Denver Comic Con 2015 – Women of Whedon

Panel Name: Women of Whedon

Topic: An hour with four women who have all worked with Joss Whedon. 

Featured Guests: Jewel Staite (Kaylee in Firefly), Emma Caulfield (Anya in Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Amy Acker (Fred in Angel, Whiskey in Dollhouse, Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, and Lin in The Cabin in the Woods) and moderated by Clare Kramer (Glory in Buffy the Vampire Slayer). 


Between the four women, Denver was treated with a group of talent who have been a part of every single Whedon’s creator owned projects. Most of them have never worked together (Kramer and Caulfield rarely had scenes together in their time on Buffy), but their connection is strong; once you are part of Joss Whedon’s world, you will always be part of that world, and you will always have an amazingly strong and ever-growing fan base.

Most of the panel revolved around memories of being on set. Pranks weren’t really a thing; there wasn’t time for it. It was a relief for Firefly to be cancelled considering how FOX treated the show. Joss took Amy to coffee to tell her Fred would die and Illyria, the demon goddess, would be born. There was a lot of reminiscing about practicing Shakespeare in Whedon’s kitchen and how spoiled all of them were to be part of his world.

Denver Comic Con 2015 - Women of Whedon Panel

The mood was broken when a fan asked how they felt about the betrayal women in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The question caused four sets of furrowed brows on the stage. None of the women jumped at the chance to answer the question, but Kramer, Acker, and Staite all jumped at the chance to defend the writer.

From Kramer:

“As far as Joss’ portrayal, you can’t look at what he did with the character and put all the fault and blame on him. He was responding to the MCU.”

From Acker:

“He writes really great women characters. You never know what parts were left out. I think there was a lot more of that movie than what we all got to see. I would like to see his full version.”

From Staite:

“Just because you are the writer/director of a movie, of a franchise, does not mean you have complete creative control. You have to keep in mind that Joss has a ton of people behind him giving him a million opinions and telling him exactly what they want to see and what they want in the script, and he is trying like hell to please everybody, including you. That’s an impossible task. I think he has proven himself to be an incredibly intelligent writer who writes beautiful, strong, interesting, multilayered characters for women, and nothing drives me more crazy than people sitting behind their computer screens and thinking they can say whatever the fuck they want.” … “It’s not freedom of speech; it is bullying. It’s not fair to anybody, I don’t care who you are, it’s not fair.” … “I think it’s gross human behavior and there is no room for it. And for whatever reason he decided to leave Twitter, I very passionately defend him. And I think that all of his work seems to have completely gone away because of this. And we have to remember what he is known for and what he stands for and that is the characters he has written. I love him.”

Staite’s passionate speech about Whedon had many responses, but all of them ended in an ovation and whoops from the audience.

Image was taken by Adrian Puryear of Hush Comics. Please ask permission before reposting.

Denver Comic Con 2015 – Buffy/Doctor Horrible Shadowcast

Panel Name: Buffy-Horrible Picture Show

Topic: Shadowcasters silently act out Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s “Once More With Feeling” and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog while it plays in the background (similar to Rocky Horror Picture Show).

Featured Guest: The Rocky Mountain Whedon Shadowcasters.


Members of The Rocky Mountain Whedon Shadowcasters hit the Main Events stage at Denver Comic Con 2015 May 23rd for the first time this year. While the troupe has performed at other Denver pop culture conventions such as Starfest, this show was by far the its biggest. Its double feature shadowcast of Doctor Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog followed by Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s musical episode Once More With Feeling is always a big hit at Starfest. It was no surprise when the turnout for the show was large at DCC.

"Now the monster's real."  Photo by Connor Mudd at Puddle Photography.
“Now the monster’s real.” Photo by Connor Mudd at Puddle Photography.

The show had a very casual feel. It was all about having fun with the fans. While many actors have their lip-syncing down to a science, others simply mimed the actions of their on screen counterparts. The costumes were more approximate than dead-on and some of the entrances and exits were a little too late, but regardless of the less-than-perfect nature of the show, it is extremely fun to watch. The best performance was given by Michael Jasper in the role of Dr. Horrible whose lip-syncing was indistinguishable from the actual audio. It took audience members a few minutes to realize he was just mouthing the words. Close to follow his performance was Karl Brevik as Spike who not only embodies the character flawlessly in both his lip-syncing and movement, but is also actually British. That’s something even James Marsters can’t say! Josh Whitby also had amazing energy as both Captain Hammer and Xander and Genae Gerardi made a wonderful Buffy. Overall, the performance was a lot of fun for any fan. There were even a few jokes for those unfamiliar with the two productions, such as an appearance by Game of Thrones’ Jon Snow as Dr. Horrible sang the lyrics “It’s not a death ray or an icebeam / That’s all Johnny Snow.”

11334226_450933178411836_777087723015906282_o
“Let Me Rest In Peace!” Photo by Connor Mudd at Puddle Photography.

RMWS first performed at StarFest 2009, a little less than a year after Doctor Horrible first came out. Originally organized by Michael Newman, the show started as a small panel room production without the inclusion of Once More With Feeling. “I was dressed as ‘Dead Penny’,” says now director Erin Card who met her husband through the show. “[he] was one of the Doctor Horribles… and [the other cast members] were like, ‘Hey, Penny, come on down. Act this out!’ ” The first production had only five cast members. From there, Card became an integral part of the production, the role of director being past down to her. Later on, the cast would come to Card asking to add Once More With Feeling to the show. Having never seen BTVS at the time, Card was hesitant to include what would become the second half of the show, but ultimately decided to give it the go ahead.

John Snow makes special appearance.  Photo by Connor Mudd at Puddle Photography.
Jon Snow makes special appearance. Photo by Connor Mudd at Puddle Photography.

“I like performing in plays, but that can be really nerve-wracking to remember your lines and blocking and to have people only watching you,” says Lara Griffith who plays Willow in Once More With Feeling. “When you are doing a performance of something you love and know by heart and the audience knows by heart and it’s playing in the background so you aren’t the only thing people are watching, it makes it more fun and easy.  Plus everyone is incredibly nice and accepting.  We’re all there to just have a good time.” And it shows. The cast of this show is from all over Colorado, which makes rehearsing difficult. This means the entire production has to come together in what is essentially one rehearsal. Card hopes to make the show even more professional as the years go on, adding more than one rehearsal into the mix and detailed choreography. She says they are always looking for new cast members, but as of now the main cast is made up of veterans of the show. There’s a general consensus that if one actor has a lead in one part of the show, they’ll have a minor role in the next. For example, Griffith plays Willow in Once More With Feeling but in Doctor Horrible plays the small role of a news anchor.

