SDCC 2012: Buffy Turns 20 Panel Recap

By July 19, 2012
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Lights out.

Video plays.

Walk on stage – introduce myself (don’t trip [water & lip gloss])…
Thank everyone for coming! Introduce guests! Ask questions to panel. Open Q/A to audience. Giveaway quiz. Goodbye!

And that was basically the plan for the Buffy Turns 20 panel at SDCC 2012! Some may call me spontaneous, some may call me a procrastinator – and over the years I’ve worried my parents to death “winging it” over small things like not preparing for the SATs, or not attending classes between the midterms or the finals at NYU…. But I digress….

My plans for the “Buffy Turns 20” panel was to simply assemble my favorite contributors to the Buffy brand and legacy, and basically let the Whedon flag fly!

As the 2 o’clock hour rolled around I was stoked! I was pacing backstage, and I have to give a big shout-out to James for being the first guest to join me backstage. I gave James a hug. Game on peeps!

Georges Jentry, Jane Espenson  and Scott Allie arrived next, with Randall Bantikoff flying in a few minutes later. After introductions all around, we started to gear up for the commencement of the event! For those keeping track, Nicky B (Nicholas Brendon) was yet to appear… but Nick’s never let me down, and this event was no different. Sauntering in at the 11th hour, our group was ready to take the stage!

As the tribute video played, we could feel the excitement from the crowd behind the curtain! Cheering, oohs and ahhs accompanied the Wild Child soundtrack as Kristy Swanson and Sarah Michelle Gellar’s respective Buffies kicked-ass in clips from the movie and series, mixed in with shots of the comics. The video ended, and as I walked across the stage my nerves melted away. Buffy has been the biggest gift of my career; the fandom is unbelievable and I felt encompassed by the vibe of the show. Time to get our Buffy on!

Guests onstage? Check. First question to Jane: “Why do you think Buffy has become such a pinnacle legacy in brand and pop-culture?” Jane: “Because High School still exists.” Thank you Jane!

What has Buffy meant to James and Nick? Turns out, everything. Nick talked about auditioning for the show, the evolution of Xander, the self-dreaded eye-patch… Something you may not know – Nick feared Joss was a one point trying to kill Xander, hence the eye-patch becoming a compromise amongst writers to mar the character but keep him alive. When Nick asked Jane if this was the case, Jane pondered before revealing that she didn’t quite recall that discussion. Political answer, fact or reality… we may never know!

James seized the opportunity to then dispel (or fuel) rumors of a Spike movie or spin-off! James basically said he would follow Joss anywhere – but in his mind there was a limited time frame in which he could properly continue the character: 10 years. To be specific, James didn’t want to portray Spike in a geriatric state. However, James felt there was a small window left to continue the character, but the overall vibe from the crowd was contrary… a Spike continuation in film or television would be welcome at any point in time!

The conversation then turned to the comics, with the focus being the fact that the beloved characters in this forum were ageless. I asked Georges how he felt when approached by Joss re: rendering the infamous actors into comic form. Georges actually said he was really apprehensive until he had an interesting discussion with Joss. Joss, basically said something like “I don’t want a drawing of Sarah Michelle Geller. I don’t want a drawing of Buffy. I want the essence of the character by your artistic hand.” Georges said that after hearing Joss’ words, something clicked and the pressure of rendering those characters was lifted.

It was then touched upon how certain storylines were more feasible to be continued in the comic medium than on the television show, due to both time constraints and budgetary limitation. Perfect example of this was cited as the Giant Dawn plot line.

A couple of crowd-pleasing moments ensued when James delivered his favorite line from the show as “out for a walk”, and Nick graciously gave us another version of the Snoopy dance! Jane also made the announcement that Joss would be guest starring in all three episodes of the next season of “Husbands,” which drew cheers from the crowd.

One interesting note: Randall truly seemed shell-shocked about the fandom surrounding the Buffy brand! Giving us a peek into the shooting of the movie (over 20 years ago), Randall stated that even then, Joss was an amazing, intuitive artist to work with. No big shock there.

And commenced the on-stage Joss love with Joss being credited for the longevity of several careers. Jane told an interesting story of her pre-Buffy days, writing for sitcoms and such, and James discussed his acting prior to Spike, revealing he had not been watching the show when called to audition. Actually, James said he wanted to pass on the audition until his agents convinced him to at least think about it overnight and watch an episode. Thankfully he heeded their advice, and upon watching the show he did a 180 and was stoked to audition. Yea for Spike fans!

At this point I was getting flagged from backstage that TIME WAS RUNNING OUT! BTW, if anyone wants to know the universal sign for “hurry the f#ck up” just imaging a heavily tattooed/pierced super-nice dude waving his arms like crazy, jumping up and down in a general state of panic. Copy that, nice dude! Time for the quiz.

This was the wonderful moment in time for my iPad to decide to malfunction and die. I seriously could not believe it. I looked down at the tablet screen and saw it suddenly flashing red and watched the image on the screen imploded. That moment truly sucked. Thankfully, I knew the quiz pretty well, so I got the first few questions rolling while the amazing Tom from GeekNation ran his smart phone up to me with the quiz on it. Thanks for having my back, Tom! Come back to GeekNation tomorrow to see the full version of the quiz!

Suddenly the panel was over. The anticipation, the excitement and the work came to an abrupt end, as hugs were given all-around. As has been proven by its legacy though the years, the Buffy brand is here to stay.

So for this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, I sincerely say, bye-bye Buffy friends. I want to personally thank everyone who attended the panel. You were all so wonderful and kind. I hope to see you again soon. Don’t forget to come back to GeekNation tomorrow and take the Buffy quizz.

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