Buffy the Vampire Slayer made just as much of a mark on horror comics as she did on horror TV. In fact, there are plenty of fans who would go so far as to say she made even more of an impact in sequential art form. For years after the Buffy TV show was off the air, Dark Horse Comics published the continued adventures of the Scooby Gang, until the comic itself came to an end last year. However, Buffy is just too cool of a character to keep off the comic page, so it hardly surprised anyone when another comic book publisher, BOOM! Studios, picked up the license. Instead of just continuing Buffy‘s TV to comic adventures, BOOM! decided to reboot her universe entirely, and the mind they put behind it was Jordie Bellaire.
Jordie is a comic book legend, known for her work as a colorist in huge titles like The Vision, Batman, and Nowhere Men, plus her brilliant original series, Image Comics’ Redlands. Now three issues in, Jordie has created a Buffyverse that is both familiar and fresh, respectful of the original but written for a new and expanding Buffy fanbase. We had the awesome opportunity to talk to Jordie about the her new Buffy series, what the character means to her, and what we should expect to see in the series moving on. Check it out!
Grant DeArmitt for Nightmare on Film Street: Starting off, what’s your relationship with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show?
Bellaire: Buffy was a show that meant a lot to me in college and upon graduating college too. Once I finished school, I bonded with my best friend over it when we lived together in New York City. I had actually stopped watching the show because it became too emotional for me during my final year of college and finished it after I moved to New York. My bestie is a massive Buffy fan and she held my hand through the incredible later seasons so I didn’t have to do it all on my own. I think a lot about her and being on my own in the big city for the first time when I think about Buffy now.
NOFS: What was your favorite part of the Buffyverse to “modernize?” Was there anything you were sad you had to change for the story?
Bellaire: I think right now I enjoy the update on Drusilla the most. I know it’s not a “modernization” in the sense of tech but I think it’s modernization on a trope that we’ve seen time and time again. I think there’s lots of these types of tropes in horror and some are definitely fun to play with or subvert…but Drusilla’s character always felt like there was something darker there, in her moments of absolute clarity that was usually balanced with this innocent, frailty the show really pushed on her. I understand that she is a character that suffers great traumatic stress but I love that we’re taking the things that have happened Dru and modernizing the trope of broken, vulnerable women and allowing her the potential to be this strong, powerful, vengeful woman – but…maybe I relate to this a little too much!
NOFS: Speaking of fan favorite characters, we meet Xander and Willow early on, and they buy into the existence of vampires and demons pretty quickly. What do you think makes them believers?
Bellaire: We establish in a later issue during a fight with a talking bat that everyone in Sunnydale is used to some weirdness in the town. It’s something we’ll continue to explore, that the strange and occult happenings in Sunnydale aren’t exactly random or foreign to those living there.
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NOFS: Another fan favorite that shows up is Anya, who’s currently peddling cursed goods (bads?) to the supernatural creatures in Sunnydale. How has her character changed from her TV incarnation?
Bellaire: Bads, I like that! We’ve leapt on Anya’s character early in our series, pulling her into the immediate plot of the first major story. I love that she is a woman of knowledge based on her experiences and I’m looking forward to bringing more of that expertise into her interactions with the Scoobies. I think we’ve done away with much of hilarious and comedic ignorance of her character in Buffy but chosen to really embrace the intelligence and cleverness that is very much Anya‘s overall vibe.
NOFS: Last story question, we promise: How do supernatural creatures stay hidden in a world where everyone has a camera phone?
Bellaire: Who says they will?
NOFS: Joss Whedon is involved with this project, but less so than in other Buffy comics. So what role has Joss played in this new Buffy storyline?
Bellaire: Joss has given his blessing on the direction of these new stories after we were able to answer some questions regarding where the story would go. Knowing that Joss feels comfortable with our plans of the arc makes me very confident in this whole thing, so that’s been the biggest help – knowing he’s given us a thumbs up to make our own way.
NOFS: What are you bringing to the new Buffyverse that’s unique to you as a writer? Essentially, what aspects of this story can fans point to and say “classic Bellaire?”
Bellaire: I think I just enjoy breaking hearts. My time on Redlands has allowed me great imagination in forging beautiful, meaningful and unexpected relationships between characters that will…inevitably probably fall apart because life can be horrible and sad – but also beautiful. I’m not sure I’ve got enough written work at this point to have anything that evokes any sort of classic voice. I think I’d someday like to be known as the writer who brings tragedy and challenging emotional arcs to readers, making them a little uncomfortable while still bringing some strange satisfaction to the work, too.
NOFS: Who’s your favorite Big Bad from Buffy? Can we expect to see them, and when?
Bellaire: I’m not sure a lot of them will or even could show up but I really enjoyed the fear Caleb brought while passing for average, the sadness and awfulness that was Dark Willow turning on the group, the brutality of The Trio and finally, The Master – a classic. The Master is all metaphor too which I think we’re definitely using in this first arc of Buffy but maybe reversing the roles slightly…I guess readers will see what I mean with Issue 4!
Bellaire: Right now my favorite is Dan Mora’s incredible talking bat in our Monster of the Month issue (Issue 2). I’ve really enjoyed Dan’s approach to all of the characters and his reinvention of characters like Drusilla too.
NOFS: Finally, for the folks who pick up Buffy the Vampire Slayer Issue #1-3 and love them, what other books do you recommend reading?
Bellaire: As I’m so busy coloring and writing comics, I do find it hard to make a lot of time to read comics…but right now, my biggest favorite is Black Hammer. I finally cracked it open this January after putting it off for some time and I was mesmerized. Jeff Lemire is a genius writer and a wonderful human, I think any and all works by him should be devoured ASAP.
If you want more Buffy from the mind of Jordie Bellaire, make sure to pick up the next issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer when it hits shelves this month. If you are now or ever have been a Buffy fan, you owe it to yourself to read this comic. This book even serves as a great intro to Buffy lore, so if you’re looking to introduce yourself or a friend to it, Boom!’s Buffy is a great place to start. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Issue 4 will be at your local comic store April 17th.
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