Wednesday, June 30, 2010

'River Tam and the Fireflies' Fine Art Fabulosity

How great is this? Artist JOEBOT has created an amazing album cover in honor of Firefly & Serenity for Gallery 1988's 4th annual "Crazy 4 Cult" show in LA. Check out the piece below entitled "River Tam and the Fireflies". It's so fantastic, I may have to buy it with real money!

LOVE!! Go over to his etsy store to purchase a print of the cover for $20, which is a steal!

And if you're in the LA area on July 9th go check out the gallery opening and this Browncoat homage itself. Kevin Smith will be there as the host for the evening too. Here are the deets:

Crazy 4 Cult: 4 "the case of the redundant number"
July 9th, 2010
7020 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Monday, June 28, 2010

Joss Whedon Wants You

We've already heard the exciting news that Mr. Whedon is teaming up with Morgan Spurlock and Stan Lee to create the ultimate in geekdom documentary, Comic-Con Episode Four: A Fan's Hope. Well, it looks like they're ready because casting is about to begin!

If you think you have what it takes, then go here to tell them your story. Also, tell us! Let us know if you're signing up to partake in this awesome documentary and what story you're telling to impress the geek elite.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Buffyfest Interviews Spike: The Devil You Know Artist Chris Cross

So Spike has his own comic.  Maybe some of you reprobates have heard of it?  It's called Spike: The Devil You Know.  The first issue came out last week (buy it) and it's host to the man himself plus our mysterious blue demon boy, Eddie Hope.  It's written by Bill Williams, whom you know and drawn by a man who you may not: artist Chris Cross.   We thought it would be a crime to let the lack of association stand and so, without further ado, our interview (completely unfiltered) with Chris Cross.

Buffyfest: You've been in the business for a while. How did you get into comics?

Chris Cross: Not just a while, heh… almost 20 years! And I’m just getting started! Time flies. I got into comics during my tenure in the School of Visual Arts In Manhattan in the nineties. An old friend of mine named Brian Marshall told me of a company that was looking for new talent to do some of their books by the name of Milestone Media… a new upstart African-American owned publication and they looked to be ready to turn the market on its ear by producing some books that recognized the cultures of the characters that would be prime focus on the books themselves.

I had gotten a couple of pages of art published in small press up to that point and I was busy taking up animation and painting in SVA among other things, and I wanted to get into the medium as soon as possible. So I got my work and set up an interview with the office manager Christine Gilliam in the Milestone offices during one of my breaks in-between classes. And after a few funny shenanigans that happened, I wound up getting work from Milestone. And the rest, they say, is history. So, Kiddies, when there’s an opportunity, go get it!

Buffyfest: What comics have inspired you as an artist?

Chris Cross: Well, that’s way too exhaustive a list. I think the first book that got me wanting to draw comics was X-MEN 121. After I saw that book, I was hooked. Comics were hard to come by in my neighborhood and a kid I knew had stacks of them. And he pulled out The Uncanny X-men 121 and I must have read that thing 5 times in one sitting and just stared at the art. I had never seen anything like that.

So that’s when the hunger started. After that, I was a John Byrne/Terry Austin nut, then graduated to Jack Kirby… going backwards in time and then forward to Neal Adams…. And everyone else after that. Then I discovered Manga and then it was over. My friend, Buzz, a great artist in his own right, introduced me to the world of Ma Wing Shing in the early nineties…. or Wing Shing Ma in his country, and I had more to absorb. No one has caught up to that brother yet. And there’s a ton of European artists that inspire me also. So there’s a plethora of inspiration to drag and fuel from. You can guess that my mind is never at rest with all of that zooming in front of me. I, like most artists, have this fear of growing stale, so I inundate myself with tons of new material weekly. So I’m always looking to let my work evolve to the next level. Never happy with it, but I sometimes get a chuckle when it does something I never expected.

Buffyfest: Tell us a little bit about your technique. Do you prefer drawing character stuff, backgrounds?

