Spike : “A Dark Place” Victor Gischler’s interview!

23 01 2013


As I have promised earlier today, here is the interview with Victor. We talked a little bit about himself, about his work, and about the mini story that he wrote for Dark Horse Comics.

I just want to thank, again, Victor for taking the time to answer. And for doing me the honor to host the interview at my blog! And for actually replying to all those questions so fast!

And a special thanks to Stoney, Anca, Elena, Viara, Ivana and Assia, for either coming up with some questions, or for helping me think about them with all that chatting we’ve been having, so much time now :)

Spike heading to the dark side of the moon

Spike heading to the dark side of the moon


Georgia:
First of all, I want to thank you for the interview. And I’d like to start it with questions about you. I know that many of the online Buffyverse fans, myself included, hadn’t heard of you before. So, what made you decide to become a writer? And how did you jump from that to the comic industry?

Victor Gischler:
I guess I just love stories in any form. From a young age I loved novels and movies. So I wanted to be one of the guys making the magic, telling the stories. I still write novels too, but comic book work is steady and a lot of fun. My agent has good contacts in the industry and was able to get me on the phone with an editor at Marvel, so that’s how I got my feet wet with comics.

Georgia:
How hard is it for you to communicate effectively with an artist?

Victor:
Not too difficult really. I just try to be as clear and direct as possible. Also, I’ve been lucky to work with some very professional artists. They’re pretty good at understanding what I’m going for.

Georgia:
I know that it is easier for someone to write a story about a plot he’s given than thinking of what to write. But is it easier for you to write a story for a novel, or for a graphic novel?

Victor:
It’s different every time whether novel or graphic novel. Sometimes the story arrives like a gift. Other times it’s a struggle. Sometimes with comics it can be slightly harder. With a novel I can go on and on as long as I want. But with comics, the story must fit exactly into twenty-two page chunks. Pace is so important.

Is there anyone that doesn't recognize him?

Is there anyone who doesn’t recognize him?


Georgia:
I really liked your work on Spike. And I am planning on reading more of your work. In which other ways can someone support you, besides purchasing your work?

Victor:
Thanks! I feel honored I was allowed to write Spike. As far as support, I’d say that if I wrote something you liked, then talk about it — Twitter, Facebook, whatever. Writers like me live and die by word of mouth.

Georgia:
I would also like to know what is the procedure, and how a plot in somebody’s mind becomes a comic. How do you communicate with your editor? Does he actually edit your work? How do you communicate with the artist?

Victor:
Yes, editors are very important. It’s really a team effort. We’ll talk about the direction of the comic before scripting. Then after the script is written, I’ll get input. Maybe a scene is too long or too short. Maybe one of the characters is acting in a way that is inconsistent. It could be any number of things. I’m not always the best judge of my own work when I’ve just written it. The editor provides a fresh set of eyes.

Georgia:
Do you see the result before getting published? And if you don’t like some things, is it easy for you to have them changed? Maybe things that you have written and want to change them, or for example if you don’t like the way something was drawn, or if you spot an error, etc

Victor:
Mostly. Sometimes the editor handles things. Sometimes it’s me. Generally I’ll get a chance to look things over to make sure everything’s come out right. At a certain stage it’s difficult to make a change. If I see something I don’t like in pencils, usually that’s no problem. After ink and coloring it becomes more of a hassle. So catching mistakes early in the process is obviously better.

Sebastian and Frisky keeping an eye on Spike

Sebastian and Frisky keeping an eye on Spike


Georgia:
You’ve once mentioned that you met James Marsters at Wizards World in New Orleans. Do you feel that your encounter influenced your take on Spike and the way you’ve written him?

Victor:
No, not really. Except possibly in a vague way. Mr. Marsters was a hell of a nice guy, so maybe on some level that made me try harder … ?

Georgia:
Whose idea was the plot of Spike’s mini? Which elements were introduced by you and which by Scott Allie?

Victor:
Hmmm. That’s hard to say. We went back and forth a good bit and really collaborated. (Also it’s been several months.) And also we were picking up where Spike left off in the main Buffy book, so we already had our beginning. We had a spaceship. We had bugs. I do clearly remember that Scott didn’t want a 5-issue mini of Spike just getting into fights and kicking ass. It was important that we get inside Spike’s head. Although he kicks a bit of ass too. So I followed Scott’s lead on that which wasn’t a problem since I agreed it was a good way to go.

Georgia:
Was it hard to talk to 3 different people, Andrew Chambliss, Christos Gage and Scott Allie, in order to get all 3 books in order and the plots connected to one another?

Victor:
Well, no. Not a big deal. The editors really do most of the heavy lifting on that. Once or twice I’d get an email saying to change something minor because of something that was happening in another book. Those folks are pretty on the ball with that kind of thing.

