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Behind Buffy Season 9: Angel and Faith from Comic Book Resources

3 January 2012 1 comment


BEHIND BUFFY SEASON 9: GAGE BUILDS BONDS IN “ANGEL AND FAITH”

by Shaun Manning, Staff Writer

Fri, December 23rd, 2011

For hundreds of years, before he was cursed with a soul, the vicious vampire Angelus committed countless atrocities, savage acts of torture and murder as he tore a bloody path through Europe, purely for fun. As Angel, however, he has struggled to atone for his sins and forge a hero’s path. Last year, his redemption was compromised by his role as the mystery villain Twilight during “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8,” in which Angel was manipulated toward a confrontation with his star-crossed lover that would end in tragedy. “Angel & Faith,” under the Season 9 family of titles with “Buffy,” teams Angel with another hero who has undergone a difficult journey, a rebellious Slayer who, with no claim to demonic possession or lack of soul, once betrayed her friends but now walks the righteous path.

The title’s first four-issue arc by writer Christos Gage and artistRebekah Isaac concluded in November, with both Angel & Faith facing hard and surprising choices. Comic Book Resources spoke with Gage to talk about the heroes’ new status quo, what comes next and how Harmony and Drusilla fit into it all.

In the climactic final chapter of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8,” Angel, possessed by the Twilight deity, murdered Buffy’s longtime friend and Watcher Giles, a crime which sent Angel into a catatonic state once he regained his senses. At the beginning of Season 9, though, Angel has regained a sense of purpose, deciding that Giles and his arcane knowledge are too dear to lose — so the vampire with a soul begins planning a resurrection. Enlisting Faith as backup, Angel searches out methods hinted at in the Watcher Files that may still operate in the magic-less world.

Over the course of the first story arc, “Live Through This,” Gage established an interesting status quo for the titular duo: Faith backing Angel up, even though she’s dead set against his plan, and Angel trusting Faith to stop him if he goes too far. Gage said that while this may be where things stand going into the second arc, “this is when we’re going to see that dynamic start to be tested, as well as explore the fact that Faith herself, even as far as she’s come, has some demons of her own.”

Despite Angel getting top billing in the title and being the driving force behind the series’ action, there is a sense that Faith is the true lead in “Angel & Faith.” Faith is the point-of-view character for narrative captions, for starters, and, despite the fact that Angel’s life spans centuries, she appears to be the level-headed adult in their relationship. Given Faith’s rogue history — and Angel’s — CBR asked Gage how readers are meant to view Angel’s grandiose plans, whether we should be rooting for him or whether the tension lies in waiting to see what disasters he provokes. “It’s my hope that readers look at Angel’s plans the same way Faith does…with trepidation,” Gage said. “You know he means well, but let’s face it, Angel’s good intentions have paved more than one road to Hell. But at the same time, don’t you kind of hope you’re wrong about it being a train wreck waiting to happen? That’s how Faith feels. She knows this is what Angel needs, so she’s sticking by him, helping him — and also keeping a watchful eye on things to make sure that if he ever goes too far, she’s there to stop him. She is definitely the level-headed adult in their relationship. It’s come full circle from when she had hit rock bottom and Angel was the one helping her.

“But it’s a valid point: can these two damaged people help each other without dragging each other — and themselves — down in the process?”

December’s issue #5 features guest artist Phil Noto and very special guest star Harmony, who had a big impact on human/vampire relations during “Buffy Season 8,” but hasn’t had much direct contact with the series’ leads in Season 8 or 9 so far. It was Harmony, of course, who brought vampires into the spotlight in her reality television program, winning a PR battle against the Slayers that has cast the bumpy-forehead crew in a positive light. Now, however, like any reality star, she’s paying the price of fame. “Harmony needs help from Angel & Faith in quashing an impending scandal that could threaten her status as the celebrity face of new human/vampire relations,” Gage told CBR. “As much as our heroes find Harmony vapid, shallow and annoying, they realize that making the volatile post-magic situation worse by threatening the standing of the world’s top vampire icon is not in anyone’s interest.

“Oh, and three words: Harmony sex tape.”

The Harmony issue also sees an appearance from Clem, the amiable floppy-eared demon. Asked what Clem has been up to since fans saw him last, Gage said he’s pretty much just soldiering on. “Well, when we last saw him, he was Harmony’s best friend and trusty sidekick, doing the heavy lifting for her with a smile on his face and a song in his heart. And that’s still what he’s up to!” As to why he wanted to tell a story with Clem, Gage replied, “Why wouldn’t I? He’s just so lovable!”

