After hitting the bull’s-eye on the target viewership with the CW’s “Arrow,” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg and writer Ben Sokolowski have a shot at expanding the Emerald Archer’s readership with DC’s “Green Arrow.”
The pair will script the comic series, with art by Daniel Sampere (“Batgirl,” “Trinity of Sin: Pandora”), beginning with No. 35 on Oct. 1, which finds Oliver Queen back in Seattle on an adventure involving a mystery woman. Kreisberg and Sokolowski say their “Green Arrow” is not an adaptation of the show, but “more about cross-pollination” – stocking the quiver with things that have worked on “Arrow” and in comics past. (Yes, characters “Arrow” viewers know will appear in the comic — albeit in potentially surprising ways.)
“We really want to bring the old-school Oliver Queen voice back to the character,” Sokolowski told Hero Complex. “In other words, the opinionated, liberal Robin Hood-esque hero that has fallen through the cracks a bit, both in the comics and TV models.”
He and Kreisberg, who are continuing on the show, are no strangers to comics, or to writing four-color versions of archer Oliver Queen: Both have worked on the show’s digital comic tie-in, and the latter wrote a year-plus run on “Green Arrow / Black Canary” in 2009-2010. TV-wise, Kreisberg has been with “Arrow” from the get-go and co-wrote the pilot for its upcoming CW super-friend “The Flash”; Sokolowski has written “Arrow” episodes including one of the two that introduced “The Flash’s” Barry Allen.
They and Sampere succeed the team of Jeff Lemire (still writing the character in “Justice League United”) and artist Andrea Sorrentino, whose well-regarded run starting with No. 17 brought stability to a title that had experienced turnover in creative teams early in its relaunch as part of DC’s New 52 continuity revamp. The series has regularly finished in the top 25% of comic sellers in the direct market, but also well short of top titles like “Batman,” Marvel’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” and Image’s “The Walking Dead.”
If some of the show’s more than 2 million regular viewers follow the writers to “Green Arrow,” that could change. Not that DC targeted the writers for that. Rather, Kreisberg told Hero Complex, it was he and Sokolowski who approached the comics company about taking on the billionaire vigilante in a second medium.
The writers discussed the TV-comic relationship, what draws them to Oliver Queen across media, working with DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and more in an email interview.
Hero Complex: I think the first questions that will be on people’s minds when they see your names on this title are along the lines of, “Will the ‘Green Arrow’ comic become more like the ‘Arrow’ TV series?” “Will, for instance, the show’s versions of Felicity or others feature in the comic?” “When writing the comic-book hero’s dialogue, will you be hearing Stephen Amell’s voice?” So. What can you say to those questions?
Ben Sokolowski: Without giving away too much … yes, some of our favorite “Arrow” characters will feature prominently in the comic. Though they may not necessarily be clones of their TV personas. I think our goal with this comic is to make it an echo of the TV series. It’s a way to bridge the two universes. That being said, we’re not trying to make this “Arrow: The Comic.” That’s what the digital tie-ins are for.
This is more about cross-pollination. How can we incorporate what is working so well for “Arrow” into the New 52 DCU, while at the same time, keeping what makes the original 2-D Oliver Queen so special. To that end, comic Oliver and TV Oliver have distinct voices and attitudes. We’ll do our best to keep them unique. We really want to bring the old-school Oliver Queen voice back to the character. In other words, the opinionated, liberal Robin Hood-esque hero that has fallen through the cracks a bit, both in the comics and TV models.
HC: Mr. Kreisberg, you’d written Oliver Queen before “Arrow,” with a year-plus run on “Green Arrow / Black Canary” before the New 52. With the TV show and comic continuity revamp, this will be the third version of him you’ve written. Do you see the one in “Green Arrow” No. 35 as different from the others, and if so, how so? What, at his core, makes him Oliver Queen across interpretations?
Andrew Kreisberg: I think the version Ben and I are going for now is an amalgamation of the TV version and his comic book persona. As our TV partner, Greg Berlanti, puts it, at his core, Oliver is an optimist. He believes in people. On the TV show, that optimism is buried under years of torture and suffering, but it’s still there. In the comics, he’s been a bit more fun, a bit faster with a quip, so we are trying to add some of that zest for life.
HC: Mr. Sokolowski, your comics work to date appears to have been on the “Arrow” digital comic, but I see you’ve tweeted a number of times about comics from your collection. What is your feeling as you’re moving into the comics DCU with “Green Arrow”? Had you imagined yourself doing this as a young reader? Any favorite past Green Arrow stories?
BS: I’ve been an avid comic reader ever since I was in first grade. “The Death and Return of Superman” arc was pretty instrumental in my life. As much as becoming a TV writer has been insanely awesome, writing for DC definitely lets me cross off a step on my bucket list. As for any favorite Green Arrow stories, for me, I have more of a favorite moment. It happened in the “Zero Hour” event — when Oliver had to kill his best friend, Hal Jordan, who was under the Parallax spell at the time. Oliver sacrificing Hal to save the world really took the wind out of me at a young age.
HC: What has drawn both of you to this character again and again?
BS: Oliver Queen is one of the classic characters you don’t turn down when given the chance to write. What’s appealing about this comic is the chance to write the same character in a different way than how I’m used to. It should be a creative challenge, but one I’m up for.
AK: What I really like about Oliver is, despite being stranded on Lian Yu and all that happened to him there, he could have just gone back to his old life. He could’ve just dated supermodels and traveled and had a good life. No one would have begrudged him that.
But instead, he decided to help people. Not because of revenge or anger, but because his experiences shaped him. He couldn’t stand by and let others suffer and be hurt.
So many heroes are driven by destiny. Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, they were all chosen and born to heroism. Even with Batman, it doesn’t feel like Bruce could do anything else. His whole life was leading him to become the Dark Knight. But Oliver had a real choice. And he decided to be a hero.
And I love him for that.
HC: You’ve both written with Geoff Johns, both on “Arrow” and/or CW’s upcoming “The Flash,” and, for Mr. Kreisberg, on “Vibe.” Has the experience of working with him informed your approach to writing comics? Have you consulted with him on taking on “Green Arrow”? Did he play a part in your coming onto the comic series?
BS: I’ve been a fan of Geoff Johns for years. In fact, when I showed up for work on Day 1 in Season 1, and found out that Geoff was going to be stopping by, I really had to internalize my geek freak out. On top of being the smartest guy in the room, he’s also the nicest. He is more than eager to lend an ear and offer advice. I intend to be picking his brain for a very long time.
AK: We actually approached DC. We thought there was a real opportunity here not to do another adaptation of the TV show, but infuse the comic world of Oliver Queen with some of the stronger elements of the show. Geoff was fully supportive of the idea. It’s one of the more surreal aspects of my life that a writer I admired as a fan has become such a close friend and partner. I think I’m a decent writer, but watching him break a comic book story is like watching a world-class magician do a trick. I just sit there in awe, like a fan boy, and go, “How the hell did he just do that?!” He has taught both Ben and I a tremendous amount on how to really make every issue special and meaningful.
I look back at some of my earlier comic book work and see where I faltered or didn’t make the most of the material. Geoff’s really helped me elevate my game. At least I think so. I hope the readers agree!
HC: What have you seen of Daniel Sampere’s art, and what are your impressions of it? How is the collaboration shaping up?
BS: We’re big fans of Daniel. His art has incredible flair and we both strongly look forward to seeing him bring our characters to life. The process is still in its infancy, so we haven’t started collaborating yet, but we can’t wait to!
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