Friday, May 27, 2011

IDW WEEK: Interview with Editor in Chief Chris Ryall

As we wind down IDW Week, we are delighted to close out the festivities with Chief Creative Officer and Head Honcho Chris Ryall. He's given us some very colorful responses as he closes the door on his reign in the Angel-verse. Thanks to everyone who participated in this IDW-lovin' event. We've had a blast!

Buffyfest: What is your favorite behind the scene memory since you've been working in the Whedonverse?

Chris Ryall: Really, as much as I've enjoyed the comics themselves, I'd say my best memory is essentially the collective memory of working with such great people. Which is a broad answer, really, and involves many creators, but that was always the best part of the process. Angel was the first title I worked on when I started here in 2004, and along the way, being able to involve Peter David in writing IDW books, following the series done by outgoing IDW EIC Jeff Mariotte, was a thrill for me. I've been a fan of Peter's for two decades, and him doing that first Spike book for us has led to many other projects. Similarly, it was great to get my friend and great writer and co-conspirator Scott Tipton his first comic-writing gigs, too. Scott has really developed into a special writer, and handled the Angel books with a very deft touch.

And working with Brian Lynch on his first Spike series was not only gratifying to me to get yet another great friend and supremely talented writer involved with the Whedonverse, but it also introduced me to Franco Urru. Franco, and David Messina, have been the artistic heart of the Angel books for the duration, with great contributions from people like Stephen Mooney, Elena Casagrande, Nick Runge, and so many other talented people. I know this is turning into a list of names, which is essentially what my final little two-pager in this week's Angel Yearbook was, but working with such creatively inspiring people has been the thing that I will always remember from our time with Angel. Much moreso than any one day's memory, although there have been many singularly notable events when I look at things with a micro view, too.

Working on Angel felt in large part to me what creating comics should feel like. Sharing ideas, bouncing things off one another, working with friends and very inspired, inspiring people... throughout our time with the license, it brought with it the very best that comics collaborations have to offer.

Add to that the chance to do good things like tell a Lorne tribute story with a creator as gifted as John Byrne and a partner as close to the late and very missed Andy Hallett as Mark Lutz; the chance to bring in Juliet Landau to work on Drusilla stories; Joss Whedon (!) getting involved to tell stories here; and even the developing relationship I have with Scott Allie at Dark Horse now (platonic only, although maybe there is actually some "Chrott" slash-fic out there somewhere?) -- when we started on Angel, and when I joined IDW, there seemed to be a lot of enmity between the two companies, and that's all a thing of the past now. The bad incidents fade into the ether, but man, the abundance of great memories of our time with Angel will Not Fade Away.

Buffyfest: Which character are you going to miss the most and why?

CR: Probably Scott Allie's Hair, which -- I don't know how many people realize this, but it actually achieved full sentience in 2007, and is quite adept at quietly calling the shots in Oregon.

Also, Spike. See below for my longer reasons why, but essentially, he was just such a good comic character, and opened up endless story options.

Buffyfest: Where do you see Angel in 20 years?

CR: Back with IDW, of course. I mean, in the interim, it will leave Dark Horse after a few years and go to Dynamite, where Alex Ross will paint a gorgeous Betta George miniseries; and then Archie will do a version of the characters in Riverdale for a few years. The license will then be split, as the new Whedon-less movie creates a different version of Spike, so both Archaia and a new publisher, Derivative Comics, will both be doing competing versions of the character in comic form. That will end badly, in the Great Licensed Comics Chaos Event of 2019, where every single licensed character in history will crossover in one gigantic, 200-issue event series. The two Spikes touch hands and it's like matter and anti-matter meeting, and there's an implosion that will destroy every licensed comic character except for, curiously, the Katzenjammer Kids, who will make a 100-plus-years-in-the-making comeback in The Katzenjammer Kids: After the Fall, which also includes their new blonde half-brother, Spike. The only way I will know any of this, however, is when my daughter Lucy, who will be running IDW editorial then, telepathically notifies me at the Home for Wayward Comic Folk. I stop bathing in my own drool and ranting about "the good ol' days of four variant covers" long enough to respond, and then I go back to sleep. And my sleep will be filled with dreams of Spike. And they will be good dreams.

Buffyfest: Finally, the most important question of your tenure, Spike or Angel?

CR: As much as the license was Angel, and we launched with an Angel series, and we told the big Angel: After the Fall story... it's got to be Spike. Spike, in the hands of people like Lynch, Tipton, and David, just proved to be so much more versatile, and so much more fun. And the expansion of Spike's supporting cast with Lynch's new characters just gave him added depth, and added sources of humor, too. I'm going to miss it all, but I'll really miss the chance to do more Spike comics along those lines.

