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Dynamic Forces recently met with Gage to discuss Buffy, Angel, the Scooby Gang and other oddities of their comic book universe. Here is what he told us.
Dynamic Forces: Chris, if memory serves, you entered the “Buffyverse” at Dark Horse with Angel and Faith #1 in 2011. Tell us how that came about.
Christos Gage: I was at the first C2E2 convention and literally in the last minute of the show Scott Allie saw me in the bathroom and asked me if I would be interested in writing a new Angel series. He had read the Vertigo graphic novel I did with Chris Samnee, AREA 10, and felt I’d be a good fit, and I believe he knew I’d written TV before so I knew both media.
DF: Were you a fan of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series on the WB?
Christos Gage: No, actually! My wife, Ruth, watched it from time to time, but I never did, for some reason. I heard it was good, and always planned to check it out, but didn't really get around to it until Scott Allie approached me. So I watched seven seasons of Buffy and five of Angel in rapid succession…and loved them, of course! It didn’t take many episodes for me to decide I wanted to work in this world. I should say that I had read, and loved, Joss Whedon’s run on X-Men, so I was already a fan of his writing.
DF: Do you enjoy the creative partnership with Rebekah Isaacs?
Christos Gage: Very much so. Rebekah is an incredible talent in so many ways, but the thing that stands out to me is her characters' "acting." In comics, sometimes you have to be a little more direct in the dialogue because it's hard for a two dimensional, static image to convey complicated or conflicting emotions…but Rebekah can pull it off. I write for her the way I write for actors when writing a screenplay. Also, her creature designs are incredible! I rarely give her much guidance now…I might just describe a few characteristics of a monster (i.e. tentacles, wings, etc.) and just let her go to town. I am always amazed by the result!
DF: You also did a couple of stories with Jeff Parker, who is now writing Flash Gordon for Dynamite Comics. What was it like collaborating with Jeff?
Christos Gage: Well, you have to like cocaine and moonshine…I’m kidding, of course. Jeff’s been a friend for several years and he’s a great guy as well as an amazing writer, so I was very pleased to get the chance to co-write with him. As I recall, this was a situation where a scheduling conflict or crunch led to me coming in and co-writing the last couple issues of the Willow miniseries, with me working off what he’d already done, so I’d still love to actually co-write something with him from the beginning, but I really enjoyed the experience. Unlike me, he can also draw, so I felt like I learned something from the way he envisioned the story. That’s what I like best about co-writing, is learning from my creative partner.
DF: Tell us about the development and evolution of Buffy and her comic book world.
Christos Gage: Well, as a “season” of the comics starts to near its end, we have a summit in L.A. with the Buffyverse brain trust to plan out the next one. We did it in 2011 for Season 9 and again in 2013 for Season 10. Joss is the head honcho, of course, and others present include Scott as well as Buffy writers like Jane Espenson and Drew Greenberg. Zack Whedon was there for Season 9’s summit, while Season 10’s had Nicholas Brendon, who we were all excited to hear was interested in getting involved, and he and I are co-writing several issues of Season 10. My wife Ruth (who is also a writer) was there this last time around too. Basically what we do in these summits is plan out the spine of the season, the big story and character arcs. It’s a lot like a television writer’s room. Obviously, Joss is a super busy guy, so while he is sent every outline and script, and weighs in when he feels it necessary, we try to answer the big questions while we have him, so we’re not constantly emailing him to ask, “How would Buffy feel about X?” while he’s supposed to be directing Avengers 2. What I’ve found interesting is that as the comic has continued the storyline of the show for three seasons now, this season it’s come back down to earth quite a bit…closer to what the show was. In Season 8, the first canonical comics-only season, Joss wanted to really take advantage of the comics medium and tell the kind of big, cosmic story they could never afford to on the show. And he was glad he did it, but then he decided that what both he and the fans cared about most was the characters and their lives and relationships, so we’ve been getting back to that. With monsters and giant vampires and elder slime-gods, of course.
DF: To your mind, how is Dark Horse’s Buffy different from the TV character?
Christos Gage: If we do our jobs right, they're the same! But the comics are different in a number of ways simply because they're different media. I do appreciate the unlimited budget of a comic…you never have to worry about if you can afford the special effects!
DF: Over Buffy’s “Seasons,” who has been her most sinister big-bad, and why?
Christos Gage: Overall, I’d say the toughest for her to face have been those who were friends or more…Angel(us) and Dark Willow. As for the most evil…the Master was pretty bad.
DF: And your favorite member of the Scooby Gang is …?
Christos Gage: I honestly don't have an outright favorite. I have a lot of fun writing Andrew and Xander, probably because I can channel my inner nerd.
DF: Chris, sum up, if you can, your long experience with this character and her adventures.
Christos Gage: I think it’s best summed up by saying that I feel like I’ve gained a new family. The creators, the characters and the fans are like a large, extended but close family that loves and supports each other…like the characters themselves. It’s a tremendous privilege to be a part of it.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Christos Gage for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions.
Superior Spider-man #32 Signed by Christos Gage
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