Just A Thought | When Are Creators The Book?

Earlier this week it was announced that Warner Brothers was proceeding with pre-pre-production on a new Buffy the Vampire Slayer film WITHOUT Joss Whedon.

Given my love of the tv series and current comic series, my reaction of “Urgh!” is probably pretty predictable at this point.

While Whedon does not own Buffy outright and other people were involved, especially for the film, Whedon is certainly the man who was the driving force behind the phenomenon.

The question to ask is, when does one person become, for lack of a better term, the keeper of the character?

In the world of comics we are faced with endless revisions and reboots and new writers and artists on an almost monthly basis. But where do we draw the line on “Nope, shouldn’t be touched by anyone but that guy”? I think 90% of comic readers would agree that the only people who should ever mess with Watchmen would be Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons; like wise the only writer to do anything solid with the characters from Planetary should be Warren Ellis.

But what if the case is a split? That happens to be the case in terms of this new Buffy film. The producers of the original film have their stake in the franchise, maybe they do have something to say. If John Cassaday wanted to do a Planetary story, doesn’t he have the right to? Even Whedon seems to say something similar in his response to the news, in what is one of the best responses to anything ever to E!.

Kristin, I’m glad you asked for my thoughts on the announcement of Buffy the cinema film. This is a sad, sad reflection on our times, when people must feed off the carcasses of beloved stories from their youths—just because they can’t think of an original idea of their own, like I did with my Avengers idea that I made up myself.

Obviously I have strong, mixed emotions about something like this. My first reaction upon hearing who was writing it was, “Whit Stillman AND Wes Anderson? This is gonna be the most sardonically adorable movie EVER.” Apparently I was misinformed. Then I thought, “I’ll make a mint! This is worth more than all my Toy Story residuals combined!” Apparently I am seldom informed of anything. And possibly a little slow. But seriously, are vampires even popular any more?

I always hoped that Buffy would live on even after my death. But, you know, AFTER. I don’t love the idea of my creation in other hands, but I’m also well aware that many more hands than mine went into making that show what it was. And there is no legal grounds for doing anything other than sighing audibly. I can’t wish people who are passionate about my little myth ill. I can, however, take this time to announce that I’m making a Batman movie. Because there’s a franchise that truly needs updating. So look for The Dark Knight Rises Way Earlier Than That Other One And Also More Cheaply And In Toronto, rebooting into a theater near you.

Leave me to my pain! Sincerely, Joss Whedon.

He makes a lot of interesting points on both sides of the argument. And Buffy isn’t the only example to look at in these kinds of terms.

Take The Kingdom for instance. The Kingdom was a sequel to DC’s mega hit Kingdom Come. Kingdom come was written by Mark Waid, painted by Alex Ross. While in a lot of ways Kingdom Come was Ross’s child (the idea and a lot of the concepts, plot, etc), Waid was most certainly the father of the baby if he wasn’t the mother Ross was. While The Kingdom was nearly as well received or reviewed as Kingdom Come, it did have a couple decent moments, most notably the Offspring one-shot.

Similarly, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman characters have been written by people other than Gaiman. The results have been mixed but Mike Carey’s Lucifer is an example of a spin-off that was very well done. Then again, Carey wasn’t writing Dream or Death. Although, Paul Cornell recently did a decent job of writing Death…

But I guess on a whole, maybe we as comic book fans, are used to the idea of new takes on the same characters. I’m a huge fan of Frank Miller’s Daredevil run but to say that after that run, no one else should write Daredevil would be insane. DD had some lean years but along came Bendis with a run Miller would have never written but was definitely mining the same territory.

Larry Hama will always be the ultimate G.I. Joe writer but if he had been the only one to write the characters I would never have gotten Max Brooks’s wonderful Hearts and Minds series.

So should Buffy continue on film without Whedon? Honestly, no. While the producers may have had the money and connections to make the character “alive”, Josh was the one who breathed life in her.

…wow that was a bit of a ramble wasn’t it?

Brent Chittenden
Brent Chittenden

Brent Chittenden is a Canadian freelance writer currently writing for alancross.ca, geekhardshow.com and his own pop culture podcast, TATANS. He is readily available for writing and speaking gigs. Brent like sandwiches.

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