Category: Backstage Pass

Green Arrow close up Sook Ryan

We’ve been pretty lucky to both know and regularly cross paths with some great artists who have worked on the many years of Green Arrow stories in the DC Comics monthly series, and others who haven’t worked on the character but created original sketches for us at conventions.  From time to time we have posted original artwork of Oliver Queen and his partner Dinah Lance aka Black Canary here at  These include works by Freddie Williams II, Mike Grell, Neal Adams, Phil Hester and Ande Parks, Howard Chaykin, Michael Golden, Mike Norton, Cliff Chiang, J.K. WoodwardJock, and Phil Noto, among others.

We don’t know Ryan Sook personally, but he is one of our favorite cover artists.  He created our favorite cover of 2012, the cover to Mystery in Space #1, shown here.  The awesome sci-fi steampunk girl on the cover just demands her own comic book series.  We ran down some of his best cover work here last summer.

When we had the chance to commission a pencil and ink piece from him for our Green Arrow and Black Canary gallery, we couldn’t pass it up.  The result is simply awesome.

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Gal Gadot Wonder Woman SDCC 2014 reveal

More big news emerged from San Diego Comic-Con this weekend.  A new comic book series for Haven and Galaxy Quest… a sneak peek at Arrow Season 3, a Star Trek crossover with Planet of the Apes… details and art from Marvel’s new line of Star Wars comic books…  new actors to star in Marvel’s Ant-man… more content from Avengers 2… and new giant monster movies are coming soon from Legendary Pictures.

But the biggest news that almost “broke the Internet” was from DC Entertainment: the first look at Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and her new costume from the 2016 release Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  It’s a nice Cliff Chiang-inspired pose for the Amazon warrior.  So we now have three images of the DC Comics trinity:

Trinity Dawn of Justice

We’ve got a pretty dark superhero movie in our future.

The next big news came from a Marvel Comics panel–the creative line-up for Star Wars comic books under Disney:

Marvel Star Wars 1 Cassaday cover art

Marvel Comics announced that January 2015 will see the first of Marvel taking over the Star Wars comic book line from Dark Horse with three initial series.  Kansas City’s Jason Aaron will write and John Cassaday will serve as artist on a series taking place just after A New Hope, where the original 1978 Marvel Comics line began and the current main Dark Horse title takes place.  Above is the cover art by Cassaday for Issue #1.

Star Wars Darth Vader Granov cover SDCC 2014

A series beginning in February 2015 will follow Darth Vader after his TIE Fighter is knocked away by Han Solo at the end of A New Hope, to be created by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca.

Star Wars Princess Leia Marvel Dodson cover art SDCC 2014

And March 2015 will see a series following Princess Leia after the destruction of the Death Star, from writer Mark Waid, artist Terry Dodson, and colorist Rachel Dodson.

Here are four pages of early stage art for the main Star Wars series:

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Ryan Sook Futures End cover 1    Ryan Sook Futures End 14 cover August 2014 release

We’ve delved into some great cover artists at in the past three years, from Alex Ross to Mauro Cascioli to Frank Cho and Mike Mayhew.  With his cover run on the DC Comics New 52 series Futures End, Ryan Sook is the artist you just can’t miss these days.  His cover for Issue #14 (above right) of Futures End is being solicited for August 2014 already, and it showcases several styles.  If you take a look back over the past few years you can see one of the best artists around developing his style and craft, putting his mark on the covers of some great comic book series.

You can see Sook as the cover artist of choice to start up several new series with the number one issue out of the gates, for series including Robotika (2005), Giant-Size Hulk (2006), Friday the 13th (2007), Batman and the Outsiders (2007), Death of the New Gods (2007), Countdown Specials, Countdown Presents and DC Universe Specials (2008 and 2011), Broken Trinity: Aftermath (2009), Blackest Night: Wonder Woman (2010), JSA All Stars (2010), The Magdalena (2010), B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth series (2011-2013), Victorian Undead II (2011), DC Universe Online: Legends (2011), Kirby: Genesis (2011), Justice League Dark (2011), Lord of the Jungle (2011), Rose & Thorn (2012), Sword of Sorcery (2012), and The New 52 Futures End (2014).

Sook is able to render men and women superheroes equally well, yet his women really stand out.  Here’s his Wonder Woman, showcased in the Blackest Night series:

Ryan Sook  Blackest Night Wonder Woman 1 cover    Ryan Sook Blackest Night Wonder Woman 2 cover

Less stylized than Cliff Chiang’s current angular Wonder Woman look, Sook may have created a modern twist on the definitive look of the classic character for other artists to emulate.