Chris Cross: My technique. I think you can’t just decide if you’re a true storyteller, if you prefer characters to backgrounds. I like to say to myself that the backgrounds are as much a character as the characters themselves. You can’t have mood or juxtaposition in storytelling if there are no backgrounds. They sell the story. Sure, you can have flashy costumes and great faces, boobs and booty in slinky outfits.. but if you can’t draw a car or a building, why are you drawing sequential art in the first place? Even if it’s a box with holes in it and some round circles for wheels, It has to fit in the context of the art and the style in which you’re telling the story. My friends tell me that my work is American manga. I’m cool with that! A lot of people think that Japanese manga is full of big eyes, small mouths and limited expression… but these guys really know anatomy. And you have to know anatomy in order to distort it or to caricature. And you can never discount the Japanese artist’s ability to do great backgrounds. But I also learned a great deal from European artists such as Mobius, Brian Bolland, and others. I also buy and search out tons of architectural reference. A cityscape or a dystopia or a galactic sprawl has to have a definitive look to pull off why characters are what they are and do what they do. It’s as much the behavior as the character’s behavior. It can tell why the character chooses to rebel or why that character chooses to protect and add to that area’s greatness. It’s all about what the writer intends and what I can pull out of his/her head and mix it with my vision. Otherwise, it’s incomplete.

Buffyfest: How did you get the Spike comic gig?

Chris Cross: I had a hole in my schedule and I was looking for something different to get my hands into. And the Spike gig was open. Seems I keep getting these vampire assignments lately…. LOL.

Anywho, The world of Joss Whedon has a rich environment and I’m really surprised that it translates so well to comics. And the cool thing is that I did the first Angel cover that kicked off the series and full circle, I’m doing one of the minis. It’s a lot of fun, and tedious at times with all the reference I’m trying to use at my command… sometimes there’s such thing as TOO much ref….but I’m doing my best to make it more than just a vampire book. And I hope I’m achieving it.

Buffyfest: Was it tricky getting down the likenesses of Spike and Illyria? Is it easier drawing Eddie Hope since he's not a real person?

Chris Cross: Anytime you have to constantly do a person’s likeness, you run the risk of losing the likeness when you have to make that character act. Facial expressions and pre-supposing what that face would do in any given situation is headwracking. I miss and I hit, but I get that the fans will get the gist of Spike subconsciously when the action hits. I think they’ll get it when the character does his thing. Eddie is easier to draw, but not necessarily because he’s made up. His face and likeness takes less hassle, but I still use ref to make him look familiar to the strange eye. That way you can still identify with him. When he hits the demonform, it’s a little tedious for me because of all things, the ridges in his tail and horn. Then again, the markings on his face is a hassle also. But, it makes him who he is…Illyria is the easiest to draw for some reason. And it’s great to fall in love with drawing Amy Acker. Who doesn’t want to look at THAT face all day??

Buffyfest: Did you watch certain episodes for visual reference of Spike's persona and to figure out how to dress Spike? In other words, is there a certain Season of Buffy or Angel that you use when drawing the character?

Chris Cross: No. There was a whole website of stills that Bill and Mariah hooked me up with that had tons, I mean TONS of pictures, images and stills from all the Buffy and Angel shows. And dressing Spike is easy. Essentially, you’re drawing off of Billy Idol as a vamp. Black leather, black shirt and denim jeans. Honestly, the man has no concept of pastels or animal prints. You put that man in some Enyce, Ecko, Sean John or CStar, and now we’ve got a fashion bull. Any vamp can do black, homey. :D

Like I said, though, there was SO much reference that it took literally hours just trying to figure out what was fodder and what was butter. Kinda reminds me of the Humanoids work I did when I had to compile a ton of Egyptian reference… some 250 megs worth. Trust me… that is a LOT of photos and images. And multiple folders in my external hard drive.

