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Nicholas Brendon

Nicholas Brendon - "Very Bad Koalas" Web Comic - Chicagonow.com Interview

Sunday 22 August 2010, by Webmaster

Nicholas Brendon goes from "Buffy" to web-comics with "Very Bad Koalas"

I’m the resident RedEye geek with an eye towards all things geek and nerd-related; comics, video games, RPG’s and the latest nerd tech!

Fans of the cult-TV show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" will want to be at the Wizard World Chicago Comic-Con this weekend as one of their favorite cast members will be in attendance.

Oh yeah, geeks and nerds, Nicholas Brendon is gonna be in the house and talking about his new web-comic "Very Bad Koalas."

Created with his writing partner, animation director/producer Steve Loter (and art assistance by Rafael Santiago), "VBK" tells the story of two marsupials named Avery and Irving who go on a bizarre road-trip across a fantastic world called "The Land of Out There". The adorable critters have madcap adventures and encounter strange creatures along the way, all while being hunted by authorities that consider them to be dangerous felons.

And while many of his fans know Brendon for his character "Xander Harris", they may not know that he is quite the character himself. That came out in our recent Q & A about his new web-comic "Very Bad Koalas."

In it, we talk about the process of creating the strip & what kind of content it would contain; what it’s like to forever be associated with Xander; and the true nature of koalas.

He also opens up about his personal struggles and asks me a question that I think - if I live to be a hundred years old - I’ll never have an interview subject ask me again...

Geek To Me: You are coming to Chicago to promote your new web comic "Very Bad Koalas."

Nicholas Brendon: Absolutely.

G2M: You’ve said that the comic will run for 52 weeks, will be free and have a set ending, which is kind of interesting for a web comic. What made you think you wanted to go in that direction?

NB: I was doing an animated show for Disney, and Steve Loter - my writing partner - was doing my show and we were kind of talking as I was voicing this robot dog. I had ideas, he had ideas, and we thought ’why don’t we pool our ideas? Marry them?’ And then we came up with "Very Bad Koalas". The idea is to give it out for free, for the first year.

It’s wild and it’s wacky. It’s about some koalas who get a car from the Devil, you know, and they’ve gotta right some wrongs, wrong some rights.

G2M: The thing that intrigues me, correct me if I’m wrong, is that you’re following kind of a television formula. That you do have ’seasons’ set up, unlike other web comics that seem to be ongoing things, that seem to go on in perpetuity.

NB: Uh-huh.

G2M: Do you feel like this is the kind of a story that is a finite story that you wanted to tell? Or if it really took off, could it go on in perpetuity?

NB: Oh, absolutely, yeah. I mean that’s the idea. You know, we kinda just wanted to wrap the first (story arc) up, but they’re going to "Out There." You know the "Land of Out There" (where) they kind of get lost there. So it’s something that can go on in perpetuity.

And you know I am a guy who comes from TV, so that’s probably why it’s set up this way. When they hit each particular kind of far-out land, we have a six or seven week arc in each one. So there’s not going to be a final final ending at the end. There’s going to be a little resolve, but this thing can go on and on and on. Maybe my kids will take it over when I’m dead.

G2M: Your collaborators credit you with all the really crazy, bizarre stuff that’s happening -

NB: (laughs)

G2M: But how does the collaboration work? Is it like you throw an idea out there, Steve (Loter) makes a plot out of it, Rafael (Santiago) draws it?

NB: Steve does a lot of the drawing too. Steve and I will meet - we actually have a meeting today at 3, discussing and kind of finalizing scripts 7 through 12. Steve and I will have a meeting for each particular land they (the koalas) go in, and then the arcs. Just to have it even out to 52. We decide on where they will be and what kind of wacky creatures they will meet and people they’ll meet along the way. Steve and I get together to discuss those 6 to 7 week arcs. We’ll just bounce ideas off each other; write particular things down, a lot of the wacky stuff that comes from my mind. Then Steve goes home and gets it into a rough script form, and then we go over it, and then he draws it.