If you haven’t seen this performance, it is likely they will be back at DCC next year, or you can always catch them at Starfest at their midnight showing in Main Events. This is one of those fan productions you definitely have to see if you’re a Whedon fan. Despite its low budget look, it’s an incredible hour and a half of fun.

Parallels in Fandom: “I Can’t Stop, Buffy!” Magic as Addiction

Addiction is one of the most difficult diagnoses to overcome. Dependance on drugs and alcohol can destroy a user’s life both medically and socially. The effects of drugs and alcohol can make the user feel anything from invincible to euphoric or simply make them blissfully numb to their problems. This weight off one’s shoulders can feel almost magical at times, making drugs and alcohol very addictive. It’s no wonder, then, that magic has been used so often as a metaphor for addiction in Television and Film.

In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, “Wrecked” (season 6, episode 10), Willow grapples with an intense addiction to magic and puts Buffy’s sister Dawn in danger. She is reckless, irresponsible and unable to control her urges. This destructive addiction has been a long time coming, however. Ever since the sixth episode in the season, Willow’s use of magic has bordered on the unhealthy. When Tara and Willow fight about the redhead’s reliance on magic in “All the Way” (season 6, episode 6,) Willow decides to make her girlfriend forget about the fight rather than deal with it. Similar to how an addict might use a substance to escape their problems, Willow uses magic to dodge the issue completely. When Tara finds out, she is furious and threatens to leave Willow if she can’t go one week without using magic. When Willow inevitably fails this endeavor, Tara packs up her things and leaves.

Tara_tabula_rasa

What a lot of people don’t realize about addiction is that it affects the entire friend and family group of the addict. Addiction is the number one health problem in the US and has affected millions of family members. Addicts drive many of their loved ones away with their actions and those that stick around suffer alongside the addict. The international organization Al-Anon provides support groups for the loved ones of alcoholics. Many drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers have groups or classes for families of the addict in the center’s care such as the Family Program at the Center for Dependency,  Addiction and Rehabilitation (CeDAR) in Colorado. “Family members often blame themselves or try to control an addict’s behavior, but only the addicted individual can stop the destructive cycle,” CeDAR says on their website. Programs like these help attendees cope with their loved one’s addiction and learn what they can do to help as well as how to keep themselves safe and sane during the addicts recovery. They learn to be caretakers without giving up their own mental health in the process.

One thing that is imperative to understanding a loved one’s addiction is that the only person who can save them is the addict themselves. Tara quickly learns that there is little she can do to help Willow if her girlfriend doesn’t want to get better. In the end, she realizes that she can’t sacrifice her own happiness and wellbeing to stay with Willow and makes the right decision in leaving her. Buffy helps Willow the best she can, being supportive and removing all the magical items from the house, but ultimately it’s Willow that keeps herself sober.

Because both Willow and Buffy are out of the house during “Smashed” (season 6, episode 9), Tara has to stay the night with Dawn. While she only plans to stay for a short amount of time until one of the two girls comes back, she ends up staying the whole night. Willow’s magic induced actions keep Tara from going home, taking advantage of her. If Willow had been home at a reasonable time, Tara wouldn’t have had to spend her whole night taking care of Dawn. While Tara is happy to spend time with Buffy’s little sister, she still wakes up worried about the fact that no one came home last night and leaves the house in a huff after she realizes the reason Willow was out all night. Once again, Willow’s addiction to magic comes before her loved ones. This is common in families with addicts. When one spouse is acting irresponsibly and allowing the substance to rule their life, the other has to pick up the slack and often ends up taking on more than they can handle or should have to handle.

In “Smashed” Willow is distraught over Tara leaving but still hasn’t learned her lesson as she tells Amy, still a rat at this point, “We need to get you a nice companion rat that you can love, and play with and grow attached to until one day they leave you for no good reason.” Willow doesn’t think she’s done anything wrong in using her magic to dodge her relationship problems. She’s still in denial that there’s anything wrong with what she’s doing. Most addicts refuse to believe that they are dependent on a substance for a long time before getting help. Some addicts never admit to having a problem.

One thing that many addicts go through is disinterest in the activities that used to bring them joy. All they care about is the substance to which they’ve become addicted, when they’re going to take it again, how they’re going to get it, and where it’s going to come from. In the Magic Shop, Willow takes her laptop out to help with the investigation on what happened at the museum. For a brief moment, Buffy and Xander believe that she’s going back to the basics of being a Scooby; using her hacker skills rather than magic. Quickly though, we see that Willow is using her magic with the computer. She’s lost interest in her computer skills and is using magic instead. It’s obvious that Xander and Buffy are uncomfortable with what Willow is doing, but the witch hardly pays them any mind. “Guys. I’m fine,” she insists. Again, she refuses to see her problem.

When Amy is finally turned back into a human, she and Willow take to the streets. “It’s nice,” she tells Buffy, “having another magically inclined friend around.” Amy manipulates Willow into taking her out, suggesting that if she doesn’t she’ll be lame for sitting around in the house all night like she did in high school. Determined to prove Amy wrong, the two hit the town. As the night unfolds, the two witches misuse their magic and turn The Bronze into a chaotic mess. By the time they arrive back at home at the beginning of “Wrecked,” it’s well into the morning and Willow is so tapped out she can’t even close the curtains.

In “Wrecked,” Amy takes Willow to see the evil warlock Rack who operates out of an invisible and constantly moving crack-house-like dwelling. Though Willow is made aware of the fact that visiting him could be dangerous, she follows Amy there nonetheless. Inside, are a few of Rack’s clients slumped in their seats. When Rack emerges from his office, two clients get antsy. “Rack! Rack, it’s my turn,” says one desperately. “No man, you said I was up,” says another. “Bull! I’ve been here for hours!” says the first. Both of them look gaunt, sweaty and are shaking, much akin to a heroin addict in withdrawal.

Rack himself looks like he’s been strung out on something for decades as well. His skin is warped. His eye is messed up. He fits the bill for stereotypical, creepy drug dealer. The way he operates is very much like a drug dealer as well. “You have to give a little to get a little, right?” he tells Willow before taking some of her magic for his own. Afterward, Willow and Amy are shown high on the dark magic he supplies. Amy spins around in a blur while Willow rolls around on the ceiling in ecstasy, hallucinating as if she were on a psychedelic drug.

willow on ceiling

Addicts frequently have someone who is either doing the substance with them or allowing them to do it regardless of the harm it might pose. More often than not, they are addicted to the substance as well. These people are called enablers and they do exactly what it sounds like; they enable the addict to keep interacting with the substance. Sometimes these people are friends, other times they’re dealers, but regardless of their relationship with the addict, they’re toxic when it comes to recovery. Frequently, addicts in recovery will move away from the place where their enablers live. It’s very hard to keep away from a substance when you have someone reiterating what the addiction is already telling you do to: “Just one more time.” That’s why when people go to residence rehabilitation centers, they often aren’t allowed to see their friends. Only family members are allowed to visit unless they’re proven to be enabler’s as well. People are put into residence rehabilitation centers because part of recovering is cutting yourself off from those who got you into the substance in the first place, and it’s easier to do that if you’re living in a controlled setting until you’re strong enough to live on your own again.

