Most actors generate some sort of secret backstory for their character so they have a deeper sense of the person they’re playing. Not many of them get the possibility not only to share that backstory, but to make it a portion of their show’s canon.
Then again, John Barrowman, who plays the mysterious and manipulative Malcolm Merlyn in “Arrow,” is not most actors. He and his sister Carole Barrowman, who co-wrote the YA novel “Hollow Earth” collectively, have teamed up to write all kinds of stories about his “Torchwood” character Captain Jack Harkness — and now they’re carrying out the same for Malcolm in a new digital tie-in comic series from DC known as “Arrow: The Dark Archer.” The series takes location between season three and for of the hit CW series, and focuses on how Merlyn settles into his function as the new leader of the League of Assassins.
While not their first comic collaboration — that honor belongs to “Captain Jack and the Selkie,” which is now a collector’s item among “Torchwood” fans — there were struggles that came with bringing new life to Malcolm Merlyn’s backstories, as John and Carole told MTV News. The comic will be available to download digitally this Wednesday, January 13 — but until then, get hyped by checking out what they had to say about their writing approach, and how you need to never count a creative thinker out:
MTV: You guys are primarily identified for your books together — does the writing approach in between you two alter when you do comics? Are you pondering a lot more visually when you guys create collectively?
Carole: I consider for each of us, every project has a little bit of a diverse feel to it. But if you do look at our books, they’re really visual in their scenes and in the writing. So what takes place with the comic is we ended up just being more closely connected during the approach. When we do the books, I go off and do a lot more of a draft ahead of he will jump proper in, but with this comic we had been a lot more back and forth on a regular basis.
John: The thing is, when we create something… to place it bluntly, we want to see it on television or on the large screen. So Carole, when she requires all the details and collaborative effort stuff we’ve carried out and then she goes away and physically writes the stuff, the comic book is extremely different than the other books we’ve written because there’s a lot a lot more dialogue in the other stuff. This is a lot much more visual, and it’s practically like a script when Carole finishes it.
Carole: I have to say that I think writing this certain comic was one particular of the hardest items we’ve actually done together, since it is so visual and every little thing has to be so concise. But also since it’s for DC, and that just sort of raises the stakes for us because we both felt we had such a duty to not just comic readers, but all of John’s fans and all the viewers of the show.
MTV: John, you’re clearly quite protective of the characters that you play and you actually get them on a quite certain level. How a lot leeway do you get when you get to write anything like this? How much of the story of who Malcolm Merlyn is comes from the two of you, and how much of it comes from the writers of the show?
John: There wasn’t significantly info and back history on Malcolm, so Carole and I had a lot of inventive rights to do stuff. But we had to stay within the canon of the show, and what has happened – and you know, truthfully, what is going to come about, and the way the character and other characters. If we make them cross paths, almost everything has to be correct to the story.
I went immediately initial to [Chief Inventive Officer] Geoff Johns at DC and I sat him down with yet another thought that I had, and I was like, ‘Look, I have this concept for this other comic, but I’m also interested and my sister and I want to do the backstory for Malcolm Merlyn because there doesn’t look to be that a lot history, and I want to keep it all in the household.’ He was gobsmacked and also thrilled that we’d come to him. We then spoke with [showrunner] Mark Guggenheim and I then told [showrunner] Andrew Kreisberg and also [Executive producer] Greg Berlanti that we have been gonna do this, and they were gung-ho behind it. We just had to pass every thing by them. They actually have not said no to anything that we’ve completed in a massive sense.
Yes, I’m protective of the characters that I play, but enjoy to see them grow. And to be sincere, the notion that Thea was my daughter was really my husband and my thought when we had been at lunch with Andrew Kreisberg, and presented that to him. And they ran with it. So I’m extremely involved in that aspect and it’s nice to see a lot of factors that you creatively feel, that other people listen and they respect your words and it pops up on screen. That’s what Carole and I would really like ultimately to perhaps take place with this story, that it is represented on screen somehow.
Carole: There have been two small items that we found when we did the analysis on Malcolm, and I’m not going to give any of them away –
John: No, since it’ll spoil it!
Carole: I know, spoiler! [laughs] The whole notion of Malcolm’s background as a skilled and then his background as a personal man, his warped view of the globe, really had been the two items that we have been allowed to play with. And honestly, even in the editing method, the producers have not truly come back with hardly and notes at all to us, which is pretty amazing.
MTV: Speaking of having various aspects of Malcolm in this series I was genuinely struck that Malcolm uses so considerably more tech than I would have expected from what we know about the League Of Assassins.
John: What you have got to don’t forget is that the background for Malcolm – and I have constantly stated this in any interviews – he yields an affection towards Oliver since of who he is and what he’s turn out to be. Malcolm has often observed Oliver more as the son that he wanted rather than Tommy. And so all those things that Malcolm sees in Oliver – to be blunt, they had been Malcolm’s first! Malcolm rode a motorcycle and Malcolm did all that, at least in the planet that we’ve produced. So that then leads into that whole canon of why he really will just injure him but not kill him.
