Working with Dave Gibbons

Green Lantern #171 Deeter & Dragons page 3 by Dave Gibbons and Todd Klein
Image © DC Comics.

I hope Dave, and you blog readers, will forgive me for dropping his name all over this blog. I suspect he’s about to become even more famous once the WATCHMEN movie comes out, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, so I’m joining in with my small bit of Gibbons history.

I’ve written about how I came to work with Dave on this page of my website, where you can learn more about my writing. Essentially Dave was under contract to DC, but wasn’t getting much work from them yet, so I believe he drummed it up by calling DC editors like Ernie Colón and asking for assignments. Never a shy fellow, that Dave. Ernie knew I was trying to write for DC, and put us together for a series of “Green Lantern Corps” backup stories that ran in the regular GREEN LANTERN title in the early 1980s. I had probably seen at least one story drawn by Dave at that point, and I knew he was a fine artist. Ernie put me on the phone with Dave, and we agreed to work in the Marvel style; I’d write a plot for him to draw, and he’d send in finished art, which I’d then write dialogue for and letter. Now, Dave is a fine letterer himself, but in this case it made more sense for me to do the lettering rather than send the art back and forth to England again. Plus, it allowed Dave to send in final inked art rather than pencils needing to be inked later, so it saved him time, too.

Here’s the complete plot for our first story, which I think is the best:

Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Apprentice plot page 1
Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Apprentice plot page 2

Dave sent in the art with the following typed note (so formal we were in the beginning):

Dave Gibbons notes on Apprentice.

You can see what a huge contribution he made not only in the art but also in the storytelling and even some dialogue. Once I saw this, I knew we had a winner! Here’s the printed first page, and the entire story has recently been reprinted in the trade paperback GREEN LANTERN: IN BRIGHTEST DAY.

Apprentice page 1 by Todd Klein and Dave Gibbons.

From then on I was eager to work more with Dave, and for about two years we did more GL Corps backups. Then Dave was tapped to become the regular Green Lantern artist in the front of the book, and the GL Corps stories came to an end. But I had a great time while it lasted. At least once (maybe more) we worked out a story plot over the phone so Dave could get started drawing it. That story, “Hero,” introduced The Green Man, a character we co-created that’s still appearing in the GREEN LANTERN CORPS today. Somehow I have a copy of Dave’s thumbnail layouts for this story, which are very similar to the ones in his book “Watching the Watchmen.” Here’s an example, followed by the finished page:

Green Lantern Corps "Hero" layout by Dave Gibbons page 2
Green Lantern Corps "Hero" finished art by Dave Gibbons page 2.

Again, you can see how easy he made it for me, even laying in balloon placements for dialogue I hadn’t written yet! Dave had lots of ideas, and here’s a note he sent me with some:

Green Lantern Corps notes by Dave Gibbons page 1
Green Lantern Corps notes by Dave Gibbons page 2

So many great directions we could have gone, but Dave was soon too busy for more GL Corps stories, and I also moved on to become regular writer on THE OMEGA MEN title, so I was busy, too. While our collaborations as writer/artist came to an end, Dave and I kept in touch and worked together other ways, as well as meeting in person several times. I think I’ll save all that for a later post, though.

Dave Gibbons on Wikipedia

5 thoughts on “Working with Dave Gibbons

  1. Marcel

    Hi Todd,

    Very interesting all those stories about you and Dave Gibbons! It’s to hear about those collaborations and how the stories I’ve read became to be.

    Can I suggest you to put more post like this one on your blog? How about some collaborations with other writers/artists that you have worked with?

    Thanks for the blog and best regards!

  2. Steve-O

    Awesome stuff. I’m really impressed with how tight the layouts Dave did are. I wonder how long he spent on each of those roughs?

  3. Pingback: Trusty Henchmen » Tales of the Green Lantern Corps

  4. David Marshall

    Thanks for posting this. In general, your site is a powerful reference for those of us that still hand-letter. Or at least teach hand lettering to a younger generation that grew up with fonts.

    I’m really a web developer, drawing and teaching comics on the side. If you’re curious, take a look at [].

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