I did have to watch an episode or two to remind myself of how James Marsters face moves and his body positioning is manipulated to try to mimic some of who he is when he’s doing his thing. But that was the easy part. Redrawing over and over his face eventually led to losing some of what made him Spike… at some point I wanted to just make Spike the comic character more important than just redrawing James’ face or it would start to become harder to adjust to the flow of the scripts. I wanted Spike the character of the comic to be an extension, not just James Marsters. Although, if I had James and Amy around to take tons of expression pics at my beck and call, things would look even better. But I hope what I’ve done is enough for the fans to adjust to. And I hope that the action and fun in the books itself hold up more and add to what I’m doing with Spike.

Buffyfest: Tell us about your working relationship with [Writer] Bill Williams and [editor] Mariah Huehner. How much communication is there between all of you during the process of putting this book together?

Chris Cross: Well, Mariah is the hawt-editor-cutey-little-pocket-person that allows me to just do my thing. If I’m appearing to take advantage of it, which I try never to do, she has no problem setting me back on course again. She knows her job and she’s not an ego to let it get in the way of the artistic process. Bill is pretty much the same thing. But he’s pretty intense in his scripts. There’s a lot of reference that can either break you or make you. Kinda reminds me of Christopher Priest in the amount of detail that he wants to expound in his stories. Only Priest actually had footnotes in the back of each 40 page script he sent me. Bill is lenient in that way. :D...But then, Priest was a madman. Heh…

If I didn’t understand a certain thing, I can always call Mariah or Bill to pick their brains, which is a great thing. Not being able to get in touch with an editor or the writer when I’m in a pinch can be frustrating and annoying. But I don’t have that problem with either of them, for the most part. I usually prefer dealing directly with the writer so I can understand his pentameter. Otherwise, I’ll miss out on the writer’s nuances when I add my thing.

Buffyfest: Were you a fan of Whedon's work before you worked on this story? Did you watch the shows when they aired?

Chris Cross: I’ve watched every single episode of every single series that he’s ever done. From Buffy to Dollhouse. And he knocked it out of the park with Dollhouse. And pulling cards on society. I think that series was too much for Fox and the viewers to handle. Way ahead of its time and completely original in a time where there are too many regurgitated ideas. Great job, Joss. Anytime you wanna team up on something with me, you let me know. I like to work with great thinkers. :D

Buffyfest: So, who's your favorite character? What is your favorite Whedonverse episode and/or season?

Chris Cross: Come on…. It’s Echo from Dollhouse!! Every episode. Truly a great series.

Buffyfest:  What do find interesting about the cast of characters and why do you think they resonate with the fans so much?

Chris Cross: Well, all of Joss Whedon’s characters have this quirky humanity to them, even if they’re laser-serious. He understands the concept of drama and has an even keel of comedy mixed into it. He can truly lighten a dark mood in the middle of a dark mood. Make you laugh in the midst of a desperate situation that he’s poised for any of his characters. And he can write for teens. Not a lot of people can do that without adding some outrageous hip-hop language and using certain present-day ethics that will beat people over the head. He truly understands his own medium and doesn’t write outside himself and his characters. I take lessons, trust me.

Buffyfest: What about Spike, what do you thinks drives the love for his character?

Chris Cross: Well, he’s essentially Billy Idol without the music, to me. He does what he pleases and has this intolerable sneer about himself. He doesn’t worry about much and he usually gets away with a ton more than Buffy would or even Angel. And women love bad boys for some reason. And nothing says “bad boy” like bleaching your hair, painting and chipping your fingernail polish and wearing leather.

Buffyfest: Which character would you love to draw that isn't in your story or maybe isn't even in IDW's books?

Chris Cross: Nowadays it’s usually whatever the project is. I like to mix it up a bit. Of course, Shazam would be the ultimate character to draw. Some would want Supes, but I’ve always been intrigued with the power of Captain Marvel and the dynamic with Billy Batson and his adult alter-ego. Who wouldn’t want to scream SHAZAM! in the midst of a stressful time and just jet to parts unknown? And who can beat that flashy entrance? There is no superhero with an entrance like that.