Man, it’s so weird, Steve and I collaborate on the dialogue and the ideas and stuff, but then he’s got his real jobs. he’s got shows for Nickelodeon. And then he goes home and he draws these things for hours and hours and hours, and he is such a talented artist. And then he sends the rest out to Rafael, whose really good at ’wavy gravy’ shit, you know, (creating) that kind of world that we want. I guess it’s the Phish world now where it used to be the Grateful Dead world -

G2M: (laughs)

NB: And I’ll be like ’sorry that we’re doing this show’ and Steve will just be immersed in it. When we’re not writing, he’s drawing these comics. That guy is just stand up, an amazing guy to work with.

G2M: You want to do 52 episodes to run when it begins at the end of September. How far ahead in production are you?

NB: We should have a solid 16 (chapters) I would say, by the time we start on the 29th of September. We wanted to be ahead of the curve (laughs) and not go ’aw shit, week 29 isn’t ready.’ We wanted to have a lot in the can. We were going to premiere on the 1st of September, and then we realized that having that safety net would be the best thing.

G2M: You’re really putting yourself out there as far as promoting the web comic. There are a lot of good web comics out there that just don’t get noticed, and you guys are obviously trying to avoid that trap. What have been some of the challenges you’ve encountered as far as promoting this venture?

NB: To be honest with you, it’s been lovely. I’ve got Jaqui (Day), who you spoke to, is my web master. She’s been really, really good. I guess she’s been doing this type of thing for a long time. Everything - once Steve and I had the idea - it’s kind of one of those things that kind of felt blessed and everything kept falling into place. So, knock on wood, there haven’t been any challenges yet. And also, we’re having such a great time writing it and doing it, that it’s really hard to get let down if your expectations aren’t that high. Yeah, I mean our expectations are high on the quality and that what we’re gonna be putting out is gonna be pretty "tits and ass", but in terms of being let down by anything else, it’s all perspective.

G2M: What kind of rating would you give "Very Bad Koalas"?

NB: You mean in terms of content?

G2M: Right.

NB: Ummm...you know. I’d put PG-13 on it. It’s just wacky. It’s not - we’re not showing any koala dick -

G2M: (laughs)

NB: There’s nothing like that, at least not this season.

G2M: (laughs) No koala love? No -

NB: No nothin’, no merkin’, no koala merkin.’

G2M: (laughs)

NB: Uh, no foreskin, no taint. We’re kind of staying away from that for the first season. It’s just seeing the kind of adventures these guys get into. It’s fun to kind of get to know Avery and Irving; because as we write it we’re discovering who these guys are.

We’re kind of finishing up right now the scripts that we’ll be finalizing at 3 o’clock today my time...5 o’clock your time. There’s a bunker where Hitler’s pets have been waiting. 94 of Hitler’s pets have been waiting for him to come back and give them the okay that they’re ready for world domination-

G2M: (laughs)

NB: So they (Avery & Irving) kind of happen upon this bunker, so that’s a six episode arc, (the pets have) built this world annihilation bomb; so we kind of get into that stuff. I think we drop the ’f-bomb’ once, which I’m proud of because I do love the ’f-bomb’-

G2M: (laughs)

NB: We do try to be respectful, you know?

G2M: One of the koalas has to say that at some point: "no foreskin, no taint."

NB: (laughs) "Wait I’m not showing my sphinct!"

G2M: One of my twitter followers asks "will the koalas have an issue with not being able to fit enough eucalyptus in their 1958 Cadillac El Dorado?"

NB: Well we are actually...one of our things is that - um - It’s going to be Avery, he’s gonna have, we’re gonna get into...do a little addiction episode.

G2M: (laughs) Okay.

NB: Cuz’ if you follow the news at all you probably - it’s not really a secret - I have a little addiction problem that I get arrested for time to time. God bless sobriety! But I think Avery is going to have a problem with his eucalyptus intake. Because the whole thing about koalas is that they’re fierce creatures, and what keeps them mellow is the eucalyptus, that acts like a catnip for them.

It’s funny, I knew this before I even thought I’d be doing a comic strip about koala bears. (laughs) I don’t know why I have that information, but I just do. So we are going to get into that. Avery’s gonna be slammin’ eucalyptus.

G2M: There’s going to be an embarrassing number of Hall’s cough drops-

NB: (laughs) Exactly. You know, it’s kind of like I learned how to save a life and do CPR by watching "Punky Brewster."

