Parallels in Fandom: “That’s the Last Time You Call Me a Whore.” A Feminist Look at Firefly’s Companions

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Firefly— Joss Whedon’s short lived, much loved sci-fi western— is a vast universe to be contained in a mere fourteen episodes. While the story was continued in the major motion picture Serenity and in the comics that followed it, the general audience still didn’t get a very good look at the inner workings of Whedon’s creation. Placed after a universal civil war 500 years in the future, a rag tag group of outsiders are crew to the transport ship Serenity. Taking on whatever jobs they can— legal or not— they travel the universe just trying to keep food on the table. They have a captain and co-captain, a pilot, a mechanic, muscle, and in the first episode pick up a Shepard, and a medic on the run from the benevolent Alliance with his supposed psychic little sister. They also have Inara Serra, a “Companion” leasing one of the ship’s shuttles to serve her clients in. Her job? To the untrained eye, being a Companion may look like “whoring,” but look deeper and the woman’s role is a lot more intricate and shows what sex work could become in the future; how its stigma could be removed and the industry made safer.

Companions find empowerment in their occupation where most would see it as demeaning. They are in full control of how they work and with whom (Episode 4 “Shindig”). Companions are mandated by a Guild on the planet of Sihnon, which requires yearly evaluations and keeps a record of their clients, good or bad (“Shindig”). The Guild trains Companions in not only the art of seduction but also teaches art, music, languages, eloquent speech and even traditional tea ceremonies. A Companion is considered a well-respected role of the society.

Companions operate similarly to how Geishas in ancient Japan did. The thing that separated a Geisha from strictly a sex worker or Oiran is their attention to art and eloquence. Geishas went through similar training to Firefly’s Companions. “To become a Geisha, one was committed to a house through various means. A woman, who acted as a madame of sorts as well as a maternal, guiding figure, ran these Geisha houses, okiya. A girl joined an okiya as a child and began training in the arts… These are women who have carefully trained in traditional Japanese instruments and music, dancing, calligraphy, literature, poetry, and the tea ceremony,” says Caileen Machard in her essay “Geisha in the Wild, Wild West: How the Companions of the ‘Verse are Influenced by Geisha Culture.” After their training, Geisha women would then go to work either in their okiya or, if they were lucky, would live in one specific patron’s house, working only for them with their living expenses covered. This was known as danna (“Geisha: A Life” Iwasaki 56).

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In the fourth episode of the series, “Shindig,” one of Inara’s clients, Atherton, takes her to a ball and offers her a deal. “I’m trying to offer you something, you know. A life, if you want it. You can live here on Persephone as my personal companion,” he tells her.  She would be able to live rent free much like Japanese danna. Inara considers the proposal as she clearly fits into the society there, even knowing several of the attendees at the ball by name. She nearly agrees to save Malcom Reynolds from the duel the two men later engage in, but in the end rejects Atherton.

It is important to understand that sex isn’t the primary concern for a Companion or in a Geisha’s life (Iwasaki). While Companions in Firefly seem to rely primarily on sexual engagements, it is not the only service they provide. Inara is shown serving tea to her client at the beginning of every engagement. In the seventh episode of the series “Jaynestown,” she offers valuable advice to Fess Higgins which ends up saving the rest of the crew. She also has social power. “She is pretty much our ambassador.  There’s plenty of planets wouldn’t let ya’ dock without a decent companion on board,” says Malcolm in the first episode. In the second episode “The Train Job,” Inara uses her social status to her advantage and struts into the Paradiso Jail and saves Malcolm and Zoe from a suspicious sheriff who has been questioning them. Inara’s profession gives her significant power in the verse.

Sex workers aren’t typically viewed in a positive light. Many people see it as degrading or immoral, and in cases of human trafficking this is true. It’s also seen as unsafe and many believe it breeds violence. This is also true in certain cases. “When a pimp compels a prostitute to submit to sexual demands as a condition of employment, it is exploitation, sexual harassment, or rape — acts that are based on the prostitute’s compliance rather than her consent. The fact that a pimp or customer gives money to a prostitute for submitting to these acts does not alter the fact that child sexual abuse, rape, and/or battery occurs; it merely redefines these crimes as prostitution,” says the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Illegal, organized sex work is rarely ever ethical in the U.S. Sex workers are subjected to crimes that— if it weren’t sex work— would be federal offenses. Sex workers are taken advantage of and degraded. Even in the Firefly universe, danger in sex work is prevalent. In episode fourteen, “Heart of Gold,” a group of sex workers are put in danger when a local big shot tries to steal the baby of a prostitute he impregnated. The brothel is an illegal one, not mandated or approved by the Guild. The workers there were never trained by the Guild and aren’t under their protection. What the brothel does is illegal because they aren’t certified Companions. While the leader of the brothel is anything but benevolent, the fact remains that the sex workers there live dangerous lives. However, part of the danger in sex work may be due to the fact that it isn’t legal or regulated in most countries.

