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Buffy : Season 8Jane Espenson - "Buffy : Season 8" Comic Book - Buffyfest.blogspot.com Interview
Wednesday 15 September 2010, by Webmaster
Buffyfest: We obviously love Buffy. What are you watching right now on TV that you love and why?
JE: Glee. I love it. Love the energy and the colors and the music and the humor. Why aren’t there more shows copying this wonderful energy? I thought this season would bring on the Glee clones, but I didn’t read any pilots that would qualify. I think companies are missing the boat by not creating more recession-era bright programming like this right now.
Buffyfest: You’ve been writing for the Buffyverse for over a decade now. What do you consider to be Buffy’s finest moment as a character?
JE: Can a moment be a whole episode? Because I want to say the whole episode "The Body."
Buffyfest: What was your favorite season of Buffy and why?
JE: Season Five because I believe I wrote more episodes that season than any other season. I like writing a lot of episodes. Or maybe you mean dramatically. Probably Season Five. The show was mature, just turning dark, and our wrapping up of the high school experience capped the main metaphor of the show. Loved that year.
Buffyfest: Where do you see Buffy when she’s 50 years old?
JE: In which timeline? I can see a future where she’s scarred and bitter, and I can see one where she’s transcendent and at peace. I don’t feel it’s for me to declare one more valid than the other.
Buffyfest: If Season 8 was written for TV, besides the special effects limitations, do you think the story would’ve been on the same track?
JE: Hmm... probably not. The visual freedom of comic books allowed us to do things that would’ve been impossible to stage and film and to intertwine characters played by actors whom we’d never have been able to get back at this stage.
Buffyfest: Let’s turn to the Riley One-Shot. The title “Commitment Through Distance, Virtue Through Sin” was very powerful. Can you talk about how that title came to you?
JE: Oh, thanks! I haven’t heard anyone comment on that title before. I often like one word titles that point out the theme, but this just wasn’t lending itself to that. But there was an interesting commonality between the two stories in the issue – Sam was making the argument that Riley could go to Buffy and yet strengthen, not damage, his marriage. Whistler was making the argument that Angel could serve the bigger good through a whole lot of evil along the way. Counterintuitive ways to a goal. But "Counterintuitive Ways to a Goal" is a terrible title. So I decided to just spell it out and I liked how it sounded.
Buffyfest: The one-shot seems to be written as an allegory, mirroring Angel’s story through the narrative of Riley. How hard was it to write that type of narrative in the short space of a comic?
JE: It was actually one of the easier ones I’ve written since it was a lot of talk. I disguised it with action, but it’s just a pair of two-person conversations, which are my favorite thing to write. The mirroring was the reason to tell the story, so that happened first and then it was just writing people talking, which is just a matter of winding them up and letting them go. I didn’t have it all right the first time through – there were a couple sets of notes from Joss that led to adjustments. But it actually was a pretty easy road!
Buffyfest: Buffy seems to be at the center of this issue although she doesn’t ever appear. Is she the parallel connecting Riley and Angel’s story?
JE: Yes, she’s at the center of both decisions, which is structurally lovely, but the story would’ve worked without that. It was the similarly counterintuitive solutions to the problems that tied the stories together.
Buffyfest: At Dragon Con, Scott Allie mentioned that for a moment they felt like your arc of Season 8, "Retreat", could have run for ten issues. Would you tell us what your original pitch for that story was and what, if anything, you wish you’d had the chance to keep in there?
JE: Oh that’s right. There was that moment. I remember that. Scott had that idea, and I think I was like, well, I can write as much as you want and then Joss jumped in right away to say, no, the plan was right as we’d imagined it to begin with. So the ten issue plan lasted for a minute. Nothing was expanded and then lost. My original pitch was shockingly close to what you see on the page. It was a rare moment where I pitched a story to Joss and he just said, yes, go do that.
Buffyfest: In the second issue of “Retreat”, Dawn compares Werewolves to Slayers in this way: "The demon part is the part that you are and the old human part is the weak, rejected part that gets tossed aside—" that’s very telling. What do you think it means to be a slayer? Other than being the leader, what makes Buffy different from all those other chosen?
JE: I think the thing that makes Buffy special is the Buffiness – Dawn is wrong about the human part getting tossed aside. That’s a fear Buffy has, but I don’t think it’s true. It’s her essential character that she was born with that makes her special.
Buffyfest: Buffy Season 8 has taken some criticism from fans who say that Buffy has lost her feminist message by way of her bank robbing, rogue slayers abusing their powers and the recent Twilight arc. How do you feel about Season 8 so far from a feminist perspective?
JE: I hadn’t heard that. I think if we try to make women characters better than we really are, then we’re holding doors open for them. Let ’em be as disarmingly fallible as men. No one’s better than anyone else—that’s the important thing.