Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The big announcement in last month’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Riley one-shot about the return of the Angel license to Dark Horse appears to have overshadowed another controversy — namely, whether the character Riley Finn actually deserved his own issue.
For those unfamiliar with Buffy continuity, Riley was introduced in Season 4 as a teaching assistant at UC Sunnydale who led a double life as a drug-enhanced agent of the Initiative, the secret government organization dedicated to the capture of demons. To the displeasure of some fans, the wholesome Riley — some might say “vanilla” or “downright boring” — became Buffy’s boyfriend and, briefly, a member of the Scooby Gang. (Personal note: Professor Walsh aside, Riley may have been the worst part of the excruciating Initiative arc that dominated the season. Well, him, and Buffy’s maddening post-Angel self-esteem issues.)
The character left in Season 5, returning for just one more episode before re-emerging in Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, the canonical comic-book continuation of the television series, where he was revealed as a double agent being used by Buffy to infiltrate Twilight’s organization. And then came the one-shot, which triggered enough grumbling that writer Jane Espenson — a fan-favorite writer of Buffy, Battlestar Galactica and Warehouse 13 — has taken to the Dark Horse website to defend Riley, and the one-shot.
“I hear that some of you are wondering why Riley Finn deserves a one-shot comic-book issue instead of Dawn or Xander or the deep, dark shadow under Spike’s left cheekbone,” Espenson writes. “The answer is simple: Riley wanted it more. He worked harder. He earned it.”
With tongue in cheek, she goes on to explain that not every character can withstand the rigors of a comic book one-shot — “There are no stunt doubles here” — or demonstrate the awareness required for the “highly technical” work. But Riley Finn, that wholesome boy from Huxley, Iowa, has mastered the art.
“This isn’t to say that the others aren’t excellent comic-book characters as well,” Espenson continues. “They obviously are. Xander has been turning in magnificent work despite the challenge of the eye patch, which has never, not once, migrated from one eye to the other between panels. [...] And I think Warren’s work deserves special praise, as he is quite obviously the best skinless performer in comics today.”
The final story arc of Season 8, written by creator Joss Whedon himself, begins with Issue #36, in stores today.
Last week it was revealed — prematurely, it turns out — that after nearly five years at IDW, the Angel comics will move in late 2011 to Dark Horse, home of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Dark Horse previously published Angel, first as a monthly then as a miniseries, from 2000 to 2002.
The surprise announcement naturally left fans of the IDW series, and the upcoming Spike spin-off, confused, leading IDW Chief Creative Officer Chris Ryall to dedicate a thread on the company’s message board to answering their questions. This week Ryall collected that thread’s highlights for an “official Angel is leaving IDW Q&A” that clarifies some of the issues surrounding the move — including, most notably, the driving force behind the decision. Namely, Buffy creator Joss Whedon.
“… Ultimately, these are all Joss Whedon’s characters,” Ryall wrote, “and if he decides that they’re best-served being under another roof, then that’s what will happen.” Later, when asked whether IDW was outbid for the Angel license, Ryall added: “I would not have stopped doing Angel comics if it were up to me; money had nothing to do with it. These are Joss’ characters and as I mentioned above, Joss wanted them all under one roof. And it so happens that that roof is located in Oregon, not San Diego.”
Dark Horse published Buffy comics from 1998 to 2004 before launching the highly successful Season 8 in 2007. A canonical continuation of the cult-hit television series, Season 8 is supervised by Whedon, who also wrote the opening and closing arcs. The series will conclude in January with Issue 40 before relaunching as Season 9 — alongside the return of Angel — in late 2011.
Following yesterday’s announcement, Dark Horse and IDW Publishing now have confirmed that Angel will return to Dark Horse beginning late next year. IDW has held the comics rights to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television spin-off since 2005.
Under the direction of Buffy and Angel creator Joss Whedon, all parties are working together for as seamless a transition as possible,” IDW said in a statement posted today on the company’s website. “The companies have been coordinating storylines in both Dark Horse’s Buffy and IDW’s Angel, creating a greater sense of cohesion and cooperation to ensure that this transition is true to both ongoing storylines and to the faithful fans of both series.”
News of the move broke yesterday in Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Riley one-shot, “without coordination with IDW,” the company notes.
In the IDW statement, Dark Horse senior managing editor Scott Allie apologized for the way the news was released: “Behind the scenes, we’d been working closely with IDW to ensure that the hand-off went smoothly. It was never our intent to catch Angel or IDW readers unaware.”
IDW’s final six-issue arc begins in November with Angel #39.
Dark Horse published Angel from 2000 to 2002, first as an ongoing series and then, briefly, as a miniseries. The company also published Buffy comics from 1998 to 2004 before launching the highly successful Season 8 in 2007. Season 9 begins late next year.
