Monday, December 13, 2010
Monday, November 29, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
The Wolf, the Ram, and the Heart part 1
Written by David Tischman and Mariah Huehner
Art by Elena Casagrande
This review is going to be peppered with the best kind of pepper outside of actual delicious pepper. VIDEO INTERVIEWS!
Don’t mind the roar of the audience in the background. Mariah and I were surrounded by adoring fans of Angel and this site. There was a whole coliseum of them.
That, or we were at New York Comic Con.
Now, the issue.
It feels a lot like I wanted “Angel: Aftermath” to feel. Back when “Aftermath” came out, the biggest Angel arc had just ended. The character’s lives were changed forever. I wanted to read something that was simultaneously different from what came before but still consistent with the characters and the tone of the series. My expectations weren’t really met with that series, and now we’re in a somewhat similar place. The arc that Bill Willingham started and Mariah and David carried out has just finished. By the end of the arc, everyone had been changed forever. Connor took over as champion of LA, Spike left for Vegas, Illyria set out to find herself, and Angel decided to take a step back and let his son grow as a man. So again, I was faced with the same expectation. I wanted consistency, but I knew that things couldn’t be the same.
This book excels at doing just that.
Now, about that crowd. It’s a good group. I’m still waiting for Laura to have a moment that really sells me on her (Polyphemus’s was when he let Spike use him as a ball), but she’s tolerable. I love the pairing of Connor and Gunn, though. I’ve been anticipating some actual movement for their characters since “After the Fall,” because… well, Gunn killed Connor. And then, last time they were together, Connor said that he wanted to cut Gunn’s throat. A bit unsympathetic, no? This book makes up for that. Connor realizes that he was in the wrong for that, but there is an air of tension between them that goes beyond that. I’m excited to see how the clearly capable Huehner and Tischman explore that.
There is a creepy scene with James. Or Jamerah? Or the other creepy alieny name he had before. Everyone else is going with James, so I’ll agree with them. They’re my fictional buddies. So, James. He kinda… has a goo… baby… thing. It’s similar to the birth of the soul eater, but this one looks very different. No idea where any of that is going, but it ups the horror factor to a level that Angel as a television show rarely took it to. It facilitates the different mood that the comic is playing with.
Now, to Angel. Angel Angel Angel. We knew thanks to the kind and good smelling folks over at Buffyfest that our eponymous hero was going to be removed from our current timeline. Not much I can say about that, other than the folks that pull him out are pretty much from where you’d expect. Good ol’ Wolfram & Hart. While they’re creepy as always, they seem less… lawyery in the future. And this time, when they say what they’ve said before (“We’re not the bad guys.”) I… kind of believe them. At least, they’re not the worst bad guys. James really screwed stuff in the future up, and Angel realizes that that means something he did in the past (his/our present) must have really been off base. They, for some reason, were unable to stop this threat. So Future W&H wants to enlist Angel to somehow make things right.
But Angel would rather jump off a building than do that. So he does.
And because this is a comic, it ends on that dramatic moment. It was solid read, and it felt very much like the beginning of an epilogue. The end of IDW’s Angel is coming, and Mariah and David are crafting what promises to be an excellent story.
Plus, Angel is wearing a hoodie. He sure knows how to rock a hoodie.
--VIDEO INTERVIEW WITH DAVID TISCHMAN NEXT WEEK--
Back-up story: “Eddie Hope- Sunset”
Written by Bill Williams
Art by Elena Casagrande and Walter Trono
While Angel gets a new beginning, Eddie Hope comes to an end. Not a deathy kind of end, though. The “Holy shit, that guy Angel and his crew really beat me up… and kind of for nothing. Gunn wasn’t even on my list, but I went after him anyway. I’m going beyond what my original mission was. Time to say fuck that and go home.” And that’s essentially it. The actual writing is more eloquent than that, but as the title implies, Eddie lets the sun set on his vengeance gig. It’s a good, if abrupt, end to the character. Bill Williams has consistently done a great job with shoving a big story into four pages, and while I would have liked a bit more breathing room for Eddie’s swan song, this does the trick. He was an engaging character, and the back-ups were always a pleasure to read. He’ll be missed.
Don’t miss my interview with Bill Williams, where he comments on Eddie’s final chapter: http://buffyversecomics.blogspot.com/2010/11/eddie-hope-and-bill-williams-bow-out.html
Oh, and just a bit of “I hope” here. While Eddie’s story end with the first part of “The Wolf, the Ram, and the Heart,” I really hope that it’s collected with the previous installments in the “Connorland” hardcover. It would be super awkward to have this one Eddie back-up in the final hardcover.
Pat Shand Interviews Bill Williams
Again: Exit Interview
Writer of the Eddie Hope backups in ANGEL
and SPIKE: THE DEVIL YOU KNOW
Bill Williams: Well, the plan was to have him introduced into Team Angel, but that was scrapped which works just as well for me. I’m not sure that the vengeance road has room for a full minivan.