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As we predicted here last month, the CW Network is trickling out details of the new Green Arrow series Arrow.  The biggest news is that veteran of several Star Trek roles, Susanna Thompson, has been cast as Green Arrow/Oliver Queen’s mother Moira Queen.  Although not a regularly featured character in past Green Arrow comic book series (although Queen’s mom had a role recently in Green Arrow: Into the Woods), having a seasoned genre character actor like Thompson in the series should bring some credibility to the show that is to feature several young actors in lead roles.

Mike Mayhew’s take on Moira Queen

Susanna Thompson may be best known for playing the Borg Queen opposite Kate Mulgrew as Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek Voyager.  She also played the Romulan Varel in the excellent classic episode “The Next Phase”–

and Jaya the inmate in the episode “Frame of Mind,” both from Star Trek: The Next Generation.  She later played trill Doctor Lenara Kahn opposite Terry Farrell’s Jadzia Dax in the Deep Space Nine episode “Rejoined.”

Thompson as a Trill in Deep Space Nine “Rejoined”

She has played plenty of other roles, including characters in Alien Nation: Dark Horizon, The X-Files, Twilight Zone, Law and Order: SVU, Without a Trace, Cold Case and another queen, Queen Rose Benjamin on Kings.

Katie Cassidy on New Girl

And it seems like the best way to get a role on Arrow is to have guest-starred on last (and this) year’s best comedy series, New Girl.  Yesterday the CW released that Oliver Queen’s girlfriend Dinah Lance aka Black Canary will be played by Supernatural actress Katie Cassidy.  Although in Dinah’s best incarnation in the comic book series she ran a floral shop called Sherwood Florist in Seattle with Ollie, the creators threw that back story out the window and have Dinah as a lawyer.  Cassidy is the daughter of 1970s singer/pop star David Cassidy (remember The Partridge Family? “I Think I Love You”? Yep, that guy).  She actually looks a bit like her dad.

Katie Cassidy on Supernatural

So will the producers go the right direction with dark-haired Dinah who sports a blonde wig, or wimp out and make her dyed blonde like recent incarnations?  Cassidy has played roles both ways and looks like she could carry off the part (visually at least) either way.  Cassidy’s past roles include Zoe on 7th Heaven (with ex-Star Trek actors Stephen Collins and Catherine Hicks), Ruby on Supernatural, Trish on Harper’s Island, Ella on Melrose Place, and Juliet on Gossip Girl, along with roles in A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), Click, and When a Stranger Calls (2006).  Most recently she played Brooke on the “Wedding” episode of New Girl.

Katie Cassidy on Harper’s Island

Behind the scenes, costume designer Colleen Atwood will be creating the new supersuit for Green Arrow and hopefully Black Canary as well.  Originally it was rumored that Tish Monaghan, a veteran costume designer for films Insomnia, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), Happy Gilmore, the Cats & Dogs series, the Twilight series, and the short-lived TV reboot of Bionic Woman would be doing the costume.

Cliff Chiang’s Black Canary

We reported earlier that Stephen Amell had been cast in the lead role as Oliver Queen.  Amell can be seen currently as Cece’s off-the-wall boyfriend on New Girl.  His high energy performance on that series may indicate he is a great choice for the role as the archer superhero.

We’ll share more about this new series as we hear it!

C.J. Bunce


Review by C.J. Bunce


DC Comics has released a hardcover compilation of both the Green Arrow and Black Canary Wedding Special one-shot plus the first five issues of the “Dead Again/Child Support” storyline from Green Arrow/Black Canary Issues #1-5.  Judd Winick wrote the story with Amanda Conner illustrating the Wedding Special and Cliff Chiang pencilling GA/BC Issues #1-4 and Andre Coelho pencilling Issue #5.

On paper, the first chapter, the Wedding Special, is what you would expect.  Put together the two superheroes who have had an off-again/on-again relationship for pretty much decades, and after years of talking about it we get the first big superhero wedding since Clark Kent and Lois Lane.  Of course, they couldn’t just put the two characters together and give us a storyline of what it would be like to have a superhero couple, like “the early years of The Incredibles,” or something close to that.  Instead, they cram together some backstory, bachelor party, etc. and a wedding into a few short pages.  Only Batman is smart enough to return a negative on the RSVP.  As expected, the marriage is doomed from the start.  Someone gets wind of all the superheroes being in the same place at the same time for the wedding, nukes are launched, and it becomes another Justice League fight scene.

