[SPOILER] Exclusive Scott Allie interview Aug 1, 2010 16:03:34 GMT -5
Post by wenxina on Aug 1, 2010 16:03:34 GMT -5
The sum-up: Scott talks to us about the rest of Season 8 (some juicy tidbits and spoilers there, for sure), describes the structure of Season 9 in more detail (including a description of Joss' vision), and comments on how IDW is being kept in the loop this time around. He also talks a little about some other Whedonverse titles.
Huge thanks to Scott for agreeing to talk to us about some of the big news that broke at SDCC. Anyway, enough yammering... interview below.
SlayAlive: The Riley one-shot sounds like it’s going to be a packed book. The solicitations promised “thrilling spy adventure” and “major revelations” for Season 8. You’ve previously said that we’ll learn how some of the characters fall into their respective roles on Season 8. And, on top of that, we finally get to see what went down between Riley and Sam. That’s a LOT of stuff to pack into one book. Were these all main story beats that had to be hit, or did Jane just surpass expectations?
Scott Allie: We started with a fairly modest goal—a couple beats that needed to be hit before we wrapped up Season 8—but when Jane had shaped the story, we saw that some other opportunities had opened up. I don't want to spoil more than I already have, and I don't entirely remember what I've put out there, but what started out as thrilling spy adventure making sense of Agent Finn's role in Season 8 slowly drew in another character, and then found opportunity to shed some light and wisdom, through metaphor, on one of the biggest plot points of Season 8, some might say the plot point of S8.
SlayAlive: And in our last interview, you mentioned that there would be a special guest character in the Riley one-shot. Any hints about who this mystery character is?
Scott Allie: I've been asked about this a lot, and a lot of names have been thrown at me, and all I'll say is that of course some fans have guessed right.
SlayAlive: Speaking of the Riley one-shot, Karl Moline seems to be the go-to guy for filling in the one-shots. What are the qualities that you admire in his work?
Scott Allie: We just love Karl's work a lot. We didn't pick him for Fray by accident, all those years ago. He has a take on characterization and humor in an action adventure setting that's perfect for our needs. It's what a Joss comic should do. His work's nothing like Georges's and yet some of what makes Georges perfect is there in Karl. We just like having him on the team. So we wanted more from him than just the Fray arc.
SlayAlive: Still on the topic of one-shots, the last one-shot featured Willow and how she became acquainted with Aluwyn (Saga Vasuki). Will we see more of Aluwyn this season, or is she a possible loose thread that will be dealt with in Season 9?
Scott Allie: Yes and, potentially, yes. So both.
SlayAlive: The Scythe... it's kinda been on and off in terms of importance over the course of the season, but #34 brought it back to the fore when there was a panel of it just sitting there when Giles was saying that he needed to find a totem to kill a god. In your Buffyfest interview, you mentioned that Spike's coming back with more knowledge about the whole Twilight deal than anyone so far, and that he helps Giles understand certain things that Giles only half understood before. This may be completely spoiler-ish, but does the Scythe feature in this bit at all? For that matter, will we learn more about the Scythe in general?
Scott Allie: The Scythe has something to do with it, yeah. There won't be time to learn more about the Scythe in S8, although it will be significant to what happens in the remaining issues. The juxtaposition you're refering to is a little more complicated than it appears on the surface—it seems plain as can be, what he's saying there, but you don't know exactly what that's really about yet. It does pull together by the end of the story, though. Boy, that was vague. Sorry.
SlayAlive: The Scythe was one of the only links that Fray had to her inherited legacy, and Season 8 was meant to bridge the gap between the Fray story and what happened in Season 7. Will we actually get that entire link in Season 8, or just a part of it? If it's just a part of the link, will it be evident, or do we really need to get into Season 9 to even begin to figure things out?
Scott Allie: I dunno, I think the link was there the minute the Scythe appeared in Season 7—I knew it blew my mind when I heard about it, that the thing that Joss had scribbled out for us, that Karl had brought to life, was going to find its way into the show. But, you know, it's one century at a time. Season 8 does ultimately provide key information relating to the world of Fray, and a lot of the answers to what happens between the end of the show and the Fray comic, but it'll be a developing story, of course. Season 9 will continue to move us closer to that future.
SlayAlive: Speaking of Fray, will we be seeing more of her soon? Either in Season 8, Season 9, or in her own series?
Scott Allie: Nope, sadly, nothing soon. Fray is definitely something that we will not touch unless Joss has the time to write it himself.
