ornament and not actually have it in use. Because the ring is so different than the other rings.

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CV: Do you know if Baz is going to be appearing right away in Justice League or is that stuff that's down the line?

DM: That I don't know. That's something that the powers that be would know. Me, I'm just a humble wrist at the end of a pencil. Whether or not they'd trust me with that information, who knows? The funny thing is, that didn't even occur to me. I realize that it has to happen if Green Lantern is going to be part of the Justice League.

CV: And they're going to want to know what's up and where did Hal go?

DM: He's somewhere…

CV: You've been working on GREEN LANTERN for a long time. When you have to draw different alien Lanterns, do you come up with the look for the different species or does Geoff say, "Make it look like this…"?

DM: For each one, I'd have to go back and look at scripts. I love drawing monsters and aliens and coming up with my version of anything. When it comes to that, I think they trust quite a bit. I don't have any difficulty conceiving something grotesque or alien. That's a fun aspect of the job. Definitely. That's something Geoff puts pretty firmly in my hands. He might suggest something. But some of the monsters we've pulled out like when Hal and Sinestro encountered their first creepy thing that fell out of the sky, that was just me. I don't know how anyone would ever describe that.

CV: Can you tell us if Baz will be sticking closer to Earth or if he's going out into space?

DM: Right now…well, I hope he goes out into space. Clearly the story has all this Earthbound stuff. The stuff that brings the character to Baz is his problem that he's associated with in his life. I can't imagine we'll shunt him off into space right away. However, I love going out into outer space with the characters. Since we have an ever-growing story on the horizon, it definitely includes something other than Earth.

I don't know, as a fan, is that something you'd want to see sooner or later?

CV: It's hard to say, it'd be a good mix to see what he's going to do on Earth. But then, how is he going to react to being able to go out into space and be around a bunch of aliens?

DM: Yeah. For Baz, we're getting to see a guy cut his teeth immediately on this ring. I highly doubt he has a clue yet what to do with it. In the superhero world, yeah, they know what a Green Lantern is and what the ring does but even as I'm working on his second issue, there's a lot of discovery that he's yet to make about what does this thing do? It'll be interesting to see what Geoff has in mind for Baz. Every Green Lantern brings their own version to it other than just shooting things out of it. I'm not sure what Baz is going to do.

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CV: Can you tell us anything about 'Rise of the Third Army'?

DM: Other than I don't know too much about it? You know, I wish I was the artist that got to sit back and chuckle when you ask that question like I know so much about it. I get a synopsis and outline and you would expect I'd know what's coming in the future but some of this stuff is so malleable. Things change. As far ahead as they plan on these things, if you give me enough time as I'm sitting in the trenches working on pages, I forget what it is exactly they're doing. I just know that it's another massive event that should shake things up quite a bit. We can keep going through events that have tweaks here and there and we have resolution but I do know with this one there's some things that literally change the Green Lantern Universe. Big things. Obviously, what they are, I can't say.

CV: You're probably can't or aren't allowed to tell us anything about Guy, John or Kyle or their reaction to Baz?

DM: No. I'm so isolated in my own little Green Lantern world with what these characters are doing. I generally don't see in the plans what's happening in those books with the other characters. I'm just so focused on Sinestro and Hal and now Baz. It actually allows me, when I see stuff or what happens, at least I get to have a bit of a surprise now and then and not just be always in the know. As a fan of the series, that's kind of nice to have.

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CV: How does it feel to have a hand in creating Baz and him being your baby?

DM: I really like the character. It's a breath of fresh air. I get to have had a hand directly in his look and the feel of the character. Strictly as an artist, that is my contribution. I'm the first to conceive him and create the image and the costume. Hopefully I'll get to make minor tweaks over time to iron out anything that's troubling in terms of the visuals. I like the character. We have a new character with a new motivation. Plus he got the ring under different circumstances than anybody else.

Clearly he's not a Hal Jordan. Has he done some questionable things? Yeah, that's part of the character but none the less, this ring has chosen him and we have to truly see why.

As far as my having a hand in the creation of it, it came from Geoff's brain. I got to put legs on it.

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CV: You've been on GREEN LANTERN since 2009. Do you plan on sticking around for a while, hopefully?

DM: BLACKEST NIGHT was a roller coaster ride to get done. There were so many things that were going on throughout DC. The scripts came in hard and heavy. I was working with Pat Gleason in the studio and he was working on GREEN LANTERN CORPS and it had a totally different feel and I was new to it. To me, back then, the idea was just to get things done. And now that I've settled in, it took me a while to accept, yeah, I was doing GREEN LANTERN and doing more than just this story line. I tried to step up my game and really try to bring as much as I can under the schedule I work under to truly make each issue a good issue.

At this point, I want to leave with good artwork and imaginative stuff when I get the chance. So when I do finally walk away from it I'll feel like I've done a solid body of work. I had some big shoes to fill when I stepped into it. Specifically Ivan Reis, he's a fantastic artist. You want to make sure when you're done, you are recognized as someone that really did contribute some good stuff to GL.

Is it anytime soon? I don't know. I kind of look at is as, well, here it is, I'm working into another year and I can't believe it's gone by this fast. Most people don't stick around on books quite that long. I don't see myself leaving now. I'm definitely intrigued by the story we're doing. The only thing that's complex is the scheduling on these books and making sure things come out. I've lived under a very hectic and difficult schedule. If I could ever let that go while working on GL, I'd stick around a long time. Right now it's, "Wow, we got another issue done, oh it's time to do another one."

We just operate a little close to deadline and it's stressful at times. But do I feel like leaving now? Not at all.


CV: It's good to hear. I really dug the zero issue. It's a great introduction. Just right away, you really feel for the character. Like you said, he's done some questionable things but what he goes through and how it's depicted, it was some powerful stuff.

DM: Aw, thanks. You know what, I was pretty proud of it. I'm very pleased with how it turned out. I got my comps a few days ago. I'm generally interested in seeing how things turn out because I see the colors ahead of time. We're trying to catch problems and little details and get the book out. I was highly anticipating just cracking the book open and just so I could look at it. I wanted to read it as a solid story and enjoy it. I'm proud of it. It's a very human story. I think that Baz is a young guy. He's tough and different. He has a tremendous back story to walk into. And hey, we just added someone new to the Green Lantern Universe.

I look forward to seeing more. I love getting the scripts. I've enjoyed the Hal and Sinestro, the buddy book we've been doing but it's not over yet. There's more to come. Geoff, he lays things out and it's like this web of stuff that he continuously pulls closer and closer to him as the stories progress. You then go, "Oh that's why he was doing that."

That's what's cool about working with the guy. There's a long range to everything he does and it all comes back eventually. There's no lack of future surprises.

CV: That's really good to hear.

Everyone should make sure to check out GREEN LANTERN #0 this week to find out more about the newest Green Lantern, Simon Baz.