And a final note of thanks to you all at Buffyfest, and Angel fandom at large. That's been another very enjoyable part of this whole run, the interactions and passionate exchanges with fans who both liked and didn't like but always (usually) supported what we did. I think we all had fun together. Hope your experiences going forward with Angel and Buffy comics are just as enjoyable from your side, too. And if they're not, well, I blame the sentient Hair.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

IDW WEEK: Interview With Our Very Own Dan Roth and Pat Shand

In honor of yesterday's release of Angel Yearbook and in celebration of our two favorite fanboys, next up on IDW Week is a fun little interview with Dan (aka Bitsy as he's known around these parts) and Pat. 

Buffyfest: You have both been given such a unique and lucky opportunity. As a fan, what did it feel like the moment you realized you'd be writing one of your favorite characters?

Dan Roth: For a long time I didn’t believe it. I remember sending this jokey thing to Mariah ages ago because I thought it would make her laugh. Imagine my surprise when she told me that she might be able to use it for one of her comics down the line.

Now I’ve got about as much luck as a Joss Whedon character who has just found true love, so I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop, for there not to be room for me in Angel land after all. I felt that way when the Angel Yearbook was approved by Fox and I felt that way through each draft I wrote. It was all too surreal. Me? Writing an Angel story? It couldn’t be.

The moment it became real was when I got my first art back from Stephen Mooney. Man but that blew my mind. There’s nothing quite like seeing something you’ve written turned into art and I don’t know if there are the words for how lucky I was to work with Mooney. He has such a gift for capturing likenesses and he brings that classic, gothic Angel feel to every panel.

Sufficed to say, I was pretty jazzed.

Pat Shand: Well, I've been trying to write for Angel for a loooooong time. I'd been asking Brian about it for a while, and then one day I decided to be Mr. Forward and write a pitch and a first issue script for a Wes/Illyria miniseries called "Whosoever You Be" set in Season Five. I sent that to Mooney, who had posted a blog about wanting to do such a series, but as it happens you have to be kind of established to write for Angel. Which makes sense, I mean if I picked up an issue and saw "Written by Guy Off The Street" in the credits, I'd be all "Huh?"

Anyway, point is that I'd been trying at this for a long time. Might sound cheesy, but I wanted to write for Angel more than anything else. I'd been talking to Dan Roth for a while about our "Yearbook" pitches, and he found out that we were in before I did. I remember I was getting ready to go ice skating with my girlfriend and I got this text from Dan. It said something like, "We're in 'Yearbook'," annnnd I sort of flipped out. Told my girlfriend, there was a lot of screaming and hugging and happiness and celebration. And then I went ice skating and fell on my ass a lot.

Buffyfest: What was it like working behind the scenes alongside your favorite writers and artists?

DR: One of the best parts of this whole process was having Mariah as an editor. Even for this two page story, she dedicated the time to really help me craft the best story I could. Looking back on where the concept started through to how it ultimately turned out, I can tell you I could never have done it without her.

It was also incredibly exciting to share what I’d done with Scott, Brian, and David and having them get it. Here were these guys who inspire me as a writer, treating me like a colleague. I don’t think I could be more grateful.

PS: Would it be ass-kissing to say the best thing ever? If so, I don't care because it's true. I've been talking with Scott Tipton, Mooney, and Brian for a while, but to actually appear in a book with them... those guys are the best writers and artists to ever touch these comics, and it makes me proud to be in there with them and even more proud to know 'em.

Getting pages back from Mooney was heaven. Literally, I actually died for a second when I saw how freakin' scary the monster he drew for my story was. In the original script, I included this beast made entirely of tentacles (Mariah loves squids and octopi, so I figured I'd pander to that in order to get into the book, because I have little to no shame) but after I sent it to Mooney, I looked through all the Angel books he worked on and realized how good he is at creating creatures. So I sent him an e-mail that pretty much said, "To hell with my monster idea, go wild." And he did. Look at that beastie. Creepy, huh?

Brian has always been a giant help for me and such a sweet dude, so one of the first things that I did when I found out I was going to be in "Yearbook" was to send him a message. That guy of all people knows how long I've been trying to get in the book. Scott was great throughout the whole process, too. I originally pitched a different story altogether, and he really helped me condense the original six page idea into two pages. Maybe I'll post that script on my blog, because I do like it. Chris Ryall was also wonderful throughout. He was great about answering questions, and just an overall great guy. Working with the Angel team is something that I think I'll be measuring all of my future writing experiences up against.