SlayAlive: In your Buffyfest SDCC 2010 interview, you spoke about how you admired the work that Georges has put forth so far. Georges is the guy that both you and Joss picked out for the Season 8 gig, and as the lead artist, his work has largely shaped the artistic identity of the book. So for Season 9, are you A) looking for a strong cohesive artistic identity for the books (i.e. keeping with one lead artist as much as possible) and B) considering having Georges carry on?
Scott Allie: We were just talking about this yesterday, Georges and I, and it remains undecided. Georges has said whenever he's been asked that he'd like to be involved in some way. That exact involvement is up in the air. But as far as a central artist goes, S9 can't have just one, the way S8 did—there was a single title, and we worked around the schedule of a single artist, with these rare exceptions. With S9, there will be concurrent books stretched across two years, and so there'll be at least a few "lead" artists—and we certainly won't be hiring guys who clone the same style. So the idea of a real central artist is somewhat blown open by the logistics of S9. But I hope Georges and Karl are both a part of it.
SlayAlive: As far as the concurrent books for Season 9 goes, do you guys have an idea of how many titles there will be? Will these titles run the entire course of Season 9, or will some end earlier than others? Will there be a main book, with a few ancillary titles supporting the narrative, or do all the titles carry equal narrative weight?
Scott Allie: We know a certain amount about the new format for Season 9, but can't explain too much yet. Once it starts, though, there will likely never be a month with less than two books, over the course of the 2-year period. There will be books that last that entire 2-year stretch, and a lot of titles that start and stop. It's complicated. We do still have a lot to figure out.
SlayAlive: Regarding the new format of Season 9, is the plan to have short contained arcs within each title that occasionally intersect the other titles, or will all the concurrent books share a common narrative, albeit from different viewpoints? How will writing duties be doled out?
Scott Allie: Only so much I can say here, too, but there will be arcs within each series, like S8 has had arcs, and there will be some titles with independent narratives, and some with narratives tied right into the core books. Oh boy. Your questions are actually making me sweat. This is gonna be a lot of work.
SlayAlive: The new format of Season 9 sounds like you guys are more wholly embracing the comic medium. Is there a particular series out there that you’re using as a model, or a template in terms of structure?
Scott Allie: That's definitely Joss's vision. When he first started laying out the scope of S9, and this proposed approach, he referenced the early Marvel universe, the early sixties books. And that's a good model. Maybe a better model, actually, is current Marvel or DC, if it was all being done in a much smaller number of books. I think that'll make more sense to you maybe later...
SlayAlive: Can you comment a little on how the scope of Season 9 will differ from Season 8? In our last interview, you said that Season 9 is shaping up to be bigger than you had anticipated, which sounds kinda antithetical to your comment that Season 8 would have been better served with a smaller scope. How do you tell what sounds like an even bigger story (you described it as an “elaborate story that needs multi-dimensions and a lot of continuity” in your interview with AICN) without falling into the same pitfalls as Season 8?
Scott Allie: Yeah, I see how that's confusing. The simple answer is: two years instead of five, more focused on individual characters, the core characters, with fewer distractions—but more actual issues. The army thing got sort of daunting, so many characters, and hundreds of unnamed characters that you still have to respect. Think of it this way: the story in S9 will be smaller in scope and more personal than Twilight has been, but rather than having a thread like Simone just hanging out there, if she doesn't have a place in one of the core titles, she'll get a miniseries. So maybe you can see how that's both bigger and tighter. More comics, more room to tell everyone's story, but the stories will be more humble.
SlayAlive: It sounds like Joss will be a lot less hands-on with Season 9, than he was with Season 8. In order to make sure that everyone is going to be on the same page, which sounds crucial if you’re orchestrating something as ambitious sounding as Season 9, are you guys going to have frequent writers’ room meetings to keep things going smoothly?
Scott Allie: We're working now to set up a system for this. I imagine more trips to LA in my future. I'm auditioning for the part of Rick Jones so I'll have an excuse to be around Joss, always asking lots of questions.
SlayAlive: With multiple titles running concurrently, will you be getting some help on editorial duties?
Scott Allie: Well, right now I work with an amazing team, with Sierra Hahn and Freddye Lins. They'll both be taking on more responsibility with the new books. Sierra already edits Dr Horrible, and she edits Zack on Terminator, among other things. So I think between the three of us we'll have it covered, although we might bring in another assistant.
