Season 10 has ended and I’m sure there are plenty of questions about what happened this season and where we’re headed to next. So ask away in a brand spankin’ new Q&A with the writer of Buffy Season 10: Christos Gage!
Christos will be answering up to twenty (20) questions this round, so I’m limiting the floor to ONE (1) question from each member per round.
Please be courteous and respectful, and we’ll all get along just fine. Thanks.
1. AndrewCrossett: Regarding the current state of the Slayer succession: since the kindling of the new Seed, are Slayers being called again? Has the magic “restored to the factory settings,” and a new Slayer will only be called when the Prime Slayer (Faith, I guess) dies? Or has the calling of the slayers completely ended, at least until Fray’s time?
Christos Gage: I don’t know, sorry. That’s really up to Joss, and it hasn’t come up yet.
2. Bamph: Hi Christos. Another season done. First, just want to say I’m enjoying your Civil War II: Amazing Spider-Man miniseries and look forward to your work with Dan Slott on the upcoming Clone Conspiracy Spidey event.
here’s my question and it feeds into a larger question about the design of the season and its setup for Season 11.
As a fan of Buffy/Angel and not being a fan of Buffy/Spike, this season was really hard on that front for me while the other aspects of the season I really enjoyed. When was the decision made to allow Buffy/Spike to continue into Season 11 and how much was that tied into the end of the season having and maybe needing a happy end to it as setup/contrast for the disaster that is supposed to start the conflict of Season 11?
CG: Thanks, and I’m very glad you were able to enjoy the parts of the season you did. The thinking behind having Buffy and Spike stay together had nothing to do with Season 11, which wasn’t planned at the time. The whole reason we thought it would be interesting to explore a Buffy/Spike relationship was that we hadn’t done it before… not a real one, where he has a soul and they’re trying to have an honest, normal relationship. At first they were struggling with their old issues (i.e. Spike idealizing Buffy, not treating her as a normal person/equal). We knew people would expect them to break up, but that didn’t fit with the arc of moving into adulthood. They made the hard, but more mature and potentially more rewarding decision to try to make it work, on a real level. In that way, they’re kind of in a similar place to Dawn and Xander – starting over. Now, this doesn’t mean they’re going to live happily ever after, or that they’re not. It means they’ve gotten to a place where they can actually see if a relationship between them – a real one – has a chance.
3. UndeadCaliAmerican: Hey Christos, major props for what you and Rebekah Isaacs were able to accomplish with Season 10. It was the first season of the comic continuation that really felt like the show which was awesome. I like that Buffy is the Leader of this new iteration of the Magical Council and reminiscent of her Leader status in Season 8. Also, I’m glad you were able to write for Riley Finn and Graham Miller in Season 10. It was great to see Graham is a supernatural analyst for the government and Riley is part of this new Magical Council. Plus, I noticed in one of the Season 11 variants, Buffy and Spike are wearing police badges which would harken back to the Season 2 episode when Buffy’s career test results recommend a career in law enforcement for her. Is this something we could look forward to?
CG: Thanks! Dowling is in issue 1 of Season 11, but not 2 or 3. That’s as far as I’ve written. You will also see more of Buffy-as-cop activity in that issue. But then other things happen that kind of dominate her attention.
4. Betta: Hi Chrisos, big fan here, since S9 Angel & Faith, and I loved Season 10. The development of Spuffy was great, with beautiful moments like the mind-walking and Buffy dropping the Scythe on the floor, all very true to the couple’s story we have seen on the show, including dealing with the Attempted Rape from Season 6. Xander, Anya and Dawn had a great storyline, too; I just would have liked a little bit more of Willow, though… I very much liked the Members of the Magic Council; it is a pity that they were massacred. The arc with Achaeus and the crossover was also very interesting and satisfying.
When and why was it decided that D’Hoffyn would be the Big Bad of the season?
CG: Thanks, glad you liked the season! I agree that Willow got less attention than she deserved. That will change in season 11. I decided D’Hoffyn would be the Big Bad while outlining. I found it interesting that a demon, who is all about vengeance, would become trusted by the Scoobies… I mean, I didn’t make him a cruel guy who delights in tormenting people, he was like that on the show! But wanting a “grown-up” to make decisions for you is, I think, an impulse a lot of young people have as they transition into adulthood, not wanting to take on that responsibility themselves. And giving over your agency to someone else just because they’re older or seem more able to handle it can often be a really bad idea. They may well have their own agenda.
5. Buffy likes Coke: What is your favorite, or the one you’re most proud of, line of dialogue from Season 10?
CG: The more recent issues are fresher in my memory so I’m gonna say, “Come Butterworth. It transpires there is something in my eye.”
6. Sosa Lola: Hi Christos, first of all, thanks for NOT killing Xander – last month was one long funeral for me. I would also like to thank you so much for Xander’s amazing journey this season. I don’t remember any of the previous seasons giving Xander a solid arc before, everything with Dawn, his depression, working on his anger issues, going to therapy, using all he learned from therapy and his construction skills so her and Dawn could survive in that dimension, and last “Anya” finally forgiving him. My only regret is that we didn’t get to see at least one session with Dr. Mike.