Buffyfest: Do you have any story tidbits or hints you can share about Spike: The Devil You Know?

Chris Cross: Nothing except that I hope that the fans like what they see and that the word of mouth gets people to buy plenty of issues. I hope it gives them something that the other Spike books didn’t and that they have lots of fun with it.

Buffyfest: Are there any upcoming projects that you'd like fans to know about?

Chris Cross: Well I’m also doing an issue of Marvel Adventures featuring Captain America for Marvel…and a ton of other things that I can’t talk about yet. I’ll sound off when these other things drop.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Reminder: Chicago's Slay-A-Thon is TODAY!

If you're in the Chicago area, today is Slay-A-Thon's 8th annual event. They are just $12,000 shy of bringing the all time donations to The Make-A-Wish Foundation to the six figure mark, so bring it!

In case you don't know, Slay-A-Thon is a 12-hour marathon watching some of the best episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, meeting and laughing with other Whedon fans, and having a great time while simultaneously raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Illinois.

Attendees are not required to attend the entire event. Stay for the day or stop by for your favorite episodes.

There is no entrance fee... Slay-A-Thon is FREE! The people who attend the marathon get family, co-workers, friends, and others to "sponsor" them - just like with a walk-a-thon. Go and support this great cause! Deets below:

11:30 AM - Midnight
Dave & Buster's Gold Coast - Showroom
1030 N. Clark Street (Clark at Oak)
Chicago, Illinois

Friday, June 18, 2010

Don't they look serious?

How fantastic is Tweep Aaron's (aka @blindwithrain) Buffyverse figure set up? Looks like they're readying to face Twilight itself (whatever that means!)

Bonus points for Doppelgangland Willow rocking a sniper rifle in the back. Ha!
Happy Friday all.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Anyone but Joss: Blame in the Whedonverse

There's been a lot of talk lately about Buffy Season 8's missteps and who's to blame. There's also been a lot of feminist talk linked to this season as well. That's why I thought this article was so interesting. Feminste talks about the rights and wrongs of Buffy and why it seems women are always to blame. Their main focus is on Season 6 and Marti Noxon's virtual stoning by fans as Joss Whedon walks away clean and unscathed. Also, it touches on Smidge's choice to leave after seven seasons and the fan outcry at her decision, not Joss Whedon.

While the article makes some sense, I'd argue that the current state of the Buffyverse comics is a perfect example of the blame landing just as squarely on the men (Scott Allie, Bill Willingham and Brad Meltzer, just to name a few). It seems that the real issue here isn't that blame is put more heavily on the females in the Whedonverse, but that blame doesn't seem to ever land on Joss's shoulders.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Live Blogging Clare Kramer's Q&A Panel

Convention attendees asked questions in this 45 minute Q&A session with Clare Kramer that ended just minutes ago!
(**Note, we also did a separate exclusive interview with Clare earlier today which will be up later this week!)

Q: What was your favorite episode to work on?
A: My favorite episode was probably my first. It laid the groundwork for my character.

Q: Season 5 [of Buffy] definitely took a darker tone. How did you feel about that?
A: I was kind of glad it took a darker turn because it gave it a sense of, I don't want to say depth, but groundedness?

Q: Are you still active in Kids4kids or any other charity organizations?
A:Yes, Kids4kids is an organization with my sister-in-law. We do events in Texas where people donate toys. I'm also involved with Children International.

Q: How much say did you have in how you played Glory?
A: Well, once the words were written I had a lot of freedom like, "Why doesn't she throw shoes here or block this here?" In terms of what she said then no, I didn't get involved with that at all. Maybe others did, but I was just thankful to have a job. I just went with the flow with that.

Q: How were the core characters when you got to set? And did you get to keep the wardrobe?
A: The wardrobe, no. Some of it I hated but some I really liked, so I would've loved that. I think they auctioned most of it off on eBay. As for the rest of the cast, they'd been working on the show for 4 years. Everyone was extremely welcoming, gracious and nice. Michelle Trachtenberg was also new and they were pretty open. I had a great experience with everyone.

