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