Typically, we look at comics that have made the transition to film, but in the long journey of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," the progression is reversed. In 1992, fledgling writer and director Joss Whedon penned the script to the film "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," a film that received a lukewarm response from audiences and featured the odd-ball cast of Kristy Swanson, Donald Sutherland, Paul Reubens, Rutger Hauer and Luke Perry. The story told of the life of Buffy Summers, a Valley Girl who was mystically chosen from all the girls in the world to do battle with the creatures of the night. Among the variety of supernatural powers that suited her to the task was the ability to detect the presence of vampires through menstrual cramps – yeah, w know. The film gained a small cult following and then disappeared into obscurity...until 1997.
In fall of 1997, Whedon followed in the footsteps of "M*A*S*H" and "The Odd Couple" and took his future-franchise from the big screen to the small one. The launch of the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" television series was framed as a sequel to the film, wisely forgoing the origin (and the menstrual cramps). 20-year old Sarah Michelle Gellar landed the titular role and quickly made it her own. Her version of Buffy was less Valley Girl turned warrior and more under-achiever as reluctant savior. The character was more approachable and, if not always lovable, was at least admirable as she grew into her calling as "The Chosen One." Dynamic performances by an ever-evolving cast of characters made Anthony Stuart Head, Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon, Eliza Dushku, James Marsters and David Boreanaz into household names. The series garnered praise from fans and critics alike, collecting over 100 award nominations and wins from every quarter, from the Emmys to Science Fiction awards to two GLADD nominations for the show's progressive portrayal of alternative lifestyles. Seven successful seasons and a long-running spin-off series were enough to make "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" a cultural icon.
As with much successful genre programming, Buffy eventually found her way into the pages of comic books. "Dark Horse Presents 1998 Annual" (August, 1998) was the Slayer's first foray into print and novels and multiple comic books series and spin-off series continue to this day. For most TV to comics stories, that would be the end, but in March of 2007, Joss Whedon did the unexpected and began writing an "eighth season" of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the form of a comic book. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight" will come to an end with Issue #40, but the immortal vampire slayer is slated to rise again with "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Nine" after the final nail is driven in the coffin of the current series. - Brian Eason