Buffyfest's own Bitsy (Dan) asks Clare Kramer about Glory's Minions:
Now that you have a couple of kids do you ever think 'Maybe I'd like to have a couple of minions again!"?

Q: With the split personality mentally and physically between Glory & Ben, how did you act that out?
A:They didn't tell me that Glory had this Ben side to her. I didn't know until I read scripts and I was like "Waaaaait a minute." That was just another component. It was actually much easier to play the bipolar side of her character.

Q: Did you maintain a relationship with Eliza Dushku between working on Buffy & Bring It On?
A: Well, I knew she was on a show named Buffy when we worked on Bring It On and filming was only like 2 months later, which was close. We actually worked together 3 times. I was on her show Tru Calling. She's a cool chick. I'm sure everyone likes Faith here. (Audience "woos!")

Q: When you go for a role like Glory, do you know that she was the ultimate evil villain?
A: That's an interesting question. There's a lot of secrecy. The character was called "Sherry" and it was for 1 episode. I think they wanted to test her. I think if I would've sucked there would have been no Glory. I guess they wanted to make sure that people were responsive because they have such a loyal fan-base.
Q: So do you never know when you're going to die?
A: Yes! I'd get a script and I'm like, "Oh good! I'm still here."

Q: Can you talk about how you got into acting?
A: Sure, I grew up in Ohio. I did absolutely everything I could do like theater. When I applied to college I really only wanted to go to the NYU theater program. Then I just auditioned. I never really had that one break-out role. I mean Buffy was big, but only one season. So it's all about auditioning and working hard. I think the hardest part about acting is staying emotionally available. Staying in a place where you can still be creative, which isn't the easiest to do. My advice is try, persevere and don't just limit yourself to in front of the camera. Knowledge is power.

Q: Is the rumor true that Warner brother's is considering you for Wonder Woman?
A: That's a rumor? Damn, I need to get my people on that.
Q:Would you take that?
A: Hell yes! You know, I've had my feelings hurt by reading about myself online so I don't really know about this rumor. But that would be incredible! That would definitely be that break-out role I'm looking for.

Q: With having kids now, do you find that it affects the roles you're looking for?
A: No. (Laughs. Pause.) The dirtier the better.

Q: Did you see James [Marsters] here today? And another question, what was it like being called back to the 7th season of Buffy? Was everyone there on set?
A: Yes, it was like all the villains hanging out. They didn't say if it was one or ten episodes. That was kind of a fun day. As far as seeing James here, I haven't seen him in a long time and yeah...he's good folk.

Q: How did you meet Julie Benz since you weren't on Buffy at the same time?
A: We weren't on at the same time, but we did a convention together in London. It was several years ago and yeah, we became close friends.

Live Blogging the James Marsters Q&A

Video, photos and quotes from today's panel with James Marsters at the Philadelphia Comic Con!


Q: I heard from someone that Joss wasn't a big fan of yours?
A: No! My second day of work Joss came up to me and screamed, "You beautiful actors! With your looks and women, you get everything! And we writers get nothing!" I said, "But you gave me the hair...If I look cool, it's your fault." Joss: " But you got those cheekbones!" And he put his hands on my face like he wanted to rip it off. "You're going to get laid all your life off this role."

Q: What was your least favorite costume to wear?
A: Andromeda, why did they dress me in Purple?

Q: You were sick as Brainiac in Smallville. My favorite villain ever. Do you prefer playing villains or heroes?
A: Villains! (Applause) When you play the hero you're always running and sweating. When you're the villain you just lurk!

Q: You're so pretty. I loved you as Buzz Aldrin and I was wondering what it was like to play a real, historical, idolized person.
A: I'm with you, I'm a huge nerd, love history. I was afraid the real Colonel would come and say, "You're making me a wimp!" (gestures punching) I was terrified.

Below Video: Which Angel episode were you really proud of?

Q: Ad libbing? Did you get to do a lot of that on Angel & Buffy?
A: Um, there was NO ad libbing on Buffy or Angel. If you had a comma wrong they'd re-take it....and I was under no illusions that I could improve upon their dialogue. That was the best writing I've been given in my life and I wouldn't change a single word.

Q: How hard was it to banter with puppet Angel?
A: Ben [Edlund] who wrote The Tick wrote it and we were waiting for the script and we weren't into it. He said, "Dude, I gave you the best scene of the whole script. Just take the paycheck and take the week off."

Below Video: Spike or Angel?

Q: Do you stay in touch with actors from past shows?
A: The truth is about actors is that we're shattered people. We have bad childhoods and when the job goes you never speak to them again. (Crowd: "aww") Guys, I'm an artist, I'm not healthy and I don't have a lot of friends.

Q: Who was your favorite writer on Buffy/Angel?
A: That's a hard question because there were so many good ones. You know what? The best writer was Joss. He didn't like me! I knew if he showed up on set I had the week off. He wasn't into the whole Anne Rice thing. He got talked into the character of Angel by David Greenwalt. When I came on I was supposed to be dirty and dead. So the best writer was the one who didn't write anything for me! But it's ok, he didn't fire me!

Below Video: James Marsters "How did I feel about the rape Scene on Buffy? I wanted to commit suicide that day"

Q: If you were given and opportunity to create your own character for your next role, what would it be?
A: I wanted to develop a Star Trek series about the very First Starship.

Q: My absolute favorite episode was the musical episode, "Once More, With Feeling". Can you describe that time?
A: You know, we didn't have fun doing that. It was like Joss asking us to juggle chain saws. "You're going to ruin everyone's career", we thought! Joss hands me a cassette tape for material for the next week. It's Joss and his wife Kai, and neither one of them can sing. And Joss can't play the piano. They're warbling and I said to myself, "He's lost his mind! This is a joke." I walk out of my trailer and everyone else has the same face on. He's believed his own press and thinks he can do this! Tony Head and I were kind of cool with it because we're both singers, but we all fought it. Sarah had two vocal coaches. We all though we were going to die. But then we saw the Xander/Anya dance scene which was done first and we all realized it was going to work. We all went from that to "triumph" in one week.

Below Video: Torchwood Question, "What was it like making out with a male actor?"

Overheard quotes at the Marsters Panel:

First of all, before they opened the doors to the con attendees, the staff decided they needed to open the sliding doors on either side of the panel room to TRIPLE it's size/capacity. And they really needed to
because the whole thing has filled up!
Overheard quotes at the Marsters Panel so far:

"I may start crying"
"I would risk damage to be in this panel"
"I didn't come here to buy nothing else, just get this signature. Get
this signature....or die"

12:08 James Marsters arrives!

Stay more tuned!

James Marsters Panel Crowd is Filling Up

So we've arrived at Philly Comic Con and went straight to the James Marsters Panel Area where the fans are in a heated argument about the line formation. But don't worry about us! We have nice cozy Press seats in the front so we'll be live blogging with pictures in the next hour or so. Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Buffyfest is going to Wizard Philly!

So this weekend, 6/11-6/13, Wizard will be hosting it's annual Philadelphia Comic Con and, I have to say, they've really stepped up their game big time this year.  Not only will fan favorite James Marsters be in attendance but the amazing Clare Kramer will be there as well.  I can't actually remember the last convention she's been to so hooray for all of us scabby worshipers of the mighty Glorificus.

In addition there will be loads of artists and retailers on top of so many special guests including Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, John de Lancie, Bruce Campbell, Virginia Hey, and loads more. 

Plus, we'll be there!  So, you know... you should come and see us.  Oh, and all the actual famous people.  Let's not forget about them.  The link is below.  Be there or be a thing what is square.