SlayAlive: Elephant in the room question: With Joss busy with The Avengers, should we expect a later start date for Season 9 than what was initially planned (next fall was it?)?
Scott Allie: No, I think we're good for fall. The seven-month break takes into account how busy he is with other stuff.
SlayAlive: Let's talk Angel and Spike. You confirmed that we would be seeing them in Season 9. Given that IDW will still be publishing books on these characters, is this something that's come up in your discussions with them, so that everyone's on the same page so nothing too crazy happens with a character (e.g. undergoes a secondary mutation into a more feral form or something like that)?
Scott Allie: Yeah, we've had the conversation with IDW, and S9 won't have the same continuity issues that S8 had with IDW's books. Angel won't be in Buffy's book very much, masked or otherwise, and whatever Spike does in the Buffy title will fit with what he's doing in his own title.
SlayAlive: Brian Lynch and Chris Ryall have confirmed that Spike’s ship will appear in Lynch’s SPIKE book. How did you guys work out the details of how this would work out? I’m guessing this is basically what you meant when you said that Joss would make things work between the Dark Horse and IDW continuities?
Scott Allie: Sort of. When I said that, I was just repeating what Joss was telling me, so I wasn't quite sure yet how we were gonna deliver on that. And then Bill Willingham let us know what he thought of that, but I take it that's not an issue anymore. Anyway, I have a call with the IDW guys this week to work out the details, make sure the ship works.
SlayAlive: You mentioned that giving the story about Spike's ship to IDW was Joss' idea. Had that not happened, would there have been space within "Last Gleaming" to tell that story without compressing it too much?
Or was the plan always to address it later on and not within Season 8 itself?
Scott Allie: Never would have fit. One of the many things that just wasn't going to have the space. We'd have addressed it in Season 9—we no doubt still will have some things about it to cover there.
SlayAlive: So, Willow will also be making an appearance in the SPIKE book. Was this also something that Joss decided on? Going by Willow's expression and words when she first sees Spike's ship in #35, some fans have speculated that perhaps Willow was somehow involved with Spike at some point, pre-Season 8. Having her crossover to a book set a year before the events of Season 8 pretty much makes this speculation fact. Will the extent of their interaction be addressed in Season 8 as well?
Scott Allie: Chris Ryall asked for the Willow appearance, and Joss thought it was the least we could do after blindsiding them with the Angel reveal and the fact that we were using Spike too—we'd planned on telling them before the book went to print, but then it got spoiled with those frigging covers. So I don't know what happens with Willow in Angel's book, but I don't think anyone but Andrew has seen Spike since he died at the end of S7. I saw some responses online, and I think some readers read a bit too much into Willow's reaction in #35. She knows it's Spike because she's the most powerful Wicca on Earth.
SlayAlive: Moving on to other Whedonverse projects. You guys recently announced that there would be a Dollhouse comic book after all that will be packaged with the first run of Dollhouse Season 2 DVDs and Blu-ray disks. Can we expect more Dollhouse comics, if sales do well? I mean, if Joss budged this time, will he budge again on his stance about the possibility of Dollhouse comics?
Scott Allie: Well, it's all complicated, but yes, there will be at least a little bit more, and maybe considerably more.
SlayAlive: Still nothing to report on the Serenity front? Other than “The Shepherd’s Tale” that is.
Scott Allie: Here's the deal with Serenity and Dollhouse and all of it—Joss just wants to know if there's a story to tell, and whether it works for comics. When I asked him about a Firefly monthly series, he said no, but it wasn't a no in principle, and I realize I've probably given people the wrong impression about this. It's not a no in principle, it's more a question of whether there's a story to be told, given all considerations. With Buffy, there was a story to be told, and no reason not to tell it. With Serenity, after Better Days, there was Book's story to be told, and we needed Zack, a writer he has a lot of faith in—then Patton pitched something Joss liked, so suddenly there was another story to be told. So with Dollhouse, the question has mostly been about what's right to do in a comic, if anything. And the question, if Joss doesn't have time to write it himself, is always whether there's a writer we all trust to work with whatever input he has time to give. With the exception of Buffy, we haven't wanted to do anything where he'd need to be too hands on, because he was busy enough with Buffy and everything else he has going on. Jed and Mo came up with something for this first little Dollhouse thing we're doing, and it could lead to more. I see a path to more comics, just gotta figure it out. Jed and I have been talking, and if we think we have it licked, we'll run it by Joss, and if he's okay with the plan, we'll do more Dollhouse. I've got other routes to explore with Serenity. Sugarshock and Fray—nothing can happen there unless Joss has the time to write them himself.