For me, I got a solid grip on the character when I had another character ask him why he never went home when Los Angeles snapped back to normal. Eddie Hope’s name became ironic for him in that he considered himself damaged and corrupted by the events of After the Fall. He was afraid that he would poison all of his friends and family if he did not quarantine himself. That put him on an even lonelier road.
So in Angel #39, Eddie has suffered a nasty physical beating and it makes him reconsider what he is doing. There is also a nice callback to the Spike mini-series. It was fun for me to be able to write a few lines of dialogue for Angel in the Angel comics.
My truncated run with Eddie ends with the scene I always intended to conclude the series with, just a bit early. Eddie’s story is over, but in comics anything is possible.
BCR: Fans have been all a-twitter. Is Eddie modeled after Wentworth Miller?
BW: That’s a question for David Messina who is a great guy. An Italian publisher found that we both worked on the Eddie stuff for Angel. They were interested in publishing Italian editions of some work I published in the states and David more or less vouched for both sides so I’m at the contract stage for those foreign rights. Like I said great guy.
When it comes to the art I do my best to leave out any reference to celebrity. It’s one of those things that can really bite you when it goes wrong and I did not know that David would be the lead artist on the Eddie stories until the last minute. I suppose one of the many reasons not to provide reference is the danger that you will end up with bad photo tracing as a result.
I was at the Wizard show in Austin chatting with Brian Denham as he was drawing a Spike commission for a fan and man that guy gets it. He can pull up a photo on his cell phone and draw a likeness that is spot on and not deadened by the process.
That said, I can see a little passing resemblance to the Prison Break actor.
BCR: What was your favorite moment in your tenure as an Angel/Spike writer?
BW: At the end of Angel #38, Eddie has been beaten unconscious by Team Angel. Originally in issue #39, Eddie was to have a hallucination and have a bit of a dream walk where a few stray bits of his character were stitched together and it was surreal and charming and funny. But that bit was cut away in the change over in the creative teams when Willingham left the title.
I liked writing the banter between the Spike and Eddie in the Spike: Devil You Know mini-series, which will be out in trade form early next year. I pitched it as ‘24 with Vampires’, but by the time I was through it was more like ‘48 Hours with vampires’. Spike has such a wonderful sense of humor, that it’s a shame not to use it.
But my favorite bit that hit the shelves was the extended fight between Team Angel and Eddie in Angel #37 and #38. Eddie is fairly certain that the vampires and monsters on Team Angel will kill him if they beat him and Team Angel is furious for the abduction of Gunn. There’s a lot of drama in that fight.
BCR: Now that Eddie's story has wrapped up, what is next for Bill Williams?
BW: I am so far behind in my effort in the National Novel Writing Month. The challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1 and November 30. To hit that mark, you need to manage around 1700 words a day. I lost a week already as I finished a new comic book project that just hit the digital distributors. So, I need to pull out a few 5,000 word days to hit the writing deadline. The novel is a mystery set in Austin where a young police detective chases a killer and wanders into a variation on a Hitchcock classic.
The reason I lost that week was that I have a new webcomic launching on December 1. A few years back, I wrote a story that is loosely based on some events I lived through when my cat was hit by a car and I had to help him rehab. Biscuit & Lefty: A Cat’s Tale is available for digital download from WOWIO. www.wowio.com/users/product.asp?BookId=223401 It is also in the works with Graphic.ly and Comics Plus and more. It will launch for free as a webcomic on December 1 off of my blog www.billwilliamsfreelance.com which is chock full of fun stuff. The story is so sweet that my letterer Thom asked me if I really wrote it. The art is by Bobby Diaz and me and I’m pretty proud of it. Bobby penciled it and I inked and colored the pages.
At that show in Austin, I talked with Brent Erwin from Ape Entertainment and he seems keen on a pitch I sent in for one of his licensed properties. So I might have a few projects in the cycle from them.
But with the comic book field, you never know.
Big thanks to Bill Williams for the interview! Check out the links he provided and be sure to catch the end of Eddie Hope's saga of vengeance in Angel #39.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Spike's Vegas adventure takes place after Angel #38, and that's pretty much all the defining of the timeline we're doing for now. Illyria's story takes place after #38 as well, and after the little fight with Angel and Spike. When you see Illyria #1 you'll see how some of it ties together, but again, it's a tight time frame for only those specific events. The Spike adventure goes off on its own and has its own arc to manage. Brian's story was too important to hamstring with trying to force it all to gel perfectly. And a lot of the Spike comic had been established before the last story arc became the last one, so it's more on me than it is on Brian. We just want to link what we can, and hope fans will be forgiving and okay with the sort of vague "happens after #38" answer. :}
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Pat Shand Interviews Bill Williams
Writer of the Eddie Hope backups in ANGEL
and SPIKE: THE DEVIL YOU KNOW
BUFFYVERSE COMIC REVIEWS: For starters, how did you get into writing comics?