“I’ve always regretted letting Angel go in the first place,” senior managing editor Scott Allie said in a separate press release. “So we’re really excited about getting him back, as well as all his supporting cast. It’s necessary for how Joss wants to handle season nine, details of which will start spilling out in the months to come. Right now, we’ve got to wrap up season eight, and IDW still has a good long run of books before season nine starts.”
It’s not surprising to see Buffy the Vampire Slayer co-star Nicholas Brendon among the featured guests at this weekend’s Wizard World Chicago Comic Con. After all, the convention is heavy on genre TV and film actors, from William Shatner and Adam West to James Marsters and Linda Hamilton. But Brendon, who played Xander Harris in the cult-hit series, won’t just be signing autographs; it turns out he’ll also be promoting his upcoming webcomic.
Very Bad Koalas, a collaboration between Brendon, animation director/producer Steve Loter and illustrator/filmmaker Rafael Santiago, is set to debut on Sept. 29, and update weekly. The comic follows two sheltered koalas on the run from the law in their 1958 Cadillac El Dorado, evading capture, encountering bizarre characters (including vampire turtles and a religious cult of highway-flattened animals), and even battling addiction.
“… If you follow the news at all you probably — it’s not really a secret — I have a little addiction problem that I get arrested for time to time,” Brendon tells Chicago Now. “God bless sobriety! But I think Avery is going to have a problem with his eucalyptus intake. Because the whole thing about koalas is that they’re fierce creatures, and what keeps them mellow is the eucalyptus, that acts like a catnip for them.”
An announcement in Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Riley one-shot has fans wondering, and worrying, about the future of IDW Publishing’s Angel series.
In a column at the end of the issue, in stores today, Dark Horse Senior Managing Editor Scott Allie teased “the return of the Angel series to Dark Horse in late 2011, in tandem with our Buffy Season 9 relaunch.” (You can read the full column after the break.)
Angel, based on the Buffy television spin-off created by Joss Whedon, was published by Dark Horse from 2000 to 2002, first as an ongoing series and then, briefly, as a miniseries. However, IDW acquired the rights to the property in 2005, and since has released numerous miniseries and an ongoing series. Angel #36 was released this week; a Spike series debuts in October. Dark Horse published Buffy comics from 1998 to 2004 before launching the highly successful Season 8 in 2007.
Word of Allie’s brief announcement quickly spread online, both on the Whedonesque fan community and on the IDW message board. Reaction has been decidedly mixed, with fans looking for clarification on the future of Angel, and how the move might affect the rest of the “Buffyverse.”
Chris Ryall, IDW’s publisher and editor-in-chief, posted on his company’s forum earlier today, telling concerned Angel readers that, “We’ll be addressing this soon, so please bear with us. Thanks, for your patience and your support.”
A conflict emerged in January when it was revealed that Twilight, the villain lurking behind the scenes for much of Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, was actually Angel. Although Allie assured fans that the surprise twist wouldn’t conflict with the continuity of the IDW series, and would be “made to work,” new Angel writer Bill Willingham was quick to point out that he was never informed of the plot development.
But as recently as Friday, Allie tweeted about brainstorming with Ryall, Spike writer Brian Lynch and IDW editor Mariah Huehner, suggesting that the two companies had overcome any coordination glitches.
Thirsty Comic-Con attendees and die-hard Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans take note: Beginning today, a Jones Soda truck will be driving around the San Diego Convention Center and the Gaslamp Quarter dispensing collector’s edition bottles sporting Season Eight art by Georges Jeanty and such themed flavors as “Dawn’s a Centaur Root Beer,” “Giles’s Grape Potion” and “Willow’s Green Apple Witch’s Brew.” There are six in all.
If you miss the truck, or aren’t in San Diego this week, don’t worry: You’ll apparently be able to order the Buffy line from the Jones Soda website beginning later today.
A free trailer has debuted on Apple’s iTunes store for the motion-comic adaptation of Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight. The first episode apparently will be available later today; a “season pass” costs $14.99.
The motion comic will cover the first 19 issues of Season Eight, a canonical continuation of Joss Whedon’s cult-hit television series. The comic, which debuted from Dark Horse in 2007, has featured work by Whedon, Georges Jeanty, Brian K. Vaughan, Drew Goddard, Jane Espenson, Brad Meltzer, Jeph Loeb and others.
