“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.

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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

We Can Do It! Buffy Summers

“We Can Do It!: Women in Comics, Television and Beyond” is Hush Comics’ answer to what women in comics mean to the world and to us  Visit our page every week to learn about a new super lady! 

This week, I dedicate “We Can Do It!” to the one and only Buffy Summers.  Next Tuesday (Dawn’s in trouble?  It must be Tuesday) marks 11 years since the series that inspired my life ended.  So this one is for you, Miss Summers.

Who:

Buffy Summers

Nicknames/Aliases:

The Slayer, The Chosen One, The Buffster

Skills:

Super Strength, Prophetic Dreams, Major Agility, Quick Healing, and being the most Bad-Ass female of all time (ok, that one may be biased)

Origin Story:

This one is difficult.  Should I start with the history of Buffy herself? Or with the history of how Buffy came about and where she has gone since?  Let’s start with the latter:

Buffy was originally Rhonda the Immortal Waitress.  If you Google that, you will find some very interesting fan-fiction.  It’s true.  Anyway, Joss Whedon, creator of all things holy in my household, was fed up with blonde girls dying in alleys, so he decided to make “a seemingly insignificant female who in fact turns out to be extraordinary.” From there, Buffy Summers was born: a high school valley girl cheerleader who finds out she actually is The Chosen One, the one to fight the vampires and the forces of darkness.  A movie titled Buffy the Vampire Slayer was made in 1992 (the first movie I saw in theaters) starring Kristy Swanson as Buffy.  After flopping and becoming the butt of many a joke, Buffy was reincarnated in the 1997 television series.  The TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer was not a flop, however.  It ran for seven seasons and spawned its own spinoff, Angel.  Today, Buffy still lives on in her comic book series, currently in it’s 10th season.  

Buffy herself?  That is a long story.  I mean, she has been around for almost 22 years (Oh My God, my hero is almost 22 years old, and I remember when her story began).  Buffy did start out as a valley girl cheerleader.  She was vapid. And then suddenly her world changed, when she met her Watcher.  What’s a Watcher? Well let me tell you, reader. A Watcher is someone who watches… er… trains the Slayer, the only one in the world, to fight vampires and other baddies.  Anyway, her Watcher, Merrick, came into her life, trained her for a bit, and then died.  Buffy ended up having to save her school, Hemery High, by burning down the gym, because of asbestos…oops, vampires.  After being a tiny little arsonist, she was expelled and forced to move to the small town of Sunnydale, where in my opinion, is where her real story begins.  She begins her sophomore year at Sunnydale, meeting friends Willow and Xander, beauty queen Cordelia, her new Watcher Giles and her lover, Angel.  We follow her from the time she is 16 to 22 in the series and watch her grow up, fall down, fall in and out of love, fight for her life and the lives of her friends and family and along the way, we learned what it means to be a teenager, a young adult, a friend, who our families really are and a woman.  Yup, thats Buffy’s history, in a very tiny nutshell.

Why is she important?:

Buffy changed the way we think of women.  And she changed the 90’s.  Yeah, we were all about Girl Power back then, but in the 90’s, that was fairly new concept.  Now it is more readily accepted that girls are superheroes, too.  And not just superheroes, but ones that can still be pretty and feminine, if they so desire.  Buffy started that revolution of being fierce and fashionable.  She also made it ok to be smart.  Its true that Buffy may not be the best student, but she is witty and can outsmart her opponents. For like 7 years she was able to outsmart her opponents.  That’s a long time to outsmart people who can eat you for lunch.  Buffy was a poster girl for being yourself and being strong, launching her portrayer, Sarah Michelle Gellar, into stardom.  Being the poster girl for 90’s Girl Power?  That is important.  Now writing about why Buffy Summers is important can take up a book.  In fact there are books about it.  But since this is a blog post, I want to keep it short and sweet, so I’ll end there, but before I do, there is one more reason why Buffy Summers is important.  She saved the world.  A lot.

What she means to me:

What does Buffy mean to me?  How much time do you have?  For times sake, lets just say, she means everything.  Maybe not as much as, say, my family, but she is pretty darn close.  Buffy was the person I could look up to when I was growing up.  She was the inspiration for more than just my outfits and my haircuts, although she was pretty important for that, too.  Buffy helped me realize that I was smart and strong.  I could be independent and I could speak my mind.   Most importantly, she made me realize that I could be a hero.  To this day, Buffy is still a big part of my life.  As a grown woman, I can look back at the things the blonde teenager went through and compare it to my own life, wondering, “What would Buffy do?”

photos belong to Mutant Enemy

written by Adrian Puryear

Weekend Wrap-Up…March 2, 2014

Here comes some news in a half-shell! The new TMNT movie trailer will debut in the previews for Captain America: Winter Soldier – one more reason to get geeked for Cap. The TMNT movie has been under a lot of scrutiny (the whole Michael Bay alien thing), so this will be it’s time to shine.

Cowabunga! Co-creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird are reuniting for a 30th anniversary issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This doesn’t seem to be a one-time thing, as they and the voice actors from the original TMNT cartoon will be making appearances on the Nickelodeon series.

Sarah Michelle Gellar was the top hit on Yahoo! this morning, and for good reason. After years of fan debate, Buffy herself has finally answered the age-old question: Angel or Spike?

Better Call Jesse Pinkman? Not quite, but Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul has been rumored to be making appearances on the straight-to-Netflix series, Better Call Saul, released this November.

The Pokémon series that raised a generation in the 90s is now streaming via Netflix. Now you can Catch Em All at your own pace!

Barry Allen’s Flash costume has been revealed – at least the mask has, anyway. CW has done such an extraordinary job with Arrow that a Flash series has got to be worth watching.

In preparation of the film, a mobile game based off the X-Men: Days of Future Past will be released in May. They’re really milking this story-line, but it looks to be a fun play-through.

The DC MMORPG Infinite Crisis will be getting comic book and collectible tie-ins. We’re particular fans of Pajama Party Harley – sounds festive!

Telltale’s story-driven The Walking Dead  game releases its next installment (Season Two: Episode Two) on Tuesday, March 4th. Clementine isn’t the same innocent girl she was in the First Season and we’re excited for more gory glory.

DC is prepping it’s next full-scale event – oh God, here we go again – and it’s called Futures End. Equipped with 3D holographic covers and the whole shebang, I’m skeptical of any of the “events” DC and Marvel push, but the concept of all our heroes in the futures is enticing enough to give a few of them a look.

With the release of the various X-Files Conspiracy books (Ghostbusters, Transformers, TMNT), IDW Comics is looking for collaborating on a grand scale. The Super Secret Crisis War (a bastardization of DC and Marvel events) will include a slew of Cartoon Network characters (Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack, Dexter, Ben 10 and Ed, Edd & Eddy) taking on all the villains from their respective series. We’re sold, but… where is Johnny Bravo?

The 86th Academy Awards have begun. We’ll be checking up on it in between commercials of The Walking Dead. Check out our past TWD reviews here, and see how we weighed in with our Oscar picks tomorrow.

Written by Sherif Elkhatib