BILL WILLIAMS: I backed into writing comics and from there stumbled into writing prose. I have an art degree from the University of Texas and I’m a cartoonist by training. When I was trying to break in as an inker, I needed pages to work on, so I wrote a story and hired a penciler and before you knew it I was making pages and the pages became actual comics. In my college writing courses, I scored pretty well and even had a teacher tell me that I should write for a local paper after reading a movie review I had churned out in class. Since then, I’ve written a novel, a few dozen short stories, a few spec screenplays and fifty plus comics. There are more stories on my plate than I can finish at the moment and a few pitches floating around in some editorial offices.
At this point in my career, I’m more of a crime writer and a fan of the superheroes and the creatures in the supernature. Writing stories about devils looking for revenge and a charming vampire out to remind the world how awesome he is fits me pretty well. I currently split my time between writing and drawing, but more on that later.
BCR: You’re the first writer to tackle a SPIKE series since Brian Lynch essentially redefined the character with his SPIKE trilogy, “After the Fall,” and his upcoming ongoing series. What did you draw from to add your own spin on this fan favorite character?
WILLIAMS: First off, I love Spike. I think the best of the episodes from Angel Season Five starred Spike. I really drew on the early Buffy seasons and the last season of Angel for my tone for Spike. He’s a full fledged hero now and he’s totally engaged with the waking world. Spike seems to enjoy every moment in life. Even when Dru leaves him he feels it, but without all of the pouting.
Spike strikes me as the character that’s always having fun and I wanted the mini-series to reflect that. Comics are too grim and dour. I wanted to find a way to capture a charm and drive of Spike. Playing him off of Eddie worked pretty well because Eddie’s a pretty decent straight man.
In terms of mythology, when the series starts Spike is a character at the cross roads. He’s been told that Angel has dibs on the Shanshu Prophecy and he is shut out. Spike needs to find a new way to live when he meets Andrea in a bar. Since Spike is a hero, she‘s trying to kill him and steal a charm from him, but it sets him more along his true path. So many vampire stories are about family and Spike’s family tree shakes out a real villain.
Spike: The Devil You Know #4
Cover art by Franco Urru
BCR: There are so many aspects of Spike that fans fell in love with. So many people are passionate about the character for different reasons. What about Spike did you want to portray in THE DEVIL YOU KNOW?
WILLIAMS: In a lot of the stories I drew from, Spike had been reduced to a punch line. He was Illyria’s tackling dummy. Spike was the runner up in the Shanshu Contest. That was totally disconnected from the Spike I loved in his early appearances and I wanted to get back to that version of the character. In The Devil You Know, Spike’s competent and fun and charming.
The pitch I sent in to Mariah was detailed enough to give a good road map for ther story, but loose enough to improvise as I was banging out the pages. I think I wrote the first draft of the thing in two weeks. There was a wait and then the rewrites and the search for the art team and we struck gold with ChrisCross and Marc Deering.
BCR: The Buffyverse is my favorite fictional universe, easily. However, even I have to admit that the mythology sometimes suffers when a writer has a good idea. Angel’s facial hair situation seemed to change from “yeah, vampires can grow mustaches, because look how badass he looks” to “what? Vampires? Facial hair? Pshaw.” However, you seem to be making an effort to make the mythology a bit stronger by tying TDYK into the early Buffy episodes by having the Order of Aurelius show up. What about the Order interested you?
WILLIAMS: The World of Buffy plays by a set of rules and I like that about it. For the two series, they created new mythologies out of whole cloth. If they needed a demon casino, BANG there it was and it was never seen again. Same for a special school for Gwen. Here and gone. In most comics we tend to do endless navel gazing and end up choking on continuity. I wanted to bring an awareness of what has come before to the Spike mini-series and if anything, tie Spike into that larger world a little better.
I was struck that the Order seemed to die with The Master. It seemed that he was an order of one and that’s not much of an order. So I created the villain Tansy Fry as a kind of protégé to the Master who had predated Darla as the apple of the old monster’s eye. The nice thing about a character like The Master is that there are long deep pockets of his personal history that can be explored. I see that the Buffy comics are going to be doing a bit of that.
An early idea that I rejected in the writing process was to have a few distant surviving members of The Order arrive in Los Angeles looking for Spike. These badass vampires find Spike and immediately start bowing to him. They ask him to be the new head of the Order. But that approach lacked the conflict and tension that Tansy brought to the story. I wanted to write something bigger than a one joke story.
BCR: Coincidentally, The Master has just showed up in the BUFFY comic. It seems as if the comics are sort of making a return to the roots of the TV series. How do you think writing an ANGEL or SPIKE comic is different than writing an episode of the series?
