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Loeb Talks “Buffy,” Confirms “New Ultimates”

by  in Comic News Comment
Loeb Talks “Buffy,” Confirms “New Ultimates”
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight” #20 on sale this week

Somehow, in between smashing the Marvel Universe with a raging Rulk and disassembling the Ultimate Universe with Magneto and Doctor Doom, superstar writer Jeph Loeb found time to pen “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight” #20 for Dark Horse Comics and his pal, Buffyverse creator Joss Whedon.

The issue is in stores this week, so CBR News caught up with the fan-favorite to talk Buffy, the Sam Loeb Charity Fund, the proposed Buffy animated series, and for an early Christmas present, to receive confirmation of the “New Ultimates” coming in 2009 from Loeb and artist Frank Cho!

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CBR: We talked about this when “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight” #20 was solicited a few months back, but now that the book is finished and on sale this week, why don’t you tell us again what is it you love about Buffy?

Jeph Loeb: Everything that Joss gave her. Her humor. The wryness. The insanity in an insane world. And I’m not sure if you’re talking about the entire thing or the Slayer herself, but it all applies. Great characters. It’s clever. And I don’t use the word “clever” very often.

Pages from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight” #20

What can you tell us about your story in this one-off issue?

It’s “Pleasantville” without the black and white or “the Witherspoon,” as Buffy says inside. She has the worst day ever and hasn’t slept in something like a week and falls asleep only to wake up back in Year One. Only that looks much like what the animated series was going to look like. Mom’s alive. Dawn’s a little kid. And that’s just the beginning. It was an age of innocence compared to what she’s doing now in “Season Eight.”

The best is that we got Eric Wight, and his talented animation team of Ethan Beavers and Adam Van Wyk, to do the “Year One” part. Eric did all the designs for the series. Meanwhile, Georges Jeanty, who also provides one of the stunning covers, does the framing sequence brilliantly. Jo Chen does the other one which is kind of a riff on Norman Rockwell – gorgeous. And Lee Loughridge colored the book which has two distinct looks and did an amazing job.

And your daughter’s a big Buffy fan too, right?

Huge fan. She came into it when the show was off the air, but that’s the power of DVD.

And here’s as good a time as any for an unabashed plug, if you’re not reading “Hulk,” the one that has the red Hulk in it, and we know who you are, try it out if no other reason than Audrey writes one-page Mini-Hulk stories that are funny as hell in each issue. They’re penciled, inked and colored by Chris Giarrusso. He just nails it.

Is the fact both you and your daughter Audrey love her make Buffy even more special?

Sure. Anytime you share something with your child it takes on a new shine.

A portion of the sales of “Buffy” #20 will go to the Sam Loeb Charity Fund, named for your late son. Was he a fan of Buffy too?

Yes, but he was more of an Angel fan. He was way into “Angel.” We’d watch both of them together. Like I said, Audrey came into it later.

Were Sam and Joss Whedon close?

I think Joss was astonished that this 15-year-old kid could argue politics, admire theater and musicals and could always find the funny. He didn’t worship Joss, the way many of us do – Emperor’s new clothes and all that. And the Emperor liked him.

Pages from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight” #20

Can you give us an update on Sam’s charity in terms monies raised and scholarships funded? Are there new events or funds planned?

Well, the first is the Sam Loeb College Scholarship Fund (SLCSF). With a good portion of the help from everyone who participated in DC’s “Superman/Batman” #26 — and I can’t thank everyone enough — and Marvel’s “Onslaught Reborn,” it took us way over the top, more than we ever expected. We raised more than $200,000.

We give out two scholarships of $10,000 a year to senior students in the Magnet Program at North Hollywood High, who are on their way to college. It’s a good way to keep Sam’s spirit alive. Because we felt like that charity had been so well funded, we set our sights on a new charity. It’s something Sam was intimately involved with – summer theater. I know that a lot of Buffy fans are also fans of theater and this seemed like a natural pairing.

The Teenage Drama Workshop, or TADW as it’s called, invites students from everywhere onto the college campus of Cal State Northridge to participate in three different theatrical productions each summer. It’s the oldest such program in the country. The idea of the TADW Sam Loeb Scholarship Fund is to provide scholarships for these kids. $900 pays for a student’s tuition for the summer. We don’t expect anyone to buy a full tuition, but every little bit helps. We invite everyone to make a donation, no matter how large or small.

Here’s the info: Make the check out to: CSUN Foundation – TADW Sam Loeb Scholarship Fund. And sent it to:

Doug Kaback

Executive Director

Teenage Drama Workshop,

Cal State Northridge,

Department of Theater,

18111 Nordhoff Street

Northridge, CA 91330

Your donation is tax deductible. The Tax I.D. is 95-6196006.

There’s a nifty ad that explains it all inside “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight” #20 that was donated by my pals over at Comicraft, designed by J.G. Roshell and Richard Starkings. They also do all the astonishing lettering on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight.”

Pages from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight” #20

How involved is Joss Whedon in this new charity?

He’s not directly involved. Nor do I want to imply that he is. But what Joss and Sam shared was/is their love of theater. It just seemed like a good match for some proceeds from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight” #20 going to this one. Joss supported what I wanted to do with this single issue and that was of enormous help. Buffy fans are a legion, so I hope they’ll help us out.

I have to also give a shout out to Scott Allie and everyone at Dark Horse who cut through an enormous heap of red tape to make this happen.

Between Rulk and “Ultimatum,” 2009 is going to be a big one for you. What else do you have cooking? Will we see your Spider-Man project with J. Scott Campbell next year?

I love that people call it “Rulk.” That was never mine. I saw it in a review and it made me smile. It’s so much better than “Clor.” Anyway, nobody calls him that, I made a nickname SHIELD just gave him and what do they know about anything? So I’ll be doing more “Hulk” – Red and Green!

When “Ultimatum” is over there’ll be… something left of the Ultimate Universe. With the help of the original architects Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar, we’re paving our way to a new blast of Ultimate books.

All I can tell you about is “New Ultimates” with Frank Cho. It’s stunningly gorgeous. Frank and I had a blast working on “Hulk” #7-9, along with the handsome Arthur Adams, so we wanted to keep the fun going.

After that, it’s all a big secret. But there’s some verrrrrry cool stuff.

And what about TV land? “Smallville,” “Lost,” “Heroes” — you have been at the forefront of genre television for nearly a decade. Do you know your next TV project yet?

I do. And I can’t say yet. Stay tuned as they say.

Thanks for this, Jeph. Our very best to you and your family at the holiday season.

Thanks to you. And mostly thanks to everyone who read this far down.

And if you are sitting across from your studiomate Geoff Johns right now, please tell him we said hello.

And a big “Happy Holidays” back from everyone at the Empath Magic Treehouse with Geoff Johns, Allan Heinberg and now we have “Supergirl” writer, Superstar of Tomorrow, Sterling Gates in our tree too.

“Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season Eight” #20 is on sale this week from Dark Horse.

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