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Inside a business in the Amsterdam Redlight District.

Amsterdam has a vibrant sex work scene that is highly regulated. Like any other business, sex establishments face municipal regulation over location, organization, and how business is done. To prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, city health services offer sex workers access to free or no-cost clinics to find out their status and receive any necessary treatment. A bill made in 2000 helped lower instances in which the erotic industry is harmful to the sex worker (Amsterdam.info).  Amsterdam authorities “regulate prostitution, aiming at protecting minors, eliminating forced prostitution and combating the new phenomena of human trafficking. Any sex business must obtain from a municipality a license, certifying that it has fulfilled the legal requirements to operate.” (Amsterdam.info). Because sex work is legal in Amsterdam, it creates a safer, less shameful environment in which sex workers can operate. “Under circumstances in which sex work is accepted and regulated in society, in which the sex worker is protected and granted the same rights as any other laborer, sex work has the possibility to be beneficial to women,” says Kelly J. Bell in her article “A Feminist’s Argument On How Sex Work Can Benefit Women” (1).

This is exactly how Companions work in the Firefly universe. Because of the Guild’s strict regulations, Companions are safe to do their work and benefit from both their income and the social status that comes with their title.. They can blacklist clients who have hurt done them harm (“Shindig”) and only choose clients who they wish to work with. They have services to help them in case of STD’s or abuse. Companions serve as an example of how sex work in our society can progress with safer regulation and removal of the stigma around the industry.

Nandi

In the case of the brothel in “Heart of Gold,” part of what forced the brothel to ask for the crew of Serenity’s help is because they knew no one else was going to be there for them. They were working illegally, without approval of the Guild. Were they a legal brothel with certified Companions, they would have had protection and regulation under the Guild. Because they were working illegally, they had to find other means of protection. Luckily, the leader’s connection to Inara afforded them that.

The Companions of Firefly are strong. Inara is extremely bright and can stand her ground in just about any situation.  Another Companion in the series, Saffron, is not exactly the best example of an upstanding character, but it can’t be denied that she’s one hell of a woman. Malcolm calls her a “brilliant, beautiful, evil, doublecrossing snake.” (Episode 13 “Trash”) She’s not a good person by any means, however she is strong and doesn’t let people step on her. Saffron knows what she has and she uses it to her advantage. There’s nothing degrading about what she does. Companions like Saffron and Inara are strong women who have full control of their bodies and demand respect from the people around them. So do real life sex workers.

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Saffron uses her charm to get out of trouble.

Part of this empowerment comes from the writer behind them. Joss Whedon is widely known as an avid human rights advocate, especially when it comes to equality between the sexes. Inspired by his feminist mother, Whedon has always had a fascination with strong women. “His excitement at a young age at seeing a girl character ‘let into the club’ had grown into a desire to tell her story himself, because it was story he himself wanted to live: ‘Somebody who appears to be or is weak becomes stronger. But in almost every case, that persona is female.’ “ (“Joss Whedon; The Biography” Pascale 31). He has been honored many times by Equality Now for writing so many female characters that are not only strong, but iconic. His works such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dollhouse, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and of course Firefly have extremely intelligent, independent and strong females, often as the main characters. At the 2006 “Make Equality Reality” event, Joss Whedon gave a speech in which he spoke about the many responses he has given to reporters who ask him “Why do you write such strong female characters?” His final answer to this question was haunting: “Because you’re still asking me that.”

What Whedon has managed to do with characters like Inara and Saffron is craft a world in which sex work is the norm. Women do what they will with their bodies and have protection and resources should they ever need it. They’re highly intelligent and commanding individuals with high regard in their society. If that’s not empowering, I don’t know what is. If we can bring real life sex work into this same, positive light, we can create a safer, stigma-free environment for which the industry to operate. 

don't play a player

Edit: It was brought to my attention that certain phrases in this article were too vague and came across as insulting. I’ve since changed them to reflect my argument more clearly.

Works Cited:

Whedon, Joss. “Firefly.” FIrefly. 20th Century Fox. California, 20 Sept. 2002.

Machard, Caileen. “Geisha in the Wild, Wild West: How the Companions of the ‘Verse Are Influenced by Geisha Culture.” Watcher Junior 7.2 (2014): n. pag. Whedon Studies. Web. 9 Apr. 2015. <http://www.whedonstudies.tv/&gt;.