Carole: I also feel that was one particular of the items exactly where we actually discovered some inventive space, John and I, since both of us are extremely into technology and all of that. In truth, 1 of the most enjoyable factors we did when we went back and forth about how we were going to open this was, I mentioned, “We’ve gotta get him on some kind of machine, some thing truly cool.”
John: So we created a motorcycle. It does not exist — we really were hands on in saying what we wanted it to appear like and coming up with photographs and crossing diverse motorcycles with each other.
Carole: So we could develop our own motorcycle now!
MTV: On a distinct level, naturally “Arrow” as a show has been expanding towards a considerably darker, mystical, a lot more magic-oriented aesthetic. Does that make it a more fascinating world to play about in for you?
Carole: I consider for the writing it definitely does, and I consider you are going to see us tap into that zeitgeist a little bit as we go along in this book. Cannot say any longer than that, but we are tapping into that for certain.
John: The one factor that’s wonderful about this genre of television and also the way that the comic book will go — the reality is that anything can happen, and as lengthy as you play it truthfully, if some thing magical occurs, the fans and the folks reading it and the viewers of the show will believe it. I’m glad they’re going into the darker, much more mystical, magical side of every thing, because it offers us as the actors a lot far more to play with. And to be truthful, I come from a world of time travel and space, so it’s totally standard for me!
Carole: He spaces out all the time. [laughs]
MTV: I don’t know how significantly you can spoil for the series, but I’m curious about how a lot of other characters from “Arrow” we’re going to see in this book.
John: Characters will cross, but also, new people will be introduced that you will have not anticipated and your jaw will drop a bit.
Carole : He is considerably much more practiced at maintaining issues from men and women – he’s so far ahead on scripts. Whereas I’m not very so practiced so I’m usually have to bite my tongue!
MTV: Is it challenging to create dialogue for characters that you routinely interact with in individual on screen? Do you find it less complicated to slip into their voices or is it weird that it is a person you know?
John: You have a tendency to know all of them, and you tend to know them in a way that you do not think about it as if you’re placing a voice to them. You sort of have to immerse yourself in the world and the have to be a little bit element of you. So let’s just hypothetically say we had been writing some thing with Nyssa in mind – when it comes to that point, I interact a lot with Nyssa and know the character, I know how they write for her possessing been on four seasons. So it’s easy for me to interpret that to Carole. But then Carole needs to immerse herself in it and locate the proper words for her voice.
Carole: I believe a single of the factors we each are extremely strong with, is we have genuinely good imaginations, and we’re operating within a canon where writers have completed such a terrific job already of establishing characters that feel actual. That tends to make it less difficult for me to jump into their heads, since they look actual to me. And though Malcolm seems genuine to me, he’s often the tougher 1 because it is John, my little brother. So I commit a lot of time in the canon reading scripts and seeing Malcolm so I can disassociate a little but that it’s John. For me, that is possibly harder, but we each have actually good imaginations. Never ever underestimate the imaginations of a genuinely excellent writer or inventive person, simply because I believe if somebody’s currently designed anything that rich, it’s a lot simpler to jump into that globe.
MTV: John, you mentioned earlier that you’d approached Geoff Johns with a various project in thoughts. Do you have tips for other comics you’d like to work on and is that one particular of them?
John: I have ideas! I pitched that to him and it was primarily based on 4 characters from the ‘50s, and going back to the ‘30s and ‘40s, who’ve not been seen for a lengthy, lengthy time. But we felt we’d run with the Merlyn story very first due to the fact it’s so relevant at the moment, and it’s also a character that men and women have turn out to be really used to. They actually like him, but they also hate him, and I’ve noticed when I do conventions or when I’m speaking to people, they want to know far more about him. So it seemed the perfect issue to do.
But we do have other tips. Geoff does not know this but [laughs], but I want to set up a meeting in the next couple of weeks. Carole and I have written, along with one more buddy of ours, one thing that I believe DC would be very interested in. It is one thing that is entirely new to them, for the DC world, rather than hashing up something or performing one thing that is currently existed.
MTV: Do you have a dream superhero or character that you’d adore to create for?
Carole: I will say there are some allusions to a couple of other superheroes in this comic that I consider fans will actually like!
John: I do not believe that far ahead of considering, “I want.” When I get an notion, for instance, about performing a book or writing something, I’ll contact Carole and say, I’ve got this concept, I’m gonna pitch it, are you prepared to go ahead with it?’ And then soon after half a bottle of wine she’ll say, “Let’s do it!” That’s the very best time to get her, correct at cocktail hour. [Both laugh] So I go and pitch it to whoever I require to pitch it to. It’s the spontaneity of it all that I really like, not so significantly the preparing way down in the future. ‘Cuz who knows what will come out of this initial comic book, and what the future holds?