With Harmony and Clem on board, issue #5 looks to be more lighthearted fare than the first arc, a shift in tone reflected in a change in visual style as Phil Noto steps in to relieve series artist Rebekah Isaacs for the month. “Phil is a big fan of the Whedonverse and has built a strong fan following for his beautiful depictions of various Joss-created characters,” Gage said. “He’s also a brilliant talent who does a great job with the humor in this issue. Even Harmony’s dogs get loving attention in every panel!”

After this brief interlude, things get a little complex. Drusilla makes her return in issue #6, as does “a deadly, new kind of demon with ties to Giles’ past,” Gage told CBR. “Also, Faith’s father — who has never been shown before — returns to her life, and you can bet that’s not going to be a simple situation. But the ‘Daddy Issues’ referred to in the title also allude to the relationship between Drusilla and her sire, Angel. Drusilla knows him like few others do, and will reveal to readers a major part of Angel’s plan to resurrect Giles — a part that will potentially cause huge problems down the road.”

Gage also told fans to expect the unexpected from Drusilla in this arc. “I think fans will be very surprised by Dru. You’ll see her in a way you haven’t seen her before. That’s not hype, it’s fact!” he said. “And yes, she’s a great deal of fun to write.”

The solicitation text for #6 describes an illness that turns ordinary humans into killers, and readers have already seen that things work a bit differently in this post-magic world — what once may have been a miracle turns into an unspeakable horror when drained of mystical properties, with a demon blood panacaea Angel had sought in the opening arc being a clear example. As to the nature of this latest threat, Gage played things close to the vest. “There are different kinds of illnesses. That’s all I can say about that without giving too much away.”

Since Angel returned to Dark Horse’s Whedonverse in “Buffy Season 8,” not much has been seen of the extended supporting cast he developed over the five seasons of his own television show and which carried over into Angel’s comics run at IDW. But, Gage said, that is about to change. “In future stories, you will see Connor and at least one more old friend from the ‘Angel’ TV show,” the writer said, “as well as a couple of characters Joss had planned to use in the proposed ‘Ripper’ TV series but has been generous enough to let us play with instead!” (“Ripper” would have been a spinoff television series with Giles in the starring role.)

“I just want to say that I’m tremendously gratified — and I know the entire creative team feels the same way — by the wonderful response we’ve received for this book,” Gage said in closing. “I know how much these characters mean to people and how important it is that they be treated right. I am thankful and humbled by the fact that most readers seem to feel we are giving them their due. From a personal standpoint, I feel like I was still feeling my way during the first arc and didn’t really find my groove until issue 5, so I thank the readers for their kindness and patience and hope you agree that it only gets better from here!”

“Angel & Faith” #5 is on sale December 28.

Original Interview at Comic Book Resources

Sci-Fi Bulletin Interview Christos Gage and Rebekah Issacs

6 December 2011 Leave a comment

interview: angel & faith: christos cage and rebekah issacs

In August this year writer Christos Gage and artist Rebekah Isaacs joined forces to bring readers the new Angel & Faith series from Dark Horse Comics. Following on from the events of Buffy Season 8 and running alongside Buffy Season 9, the new series sees Angel and Faith living together in London as they struggle with the death of Giles and the loss of all magic in the world.

Interview: Bernice Watson

Sci-Fi Bulletin: Angel and Faith are both characters who carry a certain emotional burden and are both looking to atone for past misdeeds. How does that affect the dynamic between them as partners? Why do you think they work so well as a team?

Christos Gage: I think they work for that very reason. They’ve each walked a mile in each other’s shoes. When Faith hit bottom, Angel was there to help her – he wouldn’t give up on her. Now the roles are reversed.

Rebekah Isaacs: They’re characters who I think would be friends even if they could hang it up in the fight of good vs. evil and just sit around and chill. They’re both dark-humoured, prone to brooding (Angel more often, of course), have trouble feeling accepted and comfortable in the world outside, and at this juncture in their lives, both have an extreme drive to make their previous wrongs right. Of course, that drive could be what gets them both in trouble in different ways, eventually…

Christos, when writing Angel and Faith, how do you balance keeping the characters recognisable from the television series while also allowing them to grow and develop?