Both Amy and Rack are Willow’s enablers, and it isn’t until Willow cuts herself off from them completely that she’s able to recover. In the end, Amy doesn’t really care about Willow as shown when Buffy catches her stealing herbs from the witch’s room. This is common in heavily dependent addicts. They’ll steal from people to get the money they need for the substance their addicted to. In this case, Amy is stealing herbs to exchange for magic from Rack.  All she cares about is getting her next fix from Rack and all Rack is concerned with is getting some of Willow’s magic for himself. Enabler’s don’t actually care about the people their enabling. If they did, they’d recognize that the addict has a problem and would try to keep their friend away from the substance, rather than helping or allowing them to interact with it.

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 2.16.57 PM
Buffy catches Amy stealing

When Willow wakes up on her bedroom floor the next day, she is slowly starting to realize the gravity what is happening to her, but doesn’t quite understand how bad her problem is until that night. On her way to a movie night with Dawn, Willow takes a detour to see Rack. She takes Dawn into the dangerous neighborhood and leaves her in Rack’s waiting room for hours while she gets her fix. When she finally emerges, it’s too late to see a movie, and Dawn is furious. At this point all she wants to do is go home, but Willow, still high, convinces her to stay out. As they walk down the street, Dawn gets more and more nervous but Willow only patronizes her. Suddenly, a demon jumps out in front of them. Willow thinks it’s a hallucination at first until it lashes out at Dawn, scratching her cheek and tells the witch that she summoned him.

This demon is a physical manifestation of Willow’s addiction. It hurts the ones she loves, puts both their lives in danger and causes Willow to act recklessly. Adding this demon into the mix was a genius move on Whedon’s part. It gives the audience a clear, definable metaphor for addiction. For many addicts, their addiction feels like an entirely other creature. It’s something inside them that destroys their life. Much like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a metaphor for alcoholism, Willow’s demon is a metaphor for her addiction.

Willow and Dawn flee from the demon and jump into the nearest car. Willow drives away, but isn’t really paying attention to where she’s going. She swerves back and forth and laughs as Dawn screams in fear. Willow acts very much like a drunk driver and in the end, wrecks the car, breaking Dawn’s arm and in the process severely wounds her friendship with the young girl.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, someone is injured in a drunk driving accident every two minutes and 28 people die on a daily basis. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the rate of driving under the influence is highest among ages 21 to 25. Willow falls right into this age bracket. Her magic in “Wrecked” puts Willow under the influence and is a clear metaphor for drunk driving.

Willow begs for Buffy's help
Willow begs for Buffy’s help

By the end of “Wrecked,” Willow finally understands what she is giving up for her dependance of magic. Her girlfriend has left her, a demon has been summoned from her misuse of magic, she nearly kills Dawn, and Buffy is beyond pissed. Everything she cares about is falling apart and she is so desperate for help at that point that she falls to Buffy’s feet and begs. “I can’t stop, Buffy! I’ve tried and I can’t… God, I need help! Please, please help me, please!”

In the months following, Willow goes completely cold turkey from magic. She realizes the power she feels from using magic isn’t worth hurting the people she loves. That night she lies in bed, hyperventilating, covered in sweat and shaking as she works through the withdrawal. She could simply cast a spell and feel better, but she is determined not to let her addiction rule her life and suffers through the night in silence. Later on, Willow cuts herself off from Amy and she and Buffy get rid of everything magical in the house. Episodes later when Anya tries to force Willow to use magic in order to help them defeat the big bad, she refuses. Tara backs her up and slowly their relationship begins to repair itself.

When Willow relapses over Tara’s death, she goes on a rampage and isn’t herself anymore. She does things completely out of character with the lovable and kind Willow we’re used to seeing. Once again, it’s not until she sees someone she loves hurting that she’s able to stop. It’s not until Xander tells Willow that her loves her that she’s able to stop again and goes to live with Giles for a while as she learns to control her magic, similar to an addict leaving their home to a live in rehabilitation center.

yellow crayon

Relapses are almost inevitable when it comes to recovering from an addiction. Addicts work extremely hard to keep sober but relapses are common, especially in the first year of recovery. Many rehabilitation centers will award coins for every milestone of being sober. CeDAR gives out a gold coin after one of their patients is sober for a year, signifying the intense effort they went through to keep from using. While Willow is eventually able to control her magic and use it only when she needs to, addicts in our world can’t do that. Once someone is diagnosed as an addict, they can never interact with their substance again or it’s considered a relapse.

Addiction narratives like Willow’s are extremely inspiring to both those going through an addiction and the family members of recovering addicts. When one sees their favorite character survive something that they themselves are going through, it can empower that person. By seeing Willow overcome her addiction, Buffy fans who are also addicts can relate and find the strength within themselves to keep fighting. That’s why it’s important to point out these parallels when we see them. Fiction is incredibly powerful when it comes to coping with adversity. It gives an example of how someone might overcome that adversity and through those narratives we find our own way of conquering adversity. The idea is, if Willow can do it so can addicts all over the world.

Photo credit to Warner Bros.

Video credit to Warner Bros. and Al-Anon.

Gotham Review – “Selina Kyle” S1E2

After the pilot, “Gotham,” it was clear that this show had a high ceiling. With plenty of Easter Eggs and a promise of what is to come, Gotham has passed the initial test. The continuity is out of whack, but there are enough shout-outs to keep hardcore fans engaged. Yet, there is enough (even too much, at times) explanation of what is going on to hook new viewers, as well. Two weeks in and it seems as though Detective James Gordon is making no friends whatsoever at the GD GCPD. For us  at home, however, it is a different story altogether. Already, Gotham has dramatically increased in quality. The tone is much closer now to a Sopranos episode than last week, which played out like a Kung-Fu flick without martial arts. It has already established itself as the best comic book related show on the air right now (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the only other comic book-related series on the air right now…until next week); however, there are still a few lingering poor qualities that keep Gotham from reaching its full potential.

Yes, this
Yes, this lingering poor quality.

