The Green Lantern Corpse:
Keith Champagne Knows Where The Oans' Bodies
always cool for us to meet a guy on his way up and see the
climbing continue. A couple of years ago, we met Keith Champagne
at a Comic-Con when he was inking JSA and had just pitched
a one-shot story for the last incarnation of the Legion of
Superheroes. Since then, he's written a three-issue JSA arc,
inked Firestorm and occasional Batman issues, and created
Armor X, a mini-series from Image. Heck, he even guested here
and wrote a wrestling
Gardner in the pink.
what should have DC fandom talking right now is his work
on Green Lantern Corps. Champagne has begun a credible explanation
for why the little blue men put up with Guy Gardner by introducing
a black ops division to the Corps -- one much older than
Guy Gardner could have expected. It's a concept that adds
subtext to older stories -- you have to wonder what the
Oans didn't tell the brighter shinier Lanterns -- and definitely
marks Champagne as one of our own (fanboys) made good.
got more coming up that he can't talk about yet, but he
still agreed to let me toot his horn by doing this interview.
McCaw: How do you pronounce Green Lantern Corpse,
and am I missing some
military term I’ve just never known before? Because
I’m pretty much thinking “dead body.”
Keith Champagne: CORPSE. As in...CORPSE.
As in dead body. As in just what you were thinking.
McCaw: Explain, if you can, the genesis
of this. Did DC approach you with this idea, or was it yours?
Do you get full credit here as “creator”?
Keith Champagne: The idea of a Black Ops
division called THE CORPSE came out of my head. In fact,
I was told the other day that I need to sign equity forms
for Von Daggle and R'amey Holl, the two new characters introduced
in this arc, in case DC Direct makes action figures. The
great Pat Gleason also gets credit, as he designed the visuals
for both characters.
But anyway, long story short, Pete Tomasi asked me to pitch
him a GLC idea. I've had the idea for The Corpse in the
back of my head for a couple of years, he liked it, and
now we're off and running.
McCaw: While some companies (-kaff kaff-
Marvel –kaff-) seem to be playing havoc with continuity,
you come along with this story that ties a lot of elements
together. You reference “Invasion,” and you
not only use a Durlan, but one that’s probably an
ancestor of Chameleon (Boy). Why not just tell a cool story?
Keith Champagne: Do you think the story
I'm telling isn't cool?
McCaw: I'm not saying that -- just that it's really
steeped in references to continuity. Back off, man, or I'll
run that high school photo...
Keith Champagne: First of all, I'm a fanboy
at heart. I got my jollies buying stuff like INVASION back
in my teenage fan days and to me, it's just fun to reference
something I enjoyed as a kid now that I'm an adult and I'm
lucky enough to do this for a living. Plus, I knew that
I wanted to do something with the Dominators and I always
felt like there was a 'hole' there. They got their asses
kicked at the end of the day and I had to think that would
still bother some of them, even all these years later.
eighties were cruel to us all.
As far as using a character like Daggle, who may (or may
not) be an ancestor of Chameleon Boy... Why not? It's just
a little easter egg thrown in there, the sort of thing that
I enjoy reading in comics. It adds a layer of texture to
the character, and hopefully adds a little bit of fun to
the story for the people who read into it.
of the cooler things about working in a shared universe
with so much continuity is that it gives plenty of opportunity
to layer little things like that in there.
McCaw: Why do so many alien races have names that
come from Earth words
for what they resemble? (At least the Papilli comes from
Keith Champagne: Because Earth is the center
of the Universe and all life originally springs from its
Also, I feel like something like that grounds an alien character
in a reality that makes a little more sense. Let's face
it: all alien characters basically act human anyway--they
just look different.
McCaw: If the Corpse takes off, it looks like
Guy Gardner has finally found his place in this new Earth
order. Do you feel that he has kind of floundered (though
fun as a character) for a while, and that this new direction
will finally be the one that fits?
Keith Champagne: Actually, quite the opposite.
I feel like The Corpse is the worst possible fit for Guy
Gardner. The Corpse is about stealth, working behind the
scenes quietly, and killing when necessary. Nothing about
the concept fits Guy at all...which is exactly why I threw
him in the mix. Usually a character arc will grow out of
a contrast like that.
McCaw: Is the Corpse like the Illuminati?
Will we be seeing that they’ve been working behind
the scenes all along? And would that make Guy Gardner more
like Iron Man or Black Bolt?
Keith Champagne: The Corpse has a long,
unexplored history working in the shadows of The Green Lantern
Corps. The history of the division is nothing that will
be explored in depth--at least not in this specific storyline--but
it's strongly suggested they've been around for quite a
And actually, Guy is like Captain America. He's strongly
principled, cares deeply about doing the right thing, and
will fight to the end if he believes in something. He just
talks a lot more (and a lot more loudly), something I think
he does to cover up the fact that he cares so much.
Champagne has a subtle man-crush.
McCaw: In the recent DC Infinite Holiday
Special, you wrote the one story that wasn’t about
new characters or takes that DC is trying to get us to spark
to – what kind of selection process did you go through
on that one?
Keith Champagne: DC wanted to anchor the
book with Green Lantern and that was the story I was offered.
There's not much more to it than that, really. I came up
with a little tale that was actually a love letter to my
father disguised as a Green Lantern story. And he was touched
by it, so I felt like I did my job well on that one.
McCaw: That story also got penciled by
the mercurial John Byrne. How was it to work with him, both
writing and then inking his pencils?
Keith Champagne: It was a career highlight.
John Byrne is my hero. His work, and Alan Moore's, are the
two people that inspired me towards a career in comics.
I wouldn't be here plugging away if JB wasn't such a huge
influence on me.
I don't know John personally but we've emailed back and
forth a bit and he seems like a nice guy to me. I learned
a lot from seeing how he interpreted my script and I got
to live out my fanboy dream by finally inking him--even
if it was only ten pages. I was nervous about it and he
was gracious enough to give me some good advice about how
to approach his pencils.
John was nice enough to express that he liked my inks but
I didn't personally feel I was a good match over his pencils.
His stuff is loose; all the info is there but he leaves
a lot to be interpreted. It's a balancing act and I felt
like I lost it on some of the smaller faces, especially.
Overall, I found him to be nothing but a gentleman and a
professional. I'm planning on working with him again as
soon as I can but only as a writer next time. I'd like him
to either ink it himself or be teamed with an inker more
compatible with his work.
Derek McCaw: Where can readers
find your work next?
Keith Champagne: Green Lantern Corps #8
comes out today, 1/10. Check it out!
I'm currently writing a big, 52-related project that will
be solicited shortly. I can't talk about it or name it until
DC lets the cat out of the bag.
I just wrote a 12-page Two Face story for this year's Batman
I believe I'm doing more Green Lantern Corps(e) coming down
the pike, as well as taking over the writing chores on a
current DC monthly that I can't name yet.
And I'm inking Nightwing every month over the great Jamal
Igle. It's going to be a busy--yet fun--year!