CG: It’s hard to explain, it’s more an instinctual thing that comes from getting to know them after watching all the shows. And of course it doesn’t hurt that my editors have years of experience with these characters, so I feel confident they’ll tell me if I stray too far. And, of course, there’s Joss, who knows a thing or two about them and isn’t about to let me ruin his kids!

A lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans actually prefer Faith because she’s, in some ways, a more complex character than Buffy. Were you a Faith fan before you started working on Angel & Faith? What do you enjoy most about writing/drawing Faith?

CG: Well, as I’ve said before, until I was offered the job I hadn’t seen any of the shows! But after watching them all, I did indeed become a Faith fan. I think she has an incredible character arc; she’s probably grown more than any other character in the Buffy-verse. The episode in which she takes over Buffy’s body and sees what it’s like to have real friends, people who really love you, and ends up being compelled to save innocent people simply because it’s the right thing to do, is an amazing moment for her. I can certainly relate to someone who’s made mistakes in life and is trying to do better. I think that’s why people like Faith; it’s why I like writing her.

RI: I have to admit she’s grown on me a lot since I started working on the series. I certainly didn’t dislike her, but before I got the job I hadn’t gotten very far into Buffy, and Faith didn’t have quite as much dimension to her character as she does later in that show and in Angel. She was still very much leaning more towards villain than heroine at that point.

After finishing the shows and reading Brian K. Vaughan’s arc of Season 8, which I loved, I had a new appreciation for Faith. And the new things that are revealed about Faith’s past in Season 9 make her even more compelling. The new puzzle pieces are forming a seamless big picture of who Faith is for me, and I think long-time fans of the character will be really fulfilled as well.

Faith is very true to herself and comfortable with her powers whereas Angel is constantly striving to overcome his vampire nature. Is this dichotomy something that you play on when you’re writing them as a team?

CG: Definitely. In the very first arc, Faith is wrestling with the question of whether to use the Mohra blood to forcibly turn Angel human again, because she feels like he will never allow himself any peace as long as he’s a vampire. The difference in the way they feel about their abilities is an important part of their relationship.

Faith now finds herself watching out for a group of young English slayers who have been sort of cut loose and don’t quite know what to do with themselves. In the past Faith has resisted being a role-model but she just keeps getting leadership thrust upon her. How do you see Faith growing into a more adult role? How does her attitude to leadership differ from that of Buffy?

CG: Well, as Alasdair pointed out to Faith in issue #3, it’s Faith herself who has become the adult, simply by doing the responsible thing and looking out for others – whether she was doing it consciously or not, she’s made herself a leader. I think the difference between Faith and Buffy is that Buffy has always been told she is the “Chosen One,” so to some degree she has accepted the mantle of leadership…although one of the key parts of Buffy’s journey in Season 9 is looking past that and trying to figure out what she wants out of life. Faith, on the other hand, has always been treated as the “flawed” Slayer. (To be fair, she did a lot to bring that on herself.) So when people behave toward her as if she was a leader, it kind of throws her.

One of the many great things people are enjoying about this series is the way you have really made the characters your own, is it hard stepping into such an established universe, creatively?

RI: At first it can feel a little restrictive compared to say, superhero comics, because there is a very clearly established visual and aural guideline for how the characters move, act, and sound. But once you get a grasp on that, you can start to extrapolate on it in a way that still stays true to the character. That’s when it gets really fun because you know you’re adding your own small touch to a mythology that so many people care so much about. But it definitely took me a few months to feel like I really “owned” the characters. Luckily I had the excellent editorial team to help me out.

CG: I don’t want to make it sound like it’s easy, because it’s not, but the idea of working with established characters is something anyone who comes from the world of writing for TV is used to. My wife and I wrote for Law & Order SVU and Numbers and in both cases we were working with established, pre-existing characters. The same is true with Marvel and DC heroes. You have to be true to the characters as they exist, but at the same time think of new ways to explore who they are and see them develop… such as bringing in Faith’s father in our second arc, and seeing how that affects her.

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!)

