IGN Interview: Jeanine Schaefer and Jordie Bellaire (BOOM! Studios)


It’s a time of major upheaval for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer franchise. Not only is there a new TV series in the works, Dark Horse Comics’ long running Buffy continuation finally reached its end last year with Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 12 #4. Now the franchise has made a new home at BOOM! Studios (alongside fellow Joss Whedon creation Firefly).

BOOM! has made a very interesting choice with its first major Buffy project. Rather than attempt to pick up where Season 12 left off, the new series serves as a completely fresh start for Buffy and the Scooby Gang. Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 reboots the entire saga from the beginning. All the same ingredients are still in place, but the characters and situations have been re-imagined to suit 2019.

We recently had a chance to talk with Executive Editor Jeanine Schaefer and writer Jordie Bellaire about the origins of this new series and why it was necessary to give Buffy a fresh start. First, check out our exclusive preview of issue #2. The scroll down to find out more about what makes this new series so different.

Exclusive Look at BOOM! Stduios‘ Buffy the Vampire Slayer Reboot.

Why Reboot Buffy?

Between the seven seasons of the original Buffy TV series, five seasons of the Angel spinoff and 11 years’ worth of comic book continuations, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is nothing if not a sprawling epic. And according to Schaefer, that was one of the reasons the choice was made to reboot Buffy and her world rather than continue where Dark Horse ended in Buffy Season 12.

“Dar Horse did such a great job with the book,” Schaefer said. “They did so much with it, and they were really able to not only explore every corner of the Buffy universe, but also took her so far as a person and took her relationships so far. So as we were thinking about it, it feels really closed. It feels like they brought her to such a great point.”

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 cover by Kevin Wada. (BOOM! Studios)

Instead, the goal became to re-examine Buffy in a way that would appear even more directly to contemporary readers. Schaefer said, “Buffy is still so relevant now in 2019. The themes and the emotional arcs and her as a character are still very relevant for kids in 2019. We thought we should give kids now their Buffy. Make a Buffy for kids now. Once we started talking about it, it was a no-brainer. All of the possibilities we have in front of us right now – it’s really exciting.

On Joss Whedon’s Involvement

Whedon took a fairly active role in the development of Dark Horse’s Buffy comics, including personally scripting several storylines on Buffy Season 8. We were curious if When is taking a similarly hands-on role with this series.

According to Schaefer, Whedon isn’t quite as directly involved in the production of the new BOOM! series, though he did provide valuable input in the initial stages.

Schaefer said, “He got our initial outline. We sat down with him and walked him through what was in the outline and then some of the finer points of some of the character arcs. That’s really what he was most concerned about. And just some of the bigger ideas we had. He was really excited, particularly about two of the character points. Unfortunately, I can’t talk about the, but you’ll know it when you see it.

Schaefer continued, “He also gave us a couple of challenges and some big questions that he wanted us to answer before we could move forward. Because this is something that’s so important to him. I’m happy to say we were able to answer those questions for him in a way that he was really excited about. He gets the scripts as we move forward, and he’s really given us his blessing here, which we’re really excited about.

We were also curious how Bellaire dealt with the challenge of trying to channel Whedon’s distinctive voice while still bringing her own personal touch to the series. Bellaire described it as a mostly “instinctual” process, one aided by her long-time love of both the Buffy and Firefly franchises.

“I guess because I’m such a big Joss fan, between Firefly and Buffy, I think that’s really ingrained in my brain anyway,” Bellaire said. “It’s lovely stuff. It’s fun. It’s harrowing. It’s upbeat in places. I think it’s really informed who I am as a writer anyway. Approaching it, I think I’m already kind of working in the vein, but trying to give it my own voice, too.”

A Tale of Two Reboots

BOOM’s decision to reboot Buffy is all the more interesting given that this comic won’t be the only attempt at updating the TV series for a modern audience. Whedon himself is also executive producing a reboot TV series, one that features Monica Owusu-Breen as showrunner and is said to feature an African American lead (though whether or not this character is actually Buffy Summers remains unclear).

We wanted to know f there were any concerns about two distinct Buffy reboots debuting withing a relatively short span of time. Schaefer downplayed the idea that the new comic and TV series might step on each other’s toes.

I think one of the beautiful things about Buffy is that the universe is so rich and so wide that there’s plenty of room for us to do what we’re doing and to have them do that too,” she said. “We talking to them early on, and we’re both aware of what the other is doing. And we’re both really excited that we’re coming out in tandem. I think it’s great. I mean, more Buffy s always better, right?

How the Saga is Changing

The first issue of the new series offers some superficial signs of how Sunnydale has changed in the shift from the late ’90s to 2019. However, we were curious what Schaefer and Bellaire saw as the fundamental difference between the classic Buffy era and this reboot. What makes Buffy’s story so different this time around?

According to Bellaire, a lot of it boils down to 21st century technology and the increased sense of interconnectivity in this age of smartphones and social media. She said, “Jeanine and I talked a lot about how we’re more connected than ever, whether that’s for better or for worse. It can kinda go both ways, I think it’s going to make a lot of our kids more confident, as well as a little more pressured to perform. There’s sucn an issue of connectivity. Again, not that it’s a bad thing. But sort of – all eyes on your at every moment. That Slayer thing that she’s got all this pressure on her – we’re going to explore something like that and how it’s not just a Slayer that feels that way. Everybody feels immense amounts of pressure.”

The first issue also makes some significant changes to the general Buffy plot, culminating with the unexpectedly early debut of Drusilla on the final page. Bellaire noted that she was conscious of a need not to adhere to the formula of the TV series too closely.

“In a weird way, I’m just kind of letting Sunnydale just write itself as I write it, without sounding pretentious,” said Bellaire. “It’s been kind of happening like that naturally. I don’t know how much I’ve actually planned on when I reveal Dru versus when I reveal Cordie. I’m happy to say I do have Cordelia showing up, because I love Cordelia and think she’s essential to Sunnydale. She’s going to be a very different person. But Dru is just taking the role of the Master, which we saw pretty early on in the Buffy stuff. It’s important that we got to her really quick, because she’s going to be Buffy’s antagonist – woman on woman – in this arc.”

Schaefer also revealed that the first year of the series has been mapped out, teasing that some more major changes to the familiar Buffy saga will be arriving when that first year wraps.

Will Classic Buffy Return?

For all the excitement surrounding this rebooted take on Buffy, there’s no ignoring the fact that some fans are concerned about losing the version of the character they had been following for the past 11 years in Dark Horse’s comics. It’s a situation not unlike that of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, where decades’ worth of novels and comics were wiped out of continuity in order to make way for Disney’s new sequel movies. These old stories remain in print, but Disney has yet to revisit the old Expanded Universe through new projects.

With that in mind, we were curious to know whether BOOM! might have plans to explore the classic Buffy universe in future projects. When the Buffy license was first revealed to be shifting to BOOM! last year, the publisher indicated that multiple comics were in the works.

Schaefer indicated that she and her colleagues are very aware of the concerns of long-time Buffy fans, drawing a comparison to a different long-time sci-fi property. “That is the biggest concern we’ve heard, and I totally get that. When Star Trek rebooted – I’m a huge Star Trek fan in my blood. My mom is a huge Star Trek fan. I loved the original series and Next Generation. I was nervous about the 2009 reboot. That’s something that was really important to us. These are the sorts of questions we’re using as our road map going forward. So I can’t give anything away and I can’t say much about what our plans in terms of a larger universe are, but I will say that it’s something we’re really aware of and something that’s important to us.

Original article at IGN

Author: Cider

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