My question is: We have learned that you have big plans for Buffy, Willow and Spike in S11 as well as a Giles miniseries, but nothing was mentioned about Xander and Dawn. I understand that you haven’t mentioned anything before to keep the illusion that Xander was dead, but now that he’s alive, what are your plans for Xander and Dawn?
CG: Nicky loves Dr. Mike. I would’ve like to show him but it didn’t work out, too much else going on.
Xander and Dawn are in Season 11, but have less of a prominent role than in Season 10. With the shortened season, it felt like I needed to pick a smaller core of characters to really focus on, and it ended up being Buffy, Willow and Spike. Now, that doesn’t mean other characters won’t show up, far from it. Just that they won’t be as focused on as they were in Season 10. (Except Giles, who as you mentioned will have his own miniseries, with Joss co-writing it.)
7. bonnaleah: Hi Christos. Early in the season we learned that “group belief” had the power to influence events…such as the new vampires being able to fly and shape-shift because Dracula had set the standard for them, and we also learned that wanting something badly could make it happen. Billy for instance, wanting to be a slayer so badly that he made contact with the first slayer. So my question is about Spike and about how badly he wanted a relationship with Buffy. We saw Spike wishing as much over a Vampire book, and we saw Buffy make an out of the blue [her own words] decision to give Spike a chance after her friends all seemed to agree that she should. Is it feasible to speculate that Spike’s wish and the group belief of the Scoobies was the catalyst for the Buffy/Spike relationship?
CG: No, because the “wanting it bad enough” thing only applies to magic. No matter how much I want to lose 20 pounds without exercising, the new Seed of Magic isn’t going to make that happen, and the same is true for human emotion. Spike could have written that Buffy loved him in the book, but it wouldn’t have worked… but if he had written that the Shanshu Prophecy was about him, that part conceivably could have worked. Although the book does have that nasty tendency to throw you a curve.
8. angevil: Hi, Christos! I have really enjoyed Season 10, especially re-reading it all together last week while waiting for the final issue. I would like to know who came up with the not-Anya story arc and was there a possibility for her to be/become real Anya. She was a much loved and funny character. It was so good to see her again but also sad to see her die again.
CG: Thank you! The idea of Xander being haunted by Anya was something Joss pitched for Season 9, but that never made it into that season. So I picked it up! I’m not sure what Joss’s intention was as far as whether it was the real Anya, but for me she was always going to not be. There’s a couple of reasons for that. One, the character arc for season 10 was moving into adulthood and accepting your independence, and the real Anya already did that in the show when she broke from D’Hoffyn. This Anya had to literally claim her life from the being that gave it to her, even if it meant losing it. That resonated more to me. Also, I felt like if Anya’s real ghost can come back, it opens a can of worms… why not Tara’s, or Joyce’s, or any number of other people? It felt better left alone.
9. Moscow Watcher: Hey, Christos. First of all, thank you for a great ride! Being a big Buff/Spike fan, I was thrilled, excited, nervous and ultimately very happy about my favorite couple.
Question: I’m curious about the scene in the last issue, when D’Hoffyn offers to grant every Scooby a wish. Did you intentionally re-imagine Joss’ unrealized Season 7 plotline? (Do you know that Joss planned Tara’s return in Season 7 the following way: Buffy can make any wish and she wishes Tara back.) Or does the scene in the last issue have no relation to Joss’ old idea?
CG: I was aware of that, so it did affect my thinking… but subconsciously, because until you mentioned it I’d forgotten about it!
10. Morphi: Hi Christos. Thanks to you, Rebekah and Megan for a great season. for the most part (still not keen on Kid!Giles) I’ve enjoyed it very much and many of the humorous parts (especially those featuring Dracula) had me laughing out loud. More of those, please, and more Harmony, queen of the vampires. She’s delightful.
My question is as follows: Is there any chance that Buffy will reconcile with the other Slayers in Season 11, and if she does, any chance that Nadira will crossover to the Buffy book? I loved the way you wrote Nadira and would like to see you write her again.
CG: Thanks! I would write Harmony and Clem all day long. As for Nadira, sorry, she won’t be in Buffy Season 11… or should I say, no plans at this time. As for other Slayers, Buffy will be interacting with some. As friend or foe, well, that remains to be seen…
11. Vampire in a Rug: Something small I’ve been wondering for a while… In one of the IDW comics Spike: the Devil You Know, there is a character called the Duchess, who is a female of the same species as Archduke Sebassis who also keeps a slave. I know the IDW stuff is in a dubious area where it may not be canon, but is it possible that Archduchess Venobia was inspired by her, or may even be the same person?
CG: I haven’t read that issue, but that doesn;t mean they can’t be the same person! I work for IDW too. Let’s see if I can arrange a Buffy/ROM crossover!
