KEITH GIFFEN Takes Aim on DCnU GREEN ARROW in December

Krul Off GREEN ARROW, Keith Giffen On

Green Arrow #4

Although DC's relaunch is barely halfway through its first month, the creative teams are already shifting. And Green Arrow is the latest title affected.

Beginning with December's issue #4, Green Arrow will be co-written by Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens. J.T. Krul, whose first issue of Green Arrow just came out this month, will leave the book after issue #3.

Krul told Newsarama that he's instead working on another DC project, which he later explained further on a public Facebook posting. Newsarama has also confirmed the information with Bob Harras, DC's editor-in-chief.

"J.T. Krul is moving off Green Arrow, but he's still just as committed to DC Comics-The New 52 with his writing on Captain Atom," Harras said. "He's transitioning to another project that we'll be announcing later this year; he has been working with Green Arrow for awhile, and we're all excited for him to be tackling some new characters."

This change follows a similar creative team shake-up announced last week for the new Static Shock, which lost one of its co-writers.

While Krul's departure from Green Arrow after more than a year writing the character was a surprise, the fact the Keith Giffen is writing a title for DC isn't. When DC originally revealed its slate of DCnU titles, Giffen's name wasn't among the writers. He was only attached as an artist on O.M.A.C., the title written by DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio.

Fans of his writing on recent DC series like Doom Patrol were concerned, but Giffen alleviated their fears when he told Newsarama in June, "you'll be hearing about a couple things coming from me as a writer at DC."

Now, we find out that Green Arrow is one of those things.

But what is surprising about Giffen's new writing gig is that he's co-writing with Jurgens, since the two haven't collaborated before. Jurgens is also currently writing Justice League International for DC and was already attached to Green Arrow as the artist, with help from George Pérez.

Of course it's not the first time Giffen has taken on a job as a co-writer. He's had some legendary runs with writing collaborations, including his stint on Justice League with J.M. DeMatteis and the more recent Blue Beetle with John Rogers.

Newsarama contacted Giffen after today's announcement to find out more about why he took the job, what he's hoping to bring to the title and what it's like to co-write with Jurgens.

Newsarama: Keith, was Green Arrow a surprise job for you? Or was this something you wanted to do?

Keith Giffen: Dan Jurgens and I have wanted to work together for the past 10 years. It's hard to believe that in all the years we've both been in comics, we've never worked a project together. We've been trying to for awhile.

So when Green Arrow came up, I jumped at it, mostly to work with Dan. It was actually working with Dan and George even more than the character. But I do have a fondness for the character that dates all the way back to the Denny O'Neil/Neal Adams social conscience stories with Green Arrow.

And it was just a matter of volunteering and waiting to see if they'd let me step on board. And they did! That was a surprise.

Nrama: Is this going to be the same direction we've seen in the September relaunch of the character?

Giffen: I'm not coming in to uproot everything after three issues and say, "here's something all new!" No, it's a continuation of the themes and a continuation of the characters that were introduced in the first three issues.

I'm just putting my unique spin on it. Our I should say, "we're" putting our unique spin on it, because Dan and I talk over plots and work together so closely on this that we may as well be one person.

Nrama: Yeah, you're listed as co-writers.

Giffen: Yeah, I've never been in this close of a collaborate effort. Dan and I will talk over what we think should happen in the issue, talk over the characters and how we think they should interact, and I make little notes. Then I go and I write the script. It's not just Dan being handed a script by me, saying, "here it is -- go draw it up!"

Then Dan does... I don't even know how to describe what Dan does. To me, they're full pencils minus the blacks, but Dan says "no, no, no, they're not full pencils; they're little more than breakdowns." But there's just this unique thing that he does where everything you need is there.

Then after he pencils like that, I take a final spin over the pages in case Dan decided to open up a scene or shift a couple of angles, just to massage things a little bit after his input. Then George comes in and does the finishes, and jazzes up the pencils a little bit.

And voila! We've got ourselves a book.

But I tell you, everyone is kind of playing around in everyone else's playground. Dan and I are truly collaborating on this, and it's great because even George is involved in finishing the pencils.

It's great because it's a book where it's hard to tell where one guy stops and the other guys begins. And I've never had that kind of situation in my career. I guess the stuff I did with Marc DeMatteis where we kind of started homogenizing everything and started blending into each other's work would be close. But nothing this instant.

And I love it! I love it!

Nrama: And this is going to be the creative approach all the way down the road with Green Arrow? You didn't just do this for your first issue on #4?