Iwasaki, Mineko, and Rande Brown. Ouchi. Geisha: A Life. New York: Atria, 2002. Print.

Bell, Kelly J. “A Feminist’s Argument On How Sex Work Can Benefit Women.” Student Pulse. Student Pulse, 2009. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “Top 10 Pros and Cons: Should Prostitution Be Legal?” Procon.org. Procon, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2015.

“Amsterdam Prostitution.” Amsterdam Prostitution. Amsterdam.info, Web. 20 Apr. 2015.

Pascale, Amy. Joss Whedon: The Biography. Illinios: Chicago Review, 2014. Print.

Whedon, Joss. “Joss Whedon Equality Now Award Acceptance Speech.” YouTube. Equality Now, 8 May 2009. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.

Photos are credited to FOX, Mutant Enem, Daily Mail and behindtheredlightdistrict.blogspot.com.

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 – Jewel Staite

Panel Name: Jewel Staite

Topic: An hour with actress Jewel Staite moderated by Garrett Wang.

Featured Guest: Jewel Staite, known for her roles on FireflyStargate, and Space Cases.


It was the Canadian actress’s first time in Denver, but Jewel Staite is no stranger to comic cons. Staite, most famous for her role in Joss Whedon’s Firefly as ship mechanic Kaylee, has been doing cons for a long time. She will let you know very quickly that she isn’t a great liar; you are only going to get the truth with her. Her slightly sardonic personality is not that of the upbeat Kaylee, but her humor and laugh make her just as likeable. So much so, it is easy to walk out of her panel and think, “she could be my best friend!” Maybe that was just me.

Staite may go to a lot of cons, but that does not impede on her ever-growing resume. Fans are always sure to bring up her stints on Space Cases, Higher Ground, and Stargate. Recently, she filmed three movies back-to-back where she was the lead in all three films. Personal Effects is a “smart crime thriller”, 40 Below and Falling is a 3-D love story, and How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town speaks for itself, really. Fans Staite should keep on the look out for these films due out soon.

Denver Comic Con - Jewel Staite

Some of her best stories, which were mostly spawned from fan questions, were about Nathan Fillion starting the “flip-off” game with her. They both went a little overboard with flipping each other off. It does seem as though Staite won the game because she was able to get 5,000 people at Dragon Con to flip him off. It was a day he “so clearly lost.” She also talked about the roles she lost, namely Claudia in Interview with the Vampire, Judy in Jumanji, and Amy in Little Women. The actress (who I won’t name, and neither will Staite) also dated Staite’s first boyfriend. “She’s dead to me” quipped Staite, to audience applause and laughter. Staite also talked about her favorite book, Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. If Hollywood is going to make a movie, please cast Jewel in a role!

Staite has a great acting career, but her personal life is more of an interest to her. She prides herself on being down-to-Earth. She is certainly not a diva. She talked about doing her own laundry and walking the dogs. Most importantly, she is now engaged. I’m sure that it is a relief that most people will be respectful enough to not propose marriage to her at cons, something that is common for her. After the con, Staite announced via Instagram that she and her fiancé are expecting a baby. We congratulate her on her happy life!

When asked about her thoughts on Kaylee’s innocence, Staite had an incredibly eloquent answer, and one I will end on: “There is something very human about not being heroic, and that’s O.K.” I couldn’t have said it better.

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

Denver Comic Con 2015 – Alan Tudyk

Panel Name: Alan Tudyk

Topic: Tudyk spoke about his upcoming web series Con Man as well as his past roles in projects such as Firefly, Serenity, Dollhouse, and Death at a Funeral

Featured Guest: Comedic genius, Alan Tudyk. Moderation by Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Clare Kramer.


“Ladies and Gentlemen! Alan Tudyk!” Acting moderator Clare Kramer announced at a morning panel May 23 at Denver Comic Con 2015. The man of the hour stepped excitedly up onto the stage, a big bag of goodies over his shoulder. He grasped his mic and raised it to his lips, only to find— in true Tudyk fashion— he was holding it upside down.