Worst yet, once the dust settles and Oliver and Dinah get home, we learn that a big element was missing from the wedding, as Ollie is an imposter and tries to murder Dinah on her wedding night, and she must kill him to defend herself.

Among all of this is plenty silliness and cartoony characterizations that amount to a light-hearted romp up just to the last scene.  It is difficult to expect anything else from a one-shot about a superhero wedding, so you either go with it or stop reading.  Flashing back to other incarnations of Green Arrow and Black Canary, such as those documented in the For Better For Worse compilation (to be reviewed here later), it becomes clear that this really is more of a superhero wedding–focusing on the costumed personas–more than a wedding of Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance.  And in chapter one you are left to hope for seeing that wedding someday.  Back in the prior volume of the Green Arrow series, as well as the volume before that, we did get a fair bit of family life, and the stories seemed pretty good at the time, with son Conner (Green Arrow 2) as well as Mia (the new Speedy) rounding out the family.  The past run at the trials of a superhero family was the closest thing we have seen to the clever The Incredibles film by Pixar.

I am not a fan of Amanda Conner’s trademark cartoony renderings of Black Canary.  She draws her looking ditsy, and combining the fact that Ollie and Dinah spend the first chapter swearing at each other in asterisks, etc., Green Arrow and Black Canary are caricatures of a reality show bridezilla-fest.  In stark contrast is Chiang’s excellent covers, which seem to nicely peg a great looking superhero team.  The colorist work is also well done–the entire book is finished in vibrant colors.

The rest of the Wedding Album consists next of Winick’s “Dead Again” storyline and there we begin to see some family taking shape.  The highlight is Cliff Chiang, the artist currently getting high praise for the New 52 Wonder Woman series.  Going back now and viewing his earlier work is great fun, as he definitely has his own, recognizable style.  And in the first chapter of the “Dead Again” story, we learn that the man who married Dinah, and who was killed by Dinah, was a shapeshifter called Everyman, and Ollie is held prisoner by a doppleganger for Athena, and the Amazons.  No doubt that Chiang’s work on Green Arrow/Black Canary and this Amazon storyline propelled him into the artist role for the current Wonder Woman series.

Chiang original cover art for GA BC issue 1

But you can’t knock Winick’s writing for the rest of the Wedding Album.  The story is great, beginning with Dinah and Mia arriving at the island of the Amazons to figure out why they took Ollie and Connor springing Ollie from their jail, including having to loan Ollie his underwear since Ollie was, of course, imprisoned naked by the Amazons.  The Amazons want Dinah (not Diana aka Wonder Woman) to lead and train the new Amazon warriors.  But in their escape Connor is shot and near death.  In the aftermath, the family comes together and in the last chapter “Child Support,” Oliver and Dinah actually get married.  The last chapter was illustrated ably by Andre Coelho.  Only once in the last few chapters does the story falter a bit, when we learn the reason Everyman finally made himself known to Dinah on their wedding night.

For the most part, the Green Arrow/Black Canary Wedding Album is worth checking out, if not for a good Judd Winick story, then to see more of Cliff Chiang’s nice artwork.

What better way to celebrate’s 100,000th site visit than share some news about one of our favorite superheroes?  Hollywood writer Jason McClain alerted me to this news item, as it’s no secret I’m one of the biggest Green Arrow fans around.  The news?

The CW Network has ordered a TV series pilot featuring Green Arrow that will, happily, not be related to the Smallville series’ spin on the character.  The producer/writers tapped to create the pilot are Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim, the two writers responsible for last year’s Green Lantern movie, and ex-writer for the Green Arrow/Black Canary comic book series, Andrew Kreisberg.

Kreisberg took over the comic book series after Judd Winick moved off the GA/BC title.  He teamed with artist Mike Norton after Cliff Chiang left the series.  I have read Kreisberg’s take on Green Arrow and Black Canary, and I liked it.  Kreisberg wrote some good modern stories featuring the trio in both a lighthearted and action-packed way.  He clearly knows the roots of these characters and their strong relationships with each other, and hopefully he can convey that into the script for the pilot and get it onto the small screen.  He also once acknowledged that there is no other superhero team out there that is a married couple, that that IS Green Arrow’s story.  Right on!

