Buffy the Vampire Slayer: TV Show vs Comics

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If it was not already obvious, I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I watched it when it first came on and while not every episode was a winner, overall I was invested. At the end of season 7 though, I did feel like as a TV show they did a good job of closing the story out and that it had reached its time.

One problem that they originally ran into is that they thought they might have been cancelled at the end of season 5 so they actually created a good closing for season 5. Then season 6 started on another channel, and it created a little bit of a rocky transition, but season 6 also has some of my favorite episodes. Then season 7 came around and it really was the last season.

They had been out of high school for a while and ending on season 7 with Dawn back in high school was such a great homage to the beginning. The story ended with Buffy still fighting, but it created a nice closing to the story. Then later on I find out that they actually ended up continuing the story in comic form. So here is a look at some of the differences between doing Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a TV show versus as a comic.

Scale

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So one of the biggest differences between the comic and TV show is scale. The size of the battles, the number of characters, the types of monsters, and the locations have the ability to be larger in the comic. In one comic you can go from a castle in Scotland to downtown Japan and you do not have to worry about the budget of recreating or going to those locations.

The comic is really interesting because the weight of a slayer has always been huge. They talk about the one girl fighting against the vampires and demons, but in the show it was always in Sunnydale. Which in a TV show with a budget it works because it would be hard to travel to too many other places. The comic helps to expand the world that Buffy and the gang are living in and showing that it is not just Sunnydale that experiences problems. One of the first things you see in season 8 is that Dawn has been turned into a giant, the reason for it is really interesting and would have been very hard to pull off in a TV show.

Story Arc / Monster of the Week

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As a TV show Buffy was confined to 24 episodes at about 45 minutes an episode. A comic season is paced differently, and while still having a page limit, you can take 4 or 5 comics to tell a whole story arc. In the tv show you usually had the overarching bad guy that you may not find out about until mid season and then the monsters of the week. The show would build towards the season finale while dealing with the monster of the week, but the rest were sort of one-shots and some of them were not good one-shots (I am looking at you Bad Eggs and Ted).

With the comic they can do side arcs for a couple comics, but it usually did not stray too far or too long from the main story. If side stories do exist they might choose to make a whole other comic like they did with Willow after season 8. It is a very different pacing and there is more of an overarching story instead of having the random monster appearing. Some of this relates to the larger scale that they have moved towards with the comic. In the comic you end up with a fight of hundreds lasting a whole comic instead of the 5 minutes we could afford to show of such a scale on the TV show.

Lack of Live Action

So this is an obvious difference, but some of my favorite episodes from the TV show would be difficult to pull off as a comic due to the lack of the actors. As I read the comics I definitely still hear Buffy, Xander, Spike, Willow, etc. when I read the characters, but there are some subtleties that are harder to pull off in the comic. One episode in particular is the one where Faith and Buffy switch bodies (Who Are You). The way the two actresses play each other’s characters is so subtle and brilliant it would be hard to see that in a comic. There are verbal cues, but the facial expressions were most of what sold it.

Another episode is I Only Have Eyes for You where Angel and Buffy get possessed by ghosts. The end scene where Buffy and Angel have a conversation as the ghosts was such a beautiful moment and the actors do a great job of subtlety changing how they are talking and acting to be the ghosts instead of their characters. Then of course there is Once More With Feeling, because how can you really successfully pull off the interplay of musicals happening in that episode? Also, Anthony Stewart Head is amazing.

To Be Continued

I am currently in the middle of season 9 of Buffy and loving it. The comic has taken the show to a different place and different scale which creates a different level of story-telling. At the same time some of the monsters of the week were such amusing and creative ideas, and that does not seem to be showing up as much in the comic. Yes, they are adding a ton more creatures, but it does not play out the same way it did on the TV show.

So what do you think of Buffy continuing as a comic? Did you think the end of season 7 was good enough, so where do you really go from there? Do you love the idea of the story continuing on a larger scale than before?

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One response to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: TV Show vs Comics

  1. Pingback: Fracturing the time, space, continuum while watching TV shows | seventhvoice

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