Buffy the Vampire Slayer is back!
BOOM! Studios today released the first issue of its new Buffy the Vampire Slayer series from writer Jordie Bellaire and artist Dan Mora. The comic reimagines Buffy Summers’ early days at Sunnydale High as if she were a student today rather than in the late 1990s. Giles is still her Watcher, and Willow and Xander are still her besties. Beyond that, expect to see some changes.
We’ve seen how Buffy and her friends look with Dan Mora’s new, 21st-century designs. We know that certain characters like Drusilla and Robin Wood are in for some changes in this new series, but what other changes are in store for Buffy fans and what should they expect from the series going forward?
ComicBook.com spoke to Bellaire and series editor Jeanine Schaeffer about all things Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Keep reading for a preview of things to come and to see pages from Buffy the Vampire Slayer #2.
When BOOM! Studios acquired the Buffy license, how did you decide that you wanted to reboot the whole thing from the ground up? Was there ever any discussion of trying to stay in the same continuity as Dark Horse Comics’ Season 8-12 comics or even starting over somewhere during or after the original TV show?
Jeanine Schaefer: We talked a lot about how we would want to do it, but when they first brought me in, I sat down with you know, Matt [Gagnon] and EIC and Byrce [Carlson] our VP of Content, and Sierra Hahn, our Executive Editor, and we kind of looked at all the Dark Horse stuff. They've done so much. They did such a great job with it, and they've taken it so far that it felt like it's going to be 2019, and Buffy was such a formative show to kids in the '90s that we thought, I thought that there's something that we could bring to kids in wherever we are now -- we're moving into the 2020s -- because it is still so relevant. All the themes of Buffy, and the characters and the stuff that they went through and what they meant to people is still so incredibly relevant. So it kind of just seemed like, "This is the way to go, right? Yeah, this is the way to go." It felt spiritually like that made the most sense for her, for her character.
The approach you're taking reminds of the Ultimate Marvel Universe and how Marvel rebooted its own continuity in that way. Would you say that’s a fair comparison? Will we see this Buffy series kind of retell stories from the show the same way Ultimate Marvel retold classic Marvel stories or is this more about familiar characters going on new adventures?
Jordie Bellaire: It's funny because Jeanine, when she originally came to me with the project, she had said that, "Hey this is gonna be like the Ultimate line of Marvel,” which is so funny that you said exactly that. But yeah, I think we have a great excitement about trying to tell new stories of the characters and themes that we already know while also kind of, I don't like the word repeating, but definitely kind of addressing the things that we know and love from the original, that too.
Because it's definitely not us turning around and away from things, because that stuff is what made the show so great. But we're definitely trying to forge a new path in that way of it being like an Ultimate Universe as well. I would say definitely new relationships and new, complex themes and arcs that weren't there before. So that's cool.
JS: One of the things that's the most exciting is that in 2019, even if similar things occurred, they're going to deal with it in different ways because they have a different mindset then we did in the ‘90s. They have different kinds of support structures and societal structures are different. A lot of things remain the same about just being a human being, but a lot of the ways in which we deal with stuff and the resources that kids have at their disposal are going to be very different now.
After reading the first issue, the character that stood out to me most was Willow. In the original series, the first time Willow and Buffy talk Willow basically apologizes for interacting with Buffy, but here she’s much more confident. Can you explain a bit about your take on Willow and why you’ve made these adjustments with her early on?
JB: I think me and Jeanine when we first started talking about the project, we both talked about how we both love Willow. I think Willow definitely has a lot of charm being this sweet, quiet, bookish girl, but she really came into her own confidence in the later parts of the show. I just think that's the thing that young girls need today, you know, I think we need strong female characters who are confident, not just shrinking violets. Not to say that obviously there aren't women who are like that, still confident, but I just thought it would be a nice flip and a nice change for once to have somebody smart, to have somebody sweet, who is also confident and who can speak her mind and can be honest, and open, and frank.
I think it's a nice reversal for Willow to kind of start her off that way. I mean, who's to say, though, that we won't sort of circle back around maybe to some insecurities that she might have, because I think every person has insecurities. Right now I thought it would be cool to start her off sort of different from how we originally first saw her.
JS: I think one of the things that we talked about too was a lot of more sort of bookish or nerdy girls have larger communities now that they can go with the Internet. So I think they've, again not that there aren't girls who are still like, you know, reserved or shy in real life, but I think they have an opportunity to learn more about themselves and build up more confidence because they can more easily find communities of people who are like them.
