Sure, the cat is out of the bag in regards to the identity of Dark Horse’s “Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 8’s” big villain, Twilight. But the story of Buffy, Angel and the rest of the cast doesn’t end with that revelation, and neither does CBR’s interview with the characters’ creator, Joss Whedon!
In part two of our lengthy chat, the creator of the beloved vampire franchise takes a look at “Season 8” as a whole and his role in it. From breaking out the story ideas to juggling the needs of multiple collaborators, Whedon shares how “Season 8’s” story came together, where the tale of Buffy and Angel will head post-Twilight and an early hint at how “Season 9” will come together.
CBR News: After talking with Scott [Allie], the impression I got was that you ended up being much more hands on with “Buffy Season 8” than you had initially planned on. Now that you’re nearing the end, does it surprise you how much you’ve done?
Joss Whedon: Yes. I always go into everything thinking, “Well, I’ll do it for a little and then hand it off.” I feel like I’ve done an enormous amount of work on this series, and not nearly enough, which is pretty much how I feel about everything. It definitely is a much bigger project than I realized. 40 issues sounds great in your head as a fan as an era of a comic book, but it’s four years plus. Not taking that into account is a little bit naive. So it’s been a ton of work, but I’ve loved it. I’ve learned a whole lot about do’s and don’ts, but when I first thought of this after Scott approached me and said “Let’s revitalize this”…well, it wasn’t just a shot in the arm. It turned out to be a much bigger production.
For this final stretch of the series, even beyond the Twilight reveal, there’s a lot of story left to tell before “Season 8” wraps up. I thought it was very interesting how you gave the big plot point of unmasking the villain to Brad Meltzer before your final arc even came along. What should readers expect knowing that a lot of the big craziness is hitting before the finale?
What this means is much bigger than “Angel put on a mask and caused a lot of trouble.” It’s definitely bigger. And Brad came in more than any other writer wanting to connect the dots of the arc with his own ideas about what would work. It kind of blew me away. I was thinking that I knew where I wanted to end up, and I’m still heading there, but Brad had some ideas that would really push the mythology and open up a whole new level, in terms of both the personal and the mythic, that I was really impressed by. Then, when I found out he could write the characters the way they talk on top of that? I was like, “I gotta get me some more of these novelist types! This is great!”
Angel as Twilight is not the whole story at all, which is another reason -Â having read the first three of Brad’s four issues -Â I’m not as concerned [about the leak.] I felt like this will give people time to get used to the idea. Because I’m the guy that thought, “Either they’re never going to buy it or they’re all going to see it coming that Angel is a vampire.” So I’m constantly wrong about what people expect or what they want. But I’m really excited by Brad’s arc. It’s very different, but it’s very “Buffy.” That’s not an easy combination for somebody who never wrote the show.
Scott mentioned how you’d really let a lot of the writers go off in their own directions or towards their own tastes from arc-to-arc. Now that we’re coming up on the end of “Season 8,” are there elements about the world of Buffy that are in a different place than you had planned going in?
I have always directed where the characters would go. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t hear a good idea for someone and not go, “Yes! Do that!” But I’ve never just waved my hand and said “Best of luck.” In terms of what we needed to have and where we needed to push forward, I’ve been producing the whole time. I think there were times when I didn’t check the colors or, very occasionally, the pencils because of my work commitments, but there was never a time I didn’t know where we were heading. I will say that, because I wanted people to have fun with it and get involved on their level, I did give the mandate of, “Yes, you’ve got to push the story forward on some level, but what are you interested in? Bring your obsessions to the table because that’s how this works. If you’re not going to have something of your own, then you’re not going to have the real joy that I felt the first time I ever wrote Andrew nattering on about Lando Calrissian’s stupid little cape.” [Laughs] You want everybody to have that joy and go, “This is my moment.”
At the same time as I’ve been trying to keep it controlled and moving yet personal to the writers, Brad said to me, “When you do ‘Season 9,’ you should do like they do at Marvel and get everybody in a room to plot it out with them rather than just send everybody a big memo” -Â which is what I did with this -Â “That way, you’re going to get a story that’s way more focused and heading exactly where you want it to be, and it will get everybody way more on board with where it needs to go, and the whole thing will be quicker and more cohesive in terms of your big arc.” And I thought that was rather wise. And in fact, that is the plan. The next season will not be 40 issues. We want to tell a more contained story and keep a little more momentum than we managed to get with this first paradigm.
Joss, I want to wrap our Buffy talk with what will hopefully give fans one more spoiler as far as the future of the series. After we’d mentioned we’d be talking to you, a reader named Remmy wrote in saying that, of all the characters in the Buffyverse, Spike was his favorite, and he wondered if, with Angel back in play in “Season 8,” could something for Spike be too far off?
You know, like Angel, he’s somebody we wanted to keep our mitts off of for a while. And, like Angel, he’s incredibly important to Buffy. So do I have plans for Spike? I don’t think anybody’s going to gasp in horror when I say, “Yes.” What are they? I don’t think anybody’s going to gasp in horror when I say “I’m not going to tell you!” [Laughs]
But again, it’s a question of leaving everything that IDW is doing -Â and I’m not aware of everything they’re doing, and I haven’t read a lot of the stuff -Â and giving just enough [on our end] so it’ll jibe with whatever they’re doing. It’s not like Spike’s going to turn up and now he’s a werewolf. He’ll still be Spike, and we won’t constrict them from doing whatever stories they want.
Check back with CBR on Friday for Whedon’s thoughts on the final fate of fan favorite “Dollhouse,” as both a TV series and a franchise!