WILLIAMS: The comic writing process is miles away from the television writing process. I’m based in Austin and I work with people all around the globe with the editor functioning as the coordinator for the stories. Most comic stories have one author. In the television model, the writers are in the same room and there is better collaboration and stories that get off topic can be nipped early on. Recently, I was brought in to by an independent production company to rewrite their pilot for a new one hour drama. I kept half of the original pilot and totally rewrote the back half of the project. That would never happen in comics.
More television writers are now writing comics, so they’re picking up our bad habits. The Master is an interesting plot device. He’s the pater familias of the Order and at the trunk of the family tree that includes Darla, Angelus, Dru and Spike and many others.
BCR: Tell us a bit about the process of developing the Eddie Hope character.
WILLIAMS: When Mariah hired Willingham to write Angel, he wrote a document that detailed where the series would go. It was not exactly a pitch document, because he already had the job. He pulled me into the project and set aside four pages a month for my little Eddie stories. I’m grateful for the work and the time in front of the audience. But Eddie was born as a single paragraph in that original document.
At our annual Clockwork writing retreat I wrote and emailed to Willingham my first Eddie story. He told me that I was missing the point and that the original script did not illustrate the premise. So, I told him that I could just have Eddie walk into a bar and kill someone. He said go with that. So the first story became the second story and I was off and writing.
For the sixth script, I had started Eddie off in a fight club story. Behind the bars in Whedon’s LA, there was always a demon fist fight going on and I wondered what would happen if someone organized that and made it a pay per view contest complete with wagering. So Eddie was in the middle of that and it was a story about Eddie taking a beating, a real hard loss. I turned in the first chapter of that story and thought about it a bit more. Then I contacted Mariah and told her that I wanted to get a do over and that I thought it would be more interesting to have him slam into Gunn and through him get into a fight with Team Angel.
I got the emotional handle on Eddie when I had a woman from his past track him down to ask him why he had not come home after LA left Hell. Answering that question gave me more insight into Eddie’s head.
By the time all is said and done, I think I wrote twenty Eddie stories and a dozen will see the light of day. I may rework and reuse elements of some of the stories that never left my hard drive.
Angel #38 Variant Cover
Art by David Messina
BCR: With Eddie Hope’s story rushing toward its climax, fans have been wondering if the character is going to get closure or not. Without spoiling, any thoughts?
WILLIAMS: If you do not close a story, you’re writing a soap opera. The best stories have ends. The artistic value of stories falls if the story never ends. The Wire ends. The Watchmen ends.
Writing an ending is tricky. It’s the hardest part of the process. I compare the ending to the dismount in a gymnastic routine. You have to stick the ending if you want a story to sing. The movie Michael Clayton has a bit of unnecessary non-linear storytelling, but it mostly works. It’s popular to hammer on Clooney, but he’s pretty good in that movie and it could go either way. But then within the last few moments, he delivers a total verbal smack down to someone who has it coming. That final dramatic scene saves that movie. As you can see I think they have to end. The thing is that the next morning, the next story starts.
Eddie gets a decent send off. It ends the way I always saw the story ending, just too soon.
BCR: It’d been said that you were months ahead on the Eddie scripts. Was there anything you wanted to do with the characters that fans won’t get to see?
WILLIAMS: In the spring this year, I finished writing my Eddie stories so that I could free up my schedule enough to finish writing a detective novel. Given the option, I wrote a year’s worth. I love the character and the world around him. At Mariah’s instruction, I had written the Eddie stories through issue #44. My run’s a lot shorter than that now. My last issue is #39 and it was written after all of the changes had shaken out. Originally, there was the story about the woman from his past. I wrote a long hallucination that Eddie endured as he recovered from a beating. There was a three part stranger in town story where Eddie realizes that the locals are corrupt as they are giving him a beating. And finally, I wrote a killer two-part story about Kate and Eddie killing demons in a police substation.
I wanted to do more with Kate the cop. In the Angel television series, she had originally been fired from the police force for being obsessed with the creatures in the supernature. Then LA went to Hell and proved her points. I figured that she could give the mother of all I Told You So’s to the department, but she would have too much class for that. In the back of my head, my plan was to make her the liaison between Angel Investigations and the regular authorities in LA. Of course at the time, I had assumed that I would have a long run on the characters with Willingham.
I don't want to say too much about what else we had planned, because I don't know how much of the original blueprint the new writing team will use.
Angel #37 Variant Cover
Art by David Messina
BCR: You touched on Gunn’s emotional state, which has sort of been pushed to the side in the main storyline since #23. Where do you think Gunn’s head is at, and do you think his experience with Eddie Hope has changed him as a character?
WILLIAMS: There has to be a way to reconcile Gunn’s acts in hell with his current life and his survival. In the Buffyverse, the bad guys get punished just like in any morality play. Gunn lives. I have the feeling that it will be something with satisfying conclusion at the hands of the new writing crew coming onboard with Season Nine.
