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Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Mike Stokes (Editor of the Official Buffy Fan Club newsletter) - Smgfan.com Interview

Tuesday 16 September 2003, by Webmaster

JPM: Did you watch Buffy prior to getting involved with the Official Fan Club/e-newsletter?

Mike Stokes (MS): Absolutely...sort of. Toward the end of the show’s second season, I suggested to my publisher that we pursue a Buffy the Vampire Slayer magazine. He liked the idea and secured the rights to it. That week, I tuned in for the first time and saw Go Fish and thought it was pretty clever. The following weeks, I watched Becoming parts 1 and 2 and realized it was the best show on television. Fox then sent me every episode from the first two seasons and I watched them within the span of a week. It was great.

JPM: How did your involvement with the newsletter/fan club begin?

MS: Sadly, the company I worked for was sold to another company and was a victim of the dot.com collapse and we were all out of work. Luckily, VIP fanclubs picked up the ball and asked if I was still interested in covering Buffy and Angel. I jumped at the opportunity.

JPM: What exactly do you do as an editor of an e-newsletter? Is there a big difference between that and being an editor of the Buffy magazine?

MS: The newsletter is less time consuming, because there are no space limitations for interviews, there are no pages to be designed, nothing has to be printed, nothing has to be shipped. This allows the news portion of the newsletter to be more timely. There are still deadlines that have to be met, and I still interview the cast and keep up with the latest news, but writing a newsletter is less of a production than publishing a magazine.

JPM: Of all the Buffy/Angel people you’ve interviewed, do you have a favorite and why?

MS: Everyone I’ve interviewed has been really cool. Seth Green is my favorite, because he’s a good guy and a real fan. David Boreanaz was the first Buffy cast member I interviewed and he was gracious with his time and seemed really thankful to be working on such a great show. Anthony Stewart Head is really cool and appreciates the fans. Glenn Quinn was really cool. Usually, it’s the guest stars that have the best stories. I recently interviewed Ken Lerner, who played Principal Flutie, and he’s worked with everyone. Camden Toy, who played one of the Gentlemen, Gnarl and the Ubervamp is an interesting guy with a lot of good stories to tell. Every one of the guys from the Trio is really funny and pleasant and good actors.

JPM: Is there an interview that stands out to you as the most memorable one? If so, why?

MS: Joss Whedon, no doubt. Not only do I respect his immense talent, but he seems so genuinely happy to be doing what he does. I’d seen him around the Buffy set many times, and he was always working on something. I finally sat down to interview him at the Chicago Comicon, and he was everything you’d hope he would be. He’s got a hilarious and sharp sense of humor, he knows everything about his shows, he was willing to talk for as long as we had questions, and he respects the fans. I’m in awe of that guy. So much talent, so little ego.

JPM: What’s a typical day like in the life of Mike Stokes, editor? Is there a process that you go through to decide who to interview and what features to include in an issue?

MS: I have no typical days lately. I spend my days writing and editing for Consumers Digest magazine. I teach a writing class at St. Xavier University in Chicago one night a week. I cover high school sports for the Chicago Tribune and write other freelance projects. My time working on the Buffy and Angel newsletters is like playtime. I try to line up interviews with memorable characters, I scan scripts and episodes for trivia and keep up with what the cast is doing away from the show.

JPM: When are you going to feature an interview with SMG?

MS: Whenever she gets a chance to chat.

JPM: Now that Buffy is over, how do you plan on keeping the e-newsletter as interesting and informative as it has always been?

MS: Now that Buffy the Vampire Slayer has ended, it seems like the actors I’ve been talking to are remembering more funny stories and interesting tidbits about their time on the show. As long as the cast and guest stars are willing to talk, I think Buffy fans will be willing to listen. I think there’s also a sense that whatever success the people who appeared on Buffy have in their careers, the fans were right there with them when it all started. Alyson Hannigan is great in the American Pie movies, but Buffy fans will always remember her as Willow. Sarah Michelle Gellar may go on to win a dozen Academy Awards, but we’ll always remember her phenomenal and criminally underrated work on Buffy. It’s a special show and no one will soon forget it. Reruns and DVD will also keep introducing it to new audiences. For anyone who hasn’t noticed, Angel is an awesome show, and it keeps the Buffy characters and legacy going, too.

JPM: Any advice for people aspiring to become editors/writers?

MS: Don’t let opportunity pass you by. Keep plugging away and good things will happen. And don’t abandon the things you like to do because someone says it isn’t cool or worthwhile. When I was a kid, I had a school librarian who wouldn’t let me or my friends read comic books during study hall, because it wasn’t what he deemed "appropriate literature." Now the people making great movies and great television are the people who grew up reading comics. I’ve spent most of my career writing about comic books, movies, television, videogames, professional wrestling and sports-all the things people once told me were a waste of time.

JPM: Have you found the meaning of life yet?

MS: I’m still looking, but I think it has something to do with finding happiness and not making other people miserable. Whether you follow a particular religion or not, the golden rule seems like a pretty good sensible idea to follow.

Very special thanks to Mike Stokes for taking the time to do this interview with us. We wish him all the best in his endeavors.