Thursday, July 19, 2007

Buffy comic book keeps the series going

McClatchy Tribune

Those fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer who didn't know the character is still kicking pointy teeth four years after the series finale shouldn't feel bad.

Creator Joss Whedon hasn't even told Sarah Michelle Gellar or the rest of the cast about the new comic series, which picks up where Season 7 of the hit television show ended.

"I have not told them," says the 43-year-old Whedon. "I can tell you right now what everyone's reaction would be: 'My nose doesn't look like that!' "

What the actors have been missing in Dark Horse Comics' Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 is the first four issues of a planned 40-issue run. The story, drawn by artist Georges Jeanty, pits the titular heroine against an army of zombies and a military of a more traditional kind. Issue No. 5 goes on sale Aug. 1.

After a series of frustrations in Hollywood — including the cancellation of a television series, Firefly; his abrupt divorce from Warner Bros.' Wonder Woman movie, which he was slated to write and direct; and the slow development of Goners, a supernatural thriller — Whedon said he needed an escape to the four-panel world of comic books.

Whedon has been working in the medium for the past few years. Scoring a gig writing Marvel Comics' Astonishing X-Men was a particular "nerdgasm," he explains.

"It's like a weekend at a spa," says Whedon, comparing the comic-book industry to Hollywood.

"You have a creative concept, and instead of going through an endless array of suits to realize it," he says, "instead of spending millions of dollars of someone else's money to realize it — which is why the suits come along — you give it to an artist."

There are other perks.

Whedon turned Buffy's sister Dawn Summers into a 50-foot giant, which would have blown an entire season's worth of special-effects budget in real, and reel, life.

"It gives us enormous freedom, particularly because our show was never terribly expensive," said Whedon. "There was just a limit on where our imaginations could go.

"I realized that there were lots of fun things I could do," says Whedon, "and with the exhaustion of seven seasons now passed, I see there was no reason we didn't have an eighth other than the physical grind of it."

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