Original Interview at Scifi Bulletin

Christos Gage and Rebekah Issacs Update TFAW on Angel and Faith

6 December 2011 Leave a comment

Christos Gage and Rebekah Issacs Update Us on Angel and Faith

Shockwaves rocked the Buffy universe in August 2010 when it was announced that Angel, then at IDW Publishing, would return to Dark Horse Comics, home of Joss Whedon’s other properties, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Serenity, and Dollhouse. Some fans of IDW’s interpretation were wary, especially when they discovered that Angel would be paired with Slayer Faith Lehane instead of original show characters like Gunn, Illyria, and Connor–and after the events of Buffy Season 8, everyonewas wondering how Angel could possibly come back from killing fan-favorite Giles.

Fortunately, the creative team of writer Christos Gage (Avengers Academy) and artist Rebekah Isaacs (DV8) knocked it out of the park when Angel & Faith debuted in August 2011. Focusing on the close-yet-sometimes prickly relationship between Angel and Faith, relocating them to England, and giving Angel a shocking goal (bringing Giles back to life), Angel & Faith has been an action-packed exploration of two fascinating characters grappling with redemption, responsibility, and hope.

We caught up with Gage and Isaacs as part of Dark Horse Month. Check out our interview, below, and enjoy an exclusive three-page preview of Angel & Faith #4!

TFAW.com: We interviewed you both shortly after you were announced as the writer and artist for Angel & Faith. How do you feel after getting several issues under your belts?

Christos Gage: I feel better about each issue than the last. The downside is I feel like I didn’t do a very good job on the first few. I think I hit more of a comfort zone with #5. I think Rebekah started great and has only gotten better, and Dan (our colorist) has been aces from the word go. I’m really happy people seem to like it.

Rebekah Isaacs: Much less anxious about my two greatest worries at the time: likenesses and whether I’d be accepted by fans. Everyone I’ve met or heard from has been so welcoming and enthusiastic! I love meeting Buffy/Angel fans at cons now and hearing their viewpoints on the storyline.

FAW.com: What’s surprised you the most about taking on Angel & Faith?

RI: How many hardcore Faith fans there are out there! It’s great that we got to do this series because she’s a character that hasn’t really gotten her due until now. I love that we’ve been able to make those fans that have been waiting for a starring role for Faith since “No Future For You” happy.

CG: Honestly? That there haven’t been more people angry at me. I got a lot of warnings–mostly from the Whedonites themselves–that they are a passionate bunch. It was actually really sweet; it’s like they were saying, “Listen, I may be cursing you out later but please don’t take it personally.” But so far everyone’s seemed pretty pleased with the book and they’re being very kind to me.

TFAW.com: Christos, as you know, Angel has a lot of very dedicated, very vocal fans–many of whom weren’t happy about the prospect of an Angel comic without Gunn, Illyria, and the other regulars from the TV show and IDW comics. Do you think you’ve won them over?

CG: I don’t know, I hope so. As I’ve said before, Joss called dibs on Illyria pretty quick in the story summit; he has plans for her. And you will see various supporting characters pop up from time to time–Harmony, Clem, Drusilla, Connor. But this was always going to be a very Angel and Faith-focused book. I think the readers understand that, given where they are right now, their journey does not call for a big ensemble cast. And that Season 10 may well be a whole different thing.

TFAW.com: One thing that strikes me about your writing is how spot-on Angel and Faith’s voices are–they’re recognizable right off the bat without being overly hammy or catchphrase-y. How do you achieve that?

CG:Thanks! I just watch the shows. When you absorb 12 years of TV in a year or so, it leaves an impression, especially when the voices are as distinctive as Joss’ characters tend to be. I also have to give credit to editorial; they’ve had a lot of experience with these characters, and Scott will always tell me when Faith gets a little too talky, for instance, which is a risk when you take someone who’s mostly been a supporting character and make them a lead.

I’m flattered that people think I’m doing a good job and wish I could better articulate how I approach it; I guess it’s just something I’m used to. My wife and I have written TV before, and in TV, unless you create the show, your job is to identify and be true to voices someone else established. That’s all I’m doing here; it’s no different than doing it for Law & Order: SVU, for example. You pay close attention to what’s been done and try to do be true to it. I guess it’s a lot like, say, if your best friend said something that didn’t sound like them, you’d know it. If I write a line that doesn’t sound like Angel, it’s usually pretty glaring.

TFAW.com: I’m really loving the relationship between Angel and Faith right now. How do you feel about them as a duo?

