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Liam Sharp Interview: Welcome to Starhenge

Interview by Troy-Jeffrey Allen

 STARHENGE DRAGON & BOAR #1 (OF 6) CVR A SHARP (MR)

Revered creator LIAM SHARP cuts loose in his visually stunning six-issue masterpiece, STARHENGE, BOOK ONE! A future Merlin travels to 5th-century Britain to prevent monstrous time-traveling killer robots from robbing the universe of magic, and Amber Weaver's lively present-day narrative reveals how she becomes drawn into a war across time!

In the following interview, STARHENGE's Liam Sharp talks about his new series that's described as The Terminator meets The Green Knight.

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Troy: Out the gate. What is STARHENGE?

Liam: The StarHenge is a huge sigil and stargate (basically Stonehenge on Mars) that will need to be built using magic and technology to secure humanity’s future. It’s pretty much what the whole epic saga will hinge around! The premise of the book, though, is about alien AI travelling into the past to destroy anything magical – magic being the biggest threat to it in the future. Merlin is sent back through time to protect magic, which has now vanished from his timeline, threatening the future of all organic life… It’s basically Terminator meets Excalibur via Dr Who!

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Troy: This book pulls from Arthurian legend. Were you a fan of tales like King Arthur growing up?

Liam: Absolutely! I studied classical civilizations at school for five years, and it was all Roman and Greek mythology and history, and after a while I realized I knew nothing about our own more local Celtic mythology, and that kicked off a whole new interest for me. It’s where I found out about Geoffrey of Monmouth by reading Nicolai Tolstoy’s ‘The Quest for Merlin’. Monmouth was the first to write about him in ‘The History of The Kings of Britain’, and I loved his convoluted, fast and loose faux take on the first monarchs, from Brutus the son of Aeneas, onwards.

Like the Vinland Sagas, it moves very quickly and forms the foundation for later versions, like Sir Thomas Malory’s much more famous chivalric epic ‘La Morte D’Arthur’. At first I wanted to just do a straight-up comic version of Monmouth, but that would have been a tough sell! So then I thought about T.H.White’s ‘Once and Future King’, and the idea he floated of Merlin being born in the future and dying in the past, and that kicked off the idea of how it could actually be a big sci-fi tale, and it kind of grew out of that…

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Troy: It sounds like Merlin is the catalyst, but Amber Weaver drives the plot. What can you tell us about Amber?

Liam: I had wanted Merlin to really be the protagonist, but you’re right – he’s an archetype. The Wizard. Like Gandalf, traditional Merlin, or Dr Who, these characters are, as you say, catalysts. Even if theirs are the stories that string everything together you still need the companions, who act as both audience and heart.

The book was originally recounted by Merlin, but that was too aloof and dry… very hard sci-fi. Then I had the famous legendary bard Taliesin narrating, and that presented issues with being too ponderously fantasy, and very wooly around the future stuff! When Amber came along, giving the book its contemporary thread and ‘voice’, it totally lifted everything, adding some levity and relevance it had been sorely lacking.  

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Troy: How did STARHENGE come about as a project?

Liam: I had a project at DC I had been pitching that failed to get greenlit, and suddenly – after six solid years of work – I had a window to do something for myself. The timing seemed good to give it a go, and I had dreamed of doing an Image book since Jim Lee offered me the chance to join him when Image was founded, 30 years ago, and to move to the US.

At the time I had just met the girl who would later be my wife, and wasn’t prepared to give that up, plus I thought Death’s Head II was going to keep on going and going! I was very loyal to Marvel back then and felt they had given me my biggest break so it seemed the right thing to do back then. But I always wondered what would have happened if I had! This kind of ties a lovely bow in that. Unfinished business!

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Troy: What made you bring this project to Image?

Liam: All of the above! Image is still, I think, the premium place to take creator-owned material. It’s such a bold model for creators. But it’s something I’ve just wanted to do for a very long time. It’s extremely exciting!

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Troy: You’ve always had a unique visual style. What inspired the look of the series?

Liam: Thank you! This one grew out of the last six issues of The Green Lantern, which I digitally painted, followed by Batman: Reptilian, which I also painted. I enjoyed working on them so much and loved the possibilities that mixed media digital art presented.

Also, both those projects were inspired by the late 80’s, early 90’s comics I loved mixed with some 70’s classic fantasy and sci-fi art. It’s really a chance for me to pay loving homage to so many astonishing creators that have inspired me – from Frazetta, to Giger, to Dave McKean, to Jeffrey Catherine Jones, to Bill Sienkiewicz… It’s a real melting pot!

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Troy: This is Book One. Is that an indication of future mini-series?

Liam: Yes indeed. The plan is, if this does well enough, to do four ‘books’ of six or more issues each, focusing on different time lines. Book two would be more Medieval – basically set in Thomas Malory’s time. Book three is near future, and four, deep future.

But I’m also realizing there’s so much room for spin-offs. I can see Daryl having a whole separate series to himself, and Amber too for that matter… it’s a huge sandpit! So yes! We’ll see how it goes!

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Troy: Looking forward, what can readers expect from STARHENGE?

Liam: I expect it to be more wild and magical adventures through time with a wry and humorous modern commentary!

Troy: Thanks for doing this interview, Liam.

Liam: y sincerest pleasure! Thank you for the kind words!

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IMAGE COMICS
STARHENGE DRAGON & BOAR #1 (OF 6) CVR A SHARP (MR)
(W) Liam Sharp (A/CA) Liam Sharp
MINISERIES PREMIERE
Revered creator LIAM SHARP cuts loose in his visually stunning six-issue masterpiece, STARHENGE, BOOK ONE! A future Merlin travels to 5th-century Britain to prevent monstrous time-traveling killer robots from robbing the universe of magic, and Amber Weaver's lively present-day narrative reveals how she becomes drawn into a war across time!
The Terminator meets The Green Knight in 30 enthralling story pages, setting the scene for this original epic inspired by the Arthurian sagas!
In Shops: Jul 06, 2022
SRP: $3.99
PREVIEWS Page #44

IMAGE COMICS
STARHENGE DRAGON & BOAR #2 (OF 6) CVR A SHARP (MR)
(W) Liam Sharp (A/CA) Liam Sharp
MERLIN persuades KING AURELIUS to allow him to start the construction of STONEHENGE. Meanwhile AMBER and DARYL reunite under less than ideal circumstances in Brighton, as future MOR-DREADNAUGHTS prepare to hunt them!
In Shops: Aug 10, 2022
SRP: $3.99
PREVIEWS Page #83

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Troy-Jeffrey Allen is the producer and co-host of PREVIEWSworld Weekly. His comics work includes MF DOOM: All Caps, Public Enemy's Apocalpyse '91, Fight of the Century, the Harvey Award-nominated District Comics, and the Ringo Awards-nominated Magic Bullet.

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