EXCLUSIVE: DC Launches Digital "Arrow" Comic Series

Fans of DC Entertainment and The CW network's last big superhero TV show have already acclimated themselves to the adventures of "Smallville" continuing on their tablets thanks to the digital-first, canonical "Season 11" comic updating each week. But starting this Fall, the practice will also extend to the latest team-up between comic publisher and TV network.

CBR News has exclusive first word that in October, DC will launch a brand-new "Arrow" digital comic series which will tie into the new CW show reinventing DC Comics superhero Green Arrow. The "Arrow" comic series debuts on DC's comiXology-powered app on October 10, the same day that the series' pilot episode bows in prime time, and it will be written by executive producers, showrunners and comic scribes Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg with art starting out under the brush of legendary artist Mike Grell before Sergio Sandoval and Jorge Jimenez take over interior duties on subsequent issues. The series will sell at $0.99 a chapter online, while monthly print editions collecting several installments will start on November 28 for $3.99.

"We've been working like mad," Guggenheim told CBR of how the comic got rolled up with the TV show. "It was a little while after the free comic we co-wrote with Geoff Johns for San Diego Comic-Con [when DC approached us]. We loved the idea because (a) we love comics and (b) we sensed the opportunity to do something that struck us both as unprecedented. We come up with a lot of stories in the writers room, but only have 42 minutes each week to tell them. That leaves a lot of story and backstory left over that we like having the opportunity to tell. To our knowledge, nothing's ever been attempted on a scale like this before."

The writer explained that each week, the "Arrow" digital comic will expand upon or play off the stories of young Oliver Queen's (played by Stephen Amell) early adventures. "We have a real -- and exciting -- opportunity to tie in, fill in and -- and this is our favorite -- tease upcoming moments in the series. If you read the digital comics, you'll be getting stories that not only tie in with the television narrative, but also preview it."

While both Guggenheim and Kreisberg have experience writing for TV and comics, the former told CBR that digital comics present all-new storytelling challenges for the pair. "It's learning a whole new medium, especially in terms of pacing and providing a satisfying ratio of panels-to-page. At the same time, we're very excited to be participating on the forefront of a new way of consuming comics. As far as matching the show's tone and feel, we feel we're accomplishing that by making sure that each chapter is written by us and our writing staff, so you know you're getting the voice of the show from the people responsible for establishing that voice."

On the art side of the equation, Guggenheim praised his editor for helping keep a look consistent with the actors on the show. "All the credit goes to Alex Antone for pulling together a remarkably talented roster of artists," he said. "They're all bringing their own thing to the comic and their styles are all unique, yet visceral enough to sell the kinetic, action-oriented series we're trying to produce on television. And we'd be remiss if we didn't make a special shout-out to Mike Grell. First, it's a privilege to be working with an industry legend. But more importantly, Mike's grounded take on Green Arrow in the seminal 'Longbow Hunters' series was a touchstone for us as we were developing the television series.

Speaking of the original "Green Arrow" comics, fans watching after the "Arrow" TV series as it develops have been scouring websites for news of cameos from the DC Universe, and the writers are looking to oblige on both TV and computer screens. "China White makes an appearance in Chapter 3," said Guggenheim, noting that character Detective Hilton from his own "GA" run will appear in the show as well. "We'd love to add more guest stars in future chapters, but our approach to using other comic characters in the digital comic is the same as it is with the show itself: We start with the story first and then cast about to see if there's a DC character that would be appropriate. We never want the guest star horse to drag the storytelling cart. Story is paramount."

Overall, Guggenheim looks forward to the "Arrow" comic allowing his writing staff to play off future twists in the series in a way that feels organic. "The first chapter is especially exciting -- and not just because Mike Grell drew it. We took a moment directly from the second episode, then flashforward throughout the story to key moments from future episodes. So the first chapter is a great way to get a little preview of what we have up our sleeves on the show," he said. "For my part as a writer, I don't think doing a comic tie-in is worthwhile unless it relates to the story being told in the movie or television series. That's just my philosophy. I think if you don't make the tie-in a literal one, then you're just wasting a great and exciting opportunity."

"Arrow" debuts, both on the CW and on comiXology, October 10.

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