The end credits have rolled for Dark Horse’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8,” and “Season 9” — now with Angel — looms large for an as-yet unannounced season premiere. With the release last month of issue #40 by “Buffy” creator Joss Whedon and series artist Georges Jeanty, readers got a taste of the Slayer’s new life in a world without magic and without a longtime friend and ally. The fallout from Buffy’s confrontation with the Twilight-possessed Angel in the penultimate issue reverberates in unexpected ways — the Slayer Army, of course, is no more, but this dissolution of other relationships could prove even more painful.
CBR News caught up with Jeanty to get his thoughts on drawing several pages from the series for which he has become known.
CBR News: First, congratulations on the “Buffy Season 8” finale! Your run on the series is quite an accomplishment. How does it feel to reach the end of this particular road?
Georges Jeanty: It was certainly something I never thought about when we first started this adventure! I do feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment with this book — it is the longest project I have ever been associated with, and one I am so proud of. I wasn’t originally aware of the overwhelming history that followed the “Buffy” lore, and it was only after I was working on the book for some time that I started to understand how important this book was and what it meant for a lot of people, not the least of which was me!
I’m hoping you can walk us through your thought process in developing this final cover. It looks like the “sans Dawn” version was created at the coloring stage, but did you realize it was a possibility when you were illustrating it? Were you told to arrange the characters so that she could be easily blacked out?
If I remember correctly, the editors and Joss wanted all the characters on the book because the Jo Chen cover was just to have Buffy. As I do, I’ll come up with several designs for the covers and this was one of the designs that they settled on. I thought to put everyone in black because I was kind of sad that this was the last issue, and the fact that Buffy had traveled back to Sunnydale made it obvious to put some sort of marker that they were back home, hence the road sign. I was unaware at the time of Giles’ fate, and the elimination/reappearance of Dawn was more of a publicity stunt. There was talk that Dawn was going to be the one to die, and advance viewings of the issue 40 cover wanted to hint at that. Ironically, I was unaware of the stunt or of Giles’ fate when I did the cover. I find it eerily fitting that he stands in the back from everyone, almost displaced. That was not intentional.
Page 2 reveals that Buffy has returned to a somewhat “normal” life. There’s also a lot of information packed into this page — Buffy’s a waitress, but we see from the background that we’re in a hip coffee-shop-bookstore. What was your thought process in designing this page in such a way to be able to get everything across?
That was all Joss. He laid down all the things he wanted for Buffy’s new working environment for “Season 9.” It was a book store/coffee shop in San Francisco called “Pick Me Up.” The irony of Buffy being a waitress will not be lost on longtime fans, and Joss wanted to play with that. But this time it’s not so terrible — it may even seem cool where she is now. We will see a lot more of the Pick Me Up in “Season 9.”
From layouts to pencils, Buffy’s expression changes from a question to a smile. What led you to change this, and what do you feel it accomplishes?
Getting the tone right has been the most paramount thing for me on this book, more than any other that I’ve done. The “Buffy” TV show in general was so steeped in melodrama that the comic should follow through with that. Getting the right expressions for me has been an arduous ongoing process that I face with every issue. Most people who read the Buffy books have never read a comic before, and I feel it’s my job to make that transition as smooth as possible. And as you know, you can say so much with the right expression.
On the next page, we get an establishing shot of San Francisco and an interaction between Buffy and her new coworker. I’m not sure how important this guy’s going to be as we enter “Season 9,” but I’d be curious to hear your thoughts as to why you designed him the way you did.
When I was drawing the bartender, Joss had asked for someone “nice and crunchy.” Being from Atlanta, Georgia, I had no idea what “crunchy” meant. Editor Scott Allie went on to tell me that’s what they call the pseudo-hippies up there. From there, I just looked up residents of western America with a more “hippie” flare. I don’t know how he fares in “Season 9,” but I do know there will be more of him.
On page 4, because of the shift in tone in panel four and the amount of shadow we get on Kennedy, it looks like you’re giving inker Andy Owens a workout. What does your working relationship look like at this point? Do your pencils reflect that you know it’s Andy who will be inking them?
A penciler and inker relationship should be symbiotic. It’s a marriage of sorts, and after a while you begin to understand the strength and weaknesses of that “marriage.” Andy has been in the business for a while and he’s no stranger to blacks on a page, having inked Scott McDaniel for years now. I really liked the way issue 40 came out, and if there are any criticisms it’s about my own work because I’m always so critical.
Same question regarding Michelle Madsen. What does her specific style of coloring bring to your art?
I love when Michelle takes the initiative with color; that’s when I think she shines the best. I have had a closer relationship with her on this book than I have with other colorists because, with “Buffy,” it’s always about the little things. I’ve probably stayed on top of Michelle with the way these girls dress in the book more than anything else. I have become very fashion conscious about drawing women’s clothing in “Season 8!”