CG: I think they’re great. These are two people who have been through a lot, and helped each other through a lot. They’re flawed, they’ve hurt people, they’ve hurt themselves . . . they’ve hit rock bottom, and they’ve worked hard to come back. And their roles in the relationship have almost come full circle–with Faith now the strong one–which I think is very cool.

TFAW.com: I’m sure many, many readers are wondering: are they going to become a romantic duo? Do you see that in their future?

CG: I’m gonna resort to the ever popular “keep reading!” But I do want to say that I really dig the fact that these are two attractive young heterosexual people of the opposite sex and yet their relationship is very deep, meaningful and complex while not having anything to do with sex and/or romance. Not to say that it couldn’t at some point, but even if it went there, that wouldn’t be the sum total of the relationship. Which I think shows how strong they are as characters . . . it’s not about “will they or won’t they.” There’s so much more to them.

TFAW.com: Faith’s in a really interesting place right now–in many ways, she has a lot of the things Buffy used to have: the support of Giles (in the form of most of his worldly possessions), a mentor relationship with the other Slayers, and a close relationship with Angel. Do you think Faith sees it that way?

CG: I think Faith sees it much less that way than other people might. She’s just now coming to grips with the idea of being the responsible one. But ultimately she’s not Buffy, and things are not going to unfold for Faith the way they would for her; Faith will make different choices, for good or ill.

TFAW.com: She’s also balancing a lot of lies and secrets–with the best of intentions, of course. Is this part of her growing up? Is it a mistake?

CG: Faith has always been someone who wouldn’t hesitate to play a little fast and loose with the truth. She’s a lot better than she used to be–as you mention, she wouldn’t lie to hurt people any more, or purely out of self-interest; it’s to help or protect others. But all lies create the potential for complications, and some may well be coming.

TFAW.com: Can Nadira and the other Slayers ever forgive Angel? What could he do to redeem himself in their eyes?

CG: That’s a good question. A very good question. Stay tuned.

TFAW.com: What about in his own eyes? Does Angel consider himself beyond redemption? What’s your opinion?

CG: I think Angel said at one point in his show that nothing he ever does can make up for what he did as Angelus . . . some acts are so horrible you can’t atone for them. So clearly, in that sense, Angel feels he is beyond redemption; I think he accepted that and planned to spend the rest of his existence doing good as a way to not erase, but maybe counterbalance the evil he had done. What’s different now is that he is trying to atone for things he did as Angel. He didn’t choose to be made a vampire; he did choose to be Twilight, even if he wasn’t always in total control of himself.

That’s why he’s so obsessive about bringing Giles back . . . it’s a microcosm of the wrong he’s done as Angel. For me, I think he is redeemable. Nothing will ever erase his wrongs, but if he dedicates himself to doing the right thing long enough, I think the scales can be balanced . . . they probably already have been. I think he’s a good man. But good luck convincing Angel of that.

TFAW.com: The huge game changer in the Buffy universe has been the destruction of magic, which keeps resulting in unexpected repercussions over and over again. How on earth can Angel think that NOW’S the right time to bring Giles back–something that was considered impossible before the Seed was destroyed?

CG: Well, Giles wasn’t dead before the Seed was destroyed. Angel just can’t live with the fact that he killed Giles . . . this man who meant everything to the woman he loves, this man who forgave him even after Angelus killed Jenny Calendar, who Giles loved. It doesn’t matter what’s going on in the world, Angel is going to try to bring him back, come hell or high water . . . or both. Is he thinking calmly and rationally? No. Does he have any reason at all to think he can actually do it? Yes . . . and wait until you see what that is.

TFAW.com: Rebekah, I’m loving your art more and more with each issue! How are you enjoying the job?

RI: It’s been amazing. Every issue new designs and set pieces to sink my teeth into–my favorites have been the demon fight club, Kurth, and Alastair’s house. I was so excited to find out I’d be drawing Drusilla, and I love Victorian clothing, so it was really fun to design a dress for her first scene. (Although Steve painted her in such a lovely gown for #7 that I had to copy it for her second change of clothes in that issue.) There’s always something surprising and challenging to keep me on my toes artistically in every issue.

TFAW.com: What’s the most difficult aspect of drawing Angel & Faith?

