Here’s our great chat with Scott Allie, Senior Managing Editor for Dark Horse Comics. We discuss Buffy, the concept of “Transmedia”, working with Joss Whedon and Guillermo Del Toro and realistically registering earth shattering events in the BPRD (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense).
Blake Howard: What’s the title that the most people approach you about as the Senior Managing Editor for Dark Horse Comics?
Scott Allie: The thing that most people probably approach me about is Buffy the vampire slayer
BH: It’s a huge geek property that’s lived on 2 seasons in comic book form since the series finished.
SA: We’re in the middle of series 9 right now.
BH: Is it weird to transfer completely from one medium to another with the same set of characters and the same kind of rules?
SA: Yeah, you know that’s why I read comics from other publishers just to kind of read what they’re up to and how they do it because I think it is kind of fascinating to go from TV to comics. We were doing the Buffy comic back when the show was still on the air and that was one kind of job but that was a much different job than what we’re doing today. That was sort of like on the sideline, trying not to get in the way of the show. Trying to be true and keep up with the show and it was a real different dance. I spent days with Joss and there was one point where we pitched a story that got approved while the story was still running and then I mentioned it to Joss and he said “Oh, well that’s kind of what we’re going to do in Season 7.” We had scripts written that we had to scratch because they were kind of similar to what he was going to do season 7 of the show. Working under his direction and knowing what we’re doing is canonical it’s a real different thing; but in any case the trick really is taking what works best about the TV show and trying to make it work in a totally different medium. There are a lot of quirks about Joss’ particular story-telling sense with actors that doesn’t translate a 100%. I was lucky to have a lot experience with joss doing the Fray an 8 issue series with an artist called Karl Moline. I probably learned more about his story telling sense than while we were doing Fray than any other time up until the point we co-wrote the end of Season 8 together
BH: And what’s it like now carrying on the Serenity stories and complimenting the show and movie? Is it harder to do because they had such a short run or is it easier because you’ve got less of those tropes that you have to follow?
SA: It’s harder for a number of reasons, I can’t think of a reason where it’s easier actually. One of which is what you say – that there’s less material for you to base it on. There’s 7 years of Buffy TV you can see how the characters acting and with Serenity there’s clearly much less. There’s a lot of different challenges with Serenity and one of them is there’s a real core cast and there’s a particular way that they interact with each other and at the end of the movie he killed two of them off. And so to go past the movie you have to sort of come up with a new status quo. To carry forward and we had to do that with him he had another story that he wanted to tell with Buffy and that gave us a clear direction for Season 8 and for season 9 but I don’t think he’s been as clear with Serenity; which is why there’s been so much less comic book output.
BH: Is it a weird environment for comics now because they’re so intertwined with televisual and film property? Say for example with Marvel having their own studio and carte blanche over most of their property is it a weird environment to know that you’re potentially crossing-over media.
SA: Yeah it’s very weird the whole notion of “TRANSMEDIA” and what that means is very strange. When I started doing Buffy comic in ’98 there wasn’t this sense of interconnectedness that has happened in the last 10 years or so and there are so many different pressures on you in terms of expectations. It’s actually hard to describe all the ways that it is weird the way that different media bleeds together now the other comic book adaptations of Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain trilogy and Guillermo is primarily a filmmaker and this is a novel and we’re doing the comic one can only assume that at some point Guillermo will make it into a film or a cable series or something. Worrying about all of these things can be a real headache for a storyteller. So it is really nice when you can focus in on the one medium and do it the best you can.
BH: In your capacity as Senior Managing Editor for Dark Horse Comics can you tell us a little bit about the whispers online of the BPRD (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) adaptation going into some kind of film or television property?
SA: Well you know there were 2 Hellboy movies by Guillermo there’s been all sorts of talk about a BPRD TV show or a BPRD movie. I don’t know where’s its at right now and I don’t know that Mignola is paying too much attention to it right now. But that’s one where we are really doing our thing in that comic right now. We’re destroying the world a little bit at a time. We’re changing the status quo in a way that in a year from now BPRD will be unrecognisable from what it was a year ago. That’s the kind of change and instability that’s great for a story great freedom for telling the story and that’s hard to do when people are saying what’s the movie going to be like what’s the TV show going to be like what are the lunch boxes going to be like …[LAUGHS]
When everybody is focused on telling the story in all this different media, the story suffers. So with BPRD and with Hellboy we’re just doing what we’re doing and if any other media wants to exploit that, great, because it’s really good for selling comics. It’s good to let the story roam where it’s going to roam and not have to worry about where it’s going to go in other media. But yeah about BPRD lots of stuff is coming down the pipe. Characters are going to die and characters are going to transform to unrecognisable and completely different characters and we are rapidly heading towards the end of the world. In regular comic books earth shattering events happen all the time. Alien invasions, Galactus comes down to New York but then everything goes back to normal so they can do it all over again a year later. What we’re doing with BPRD, we feel like is more realistic approach to earth shattering events is that you don’t just get to hit the restart button.
BH: Are you looking forward to Oz Comic Con? Have you ever been to Australia before?
SA: I’ve never been to Australia and I’m really looking forward to it. I haven’t been out of the country for a long time and I’ve never been this far from home so I’m very excited.
BH: Scott thank you so much for your time and we’re all looking forward to seeing the consequences of your earth shattering events and the outcome of Buffy Season 9.
OFFICIAL OZ COMIC CON BIO HERE.
Scott’s OFFICIAL SITE.
Blake Howard - follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman