When the slightly askew vampire Drusilla returns to the world of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” this June, she won’t be alone. The just-announced, all-new five-issue “Drusilla” mini-series from Dark Horse Comics won’t only be written by actress Juliet Landau, who portrayed the villain over the course of the original “Buffy” TV show, but it will also draw in a number of threads, ideas and characters from Dark Horse’s “Season 9” of Buffy comics and the ongoing “Angel & Faith” series where the character was just introduced.
“I think the appeal is really that she’s such a rich character with so many dynamics and contradictions,” Landau told CBR News. “She’s a villain, but she’s also got a very sweet, childlike vulnerable side. She’s really a mystery from having all these elements rolled up into one. She remains this mysterious, enigmatic character. One of the things that’s exciting in relation to the comic book is that Drusilla is rife with possibilities for story because she’s lived 200 years. There’s so many different eras she’s been a part of and then in terms of her own personal history, it’s very deep. So there’s a lot to draw upon literally and figuratively.”
Joined on interior art by Tim Seeley and Cliff Richards, Landau initially came to Dark Horse through another artistic connection. “Juliet was introduced to me through [regular Buffy artist] Georges Jeanty,” editor Scott Allie explained. “Georges goes to a lot of Buffy conventions now and he goes over to England often for those shows.”
“Scott and I have been talking about this for quite some time –Â ruminating and planning and finally doing it,” the actress added. “But it did come through Georges. He’s become a really dear friend and I’d forgotten that that’s how Scott and I had met even!”
Jeanty will provide covers for the series alongside Steve Morris and Landau explained that from the beginning, she wanted her friend involved in her series. “Georges did a drawing of me as Dru that I have hanging in my house,” she said. “It’s an exquisite, incredible piece that would make an outlandishly amazing cover. He did that pretty early on when we first met and I was really excited about it. And I’ve been very, very involved with the artists on this, both on the covers and the internal art –Â sending along reference images and designing the panels.”
Storywise, “Drusilla” will spill out of the current “Daddy Issues” arc in “Angel & Faith” where so far she’s been a bit different than readers have seen in the past. Writer Christos Gage explained how the world of “Buffy Season 9” changed not only Dru in his book but the entire world of the character. “I wrote the first issue without it confirmed that Juliet would be doing this, but when it all fell into place, we exchanged e-mails and she was very gracious and nice,” Gage said. “She said ‘Here’s what I want to do. Is there a way that this can dovetail with what you’re doing?’ I said absolutely. We’ve found a way for the two stories to follow on each other, but it’s not a ‘crossover.’ You don’t have to buy one to read the other. Hopefully my arc sets up her story in a way that you want to know more about Dru and then in Juliet’s book, that’s exactly what you get. I’ve seen what she’s got planned and it’s some really cool stuff.”
Readers looking for where the two sync up should look no further than “Angel & Faith” #9, though they should be looking closely. “It actually picks up directly where the ‘Angel & Faith’ comic leaves off –Â literally the panel right after,” Landau said. “So it’s going to be a continuation from that moment going forward.”
Allie noted, “As we progressed in Chris and Rebekah [Isaac’s] arc, we started fine tuning the connections. Juliet was reading Chris’ scripts and then she was turning in the scripts for her first issues as Rebekah was finishing art on the second to last issue of the ‘Angel & Faith’ arc, #9. So we had her stick some characters into the background doing different things and saying, ‘Let’s take this guy from Chris and Rebekah’s story and make him this guy from Juliet’s script.’ There’s really that connective tissue working there.
“It picks up very directly from Chris and Rebekah’s story. And the very catalytic scene that starts off Juliet’s story could just as easily been part of the climax of the ‘Angel & Faith’ story. They really dovetail nicely together,” Allie said. “One of the things that makes this a better fit for Season 9 is that so much in the world has changed since Season 8. Just like Chris is doing so much with Giles’ history in ‘Angel & Faith,’ the ‘Drusilla’ story has one foot in the past in a big way. We can look at who she’s been as well as who she’s going to be in the new world. One of the questions that’s going to be really fun to pose in this story is ‘Where does such a classic, gothic, old world vampire fit in to this current world?’ Dealing with Drusilla in a world where vampires have become en vogue creates a turning point for her in her very long life and one she probably wouldn’t have preferred.”
“It definitely shows a really different side of Dru. In terms of how that impacts the other characters, it’s very interesting to see how that pays off,” the actress said. “I sort of find that every creative process –Â I’ve been directing, producing, writing and acting –Â are all kind of similar beasts. And I definitely found working on this, because I inhabited Dru over the course of six seasons, that picking up Dru and slipping back into her skin came surprisingly easily.”
The editor noted while other actors have come on and done stories in the “Buffy” world before now, the Drusilla series stands out because of that closeness Landau has with the character. “Having done this before, I’m seeing something different in Juliet. When Amber Benson wrote the ‘Willow & Tara’ stuff, she was very much approaching it as a writer writing this story about this group of characters. With what Juliet’s doing, her understanding of the character she played on TV means that the plot is really just a blossoming of that character. She’s got a real internal understanding of who Dru is.
“And one of the weird things people are going to notice about the ‘Drusilla’ series is that while it’s completely about Drusilla, there’s an elusive quality about her where she’s somewhat at arms length from the reader,” Alie said. “It’s as much about other people’s perception of her as it is about Dru herself. Not every page is about Drusilla running around doing her crazy behavior. In a way, it’s strangely soft focused on her with the plot and so while it all sprouts from Juliet’s understanding of the character, the plot brings in a lot of other kinds of characters. It’s so interesting. It all evolves from Juliet’s understanding of Dru from the inside the way only an actor’s perspective can provide.”
“I’d agree,” said Gage. “When actors inhabit roles, they do a lot of thinking beyond what’s in the script about who this person is and where they come from. Juliet is giving so much thought to what effect Drusilla has on the world and other people and entities that they encounter. It’s a very interesting approach and I’m really looking forward to it. Fans of Drusilla and Buffy in general will really dig it, I think.”
Allie noted that by the series end, “We get to see who Drusilla becomes. She does become something new in this –Â not in the sense that she sprouts wings or anything, but she’s evolving right along with the changing world.”
Fans who want to see more of Landau ahead of the comic’s June debut can still catch the star in a production of John Patrick Shanley’s play “Danny and the Deep Blue Sea” at the Crown City Theater in Los Angeles. “We’ve been running going on six months. We’ve been extended four times and it’s been an amazing experience,” she said. “John McNaughton, who directed the Robert De Niro film ‘Mad Dog And Glory,’ directed and we’ve gotten to be the Critic’s Pick of the Los Angeles Times and all these raves. It’s been an exquisite experience and I’m so happy to be continuing that in NoHo through the end of the month. Then, I just shot a guest-starring role on ‘Criminal Minds’ and finished an independent called ‘Dark Hearts’ as well as did voices for the animated DVD that was just released ‘Justice League: Doom’ so it’s been very busy lately.”
Landau noted that the “Criminal Minds” guest spot led to a “Buffy” reunion of a different sort. Series star Matthew Gray Gubler stepped behind the camera, of which Landau said, “He’s incredibly talented. He as in the episode and directing and it was a really interesting, dark, cool episode. I can’t wait to see how it turns out. And a lot of the ‘Buffy’ and ‘Angel’ alum crew are now working on ‘Criminal Minds.’ The key makeup artist Jane from ‘Angel’ is there and the D.P. on ‘Criminal Minds’ was the camera operator on ‘Buffy’ so it was amazing. It’s really fun to get to work with everybody again.”
“Drusilla” hits stores from Dark Horse Comics in June.