BCR: Is Eddie only after people who committed atrocities in Hell? He seems almost Rorschach-esque in his black and white morality, but then he works side by side with Spike, a known murderer. Why is he okay with Spike being alive but so opposed to Gunn (who wasn’t in control of his actions) living to see another day?
WILLIAMS: Eddie’s not a big objectivist. He’s more pragmatic than that. Assuming that we all want to change the world for the better, most of us fumble around for the best place to start. When Los Angeles went to hell, Eddie got up close and personal with truly evil people as a part of his devilish transformation. He knows the people that went through the process with him. Now that he’s out and about and a devil, he is pretty sure that one of the quickest ways to fix the world is to remove those people from it. In hindsight, he might have just left Gunn off of his list the way you might forget where you put your car keys.
As to Spike, one of the things that troubles me about the Buffyverse is the perfect relay of information. Everybody knows everything. Everyone knows that Angel and Spike are official heroes. If you look out your window, you see our modern society is polarized. People are said to have their own facts. That makes Eddie something of a skeptic. Eddie might come after Spike under different circumstances.
But if you reread the first issue, Eddie is ambivalent to Spike’s suffering as our beloved vampire hero is fighting the bodybuilder vampires. At this point, Eddie considers vampires evil because they eat people. At the least, they are the kind of predator that you should keep an eye on. Later, Eddie halfheartedly considers staking Spike. I think that they are both waiting to see what the other guy proves to be.
BCR: You worked with Willingham on the main ANGEL title for a year, and got a chance to pen your own SPIKE tale. Not many men can say the same. How would you sum up your experience working with IDW on such a landmark title?
WILLIAMS: I worked with Willingham before when I published his Pantheon mini-series through my little company back in the day. He’s a lot of fun to sit and have a story session with. Trust me, you’d better bring your ‘A Game’ because he’s sharp. The insight on the introductory script was a revelation for me.
The people at IDW have been nothing but nice with me. Chris Ryall and Mariah Huehner and Alonzo Simon have done their best to make this a smooth process and I’d love the opportunity to work with them again.
BCR: Now that you’ve worked on ANGEL, where can the folks who loved “Devil You Know” and the Eddie Hope stories find more of your writing?
WILLIAMS: It made sense to launch a website showcasing all of the stuff I’m doing for other publishers. So, last month I launched www.billwilliamsfreelance.com which has a load of fun stuff in addition to the shameless self-promotional plugs that the internet is famous for. Any of the pitches I manage to get greenlit will have an announcement on that page when the time is right.
Mystery fans might want to go download a trio of short detective stories at WOWIO. You’ll need a pdf reader, but I posted a free short story collection called Young & Foolish that is set in my hometown of Austin, Texas. http://www.wowio.com/users/product.asp?BookId=6702
And webcomics fans might want to go check out my weekly webcomic about Super-Powered female body guards. It’s called SideChicks and there is a hundred and fifty pages of free content parked at Graphic Smash. http://www.graphicsmash.com/comics/sidechicks.php I’d like to put the webcomic out more often, but the inking and coloring on top of the freelance writing keeps me busy.
Sidechicks- a webcomic written by Bill Williams
This image is also inked and colored by Williams
BCR: Were you a big ANGEL fan before working on the book?
WILLIAMS: To be honest, I never caught the wave when it first hit. But the Angel television series was in syndication here in Austin and it was on late at night when I was working on freelance stuff. It ran after something I was already watching so more than once, I looked up and caught the show. Slowly but surely, I got hooked on the mystery/ detective angle and watched the syndicated run through to the end of the last season. When I got the chance I picked up the whole series on DVD. I’d gone through the first season on DVD when Willingham called and gave me the good news that we were the new team on the Angel comic from IDW.
So I went through the next four seasons and put together a document that I called my Angel Bible so that when it came time to ground stories in that world, I had a road map. After doing the cross-referencing with the wikipedia pages, I was ready.
And of course, I read Brian Lynch’s Angel series from the relaunch. When Willingham asked me what was going on with that series, I was able to boil it down for him.
BCR: What do you think it is about ANGEL that makes fans so passionate?
WILLIAMS: Angel is a classic character in that he was caught in a star-crossed romance. Time had its way with Buffy and Angel, and they failed as a couple. I think Angel has a lot of charm because in many ways he is a very modern and a very adult take on the classic romantic hero.
Thanks a lot, Bill!
Readers, make sure to pick up SPIKE: THE DEVIL YOU KNOW #4! It's out in comic shops today. I just finished reading it, and it was a solid end to a cool Spike adventure.
Print and some video interviews with David Messina, Jenny Frison, Mariah Huehner, David Tischman, Brian Lynch, Stephen Mooney, and more coming soon!