This episode follows Gordon and Bullock as they try to take on a mysterious kidnapper, who turns out to be one of Gotham’s most terrifying villains! THE DOLLMAKER! Now that you’ve been thoroughly let down, I’ll explain what that means for the show. For one, we don’t even get to see The Dollmaker in this episode, although his name is heavily dropped throughout the show. Unfortunately, it looks like DC is still relying on masked maniacs and gimmicky goons to add some flavor to the show, but it’s really not something they need to do. Kidnapping homeless children off the street (which was eerily reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s “Anne”) makes Gotham look frightening enough on its own. You don’t need to tell us that “bums get shot here all the time” when you are walking people off the pier and Waynes are getting shot all over the place. We get it; it’s a bad place.

Gotham - %22Selina Kyle%22 Selina Kyle

I’ve tried to put up with this two weeks in a row, but I can no longer give Jada Pinkett Smith the benefit of the doubt. I thought decades of marriage to Will Smith, that she would have learned a thing or two, but no. As arguably the biggest “star” on Gotham, I expected her performance as upcoming crime lord Fish Mooney to equate to more than focused, off-camera glances and exaggerated screams of fury. If a mob boss like Fish Mooney existed in real life, it would be in a junior high acting class. The bad acting isn’t isolated to just her either. I have been extremely put off of the whole Wayne situation. Bruce, who insists he is not self destructive but is, and his humorously irate butler, Alfred, are a constant distraction to what Gordon is up to. The relationship between Alfred and Bruce is very eyebrow-raising. While there is an unmistakable Earth One influence here, the way Afled man-handles Bruce, I can’t help but wonder if Bruce gets beat off-screen. Maybe that’s why he’s listening to such angry music and drawing Bat-caves. Good going, Alfred. #NOTMYALFRED

Gotham - %22Selina Kyle%22 Gordon, Bullock and Mayor

On the other side of the coin (aww, look at that convenient Two-Face reference that I will have to save for later…), Oswald Cobblepot has become a big player in Gotham, and is easily one of the most interesting characters thus far. The preview showed Penguin murdering a couple of people kind enough to give him a ride, but it didn’t tell the whole story. The two frat boy douche rockets that gave him a ride were constantly disrespecting him before using the trigger word, saying he looked like a penguin and incurring his murderous rage. Now, the producers could have chosen to make the people who picked him up a normal family that accidentally set Cobblepot off by talking about Happy Feet; rather, there was a distinct and deliberate decision to make him a likable character by killing unlikable people. His character is intriguing – oddly charming and cordial until he loses it. We also learn, through a visit with Oswald’s mom, that he was once a fairly handsome and respected young man. What series events created the tweaked out, waddling psycho that we saw in this episode?

Gotham - %22Selina Kyle%22 Cobblepot's Mom

The GCPD dynamic is getting stronger, too. Gordon has stepped up and is fighting authority every step of the way. One of the best encounters is when he tells a patrolman that he’s “not a bad guy, just a bad cop.” That statement more or less sums up the entire GCPD. Harvey Bullock is supposed to outrank Gordon, but I think a chain of command like in the comic books had would be better suited for a lone wolf cop situation like the one Gotham is aiming for. Not only are they as crooked as a question mark (Nygma reference thrown in there, too!), but when they do decide to do the right thing, they are usually so inept that they cause bad things to happen anyway – like say handing busloads of untraceable children to a human trafficker. Thank goodness that Gordon is on the case. Ben McKenzie is really a great choice as leading man. He is the model officer, risking death to be an honest cop in a crooked city, and carries with him a sense of dry humor just good enough to keep him charismatic to the audience. The only thing holding him back is his (and really any characters in the show) tendency to get uncomfortably close to everybody he has a serious conversation with.

Gotham - %22Selina Kyle%22 Bus Full of Kids

Meanwhile, though, Captain Sarah Essen, who seemed to be totally clueless in the pilot, is all of a sudden criticizing Gordon for not “being with the program.” Not only is this a major cop-out to building her character, but all but removes the likelihood of a Gordon-Essen affair, which was a BIG deal in the comic books. After seeing what Barbara looks like, would you leave that for a crooked police Captain like Essen? No, you would not. Behind every good man is a strong woman, and that is no exception with Barbara Kean. She is a great supporting character with strong convictions – the perfect match for James Gordon.

Gotham - %22Selina Kyle%22 Cobblepot

Barbara is not the only female to get some screen time, though. Selina Kyle, who prefers to go by Cat – oh! I get it; because she’s Catwoman (eye roll) – finally gets some love. Although, and I’m not sure I would have even noticed if it had not been pointed out to me, it took FORTY minutes of the episde before the character that the episode, “Selina Kyle,” had any dialogue. She’s a spunky character, and we get early traces of her acrobatics to be, but there is a scene later on in the episode that kills any chance of me liking her again. When trying to get an officer to get Gordon for her, Selina threatens to scream that the officer touched her inappropriately if he does not do her bidding. Especially with “Yes Means Yes” gaining so much traction, it is bullshit that scenes like these are making rounds on public television, where many impressionable young women will undoubtedly watch and see this as an admissible way to get what they want. Ugh. Getting back on track, Selina seems to have a valuable piece of information concerning Joe Chill and the murder of the Waynes. Knowing her angle, it’s fair to ask, on a scale of 1 – Selina Kyle, how full of shit is she?

Gotham - %22Selina Kyle%22 Gordon, Bullock and Mooney

Gotham has improved over two episodes in almost every way, but writer Bruno Heller really needs to stop holding our hand through every little tidbit of fanboy information we come across. For example, if I see Selina Kyle will be in an episode and I have read the comics, then by hearing her insist they call her “Cat,” I am, assuming that you either think I am an idiot and cannot figure the subtlety on my own, thinking that calling the future Catwoman “Cat” is gimmicky and lame. FOX should not be afraid to assume that their viewers can read between the lines. This is a detective show isn’t it? Stop assuming your viewers have the intelligence of your average GCPD beat cop and give us something to satisfy the need to solve cases right along with Jim Gordon.

Hush Comics gives “Selina Kyle” a B+ for it’s continual improvement, notably in setting a dark tone. The acting is a mixed bag, with main players like Cobblepot, Gordon and Falcone outshining the rest of the cast. If Gotham can get over the speed bumps of spelling out the entire story for viewers and avoid being too corny, it has the potential to keep us glued to the screen all season long.

All pictures in this article belong to Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment

Denver Comic Con 2014 Interview – Georges Jeanty

This weekend at Denver Comic Con 2014, Hush Comics interviewed the wonderful artist Georges Jeanty, famous for his work on Buffy Season 8 and 9, as well as his current stint on Serenity: Leaves on the Wind.  He had a lot to say about his past, present, and future, including his time with Joss, what he really thinks about Buffy hook-ups, and whether or not Wonder Woman is in his future.

Click on the link to take you to all of our Denver Comic Con 2014 articles

Hush Comics: What was it about comics that sucked you in?