G2M: (laughs)

NB: It will be a very special, "Punky Brewster"-esque episode of "Very Bad Koala."


Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season Eight - artwork by Jo Chen (Dark horse Comics) G2M: (laughs) I’m looking forward to that. Okay, I have to ask a Buffy question, but I’ll keep it in the world of comics. Have you been reading "Season Eight" from Dark Horse?

NB: Am I having sex with Dawn?

G2M: Yeah, I think you are. They have you having a thing with Dawn, but I didn’t want to get into that specifically, honestly. You’ve lived with that character for so long; people just equate you with it despite all the other stuff you’ve done since then; when you read the book - if you have been reading it - have you ever had an instance where you said ’I might not have gone that way with (Xander) or do you think ’hey, that’s pretty spot on, that’s what I would have done.’

NB: Well, you know that’s the great thing about Joss, is that even if I had read the script during season 5, 6 or 7, and I thought that I wouldn’t have gone that way, when it was done (I’d think) ’of course I would have gone that way.’ I didn’t have any input into the character; I just kind of went with it. Now, when I found out about the Xander and Dawn thing, I remember Michelle Trachtenberg’s first day on the set and she was a baby. So I see Michelle as like a 12-13 year old girl, you know, whose mom brought her to the set. There is something a little skeevy about that.

G2M: Well, you see her now on television, she’s pretty grown up.

NB: I just found out yesterday that the age of consent in Spain is 13 years old. Guess what I bought yesterday? A one-way ticket to Spain.

G2M: (laughs) Well, awesome.

NB: (laughs) So, I’m not gonna make it to Chicago. Yeah, then I found that there is no age of consent in Saudi Arabia or Amar.

G2M: But don’t you have to be a Saudi prince for that to apply to you?

NB: Probably. I just - maybe it’s because I haven’t traveled - well I’ve been to Turkey before, I just think that um - I don’t think there’s an age of consent in India either, but the smell in India would get me and the hair in Saudi Arabia would get me, so I think I’ll stay in America where it’s 18.

G2M: I’m sure that if you went to Abu Dhabi they would give you an honorary prince-dom right there.

NB: Well, of course, of course! I’m Nicholas Brendan godammit.

G2M: (laughs)

NB: You’d go over there. God they can’t get enough "Criminal Minds" over there, they just love my character.

G2M: Yeah, what’s that whole experience been like?

NB: Great. It’s funny, you know the thing about it is that Kevin Lynch, the character I play on that show, is a lot like Xander. You know we did an episode last year where I’ve just discovered the "bacon donut."

G2M: (laughs)

NB: And there’s this whole scene where I’m like talking to (Penelope) Garcia, my love interest, and I’m like "you’ve gotta try this it will change your life!" And it’s this Xander affectation, it’s kind of like "ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod!" And I say things like "OMG," you know. I love playing straight guys that have like a splicey gay affectation. I like to play the straight guys who are kind of big. And if that’s what I’m destined to play then I’m a fairly lucky actor.

G2M: Do you think it’s because of the weight of the character you carry with you, or that the writers look at you and say ’we should really put some of that stuff in there.’

NB: Yeah, that’s a Joss thing too. The characters, once he got to know us as people, the characters definitely went that way. And I think I am a lot that way.

Really, when I was being asked this question when I was in Buffy, "so are you like Xander?" I think back then I was a lot more affected, you know, cuz’ there’s not really a class in how to be a celebrity, on how to have fans and how to deal with the media and stuff. And I’d take the road of "no, I’m acting, how dare you ask me that question!" And the fact of the matter is that it truly is a huge compliment. Xander was a great guy and I in turn, in the last few years, have learned that I am also a great guy. So it’s kind of getting caught up in the hyperbole and the bullshit of Hollywood, and it’s one of the many characters that are in my bag. I am a lot like these people that I play and I think that’s why I play them.

G2M: It sounds like you had a Punky Brewster moment there.

NB: (laughs) Are you crying right now?

G2M: I am, I’m crying a little tear right now. I’m kind of choked up...

NB: Are you also bleeding out of your vagina? Come on, man up!

G2M: I don’t know if this will make it into the interview, but yeah.

NB: (laughs) Put it in there. Shit happens.