12. barilo8: How big was the challenge to make Buffy and Spike a couple again with all the circumstances of their past?
CG: Getting them together wasn’t hard. What was challenging was making this relationship feel different and new, and like it evolved. The circumstances of their past actually helped with that, because their baggage forced them to confront those issues and grow as people. As I’ve said before, to me, Spike without a soul was a different person than he is now, much in the same way Angel and Angelus can’t be considered the same person. But knowing that and it actually feeling that way for the two of them are two different things.
13. Wexina: Can you give any more details about the Giles miniseries that Joss mentioned that he would be writing? For example, will it be released during the Season 11 run, or after it concludes?
CG: My understanding is some time during Season 11, but I honestly don’t know for sure. We did just exchange emails coordinating the setup for Giles going from the main book to the mini, which happens in BTVS Season 11 #3.
14: Bamph: Are there any specific challenges and advantages you are expecting for Season 11 due to the much shorter length of twelve issues vs. the larger format of your work in Seasons 9 (A&F) and 10?
CG: There’s going to be a pretty fast pace to it, so I want to make sure we don’t skimp on the character bits. Part of that involves reducing the number of “focus” characters.
15: AndrewCrossett: Before Buffy and the Scoobies realized that the Vampyr book controlled the world’s magic and could be written in, someone or something had already been writing new rules in it. Will the identity of this someone be addressed next season?
CG: Not quite, sorry I wasn’t clear about that in the comic. No being or person had been writing on the book. Rules magically appeared written in the book based on what everyone believed most strongly and how everyone was acting. (For example, vampires really wanted expanded powers, so they got them.) That’s why it was important for our heroes to take an active role in shaping the new rules of magic, otherwise they’d get automatically set based on what the largest number of beings wanted the most… and you never know who that will be, or what their motives are.
16: Wenxina: Last we heard, there will be more stuff with Angel coming out but that it will be staggered behind the Buffy book. Can you share any news on that front with us?
CG: No, sorry, that’s a Dark Horse question!
17. Vampire in Rug: A question about wishing. What would have happened if Buffy didn’t make her specific wish at the start of the issue about D’HOffyn’s new powers? I don’t think Anya could have known that Buffy would make that specific wish right there and then. Also, I think I spotted a (small) plot error. Jonathan and the other vengeance demons left D’Hoffyn because he torched Anya. Xander says “there’s got to be something-” and Giles says I wish there was. The other demons were still in the room and Giles made a wish, I think they could have healed Anya. Do I get a no-prize? I wish you all the best in Season 11!
CG: If Buffy hadn’t made her wish, it would have been a lot uglier. Anya didn’t know Buffy would make that wish (although she clearly tried to steer her in that direction on page 2) but she was stalling for time, hoping someone would make some wish she could act on. As for Giles’ wish, it wasn’t a wish for revenge (whereas Buffy’s was), so the Vengeance Demons didn’t have “jurisdiction.” (Even though D’Horffyn later claims he himself can grant a variety of types of wishes.) Also, it was chaotic, and the Vengeance Demons had just seen that D’Hoffryn can destroy them easily, so they were more concerned with saving their own butts. Still, while I don’t have the rights to award you a no-prize, I will grant you my equivalent: a faux prize. Enjoy it in good health!
18: Bunny Hearts: Hi Christos! Thanks to the whole staff for a great season! Really looking forward to Season 11.
What were you bigger or more vexing challenges in getting this season on paper the way you wanted it?
CG: If I had to pick one challenge it was the sheer number of characters needing to be given their due “screen time”. And that was a lot harder for Rebekah than me, by the way!
19: Betta: Hi again, Christos” Which arc was the most difficult for you to write? Why?
CG: Probably the one where all the Scoobies are fighting. They’ve been together so long, and remained friends through so much, I knew it was going to be hard to convincingly portray them being at odds like that. But it is something that happens to people entering adulthood…without the bonds of school to hold you together, as people make their way in the world, priorities change and old friends can drift apart. So that helped.
20. VampSlayer: Since Season 11 is supposedly much bigger in scope and conflict, can we expect to see many characters from the past returning to assist with this uber!apocolypse? There are so many characters I’d love to see Buffy and co. interact with again! Were there any you wish you’d had a chance to visit in Season 10 but didn’t get the chance? Thanks for an amazing season!
CG: It’s hard to discuss without spoilers, but Season 11 won’t be bigger in a “cast of thousands” way, like Season 8 was. It’s more bigger, wider-ranging threat of a type our heroes aren’t used to facing. I too love the rich cast of characters the shows have, but have learned first-hand the perils of trying to cram too many in there… it just ends up with someone being underserved. (And it’s hell on Rebekah having to draw them all!) As for who I wish I’d had a chance to visiy… Gunn. And I’d love to find a way to bring Lorne back, but only if it’s the right story, one worthy of doing so, and I haven’t come up with one yet.
Original Q&A at Slayalive