Georges Jeanty: I guess when you’re a kid, you really don’t know anything else.  Maybe now you do with video games and all, but that really didn’t exist.  Maybe Pong existed when I was a kid.  It was just the love of stories, reading, and things like that.  I was a very weird child.  I liked to read when I was younger.  And, comics just grabbed me.  And it grabbed me in a way that it just never let me go.  And then when you get older, you realize, ‘Hey, I can draw!” And then you go, ‘Hey, I’m actually kind of good.  Hey, look I can do this.”  So it was sort of a natural, evolutionary process.

HC: Currently, you are working on the Serenity comic, and I know you were a fan of the show Firefly, when it was on the air, so can you tell me a bit about what made you love the story?

GJ: Love the story that I was doing or the show?

HC: Both.

GJ: Well it’s a show that really had potential and obviously cut down before its prime, type of thing.  So, it’s very sad.  The vindication, of course, is that it got a movie and it goes on from there.  The comics, honestly, it’s all because of Joss Whedon.  I firmly believe that if Joss Whedon didn’t like comics, it would not be a comic book, per se.  Buffy probably would have been, because I believe Buffy is co-owned by FOX, but Joss has Firefly and had he never really been interested in the medium, there probably wouldn’t be a Firefly comic book.  The story is great because it’s the first one that really is post film and it takes place after and you find out what happens to everybody and where they went after the film.  So that’s the really cool part about it.  As a fan, I couldn’t wait to read the scripts when I was getting those.

HC: Awesome!  I am a huge fan, too.  When you were younger, I have heard that you wanted to be an actor.  Who were your inspirations and did you ever act in anything?

GJ: Man, when I was younger, Robin Williams was Mork in Mork and Mindy.  I have always been more attracted to comedy and the people who make you laugh.  It is sort of a philosophical thing.  You never forget the person who makes you laugh.  Somebody can you make you cry, somebody can make you mad, somebody can you give you all those other emotions, but it’s the people, you may not even remember their names, but the people that make you laugh.  I did a little bit in high school, acting, and in college, and church plays here and there, but I quickly realized I was a better artist than I was an actor.   Or that it would probably pay better for me sooner than later.

HC: So at one point you were an artist with a collaborative Gaijin Studios.  What did you do there and how did being with them get you the big gigs that you ended up with?

GJ: Gaijin Studios was primarily just a studio with a bunch of artists. We didn’t necessarily produce anything.  We all worked in the same area as a sort of cohabitation.  We all had our cubicles or rooms as it were.  The great thing about that was a lot of the guys there had been in the business a little longer than I had, and had a reputation that when I was looking for work I could say, ‘Yeah, I’m part of this group called Gaijin,’ and it was part of this swag of being part of that studio that people were like, ‘Oh! Interesting.  I know the studio.  I don’t know you, but if you’re part of that studio, you must pretty good. ‘  So that probably got me Bishop: The Last X-Man years and years ago, and that probably got me that gig.

HC: Speaking of Bishop, Days of Future Past just came out and as a kid I always connected with the animated version of the story.  So how does it feel to have your version of Bishop on the big screen?

GJ: It was the version that I did.  It wasn’t technically my version because that concept was already done when I came to the book.  I evolved in it.  I did about 15 issues of Bishop, so it sort of evolved into whatever version it was.  It was really cool.  I have no criticism, per se, but, of course, you’re looking at something and thinking, ‘Yeah, he would have been a little bit bulkier,’ or ‘He would have been a little more of this.’ But just to see the character that you did, and essentially went into obscurity, its nicely vindicated.  Granted he didn’t have a lot of screen time.  Funny enough, if you didn’t now who he was, you’re going, ‘What? What’s he doing?’  Bishop could absorb power and redirect it. That was his mutant power.  But they never actually explain that in the movie.  So, you’re kind of like, ‘Ok, I guess he can shoot stuff out of his hands. Cool.’

HC: Can you tell me a little bit about how you were able to work with John Ridley on The American Way?

GJ: John Ridley, who has just blown up, totally. Actually coming out next he has got a musical biography of Jimi Hendrix coming later this year.

HC: With Andre 3000?

GJ: With Andre 3000.  Yeah he [John Ridley] was a great guy.  Again, another guy who just loved comics.  He did a couple of things with Wildstorm.  He wrote Authority and then something else, a short story.   And then he pitched this creator owned gig and they brought me on after the fact to say, ‘Hey, he would love to collaborate with you.’  I created the look of the characters with a description that he had done.  He said essentially, ‘You being apart of this, I know there aren’t any big stars or Superman, Batman, any of those characters are not in here, but what I can offer you is a piece of this particular pie should it ever go anywhere.  This was 8 or 9 years ago, where you going, ‘Oh, whatever.  Cool.’  And the story was so good.  I think at the time, I was pegged to do The Flash.  So I was geared towards something that was more established and more known.  After I read his script I was going ‘Oh my God.  This is so good.  If I didn’t draw this, this is something I would want to pick up and read.’  And finally Ben Abernathy, the editor, at Wildstorm at that title at the time was really selling it.  Through Ben’s generosity, I said, ‘Sounds like these would be really cool people to work with.’  When you’re looking at a project like that, originally it was 10 issues and it ended up being 8 issues, but you’re going, ‘I’m going to be with these guys for 8 months.’  That’s a relationship where you’re like, ‘If I don’t like you now, I’m really not going to like you in 8 months.  But if you seem cool, hopefully there is hope that we will really get along.’  John and I got along great.  I mean it was a lot of back and forth.  We called each other a lot and talked about it.  He loved the comic medium.  He really loved the idea that he was saying something about the Civil Rights Movement and all that stuff.  It is probably one of the things I am most proud of in this business.

HC: That says a lot.  After you were done working on The American Way, you were contacted to work on Buffy.  Up that point you hadn’t seen the series yet, but piggybacking off of my Firefly question, what is it about the Buffy story that you love, not only the show, but what you did?

GJ: Uh, that it was Joss Whedon.  I didn’t even read the script.  I didn’t know what the script was, but they said, ‘Well Joss Whedon’s going to be writing the first arc.  Would you be interested?’  I’m like, ‘Yeah.  Sure.’  And I hadn’t really watched Buffy.  I knew Buffy through pop culture, but I had never really absorbed her, and I really quickly caught up when I did get the gig.  Joss was really generous.  I knew who he was, and just the fact that he was giving this to me, this guy who really had no reputation.  I mean, I had done books, but whatever.  He had seen my work, liked it, and wanted me.  I was like ‘Yeah, you’re Joss Whedon.  Cool.’ [Now referring to Joss] ‘No, no, dude, here’s my phone number.  Call me if you need anything, or if you have questions about his or that.’  This was the first time Joss was actually doing a Buffy comic book which was very monumental.   Buffy had been printed up until then for years, but he had never actually done anything.  He did a little something in the Tales of the Vampire and the Tales of the Slayer, but never on Buffy directly.  I quickly realized how much of a big deal this was.  I jumped in on that strength, not really knowing the character.