So again, that was a kind of a function of “It's 2019.” It's not just cell phones, it's “How does society change? How do our connections change, being in the future and being able to reach out to more people like us?”
Maybe this is looking too far ahead right now, but I was wondering what your long-term plan for aging Buffy is. Do you want to keep her in high school as long as possible, or are you already considering following her through college and into adulthood
JB: I think that's definitely a Jeanine question because I mean, I only have so many things so far. I'm not sure where Jeanine plans on taking it, how long of a journey we're on.
JS: I mean, as far as I'm concerned, I want to explore her in high school. I haven't really thought about changing that status quo yet. And the stuff that we have planned is all her in high school.
At the end of the first issue, we get our first glimpse of Drusilla, who we know from promotion for the series is going by the title “The Mistress.” Can you talk about Dru’s role in the series and what that new name signifies about how she may be different from the TV version?
JB: Well again, I think like the reversal of Willow, I really liked Dru and her journey throughout the show and the books and stuff, and I really wanted to start her off strong and maybe a little brazen and arrogant. I think that her being a strong character and kind of being frightening, not because she's so unhinged because of what had happened to her in her history. I really wanted her to come off just completely like dominant, completely controlling, really frightening, just like The Master. Again, reversing the idea that there is a male antagonist to Buffy, but actually that her greatest foe could actually be a woman. That's sort of why we went with that for Dru. In my mind, I just want to see her starting off kicking ass, like right away
I don't want us to think, "Oh poor Dru." I want to kind of be like, "I don't want to be in the same room with her at all. She's horrifying."
JB: Well, I think Spike is a sweetheart. He's a big old sweetie pie. I'm a big Team Spike. I really like Spike, and I think that he is a poet. I mean, imagine how a poet's gonna get on with a domineering lady in his life. It's probably not going to be super great for Spike. I don't think he's gonna have a lot of agency. I don't think he's gonna have a lot of his own say or control of things. So that's sort of the relationship I'm interested to explore.
I think maybe originally
Speaking of Dan Mora's designs, can you talk a little bit about how the team went about the visual aspect of the book? When you go back and watch early Buffy, it is at times almost painfully ‘90s when you look at the fashion. How did you go about trying to update them while still making sure they were recognizable?
JS: That's one of the reasons we were excited to have Dan on the project, just because he just has such a great sense of what people look like, and what people are wearing and body language and stuff like that. You look at his stuff, it feels so modern and so relevant. Like he's looking outside and looking at what people are wearing.
What's actually funny is that everyone that we talked to, you know cover artists and Dan, said the ‘90s are back. I don't know what kids are wearing, I'm an "Old." Kids are wearing ‘90s stuff now. It's funny that we did the thing like, "We need to update them. What are kids wearing in 2019?" And it turns out they're wearing baby doll dresses and chokers like they did in 1997. It was fun trying to find those ways of making that feel like modern throwbacks instead of just throwbacks.
One of the biggest character changes is Robin Hood. He was the principal of Sunnydale High in the show’s final season, and now he’s being introduced much earlier on as one of Buffy’s classmates. Can you talk about why you decided to bring him in earlier and make such a drastic change to his role?
JB: Because everyone loves him, man! Everyone loves the Robin Wood. We can't get enough of him. We wanted to start him earlier, start him sooner. These are some of the things that we change now that we're doing the Ultimate universe idea. That we can embrace characters that were maybe short-lived before, I feel, didn't get to explore the full, super breadth. Sometimes it's like a dream in fan fiction, you know? You get to kind of explore those cool boundaries and those ideas.
I think that's why we wanted to bring him into the fold earlier. Because
This may be another case of me getting ahead of myself, but the one major character from Buffy’s first season who hasn’t been mentioned in relation to this series is Angel. At this point, can you say anything about plans for him?
JS: As of right now, we're focusing on Buffy. We want to get her story off the ground, and I think it's important that she
Which Buffy character are you most excited about getting to put your own spin on in the future? Or which one that you’ve already written into the series are you most excited about fans getting to see for the first time?
JB: I'm really excited to continue to develop Anya. Anya was always one of my character favorites. I really enjoyed her. I'm really excited that Jeanine's kind of let me bring her in so early. I hope fans really like Anya, because she's going to be a big part of what I want to do and say with Buffy. I really think she's an interesting ancient sort of character. I think she's super important.
JS: I completely agree, and I was so excited when Jodie said that she wanted to make Anya a big part early on. When that first script came in, and Anya was just so awesome. We got so excited. Like, everyone in the office got really excited. I have to agree.0comments
Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 is on sale now.