Liam Sharp Talks The Unseen Jack Katz, Ending The Green Lantern And What’s Next

Liam Sharp Talks The Unseen Jack Katz, Ending The Green Lantern And What’s Next

Shining A Light On A Worthy Subject

Liam Sharp is a British comic artist and writer who has made a career working on books like The Brave and The Bold, Man-Thing and Incredible Hulk as well as his own creator-owned series. But currently he is running a kickstarter to fund The Unseen Jack Katz, a project focusing on a comic creator with decades of experience who hasn’t achieved the kudos he deserves. Sharp just spoke exclusively to Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows about that project, finishing DC’s The Green Lantern with writer Grant Morrison and what’s next for him…

TRIPWIRE: When did you first encounter Jack Katz’s work?
LIAM SHARP: It was the early 2000s. I can’t recall exactly where I saw it, but it was online and I was stopped dead! I thought – how the hell did I miss THIS guy? 

TW: What was it about his work that connected with you as an artist?LS: His work represents everything I’ve ever loved in comic artist – it was epic, detailed, it was science fiction and fantasy… I was dumb struck, and immediately stated posting about it!

Jack Katz

TW: Why do you think he hasn’t received the accolades that perhaps he should have done up to this point?
LS: I think he briefly did in the early 80s, after having been such a pioneering figure for a sustained length of time. He won the prestigious Ink Pot award and was given the cover of the ’82 San Diego Convention brochure. He said to me once that everybody thought he was going to be rich and famous back then. But sadly time has not been that kind.

TW: How long have you been planning The Unseen Jack Katz?
About two and a half years now, since Jack first showed me all this vast wealth of unfinished or unpublished work. It became a bit of an obsession for me!

TW: What was your main motivation for creating this project?
LS: It was quite simple. Here was this towering, influential figure – a true pioneer with a profound personal vision – now in his 90s, still quietly working away on these vast, visionary projects, struggling to get by. It was nuts! You can’t help but to put yourself in those shoes. I spent a decade almost forgotten myself, so I know what it’s like! It wasn’t really a matter of choice. I had the means, in theory, and the publishing experience. There was no excuse not to do it.

TW: What was your reason for funding it via Kickstarter rather than taking it to a traditional publisher?
LS: I’m not sure traditional publishers are in the market for unfinished stories, and much of Jack’s work is big abandoned projects. One of them is over 300 pages long… But it wasn’t so much that as the fact that Jack is so steeped in his independent world, and that mission, that the idea of doing it traditionally is almost a crime to creativity in his eyes. He’s all about being a true artist, and never compromising, no matter what. It’s kind of inspiring and terrifying all at once how committed he is to that!

Jack Katz page inked by Bill Sienkiewicz

TW: This is the first crowdfunding campaign you have run. What have been the pros and cons for you about it?
LS: No cons – so far! I’ve been delighted at the response. Of course I would love more people to buy the book because then we know Jack is being properly seen, and reaching a new audience. But also – obviously – the more it makes the more it helps Jack out. He is living on the bare minimum and the kindness of friends.

TW: I know there are quite a few creators involved in this project apart from yourself. How did they come onboard?

LS: I invited them! Pretty much to a person they said yes, which is testament to how much he is respected by his fellow creators.

TW: Why should people support The Unseen Jack Katz?
For all the above reasons. He’s brilliant. He was a pioneer. He was fearless. He never compromised. He inspired a generation, and yet he’s largely forgotten. Because it will enable him to keep working. And because it’s time the next generation was introduced to this master from the golden age.

TW: With your experience of kickstarter now under your belt, is crowdfunding something you would do again in the future?
Absolutely! I’m planning a retrospective art book next called Eclecticca. It’s about time, and people keep pushing me to do one! Grant (Morrison) is writing the foreword, and Jeff Boucher has done a wonderful profile piece. I’m really excited to get that going!

TW: You are just about to finish your two season run on DC’s The Green Lantern. How does it feel now you are almost done with it?
I’m completely done with it, and have almost finished the first issue of my as-yet-unannounced next series! But it’s still strange. I feel a bit like I’m just taking a break from it!

TW: And what is the thing you are most proud of with your 24 issue run on the book?
Getting the chance to grow artistically in real time. Grant told me it was the most fun he’s ever had in comics, and that he’s a better writer now than he was when we set out. That means a huge amount to me as you can imagine, but it works both ways. I grew, and the audience grew with us. It’s a remarkable book I think – bigger than the sum of its parts. It went on a journey not just through space and time, and matter, but also through the medium of comics. It started very old-school with this veteran team, and went on to push creative boundaries in multiple mediums. We just cut loose and went for it, body, soul, heart and mind. It’s very special to me. I’ll miss it enormously. I’m still a bit in denial!

Support The Unseen Jack Katz here

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