Last week's Buffy #37 saw the return of a face readers hadn't seen in years: writer Scott Allie. Although Allie has served as the editor for the Buffy series since Joss Whedon returned to the character four years ago, this is the first time Allie has written in the Buffyverse since a stint on the 2002 prose series Tales of the Slayers from Simon & Shuster and Allie’s first foray into writing actual Buffy comics. Allie will co-write two more issues, finishing out the "Last Gleaming" story-arc and paving the way for Joss Whedon writing the season finale, Buffy #40.
In the current story-arc "Last Gleaming", Buffy has reunited with Spike and returned to the place it all began: Sunnydale. The recently returned Angel has his own troubles as he has to deal with failing in his task under the guise of Twilight to get buffy to agree to a world-changing event with some sinister side effects. Series artist Georges Jeanty is illustrating this penultimate arc – and the season finale – making these final issues the original line-up, save Scott Allie pulling double-duty as editor and co-writer..
Allie, who edits all of the various Whedon books for Dark Horse – as well as other series under his title as Senior Managing Editor – talked with Newsarama about his gig and handling Joss Whedon's franchise and Dark Horse's best-selling comic.
Newsarama: Seeing your name on the co-writing credit on Buffy #37 got me thinking about to the stories you did for Buffy back in the day. Since you're juggling the editing and co-writing of these next few issues, can you tell us where you're at with that?
Scott Allie: Yeah, I'm mostly done, aside from some tweaks to dialogue. We worked out an outline together for the last five issues, so with #37-39, I've written the script from the outline, with him fixing it up. Right now Joss is working on the last issue, solo.
Nrama: How does the process work – where does Joss stop and you begin?
Allie: Well, the outline was written with us sitting in his office for a few days, really taking things apart in a lot of detail. So a lot of detail was discussed at that point, and that informs the scripting. I submit a finished script to him, like I would with any editor, but his notes come back pretty specific, sometimes with particular lines to rework a scene around, sometimes with pretty major rewriting—more detailed notes than I've ever gotten from another editor. I make the changes, the script goes to Georges, and then when it's time to letter, Joss rewrites some dialogue to make sure the voices are just right, punch it up or enliven it some. So I'd say for the most part, the major plot points are all him, the structure is a mix of us, the storytelling is more me, and the final dialogue is more him.
Nrama: Your first issue co-writing -- Buffy #37 – just came out. Holding it in your hands, can you see where you are and where Joss is?
Allie: No. It's all pretty integrated—looking at the finished #37, I don't remember which lines were mine and which were his.
Nrama: Editing these Buffy books seems like a big challenge, and probably one of the most high-profile gigs of your career – especially since your series writer is such a busy guy I’m sure you’ll pulling some extra hours. Can you tell us any demands on this series that’s different from editing say, Conan or something?
Allie: It's unique in a lot of ways, but having the story bouncing from writer to writer, and most of them being writers from the show, is maybe the biggest way in which it's unique. Also having something with the cultural significance of Buffy is great, and while Star Wars and Conan have equal or greater significance, we're working hand in hand with Joss. Also, we have to have some consideration for the actors behind the characters, something I didn't learn right away, all those years ago on Buffy.
Nrama: How has being the editor on the book – and Joss’s primary contact – prepared you for stepping in to write these issues?
Allie: I've spent the last four years watching the writing pretty closely, talking through problems with him, and caring more than anyone except him where the story's going. I've been knee deep in it for all this time. We've had different writers step in for all these different arcs, but to have me writing the finale with him is basically just taking the two people who've been in it for the longest and having them put their heads together to make sure four years adds up in the right way.
Nrama: You’ve been editing Buffy books for a long time – even before Season 8, with the older Buffy books. How do you think having Joss on-board has helped the series?
Allie: Well, it's huge. We do a better job because of him, people take it more seriously because of him—and certainly his expectations of us are a lot higher than if it were just some rights holder approving scripts. He pushes us to do something worthy of his attention ... I mean, I don't think he would see it that way, but that's the reality of it. If he's gonna participate in this comic book, and validate it, give us canonical story growth, we damn well better rise to the occasion.
Nrama: After the Buffy: The Vampire Slayer #40, the last issue of Season 8 -- what’s next, and when?
Allie: We start the slow burn to building up to Season 9. We have a lot of work to do. We're wreaking havoc on these characters in this book, and we'll need some serious planning to put it back together. We also want to do some new editions of the material, including the deluxe Buffy: Tales hardcover. We want to spend some time on Dollhouse. We'll be plenty busy, after taking a little break after wrapping up #40. I want to celebrate.How do you think Buffy will wrap up?