“Not a bit. That actually just happened,” he said with an embarrassed laugh. Before Kramer opened the panel to audience questions, there was a lot of talk about Tudyk’s upcoming project Con Man. “My experiences is where it started. My first convention in England… I went with Nathan [Fillion] and there was a guy taking photographs who stuck his hand in a bucket of ice and said ‘I’m sorry. I’m going to need twenty minutes,’ so I was thinking, ‘This is bizarre.’ ” Tudyk said. Before attending his first convention, Tudyk says the only sci-fic he was familiar with was Star Wars and Star Trek: The Next Generation. “I was experiencing [the convention] as an outsider looking in and that’s where the craziness was taking place.” That craziness is what inspired the script for Tudyk’s web series. “I just don’t think there’s another place like this,” Tudky said of pop culture conventions. “I don’t know where this is that people are so accepting of one another and supportive of one another and encouraging of one another,” Tudyk said. “I created this character Wray who’s a buffoon… He’s lost in his life and he doesn’t get how great he has it quite yet.” Tudyk described Wray as a character who doesn’t understand conventions. He will be the lens that convention culture is explored through.

Alan Tudyk - Denver Comic Con 2015 copy

“…We all had high hopes while we were doing [Firefly] because we loved it…We got it. Fox didn’t get it,” Tudyk jabbed about his time on the short-lived science fiction series. A series of boos filled the room with an added, “Too soon!” shouted from someone in the back. This “not getting it” is what led Tudyk to put the wellbeing of his new project into the hands of his fans. He didn’t want to risk a network not understanding the world he was writing and canceling it without further thought. If there’s one thing Tudyk doesn’t need more of, it’s a canceled television show.

Alan Tudyk - Denver Comic Con 2015 2

Kramer then opened the panel up for audience questions. Tudyk beamed onstage, pulling his bag closer to him. “I have stuff for people who ask questions,” he said excitedly. These incentives ranged from prints of the spaceship featured in Con Man to smaller, bizarre gifts such as a signed, empty deodorant package that one “lucky” fan received. “You can put anything in that!” Tudyk joked as the fan walked away with their new prize. Tudyk got the idea to bring gifts for his fans from his Firefly co-star Nathan Fillion, who brings watches engraved with his signature. “That’s what happens when you’re Nathan Fillion,” Tudyk said with a laugh. 

One fan asked what advice he had for creators interested in making their own web series. “Make it yourself,” he said. “Television is changing, obviously… Network TV is kind of on the decline because of Netflix and Amazon Prime. Vimeo, where we’re showing Con Man, is also getting into the game. They’re starting to produce their own shows and I think YouTube is going to take a bigger hand as well…that’s the place to go. Web series is the way to go.” The fan went away with a signed bottle of Scope mouthwash. 

The panel ended with Tudyk giving away one last gift, a signed cover sheet for the first episode script of Con Man. Tudyk’s web series is still in production but is slated to be released on Vimeo this Fall.

“Respect My Craft” – Alan Tudyk

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.

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Click on the link to take you to all of our Denver Comic Con “Respect My Craft” articles

Name:  Alan Tudyk

Profession: Actor, writer, director, below-average carpenter.

Notable Work: Firefly, Serenity, Dollhouse, I, Robot, Dodgeball, Death at a Funeral, Suburgatory, Wreck it Ralph, Big Hero 6, Con Man (coming soon)

“Wash does a lot of this; I land the spaceship and I go ‘Be careful, everybody!’ and then they do these extraordinary things and they come back and I go, ‘Thank God you made it! Strap in, I’m going to fly!’ I do the babysitting job on the spaceship.” – Alan Tudyk (SFX Magazine – 2004)

Alan Tudyk may very well be the funniest guy on TV. Some of my favorite Firefly moments are chalked up to Wash’s gut busting one liners. “If I were unwed, I would take you in a manly fashion.” Every time I see this guy onscreen, I get all giddy, regardless of the role. He’s simply a joy to watch.

Tudyk was born March 16, 1971 in El Paso, Texas but raised in Plano, Texas. He had a brief experience as a stand up comedian but stopped due to an audience member threatening to kill him. Luckily for us, he didn’t give up on acting and studied drama as Lon Morris College in Jacksonville, Texas where he won the Academic Excellence for drama. He briefly attended the prestigious Juilliard conservatory, but dropped out in 1996 without earning a degree. A few years later, Tudyk made his Broadway debut in Epic Proportions in 1999. He would go on to perform in Wonder of the World, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, Misalliance, Oedipus and Bunny Bunny. He also filled in for Hank Azaria in Spamalot in 2005.

Tudyk’s career really took off when he was cast as the lovable pilot Hoban “Wash” Washburne in Joss Whedon’s beloved and short-lived science fiction western Firefly. While the series only lasted 14 episodes, it remains a major staple in pop culture with some of the most avid fans in the world. Tudyk is astoundingly funny and charismatic in his role. Wash’s wisecracking, sarcastic attitude and undying loyalty to his loved ones is what makes him such a wonderful character. It’s also what makes his *SPOILER* death in the cinematic reprise Serenity so gorram heartbreaking. 

