Non-super-powered sidekick no more! When Dark Horse releases Buffy the Vampire: Season 10 #1 in March, it's Xander who will be leading the Scooby Gang — or more accurately, Nicholas Brendon will. The actor has joined the comic's writing team, and we interviewed him to discuss the return of Dracula, Giles' new affinity for boobs, and whether Buffy needs to be killed again.
io9: How did you get involved with the Buffy comics and with Dark Horse?
Brendon: They had always just wanted to work with me because of what an amazing writer I was. [laughs] It's funny, I don't really know how. I think it was at San Diego Comic-Con, because I know [Editor] Scott Allie has worked with other actors on the comics — they've worked with Juliet Landau, and I know they worked with James [Marsters], and I'd heard about that. So I talked with Scott at Comic-Con a couple of years ago and was like "Yeah, dude, I'll do it." It was just kind of one of those things, and I did the Buffy comics writing summit about a year ago and then I got paired up with [current comics writer] Christos Gage and we went to town.
What was the writing summit like?
Brendon: We were all kind of sitting in a circle, and we were there for hours. And then we had this idea for the main plotline through this season. And we were just kind of talking and all these ideas were floating in-between the circle, and they all amalgamated into this pretty amazing story. Watching it come into existence was amazing. I had to stop and be like "Did you guys realize what just happened? We just changed everything." It was neat to just be among all those great writers — Joss included — and see this thing come into being. It's really cool. But I can't talk about it.
What's it been like to create actual stories for these characters?
Brendon: A lot of it is just ideas that I've had in the past, and we'll be going over the outline or I'll be reading what we've got. It's funny because there's actually some stuff coming up with Xander and Spike. I just saw the drawings of what the covers might be, so I need to talk to Scott because I have a couple of ideas about that. So it's kind of like ideas will just come and I'll say "Hey, how about this?" And then they'll just say — well, actually, I guess I've never been told no yet, so I guess my ideas are decent. Maybe I should pitch killing Buffy. Does that sound good? Just kill her dead.
Well, there's certainly precedent. How easy is it to write for the other characters? I'm assuming you have Xander pretty well down.
Brendon: Well, I'm not sure what you know and what you don't know about the previous comics, but Giles is a kid now, and I just feel he should be talking about boobs more. I just bring a certain immaturity level to this thing. Because the comics are so smart— they've got smarts all over it. Sometimes it just needs to be really immature. Think of me as the Bill Murray of this scenario.
Are you finished with the writing now?
Brendon: No. We finished a main arc and then we start with the new arc in the next week or two.
How many issues are you writing?
Brendon: That's a good question. I don't know. I mean, so far I've done three. But I kind of want to stay involved. I think as long as I want to do it they'll let me. Everyone's gotten sick. I got really sick in Portland a couple weeks ago, then got Christos sick and then Scott got really sick. So that's kind of slowed things down a little bit, because I got people sick — which I'm not proud of.
How much can you say about season 10?
Brendon: Probably nothing. Like if Scott [Allie] were sitting here right now he'd be like "nope." He's very "shut up." I'm shocked he's letting me talk to you right now. I think he must be listening in.
I know Dracula is coming back, which is always great, since Xander and he have such a complicated relationship.
Brendon: He is. He's wonderful. It goes straight from the Xander/Dracula story to the Xander/Spike stuff which is going to be a lot of fun.
You know, there's an Angel and Faith comic, so I don't see any reason why they can't have Xander and Dracula as a spin-off comic.
Brendon: Right? That would actually be enjoyable.
What have you thought about the previous season 8 and 9 comics? How do you think they compare to the show?
Brendon: Oh, it's so different. I mean, before this [gig] I hadn't been reading the comics. I missed Xander too much, you know? It was kind of like it's Xander but it's not. It looks like me but it's not. So when I first picked it up, Spike was on a giant bug ship, and I was like "Whaaat?" Because that was completely weird.
Writing comics is completely different than the TV show, because you have much more freedom to try stuff. And I think Joss has said the comics are its own entity, like if we were ever to do a Buffy movie it wouldn't necessarily be based on the comics. You can just get so much more fantastical on comics. You have the ideas and then you just draw them. It's really epic. It's a lot more fantasy based.
And Xander and Dawn are now in a relationship, which was weird for me, but I just had to say okay, well, this is the way comics are and this comic is. I just kind of jumped on board with that.
Speaking of Dawn, how do you feel about Xander hooking up with her in the comics?
Brendon: Well honestly, when I first found out, I was weirded out. When I think of Dawn I think of Michelle [Trachtenberg], who was like 13 or 14 when she came on the show. So I always thought of her that way, and then about two or three years ago I saw a spread in FHM magazine and she's grown up. And at that point I'm totally down with Xander and Dawn. I'm down.
Do you ever see Michelle Trachtenberg? Has this your comics-dating ever come up in conversation?
Brendon: I haven't seen her since we started comic dating, but when I do see her she'll know right away. I won't hide it. I'll sneak up behind her.
At this point pretty much the entire Buffy cast has died and been resurrected. Do you think Xander should get his damn eye back?
Brendon: No. No.
Brendon: Yeah, 'cause he looks great in comic book form. Actually, it would be a cool thing to talk to Scott about, for a potential story where I have the opportunity to get my eye back, but I don't want it back. I don't want to erase the past. Me personally — that's not Xander speaking, because all he wants to do is erase the past.
The Buffy comics are well known for their utterly gorgeous Jo Chen covers. How do you feel about looking so ridiculously sexy on these things?
Brendon: Well, when you're as sexy as I am, you get used to it. I'll wake up in the morning and brush my teeth, you know, shave, and I'm like "God, Nick, you are ridiculously sexy." And then I think, "You know, these comics aren't doing me any justice."