You can read the iTunes Store description for Season Eight after the break:
Troublemaker is a unique opportunity for Dark Horse, in which Janet Evanovich continues her best-selling Barnaby series (as first chronicled in the prose novels, Metro Girl and Motor Mouth) with her first graphic novel [co-written by Evanovich with her daughter, Alex]. Troublemaker is a two-part series–the first book comes out in July and the second book is due out in November. I recently email-interviewed the editor of the project, Sierra Hahn, as well as one of the series’ artist, Joëlle Jones. Dark Horse describes the book as follows: “Alex Barnaby and Sam Hooker are back together and fighting crime the only way they know how — by leaving a trail of chaos, panic, and disorder. Alex, an auto mechanic and spotter for racecar driver Sam Hooker, is drawn to trouble like a giant palmetto bug to a day-old taco. Unfortunately, she’s also drawn to Hooker in the same fashion. There’s no steering clear of trouble or Hooker when friends Rosa and Felicia call for help. A man has gone missing, and in order to find him Barnaby and Hooker will have to go deep into the underbelly of Miami and southern Florida, surviving Petro Voodoo, explosions, gift-wrapped body parts, a deadly swamp chase, and Hooker’s mom.” My thanks to Hahn and Jones for the interview and Dark Horse’s Jim Gibbons for his assistance.
Tim O’Shea: When did Dark Horse first approach Janet Evanovich about the possibility of a graphic novel–how much were you involved?
Sierra Hahn: I’ve been assisting on Buffy Season Eight going on three years now, and one day discovered that Janet Evanovich had done an incredibly thoughtful review of Season Eight for Time magazine. After that, Dark Horse reached out to her not only to say thanks, but to see if she had any interest in making comics herself. I wasn’t involved with the initial outreach to Janet, and came on board after a project was decided on.
Welcome once again to Shelf Porn, our weekly look at one fan’s shelves. Would you like to show off your shelves? Drop me an email and let’s see what we can do.
Today’s edition of Shelf Porn comes from book reviewer Joshua Hill. While he has a small-but-growing comic shelf, he more than makes up for it with his collection of science fiction books. So let’s turn it over to Josh …
Fans of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic series should expect a shorter, “more concise” ninth season to follow the sprawling, 40-issue Season Eight.
Buffy creator Joss Whedon, who serves as executive producer of the Dark Horse series, months ago confirmed that after the conclusion of this season, the team would “pause for breath,” then begin Season Nine. Friday at WonderCon, the publisher revealed that pause would be for about six months — meaning we could see the debut of the new season about this time next year.
Just as Whedon suggested back in September, the approach to Season Nine will be “very different,” and not quite as long.
“We’re going to be taking a shorter approach to it,” Jeremy Atkins, Dark Horse’s director of publicity, told FEARNet. “With Season Eight, we didn’t know how long it was gonna take to tell the story Joss wanted to tell. But we think that for this next time around it’s gonna be a little tighter, a little more concise.”
No writers have been announced for Season Nine, but Georges Jeanty will continue as artist.
For more about Buffy and other Dark Horse series, read Comic Book Resources’ WonderCon panel report.
In terms of the follow-up to their 2009 graphic novel from SLG, Higgins says he and writer Van Jensen are filling it up with “more of everything (including pages!).”
“Amazingly, I’m nearing the halfway point in book pages, and they look fantastic,” he said. “Van and I are pretty psyched about the direction the story has taken. Be prepared for some teasers coming soon.”
If you haven’t been following the drama around the big reveal of the identity of the villain Twilight in Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics, here’s a quick rundown on what’s been happening since Thursday. And I promise I’m really not trying to be a smart ass when I say SPOILERS WARNING, just in case you haven’t heard the news or seen any of the numerous covers depicting who exactly Twilight is (It’s nobody from the books/movies of the same name, so let’s just get that joke out of the way, and it’s not Freddie Prinze Jr. either, if you had him in the betting pool) and want to stay in the dark …
We’ll be taking a break from talking about comics next Sunday, as it’s a holiday weekend and all, but for now, click on the link to find out what we’re currently reading.
A motion-comic Web series is in the works based on the successful Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, confirming rumors that began back in June.
Sci Fi Wire reports that voice casting has begun for Faith, Kennedy and Robin Wood — all familiar to viewers of the television series — and Season Eight characters such as Lady Genevieve Savidge, Roden and Twilight. And if you sound like Daniel Craig, the casting director has a part just for you.
Interview dates are set for this week, which makes it seem as if production is moving fairly quickly.
Sci Fi Wire has the full list of roles and character descriptions. Meanwhile, this comments thread at Whedonesque has fan reaction.
On his blog, bestselling author and comics writer Brad Meltzer offers the first look at Georges Jeanty’s cover for Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight #32 — an homage to Action Comics #1, naturally — the first issue in Meltzer’s story arc. The issue is set for release in February.
Follow the link to see the full cover image.