IT WAS ONLY a matter of time before the worlds of the CW’s “Arrow” and DC Comics’ Green Arrow collided.
That collision occurred last week, when the “Arrow” character John Diggle (portrayed by David Ramsey) made his DC Comics’ debut in issue No. 24 of Green Arrow — providing fans of the show and the comic a solid link.
Writer Jeff Lemire, who began his popular Green Arrow run with issue No. 17 — a couple of months prior to “Arrow’s” debut last year — said he originally had no intention of letting his comic writing be influenced by the show (which kicks off its second season tonight at 8 on the CW).
“Geoff Johns offered to show me a couple of the first episodes [of ‘Arrow’], but I held off,” Lemire tells Comic Riffs, referring to the DC Entertainment executive. “I wanted to try and get all my own ideas and get my own take on the character [of superhero Oliver Queen] before getting too influenced by the show. So I started my run that way. And sometime last year, once I felt like I had my voice and what I wanted to say, I watched the show, and Diggle kicked so much a - - . I knew we had to put him in the comic.
“I’m really grateful it worked out, because the highlight of the show for me is the chemistry between Diggle and Oliver,” Lemire continues. “If I can get a little bit of that into the comic, I think that would be a huge success for us.”
Lemire says that Ramsey’s performance on “Arrow” greatly influences how he writes Diggle.
“I really enjoy the character on the show. When I’m writing the character in the comic, I can almost picture David saying the lines,” Lemire said. “It’s been a lot of fun.
“For me, it’s trying to find that same chemistry that they have on the show and also trying to do my own thing with it, because we don’t just want to just replicate the story-lines from ‘Arrow’ — we want to have our own mythology,” Lemire continues. “So it’s trying to find a way to capture what’s great about the TV-show character, but still fit him into the comic-book mythology. It’s been kind of fun and challenging, too.”
So what should “Arrow” fans expect from DC Comics’ version of Diggle? Lemire says Green Arrow will offer some familiar traits and elements — but notes that Diggle will fit in with the tone of the comic and not simply be a copy of the TV version.
“It’s got to be a little bit of both. We want to capture the essence of what makes [Diggle] successful, but still give him unique stories in the comic that aren’t just retelling what we’re seeing on the show,” Lemire said. “You kind of have to do a balancing act there.
“Hopefully I can capture the essence of the character, but still tell new adventures with him and give him a slightly different backstory. We’re trying to keep what works. ... There’s no point in bringing the character over if we’re not trying to use what’s so great about him on the show.”
Lemire is well aware that the show is bringing some new fans to the Green Arrow comic. “The more awareness people have of the character in any medium, it helps hopefully bring new eyes to the comic. It’s a positive as far I’m concerned,” he said. “A mainstream audience now knows the character of Green Arrow and this mythology, and that just opens more doors for us that hopefully gain new readers. For me, it’s a plus.”
David Ramsey was told at last July’s San Diego Comic Con that his character would make the jump from the TV show to the comic books.
He was, he says, quite surprised.
“As an actor, you want to take the parameters that you’ve been given for the character, see how you can expand on that and just go with it as far as you can go,” Ramsey tells Comic Riffs.
Being in the comic, he says, “wasn’t in my line of sight. When I was told by [producers] Andrew [Kreisberg] and Marc [Guggenheim] that this was going to happen, it was a big shock to me. I had no idea it was coming.”
Unlike show co-star Stephen Amell, who had plenty of Green Arrow comic books to help himself prepare for his performance as Oliver Queen, Ramsey portrays a character that was created specifically for the TV show, so he had no comic books to reference how his character would fit into the Green Arrow universe.
“It’s good in that way, in some ways, to not have reference material or mythology to rely on. So you can just kind of take it and run with it,” Ramsey says. “Now that this character is on pages of DC [Comics], my mind goes to who will play this character in another 10 to 15 years if they revisit [“Arrow”] on television or in the movies, and now the Diggle character has a long run.
“Those are the types of things I think about in terms of what happens now to this character, and now where does he go, at least in terms of the comic book,” Ramsey says. “I’m just really lucky, and it’s a testament to what the fans have felt about Diggle and to the writing by Andrew, Marc and Greg.”
So what does Ramsey think of this comic-book version of himself?
“I love the illustrated Diggle. I just saw him and he’s a tough guy man,” Ramsey jokes. “What’s funny is, I was really close to auditioning with the goatee with Diggle. I was very close to doing that. And I said, no, he’s military, let me shave. It’s interesting that Jeff [Lemire] decided to go with that choice with the DC [Comics] look.
“My character on ‘Arrow,’ he’s been poisoned, he’s been shot, he’s been stabbed, he’s gone through a lot, so I’m very curious to see what Jeff and the guys do with Diggle to see how really tough he is,” the actor says.
Ramsey is looking forward to all the possibilities that the second season of “Arrow” will bring, including a possible expansion of the DC Comics TV universe.
“It’s nice to be a part of [something new],” Ramsey says. “We’re a successful television comic-book show. ... To be a part of this groundbreaking series and now see other things that are trying to branch out from it, the Flash and if that’s successful, other things. If these things happen, we can only be so lucky if these other branches are as successful as Arrow — [and] if they are, we’re kind of the grandfather of it to some degree.”
Ramsey says that villains will be a big part of “Arrow’s” second season. “The bad guys are very vulnerable — far more vulnerable than they were in the first season,” he says. “Also, Oliver’s transformation into the Green Arrow. Up until now, he’s been the vigilante, the hood, and now he’s making the transition into the hero. I think that transition is going to be very exciting to watch.”.