Buffy the Vampire Slayer Is Back: The Complete Joss Whedon Q&A
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy: Season 8
fan alert — the Scooby Gang lives! If you've been waiting since 2003 for the answer to little sister Dawn's series-ending question ("What are we gonna do now?"), it's finally on its way. Creator Joss Whedon
is preparing Buffy: Season 8
, but this time around the adventures are in comic-book form, arriving in March 2007 from Dark Horse Comics
. We talked to Whedon about Buffy
, today's TV and his many other projects.
TVGuide.com: Why did you decide to do an entire eighth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in a comic-book series?
Joss Whedon: Well, I'm not that bright. I keep thinking that I have all this free time that I don't have. It started going in my brain — "Wouldn't it be fun if... " and, "You could... " while the other voice was saying, "It's death. I'm out of control. I'm already writing." So I basically said, "We could do something and for once we could make it canon. We could make it officially what happened after the end of the show." Let Buffy not only address certain themes that slipped between the cracks of the show, but also really be a comic book. Take the template of the show, but not so religiously that they're all standing in the Magic Box, talking, for 10 pages.
TVGuide.com: Did you have a concept for the eighth season already mapped out in your head after the sort of sudden cancellation of the series? Or did it come about after the nixing of the much talked-about spin-off movies?
Whedon: The show was not canceled suddenly — I knew that the show would not go past seven years, that I could not go past seven years. I had originally intended to go only five, but once it was clear that we were going to do more than five, both Sarah [Michelle Gellar] and I, and all the other actors, knew that seven was it. But the idea of doing movies about some of the ancillary characters got me really excited, because I love those actors and I love that world. That kind of fell through, but when I started working on the comic... I sketched out this sort of broad arc that would connect everything. Now it will probably only appear on the comic-book pages, but it will be really well drawn. George Jeanty (The American Way) is the artist.
TVGuide.com: How many issues will there be? And how many are you writing?
Whedon: The season should run between 20 and 30 issues, I'm guessing. It has, like the [TV] seasons did, an overriding story with an ending point. I'll be writing the beginning, the first four, the last four, and I'll definitely be doing some others. I have a bunch of other writers — comic-book heavies and former writers from the show — who are going to write the other issues. I'll be overseeing the whole thing, and they've all got my giant mission statement about what the giant arc is about.
TVGuide.com: What is the giant arc about?
Whedon: I'm not going to tell you that. But I can tell you that it's about the ramifications of everything that happened in Season 7. At the end of the show, Buffy made every girl who might be a potential vampire slayer into a fully realized slayer with all the remembered history and powers, so she's made a big change in the way the world works. The comic will be dealing with that when we pick up the story several months later.
TVGuide.com: So there's an army of slayers... going up against whom? Who or what are the main bad guys?
Whedon: There are, not surprisingly, monsters, because that's what they generally fight, but what we found out early on in the show is that the scariest thing in the world is other people. But at the same time, it is a comic book and it has to step up in terms of kind of being epic.
TVGuide.com: What's the main thing you can do with a comic that you couldn't do on a network TV show?
Whedon: Well, the thing we couldn't do on my network TV show — you can do a lot on a show these days, if you have money — is really go anywhere, and let the visuals complement the storytelling in a very specific way. [In comic books] you have the whole world, the whole universe, at your disposal. We really didn't have a lot of money to make Buffy.
TVGuide.com: You couldn't tell.
Whedon: Well, bless you. We worked really hard to make it look like we did. But there were a few times when she'd walk into a cave, and it'd have a perfectly flat concrete floor. I'd just go, "Oh, if only this were a comic book." [Laughs] You still want to have people identify with the characters, but with a comic, you have a mandate that you have to do it a little bit bigger. Buffy's just living on a bigger scale. She's not the everyman that she was, but she's still cute and quippy.
TVGuide.com: Does she get comic-book superheroine breast implants?
Whedon: She really doesn't. I've been fortunate that I've never worked with a T&A artist. I'm very specific about that.
TVGuide.com: Isn't that the raison d'etre of lots of comics?
Whedon: That's part of why I stopped reading comics for a while. All the people I work with draw actual women.
TVGuide.com: Are most of the TV characters featured in the comic?
Whedon: I bring them in slowly. The first one features Buffy and a couple of other characters. In the first four, we basically get the layout of where most of them are. I'm bringing them as a fugue, one by one, to play their part. I'm also leaving some people out deliberately, or mentioning them without focusing on them, so that the other writers who come in can have something new to play with. Instead of just picking up my story, they get to pick up whatever aspect of it interests them.
TVGuide.com: Is Anya still dead?
Whedon: Anya, still dead. That doesn't mean she won't show up, and it doesn't mean she will. Dead in the Buffyverse is a very singular concept.
TVGuide.com: And Spike? Everyone wants Spike.
Whedon: I do have plans for Spike, but the Angel franchise to which Spike defected is in fact owned by another comic-book company, so all that has to be worked out.... And is indeed being worked out.
TVGuide.com: Does that mean there will or won't be Angel crossovers?
