Angel & Faith has a much darker feel than Buffy Season 9: it’s almost gothic noir at times. To what extent does the location, London, change the dynamic of this story from that of Buffy?
Christos Gage: Joss very much wanted London to be a character in the series. I’ve tried to make that happen as best I can, seeing as it’s been about 25 years since I’ve seen it! Fortunately, Rebekah just went, so that helps a lot.
Rebekah Isaacs: London is such an amazing, densely layered city that oozes with atmosphere. Just a few silhouettes of chimneyed rooftops alone is enough to lend a panel an eerie noir vibe. Obviously it’s a modern city and not every inch of the city is like that, but there’s still a lot of it! And even in the newer construction areas there are just so many nooks and areas shadows can hide in a night scene – perfect for a story that involves demon fight clubs and nefarious supernatural goings-on. I’m just striving to include as much of that as I can, and it’s an ongoing process to get my backgrounds up to snuff with reality. The photo reference I got on my trip this autumn has been invaluable. I wish I’d had it from the start of the series!
Angel’s goal is to find a way to bring back Giles but when Buffy was brought back at the beginning of Season 6 of the television series she was actually rather dismayed. Is this something that you see being raised in the story?
CG: Yes, definitely. I can’t say more without getting into spoiler territory.
Christos, your dialogue, particularly for Faith, is absolutely spot on. How much time did you spend watching the TV show before starting to script this series? Do you refer back to the show as you write?
CG: I watched all episodes of both Buffy and Angel over the course of about a year, so hopefully the voices are a bit instinctive at this point. I generally don’t refer back to the show nowadays unless I need to reference a specific episode or I’m bringing in a character I’m not used to writing. For example, when I wrote Harmony and Clem in issue #5, I watched several episodes with them over again so I could really get used to how they talk.
Rebekah, you’ve done an amazing job of capturing the look and body language of the characters. Is it more difficult work from an actor’s likeness than drawing directly from your own imagination? Did you spend a lot of time watching the shows to get it just right?
RI: Only at first, but once I got the general features down for the two main actors it wasn’t too difficult any more. When we introduce new characters, though, such as Drusilla in this next arc, there’s always a bit of a new learning curve for the first few pages or so. I did study the shows quite a bit at first, but haven’t much lately. I find I have a good register of others’ facial expressions, and I’m one of those people who unconsciously will mimic the other person’s expressions in a conversation (sometimes with awkward results) – but I think it helps with building a mental catalogue of how an actor emotes.
Rebekah, the Buffy universe has always been a melting pot of horror, comedy and drama, which is something you really capture in all your panels. When you’re designing the pages how do you plan all the little details that make the art so rich?
RI: I just try to keep the pages interesting for me to draw, with fun details, or a certain type of architecture I’ve been wanting to take a stab at, and I find that that translates to a page that’s interesting to read. I actually try to not plan too much beyond the basic compositions – if I have to sketch, draw, and ink the exact same lines they start to get boring, and that makes for a bland, static, or rushed page.
Faith has grown and changed an awful lot as a character since her introduction to the Buffy universe in Season 3. How do you see her continuing to change in the future?
CG: Answering that would give away what we’ve got in store!
It’s hard to imagine that Angel can really come back from what he did as Twilight even if he does bring Giles back from the dead. To what extent is his determination and desperation fuelled by the knowledge that his actions are very possibly unforgiveable?
CG: That’s kind of always been the case. I think the difference now is that he’s atoning not for what he did as Angelus but for what he did as himself…even when he wasn’t in control of himself as Twilight, he entered into that situation by choice, unlike when Darla sired him. I think his focus on Giles comes from the feeling that he killed a man who gave him every chance and forgave some horrible things, like Angelus killing Jenny Calendar. Angel feels like Giles is his ultimate victim, and if he can just bring him back, it’s a sign, however small, that his presence on Earth is not irredeemably and inevitably a bad thing.
The title, Live Through This, implies a level of powerlessness and a situation that just has to be endured. Buffy’s destruction of The Seed has left the magical community in an almost post-apocalyptic state and Angel is personally struggling to come to terms with his own part in those events. How do these events inform Angel & Faith?
CG: I think Season 9 is informed a great deal by the events of Season 8. Hopefully we can look ahead at the same time, though. Great upheaval almost always forces people to grow and change. For me “Live Through This” refers both to having to live through a traumatic event or series of events, as well as they idea of finding a reason to live …for instance, Angel’s reason for living, right now, is to bring Giles back. That’s what he’s living through, when he probably feels like he’d rather lie down and die.
In the case of a crossover between Buffy Season 9 and Angel & Faith, what would you enjoy most about the opportunity to use most of the original cast together?
CG: Getting to write the characters I don’t normally, like Xander and Spike and Buffy. All Joss’ characters have such distinctive voices, each one’s an adventure in themselves!
RI: Definitely Spike! (No offence to my boy Angel, I love them both equally but for different reasons of course!)