HC: I know that you didn’t watch it before hand, and I have heard you watched it out of order.  What order did you watch it in?

GJ: I did.  I started with season 6 and then 7.  I liked it so much, because the sent me season 6 and 7 on DVD, I liked it so much, I went back and watched 1-5 on my own.

HC: And did you watch 6 and 7 again so you felt you had the whole series?

GJ: No.  I sort of watched little bits here and there where I needed to get the characters a little more defined.  No, in my mind when I think of Buffy in the end it’s when she actually dies saving Dawn.  That season 6 two-parter was kind of strange because I’m like, ‘She’s dead? So she’s coming back? And who is this biker gang? And now there is this other Slayer thing? What is this?’  And a big thing that I just never understood was her Slayer strength.  I knew she was a Slayer, but to me that did not automatically denote she was more powerful than everybody.  So, a lot of the first few episodes I saw, I felt bad that this girl is getting beaten up and I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is like a masochistic television show. That poor little girl.’  And then when I talked to Joss, because I was doing the comic book… I sort of need details.  You need your stage in order to perform.  You need to know what’s on that stage so you know what you can use.  And with Buffy, I told Joss, ‘Well she’s strong.  Ok. I get that, but how strong?  Is she Superman strong?‘  And he’s like, ‘Well, it’s funny.  We’ve never really tested her limit, but in all honesty, think maybe Spider-Man strong, not Superman strong.  But definitely more than Batman strong.’  So that sort of put things in place to me where as an artist I knew how far I could go.  She could probably turn over a car, but she would have a lot of trouble lifting it over her head.  Those little details, which obviously never came to play in the book, but I knew what she could do.

HC:  I have heard season 6 is your favorite season.  Is that still true?

GJ: Yes.  Totally.  I’m all about change.  I totally get it, the people who were with it all the way from the beginning, people love season 3 when Faith comes in, and no one likes season 4 for some reason.  But there were moments like Oz and Willow, and then Tara coming in.  There are moments in every season.  It’s not that any one season is a blanket of awful or great.  There are moments.  But I thought season 6 just said, ‘This is what it was, and now these guys are growing. ‘  Sometimes, you might have a bad year, or you might get fired.  That year is your lowest year, but that doesn’t mean you are any less of a person, but your life has changed.  That year was such a year of change. A lot of people who didn’t like Spike were like, ‘Well, that’s because they hooked up that season and it was awful.’  I appreciated that change and I loved Andrew, Warren and Jonathon coming in.  Those guys were so funny.  It’s obvious the writers were having a great time writing their dialog.  That felt to me like a cool season.

HC: Do you have a moment from season 6, that you are like, ‘That’s the moment’?

GJ: I’m probably supposed to say The Musical.  It’s been a while now and all of has just morphed in to one big Buffy ball.  I couldn’t tell you the specifics of season 6.  I will tell you though, and since Joss was such a big comic book fan, he modeled Willow’s dissension on Jean Grey and Dark Phoenix.  When you watch it having known that, you see that when Willow brings Buffy back and then Giles has that conversation, like, ‘You incompetent idiot.  How could you have done that?’  And she’s like, ‘Maybe you should be a little nicer to me knowing how much I actually did.’  You can see she wasn’t bad there because she didn’t have the black magic obviously, but you can tell there was that seed that was planted and I love that.  And it’s something if you’re a long time you’re like, ‘Cool, this is going somewhere.’  Oh! Ok, I do have a moment.  Probably the best moment, and Joss loves to do this, is when Dark Willow is doing whatever, he [Joss] recreated it in season 8 in the first arc, where Willow is like ‘Nothing can stop me now.’ And then bam!  She gets hit and Giles is like, ‘I’d like to test that theory.’  And that’s the end of the episode, and it’s like, that is the coolest ending ever.  And when Amy the rat comes back and she does it and Willow does the same thing, it’s ‘Oh my God that is so cool.  And I was a part of it.  Cool!’

HC: That is awesome!  How has working under Joss’ direction influenced the way you tell stories through art?

GJ: His story telling is not so much about the script.  I learned a lot more talking to him.  I’m the kind of artist where I get the script, I read it, absorb it, but of course there will be little nuances and I always tell a writer I work with, ‘Do you mind if I call you because I want to get your thoughts.  When you say this person walks into the room upset… Buffy walks into the room upset, that could mean a lot.  Could be upset that she just had a hangnail, or she didn’t get her nails done, or upset that she got really bad news.’  I would usually talk to my writers and ask, ‘What is the context of this?  How upset?  What is their body language?’  I guess that is the actor in me who is coming in and saying, ‘Well, what are they doing that gets them to that point?’ Obviously, if you’re upset, you’re standing in a different way, or you’re looking in a different way.  Your posture is definitely different.  That was one of the things I would talk to Joss about.  There was one time where he was writing a script and he was a little late and I was like, ‘When do you think it’s going to get done?   The editor is on my back because I have to draw it and it takes a whole lot longer to draw. ‘  And he said, ‘Yeah, the only problem I am having with this script is that I don’t know what I am trying to say.’  And that is when it solidified to me that Joss works on theme.  Like the theme of loss or redemption; anything you can put in a theme.  That’s where he says, ‘This is my theme and I am going to try to structure the episode around that theme.  Everybody is going to be affected in some way by that theme.  They may not be the central focus of that theme, but they are going to be affected.’  That to me makes really good story telling because you’re combining everything. Especially in television, since it is a serialized drama, it keeps going on and on, all you really have are themes because there has to be that arc, and usually for that episode, you know that there is something they went through.  That is the biggest thing he taught me, indirectly, just reading his work and listening to the man talk.

HC: If you could draw any scene from a Whedonverse show, what scene would you draw?