Saturday, September 4, 2010
BUFFYVERSE COMIC REVIEWS: First, the obvious question that I feel somewhat obliged to ask: What drew you to the episodes Smile Time, Not Fade Away, and Hole in the World?
SCOTT TIPTON: Well, the obvious answer in terms of the work was simple enough: IDW bossman Chris Ryall coming to me on SMILE TIME and NOT FADE AWAY and asking if I'd be interested in adapting them. I'd been away from ANGEL for a couple of years at that point (save a single chapter of AFTER THE FALL that Brian Lynch was generous enough to invite me to co-write), so any chance to get back to the Angelverse (and work with talents like David Messina and Stephen Mooney) sounded like a pretty good deal to me.As for the episodes themselves, SMILE TIME is such an anomaly in the series, such a goofy lighthearted romp, that it was a joy to play with. And the epic, operatic scale of NOT FADE AWAY, the grand all-the-marbles tone it takes as a finale –well, I couldn't resist that.
ELENA CASAGRANDE: I was very happy to work on this project: “A Hole in the World” and “Shells” are two of my favorite episodes of ANGEL's fifth season, where you really didn't expect that so strong a character like Fred will die to be replaced with a powerful and fascinating one. I was excited and also a bit frightened that we wouldn’t be able to express the feelings and the atmosphere of the story, but I watched the episode so many times that in the end I felt very natural working on it. I know that the comic book never will be the same thing as the TV show, but I hoped that with our work, we could realize a good tribute and a different way to see of the show.
Elena Casagrande's HOLE IN THE WORLD 1-5
BCR: Scott, what about the Hole/Shells episodes made you want to pitch this comic?
SCOTT: For one, it's both an origin tale and a true tragedy, both of which didn't come up very often in the series. "A Hole in the World" was one of the few ANGEL episodes I never watched in repeats or on DVD, just because I loved the Fred character so much and the episode was brutally sad. (Of course, I wound up having to watch it repeatedly in the production of our series. Maybe I should have thought it through a little better…)
BCR: The Smile Time hardcover was packed with extras (the entire Shadow Puppets series and the Angel: Masks puppety tale) and the Not Fade Away trade included the entire illustrated script of the original episode. What can readers expect from the Hole in the World TPB?
SCOTT: First off, there's IDW's usual top-notch production. The art and coloring just look beautiful. And in the back, we have a real treat, the only ANGEL work by David Messina and myself that had never been collected or reprinted, our Illyria story "Unacceptable Losses" from the ANGEL Halloween special MASKS. Not only does the story take place chronologically just after the events of "Shells," making it a perfect fit for the book, but it was the first project Messina and I worked on together, kicking off a series of collaborations that would go on for the next four years. I'm delighted to see it back in print.
And the whole thing is under a gorgeous brand-new cover by Elena, maybe my favorite of all the covers we've done.
BCR: What other episodes would you have liked to adapt?
SCOTT: Elena and I were dying to tackle "Orpheus" – Getting the opportunity to play with Angelus, Willow and Faith would have been a real treat. And just on a personal level, "The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco" has always been a favorite.
BCR: Big picture, now: Overall experience-wise, can you describe your experience working on Hole in the World?
SCOTT: If readers would like the long version of the story, they can always head over to my Web site, COMICS 101, and read "Adaptation: The HOLE Story," an account by Elena and myself of the entire process, start to finish here.
But in short, it was a fantastic experience, if a little intimidating. The episodes are so emotionally dense, trying to capture all of that on the page was daunting, to say the least. With something like SMILE TIME, we had room to add in some new scenes and have a little more fun with it, but here, fitting two episodes into only five issues, we didn't really have that flexibility. Plus, the tone was so serious, it didn't feel right to us to add in new scenes "just because." We kind of felt like we owed the Fred character and her story the proper respect, to re-tell her tale and do it right.
BCR: You two worked together previously on an issue of Angel: Auld Lang Syne and will pair up again on the upcoming Illyria: Haunted miniseries. How is it like working together?
SCOTT: Elena is a joy to work with. It's a true partnership, in that she's involved in plotting and breakdowns and story ideas from the very beginning and I help contribute in my small way to cover designs and the visual aspect of things. She has an excellent sense of story and is a fountain of ideas for these characters. And to be honest, working with her has spoiled me, as she always brings back with each page more than I had imagined in my script. I couldn't ask for a better partner.
ELENA: I love to work with Scott: initially, with Auld Lang Syne, my first comic book with him, I worked on his script and found it very easy and funny; after doing some other Star Trek issues and after we got to know each other in New York at the Comic-Con, we continue to find working together a good feeling; often we find a great solution for a drawing, a cover, or have cool idea for a story talking to each other and it's funny and stimulating...we're in harmony most of the time!
BCR: Elena, were you a fan of ANGEL before working on the title?
