'Buffy' still ignites controversy as Jane Espenson defends her Riley comic
There are three types of TV watchers: those who were obsessed with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," those who weren't, and those who are just now discovering it. The show created an intense attachment — apparently not just among fans but also the cast and the crew.
"Buffy" may have gone off the air in 2003, but it didn't exactly end there. It became one of the first (the only?) television series to carry on in comic book form, allowing the obsessed to keep tabs on the denizens of the Buffyverse.
Some of the comics (published by Dark Horse) were written by Buffy creator Joss Whedon and other writers from the original series, and in recent years they followed the storyline into a Season 8 (the TV show ended at Season 7), in which fans could watch Willow mature as a witch, Giles and Faith bond over their pursuit of a delusional slayer, and Buffy "experiment" with a fellow female slayer, Satsu.
Recently, a standalone issue was written by Jane Espenson, currently an exec producer on Syfy's "Caprica" and a longtime "Buffy" fan favorite for writing many of that show's memorable episodes spotlighting Buffy's fourth-season boyfriend, Riley Finn. Riley was never the most popular of characters — pretty much a bridge between Angel and Spike — and there was puzzlement as to why he would merit his own comic. Apparently the chatter became widespread enough, and the anti-Riley voices loud enough, that Espenson had to respond:
"A one-shot is a lot of work. It requires panel appearances of up to six per page, page after page. Sometimes there are difficult and complex stunts involved, and unlike on television, in a comic book the character’s face is almost always clearly visible during the shooting, jumping, falling, or being blown up."
Though it was all in fun as she referred to the characters as actual actors who now work in the panels of comic books (get that?), it suggests the bond between the members of the Buffyverse is as strong as ever. Espenson ended by defending the comic book and the character.
"... Obviously, there will be one-shot appearances for other characters in other seasons. But this is Riley’s turn. He’s put in the work and he’s ready to show you what he’s got. Riley . . . sir . . . please take the center stage. It is your time."
— Jevon Phillips
Photo: Dark Horse comics