Buffyfest: How did you each come up with your stories?

DR: Well, for me it was a matter of coming up with something that would be fun and include little touches of fan service. I knew I wanted to channel the dynamic between Spike and Angel that we saw during the great “Cavemen vs. Astronauts” debate. I also wanted to play with the Illyria and Gunn relationship.

I had this sense that a lot of the Angel Yearbook would be very serious stuff, so I wanted to bring something really light and simple. Having Angel and Spike fight over what they would watch on TV felt like the right fit. It was a chance to show them being completely over the top about something totally ordinary which, to me, is very Spike and Angel. They just can’t help themselves when they’re around each other. It’s what I love best about their relationship.

PS: With a looooot of brain juice.

When I met Dan for the first time at NYC, I believe it went something like this.

DAN: Aren't you Pat's Hand?

PAT: Um, what? Who are you, cheekbone man, stay away!

DAN: You are excellent and not at all chubby and you should pitch for ANGEL: YEARBOOK.

PAT: That is correct.

DR: Yes, that is exactly what happened.  Fear my cheekbones!

PS: I'd talked to Ryall about "Yearbook" at NYCC, but for some reason I thought it had already been drawn and was ready for print. I don't know, I'm weird. And thankfully wrong. Dan told me he was pitching for the book, so I ethically and not at all forwardly (forwardly?) used my scheduled interview with Mariah Huehner to ask if I could pitch for the book. She was totally receptive to it and so nice, so as soon as the interview was over I started cooking up a story idea. My first pitch was the story of Gunn and Illyria's return to the gang after their road trip. I tried to do the whole "squeeze an epic into two pages" thing, but like Dan said... doesn't really work. I still like what I did with that first story, but I'm glad that Mariah asked for more pitches. She said that the concept was a bit too similar to Brian's story, which I think is a damn good reason to get turned down.

Anyway, I ended up pitching a few more ideas, which consisted of these:

A short about Angel’s love for the only main character that has been around as long as he has… Los Angeles.

Angel does something special to mark the anniversary of Doyle’s passing. In doing so, he pays tribute to the other characters we have lost (Cordy, Fred, Wes). Connor follows Angel, noticing him, watching… but he says nothing. A quite moment of reflection between father and son.

During “After the Fall” Harmony opens up a hair salon in Hell. Groosalugg, Angel, and other cast members visit. Funny, light, odd.

Angel and Spike break up a vampire party, commenting on how lame modern day vamps have become.

Mariah went with the first one, and I'm glad. I love how it came out, and was grateful that I was able to use the concept to squeeze everything I could out of this verse. I got to use Angel to kill a giant monster, I threw a Spike line in there, had a bit of a sweet moment, and even ruined a purse. I'm so very greedy. I want it all.

Buffyfest: Finally, you're obviously both into comics, what was the biggest challenge writing one? Did seeing the other side soften any usual criticism you have of the writers?

DR: The biggest challenge was working within the confines of two pages. A man gets a crack at the Whedonverse, he wants it to be epic. You just can’t do epic in two pages. Well, I can’t, at any rate.

Was I ever overwhelmingly critical of the writers? Not publicly, I don’t think. So keep that in mind, readers! I wasn’t a critic. So when I ask if you like my story, just smile and nod.

PS: I think that if any people in the Buffy fandom know me, it might be from how vehemently I defend the Angel comics. I've loved this series from jump, so there's not much criticism to soften. When I didn't like something, even if I voiced it, I think that the writer in me always went about it in a respectful way. I've wanted to write since I read my first Goosebumps book at the round-headed age of seven, so I don't think you'll catch me trolling around about a writer anytime soon. Except Dan, that guy is such a jerk. SCREW DAN ROTH!

DR: Agree.  Sometimes I mix multiple plaids and think I'm being fashionable which is the third listed dictionary definition of "unlovable".  Look it up in your Funk and Wagnalls sometime.

PS: But really, I love Dan Roth. He comes to my plays and makes me laugh.

DR: Don't be fooled.  I charge him for this service.

PS: The biggest challenge... I'll totally agree with Dan. Ideally, I'd have forty-four issues and many, many miniseries to tell my ANGEL tale. But I had two pages, so there was a loooot to squeeze in there. But as I said before... greedy. Another big challenge was just the idea of writing these iconic characters that have literally changed the lives of some of the people who watch these shows and read these comics. It was hard, it was rewarding, and such a big honor.

- Thanks guys and congrats!