ELENA: The truth is that I discovered the Angel series when David Messina talked to me about his first project on it with IDW, The Curse. I was curious so I searched the episodes and I started to follow the show, which unfortunately here in Italy wasn't so famous yet. I liked the show episode after episode and I really appreciated the growth of all the characters (especially about Wesley, my favorite character...sigh!)... I was really sad at the end!
BCR: How did it feel to be able to translate such an important episode into comic form?
ELENA: Like I said before, I was very very excited to work on Hole, in spite of the responsibilities towards all the fans (but I'm a fan too, so it helped!)... I felt like an ambassador!
BCR: So, basics. What can you tell us about "Illyria: Haunted"?
SCOTT: This one is all about Illyria, and her struggles both to find her place in this world she never belonged in, and her difficulties in dealing with how she came to walk this world: namely at the expense of an innocent, Fred. As my co-writer Mariah Huehner has said, "She has her own motives and reasons...and is now kind of literally haunted from the inside. Which is a poetic juxtaposition, since her resembling Fred is haunting for those who knew her, too."
And it bears saying here, by the way, that the genesis of this story comes very much from Mariah. Elena and I were actually working on another project that wound up being cancelled for reasons too dull to go into here, and when we became available, Mariah asked us if we'd like to come develop this ILLYRIA series with her, and we happily leapt at the chance. Mariah is the best kind of collaborator, full of ideas and willing to see them taken in any manner of directions, however they best serve the story.
Illyria: Haunted #1 (art by Elena Casagrande)
BCR: Recently, there have been some questioned posed about Illyria's character. In the recent arc, she's been seducing Connor, searching for meaning, and quite suddenly questioning her grammatical choices. Will this miniseries address her strange behavior?
SCOTT: The events in HAUNTED definitely dovetail with what readers have been seeing in the main book, sure. But it's less of an "x + y = z" situation, and more of a general progression of what we're seeing as Illyria's state of mind.
BCR: The cover for the second issue is a tender image of Spike putting his jacket on Illyria's shoulders. This seems to call back to AFTER THE FALL, when Illyria and Spike were close. They lived together; he spent most of his time in Hell trying to save her, and he wound up taking her down with his and Wesley's memories of Fred. AFTER THE FALL left them with a sad image of them standing in the rain, unable to talk, before walking away from each other. And now, in recent issues, they've been hanging out in the Hyperion, barely saying a word to each other. How will "Haunted" address the strange relationship between these two characters?
SCOTT: I've always been a big fan of the Spike/Illyria relationship, both in the brief, tantalizing tastes of it we got in the TV series, and in the marvelous way Brian handled it in AFTER THE FALL. And even more so was I a fan of the Spike/Fred relationship, in how we saw Spike genuinely care for someone else purely out of gratitude and affection. Both of these dynamics come into play in our series, and I'm delighted we got the chance to explore them.
Illyria: Haunted #2 (art by Elena Casagrande)
BCR: Illyria has been the subject of many miniseries. She frolicked about with Gunn and her pet in "Only Human," she crossed-over into Peter David's world in "Fallen Angel: Reborn," she killed Jim from The Office in "Spike: After the Fall," and she got angsty in a one-shot here and there. Where will "Haunted" take this fan-favorite character?
SCOTT: We'll see Illyria breaking heads and mending hearts, and facing challenges both gargantuan and cosmic as well as pedestrian and mundane. We really get to put her through her paces here, exploring her origins and her future.
BCR: What do you think it is about Illyria that fans are so interested in?
SCOTT: She's a classic "fish out of water" character, continually out of place in a world she never wanted to be a part of; I think a lot of people can relate to that. Also, her role as the outsider made her the perfect foil for Angel's crew, for pointing out the others' faults and foibles, and that's always going to be appealing to watch, especially with Illyria's trademark deadpan delivery.
PAGE TWO of Illyria: Haunted #1 (art by Elena Casagrande)
BCR: Wesley is arguably the person that showed Illyria, as ushy-gushy as it may sound, how to be concerned for another. We never really got to see her reaction to living in a Wesley-free world, post-AFTER THE FALL. Does "Haunted" address her grief?
SCOTT: We love Wesley. Even though he's gone, his influence on Illyria (as well as on Fred) plays a vital role in the goings-on.
BCR: How does "Haunted" tie into the main title?
SCOTT: It doesn't tie in directly, in that you don’t need one to understand the other. But readers will definitely know where it fits in the big picture.
BCR: I believe Mariah said that Illyria would be leaving the main title for HAUNTED. Do you know if she'll be back in time for the finale with #44?
SCOTT: That, as they say, would be telling…
BCR: Elena, how do you manage to do the art for both ILLYRIA and ANGEL? Some artists can't even complete one book per month, and need super long delays. Are you magic?
