This week fans of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer extended universe were treated to the release of Angel & Faith Season 10 #1 from Dark Horse Comics. The new “season” of the project, hot on the heels of writer Christos Gage’s run on the book, features Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse writer, Victor Gischler. Featuring art by Will Conrad, the newest arc of this popular spin-off project separately explores Angel and Faith at end of the previous arc in Season 9 and will further both of the characters individually in lieu of their split at end of the previous arc in Season 9.
I contacted Victor Gischler to discuss the start of Season 10 as well as discuss the challenges of working with wildly iconic characters from a successful television franchise.
Freak Sugar: Buffy fans are champing at the bit for the launch of Angel & Faith Season 10 from Dark Horse Comics. The last thing readers experienced was the break-up of Faith and Angel with Faith leaving for California and Angel staying behind in the strange Magic Town. What sort of set-up can you give fans? How long-lasting will the effects of their break-up be on the series?
Victor Gischler: Faith really grew as a character last season, so it’s important that we respect that. This means she needs here own space…at least for a while. So in Angel and Faith #1 we pick up with her in California, and from there, readers will follower her as she makes various decisions and tries to figure out where she fits in the world. How long will this last…well, who knows? Readers need to stay tuned to see where paths lead our characters.
FS: You’ve picked up the ball where writers Christos Gage has left off. What sorts of threads were you immediately attracted to in his run on the book? Do you plan to leave lots of “moving parts” in your run to create tangible threads for the next writer who will take your place? How much of that is intentional?
Gischler: That sort of stuff is always on my mind, but I think much of it needs to happen organically. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking, “Here’s a thread I’ll plant for the next writer…” but these sort of things always seem to happen on their own, so I’m not worried. I think when writers do their best to make the characters as real as possible, the “moving parts” mostly evolve on their own. Gage really left me in a good place. We pick up with Angel in Magic Town, a place that exists because Gage arranged it. So much cool potential.
FS: How does Scott Allie’s role as Editor come into play with your work on Faith & Angel? Is he fairly “hands-on” or is he more of a “stand back and let you lead” type of presence? In your experience, can editors hinder the creative process or are they ultimately an important necessity for a project to succeed?
Gischler: I couldn’t do it without Scott. He really has his finger on the pulse of the Buffy-verse. He is full of good ideas and steers me away from my bad ideas. The book is really a team effort.
FS: What are some of the challenges of working with concepts like magic? When you’re working with an iconic licensed property like the Buffy-verse, are there structured rules for the way concepts like magic interact with the reality of the fictional landscape? Or do you get to expand things in a wildly creative fashion?
Gischler: Funny you should mention that because “New Rules” is the tag line for the season. Keep an eye on magic this season. It’s going to be fun. Don’t want to get spoilery, but, yeah, I’ve been having some fun experimenting.
FS: How has Faith grown as a character now that she’s moved on to California?
Gischler: Growth is what makes her think she maybe needs a little time off from Angel to feel what it’s like to be a solo act…California just happened to be an opportunity. But she’s still growing, still discovering things.
FS: Angel stayed in “Magic Town”. Will his adventures lead to the more normal spots around London or even England?
Gischler: Now and then, but the focus is Magic Town because that’s the place that needs him.
FS: In your mind, what’s Angel’s biggest strength? His biggest flaw? How do you connect with his character when you are scripting the story?
Gischler: I’m tempted to say that his sense of responsibility is both his strength and his flaw. It certainly keeps him busy. In a way, I try to dis-connect with him when scripting. I’m such a fan of all these characters that it’s tempting just to make them look cool for 22 pages and call it a day. But, naturally, we have to drop them into the hot soup and see how they get out of it.
FS: What are some of your personal challenges when you are approaching something that’s incredibly iconic? Can the iconicism of an intellectual property like the Buffy-verse get in it’s own way at times in terms of continuity at creating an expanded universe through comics?
Gischler: Well, I’m a fan of the show and a fan of the characters. And man…that was just NOT good enough. I found myself constantly going back to the show or previous seasons of the comic to remind myself of things. Just because I’m a fan does not mean I have an encyclopedic knowledge of the entire history of the Buffy-verse. Thank God for Netflix and the Dark Horse digital store.
FS: Can that become taxing or frustrating from a creative strand-point? Noodling through nuances as a fan and as a creator?
Gischler: Not taxing because it’s such good material. But it can be a time suck, and it turns out these comics come out EVERY MONTH! SO BUSY!!! (laughs)
FS: You aren’t a stranger to the realm of supernatural genre writing. What is the biggest draw for you creatively when it comes to supernatural subject matter?
Gischler: Fun toys to play with. Magic! Spells! Monsters! The focus needs to be on the characters, but the toys are fun too.
FS: What other projects are you working on currently? Also, where can fans expect to see you this convention season? What do you think about the fans of the Buffy-verse?
Gischler: Still not sure about convention stops. Generally, I just show up wherever invited if it fits in my schedule. But in addition to Angel & Faith fun, I have a book coming out this summer called Sally of the Wasteland from Titan Comics, and my epic fantasy novel Ink Mage is on sale now as an eBook on Amazon and the paperback hits later this month.