Philly Comic Con

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Can't Stop the Serenity's 5th Anniversary!

We are very proud to announce that Buffyfest will once again be a global sponsor for this year's Can't Stop the Serenity events, their 5th anniversary! This is our second year supporting the cause, which supports Equality Now through their awesome fund raising events around the world. The events give fans a chance to see the “Big Damn Movie” on the big screen, while helping to protect human rights of women around the world. From their site:

Founded in 2006, this year marks the notable 5th anniversary of Can’t Stop the Serenity. From a fledgling idea from the One True B!x to the multi-national event it has become, there is no doubt that, far from getting old, Serenity continues to draw crowds and good Samaritans from near and far: each screening donates money to Equality Now and other great causes while giving like-minded folks the opportunity to help charities without ever leaving a theater! With the fifth year off to a great start, its about time you see what all the fuss is about.

In addition to watching Serenity, and at some events, Dr. Horrible, this year 7 lucky cities will also be screening Browncoats: Redemption – A Fan Film for Charity, which will be released in September 2010.

The fun has already started in San Francisco which kicked off the CSTS season with the first event last weekend! Click here to find an event in your area. The official website is updated daily with registered cities and their ticket status...but if there isn't an event in your city, you could always host your own - no matter how small!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Scott Allie Confirms Title of Whedon's Last Arc for Season 8

Super Scott Allie just confirmed to us that the last arc of season 8 penned by Joss Whedon will be called "Last Gleaming". Scott also told us exclusively, "We were originally going to call it 'Sunnydale' until Joss came up with this."

Let the speculation begin!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Kittehs Cant Wait for teh Buffyfezt

...little do they know they are running toward their doom.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Firefly + Mad Men + Broken Bells = This Video

I like Broken Bells. I actually just got their album recently. Fact is, Danger Mouse has been rad since The Grey Album and The Shins are mellow but pretty good that works out. What works out even better is that Christina Hendricks is a super hot robot in their video below. Oops! Spoiler Alert!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Buffyfest Interviews the Robot, Ninja and Gay Guy Dudes - Part 2

Last week we spoke to the one and only Nicholas Brendon about his appearance on the web series Robot, Ninja & Gay Guy (amongst other things), which premieres today. We also had the pleasure of speaking to the fine people who create and star in this hilariously odd web series. Today we're bringing you the second part of the interviews, this time with show creator Travis Richey and Head Writer Eric Loya.

BUFFYFEST: Can you give us a little background on RNGG?

TRAVIS: About three years ago, X-Box was having a contest where they wanted web series pilots, so I got a few of my friends together from ACME (a sketch and improv theater in Los Angeles) and had a brainstorming session. Curtiss Frisle offered up three concepts – one of which was “Ninja, Robot & Gay Guy.” There wasn’t much more than the title and the idea that it was a roommate comedy, but I was just starting out in web production with The Musecast (A year-long documentary project that ran for two seasons created by Travis; Eric was in the second year cast), and we simply didn’t have the finances to produce anything, so I sat on the idea for 2 years. Finally, after I’d been dating Rob [Wood, Director] for a while, we started talking about producing stuff that he could direct and I could act in, and RNGG (the title had switched around by then) was at the top of my list. And once Eric came aboard things started to move really fast. I’ll let him tell that part.

ERIC: Hah! I actually never knew that it was originally “Ninja” first. That seems so wrong to me. I actually have heard people call it that, getting it wrong, and it seems so strange to me, because I feel like “Robot, Ninja & Gay Guy” has a nice rhythm to it.

Anyway, yeah, my involvement began over Facebook, actually. Travis and I were chatting one night and he says, “I want you to be the head writer of my web series.” I had no idea what he was talking about, but I blindly agreed. Cut to a few weeks later, like he said, I had a title which was also a premise, and not much else. One of the most important things to me was that Gay Guy not be a typical sitcom gay guy, you know? I mean, we've seen that before, and with few exceptions, it's cheap and pointless. Our gay guy would definitely be gay – we wouldn't shy away from that – but he'd be other things, too. Every episode wouldn't be about him being gay. That was important.