Giffen: No, this is the way we've been working things on Green Arrow and how we'll continue working it. It's our preferred method of working together.

Nrama: Let's talk about Ollie a little as you take over the character's title. What are you hoping to bring to the comic as you start writing Ollie?

Giffen: Well, what any writer hopes to bring to a title, I suppose: a grasp of who Oliver Queen is and how he relates to the world at large. How does he change in subtle ways when he puts on the Green Arrow costume? How does he seem himself as being Green Arrow? How is Green Arrow perceived by the world, and by the people who know him as Green Arrow and help him out? The same for Oliver Queen.

It's about focusing on the characters and letting them drive the story.

I'd like to think I also bring some quirky characterization there, but of course, it's not a re-characterization. If you pick up the fourth issue of Green Arrow and read through it, you'll recognize all of the characters and their relationships and how they relate to each other, but filtered through my perception.

And if I make a radical misstep, Dan's the first one on the phone going, "Hey, stop it!" It's great.

Nrama: You know, retailers told me O.M.A.C. is getting a lot of positive buzz, and I've seen some great reviews about how unique and enjoyable it is.

Giffen: Yeah, the positive reaction to O.M.A.C. went way above any expectations that Dan and I ever had. I'm just thrilled people gave it a chance and enjoyed it so much.

Nrama: Will people who enjoyed O.M.A.C. also enjoy Green Arrow? Or is it a little more tempered?

Giffen: First off, I'm no longer going to temper anything. When Dan DiDio and I first took on O.M.A.C., we agreed that we wanted to create a big, bold, unapologetic comic book. We wanted it to be intense and in-your-face and colorful, where you can almost hear the calliope music in the background while you're reading it.

That wouldn't work on Green Arrow.

But I do want to bring back that sense of dynamism to the character and to Green Arrow's fight scenes. And I couldn't ask for anyone better than Dan Jurgens to draw it. It's going to pop! That's why I reserve the right to, once the pencils are in, to kind of go over them and massage the dialogue, because if I know Dan, I'm going to get scenes in there that I didn't think would work that well, and I might actually want to cut down a couple of word balloons because the expression on the character's face might make the word balloon redundant.

This relaunch, to me, is a chance to bring some of the sense of wonder back into comics. I can promise you that on no book, whether it's O.M.A.C. or Green Arrow or whatever else DC decides to throw at me, you are never going to see two pages of people just sitting around tying their shoes, which drives me crazy.

If anything, I'm trying to be the opposite of the decompressed comic book, not that I'm going to rush things through... but I would like to see the stories move along at a nice pace. Get in, tell the story, get out and guess what? There's another story to be told! Isn't that wonderful? That's pretty much the way I'm working on all my projects.

Green Arrow just makes for some dynamic kind of fight scenes you can't get with any other character because a bow and arrow brings with it its own dynamic.

A fight scene that we stage with Green Arrow, unless you give Green Lantern or Batman or the Flash a bow and arrow, you're not going to be able to duplicate it.

Nrama: Is there anything you want to tell people about the first issues you're doing?

Giffen: We're introducing new characters. There's a new villain in issue #4. There will also be a new villain in #5. And some of the best supervillains, or most of the best supervillains, have a connection to the character. Dr. Doom and Reed Richards have a past. That's why he's a great Fantastic Four foe and not so much a Daredevil foe. The Red Skull and Captain America, the Joker and Batman... there's something that draws these characters to one another that makes them arch foes, not just because you caught him robbing a bank. And that's one of the things we're going to try to do with the Green Arrow villains, to make sure they are so obviously villains of Green Arrow, where if you used them in The Flash or some other book, the impact would be less.

Nrama: Any idea why J.T. left the book?

Giffen: You know, I don't involve myself with that. I just sort of hunch my shoulders and do the books. And even if I did know 100 percent why J.T. was leaving the book, that would be J.T.'s story to tell. As far as I know, the book came open, I stepped on board. And I certainly wish J.T. the best for the future.

Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell fans?

Giffen: Yeah. You know, O.M.A.C. was such an odd little book coming out. Dan DiDio and I kind of knew we might turn out being the dark horse DC book. And we were trying to do something different from what people conditionally expect from a DC book. And I was aware there are all those idiots out there that dislike anything Dan does no matter what.

So the fact that O.M.A.C. was received the way it was, and so many people gave it a chance and actually enjoyed it. I'd just like to say thank you to the fan community for giving us a chance, and for the support. Now... do the same for Green Arrow!

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