IDW WEEK: Interview with Writer and Editor, Mariah Huehner

Next up, we talk with editor and writer on the final series of Angel, Illyria, and Spike stories, Mariah Huehner.  Over the last few years, she's become a stellar voice with the fans, always there to talk about what was happening behind the scenes.  We dig a little deeper with her today, asking some of those questions she couldn't quite answer before the book was still running.
Buffyfest: You came in right after the Kelley Armstrong arc was done and a lot of fans were wondering, "Why didn't IDW just tap one of the Angel TV Series writers to work on the book?"

Mariah Huehner: I always like that question because there's no easy answer. We did, of course, approach some people from the show. But everyone was busy or, you know, working on Buffy. :} I'm not in any way knocking Buffy, of course. But we just didn't have the option of tapping someone from the show at the time. Plus, comics is a different medium than TV. Just because you love one doesn't mean you have any interest in the other.

Buffyfest: The other big question that got asked back then (and again, later) was, "Why not a fan writer?" It wasn't unknown that some fans had pitched for the book, that many fans write stories about these characters often. Was that ever considered?

MH: Well, no. And again, not as a knock to fans, the thing is, comics are a lot harder to write than most people realize. You need experienced writers in the medium to construct stories like this. Just loving the show isn't enough. You need to understand this specific form of storytelling, meet deadlines, and be confident you can handle a world of this size and cast this big. The truth is, all the writers we hired were also fans of the show.

Buffyfest: Right. Which brings us to the first set of stories you were editor on, those being written by Bill Willingham and Bill Williams. There was a lot of controversy concerning the characterization of many of the major players at that time, that Spike was acting strangely, that Angel was out of the book for too long. Looking back on it, do you still stand behind those stories? Is there anything you would have wanted to do differently?

MH: I do still stand behind those stories. We wouldn't have published them if we didn't think they were worth telling. I think I probably would have gotten Angel back into the action sooner, for instance. And been maybe a touch more obvious about Spike. But there were reasons for all of that, real story and character reasons, so it's not like anything was done arbitrarily. The argument that characters were acting OOC...that seems to come up no matter who is writing something. I've even seen that about stuff Joss has written. So we couldn't really worry about that too much. It's a bit subjective.

Buffyfest: Once Bill left, you and David took over to complete his arc and move into what would become the final story. How closely did you keep to Bill's original plan and how much was changed? When you were planning out those stories, did you take into account what fans were saying or is it too risky to play into what fans want?

MH: We kept some things and not others. We had to finish the arc up in a way that made sense so obviously certain plot and character points Bill had been building towards were there. But we also had to change some elements to set up the next arc which was something David and I developed on our own. We went in a very different direction with the last arc for obvious reasons. In terms of what fans were saying...that's a tough one. We certainly cared, you want people to enjoy the stories you're telling. But overall, no, we had to tell a story we felt was right for the characters and the kind of ending we thought Angel deserved. Not two fans want the same exact thing so you can't base stories on that.

Buffyfest: When in the process of writing did you find out that the license was reverting back to Dark Horse?

MH: I honestly don't remember. Probably around the time everyone else did. :}

Buffyfest: Did you have a longer narrative in mind originally?

MH: Yeah, David and I had a longer arc planned. It would have been more fleshed out, more detailed and weird.

Buffyfest: What would you like to have done, given more time? Anything in particular? Any other characters you would have liked to focus more on? Would you have wanted to bring in more original characters?

MH: Personally, I would've wanted more stuff with Illyria and her role in that future. We had to cut a lot of that to get Angel back to his present and I was sad to see it go. And I would have liked to do more with Wolfram & Hart, been able to get more into what was going on with them and their reappearance.

I don't think we would've added more new characters, though. That arc was more about the core group and Angel's relationship with Connor. But also about choices and fighting the good fight. We had to pace things very tightly in the last arc, and while I'm pleased with how it turned out, you always wish you had more time with everyone. More moments to let breathe, more character exploration.

Buffyfest: You became a pretty big presence in the IDW forums throughout your time writing and editing. Was it hard going from being a fan who could be critical of the show's narrative to being on the receiving end of that criticism? How did you deal with that shift, especially when you moved from editing to editing AND writing?

MH: Honestly, I really didn't mind any of the criticism unless it was because people were making huge assumptions about what we were doing. In general the IDW forum is constructive and spirited, but not mean. And you can't expect to write something in a world like this and not get criticized. You just can't make story choices based on that.

The transition from editing to co-writing was interesting. I've definitely been critical of some of the show's storylines so David and I would talk about the things we felt worked vs. what we didn't, mostly to avoid being repetitive or getting into narrative sinkholes.