Here are some unsolicited recommendations for Kreisberg, Berlanti and Guggenheim to make the series get off the ground right:

(1)  You might view your TV show as an ensemble show like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  An ensemble genre work usually is better than a solo character-focused show (think about the failed series The Cape and why it didn’t work, for example) because although we all loved the title character of Buffy Summers, we loved supporting characters Willow and Xander even more.  And like the best Batman stories, letting the lead hero take the back seat once in a while is a good thing.  At the same time, I didn’t watch Smallville because Clark never donned the supersuit.  Show Green Arrow in action with the bow once in a while, but just not in every scene.

(2)  Take the best of the Green Arrow canon and it will easily translate to today.  The “Hard Traveling Heroes” storyline that put both Green Arrow and Green Lantern on the map and made us want to know more about these characters was a road trip across America.  Something like the Winchester boys moving across country with every new episode in Supernatural.  You might laugh, but On the Road with Charles Kuralt, the CBS segment where he took an off-the-beaten path tour of America, lasted decades for a reason.  Viewers liked to see where he would go next.  You’ll have an unlimited number of settings for your story, too, if you keep the team moving, assuming they let you work with all three characters.

The Kid, Etta, and Butch--archetype for Ollie, Dinah, and Hal

(3)  Everyone likes a good “buddy picture.”  I have mentioned before how the “Hard Traveling Heroes” storyline reflected the 1969 world view, and 1969 entertainment.  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid came out in 1969 and was still in theaters when Denny O’Neil wrote the classic Green Arrow and Green Lantern crossover.  Did some of the hit movie rub off on O’Neil?  Who knows.  If you pay attention, you’ll see that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a buddy picture with three buddies, almost a “love triangle,” including some brotherly love between Butch and Ross’s character Etta Place.  That’s right, Katherine Ross’s role as the Kid’s girlfriend, and Butch’s pal, was as important to the film as each of the title characters.  Black Canary/Dinah Lance could have that same crucial role in a TV series about Ollie and Hal.

(4)  Even if Warner Brothers wants to keep Hal Jordan/Green Lantern out of the series, you must include Black Canary/Dinah Lance.  Don’t botch this by pulling ideas from the Dinah Lance of the short-lived Birds of Prey series.  It was good for what it was.  But you want dark-haired Dinah that sports the blonde wig used to go incognito, not the stilted friend of Oracle.  Green Arrow/Oliver Queen can go solo from time to time, but only when he can return to Dinah is he at his best.

(5)  Stay away from the DC 52 Green Arrow storyline and the obvious idea of having Oliver participate in some form of anti-big business Occupy Wall Street movement.  Sure, in real life, Ollie would be leading up the OWS marches, but I think most viewers don’t want a show about superheroes in current politics and as much as everyone hates greedy corporate America, more personal storylines will appeal to modern viewers.   The current series Leverage does this very well.  Think local.  Don’t have Ollie take on all of the world’s problems, have him take on each human problem bit by bit, maybe town by town.  It worked brilliantly for Adams and O’Neil.

Original Mike Norton art from a story under Kreisberg's turn as writer for Green Arrow/Black Canary

(6)  Oliver Queen is not Bruce Wayne.  He’s much more layered.  Queen is not a billionaire.  He lost all his money, and that allowed him to get interesting.  Don’t even waste time on his backstory as billionaire as it will only emphasize his role as a one-time obvious Batman knockoff.

(7)  Read up on your Mike Grell era of Green Arrow stories.  Grell was an ex-government intelligence guy who ended up writing spy novels and comic books.  He took the Neal Adams/Denny O’Neil Green Arrow and Black Canary and brought them into downtown Seattle and injected the backwoods survival skills and mixed it with street smarts.  He made Ollie the Urban Warrior.  This itself harkened back to the iconic Green Lantern Issue #76’s story whereby Green Arrow first takes on a greedy slumlord that Hal Jordan was unintentionally actually helping.

Personal sketch of Ollie and Dinah by Mike Grell

(8)  We know from past interviews that Andrew Kreisberg likes the role of Green Arrow and Black Canary as Oliver and Dinah–husband and wife.  Consider building on Mike Grell’s series, where they run the Sherwood Florist in Seattle by day.  And what the heck, work in Mia and Connor if you can.  And if you must update costumes, you gotta bring back Ollie’s goatee.  As Mikel Janin proved with his excellent recent update to similarly costumed Zatanna, Dinah’s fishnets can be optional.

