So, you’re Joss Whedon, a prolific writer. It’s 2007 and it’s been a few years since your TV shows (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly) have ended and your theatrical movie (Serenity) has been out for two years. You’re developing a few things, but nothing is hot at the moment. Fans keep asking if you are going to do a Buffy the Vampire Slayer (aka BtVS) movie, like Serenity was a movie of the TV show Firefly. You know that a movie is unlikely and that if it ever did happen it would be years in the future. Building all the sets and getting all the actors and actresses back together, even if possible, would take a lot of money. How do you bypass the costs and delays? Simple – write the continuing story in graphic form (comic books.)
It is a different medium, which means it will have a different set of challenges from running a TV show, but you’ve written other comics before, so you are familiar with what it takes. You make calls to the writers from BtVS and see if they are interested in tackling a new-to-them medium. Some are, so you line up artists who can draw the characters so they are recognizable and a company to publish the product and you are in business. The result is something that diehard fans of the show had been waiting for.
The story picks up several months after the TV show has ended. The surviving characters have gathered together in
and are figuring out what to do since they changed the world. I can’t describe it much more than that without mentioning large spoilers for the end of the TV show. England
The stories reflect the same humor, drama, and surprises, that the TV show was known for – one of the advantages of having Whedon and other folks from BtVS writing the comics.
The advantages of the medium mean that they can do anything in the story they can think of and not have to worry about a special effects budget, whether an actor/actress is available to reprise a character, or whether the network Standards and Practices Department (aka the censors) would object.
The disadvantage of the medium is that you cannot cover anywhere near the same amount of plot in a 24 page comic as you can in a 42 minute TV episode. At first glance, the solution would be to simply write a few issues to cover the equivalent of an episode. You can’t really do that, though, because each comic is published monthly or bi-monthly and the people reading the stories would have to wait months for one “episode” and a year or more for a three or four episode story arc. It would take more than ten years to do a single “season” that way.
The answer is to put as much into each issue as you can, and to simply keep things moving along at a faster pace than in the show.
I have been reading the stories in books that collect related issues together. So far there have been seven books published, which cover 35 issues of the comic, as well as some one-shots that tell related side stories. The eighth and final book is due to be published in the summer of 2011. It will contain the last of the 40 issues that make up Season 8. Whedon has said that he plans to have the story continue with an official Season 9, too.
There has also been a “motion comic” produced. If you are not familiar with what that is, they scan the images from the comic into a computer. They put some elementary animation on them and have people speak the lines. Once you add sound effects and music, you essentially have an animated movie of the comic.
Three notes on this:
1. The movie that has been produced is only the first half of the series. The second half will presumably also be put into the motion comic format at some point.
2. The people voicing the characters are not the original actors and actresses from the show. I don’t know if they were not available, not interested, too expensive, or not experienced enough with doing voice acting. There is a whole industry of people who specialize in voice acting and it looks like they selected the cast from these professionals instead.
3. I have not seen the motion comic, but since it would be the same story as the original comic it ought to be very entertaining.
In my post on the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer I listed several areas where the show was very influential on other shows and on various other industries. The BtVS Season 8 comic series is no different. Pushing Daisies and Charmed, to name two TV shows, are both pursuing a continuation of their stories in comic form. They have cited the success of BtVS Season 8 as the catalyst for their decisions to do this.
If you liked the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer then I highly recommend Season 8. You should at least read the first book of collected issues. Once you get used to the medium I think you will get caught up in the story and want to find out what is going to happen next.
Volume 1 Volume 2 Volume 3 Volume 4
Volume 1 Volume 2 Volume 3 Volume 4
Volume 5 Volume 6 Volume 7 Volume 8
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