WonderCon 2013: ‘Buffy’ Season 9 comic faces a magical ending

March 31, 2013 | 4:08 p.m.

The “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” Season 9 comic book panel at WonderCon did not yield any hints as to what will be the theme or arc of Season 10, but the assembled panelists gave accounts of working with Joss Whedon in constructing the story lines, what the experience and the world of “Buffy” have meant to them, and what the end of Season 9 will bring.

The panelists in Anaheim on Saturday included Andrew Chambliss (onetime “Dollhouse” TV writer and “Buffy” comic writer), Georges Jeanty (artist on the “Buffy” comic), Jane Espenson (writer on the “Buffy” comic and TV show), and Christos Gage (writer on the “Angel & Faith” comic book). The panel was moderated by Dark Horse’s Jeremy Atkins.

One of the first things addressed was that there continue to be so many fervent fans of the Buffyverse, even 10 years after the last “Buffy” episode aired.

“I think it’s the human universality that Joss brings to all of his characters, whether they’re humans in space or in high school or the Hulk,” Gage said. “I think that it speaks to everyone. Even in 100 years or 50 years when everyone goes to school on the Internet, it’ll still speak to people because of who the characters are.”

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #22. Cover by Phil Noto. (Dark Horse)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #22. Cover by Phil Noto. (Dark Horse)

Chambliss revealed that the final arc of the Season 9 “Buffy” book will be titled “The Core.” The double meaning of the title deals with Xander, Willow and Buffy getting back together, and that they may be going down to the center of the Earth in their quest to rekindle magic in the world and try to save Dawn’s life. Espenson added that the mystery of the zompires would finally be addressed as well: where they came from and what they are.

Panelists were asked who their favorite characters were to write or draw. Gage said he liked Sophie and Lavinia, great-aunts of Rupert Giles. For Espenson, it was the dry-witted werewolf Oz. Jeanty enjoyed bad girl-turned-good Faith, and Chambliss chose vampire fave Spike but mentioned that he loved writing the character of Nikki Wood, a slayer from the 1970s.

In summing up this latest season of “Buffy” and “Angel and Faith,” the group was asked to give a one-word description. For Chambliss, it was “friends.” Jeanty: “loss.” Espenson: “epic.” Gage said that he couldn’t do it in one word, but that the title of one of the final arcs for “Angel & Faith” for this season was “What you want, not what you need,” and that was good enough for him.

Espenson revealed she will be launching a miniseries that will feature Billy the Vampire Slayer, a popular character from the “Buffy” series.  The multimedia writer talked a bit about writing for television, the Internet and comics, and how they differ.

“It’s a very different process to write comics. It’s much much harder. On TV, you have actors and directors and blocking and lighting people [to interpret your work]…. In comics you have to do that yourself — say what people will look like and facial expressions.” Espenson and Chambliss agreed that in comics, it’s Jeanty (or an artist in general) who is actually the actor. The artists are the ones interpreting the words put on the page.

Whedon influenced the careers of everyone on the panel. For Espenson and Chambliss, he not only gave them jobs in television, but also helped them structure their writing with his “why are we doing this?” style of storytelling. For Jeanty, as a comic book artist, “Buffy” gave him the chance to travel to places such as London and New Zealand where he may not have been able to go otherwise.

In other Whedonite comic book news, there are no plans to do anything further with Drusilla (on “Buffy”); there will be another “Serenity” book coming up later; and there aren’t any plans to continue the “Dollhouse” series.

— Jevon Phillips

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