English 430: Literature & the Visual Arts

October 29, 2009

The Buffy Universe

Filed under: Online Reports,Uncategorized — cja4 @ 3:12 pm

Joss Whedon is an American writer, director, occasional actor, and executive producer. He was born on June 23, 1964 in New York City and was raised in Manhattan with his mother and two brothers. He got his bachelor degree at Wesleyan University in film studies.

One of his most popular television shows is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Whedon also created Angel (A Buffy spin off), Firefly, and recently Dollhouse. Besides writing for television, he has also written for film. For most of the shows he has created he has written a comic book to go along with it.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer show is about a girl who struggles with her every day life and being a vampire slayer. The show was first aired in 1997 and lasted until 2003. After that Whedon decided there was more about Buffy he wanted to write about it. He started the Buffy the Vampire Slyer comic book in 2007.  The comic book takes place where the show ended. After the destruction of Sunnydale (the town Buffy lived in) Buffy is now considered a terrorist by the U.S. government for destroying Sunnydale.

The literature in the comic heavily reference the show as does the visual art. Many of the comic book characters( including Buffy) resemble the actors that originally played them on the television series. Whedon is heavily influenced by comic books on his works. He says his inspiration for Buffy is Kitty from X-men.


The visual shows Buffy leaping over buildings like any other comic book hero as is the classic comic book style. It shows the protagonist to be large than life. Whedon says that in comic books “They can recreate the characters, concepts and emotions, and just put that on a grander scale”.  In comic books there no limits on what the character can do while in television there are many. For instance, there is a budget the series needs to maintain, and the technology might not be available to do certain things.


Whedon also wants the characters from the comic book to be recognizable to the readers.   The visual art of the character in the comic book resemble the actors who played them. For example Buffy played by Sarah Michelle Gellar.

The comic book images are from Wolves at the Gate written by Drew Goddard and the artists are George Jeanty, Andy Owens, and Michelle Madsen. Each of images captures the essence of Buffy the television series into the comic book It’s important to Joss Whedon that the artists and writers to capture the look and style of the show.

Drew Goddard has written for a couple of Buffy episodes. He is familiar how the dialogue on the televisions series works. By having knowledge of the show he can create dialogue that fits the writing style of the series. The visual artists have worked in previous Buffy comic book issues and understand the visual look and style both the show and comic book.

Buffy 4Buffy vs Dracula

The mythology of Buffy is still being transcended from the show to the comic book. In season five, Buffy encountered with Dracula. The comic book captures the visual of Dracula portrayed by Rudolf Martin. During the episode Buffy vs. Dracula Xander(one of Buffy’s friends) was made a servant to Dracula and he would call him master. The relationship between Dracula and Xander was used mainly for comedic effect and to show how Dracula has power over people. The same happens in the comic book when Xander and Dracula meet, Xander automatically calls him master. The comic book uses humor from television series in the dialogue.

Buffy needs Dracula’s help in Wolves at the Gate because she needs to find a group of vampires with similar powers to Dracula. Dracula isn’t like most vampires. He doesn’t have demonic face like the original vampires do and he looks more human. He is able to turn to fog and into a wolf. It is here the show meets a pop culture icon, Dracula, instead of changing that icon completely he is used to add to the mythology of the show that is continued in the comic.

Buffy talking

The whole earth may be sucked into hell, and you want my help ’cause your girlfriend’s a big ‘ho? Well, let me take this opportunity to not care.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series Becoming part 2

The conversation Buffy is having in the comic book talking about her previous boyfriends and other characters in the show. The show is not separate from the comic book. Buffy’s dialogue shows her rambling on about her previous relationship. Someone who hasn’t seen the show might not get the joke. In order to get the comic book one needs to know Buffy’s seven year history on the television show. She is referring to her first boyfriend Angel who was a vampire. She had to kill him because he turned evil and he got sucked into hell. Her second boyfriend Riley Finn left town because he thought Buffy didn’t love him.

Joss Whedon likes to make reference in most episodes to an earlier episode. He also does that in the comic book by referring Buffy’s previous relationships and Dracula returning.

Buffy season1Buffy 2 (2)


The scythe is a significant item for Buffy. She gets it in the end of the final season seven. With the help of her best friend, Willow she uses the scythe to turn every girl who might be a potential slayer into a vampire slayer. It becomes a signature trademark for Buffy and still used through the comic book series. Whedon tries to stay connected to the show as much as possible, also trying something new with the comic book. Buffy is seen different in the show than she does on the comic book. In the television series Buffy is constantly shown with a stake in her hand. Whedon is trying to give Buffy a new identity by making her more powerful with the scythe. The scythe is symbolic of her final rite of passage into adulthood. In the comic book readers can see the after math of her owning the scythe. She is no longer a teenage girl who is trying to find her place as a slayer and teenager dealing with school and family. She is now a woman who accepted her calling.

Buffy 5 (2)

Since it’s a graphic novel the comic book is allowed to show more gruesome scenes than in television. For instance, a vampire feeding on a girl  in the comic book uses more graphic images when compared to the television series. The television series writers have to be more cautious because of the censors. In the comic book Whedon has more freedom to what he can do. He can demonize a vampire like he does here. The vampire grabs the victim and there is a close up of the fangs before he will bite her. The comic uses onomatopoeic word “shillicck” to show the reader the vampire killed the girl. In the television show a vampire feeding would just show the victim going down. The comic book not only shows a close up of the vampire’s fangs, but it also shows blood squirting everywhere alongside the writing that is also blood red and seems to be an extension of the victims own blood.

Here are some links to other comic books Joss Whedon also is working on and his autobiography.




Works Cited

“Joss Whedon.” http://www.imdb.com/. Amazon. Web. 20 Oct. 2009.

Whedon, Joss, and Drew Goddard. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Comic strip. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight. Vol. 3. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Comics, 2008. Print.

Whedon, Joss. “Buffy vs. Dracula.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Fox. 20th Century Fox, Los Angeles, California, 10 Mar. 1997. Television.

1 Comment »

  1. Thank you, Christian, for this look at Joss Whedon. Good job! I am already a fan of his work in T.V. but because of you have learned that JW does have other significant work out there. I can tell you did your homework. You put together a very nice presentation and comparison of Whedon’s work across different mediums (medias?).


    Comment by Jeremiah — November 2, 2009 @ 2:29 am | Reply

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