This year at Emerald City Comicon, Dark Horse wanted to do something a little different from their usual panels and highlight the steps of making a comic and the different individuals involved in that process. Dark Horse’s Director of Publicity Jeremy Atkins was joined by "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 9" artist Georges Jeanty, cover artist Phil Noto and inker Andy Owens for a discussion of their work on Joss Whedon-created titles including "Buffy," "Angel & Faith," and "Dollhouse."
A slideshow of the different steps of the process involved in taking a comic from small, rough layout sketches to 11” x 17” pages on to the inked and then colored final art pages.
Jeanty said that, while he does have his own style, he really admires Mike Mignola's “Hellboy” and has tried to emulate that in his work on “Buffy.” He shared an exclusive with the crowd to answer any internet rumblings; page 17 of “Buffy Season 9" #7 was swiped from issue #3 of the “Wolverine” limited series.
Jeanty also shared that when he came on board with “Buffy” he was not a fan of the show and had never watched it. He has now seen the entire series as well as just about everything Joss Whedon has created thus far. In the beginning he would question Whedon on the direction of the story saying things like “I don’t think Buffy would do this.” Whedon was very receptive to his comments and would either agree or give him very thoughtful reasons for his decisions.
One thing that Whedon made clear was that while this is a comic based on an established show, he was insistent that Buffy looked like Buffy and not Sarah Michelle Gellar; the same went for the other characters. The one place this did not apply to was the cover artwork. Phil Noto shared that he uses Google image searches for references on his likenesses for the covers. And that the only cast member who he has had to go through numerous rounds of revisions was Michelle Trachtenberg's Dawn, who coincidentally has never been on one of Noto's “Buffy” covers. When it comes to an actor’s likeness in a comic of this nature, they have the option to approve or request revisions of the image.
Noto shared how his process is entirely digital. He does his sketches digitally, when the final image is selected he then digitally colors and submits it. He said that covers tend to be much easier in terms of actors' likenesses because the artist do not have to capture as much emotion as is required within the story art. But, Noto said, he does have to convey the feeling of an entire issue without having access to the script so sometimes that can be difficult. When someone from the audience asked him what character in the Whedonverse he would like to draw but hasn’t yet, he answered “[The crew of] 'Serenity' would be awesome, also Lorne from Angel.”
Another question from the audience was “how many seasons of Buffy can we expect?” Atkins said that Dark Horse hopes for many more but the story will go at the very least through season 10. By far the most amusing question from the audience was “If the world doesn’t end in December of this year can you write that Buffy saved us,” The response to that from Atkins was “Someone needs to tweet that.”
While the panel focused more on process than exclusive reveals, some fans mentioned as they were heading out of the room that they would have liked to see more concept art and and a more diverse conversation of the “Art of the Whedonverse” instead of focusing so much on “Buffy.” On the whole, though, the crowd appreciated the behind-the-scenes look at the making of a comic.