I wanted to be accessible on the forums, though, because I could see how important these characters and stories were to the fans and I wanted to make sure they knew that we cared, too.

At core, I'm a fan of stories. I get emotional over ones I connect to, so I can completely relate to how people feel about this world. The only times that were a real challenge is when some people would insist that their interpretation was -the- interpretation. There's pretty much no such thing. I think there are interpretations that hold up better under analysis than others, but the truth is, if people believe something and feel it deeply, then it's true for them. And I'd rather the stories were layered enough to do that than not.

Buffyfest: And now we're at the end. This week will see the final IDW Angel comic, the Angel Yearbook. Tell us how that came about and what the goal was for these final stories.

MH: Well, Ryall and I talked about doing something after the last issue of the series that would showcase all the folks that had worked on Angel since the beginning. So we asked everyone what characters they'd most like to tell a story about from any point in the series. It was funny because everyone picked someone different and organically came up with these touching, relevant, sincere stories to end with.

The real goal was making it celebratory of Angel and his family.

Buffyfest: Final round up with the work you did on these stories, tell us: Thing you're most proud of, biggest challenge and, if you were to write a story about Angel 20 years from now, where do you think he'd be?

MH: Well, I'm personally most proud of Illyria: Haunted. That story means a lot to me. But I'm also really proud of working with David, Brian, and Bill. I'm proud of the way we ended things and the character moments along the way.

There were so many people who made Angel great. Working with Brian and Franco on Spike was lovely, I think the world of them both. Elena really breathed life into the final two arcs and her work on Illyria is incredible. Scott Tipton, who did so much with these characters, and proofed nearly every issue of the series which is something I don't think he gets credit for. David Messina, who started on these books and was always a joy to work with. Writers like Peter David & Jeff Mariotte who told some wonderful last tales in the Yearbook. Likewise, Stephen Mooney for his great sense of humor and dynamic art. Willingham, for seeing how complex this world could be and being unafraid to take story risks. Jenny Frison, for giving us the most wonderfully gorgeous covers. And last, David Tischman, who really understood the mix of humor, melancholy, and epic heroism of Angel and took the story where it needed to, to go out on a high note.

Biggest challenge: Letting go, I guess. It's extremely sad to see this end for us.

As for Angel in 20 years: Still fighting. I always see him in the alley, sword in hand, ready to face whatever comes next. I can't see him doing anything else.

Buffyfest: What's next for you?

MH: Well, I'm working on an adaption of Servant of the Bones by Anne Rice and David and I are doing the next True Blood story, True Blood: The French Quarter. Servant is this wonderfully rich tale that Anne wrote about a young Babylonian who becomes a kind of demon/ghost. It's really challenging but wonderful to work on. And David and I are having huge amounts of fun with this new True Blood series. We get to take Sookie, Bill, and Eric to New Orleans and they get into all kinds of trouble. So basically, I'm really busy. :}

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

IDW WEEK: Interview with Writer Scott Tipton

One of the most exciting parts of IDW Week has been finally getting to do a review with long time Angel writer, Scott Tipton. I guarantee that when you read his story for the Angel Yearbook, you'll find yourself wanting to reread (or read for the first time, shame on you) all the other great work he's done.

He also posted a fantastic rundown of every project he worked on, along with the pitches he wrote.  It's absolutely fascinating stuff which you can check out here. But first is the time for interviews, so away we go!

Buffyfest: What is your favorite behind the scene memory since you've been writing for the Whedonverse?

Scott Tipton: Man, there are so many, it’s hard to even narrow it down, Though writing for ANGEL wasn’t the first comics work I ever had published, it was certainly the work that got me noticed, and in a lot of ways I owe my whole career to the square-jawed galoot. I vividly remember being halfway through the script of my first ANGEL project, the SPIKE graphic novel OLD WOUNDS, which was a big 48-page one-shot, and thinking to myself, “Wow. I think I could do this for a living.”

Hearing later through the grapevine that James Marsters liked the book wasn’t too bad either.

The best thing about my ANGEL experience was the people I got to work with, no question, whether it was developing story ideas with Chris Ryall, trading scripts with Brian Lynch, or just hanging out together at Comic-Con meeting the readers. And I couldn’t have asked for better collaborators in artists David Messina, Stephen Mooney and Elena Casagrande. People often ask me what my favorite thing is about writing comics, and the answer is easy: it’s getting those pages back from the artist. Seeing them take your words on the page and bring to life exactly what you envisioned (and often improving it) is insanely rewarding.

