Boom!’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel comic book series have been giving fans a fresh take on the popular universe, with familiar characters and settings slightly revamped for a new audience. Now the publisher is set to release Hellmouth #1 this week, the first-ever Buffy/Angel event that will cause aftershocks in both comics going forward.
Written by Jordie Bellaire (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Jeremy Lambert (Doom Patrol), the five-issue series features art by Eleonora Carlini (Saban’s Go Go Power Rangers). There is a main cover by Jenny Frison (Wonder Woman), along with a variant cover by illustrator and movie poster artist Kyle Lambert (Stranger Things) and one by Kelly and Nichole Matthews (R.L. Stine’s Just Beyond) that connects to Angel #5 and Buffy The Vampire Slayer #8, the issues that set up the plot for the event book.
The Beat chatted with Bellaire and Lambert about their take on the world of Buffy and the Scoobies, and what fans can expect when they enter the Hellmouth.
Deanna Destito: Are you a Buffy fan from the beginning (even the film!) or did you jump into the universe later?
Jordie Bellaire: I have a sweet place in my heart for the film! Me and Jeremy were just talking about this. We got into it late. I got into it in college actually, but that was fine because it worked out for me. And then I started Angel right when I hit 22 and everything just hit me so hard. I thought Jeremy was a long lifer, but he just told me that he really got back into Buffy and continued it because I wouldn’t shut up about it.
Jeremy Lambert: It’s true. I watched standalone episodes, really six or seven maybe, because my friends would have it on when I was over there. I’d say in 2013, Jordie kept pushing on Buffy, and it wasn’t a hard sell. I watched the first season and then completely devoured the remaining six seasons. It had such an effect on me. I had my holy trinity of stories, and Buffy just unseated everything. I experienced Buffy at a time I needed it most, and it was definitely one of those formative stories that felt like I was twelve and I was discovering everything for the first time. Sort of like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter. Those things that just completely changed how I viewed storytelling and stories.
Bellaire: I wish I had it when I was 14 or 13. But I didn’t. But I’m glad that I did come to it. And I cried my body weight in tears and felt all the emotions. It’s quite a ride, it’s so good.
Destito: In general the retelling has taken a few twists and turns from the original Buffy canon. Why do you think old fans will be okay with it?
Bellaire: I was really concerned about it, to be honest. I went out for dinner with [editor] Jeanine [Schaefer] and Jeremy, before Jeremy was actually going to be on Hellmouth. I was already on Buffy, and said I’m terrified people are going to hate me. I’m terrified people are going to send me death threats. I’m scared people are going to be mad…but I feel like we’re trying so hard to make it good ‘cause Jeanine is a massive Buffy nerd, and everyone involved has all nerded out to me. Everyone has their own piece in this project, and I just don’t feel like anyone would let it fall apart even if it’s going against canon. We all care so much about it. Clearly it’s something that causes me a lot of anxiety still because I want to do right by readers and I want to do right by the fans of the original show. I want to do right by my own love for it. But I feel like everyone on board is so in love with it. I don’t feel like we’re going to screw it up because we love it so so much. We really do.
Destito: Let’s talk about Hellmouth. What can you share?
Lambert: What’s really interesting about this, and going off what Jordie said, is not necessarily the reverence and staying true to all of the things that the characters would do as the show would have them do it. It’s a completely different ballgame now. And so much of that heavy lifting was completely done in both Buffy and Angel by the time I came in for Hellmouth. It’s just getting a level playing field, getting the ground right for who these characters are here and now. Taking Xander as an example alone, if you’re familiar with Xander’s arc in Jordie’s Buffy run, it is such an exciting take because it really starts opening up the world and the possibilities of what you can do in Hellmouth. And in Hellmouth, shit’s hitting the fan right off the bat. We’re starting in medias res. We’re starting right at the drop of a prior issue of Buffy. It’s just hellacious chaos.
Lambert (cont.): Getting to work with Buffy and Angel in the middle of that right from the get-go is extremely fun because you’re also introducing these characters to each other for the first time. So it’s just a very different Buffy and a very different Angel from what people are expecting coming together in the midst of all this madness. And there’s not much of a history there. Angel doesn’t get to be that slick guy that’s just creepily around the corner. How he and Buffy met in the show, saying he was a friend and all that. It’s a completely different setup with where this comic is going. You’re subverting so much of characters’ expectations for themselves as well as people’s expectations of those characters.
Destito: How has it been working with the creative team?
Lambert: For me with Eleanora and Cris Peter, our colorist, it’s been just incredible for me to see it. There’s such a dynamic, frenetic element to the art, especially with character work and things like that. Having an action sequence while still having so much room for emotion is something I’ve been really impressed with, with Eleanora’s work, because it’s something I didn’t quite expect to happen. So much of it from Eleanora’s perspective might not even be in the script that she’s brought to the table. Amid the madness you have to feel for these people.
Bellaire: They’re amazing. The artist is just doing amazing work. There’s such an energy, and it’s so dynamic and it feels really epic while taking the time to have emotional beats. When writing these scripts we’re thinking in our head what the school looks like and what Giles’ house looks like, and as writers and viewers of the show we take for granted what these artists are doing, actually building these sets again and making them look like Sunnydale High and making it look like Giles’ house. And the likenesses? It’s a tough gig but they’re killing it. As for Cris Peter, the colorist, I’m a very big fan of hers. As a colorist to colorist, I was so excited to find out we had her on the book.
Bellaire (cont.): I just love that this book has a lot of women involved. I’m so happy to see that. Aside from Jeremy, and I love you Jeremy, there’s a lot of women getting in there and telling this story in a different way. All of our input and all of the different experiences that we all have come together to create something that is hopefully quite profound and a little different from what it might have been before.
Destito: How will it affect the universe going forward?
Lambert: Jordie can speak more to this than I can, but really I’m just coming in like a wrecking ball and then leaving. Here ya go, guys!
Bellaire: I think there’s going to be a lot of things that have to shift around inevitably. I don’t want to say what we have in mind for how it ends, but important decisions are going to have to be made, important character developments happen. People are going to have to choose sides, choose where they want to be, choose who they want to be with. Pretty important stuff that I think will shift the tone. Jeremy, I don’t know if he talked to Jeanine about it, but he told me about a really great little spinoff series that he can create out of Hellmouth, and I loved the idea. I told him to please tell Jeanine about it, and he hasn’t and now it’s on the record. And now we can all make sure he tells Jeanine. His idea is really good and it needs to exist in the world.
Destito: Favorite characters?
Bellaire: Anya! Why am I taking my time? Anyaka forever!
Lambert: It’s tough for me, but honestly Fred plays a huge role. Fred has really been wonderful. The most boring answer in the world is Buffy.
Bellaire: Look, man, if you love the hero there ain’t nothing wrong with that. She’s conflicted. She’s complex, she’s brilliant.
Lambert: The real answer is probably Giles. Giles has definitely been a role model. How much tweed can I buy?
Bellaire: He’s not joking, for the record. If you ever met Jeremy in person you would know 1000% that Giles is not only a style icon but also…
Lambert: ….my icon.
Hellmouth #1 will be available on October 9 at local comic book shops and at the BOOM! Studios webstore. Digital copies can be purchased from comiXology, iBooks, Google Play, and the BOOM! Studios app. Head to the publisher’s website for updates.