SlayAlive: So between Joss, Zack, Jed, and Mo, Dark Horse pretty much has some kinda Whedon Cabal. What is it about each of these writers that makes them such a good fit for the various Dark Horse projects they’ve worked on?
Scott Allie: They've got the visual sense for comics, and they all have an innate knack for character-driven genre fiction and great dialogue. I learned a long time ago that Joss's TV writers tend to make good comics writers, in my humble opinion. And it's no wonder that those closest to him come with that also. What Zack did on Terminator is fantastic, just what we wanted. I really wanna do more with Jed and Maurissa, but they're pretty busy, so it's not as easy as asking. We're trying to make Zack a full-time comics guy, though. Get us a copy of one of them DC exclusive contracts, we'll try to trick him into signing it. I'd love to have these guys on S9, but I don't think we'll be going that way.
SlayAlive: You blogged that you had met a guy at SDCC that you were interested in for possibly writing in Season 9. You said that he was a fan of the show, and had a very specific interest in writing a character that you needed help with. Can you say which character that is, or would that be telling too much?
Scott Allie: It'd be giving away something huge. Cannot. Sorry ... However, I was in my best friend's car today, and she had a copy of the guy's novel, and I got all excited.
SlayAlive: How goes the writing of “Last Gleaming”? I know you said that Joss will be redoing the dialogue, but as a writer, how well do you think you “get” the voices of these characters?
Scott Allie: Well, I don't think I get the voices well enough, so I'm very grateful that Joss will be rewriting the dialogue. Ironically the guy whose dialogue I think I'm hitting upon best is Spike. Who knew? I've been watching the TV series non-stop, yet again, to keep the voices and the characterization ringing in my head. What I bring to it, though, is a keen comics storytelling sense, a deep understanding of the characters, even if I can't imitate their voices as well as I'd like, and a deeper understanding of the story of S8 than anyone besides Joss himself. So I'm doing a lot of the construction, but the words you hear should mostly come from the man himself. We'll see. Check back in in a couple weeks and I'll tell you what percentage of my dialogue made it into the final draft of #37.
SlayAlive: Any chance we get to see a piece of preview art from an upcoming issue? It's been forever and a day since we've had any sort of Season 8 material to salivate over.
Scott Allie: I know, it's been a long time, but we don't want to spoil anything. Stuff happens fast in the last five issues, so any page I sent out could reveal key new info. Gotta wait for the story to get out there. We're having to conceal a lot of covers, because we keep doing a cover and then realizing we don't want to show that anytime soon. You'll have "Riley" soon, that should hopefully feed the hunger.
SlayAlive: With the original title of the arc being "Sunnydale", and Georges' cover for #37 depicting Buffy in her high school glory (her hair totally dates her, btw), I'm guessing that there's going to be a return to Sunnydale in some way. Are we talking a physical return? Or a time travel thing? Or both?
Time travel seems to be in the cards here, with Buffy's retro look, and the fact that time travel and the structure of time have been recurring plot elements in Season 8 so far. And by the way, going back to Sunnydale in any way makes "The Long Way Home" as a title so much niftier!
Scott Allie: I've spoiled a little bit about this. There is a return to Sunnydale, although I don't want to say more just yet. Honestly, when I was doing that interview, I mentioned Sunnydale because I mixed up the end of #36, which was of course not yet out, with the end of #35, which was. So I mentioned the return to Sunnydale. No more to add on that yet.
SlayAlive: Final question: How is “Last Gleaming” a better title than “Sunnydale”? Be as open or cyptic as you want.
Scott Allie: No, this one I can be pretty on the nose about. Sunnydale was just too direct and simple, merely ironic. I thought it was funny, because Sunnydale sounds like such a cheerful place, and it should come as no spoiler to readers familiar with Joss that the last five issues are not a day at the beach. But was that gag not played to great effect for seven years on the TV show? "Last Gleaming" has a bit more music to it, and it brings the Twilight thing right around. I realize that some of our international friends may not get the reference, but there's the line in our national anthem about the Twilight's last gleaming, which would be the last glimpse of the sun before night falls. Which is sort of how this ends.
NOTE: We do have unlettered and uncolored preview pages of the Riley One-shot due out August 18, 2010. Check them out HERE.