ELENA: Hey, do you ask a magician how he does his tricks? :P Without joking... like everyone can see, I changed my art style from Hole to the ongoing series. This lets me work faster and I can say is also more fun, so, except for some hard scenes, usually I realize an inked page per day on Angel. About Illyria, I have precious help from my friend Walter Trono, who will be the inker, in this way I can work on pencils, covers and... special pages! :P
Anyway, I can assure you that the coffee is my best friend....!
BCR: Your artwork has a nice sense of movement. How do you balance the task of getting an actor's likeness versus keeping the movement believable from panel to panel?
ELENA: I always work first of all on the likeness of the characters, I think this is a basic concept in a licensing comic. I think "How could this character tell this? Or how could he/she act here?"; then I focus on the direction, on the kind of shot that could express better a TV-sensation, especially during the talking scenes. For the action scenes I enjoy myself and try to use all my comic-culture!
BCR: Which likenesses have been the hardest? The easiest?
ELENA: I think the hardest is Angel...a wrong line on the face and he isn't David Boreanaz anymore! While the easiest is surely Spike: James Marsters has a very distinguishable face and he's so expressive!
BCR: How is it like working under David Messina, another ANGEL artist who, to say the least, must have some kind of dark magic ability?
ELENA: I love David's style, he taught me a lot of things and yes, he's perfect for the dark stories... you mean dark in that sense, right? Anyway I hope to learn a bit of his dark magic ability :)
BCR: Plug time. What other books are you working on?
SCOTT: Well, my DEEP SPACE NINE graphic novel, FOOL'S GOLD, recently was released in trade paperback, along with the aforementioned ANGEL: A HOLE IN THE WORLD. In stores this month is the grand finale of my Classic STAR TREK miniseries THE BURDEN OF KNOWLEDGE. And premiering next month is maybe the most exciting TREK project I've ever done: KHAN: RULING IN HELL. The best STAR TREK villain of all time, finally in a starring role. “KHAAAAAAAAAAAN!”
ELENA: ...I have time for other books and no one told me? :P
BCR: For fun- What other comics are you reading?
SCOTT: I read practically everything that comes out, I have to admit. I’m really enjoying Bendis' refreshed AVENGERS series, DC's JONAH HEX remains great month in and month out. Matt Fraction's INVINCIBLE IRON MAN is a lot of fun. And I recently got an early chance to read Darwyn Cooke's next PARKER graphic novel, THE OUTFIT. It's spectacular.
ELENA: I'm reading Tommy Lee Edwards' works, he really inspires me...I love Turf! Unfortunately I have very little time to read as I wish...!
BCR: I guess it'll be weird if I don't ask this. It was announced in another book's letter section that ANGEL is leaving IDW. We've heard various folks chime in on the matter, so I was wondering what your reaction was.
SCOTT: It's been a hell of a ride. I hate to see it go.
ELENA: My reaction was and is simply this: sigh!
BCR: Where would you have liked to take these characters, were they staying at home with IDW?
SCOTT: We had plenty of stories left to tell, but they'll have to stay untold for now…
BCR: Scott, with ANGEL at Dark Horse, any chance we could see you writing for the TRUE BLOOD title? I can't help but dream of Scott Tipton penned Lafayette dialogue.
SCOTT: TRUE BLOOD is in very capable hands with my pals David Tischman and Mariah Huehner. However, if an opportunity to contribute arose, I wouldn't turn it down.
BCR: You've worked with IDW on ANGEL almost as long as they've had the title. It's been a ride, reading your various ANGEL and SPIKE (and, soon, ILLYRIA) books. Again with the big picture: Can you sum up your experience working on this title?
ELENA: I had a wonderful experience with all those characters, I love them. I was able to grow up with them, in my job and in my abilities, and it's been a beautiful journey with all the team around.
SCOTT: The Angel books mean a lot to me. Other than a couple of small short stories, ANGEL was where I first made my break into comics as a professional. Working on ANGEL has also provided me with an even greater gift, in my two favorite collaborators (and close friends) David Messina and Elena Casagrande, people I hope to be working with for years and years to come.
There are only a handful of people in the world who have gotten to work with these characters and tell their stories. I know I've been very lucky to be among their company.
BCR: As a professional and a fan, what do you think it is about ANGEL that makes fans so passionate?
ELENA: I can't talk for the other fans, but I can say that I like Angel for what it represented, how it developed over the years and what it means to me. There are some characters so interesting that I think like other famous heroes we can't stop wanting to read good stories about them. There are vampires, blood, action and emotions...what more do you want?
SCOTT: It all goes back to the source material. Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt pulled off that most miraculous of feats in the world of television: the spinoff series that, to my mind, anyway, surpassed its parent. Those characters, with their willingness to do the right thing despite the often unbearable costs of doing so, really stuck a chord with me. Angel's dedication, Gunn's bullheaded courage, Wesley's longing, Fred's innocence, Illyria's confidence, Spike's heart. I think that's what fans really relate to, and we tried (and continue to try) to keep those alive in the pages of our comics.