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Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Scott Allie - "Buffy Season 8" Comic Book - Ifmagazine.com Interview

Anthony C. Ferrante

Monday 12 March 2007, by Webmaster


We’ve got the answers about what to expect from our favorite Scooby Gang members.

It’s been a long wait - nearly four years in the making - but Season 8 of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER is finally here this week, albeit in comic book form.

With creator and executive producer Joss Whedon back in the fold and Dark Horse Comics lavishly promoting the new endeavor, Whedon promises a 22-episode season stretched over potentially 30 issues in a two year period featuring some of BUFFY’s long-time scribes penning issues as well.

What that means, where it all goes and how it all pans out is left to Whedon while Scott Allie, Editor of BUFFY-SEASON EIGHT, sorts it all out from there.

A writer and editor for Dark Horse and Glimmer Train Press, Allie has been with the BUFFY comics since 1998, which made him a natural fit for this new spin-off.

"I was the editor on BUFFY since 1998 or so, and I worked with Joss on other stuff, so I guess I was the editor on BUFFY before there was a Season Eight ... so here I am," says Allie who also wrote the horror comic THE DEVIL’S FOOTPRINTS, contributions to the STAR WARS series, a tribute to H.P. Lovecraft and a self-published horror comic SICK SMILES.

While it might be expected that there were some hurdles in jump-starting the BUFFY franchise in comic book form, Allie says everyone was eager to jump back into it, including Fox who owns the BUFFY rights.

"Fox was eager to do whatever Joss wanted," says Allie. "There are contractual obstacles, in that every artist we use needs to audition-including artists who are far too talented to ever have to audition for any job. So we beg them, and ultimately they agree to do it because it’s Joss."

In an exclusive interview, Allie spoke with iF MAGAZINE about this ambitious project, where it’s going and what to expect as Season Eight makes its debut in comic book stores this week.

iF: Are there any characters you’re not allowed to feature from the BUFFY TV series?

ALLIE: Nope.

iF: Can you include characters from ANGEL even though a different comic book company has the license on that show?

ALLIE: Yup. [Through] Joss.

iF: How do you work with Joss on this? Is he pretty much given autonomy to do what he needs to do?

ALLIE: Of course. We want him to do whatever he wants. Creatively, of course, he has total freedom. No one at Dark Horse or Fox will say no to him. And as far as business or planning or marketing, we want to do whatever he wants, within our means. And it’s my intention to stretch the limits of our means for Joss. The things that he leaves to me, I run past him, and sometimes it’s as simple as him writing back to say, “Okay,” and sometimes we go back and forth and back and forth.

iF: I’ve heard there are going to be roughly 30 issues for Season Eight. Is this accurate?

ALLIE: That’s an estimate on my part right now. Has Joss used that number? The number grows and grows. Originally Joss pitched me on 22, or roughly 22, to mirror a TV season. But that’s an erroneous comparison-an average issue of a comic is not quite as in depth as an hour of TV. And 22 comics are already almost two years; as opposed to the nine months it would take on TV. With every season of the show, there is an overarching theme for Season Eight, but in this case, it’ll just end whenever the hell Joss gets through it. I’m thinking it’ll be more than 30 issues.

iF: In terms of trying to capture the feeling of the TV show, the book does that magnificently. However, waiting every five weeks for a new issue is going to drive fans batty. Any chance the publishing schedule could be even more frequent?

ALLIE: Nope! Sorry.

iF: How many issues will Joss be writing initially and is it a full arc, or just part of a larger arc?

ALLIE: He’s writing a four-issue arc, then a single issue story. He’ll be supervising the writers on each arc he does not write, and he’ll come back periodically to write other arcs. In that way, it’s like the TV show, but with each arc comparing to an episode, rather than each issue. Someone different would write each episode of the show, but the writers would work together, under Joss’s supervision, to make sure it fit the direction of the season. So Joss is doing that, and he’s giving writers notes on their scripts, to make sure it really works as a Buffy script, to make sure the characters are right.

iF: What other writers from the BUFFY-verse will be brought into the mix?