Tudyk also played the hauntingly deranged maniac, Alpha in the also short-lived Whedon series Dollhouse. Don’t get me wrong. I love Wash. He’s probably my favorite Tudyk character, but Alpha is deliciously insane and Tudyk’s portrayal of him is quite possibly the best acting of his career. Plagued with hundreds of different personalities floating around in his noggin, Alpha’s constantly shifting demeanor and sociopathic mannerisms are heart pounding to watch. Tudyk is great as Wash, but his range is best shown in Dollhouse.

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Tudyk’s latest project, Con Man, has Firefly fans absolutely ecstatic. Also starring Firefly co-star Nathan Fillion, Con Man is Tudyk’s very own brainchild. He not only stars in the upcoming web series, but also acts as screenwriter, director, and co-producer. Fillion is also co-producing alongside science fiction writer PJ Haarsma. Con Man tells the story of Wray Nerely (Tudyk) who a spaceship pilot on a canceled science fiction series similar to Firefly called Spectrum. His friend Jack Moore (Fillion) played the captain of the ship and has gone on to become a widely successful A-List actor. Meanwhile, Wray struggles to be happy with his lesser known career, traveling from convention to convention as he makes appearances for the sake of his fans. The series will explore the nuances of convention life and fan culture.

Here’s how Hollywood works. You write a script, you get an agent, that agent proposes your script to a production company and then, hopefully, it gets sent to a bunch of bigwig network people who will pay for it. It’s a grueling process and it takes years. Sometimes you can skip a few hoops if you’re a big name actor, writer, or director or if you work as a reader for a production company, but for the most part, you’re at the mercy of the system. And even if you do get picked up, your project can go any number of ways, including being canceled before its prime. Tudyk said “Eff that!” and took his project to Indiegogo. “It’s not that I have trust issues…” Tudyk joked in his campaign video. Instead of giving his project to a network who might not appreciate the concept and royally screw it up, he reached out to his fans to help fund the web series. He wanted the show to be backed by people who actually understood the nuances of convention life i.e. those who attend them. The initial goal was $425,000 for three episodes. What Tudyk and Fillion wound up with by the end of their campaign was $3,156,234 for 12 episodes and a “lost” episode of Spectrum. In only 24 hours the project raised $1 million, a new record in web series funding. There will also be a Con Man comic book, game, and DVD.

The project will begin filming in June to be released in September through Vimeo’s on demand service. The series will also include actors Seth Green, Felicia Day, James Gunn and Gina Torres. All twelve ten minute episodes will be released simultaneously, so make time in your schedule to binge watch this Fall. I certainly will be forgoing homework for the occasion. Scholarship be damned! I aim to misbehave!

Come see Alan Tudyk at Denver Comic Con this weekend where he will be speaking at two panels, signing autographs, taking photos and possibly pulling inspiration for his new project! Autographs are $40 and photos are $50, cash only. Tudyk will be at the convention Saturday and Sunday.

Photos and Firefly clip courtesy of 20th Century Fox. Video courtesy of Indiegogo.

Yesterday in the Nerd Verse… Jan 02, 2015

The guys at Marvel Studios are cruel, cruel people. To hype up the upcoming Ant Man movie, they released an itty-bitty teaser of the upcoming film. I sure got a laugh out of it, and I hope that the studio can be as jovial with the movie going forward. Source: YouTube.

It’s truly not a New Year until Hip-Hop artist Mad Skillz winds down the previous year with his “Rap Up”s. Behold: “2014 Rap Up.” Source: YouTube.

Yargh, maties; this might be news for all you scurvy torrent dogs out there. The Pirate Bay may back up and operational within the next month. It’s all speculation, but the site that was a hub for illegal downloading before being shut down a month ago could be back up and running soon. Source: Yahoo!

Ready for all the tag team glory of Green Lantern and Green Arrow?? Well, lucky for us, Green Arrow #37 (out next Wednesday!) will see one of the best team-ups in the comic book histories. Source: DC Comics.

In Marvel news, Jessica Drew will be getting a bad-ass new costume in Spider-Woman #5 and it looks pretty freaking cool. It’s reminiscent of the redesign that Babs Tarr gave Barbara Gordon in the new Batgirl series, but much cooler looking. Source: USAToday.

While Gotham might not be the show we are most excited to return, the fact that Inara (Morena Baccarin) from Serenity/Firefly is gonna be playing Dr. Leslie Thompkins should be enough to sell the second half of the season. It will be great to see her back on screen.
  Source: IGN.

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!