RI: I never thought I’d say this back in April, but the likenesses are no longer the biggest challenge. Lately it’s been making the environments rich and detailed enough to feel realistic, especially with the London street scenes. I found out there’s a hugeBuffy fanbase in the UK and I wanna make ‘em proud! When I visited London a few months ago I took tons of photo reference all around the city and I’ve been using it religiously. It’s time-consuming, but so worth it. Even if readers have never been to London, having unique details in backgrounds makes the whole experience feel more genuine.

TFAW.com: How often do you use references for likenesses now?

RI: I’ll sometimes pull up reference for covers, but for interiors I try to avoid it entirely now. I find it screws with my head after drawing the faces from memory for so long; I focus too much on the details and not enough on the big picture. I’m certainly still conscious of the eternal need for improvement, though. When I watch an episode, pass by our DVD shelves, or see a screencap online I take a second and examine it really closely and try to take away one feature that I can draw a little different to make it more accurate next time. It’s definitely easier for me now, but it’s ultimately up to the readers whether I’m getting it right!

TFAW.com: Any other characters/actors from the television show that you’re–ahem–practicing drawing right now?

RI: I’ve drawn about a dozen pages of Dru now, and I’m getting geared up to draw another major player from Angel’s life soon!

TFAW.com: The new “big bads,” Nash and Pearl, are gorgeous–and terrifying! How did you come up with the design for them?

RI: I was only told their powers and that they should look otherworldly or alien-like. I’m a huge Bowie fan and I immediately thought of the Thin White Duke era and his look in The Man Who Fell to Earth. For Pearl I used Lady Gaga and Karen O. from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs as a starting point. I have a weakness for clothes that I could never pull off myself, so I love designing outfits for these spoiled psychopaths who’ve styled themselves as demon royalty.

TFAW.com: There are a lot of fight scenes for you to draw in Angel & Faith. I really enjoy the sense of motion I get from your pages–how do you create that?

RI: Good karma and lots of desperate prayers before drawing them, I guess! I like to cheat a little by giving everyone hair and clothes that move with them. If only I could give Angel his old Angelus hair back . . .

TFAW.com: What’s been more difficult: drawing a comic set in another country, or drawing the demons?

RI: Definitely drawing a foreign country. When you live in a city, I think you get a sixth sense for how it feels; even if a scene is 90% right, there might be some essence that’s missing that only a native would pick up on. It’s like how a New Yorker can always tell when a movie’s set in NYC but shot in Toronto. Because I’ve never lived in London, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to convey that mood perfectly, but it’s been fun to try! Getting reference firsthand has been invaluable, though. I’d be totally lost if it was still just me and Google Images.

TFAW.com: What’s your process like for creating covers?

RI:I’ll email the editorial team and Chris, and they’ll suggest one or two concepts they’d like to see that tie into the issue. Sometimes it’s deliberately vague if the issue is still being revised, or we don’t want to reveal spoilers, but lately I’ve been drawing specific scenes. I’ll do three to five tiny sketches from those concepts, and they’ll vote on which one they like best. I get pencils revised before moving to inks because I’ll often think of new elements to add after the sketch stage.

TFAW.com: How have you liked working with Dark Horse?

RI: They’ve been so incredible. I think the only person who knows this universe better than these guys is Joss himself!

Our thanks to Christos and Rebekah for giving us some extra insight into Angel & Faith! You can find all of their Angel & Faith comics right here at TFAW and save 10-20%.

Original Interview at Things From Another World

Christios Gage Talks Angel and Faith and Avengers Academy with CBR

21 November 2011 Leave a comment

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/hqUXgt6_fAI width=”480″ height=”300″]

CBR TV @ NYCC: Christos Gage Guides “Angel & Faith” and “Avengers Academy”

“Angel and Faith” writer Christos Gage visited CBR TV during New York Comic Con where he discussed how he got the gig helming the new title telling the further adventures of the Joss Whedon creations, his lack of familiarity with the Whedonverse prior to accepting the job and the challenge of matching the Whedon “tone” when writing the popular vampire and Slayer. Also discussed is the relationship between the titular characters and artist Rebekah Isaacs ability in translating the look of the actors to the page while avoiding a stiffness that would be detrimental to the storytelling.