Georgia:
Were there any elements that were actually introduced by Paul Lee? For example, I remember you mentioned in your blog that “To me it’s very dramatic to experience the violence indirectly. Instead of seeing what Spike is doing, we’re looking at Pearl’s reaction with a little blood splatter thrown in. Just very cool for me. Paul did a great job.”

http://victorgischler.blogspot.be/2012/10/love-that-last-panel.html?m=1

Spike saves Pearl

Spike saves Pearl

So that was Paul’s way of showing it, not your idea, right?

Victor:
It was my idea, but of course Paul must interpret and implement all of my instructions in the script, and he does a fantastic job, I don’t remember a single page that made me think Paul didn’t get what I was talking about.

His favorite cover

His favorite cover


Georgia:
What was your favorite cover of Spike’s miniseries? All 11 included.

Victor:
The one where he’s about to kiss Morgan. I think the ambiguity really captures the mood of the comic. Is he about to kiss her? Or is he pulling away? And I love the way Jenny draws both Spike and Morgan. Just top notch stuff.

Georgia:
Whose decision was to have a succubus, or a courtesan demon, as Spike’s mini female leading role? And is there actually a difference?

Victor:
Well, in the comic I mention that “succubus” is maybe a general term and “courtesan demon” is like the high end version of that. Although I don’t have a Demon Zoology degree or anything. Ha! She was my idea. I think it was important to have a female character that could have been an option for Spike … by which I mean simply an alternative. Is Spike interested? Not? Is he over Buffy enough to move on? He can muse on these notions abstractly in his own head space, but it means more if a possible alternative is standing right in front of him.

Georgia:
So, what do you believe that Spike feels about Buffy after the end of his adventure? Or how different does he feel?

Victor:
I think his feelings are more mature. I don’t want to say anything more. (Partly because I don’t know everything.) Let’s just see what (if anything) happens in season 10.

Spike and Morgan kissing

Spike and Morgan kissing


Georgia:
Are there any characters that you would have loved to write in that mini, but you didn’t get the chance because of the way the story had to take place?

Victor:
Oh, all of them. Would love to write the scoobies. I was a big fan of the show and continue to be a fan of the characters.

Georgia:
Which of the characters was the easiest to write? And which the hardest?

Victor:
I think they were all easy and hard at different times. If a scene calls for subtlety or complexity it can make it difficult to make the characters fit into the scene while still retaining the proper character traits.

Georgia:
A question that has been bothering me for a couple of months. Since Spike knew that there was no way to open a Hellmouth without magic, why did he agree to take Morgan to the Easter Island in the first place?

Victor:
A couple of things. First, Morgan was exerting her influence on him. He wanted to help her, maybe even humor her a little. (The bugs obviously suspected this.) And in my opinion, it’s hard to 100% “know” anything for sure where magic and hellmouths are concerned. Sometimes you play things by ear and hope an answer to the problem presents itself as you go along. (I think of this as “Indiana Jones Mode.”)

Landing on the Easter Island

Landing on the Easter Island


Georgia:
What happened to the Shard? I thought that it would play a major part in the main title, but the story ended and no words about it.

Victor:
We don’t say exactly, but I think we implied that there was a tiny itty bit of leftover magic in the shard which Morgan used basically used up on Easter Island. It was a gun with one bullet which was fired.

Georgia:
This may seem a little bit silly, but who will pay for Spike’s ticket back to London? (Or is that a question for Gage? haha!) Not to mention that he has no passport!

Victor:
Ha! He’s been taking care of himself for a couple hundred years. I’m not worried about his ability to hitch a ride.

Georgia:
So, at the end, the bugs from astronauts became cavemen in a way. Was that your idea and if so, why? If it wasn’t, how do you feel about it? Andrew Chambliss has said about 1,5 year ago that the bugs won’t stay long, so I’ve always known they would leave us. But cavebugs? I am sad…

Victor:
Yeah, there was some thinking in the planning stage that maybe getting the bugs and the spaceship out of harm’s way might be a small thing we could accomplish in the mini. The good news is that we know right where the bugs are if we need them again later.

Goodbye, Sebastian :(

Goodbye, Sebastian :(


Georgia:
In the summer of 2011, Jane Espenson wrote a Spike webcomic. The narrator of Spike’s life with the bugs was Irene. That bug unfortunately got turned into a “bug-zompire” and was dusted by Buffy. Now, the second bug that managed to get attached to the fans, also has a tragic death. More heroic, but still tragic. Why were you so cruel to us? Because I am sure that that was your idea, not Allie’s

Victor:
Yes, I’m the bastard who made that decision. The thing is that it made me feel sad too. That’s how I knew it was the right decision. I think a good story invites you to touch on multiple emotions. We had some good laughs, and we also had some people fiercely dislike Morgan. You can’t kill a character in every issue of a comic just to get an emotional reaction … but you can once in a while.