(9)  The Flash TV series had a lot going for it.  One was the age of the actor in the lead roll, John Wesley Shipp, former soap actor.  He wasn’t 20-something.  He was 35 and looked like he could be a superhero in real life.  If you’re staying away from Smallville (a great move) then give us heroes who have had time to gain some wisdom, not some newbies who have no way of practically knowing all they would need to know in real life to get through their trials on the show (the TV series Bones is a big example of this glaring absurdity with its only-young cast that has knowledge you could only gain by being twice the age of the cast members).  Look for actors in their 30s or or even early 40s.

(10)  Suggested title?  If you take any of the ideas above, how about Hard Traveling, Hard Traveling Hero, or Hard Traveling Heroes?  Of course there are always other former storyline titles like Quiver.

I have no idea what limitations will be placed on Kreisberg & Co. as they work out the script for the TV series pilot.  Maybe they have no intention of including Hal and Dinah, but if they can, it could be something new and different and very fun.

If you want to see Andrew Kreisberg’s stories while writing for Ollie and Dinah, you can buy compilations, including: Green Arrow/Black Canary: Enemies List, Green Arrow/Black Canary: Big Game, and Green Arrow/Black Canary: Five Stages.

And Andrew, if you need help with story ideas, drop me a line.

C.J. Bunce


Two weeks ago I posted a list of all 52 new DC Comics titles that will be re-starting with issue #1 beginning this September.  The following highlights four artists that we expect to see featured this Fall, three definite and one rumored to be doing at least some cover work. 

First off is Scottish artist Mark Simpson who works under the pen name Jock, who has been doing an impressive run on Detective Comics this year.  Although the actual issue #1 was previewed with a cover by Jim Lee, the below startling image was released by Jock as a coming issue cover.  Whether it will come before or after the re-launch has not yet been revealed.


Pretty gruesome image, huh?  What Jock excels at is his black watercolor splashes that form striking images of frenetic energy.  His work is intense and you get to see that in this image that is devoid of much coloring–allowing his original image to shine through.  Following my general passion for Green Arrow, below is an earlier original painted page by Jock from his series Green Arrow: Year One, reflecting Green Arrow marooned on this title page to the fourth issue in the series.

Jock’s style is his own–up close his brush strokes seem quick and haphazard, yet altogether you see a grand statement of desperation.  Before his days of fancy trick arrows, here we see Oliver Queen stuck with a thrown together couple of quivers and hand-made arrows.   Check out Jock’s website for more great examples of his work.

Next up is the artist whose work is so technically pristine that you find yourself searching his original pencils and inks for any hint of a stray mark or sketch line.  Cliff Chiang was selected as the artist for the new Wonder Woman series.  Here is his cover for the first issue. 

Cliff has done plenty of illustrations across the DC universe, from Batman to Zatanna.  With his exceptional work on the women heroes of the DCU we have a lot to look forward to with Wonder Woman later this year.  Below shows Cliff’s work prior to it being colored. 

This is the cover to Green Arrow/Black Canary Issue #1, featuring Canary and the new Green Arrow who had briefly replaced Oliver and went on to become Red Arrow.  Just check out Cliff’s stunning pencils and inks.  Check out Cliff’s website for more great examples of his work.

Next up is digital comic artist Freddie Williams II, who wrote the book on digital drawing.  Actually he literally wrote the book on digital drawing, for DC Comics.  Check it out here the DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics.  Freddie has defined the drawing style and method of the future, with his first big break is the main illustrator for the Robin series.  In September Freddie will be responsible for the art in the new Captain Atom series.  Although DC has not yet released any advance look at Freddie’s pages for the series, here is a sketch of Green Arrow and Black Canary he did for me a few years ago. 

What jumps out with Freddie’s work is movement and action-whether it is Robin swinging across the page or Green Arrow here ready to put an arrow through the reader.  And as you can see with the look on Dinah’s face, skowling at Ollie’s over-exuberance with one hand in pocket and the other held tight, he knows how to draw a humorous page, too.  Check out Freddie’s website for some of his work.

My final artist for today is Scott McDaniel, who will be drawing an entirely new title and character, “Static Shock” in Static Shock #1.  Here is his original cover art for issue #1 before going to the coloring phase.


Scott had a nice run on the second Green Arrow series, and here is the original art to his cover for issue #64.

Like the other artists above, Scott’s style stands out as his own.  His heroes are drawn large and in-charge and practically bust their way off the page.  Check out Scott’s website for more great images.

If these artists are indication, we’ll have some great visuals to look forward to this Fall.

C.J. Bunce


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