Shifting focus to his Marvel work, Gage talks about introducing the Runaways to the cast of “Avengers Academy,” the organic way in which it came together, untangling the characters’ previously established relationships within the pages of the book, the deep-frying of an issue of the title on “30 Rock” and much more.

http://a.blip.tv/api.swf#hqUXgt6_fAI

[insert Geek here] Interview Christos Gage and Rebekah Issacs

20 November 2011 Leave a comment

NYCC 11: Quick Chat with Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs

Posted by @Wilderowens

While at NYCC, I was able to continue doing interviews with amazing people.  Thanks to Dark Horse Comics for letting me loose on the unsuspecting team of Angel & Faith, Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs.

This was a new comics team to the Buffyverse so I was curious how they got on board.  Isaacs actually landed this role though her work on DMZ, with Brian Wood. She was asked to audition by Sierra Hahn, and I am so glad she did!

Gage had a much more interesting road to Angel & Faith. Joss saw some of his work during the Buffyverse writers summit to plan out S9. He liked it so much, Scott Allie approached Gage at C2E2….in the bathroom. (My only regret is not knowing this before I interviewed Allie.) All jokes aside (and many sprang to mind, all very inappropriate), it is how we got this team in place.

The big question in every existing series is if the new writer/artist is a fan.  Gage had always loved Joss’ work on Astonishing X-Men but wasn’t a Buffy fan before his infamous bathroom visit. He actually had to watch all 12 seasons of Buffy and Angel to get up to date. On his list next is Firefly and Dollhouse but not for a while. “I’m afraid if I watch them, I will want to write for them and not concentrate on Angel.” said Gage.

Isaacs had already taken her first steps into the Whedonverse through Firefly and Dollhouse. She had always avoided Buffy though because she had hated high school. Her fiancee encouraged her to watch and she loved it. As she put it “It was exactly as I thought of high school; it was hell.”

If you continue, you run the risk of SPOILERS.
If you are allergic to spoilers,
go read another tasty article on [insertgeekhere].

I had to ask about their path and thoughts for Angel & Faith.  Gage is quick to point out that this will be a reverse of the television series, with Faith helping Angel this time deal with the impact of Buffy S8. At the same time, how long can Faith be loyal to him on his path to resurrect Giles? As Gage put it, “Loyalty is a double-edged sword.”

Isaacs just wants to see Angel finally be comfortable with himself, but she isn’t sure it will happen. She finds his story heartbreaking, especially in an upcoming issue.  The gist I got is that Angel and Harmony talk about reworking his image, and Angel basically says it’s impossible because everyone already hates him.

On the guest starring characters, we will get to see Connor, Harmony, Clem and Faith’s dad all make appearances. Faith’s dad is the one I am betting will be the most interesting.

And for everyone concerned about their favorite characters, don’t worry.  They both understand the fans’ passion and want to give us all the very best.  Gage put it best as “I’m the guy that if I don’t like how they are treating characters I love, I complain really loudly. ”  In hearing them talk about the TV show and the comic, I can tell that they really are fans themselves and they do care.

Despite what we want, these two are still working on other things besides Angel & Faith.  Isaacs is promoting her series, Magus, from 12 Gauge Comics.  Fun side note is that she created this with her fiancee.  You can find the complete series on Graphicly.

Gage has a ton going on right now. At Marvel, he is working on Avengers Academy and will be doing another series but refused to give up the name.  He also has Sunset, a graphic novel from Top Cow. Finally, Gage and his wife teamed up to write The Lion of Rora for Oni Press.

I had a blast talking with them and most of our talk was not even interview time but just random chatting.  The upcoming issues sound amazing, and I am so excited to see what else they bring to the Buffyverse!

Original Interview at [insertgeekhere]

Geeking Out About Interview with Christos Gage and Rebekah Issacs

29 October 2011 Leave a comment

Graphically Speaking: An Interview with Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs

After a day of nerding all over myself at this year’s New York Comic Con, I interviewed writer Christos Gage and artist Rebekah Isaacs about their collaboration on Dark Horse’s new “Angel & Faith” series.  They were kind enough to take some time out of their schedule and talk to me.  Word vomit, commence!

Me: Let’s hit the ground running. Cavemen or Astronauts?

Christos Gage: Astronauts. They have ray-guns.

Rebekah Isaacs: Astronauts.  They could kill you with their math skills, too.

Joss Whedon has always been the “Grand Poobah” of the universes he’s created, be it with “Dollhouse,” “Buffy,” etc.  With “Angel,” it always seemed like Joss, while still very involved, opened the sandbox so that other writers could develop their voices and collaborate moreso than on his other projects.  How has he been as an “Executive Producer?”

