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'Buffy' still ignites controversy as Jane Espenson defends her Riley comic

RileyThere 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."

Not sure if the Riley issue is included, but if you're not into reading, the Buffy motion comic book is available on iTunes.

— Jevon Phillips

Photo: Dark Horse comics

Comments () | Archives (6)

While I was never a fan of Riley, he was an important character. A lot of people hated Dawn too, but if there is one thing I've found in my academic pursuit of Buffy studies, it is that there is someone who will defend a much hated character to the ends of the earth and back.

I don't see why people should be mad that they are having a chance to see more about a character they never loved or never understood - this is a chance to learn more, so I will embrace it.

I liked Riley. I kind of thought that he should have been left as an ordinary, rather than go with the vitamins stuff to be supper strong, but he had definition as to what is ordinary about a guy.

Not much for the military aspect of the character either.

Riley exsisted to suggest that love can be found in anyone. Even if you're a Slayer.

I never particularly liked Riley, but he was a nice enough guy; he just seemed a bit square, like there wasn't enough to him - I mean I know he was actually 'Special Agent Finn' but his personality wasn't that explored and he was just a funny, average guy. It'd be interesting to know more...although I don't like his wife much either, I thought she was gonna end up evil in that episode. I think Riley would've been loved on other shows, maybe if he was cuter, but in comparison to Angel and Spike it just made Riley seem dull and ordinary. But maybe he's not, so I'll read on...and speaking of the three types of Buffy watchers, I fall in to the category of 'those who are now discovering it.' Or more like 'those who have just discovered it.' I love it. :)

while i was never a fan of riley,he is an important character. A lot of people hated Dawn too,but if there is one thing i've found out in my pursit of buffy studies,it is that there is someone who will defend a much hated character to the ends of the earth and back.

riley existed to suggest that love can be found in anyone.Even if you're a slayer.

i felt that no one gave riley a chance as they prefer angel more i could understand that as i am a big fan of angel which is probably why most people who watch buffy disliked him.

For the record: TV shows have been "carying on" in comic books since the beginning of television. F-Troop, Mod Squad, Dobie Gillis... I doubt there was a show on in the 60's that didn't get the comic book treatment. So Buffy wasn't the "first" and certainly isn't the "only".

@Dimetri. You are quite right about other TV shows being made in comic book form. Heck, in the 50s and beyond "Gunsmoke," "Have Gun Will Travel," "Family Affair," "I Love Lucy," "Bewitched" and even "Beverly Hillbillies" were just some of the shows that got the treatment. Even "Xena" is a more recent example. But, and I'd have to go back and look really carefully to see, no one (or very few) actually continued their seasons -- like Season 8 -- in the books. Obviously, it's just a gimmick, but with shows being as serialized as they are now, "Buffy" kept the story going and continued from where the show left off, utilizing many of the same writers. "Heroes" did a bit of that afterwards, too.


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