Applying the same logic, Robot wouldn't be V.I.K.I. from “Small Wonder,” you know? He-wouldn't-talk-like-this because, again, we've seen that before.

It was also important to me, from the beginning, to have a show that I would want to see. A show that I thought was funny and important in its way. Luckily, I've found myself in a situation where my input is valued and the working dynamic couldn't be better.

BUFFYFEST: Besides the upcoming appearance of "Buffy" star and core Scooby, Nicholas Brendon, are there any other things that Whedonverse fans can relate to in RNGG?

TRAVIS: I’ve been a fan of Joss Whedon ever since I read the script for Alien 4 (which was amazing – don’t let the finished product fool you). I didn’t get into Buffy until I was able to watch from the beginning on Hulu, but I devoured Firefly. Of course, Dr. Horrible was amazing and I liked Dollhouse a lot. All this to say that what I like most about Joss’s writing is that it’s smart and quick. I see a lot of that in Eric’s script work for “Robot, Ninja & Gay Guy,” and I know that he’s intensely inspired by the Whedonverse. Also, I’m particularly fond of having a mythology around a show, and we’ve gone to great lengths to build the world that Robot, Ninja and Gay Guy inhabit and be as specific about the characters and their histories as we can. Even if we haven’t seen those details yet…

ERIC: Aw, that's very sweet and incredibly wrongheaded to compare my writing with Joss'. (laughs) No, but I definitely do respect and admire what all the writers have accomplished. I'm particularly partial to Jane Espenson, who I think is just absolutely incredible, and a lot of my writing has been inspired by hers, as well as by her blog which I hope she writes at more soon.

Anyway, other things... well, I guess, just very basically, there's the fact that all of Joss' shows have outrageous premises, but they're treated with a dose of reality within their own confines. For instance, in our “The Robot Situation,” it was important to me that they have some concern about whether or not Robot actually was a robot. To me, that's similar to the scene in the “Buffy” pilot where Xander hears all the exposition while in the library, and then there's that, “Wait, what?!” moment.

Oh, oh! And yes! In Nicky's episode in particular, there are at least three other Whedonverse nods, ranging from a very obvious article of clothing to significantly more subtle bits.

BUFFYFEST: Will we be seeing a season 2?

TRAVIS: Ah, well, that’s the big question, isn’t it? I would love to do many more seasons of “Robot, Ninja & Gay Guy,” and we’ve planned out possible story arcs for future seasons, but unfortunately it all boils down to money. I funded the first season of the show completely out of my very shallow pockets, and at this point I can’t afford to do more. We’re going to start fundraising to produce another season of RNGG, as well as another super-secret series that is currently in development.

ERIC: Yes, it would really be a shame if we weren't able to do a second season. We have a lot of great storylines, episodes and moments planned. I will add, though, that just like we said in the announcement video, a second season is definitely a possibility. It's really down to how much people dig what we do, and whether or not they tell their friends who like to tell their friends. Word of mouth is the name of the game in the web series world, which is just another reason why everything we do is absolutely all about the fans.

A big "Thank You" once again to the cast and crew of Robot, Ninja, Gay Guy and to Nicholas Brendon. If you haven't seen RNGG, we really recommend it. Click here to subscribe to their YouTube channel.

Without further ado, below is today's episode starring Whedonverse's finest, Nick Brendon. Enjoy!:

Let's end this with the lyrics to the wonderfully retro RNGG Theme Song:

There are days when life gets you down,
And nothing's going your way.
You try to get your feet back on the ground,
Take on another day.

Well, all it takes is a little teamwork,
And a friendly face
You might think you're on your own,
But together we can win the race!

Whatever you need, I'll be there in no time.
Follow my lead, and we'll cross onto the finish line!
Haven't you heard, each day opens a new door?
Just say the word, and we'll go off to explore...

To see what life has in store...