Georgia:
I have to admit that Spike’s attitude annoyed me at the end. First of all he seemed too friendly to Morgan. That “sod off” should have come earlier! And then the bugs. I was neutral about them before, but you made me love them. But I almost disliked Spike for the way he treated them. They were mostly his pets. They kept on sacrificing themselves to save him, but he didn’t even share a tear for Seb or for their future well-being. Why was Spike written like that?

Sebastian the Leader!

Sebastian the Leader!


Victor:
Annoyed? Sorry about that. Treating the bugs in a shabby way is something I inherited from previous stories. So it continued in the mini. I do think Spike shows his appreciation for the bugs in his own way. I don’t think shedding a tear in this situation is Spike’s style. But he does pause meaningfully and acknowledge them toward the end. I think the emotion is there … just low key.

Georgia:
Are there any plans that you may come back for Season 10? Scott Allie wrote at the letter column of Spike’s #5 that he hopes to also have you back for next season.

Victor:
I hope that too, but nothing is certain yet. Fingers crossed.

Georgia:
What are you working on now? And what are your future plans? I can’t wait to read about the Cyborg Ninja French Maid! (That’s a joke, :))

Victor:
Hey, Cyborg Ninja French Maid started as a joke … but anything could happen. I actually have 4 creator-owned comics at different stages, but it’s too soon to share details. Currently scripting my final issue of THE SHADOW for Dynamite Comics which has been cool, pulpy fun.
And I’m writing an epic fantasy novel that I’m pretty excited about.

Georgia:
Thanks!

Victor:
No problem!


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15 responses

23 01 2013
Elena

Thank you for the great interview. These questions are exactly the ones I wanted to ask. And – your reference to cavemen and astronauts was really bittersweet.

23 01 2013
norwie

Thanks for the interview. Good luck to the both of you. :)

23 01 2013
Veiriti

Great interview! Thanks for doing it, Georgia! And thanks to Victor for the answers. I hope we will see him on Season 10 again. And I’m really interested on the fantasy novel he is writhing. I’m not a comic book reader (I only read the Buffy’s comics, because of the show) so I would love to read his novel.

23 01 2013
Stoney

Ach, he seems such a nice bloke, thanks for doing this. :)

Let’s hope we get to see him write Spike and the Scoobs in S10!!

24 01 2013
anca

Congrats on your first (?) interview and thanks to Mr Gischler for his answers and his take on the character.

24 01 2013
cil_domney

Terrific interview – it answered so many questions that I had about the mini and this final issue. Congratulations and Best Wishes to you with your blog. Well Done. Thanks for bringing in the passing of Seb and the treatment for how Spike reacts. I finally came up with the “emotion is there but the writer was going for low key” and I am happy to see that Mr. Gischler described it in similar way.

I really enjoyed the Spike mini – thanks again for this informative interview.

24 01 2013
Carrie

Thankyou for the interview and thankyou to Victor for his answers. I was someone else who was upset by Spike’s muted reaction to the heroic sacrifice of Sebastian and his crew, so it was good to see the question asked. I don’t think that Spike has always treated the bugs shabbily. He didn’t when Jane wrote the webcomic and he treated them with care in Brian’s series. I respect Victor’s answer, but for me more was needed and this has affected by enjoyment of the series. Spike has always been an emotional character and I think that he should have been a little less friendly with the person who indirectly caused the bugs to lose their home and their future.

24 01 2013
ophelia

Cavemen win. Of course the cavemen win.

24 01 2013
_Buffy_

Thank you Georgia !

24 01 2013
_Buffy_

I absolutely agree with this quote : …”I don’t think shedding a tear in this situation is Spike’s style. But he does pause meaningfully and acknowledge them toward the end. I think the emotion is there … just low key…” – I feel the same when Spike hold the bug ” hand”. He didn’t find the words easy . Poor Sebastian and poor spaceship. But for my surprise, IMO Spike liked Morgan in the end. Ewww. .

26 01 2013
_Buffy_

IMO Victor said wrong Spike age, LOL. He said : ….” He’s been taking care of himself for a couple hundred years. I’m not worried about his ability to hitch a rid…….”. But Spike was turned into vampire in 1850 so his age has to be 163 years by now.

29 01 2013
1701EarlGrey

Sorry to, litter your blog Georgia, but since I was permanently banned form slayalive because I have an opinion, then I will share with you last conversation I had with great censor Wenxina. You can decide who’s right.