CG: I know he feels very strongly about the characters.  With “Angel & Faith,” he has certain things he wants to do, and given that, he asks “what do YOU want to do? What do you want to bring to it?”  He’s very collaborative.  You can bounce ideas off him.  He’ll tell you if he doesn’t think it works.  He’ll tell you why and come up with other ideas.  Even now that he’s shooting The Avengers, he’s involved in selecting character names, story titles, etc.  He’s even given us ideas he was going to use in the “Ripper” show [an aborted idea for a BBC show based around Giles’ adventures in England as a Watcher] to use in this.

RI:  He sent me a very kind e-mail the other day saying “thanks for working on the art” and that’s all I really need for the rest of my life [laughs].

“Angel & Faith” is the first Joss Whedon spin-off that hasn’t been previously established as a TV show or webseries before becoming a comic property.  How does it feel to pioneer a new venture starting in the comic book medium?

CG:  I think it’s great.  The pressure’s off a little bit in terms of that, because he conceived of it.  He wanted it to be “Angel & Faith.” Obviously, he had a great reason for it, [considering] where the characters are at this point.  The fact that he said “this is where we’re going” made everyone go “okay, let’s do it.” He knows these characters better than anyone. He’s their creator, their “daddy” as it were. That aspect doesn’t bother me the way, say if I was writing the first ever [Star Wars] Knights of the Old Republic, it might be a little intimidating. But with Joss right there, I’m not bothered at all.

RI: Yeah, I feel like we’re in really good hands with the editorial team because they learned so much through the process of season 8.  They’re applying a lot of that, even for this new series. Scott [Allie] and Sierra [Hahn- the editors] just have such a good nose for what Joss likes by now that if they feel there need to be changes, they’re pretty spot on.  He’s always liked everything they’ve sent him after corrections were done.

What’s the weirdest thing Joss has said to you?

CG: It’s not really a “weird” thing, but he sent me an e-mail, and I can’t reveal what it said, but it contained several things that can happen in “Angel & Faith,” and he sent it in rhyme. Then he said “sorry, I have little kids and I’m used to reading rhyming stories to them.”  But it was funny, because even when he sends you e-mails to talk about stuff, you can see his brilliance and his creativity come through. [to Rebekah] Didn’t he send you an e-mail?

RI:  I get forwards from him sometimes as well, not direct e-mails.

What, like spam?

RI: He’s trying to get me to sign up for a bank account in Nigeria [Laughs].  Scott and Sierra will sometimes forward me back an e-mail from him and one of them I giggled at was just “d’oh.”

At what point was it decided that Faith was joining the title?  Did that affect your process?

CG: It was very soon after I came on and Joss said “Faith and Angel are living together.  It should just be called “Angel & Faith.” It didn’t really change things because I never thought it was going to be the continuation of the show.  [to Rebekah] It was already “Angel & Faith” when you came along, right?

RI: Yeah, I didn’t know that was what I was auditioning for.  I knew they were doing Buffy Season 9 and maybe a spin-off, but it was still very up-in-the-air.  I didn’t know it was “Angel & Faith” until they called to offer me the job.

What’s ahead for “Angel & Faith?”

CG: We’re going to wrap up the current arc, Live Through This in issue 4 with the Mohra blood.  In 5, Harmony and Clem return in an issue guest-illustrated by Phil Noto.  Our second arc is called Daddy Issues.  Rebekah’s back with issue 6, where we’ll meet Faith’s father for the first time.  Connor will also be along down the road.  I think that’s all I can say.

RI: There’s another big surprise in issue 6 beyond Faith’s father.  We’re pretty limited on what we can say.

Check out “Angel and Faith” #3 this Wednesday October 26th from Dark Horse Comics.

Original Interview at Geeking Out About

Buffyfest Interview with Christos Gage and Rebekah Issacs

28 October 2011 Leave a comment

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2011

(Spoilers) Exclusive Interview with ‘Angel and Faith’ Writer Christos Gage& Artist Rebekah Isaacs

In just a few issues, Angel & Faith has become a fan favorite. It’s really no surprise, the art is fantastic and writing is super-solid. We had the opportunity at New York Comic Con to meet the team responsible for the first time in person, writer Christos Gage & artist Rebekah Isaacs. Watch as we pick their brains about the Whedonverse…

Original Interview at Buffyfest

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