The story of a lost 'Green Arrow' cover

DC Comics' re-launch of their "Green Arrow" title with director/writer Kevin Smith at the helm has brought a lot of attention to a previously under-appreciated character. Sales are up, buzz is good and fans are generally pleased with the results. Smith's current run ends with a climactic finale in issue #10.

Since issue #1 Matt Wagner, well known for his creator owned properties like "Mage" and "Grendel," has provided the cover artwork for each issue. Featuring vibrant colors and dynamic artwork, fans have shown a great deal of appreciation for the art Wagner provides.

For issue #10, Smith had a very specific vision of what he felt the cover should look like. Unfortunately that news didn't get to cover artist Wagner until a bit too late. Wagner had begun working on a cover for Green Arrow #10 with scant instructions from Smith. But once Smith's schedule cleared up a bit and he could share with Wagner exactly what he wanted, the cover Wagner had been working on was scrapped and an entirely new cover was created.

Matt Wagner wrote to CBR News to share the story behind the creation of the cover to "Green Arrow #10," plus a look at a cover fans will never seen in publication.

"Several months ago, I was busy working on the painted cover for Green Arrow #10 -- the climatic finale to the first story arc of Kevin Smith's popular revival (literally!) of the character. My only instructions for the cover were to feature Oliver Queen and the current Green Arrow, Conner Hawk both poised for battle with their bows drawn.

"I settled on what I thought was a pretty dynamic figure drawing of the two characters but had to make a decision on what to do with the background. I emailed Kevin and asked him for some more details in regards to the scene's setting, mood, etc.

"Unfortunately, this was a week or so before the release of Kevin's latest film, 'Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back.' Needless to say, he was a veeeery busy fellow right then and so I didn't immediately hear back from him. Not a big problem I thought and so made a decision based on how I wanted to paint the piece, placing the father-and-son Green Arrows on the edge of a rooftop with a rich, twilight sky behind them. Almost a GA family outting!!

"Well, sure enough, the day after I finished laying in the background details, I received my response from Kevin; 'They're in a dungeon and they're surrounded by a swirling mass of demons.'


"Not only was what I had chosen wrong for the story...it was COMPLETELY $@#&% wrong for the story! Really can't imagine that it could BE more wrong. Okay, maybe it coulda been pink with floating teddy bears. THAT woulda been more wrong. Still...

"I was faced with a dilemma. I was running late to get this cover in for solicitation purposes. Still, this was the big highly-anticipated climax to what has consistently been DC's #1 selling book for nearly a year. It needed to match the interior of the book and it needed to be far more bombastic than the tranquil atmosphere of what I was already deep into painting.

"So, I put in a call to editor Bob Schreck and, with his blessing, I decided to start the whole thing over from scratch--missing the solicitation deadline, but doing it right.

"The final cover piece turned out just great and, I think, serves as a dynamic cap to what has been a very successful run.

"Still, this left me with another, half-finished Green Arrow; equally as nice but just wrong for publication purposes.

"In fact, its not that unusual for me to start a cover illustration over midway through the painting process. Its usually always for creative reasons and most often because something has gone wrong along the way; either I've gotten something too dark or the wrong tone that just cant' be fixed or (even worse) some paint has leaked or spilled out of place. Again, something that just can't be painted over or fixed. These discarded paintings are never finished and always wind up in the trash. But this painting was halfway done and still perfectly fine.

"So, just recently, I completed it. As I had hoped, the finished piece captures the luminescent evening atmosphere I was striving for and stands as an interesting contrast to the other soon-to-be-published version.

"Anyway, just thought CBR readers might like to see this unusual rarity -- a variant cover that wasn't done as a marketing scheme and won't be seen in any other published sense.

"The final interesting note is that this painting is the only one from this series that Kevin Smith has agreed not to buy. I've gotten a lot of requests that are soon followed by disgruntled rumblings from buyers who are interested in these originals after they learn that Kevin has snagged up the entire run. So, at my request, the honorable Mr. Smith has agreed to keep his collectin' mitts off of this one and let me put it out on the open market. After all, he's got the other one!"

"Green Arrow #10," featuring cover artwork by Matt Wagner, will be in stores this November.

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