Buffy Summers is heading back to school!
Dark Horse has announced the release of Buffy the High School Years, which takes her and the soon-to-be dubbed Scooby Gang back to the first season where it all began. Written by award-winning author Faith Erin Hicks and illustrated by Yishan Li, the new series has small band of vampires who don’t exactly run with the cool crowd and are looking to make an impression--by taking out the fresh Slayer.
Still new the job, Buffy will do her best to fend off these fanged geeks, all the while balance her social life and still trying to make new friends in Sunnydale. Newsarama had the chance to talk to Hicks about the series and how the horrors of high school made it in to the story, as well as exploring Buffy’s relationships at this point with her friends.
Newsarama: Instead of going forward in another season, we're actually going back to the high school years. Do you prefer Buffy stories in high school or later down the line in college and afterwards?
Faith Erin Hicks: Every period of Buffy the Vampire Slayer has something to recommend it. I think there's great stuff throughout every season. I have a lot of nostalgia and fondness for the early high school years. I was a teenager when Buffy first started airing on TV, and I loved the show so much that the very first comic I ever did was really, really similar to it.
Call it a homage (or rip off). Buffy was the first TV show to really get the whole horror plus comedy plus teenage angst thing, and I loved it from day one. I like the early seasons a lot because they're the closest to the show's original concept, one girl against all the evil in the world.
Nrama: Can you tell us a little bit about this new threat for this? Nerdy vampires? Is that even a thing?
Hicks: Sure, why not? I think it's hilarious. Haven't you noticed how whenever someone turns into a monster, like Xander's friend Jesse in the pilot episode, they get transformed into a seemingly more desirable (albeit evil) version of themselves? Jesse turns into a vampire, and suddenly he's completely self-assured, demanding Cordelia dance with him at the Bronze. Or like vampire Willow from the episode “The Wish." She's transformed from nerdy Willow into this much sexier Willow, who wears tight clothes, and is “kinda gay.”
But what if you were a geeky loser, you got turned into a vampire, and you didn't get transformed into a cool, sexy monster? What if you just stayed the same, and got picked on by the other vampires, because you were still a boring loser? As someone who was awkward and super nerdy and had no friends in high school , I thought the idea was really funny, so decided to run with it. And Yishan did such a good job drawing the nerdy vampire kids! I love our loser monster babies, they're trying so hard to do evil and they're so bad at it.
Nrama: So where exactly in the Buffy timeline does this series take place?
Hicks: It's season one, before the “Angel” episode.
Nrama: Oh, okay, so very early on. You know, high school seems like a lifetime ago, but are you putting any of your personal experiences in this arc, or at least some sort of sensibilities?
Hicks: Oh yeah, absolutely. I will always mine my awful high school experiences for comics! Not that I was an evil kid, but I love putting all the frustration I felt as a teenager into villain characters. The nerdy vampire kids are very close to my heart.
Nrama: Is this story at it’s heart a Buffy story, or is the Scooby Gang involved as well?
Hicks: The story is set very early in the Buffy timeline, so Buffy's relationship with the other Scoobys isn't as deep. Willow and Xander are her friends, and she has the mentor relationship with Giles, but it's not as strong as it is in later seasons. The gang is still getting to know each other, and learning how to fight together. Cordelia makes a cameo, but she's not a part of the group yet.
Nrama: One of the cornerstones of this Buffy era was her relationship with Giles. What does that relationship mean to you and how are you exploring it here?
Hicks: I've always considered Giles is super important to Buffy, so much so that the show just doesn't feel right without him. He's more than her Watcher, he's the person who helps ground her.
At the point of this story, though, their relationship is less deep. Buffy has just moved to Sunnydale, and is adjusting to her life as the Slayer there. Giles is an important part of that, but he and Buffy haven't yet defeated the Master or dealt with Angel, so their relationship is a little more basic at this time. They're strictly Watcher and Slayer. Maybe if I get to write more of these books, I'll do more with their relationship.