Whedon: There will be a certain amount. The Angel characters were in the Buffyverse and could appear. I'm not going to feature them heavily because that other company is working on them, and I just don't want to be a schmo to them.
TVGuide.com: Isn't that a little weird?
Whedon: It's a little weird. It's not an ideal situation, but I would not heavily use those characters. There's a reason you have Angel do his own show, because you can only play out the variations of "What if Romeo and Juliet lived?" for so long. He's in her heart, but he will be used sparingly.
TVGuide.com: Will you introduce new characters?
Whedon: Oh, there'll be a bunch. There'll be some old faces, 'cause that's always fun, and we'll have a whole bunch of these slayers. And there will be new villains. New faces are easier for the artists to draw.
TVGuide.com: How frequently will the issues arrive, because some comics aren't very punctual in their delivery, let's say.
Whedon: I'm trying very hard to keep to a monthly schedule. I've got a lot of different writers who are going to be coming in and I don't know how many artists and writers we'll be using, and that will determine it. But the idea is to keep it monthly and not to do what's being done so often — and has been done by my very own self.
TVGuide.com: With your much-delayed comic, Fray?
Whedon: There was an issue of Fray that was about a year late. I'm never going to live that one down.
TVGuide.com: This Buffy series could run for more than two years, couldn't it?
Whedon: Yes, I figure it [can] be between 25 and 30 issues for this season, as it were. And that could run for a couple of years.
TVGuide.com: What's happening with Astonishing X-Men?
Whedon: I have one more run of Astonishing X-Men, about 10 more issues. I'm already writing it because Marvel keeps changing the schedule. I don't know when it's coming out, but I keep writing them and Johnny keeps drawing them, so it should be coming out regularly even if it's bimonthly, which I hope it's not. I hope we get to go a little faster than that.
TVGuide.com: You've talked a little about the X-Men content to reporters. Why not Buffy?
Whedon: Well, the thing is, X-Men is continuing right where everybody knows we are, whereas Buffy, we sort of closed it down, and are now picking it up several months later, so it's been a while since anyone saw her. We want to get that feeling of reintroducing ourselves. "Where is everybody? How do they feel? What are they doing? What the hell happened to Dawn?"
TVGuide.com: Isn't it "Buffy and her gang saving the world"?
Whedon: Generally speaking, we hope they save it instead of doing the other thing. Because otherwise, we're fired.
TVGuide.com: What's happening with the eagerly anticipated Wonder Woman movie?
Whedon: Rewriting, nothing else. Writing, writing, writing.
TVGuide.com: No time period to start casting yet?
Whedon: There is not.
TVGuide.com: Any other TV plans? Or did the shabby treatment of Firefly do it for you?
Whedon: Firefly wounded me really badly, but I love, love, love TV. It's just a question of freeing up time. I have a few commitments, Wonder Woman being the biggest. I can't let any of them slide, so I've got to get through the things I already agreed to do before I can start agreeing to do other things. But I miss TV. I'm not going to lie: I love it.
TVGuide.com: Is the idea of sequels to Serenity completely dead?
Whedon: Nobody's asked me for anything more. They all know that I'm there, and that it's not something I would ever turn my back on. But they do have to ask. I don't have all that money.
TVGuide.com: Have you seen the Battlestar Galactica comic?
Whedon: No, I don't think I can do it. I love Battlestar too hard. I couldn't look at any ancillary work.
TVGuide.com: I love Buffy "hard," so are you saying we fans shouldn't read the comic?
Whedon: No, because if they stopped doing Battlestar Galactica, and then two or three years later Ron Moore and David Eick said, "We ourselves are going to continue the story in comic-book form — as opposed to something ancillary to the show done by other people," then I would be all over it. People used to say, "Will you make a Buffy movie like The X-Files did?" I was like never, because while the show is going on, the show is my only priority. That's not to say the Battlestar comic isn't great, but I love that show the way other people love Buffy. I love it unreasonably. [Laughs] It feels wrong.
TVGuide.com: Is Battlestar your favorite current TV show?
Whedon: Yes, that is my favorite show. Maybe ever.
TVGuide.com: That's saying something. Do David and Ron know that?
Whedon: I think I drooled on Ron at a dinner party once. I don't think he was thrilled.
TVGuide.com: What is your favorite comic right now?
Whedon: There are a lot of comics I like a lot. I'm a huge fan of Planetary. I love the Luna Brothers' Girls. It's like watching a movie. I haven't read a comic like that since I can remember. It's really intense. I love Next Wave, The Ultimates. I'm pretty straightforward. Mostly it's guys in suits.
TVGuide.com: Did you know that there's a new Sci Fi channel series based on the Painkiller Jane comic?
Whedon: Oh, I'm not surprised she showed up.
TVGuide.com: Any last word on the Buffy comic?
Whedon: I should probably say that it's the awesomest thing ever. I'm having so much fun.
For an exclusive peek at Buffy: Season 8, check out these images: 1, 2, 3 and 4.
Sci fi fans, pick up the Dec. 11 TV Guide for a preview of The Lost Room.
Send your comments on this Q&A to firstname.lastname@example.org.