The Moviehunter

Pulp Culture
Buffy slays vampires
(what else?) for new
Dark Horse comic

December 10, 1998
By Franklin Harris

It happens eventually to almost every successful genre television program. It gets adapted into a comic book.

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" has made the transition well. True, the "Buffy" comic is based on good source material, but that alone guarantees nothing. It has been years since anyone has published a decent "Star Trek" comic.

Next month, the first issue of the three-part "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Origin" hits comics stands. It is published by Dark Horse Comics and features the creative team of Dan Brereton, Chris Golden and Joe Bennett.

Sarah Michelle Gellar stars as Buffy Summers in ''Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.'' David Boreanaz is Angel.

Photo by Frank Ockenfels
Sarah Michelle Gellar stars as Buffy Summers in "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer." David Boreanaz is Angel.

Of course, Buffy's origin has been told before, in a 1992 feature film that starred Kristy Swanson instead of Sarah Michelle Gellar.

But the film version is played for laughs and doesn't quite fit with the darker continuity established by the TV series.

The new comic-book retelling of how Buffy Summers became the Slayer attempts to address the discontinuity.

"Chris and I have been lucky enough to be appointed your guides to a different, yet familiar version of the origins of Buffy's rise to Slayerdom," said Brereton. "We started with the original screenplay by Joss Whedon and ended up somewhere that's halfway between the first script, which is wonderful, and halfway to Sunnydale and the Buffy we've now come to know and love and pine for Tuesday night."

The first 32-page, full-color issue of "The Origin" arrives on Jan. 13.

Small-press comics

In the meantime, you might want to check out the ongoing "Buffy" comics series, also published by Dark Horse.

The regular series is written by Andi Watson, whose "Skeleton Key" and "Geisha" are, at present, among my favorite small-press comics titles.

"Skeleton Key" is a charming tale of a high school girl, Tamsin, who happens upon a skeleton key -- hence the book's title. Of course, her key is different (or else it wouldn't be worth talking about). It not only unlocks any door, but it also opens doorways into other worlds. So, with her best friend -- who happens to be a Japanese fox spirit -- in tow, Tamsin sets out to find fun and adventure and all the other sorts of things she can't find in her sleepy, Canadian hometown.

The 30-issue run of "Skeleton Key" has been collected into four softcover volumes and should be available at better comics shops. (If they don't have any in stock, they can order them for you.) "Skeleton Key" is published by Amaze Ink/Slave Labor Graphics.

Watson's other book, "Geisha," is a four-issue series published by Oni Press, the same company responsible for publishing Kevin Smith's "Clerks" and "Jay and Silent Bob" comics. The third issue of "Geisha" is on stands now, but it isn't too hard to find the first two.

"Geisha" is a sci-fi version of Pinocchio.

Its heroine is an android who wants simply to be an artist. Unfortunately, the critics brand her paintings soulless. So, she forges a painting by a famous artist and fools everyone, including the critics.

All that, of course, is just the set-up, but to say more would be telling.

"Geisha" is, at heart, a new take on one of SF's oldest subjects: what it means to be human. It's a subject whose repetition isn't a vice.

Pope, Paul

And speaking of small-press comics, the trade-paperback edition

of Paul Pope's "One Trick Rip-Off" just landed on my desk.

Originally serialized in "Dark Horse Presents," "One Trick Rip-Off" is a clever, frenetic SF/crime noir story. It's also among Pope's first mainstream works in the U.S.

Dark Horse doesn't qualify as "small-press," but Paul Pope does.

Pope made his reputation from his self-published "drawn novels" ("San Titulo" and "The Ballad of Dr. Richardson"), comics ("THB") and oversized comics magazines ("Buzz Buzz" and "Giant THB").

Novelists who self publish are considered hacks, but comics artists who self publish are considered champions of artistic integrity.

Pope certainly has integrity, and his voice and style are unique.

"One Trick Rip-Off" is about two kids, Tubby and Vim. They're crazy in love, and they set out to steal an awful lot of money from their fellow gang members, the One Tricks.

The problem is -- and isn't there always a problem? -- that there is a good reason the One Tricks are called the One Tricks.

The story has a sci-fi twist.

But you needn't take my word for it. "One Trick Rip-Off" has a wonderful endorsement from "Publishers Weekly" right smack on its front cover.

So there.

"One Trick Rip-Off" can be ordered through your local comics shop.

Come to think of it, your friendly neighborhood comics shop can order lots of things for you. So, you might want to stop by one and say hello sometime during the holiday season.

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Web site designed by Franklin Harris.
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