When I was first assigned the AULD LANG SYNE miniseries with David, we got to do a bit of a “warmup” with an ILLYRIA short story in the Halloween anthology MASKS, and I was immediately struck by what a pleasure David was to work with. And then when I got the pages back – wow! I knew we were on to something! Little did I know David and I would go on to create over 600 pages together over the course of the next 5 years and six miniseries.

I remember when I was working on my ANGEL miniseries AULD LANG SYNE with David, driving all over Los Angeles, down to Santa Monica and up mid-Wilshire to the LA County Museum of Art, taking dozens of photos of the scenery to send to him so the book could really have that L.A. feel. Getting to write that snarky back-and-forth repartee between Angel and Spike was a real joy; I never got to do enough of it – so when I got to add a few new scenes to SMILE TIME a couple years later, that was a real treat.

But I think the most rewarding experience of the whole run was developing the adaptation of A HOLE IN THE WORLD with Elena. You’d think with an adaptation, you’d find it creatively limiting, but instead, taking those two episodes we loved so much, stripping them down, and finding the best way to make them work in comics was so much fun, and maybe the best actual collaboration I’ve ever had with an artist, in terms of figuring out the pacing, trading cover sketches back and forth (mine much, much, oh-god-so-much worse than hers), agonizing and arguing over what to cut – for ANGEL fans like us, it was a dream job, and we enjoyed every minute of it.

Buffyfest: Which character are you going to miss the most and why?

ST: I get asked this a lot, and my usual answer tends to be Spike, just because he is such a joy to write, and his dialogue and reactions spring so naturally to mind. Sometimes it’s hard to get the voice for Angel right or figure out exactly what Gunn would do, but Spike has always written himself. I just put him in a situation and turn him loose.

But as I’ve thought about it more in the last few weeks as things have been winding down, I realized the first character I ever wrote for in the Angelverse was Fred, in the opening scene of SPIKE: OLD WOUNDS, and she’s also the last, in the final panel of my YEARBOOK story “All the Time in the World.” This feels kind of appropriate, especially as I’ve spent the last three years writing for Fred/Illyria in one form or another. There’s been a steady flow of amazing drawings of Fred and Illyria arriving in my e-mail box regularly since 2008, and It feels very strange not to be receiving them any more. I may have to bribe Elena to draw me the occasional sketch of Illyria going to the market, or picking up the mail, just to quell the cravings.

Buffyfest: Where do you see Angel in 20 years?

ST: Who can say? I’d like to think it will have stepped out of the BUFFY shadow even more, and gotten the acclaim it always deserved as a more serious and thought-provoking show. And if I’m lucky, maybe I’ll be writing it again…

IDW WEEK: Interview with Writer Brian Lynch

We continue IDW week with a writer who's near and dear to all of our hearts. Brian Lynch told us what happened to Angel after his famous last line, "Let's go to work." He brought Spike to new and exciting places and he introduced us to instantly beloved characters like Betta George and Beck. So, without further ado, here's the man himself, looking back at his times at IDW.

Buffyfest: What is your favorite behind the scene memory since you've been writing for the Whedonverse?

Spike: Asylum #1
Brian Lynch: I have a lot of favorite memories working on this book. From getting the job in the first place, THAT was surprising and exciting. It was followed by the pure joy of writing the first issue of SPIKE:ASYLUM, and realizing how much fun I could have with Spike. Seeing Franco Urru's first pictures of Spike, and his first pages of ASYLUM, I remember where I was, what I was doing, what time of day. The man is the best thing that ever happened to me as a Whedonverse writer. He's taken some stuff that was iffy in script form and made it epic, heartbreaking, funnier than I thought possible...he's amazing.

Joss Whedon's email saying he liked ASYLUM and wanted me to do AFTER THE FALL was a stunning moment. Everything kind of changed at that point. It all became...bigger. And it meant I got to work with my hero. That doesn't happen often. Or, really, ever.

Seeing AINT IT COOL put up pages of AFTER THE FALL and reading reader's reactions...good and bad, it was thrilling. The signing we had the day ATF # 1 came out, I was literally going from the signing to the tasting for my wedding, and then boarding a plane to see my Dad who was sick in the hospital, so that day stands out. It was also the day Chris Ryall gave me my wedding present: that stunning "Wedding Edition" ATF # 1 with new artwork by Franco and EVERYBODY'S DEAD artist Dave Crosland.

Ryall, Tipton and Brian Lynch - 2007
Emailing and hanging out with Chris and Scott Tipton. We were always friends but this experience brought us all closer. We were kinda brothers in arms for years. Doing signings with them, hanging out at San Diego Comic Con. Meeting and hearing from all the people that were excited about the series. Definite highpoints.

