Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s gift was death. Fans never exactly found out if that was because of her avoidance of it, her resurrection(s) or her propensity to dole it out to evildoers. Whatever the definition, we’ll get to see, and read, more about it after the announcement over the weekend that the Dark Horse comic book will continue with a Season 9 in September.
Along with creator Joss Whedon, and whatever writers come along during the book’s run, Andrew Chambliss will have a guiding hand in continuing the saga of the slayer, her pals Willow and Xander, and other denizens of the Buffy-verse. Chambliss is currently keeping his writing fangs sharpened as a scribe on “Vampire Diaries.” (Gasp! Vampire crossover!) We won’t get any Season 9 spoilers out of anyone, but Jevon Phillips caught up with Chambliss to shed a little sunlight on who he is.
JP: So how’s “Vampire Diaries” going?
Andrew Chambliss: We’re just wrapping up the writing for the season … in terms of airing, maybe six more to go. This season we told a huge story where we found out that Elena was part of this ancient curse. Kevin [Williamson] and Julie [Plec] are so good at finding ways to ground stories that could be really big and find really human moments in it. … It’s such a bigger story where we’ve opened up the supernatural world.
JP: Is there any friction between the crowd that follows “Vampire Diaries” and the crowd that follows “Buffy”?
AC: Not that I know of. I have not come across any fans who take one camp or the other. In terms of approach, “Buffy,” with the demons and magic, goes places where “Vampire Diaries” doesn’t necessarily go. “Vampire Diaries” is a much more grounded show, but I do think there are fans of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Vampire Diaries” and that there’s a huge amount of crossover. Because at the end of the day, the similarity that Joss [Whedon] has with Kevin and Julie is that it’s always about the characters and their emotions and those real human moments.
JP: How did the Season 9 writing gig come about?
AC: I kept in touch with Joss since “Dollhouse” ended, and I ended up working with Jed [Whedon] and Maurissa [Tancharoen] on the “Dollhouse” comic book. They’d been talking to Joss about how much fun we were having and said nice things about the work I was doing on it. … I got an email from Joss, and he asked me if I wanted to be on [“Buffy”], and how can you say no to that? “Buffy” is such a huge part of what made me want to become a writer, especially in television. It’s just sort of surreal that I’m going to get an opportunity to participate in that world.
JP: How far into the development of the season are you?
AC: In terms of the broad strokes and the way we’re breaking down the season — it’s going to be 25 issues — we’re looking at five-issue arcs with some stand-alones thrown in there. We have those arcs figured out, and we’ll soon be going in there to make sure that all of the character journeys are there. We’re still early on in the scriptwriting process.
JP: So, any particular characters, beside the main ones, that we can expect to see? Any favorites for you?
AC: There are a couple that I can’t mention cause I don’t want to give away any big reveals that are coming down the line. At the end of the day, I’m just excited to write Buffy and where she is in her journey as a character coming off Season 8 where she was running this huge army and it literally was “the world’s going to end.” She ends the season potentially saving the world but destroying magic. She always thought she was going to die, but now she has to answer all of these questions that hit when you normally enter your 20s. Who am I? What am I going to do? Will I be a slayer all of my life? At the same time, you have Willow facing similar questions. She’s been cut off from magic, so how much of her identity was wrapped up in being a witch? It’s interesting. … I’m discovering Buffy as a writer while she is on this path of trying to figure out who she is. Also excited to be writing Spike. He’s definitely a character that I’ve enjoyed.
JP: Just curious … how was your experience on “Dollhouse?”
AC: “Dollhouse” was kind of like a dream come true. I’d worked on “Bionic Woman,” but there was a lot of turnover. … For me, the great thing about [“Dollhouse”] was being able to watch all of these really great writers break story and write scripts and rewrite scripts. It was kind of like the perfect training ground to develop great habits.
JP: So with your first comics gig, how has it been working with artist Georges Jeanty? And do you want to continue to write in this medium?
AC: Working with Georges is great. He’s just doing covers right now, and I am constantly impressed. He will send 80 different concepts for a cover, each one well thought out. I can just imagine how it’s going to be to get pages coming in. I can’t tell you how excited I am to work with him. And to the second part of that question — I would love to get more into comics. It’s something I’ve been interested in since I was a kid. I’m excited to have my entrance into that world with Joss.
(WARNING: Spoiler for those who haven’t read Season 8!)
JP: Do you think that if the show had still been on the air, events that happened in Season 8 like killing Giles and making Angel the temporary bad guy again, and things that you’re planning for Season 9, would have played well on screen?
AC: I think, obviously with a television budget and all, you wouldn’t have been able to do a season as big as Season 8 was, but they mostly would’ve been able to go through all of the same journeys for the characters. And what we’re planning on Season 9, which is mostly about Buffy growing up, is definitely a place that Joss would’ve wanted to take the show — with Buffy questioning what the rest of her life is going to be like and realizing that it might not end with her dying trying to save the world.
— Jevon Phillips
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