A Comic Afterlife

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily in Tuesday 27th July 2010.

I’ve written previously about the disappointment of having your favourite television show axed with no storyline resolution, denying you the opportunity to say goodbye to much beloved characters. I’ve since discovered that several of my favourite shows live on, but this time they’re back in comic book form.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer ran from 1997 to 2003. Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and created by Joss Whedon of Firefly and Dollhouse fame, Buffy is still a fan favourite and continues to sell extremely well on DVD. The final season of Buffy, the seventh, culminates in an all-out battle between the Scooby Gang and the bad guys, known as the First Evil. Whilst delivering a satisfactory ending, many fans felt that there were still more stories to tell.

In 2007, Dark Horse Comics began publishing Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 in illustrated form. With writing from Joss Whedon, the comic picks up directly from where the television series left off. Initially proposed to be a 25 issue limited series, the comic proved to be so popular that it was expanded to 40 issues. With number 35 recently hitting the shelves, Season 9 in comic book form has now been announced. First edition copies of Season 8 issues have become highly collectible items, but for the non-collector, much of the series has been reissued in graphic novel format.

Angel was a spin-off TV series from Buffy and starred David Boreanaz, who later went on to feature in hit crime procedural dramedy, Bones. Airing from 1999 to 2004, Angel ran in parallel with Buffy storyline-wise for its first three years, with multiple guest appearances from the titular cheerleader (and vice versa). Angel’s final episode ended with an ambiguous cliff hanger which frustrated many loyal fans.

Angel: After the Fall began publication by IDW Comics in 2007. Buoyed by the success of Buffy Season 8, Angel’s comic incarnation also follows in a canonical extension of the live series. Running for 17 issues with Joss Whedon contributing to the writing, it has since evolved into an ongoing title.

Similarly, the Aaron Spelling produced series Charmed is soon to continue on in comic form. Ceasing production in 2006 after 178 episodes, the comic adventures of the Halliwell sisters will take place following the events of the final and eighth season. It could be argued that the storylines of Charmed were already two dimensional prior to the comic but I wouldn’t want to offend the show’s whacky wicca fans.

A comic afterlife is also planned for the much missed and prematurely cancelled Pushing Daisies.

For those of you who can’t get enough of current hit shows, further comic book adventures in the worlds of True Blood, Eureka, Doctor Who and Supernatural have been released.

Comic book continuations of television franchises are a great way for fans to follow the ongoing trials and tribulations of their favourite characters. Whilst television shows are slaves to production budgets, ratings and the contract lengths of its stars, comic books can keep both the studios and fans happy with storylines limited only by the writer’s imagination.

Published in: on August 8, 2010 at 12:02  Leave a Comment  
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Supanova: a day of geeky goodness

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 22nd June 2010.

Ever wondered where former television and film actors go when their careers begin to slow down, or even come to a complete stop? They hit the convention circuit and this past weekend in Sydney, the Supanova pop culture expo exploded into Sydney’s Olympic Park.

An annual event, Supanova attracts fans of all ages and interests. Covering almost all aspects of geekdom, from television and movies to anime (Japanese animation), comics, wrestling and gaming, this convention is the perfect place to grab an autograph from your favourite actor, locate that elusive comic for your collection and spend, spend, spend at the numerous stores, laden with toys, t-shirts and collectibles.

Of course, if you fancy wandering around dressed up as a superhero, a Japanese cartoon character or a Stormtrooper, you certainly would not be out of place at Supanova. In fact, attending in costume is encouraged and hundreds of fans came out in their best costumes to participate in the National Cosplay (costume play) Championships. I’m still wondering how the guy in the homemade rubber Alien suit went to the bathroom or caught the train home.

This year’s special guests included Lou Ferrigno, Michael Winslow, Eliza Dushku and Charisma Carpenter. Who exactly are these celebrities, you may ask?

Mr Ferrigno came to fame in the seventies as the original Incredible Hulk. After 5 years painted green and running around in his trousers smashing things up on TV, Lou’s star fell and he now is a personal trainer and a regular on the international fan convention circuit. Despite being profoundly deaf, he is a fascinating speaker and still in great shape.

Remember the guy from the Police Academy movies that made all of the funny sounds? That’s Michael Winslow. Still highly amusing, his act hasn’t changed since his movie franchise ground to a halt in 1994.

Eliza Dushku and Charisma Carpenter are both alumni from the Whedonverse, a series of television shows created by Joss Whedon, which includes Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Dollhouse. Both actresses were extremely popular with the attendees, despite being “between jobs”.

All guest stars participated in Q & A sessions, where fans got to field questions about almost anything. I attended the majority of these sessions and found all of the celebrities to be most professional, despite the odd inappropriate question. Most interesting were the more aged guests, such as Lou Ferrigno, who had many entertaining stories from a lengthy career as a minor celebrity.

The majority of the celebrities’ time over the weekend was spent giving autographs. When I say, giving, I actually mean selling. Whilst resting “between jobs” or in the twilight of their careers, the convention circuit is a reliable source of income for all but the highest echelon of performers.

For the sum of $30 per autograph, fans can get the signature of their favourite guests on a headshot photograph or an item of their choice. For $40, you can have a professional photo with them too. For the mega fan who wants to skip the queues, a VIP ticket for $800 will get you in the front row of the talks and guaranteed photos and autographs.

The Supanova experience is certainly not a cheap day out but for those of us who like to bath in geeky goodness, it is an annual pilgrimage. Now if only I could get a minor role in a Star Wars movie or something, I could make a living with a permanent marker on the convention circuit.