If she accepted Buffy gig then she would accept every change in appearance, required form her. How can you know how SMG’s contract looked like? How can you know that she agreed on certain things and disgared on others? For exemple I don’t think that anywere in her contract there was plece when was written: “six years in the show, you will have simulated sex with James Marsters, during those scenes you will be taken from behind in public.” Both SMG and Marsters said that they strongly disliked those scenes, that they feel degraded and they both asked Joss to change those scenes. He didn’t, yet they recreated those scenes. Why? Because they were obligated to. What actors want is mostly irrelevant. So if don’t you have some evidence to support claim that SMG’s contract protected her form hair loss, then I will not believe you.

That’s not always true. This is highly subjective what someone find attractive. There was plenty of Hollywood stars who had short hair in one point in their career: Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, Sharon Stone, Milla Jovovich, Demi Moore, Meg Ryan, Winona Ryder, Julia Roberts, etc. sometimes role even require for actress to have short hair, like in case of Jolene Blalock. You have any evidence to support claim that movies when those ladies had short hair sold less tickets?

Yes, it does because I proven that Buffy never had her hair damaged in a fight. Also you cliamed that Severin could be physically stronger than anything that Buffy ever faced before but you didn’t prove that. And this is not Siphon vs. Glory but IMO Glory would easily win: Glory would use superspeed, and before Severin could lay a hand on her, she would punch off his head like she did with BuffyBot.

Why not? Prove him wrong! And who said that all Slayers give up at this same time? They only said that no Slayers lived pass 25, they didn’t say that they all died at this same age!

Well, no. We have symptom, but we don’t know what is the cause of “disease”? You need actual evidence that cause is in fact ageing. And you see that’s not good writing when you don’t know answer to a question why she is so incompetent, and instead you have to speculate. So far I readed at least three different explanations: she is depressed, she don’t have help from her friends, now: she is getting old. But you see, those all are just made up answers, we don’t know realy why she is off her game. And not “seemingly”, it’s a fact – she never was so useless in TV show. And you know I also can make something up… let’s see: she subconsciously want to punish herself for destroying the Seed! That must be it… oh, wait no, I think that it’s just bad writing.

No it’s not. My point is that in TV show she was never beaten down so often, she never needed rescue so often and in almost every episode there was a scene when she was portrayed as resourceful and skilled fighter. There are not scenes like this in comics. Again compare season 9 to season 5: in five she defeated Dracula, defeated Harmony and her gang and saved Dawn, defeated snake demon, defeated extraterrestrial demon, defeated huge troll, defeated Watcher when she was blindfolded, defeated a lot of knights, dusted bunch of vampires in “Into the woods”, defeated bunch of demons in “Family” etc. And what she did in season 9? Well, let’s see: she dusted few zompires – something that even 16 years old can do – and she lost her arm in the process. Oh, yes I’m immensely impressed with her! And it’s not only about combat skills, can you imagine that TV show Buffy would be so stupid that she would trust complete stranger who wanted to be vampire? Or that after she was betrayed by him she would immediately trust some stranger demon? And that she would not take a range weapon to fight a guy who can kill with a touch? No, way she wasn’t stupid on the show!

No, I think that he will burn her hair if he have Matchstick demon powers. But like I said I don’t like this idea because for me connotations are quite clear. I guess that we must agree to disagree, because for me it’s obvious what they are doing.

Suppositions about him as a person? No. Suppositions about him as a writer? Yes. I think that as a writer he don’t like or can’t write woman. I would change my mind if I was proven wrong. And c’mon don’t give this it is argumentum ad personam because it isn’t – I’m talking about writer, not a person!

29 01 2013
leykimayri

Hi, there

I’ve hard a hard time understanding the comment, mostly because, well, I don’t read what’s posted in SA. It took me some time to get that in parts you’re quoting someone else. As for who’s right and who’s wrong, to have a better opinion I must go there and read the whole conversation you guys have had, and I’m really not in the mood of doing that.

As long as you agree with the mods’ opinions there, you’re fine as a user. The minute you start disagreeing, you either have to stop it or you’ll get banned. I wonder how you didn’t get that the last time you got banned.

This time I’ll leave the comment, mostly out of respect for the time you’ve wasted to write it down. But next time, please, I’d appreciate it not to bring discussions started in other forums/blogs, when not all the users in question post in my blog, so their point of view can’t be heard. And especially in a post, like Victor’s interview, that has nothing to do with what Jeanty said about Buffy’s hair, or with how Chambliss writes Buffy, or with speculations about the main title. This post and comments are dedicated to Victor’s interview. At least that is my wish :)

29 01 2013
1701EarlGrey

OK, like I said I’m sorry that I posted this here but I don’t want this to be lost. That’s my responses to Wenxina. I wanted to publish this for people to see, because he delete this post. I hate censorship.

As for interview itself it’s good. Any plans to interview some other authors of Buffyverse comics?

Anyhow thank you for your understanding.

29 01 2013
leykimayri

There is an interview with Christos Gage coming up, probably tomorrow, if we both have the time to do it on time :)

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