GJ: Well, why would I do that?  I will counter that statement, actually.  I did have a conversation with Joss just about this.  I will tell you there is a scene that I would have loved to have drawn that never made it on television but should have.  When we were doing season 8, I hate to give myself credit for this, but I am the Buffy fans, best friend because I was going to bat. When Buffy slept with another woman, I was like, ‘Nuh-Uh! She’s not going to sleep with another woman.  I’m not going to draw that.  You need to justify that to me before I can do that.’  When Giles died, “Nuh-Uh! Giles isn’t dead because I’m not going to draw it.  You have to justify that to me first.’  So I was really going to bat.  I went to Joss at some point and said, ‘Dude, you’ve got Spike coming in season 8.  That’s great, we are finally getting the gang back together.’  But I was like, ‘Joss, you realize, if you think about it, Buffy doesn’t know Spike is alive.  Because he became alive in Angel obviously and there was never that scene where it’s like, ‘Oh my God’ [referring to Buffy].  He [Joss] was like, ‘Yeah but the fans are really…’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, the fans want to know that stuff.  That’s the stuff that they love.’  He said, ‘No, they can probably assume that Andrew told them’ because of “The Girl in Question” in Angel, they both go and see Andrew. ‘They can just assume Buffy found out from him. ‘  I said, ‘It’s a little bit of a cop out, I gotta tell ya.’  In my mind, over the years, I wonder what that scene would be like.  The writer in me, doing Buffy for so many years at that point, I was creating that scene so I could justify it when they did get together and of course subsequently have all these conversations.  In my mind, that is what I feel happened in continuity, although it never actually showed up.

HC: Do you have time to read comics, and if so which ones are you currently reading?

GJ: Yes.  I hate to say this because it probably makes me a bigger geek than I am, but I’m at the comic shop every Wednesday, looking and seeing what’s out.  I’m reading The Uncanny X-Men that Brian Bendis and Stuart Immomen are doing.  And the Miracleman reprints, the Alan Moore stuff.  Comics today are a very different animal, and very rightly so because of the movies.  Now, limited series is a thing.  A continuity book is virtually non-existent, and reading this has really restored my faith in what comics could do because while Alan Moore isn’t reinventing the wheel with his stories that he did back in the ‘80’s, it’s obvious that he is taking the story telling medium, and these were a bunch of 8 page stories that he did that were collected eventually, and with these 8 pages he is just telling the story as it is progressing, but every 8 pages is doing it in a different way.  It is so entertaining.  Miracleman is sort of a British knockoff of Shazam.  Even in that, he plays with that factor, and it is just so good.  I cannot recommend it enough.  Anyone who wants to be a comic writer ought to be reading those Miracleman comics because he is just doing great storytelling.

HC: You drew Buffy for season 8 and 9, will you be making a return in season 10?

GJ: That is a very interesting question.  Well, I did Serenity, which was sort of always the plan.  Yeah, personally feel that Buffy was the girl I came to dance with.  I certainly don’t want to abandon her.  If they ask me back for something, whatever it is, probably not as long as I did before, but I would come back for something special.

HC: Since Serenity will be ending soon, do you know what your work will be in the future?

GJ: I personally finished Serenity a few months ago, because of course you have to do it ahead so they can print it.  But, I’m working on The Future’s End for DC right now, which is their big 52 book, a whole year, every week.  I am doing what I can; I pretty much do a book a month.  So, I’ve done an issue and I’ve got an issue waiting for me, so I will for the foreseeable future be doing that.  And there is some talk of maybe doing some Wonder Woman stuff down the line.  Who knows?  It’s just hearsay right now.  So, we will see!

“Respect My Craft” – Nicholas Brendon

In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.

dcc font
Click on the link to view all our Denver Comic Con articles!

NOTE: Nicholas Brendon can’t make Denver Comic Con.  So sad!  We will see you next year!

Name: Nicholas Brendon

Profession: Actor

Notable Work: Xander Harris from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

“I want people to say, ‘Nicholas Brendon, he’s supposedly the nicest guy in the world.’ I want to do good work, but more than that, I want to stay a good human being. That’s more important than any character I play.” -Nicholas Brendon

Nicholas Brendon has been in my life for 17 years.  Typing that seems so surreal, and it makes me seem much older than I really am.  When I was 9 years old, Buffy the Vampire Slayer debuted on TV, and I was hooked from the start.  I instantly knew I was Buffy, and subsequently, Nicholas Brendon’s Xander Harris became my best friend.  When I was in 5th grade, I was the new girl in school.  I made fast friends with a boy and a girl and I often roped them into playing “Buffy” with me on the playground.  It worked out well that the boy was named Alex, and he was the best Xander any 10 year old could ask for.  15 years later, when I was lucky enough to attend San Diego Comic Con in 2012, I had the opportunity to meet the real life Xander Harris, Nicholas Brendon.  I remember being very scared, even at 25, to meet one of the people who influenced my thought process and language.  He even gave me the oft said line, “It’s funny if you’re me.”  I nervously approached his table and as sweet as pie, he asked if I wanted a hug.  Who would say no?

Adrian and Nicholas Brendon 2012 SDCC
Nicholas Brendon and I San Diego Comic Con 2012.

Nicholas Brendon was born in 1971 in Los Angeles.  And yes, he does have a twin brother named Kelly. And yes, it is mind boggling how similar they look.  Brendon was a huge baseball fan growing up.  As a child, he dreamed of being a Dodger.  Brendon loved baseball so much that at his own prom, he decided to watch a Dodger game instead.  “We had better music at Sunnydale’s prom than at my real-life prom. And at my prom, I didn’t really have a date, which is sort of what happens to Xander. At my real prom, I kind of ducked out the hotel ballroom and watched a Dodger game until 3 a.m. because it went about 22 innings. And my friends were saying, ‘Oh no! Where’d Nick go?’ I think I was trying to get people to worry about me. That whole teenage angst thing.”  When he was a teen, he injured his arm, making his professional chances slim.  After dabbling in many different careers, Brendon decided at age 25 to try to become an actor.

Brendon’s career really began with Buffy.  He had been in showbiz for about 3 months before he got the job of a lifetime, playing Buffy’s quirky, yet lovable best friend, Xander.  Before Buffy, Brendon had played background roles in Married with Children and Children of the Corn III.  It has been highly publicized that Brendon has a stutter.  He has talked very positively about how he has dealt with it, becoming a role model for people who also stutter.  When it comes to his decision to act, he has said, “I always wanted to be an actor, but with a speech impediment it’s kind of tough. I decided to roll the dice and take an acting class, which was very, very nerve-wracking… my stomach would just be in knots.”  His roll of the dice led to his most notable role.  For 7 years, Brendon was a lead role on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, appearing in 143 episodes.

Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris in BtVS.

Brendon’s Xander started out as a goofy, not so popular skater, and best friend to other not so popular Sunnydale High sophomore, Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan).  Over the shows 7 seasons, Xander became more than just comic relief, although he was always good at that.  In his relationship with Buffy and Willow, he was the heart of the group.  Along the way, he ended up becoming the secret boyfriend to the most popular girl in school, the go-to guy about weapons due to his knowledge of the Army, and the only guy on the show without some sort of “label” who also saved the world.  Xander may have been “The Zeppo”, but Brendon’s portrayal of the character allowed everyone to love him.  And led everyone to cringe, wail, and yell violently when he got his eye poked out.

Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris with his gals Buffy and Willow (Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hannigan).
Nicholas Brendon as Xander Harris with his gals Buffy and Willow (Sarah Michelle Gellar and Alyson Hannigan).

Since Buffy ended in 2003, Brendon has been in roles intermittently, though he admitted in his panel at Comicpalooza 2014 that he believes he has been typecast.  Despite that, he is a recurring character on Criminal Minds as Kevin Lynch, a technical analyst and love interest to the character Penelope Garcia.   He also played Lee McHenry, a rapist, who had a 4 episode arc in Private Practice.  He has spoken on how emotionally difficult that was to play.  Aside from acting, in 2010, Brendon and artist Steve Loter started an online comic, Very Bad Koalas.  Currently, Brendon helps write the comic adaptation of Buffy, contributing largely to his own character, Xander.  In two weeks, Brendon’s new movie Coherence will come out in theaters,  Coherence is a science fiction drama about a group of friends who are together when a comet passes over Earth.  It is being highly touted, and you can read a spoiler-free review here.

Hush Comics is very excited for Nicholas Brendon to come to Denver Comic Con.  Buffy may have ended 10 years ago, but Xander will always be “the heart.”

Most of the media in this article belong to Hush Comics; it  belongs to their respective properties (Mutant Enemy). Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con with chameleon Karl Urban.

written by Adrian Puryear

Comicpalooza 2014- Buffy Panel

A small scale Buffy reunion was in full action at this year’s Comicpalooza. In attendance were James Leary, who played Clem in seasons 6 and 7; George Hertzberg, who played Adam in season 4; Clare Kramer, who played Glory in season 5; James Marsters, who played Spike in seasons 2-7; and Nicholas Brendon, who played Xander Harris for the entire run of the series. The panel was in question and answer format.

Click on the link to take you to all of our Comicpalooza articles
Click on the link to take you to all of our Comicpalooza 2014 articles

One of the first questions on deck was whether the actors were a fan of the genre before they were cast on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Brendon said he was not and still doesn’t do too much revolving around the genre, but says “I started with the best, why settle for the rest?” James Leary began his acting career after the show had been on the air. When he went to L.A., Buffy was one of the 5 shows he wanted to be on. Hertzberg said he just likes good writing regardless of genre. But James Marsters had the best answer. He said that in 1973 there was a Star Trek convention in Oakland. He went wearing a blue tunic, pointed years, a phaser he made himself and a big, blonde Afro. What a vision!

There was a fan hell-bent on touching celebrities faces. At every panel I went to where this person was in attendance, they asked to touch the stars face after asking what the strangest question the star have ever been asked. Marsters said his idea of strange is way sicker than we may think. For some odd reason, both Brendon and Marsters misheard “face” for something a little more personal, proving they are both a little sick. At one point in the panel Brendon expressed a crass desire for a Xander pregnancy kit. Marsters said he wanted Spike condoms. After some sexually overt banter, Brendon took it too far and Marsters asked if there might be kids in the audience. As a note, it may too adult for little ones to go to a panel with Brendon.

The Buffy cast at Comicpalooza 2014
The Buffy cast at Comicpalooza 2014

James Marsters talked about his favorite episode “Once More with Feeling,” or The Musical. He said no one had much faith in creator Joss Whedon because when they were given the tape where Whedon had recorded the songs, they realized Whedon couldn’t sing or play piano. Marsters believed Whedon was going to “flush the show down the drain along with all of our careers,too.” Today, the Musical is a cult favorite episode.

Each actor shared their favorite line from their respective characters. Kramer’s is “did anyone else know the Slayer is a robot?” Hertzberg, in good humor considering his lack of dialogue, said his is “Mother.” Leary’s is “Spike, she is sweet girl. Issues!” Brendon had a hard time deciding because he had so many great lines. Two of them are “Master-bater” from Buffy vs. Dracula and “I’m 17 years old, everything makes me horny.” Marsters, in his British accent said to the crowd, “Out for a walk…Bitch.” And if you are familiar with that line you know we all cheered when he said it.

As far as memorable fan moments, Clare Kramer talked about a recent proposal from one fan to another at Emerald City Comic Con. Leary likes when fans talk about what Buffy means to them. Marsters met someone who helped design the Mars rover. But Hertzberg had the most interesting story. He said he was in London and a father and daughter came up to his table. The little girl said, “Show him Daddy, show him!” Then the man lifted his shirt and there was George as Adam tattooed on the man’s back.

When talking about the iconic language of Buffy, Kramer said it was easy to memorize because it was so rhythmic and poetic. Marsters said Buffy was not like other shows where you could improvise. He joked that Joss would yell, “James, you missed a comma!” If they could play different characters, Marsters said he would play Clem, only because the actresses would sit on his lap and play with his ears. Leary said that Marsters has a different memory of his time on the set than he does. Pranks were rare because the set was so hard working. However, at a Christmas party, Alyson Hannigan received a bloody prop of Clem’s ear which she shockingly exclaimed “This is so cool!” when she saw it.

James Marsters spoke on one of his favorite Joss moments on set. When it became apparent Spike was more of a romantic vampire rather than a scary one Joss was upset. His intention with vampires and other demons were to make them ugly and scary like the things people overcome in adolescence. Joss approached Marsters, backed him up against a wall and screamed “You are dead. You are dead! YOU ARE DEAD!” It is important to know Joss is famous for killing off loved characters. Marsters also said his role in Macbeth helped him prepare for the role of Spike because they both enjoy killing people.

James Marsters and Adrian at Comicpalooza 2014
James Marsters and Adrian at Comicpalooza 2014

Nicholas Brendon told the audience that be originally came up with the shwarma joke from The Avengers while filming Buffy. He said he has seen Robert Downey Jr. take credit for it. Brendon quipped “fucking liar.”

Fan fiction has long been apart of Buffy because fans write so much of it. But do the actors read it? James Leary has looked at Clem and Spike relationship stories while Brendon has looked at Xander and Giles stuff. Marsters says he really appreciates when people release their creativity but as far as reading it, “No way in heck!”

The hardest thing to film in the series for Marsters was the episode where Spike attempts to rape Buffy. Marsters says any scene with that theme he refuses to watch and it actually sent him to therapy. He qualified it by saying it was a good thing; however, it was still eye-opening to hear that. Marsters wrapped up the panel by saying he preferred being the villain because the villain can watch everyone else run around and feel guilt they can’t save anyone. The villain can also mess with people. He would mess with Sarah Michelle Gellar and then when they had to fall in love, he had to be nice. Although he had to be nice, he was able to continue his “mean” streak later. He ended by saying, “So I went on Angel and messed with him.”

written by Adrian Puryear