The perfect storm of awesomeness was going to the New York Comic Con, where we announced the SPIKE series. I not only got to hang out with Scott and Chris, but I finally met Franco in person. Dave Messina, Stephen Mooney and his lovely wife Jacintha. Stephen is another co-creator that elevates any work he touches: he gets the emotion, the impact certain moments are supposed to have...I'm just lucky to know him as a artist and a friend.

Speaking of Mooney, we did the LAST ANGEL IN HELL special together, and seriously, what other comic company would say "you want to do a movie adaptation of a movie that doesn't exist? Okay, go for it!" I'm a lucky man.

Buffyfest with the man himself - 2009
Back to New York Con...I also finally met Pat Shand (another great human being and a talented writer in his own right) and got to thank him for the endless reviews/online conversations about my comics. I also met and was interviewed by you guys at Buffyfest, so there's another friendship that was forged because of this comic. So as you can see, it changed my life in a lot of ways.

I could go on and on. Juliet Landau was great to work with (writing a character with the person who PLAYED the character, wow). Writing issues of a comic book on a movie set made up to look like an Easter Factory (never got that SPIKE/HOP crossover). Getting to know Mariah as an editor and then being amazed at her writing. Working with Scott Allie so we could ease Spike into Buffy's world. Reading reviews of my book every time it came and realizing that people really CARED about these characters like they care about family members.

So, yes, many many good memories. A few bad ones, but WOW, who knew talking to my friend Chris Ryall about doing a five issue limited series about a monster asylum would change my life like it did? I'm really grateful for the experience.

Buffyfest: Which character are you going to miss the most and why?

BL: This is a tough one. Obviously I'm going to miss writing for Angel, and Spike. I've bonded with these characters. But at the same time, the world is a weird place and who knows what will happen in the future. I'm glad for the break now, as I want to play around in other worlds, but I haven't closed the door with these guys. When I was watching ANGEL years ago, I never in a million years thought I'd be asked to continue the series, anything's possible.

Lynch's original characters, Beck & Tok
The original characters are kind of frustrating, because I had really fun next chapters for Beck, Betta George, Jeremy, Non and Tok. I had a lot to say. Doubt I'll get the chance, which is sad. Even if I ever write for Angel and Spike again, I doubt they'll be in a place where it will easy to reunite with my guys. But, who knows.

Buffyfest: Where do you see Angel in 20 years?

BL: Kansas. I'm not sure why. Kidding, I hope there are still new Angel stories being made, that's he on our side, and he's that right mixture of tortured and happy.

Thank you Brian Lynch for talking to us once again and for all you've given to the 'verse. Have a feeling we'll be seeing you around these parts again real soon.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Coming Up on IDW Week...

In case you're wondering who those mysterious names are in the writing credits of that Angel Yearbook you pick up tomorrow at your local comic shoppe, that would be our very own Bitsy a.k.a Dan Roth and super-fan Pat Shand who both had the ultimate honor of writing for the Whedonverse. A big fat congrats to them. We'll be talking to those guys later in the week along with Writer/Editor Extraordinaire Mariah Huehner, Scott Tipton, Brian Lynch, David Tischman and some other special guests. Stay tuned!

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Angel Yearbook - Exclusive Preview

Rather than the usual rundown before we share the images, let's talk about why this preview is different from what we usually do. For one, obviously, it's the last time for IDW but, more importantly, it involves a lot of different stories. We're going to show you a glimpse at three of them. We think one of them, a two-pager by Brian Lynch's, will get you very, very excited.

We're leaving some stories out of the preview, too. In particular, Scott Tipton asked us specifically to not spoil the surprise. After we had the chance to read it, it's not hard to understand why.

Chris Ryall's, Pat and Bitsy's stories all consist of two pages apiece so previewing them seems... wrong, somehow. But there will be plenty of time to talk about those later. For now, please enjoy a sneak peek at what we think is some of the best stuff IDW has ever put out. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

IDW Week Begins

Okay, so it's not much of a beginning, really.  More a "take a look at how fancy the layout for the site is", at least for now.

This coming Wednesday will mark the last ever Angel comic from IDW Publishing and, having spent a not insignificant amount of time working with them over the years, it seemed only right to send them off with an intertube party they'll never forget.

IDW was where we landed our first interview with Kelley Armstong long before Buffyfest was ever meant to be a public site.  Up until then it was just us three, goofing off and having a laugh.  IDW changed the game.  If it weren't for them, we may never have  become the most beloved and least biased Whedon news site in the universe.


We'll be showing a bit of preview art for the last issue, Angel Yearbook, and we'll have some parting words from the team that brought you Angel lo these last many years.