ALLIE: Drew Goddard and Drew Greenberg are both lined up. Jane Espenson is definitely doing something, but I’m not sure how much. I think we’re getting Doug Petrie, but I haven’t talked to him, and I’m not sure. I loved working with Jane and Doug, they were the show writers I worked with the most, back in the old days of the book, and they were great comics writers. And Stephen DeKnight is also going to do a bit for us, I believe, though I haven’t had any contact with him either.

iF: How far ahead are you in terms of seeing finished books? Can you give us a tease of what to expect?

ALLIE: We’ve got six scripts in the can, four issues of pencils, nearly three of inks. Today we got a two-page spread featuring a pretty stunning magical battle. Something they never quite could have done on TV. Expect that. A fair amount of stuff that would have stretched the FX budget on the show. And Faith. Expect Faith, with some of the snappiest, smoothest dialogue to ever roll off her tongue.

iF: Whedon loves to tease about who the Big Bad is going to be. There was one panel of someone hovering above the castle that we didn’t quite see. Will that be the true “Big Bad” for Season Eight?”

ALLIE: You ask very insightful questions.

iF: Since the comic book world is different then TV in some ways, will there be mini-arcs throughout or will it be like the TV series - some mythology issues, some stand alones?

ALLIE: Mini-arcs, yes indeed. Issue five, written by Joss, only features one of what you’d call the primary characters of the show, and the focus is on someone you’ve never seen before. Very much a sidetrack, although, like many of the standalones, it reinforces the main mythology.

iF: What other characters will we see throughout the year? Is Willow back by Issue #2? Giles?

ALLIE: You’ll see both of them pretty early on. Sounds like you’ve read the first issue, so you know they’re not in that one, but they show up pretty soon. By the end of the third issue, you’ll have seen most of the faces you counted on seeing, and a handful that probably no one expected.

iF: Has Dark Horse thought of other possible ways of making BUFFY: SEASON EIGHT more than just a comic book event? Any other possible multi-media tricks up your sleeve - cast members reading the issues via podcasts, etc. etc.?

ALLIE: Nope. The whole point of this is to make it a comic event, make the comic be an entity unto itself, dependent only on Joss and what he brings to it.

iF: What was the biggest surprise you discovered working on the book?

ALLIE: Buffy has surprised me a lot over the years. I’ve learned a lot about writing from Buffy and from Joss-the degree to which Joss’s work has influenced me is the biggest surprise. When Joss’s first script showed up in my in box, completely unexpected, that was a big surprise. When I read issue one, there was a certain amount of surprise to realize that after all the comics where I’d had Buffy narrating, finally this one was really her. To have Joss writing her narration-something he’d never really done on the show, or at least not very extensively at all, at all-this is really what her voice sounds like in her own head. To me, that’s a big deal. Finally, that thing with Dawn, that was a surprise.

iF: In the TV world, you have to cut back some huge special effects or you’ll go over-budget. In the comic book world, what’s the equivalent of that - the creator wanting to do more pages for a given issue?

ALLIE: Yeah, that. Dark Horse books are 22 pages per issue, but we’ve gone over that with Joss on his first two, I think. But the closer equivalent is artist budgets. Some people are much, much more expensive than others. So we’re gonna push against that wall as we go forward.

iF: Is there any other things that you think BUFFY fans might be interested in?

ALLIE: The main thing is that this is the continuation of the story that some people spent seven years following avidly. You’re not gonna see an eighth season on TV; you’re probably never gonna see films. So if you would have tuned in for new episodes of Buffy in fall of 2003, sorry for the wait, but here it is.

iF: Could Dark Horse conceivably do comic book seasons of other cancelled shows in the near future? Have there been discussions?

ALLIE: Yes, and I guarantee there have been discussions at other publishers too. But calling it Season Eight isn’t what makes this special. It’s that it is the continuation of the show by the guy who created it, the guy who deserves the credit for the success of the show, who’s as involved in this “season” as he was in the best seasons of the TV series. Without that, all you have is an ambitious marketing campaign. And I expect to see certain publishers doing exactly that-the latter, that is.

iF: Have you talked to Joss about a Season 9 if this goes well?

ALLIE: We have, but only vaguely. If Season Eight were limited in the way a TV season is, to a set number of episodes, then I’m sure we’d be talking concretely about Season Nine already. But as it is, Season Eight could go on for five years, so until we at least have some sense of the end of Eight, talk about Nine doesn’t mean much. But we’ve both acknowledged that it’s a very nice option.