Myths And Modern Superheroes: Interviewing Liam Sharp On New Series The Brave And The Bold

by Oliver MacNamee

Out in just over a week, Wednesday, the 21st of February to be precise, fans will get to witness both the highly anticipated return of The Brave and The Bold and Liam Sharp’s return to Wonder Woman.  A character Sharp made his own on his groundbreaking run on DC’s Rebirthed Princess Diana, alongside writer Greg Rucka, this time round Sharp is flying solo and bringing the pantheon of Celtic gods to bear upon his six-issue story that sees everyone’s favourite Amazonian princess team up with everyone’s favourite socialite billionaire. He’s busier than he’s ever been, but loving every minute of it, and we found the time to grab the man himself and talk about the new book, his love for mythology and folklore, and his triumphant return to mainstream comics.Olly MacNamee: Before we get into the nitty gritty of your new series, The Brave and The Bold, I’m interested in your own encounters with Irish/Celtic mythology. Where did this love affair all start for you?

Liam Sharp: Actually waaaaay back. I always had a fascination for mythology – my dad brought me an illustrated book called ‘Legends of the Stars’ because I was always so entranced by movies like Jason and the Argonauts, and all the Sinbad movies. I would have been seven or eight, but my fascination was well entrenched by then. So when I could, at age thirteen, I started to study ‘Classical Civilizations’ at school (Greek and Roman civilization, mythology, literature and drama) and I continued to do that right up until I left at eighteen. And along the way – pretty early on actually – I started to wonder about more UK-centric mythology. Everybody knew about Arthur, but what else was there?

I remember getting this fantastic book for Christmas – Faeries by Alan Lee and Brian Froud. It had a few pages devoted to the Tuatha Dé Danann, and I was really intrigued. Then I discovered Jim Fitzpatrick, and his wonderful illustrated books on the subject of Irish mythology – particularly ‘The Silver Arm’, which really informed The Brave And The Bold. I ended up dipping into Lady Gregory’s work on the subject, the Tain and Cuchulain, and so on, and then I cycled back to dig deeper into Arthurian myth, and particularly Myrddyn, later called Merlin. I was fascinated by Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain which is the first mention of him, and I read Nikolai Tolstoy’s The Quest for Merlin and his epic, unfinished The Book of Merlin – both seriously deep dives into the material, and they presented the most comprehensive, largely speculative look at the god Cernunnos – who I became incredibly fascinated by.

Around 1990 I applied to go to Bournemouth film school, and started working on a short film script featuring Cernunnos playing an early form of chess with Myrddyn – not unlike The Seventh Seal in some ways, but they are more concerned with the fading of old things, and how everything is eventually forgotten. But it was then that I landed the Death’s Head II gig for Marvel UK, which transformed my career overnight, and so my hopes and dreams of doing something epic and visual with Celtic mythology had to wait a few decades!

One of Liam Sharp’s inspirations, Faeries by Alan Lee and Brian Froud

OM: I can see the obvious links to Wonder Woman and the Tír na nÓg, But Batman? How does he figure in a story about gods and monsters? Why would Diana turn to Bats before more obvious friends?

LS: It’s simple really: Diana is brought in to Tir Na Nóg because Cernunnos – who has become a sort of grand care-taker of the realm – is finding it impossible to keep the peace any more. There’s unrest, so he casts the runes, confers with Danu and the Morrigan, and everything points to Diana. Unfortunately, in the time it takes for Cernunnos to go get her, a great King of the Fomorians is slain, so it looks like all-out war will start. Diana requests to bring in a friend – a Knight – who’s a world-renowned detective, to help her solve the murder. She’s an ambassador, a warrior, a peacemaker, but she’s no investigator. So they team to to serve the purpose of maintaining the peace and solving a crime.

OM: Given its rich tapestry of stories, does this pantheon of gods have legs to develop within the DC Universe in the same way as the Greek gods have? Cernunnos partners with Swamp Thing maybe?

LS: Oh, certainly! If this works out, I would love nothing more than to follow up this story with part two, and even part three. I always saw it as a trilogy. But even beyond anything I do, these should be fun characters for other writers and artists to play with!

OM: The work you’re doing clearly a labour of love. Arguably the best of your career to date. How does it feel being back in comics on a regular basis?

LS: It’s all I ever wanted. I’m still pinching myself after two years. I thought my mainstream career was long over – almost before it ever really got going. I’m having the best time ever, and I’m growing, series to series. I know I’m getting better, and I’m reaching and I’m giving everything I’m doing the best I have, within the confines of a monthly deadline. I honestly couldn’t be happier!

OM: Given your background, academically and in comics, what other legends would you love to tackle in a similar way with the DC Universe, if any?

LS: Vikings are a natural for me – I have Viking heritage! – but that’s been done a thousand times now. I think I have a really good Myrddyn story to tell one day. I still think there’s room for a really great Arthurian epic too, done with the right amount of blood and thunder! That’s something I’d love to see!

OM: Many Thanks for your time, Liam. Sláinte to ya!

LS: And right back at you Olly! Cheers!

The Brave and The Bold #1 is out Wednesday, February 21st, 2018 from DC Comics.