Friday, September 02, 2011

A Portland Spring: the Buffy Trials, Part 1

If anything that I do is ever buzz-worthy then the buzz this past Spring/Summer was that I had been tapped to contribute to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BVS) franchise as it was being re-marshalled under the Dark Horse banner. IDW had license to a portion of the property for a period of time and when I heard that this far-flung station for the franchise was being recalled to be solely published by Dark Horse I figured that it would be a boon for the franchise and a great opportunity to get on board. Just so you know, I've worked with Dark Horse in the past and have always enjoyed it, and I'm not unfamiliar with the hoops and hurtles of being on a franchised book as my past contributions have been to Star Wars and Aliens; two mighty pillars in the Dark Horse repertoire.

Wow...this is going to be a long flippin' post...

Work-wise, my run on 'Jack of Fables' (Vertigo) was coming to an end and I needed to get some irons in the fire. What this came down to was me emailing Scott Allie over at Dark Horse out of the blue (only we pros can do that sort of thing so laymen beware). I told Scott that I had a pitch for him, he was receptive and so I softly lobbed 'Dread' his way... just a very watered down version. He was very intrigued, but before I could muster the next level of the pitch he asked me what I thought about contributing to Buffy. I said I felt fine about contributing to Buffy, I liked the show, knew the show and it's got nothing to do with superheroes; three in the plus column.

The first request from Scott was a set of sample pages, nothing from a script, he wanted to see how I handled some basic interaction with the "girls"; Buffy, Dawn and Willow. I wasn't going to do anything with action, that's usually the downfall with most samples submitted; the Main Character kicking the ass of the Nemesis...anybody can do that. What you want to see is the girls just hanging. Three page submission; no script; whatever I wanted. As soon as I knew what the first panel was, everything else fell into place.
What Dark Horse liked about my work is the expressiveness that I bring to the characters, and I took this as a hint that there were changes coming in the Season 9 talent line-up. Years in advertising has giving me the ability to make two people sitting around in a kitchen watching coffee cool look interesting. But, in comics you have to have that 'hook', the thing that the reader sees and wants to find out more about. If the girls are sitting around, let's have them sitting on a creepy sarcophagus, but I still wanted the individuality of the each girl to come across in the initial a clever, subtle way, which I think is communicated well through each of their choices in footwear; Dawn, being a little impractical and inexperienced has slip-ons that she is pulling a pebble from; Buffy, always the bad-ass in boots; and Willow I showed more of her demeanor through her relaxed posture, being at home in a graveyard, cross-legged.

Below is the ORIGINAL panel three for the above page, editorial asked that I refrain from 'nostril' shots.

...basically Buffy is explain to Dawn that the pebble she's just pulled from her shoe is, in fact, the bone of a fingertip.

With only the three pages to build up any suspense I opted to end it with Xander breaking the tension building at the graveside with the sudden delivering of a pizza to the operation and completely spooking the already edgy and distracted girls. Big screams are always funny, right?

Long story short, they loved the pages. Scott was right about what he expected me to deliver as far as scope and setting, and the girls interacted naturally. But I really needed to get my likenesses down in order to get ultimate approval from 20th Century Fox...shit, here we go.

No comments: