‘Trinity War’: ‘Justice League Of America’ Artist Doug Mahnke Talks About His Role In DC’s Big Crossover [EXCLUSIVE]

On July 10th, DC Comics will release “Justice League” #22, the first chapter of “Trinity War“: an epic six-part crossover spanning the “Justice League,” “Justice League Of America,” and “Justice League Dark” series.  We got the opportunity to speak with the artists of all three Justice League titles about their work on this crossover, their careers, and their inspirations…  Here we present our conversation with Doug Mahnke, and once you finish reading, check out our interviews with Ivan Reis and Mikel Janin for additional insight on “Trinity War” and its repercussions in the DC Universe!

MTV Geek: You’ve now been drawing Geoff Johns’ stories for nearly five years…  Do you think you’ve reached a place in your working relationship where you know each other’s strengths and can play to them?  Are there any moments where you’re able to build and expand on what he originally envisions?

Doug Mahnke: Geoff’s scripts are thorough, even if we are going fast.  There is rarely a need to add anything, but I know occasionally I have either added a panel or combined a couple together to ease my storytelling. It is definitely the exception to the rule, though.

Geek: Conversely, are there still moments where he can surprise you with what he comes up with?  Any times where you get the script and just shake your head, saying ’how on earth….?’

Mahnke: Yeah, I’ve had to do considerable mental gymnastics at times, but considering the stories we have have told that comes as no surprise.  When it comes to just crazy creative imagery, never am I going to complain, as that is the stuff that makes drawing comics fun.

Geek: Were there elements of this upcoming ’Trinity War’ story that particularly appealed to you, or scenes that you were especially excited to draw?

Mahnke: Frankenstein!  Anything with him in it is going to be fun to draw, and drawing the big guns in the DCU, Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Flash, et cetera is a good time.

An exclusive first look at Doug Mahnke’s art for pages 8 and 9 of Justice League Of America #6

Geek: Prior to becoming the artist on JLA, you worked for years on Green Lantern, so you have some pretty substantial experience drawing large casts of characters…  That being said, JLA is substantially more earthbound. Did you discover any particular challenges as you settled in to work on the book?

Mahnke: Not really any particular challenges because of their limits, but getting to know characters I have not previously drawn is always something that slows me down. Vibes costume alone had me going back to my reference again and again, Green Arrow has a new look, Martian Manhunter some changes… add it all up and there actually is some work keeping it straight.

Geek: Who would you cite as your greatest artistic influences?

Mahnke: The short list would be guys like Gil Kane, Barry Windsor Smith, Paul Gulacy, Moebius, Frazetta, and Richard Corben. I literally have drawing as a youth where I was trying to copy these guys.  The list gets bigger and bigger as I roll through my career. Its hard not to pick something up from all the great art I see.  The list would be ridiculously long if I actually sat down and put it all on paper.

Geek: After this crossover, what’s the next big thing you have in store?  Are you taking part in Forever Evil?  And are there more exciting things on the way that you can give us some hints about?

Mahnke: No hints at the moment, other than it will be something with Geoff!