Cancelation, like death, doesn't seem to stop vampires. Characters from three defunct Joss Whedon series — Buffy, Angel and Firefly — are being resurrected this summer in comic-book form.
First up, on June 29 is Angel: The Curse, IDW Publishing's five-part story set after the events of last year's apocalyptic series finale. The story finds Angel in Romania searching for the Gypsy tribe that cursed him with a soul a century ago. IDW also brings back Angel's former rival for Buffy's affections in the one-shot Spike: Old Times in August. The blond Brit will reunite with a vengeance demon and former crush. In between these two Buffyverse comics, the first issue of Dark Horse Comics' Serenity, based on the space-cowboy TV show Firefly, goes on sale July 6. The three-part comic serves as a bridge between the series and the upcoming movie, directed by Whedon and due in theaters on September 30.
Additionally, Whedon is regularly penning the best-selling title Astonishing X-Men from Marvel Comics. Here, the busy writer/director takes a break from editing his feature-film debut to tell TVGuide.com all about his comic antics.
TVGuide.com: What is your exact involvement with these different comic-book projects?
It ranges... For the Angel and Spike comics, I basically told [the writers] areas to stay away from, just in case those were stories that we still might get a chance to tell on film. Otherwise, I pretty much let them do their thing, although I kept peeking over [their shoulders]. For the Serenity comic, I worked out the story with the writer Brett Matthews and have been sort of overseeing the editing and giving notes.
TVG: How will the comic lead into the movie?
Well, when the series ended, certain things were happening and, in the movie, certain things have already happened. So the idea was to bridge the time gap and act as a kind of prequel for the movie. Inara has sworn she's going to leave the ship, and this deals with Mal's reaction to that. It also showcases the crew in their usual state, with lots of heists going wrong. And it features the return of a villain from the series... a couple [of them], in fact. It's an action/heisty romp that hopefully gives the characters a little more resonance. It does leave you prepped for the movie should you want that, but you don't need to have seen the series or be planning to see the movie for the comic to work.
TVG: You're known for being very hands-on when it comes to controlling the direction of your worlds. Is it hard to watch other people write adventures for these characters?
I get the usual mix of feelings: horror, pride and fun. You do want to do everything yourself, but every now and then, someone shows you something you haven't thought of and it's really charming. It's tough because I'm very strict about the canon of my shows, but at the same time, you have to let people create. As long as it's responsible, all they have to do is make it engaging and I'm satisfied.
TVG: What advantages do comic books offer over film?
For one thing, there's no budget. The artists can't say, "I can't afford to draw a dragon." Also, you can tell stories in all kinds of odd ways and you're not beholden to sponsors. But at the same time, while you can do almost anything, a Buffy comic is going to be picked up by younger people, so you have to look out for what you're doing there. And ultimately, you don't have four acts and an episode a week — you have 22 pages and an episode a month. So, in a way, it's very similar. But you do have great leeway to do whatever you want in terms of visuals. We have a space-heist sequence in the Serenity comic. That's an expensive proposition in a movie or TV show. It's zero gravity and Nathan Fillion [who plays Mal Reynolds in Serenity] hates harnesses. But his comic-book self doesn't mind floating at all! He's the most perfect gentleman I've ever worked with. [Laughs]
TVG: Do you think any of these comics will become ongoing series?
I could see it happening. But for me, it's about getting the story out that you're telling right now. Don't worry about the next thing. You have to keep your eyes on the prize, and right now that prize is trying to make a three-part comic that's worth your time and spare change, and a movie that's worth putting your butt in the theater. If both of those things work, then I'll have to work more. And if they don't work, I'll wish I had to work more.
TVG: Finally, will we ever learn what happened in that alleyway in the series finale of Angel?
Of course. I have every intention of keeping the Buffyverse alive — and not just in flashback tales that I'm not connected to. And if I can't do it with the actors I love, I might just do it with drawings of the actors I love.