Stay tuned!

Smidge's 'Ringer' to Air on CW Tuesdays this Fall

So yesterday, The CW confirmed that Sarah Michelle Gellar's new drama Ringer has been picked up on the network and will be aired with 90210 on it's Tuesday night line-up. Listen, between you and me I think these CW peeps are total fanboys and so whole reason they did that was because 90210 films at Torrance High School just like Buffy did for it's Sunnydale High. A little behind-the-scenes fan-drooling, if you will.

Aaanyway, as we've previously shared, SMG will be starring as Bridget, a recovering alcoholic, who after witnessing a murder is on the run from the mob. She hides out by assuming the life of her identical-twin sister named Siobhan, who has disappeared. Bridget soon learns that Siobhan's life was drama-filled and just as problematic as the one she's trying to get away from. Poor Bridget. Smidge is playing both roles at first which is highlighted in the fab photo that The CW released today. See below for that and a few other images and a preview of our girl back in action, where we like her.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Buffyfest Interviews Elisabeth Rohm

As you all full well know, actress, writer and activist Elisabeth Rohm graced our screens as Kate in Angel's first season. We recently caught up with her and she was nice enough to give us a few minutes to chat and catch up on old times.

First and foremost, we wanted to know about how cool working on the freshman year of Angel must have been and how it was working with the cast. "Mostly I just remember how loyal and protective David was....he's such a great person...always had my back."

As far as the character of Kate, if she had remained part of the show, "She would have probably continued being much like she was, but really being an ally to Angel." Ever wonder if she received any hate mail from fans at the time who were afraid that Kate would be Angel's next blond? Rohm confirmed that luckily never happened. See? 'Shippers can be reasonable at times.

Moving on to the present, on Kate's super-skin tight outfits in the comic continuation of Angel, Rohm commented, "I love the comics! She's hotter than I was! I love that! I'm all about being a super hot action hero!"

Elizabeth Rohm is definitely a fan of the Whedonverse, too. She watches reruns of the shows and elaborates " I love Angel, Buffy and all things Joss Whedon. I'm a fan first!" Not only is she a fan of the shows, but she's also inspired by us, her fans who continue to give her support. She spoke to us about her upcoming event at Wizard Annaheim and her in-person interactions with the fan community. "I am so grateful to my fans. I am there for them and they are there for me pushing all of this forward! The fans are awesome and I count on them!" Besides fan events, she's a big fan of Twitter saying, "I love tweeting with fans. I really appreciate having a way to stay connected!"

Elizabeth has a few new projects coming out, including a thriller by John Singleton called Abduction where she shares the screen with another supernatural hottie, Twilight's favorite werewolf, Taylor Lautner. "I'm a huge fan of John Singelton," Rohm shared, "so Abduction was a personal milestone for me. John is such a master! I'm sure it's going to be a great film!"

As if she's not busy enough, she's working on her 2nd novel, Desire which is being released soon. As for the writing process, "Desire has stayed pretty close to my original thought...I hand write and then type. Very slow process!!!"

Thanks again, Elisabeth Rohm!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hey Southern California! Joss Whedon will be at CSTS Los Angeles

You heard me right! It was just announced today that Joss will be in attendance at the CSTS event on June 25th at the Harmony Gold Theater in Hollywood, USA this year. For all the left coasters out there, you'll not only get to support a good cause and win some fabulous prizes, meet some awesome Browncoats, watch Serenity and sing-along with Dr. Horrible, but this year you'll also get to hang in the same room as the man himself! I'd say that's a win/win if I ever heard one.

For more details and ticket info, check out the California Browncoat's site here.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy Birthday, Bits!!

And what a better way to celebrate than with your favorite thing... Charisma Carpenter's hiney! xoxo

Monday, May 2, 2011

Alyson Hannigan and Alexis Denisof Make '100 Hottest Couples' List

Watch out Brangelina, you're played out. Aly and Alexis both have the geek-chic thing going on, they're more current, relatable and oh, let's not forget more ginger too. Not to mention adorable Saty will know how to slay a vamp, so watch out Zahara Jolie-Pitt. When they're not hanging out at Brentwood Country Mart, they're either at the beach in Santa Monica or in the case of this week, vacating in here NYC. Check out Zimbio's top 100 Hottest couples list where the Hannigan-Denisofs sit nicely at #89.

The "Hot" couple shops on Madison Avenue in NYC this past weekend. They bought clothes for their daughter Satyana at "Alice + Olivia" and French childrenswear store" Bonpoint".
April 30, 2011 - Photo by