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August 08 2007

The Onion's AV Club interviews Joss. Huge interview with Joss in this week's The Onion. Lots of info on what he's been doing, what he won't say in interviews anymore, some tidbits on how he works, and, as always, great quotes.

AVC: Why did the TV series ending mandate killing off Wesley?

JW: Because it was awesome.

Wow, lots of good interviews with Joss this week!
This is an interesting interview, but I think it is too bad if Joss really feels that he can only have important characters in the comics who had been previously introduced on the TV show. Personally I have found it very easy to get interested in Renee crushing on Xander, and I really broke my heart over the nameless slayer who was masquerading as Buffy.
I notice that while everyone piles on to offhand (and slightly misunderstood) remarks about "buying the DVD could lead to a sequel", no one is diving into this:

The word "franchise" has almost killed my career. If people don't stop using it, I'm going to get very twitchy.

To be clear, he does also reiterate that if someone offered the chance to do another, he would. But I find the above to be not unimportant as a thought, especially when combined with another remark in the same interview, about the idea of Buffy on TV again in some form, where Joss suggests that "I do have to prove at some point that I can do other things."
True, i'd very much like a sequel but I think in all the talk of potential trilogies sometimes we maybe kinda forget that we have a great film that by pretty much all the 'rules' we shouldn't have. If that's it, well, we were still damn lucky (and for that, at the very least, Universal should be applauded).

... but I think it is too bad if Joss really feels that he can only have important characters in the comics who had been previously introduced on the TV show.

Dunno, he seemed more to be saying partly that you have to draw a line and not have very minor characters in the comic just because they were in the show and partly that it's easier to create resonant stories with pre-established characters. Agreed though, his new characters in Buffy:'S8' have been good and I want to spend more time with pretty much all of them (and it's obviously only by spending that time that we develop the attachments that can be 'used' to create resonant moments).

Great, great interview. Totally with him on the spoiler thing. I know folk who will, literally, do the Billy Crystal thing and read the last pages of a book before the rest. It just leaves me absolutely aghast. How, how I ask you can that not take away from your enjoyment ? Never have understood the seeking out of spoilers.

Also, after reading that, for the first time I think i'm really sorry we didn't get to see his take on Wonder Woman. Every piece of news he drops about it makes it sound more and more interesting.
That's why I resolutely will not tell anybody what happened in Shepherd Book's past, because I'm still clinging to the notion that I one day may be able to.

I hear what Joss is saying about the franchise trap, but I will never give up the hope of hearing him tell more of the Firefly/Serenity story.

this is a great interview, long and detailed, covering every topic I am interested in. Thanks for the link (I've now wasted my entire morning reading online)!
Longer Joss interviews = better.
- I hear what Joss is saying about the franchise trap, but I will never give up the hope of hearing him tell more of the Firefly/Serenity story.

Just as I will never give up hope on the Malcolm Reynolds beer koozie.
"I survived the Battle of Serenity Valley and all I got was this lousy Beer Koozie. It was worth every second."
I'm so glad he's not giving us any Goners info, while at the same time I'm salivating over every little tidbit. I was spoiled for The Sixth Sense before I saw the movie (my own gorram fault, EW said there were spoilers!), and I've been mad about it ever since. It was a great movie but would've been thrice as good without the spoiling. That's the reason I seldom watch "Next week on..." at the ends of episodes, I DON'T WANNA KNOW!

Anyway, I was hoping for an early 2008 start, so the news they may start this year gives me tingles. :)
This was such a delightful, chunky, rich interview. Good Goners dope, too. (I've been waiting for it to go online since a blogger mentioned they'd read it in their 8/2 hardcopy days ago...)

Yeah, Saje, I especially and duly noted that, too, about franchises and the career-threatening and the twitchy.

There's so many things Joss said that are quote-worthy that I'll just have to pick one almost at random:

"You never want to be writing the thing you're writing, unless you're actually in it, unless it's just flowing, and you're typing, and you're laughing, and you're crying, and everything's giddy, and you're in the moment. That's the beauty of it. All the rest of the time, all you want to think about is whatever it is you're not supposed to be thinking about. Having said that, most of my best ideas have come while I was procrastinating about something else I was supposed to be writing. So I respect that."

Ain't that the truth.

This was cool to hear about his episode of The Office - as an artist, I was very interested in this, and I remember thinking at the time how perfectly Pam-y her art appeared: "There was that thing about Pam's art. I got to the set and saw Pam's art, and I was like, 'This is not right.' [Laughs.] I held up production for an hour while they frantically made new art. That was the one time when I felt the power of the visiting director. What are they going to do, fire me? Somebody was like, "You're really working to protect your vision." I was like, 'No, no, no, no, no. This is in the script. This is Greg and Brent Forrester's vision. They've written down a very beautiful thing about exactly what her art should be like, and that's what I'm going to put on the screen.' "

And for you, b!xy: "They're putting out the Collector's Edition DVD, because the DVD is selling so very well. That's something that maybe, some time from now, someone will look at the numbers and go, 'Well, that was worth it. Let's do that again. Let's do it smaller, let's do it different.' I'd do it on radio."

(And WTH is it called a beer "koozie"? Do beer drinkers not care for the word "cosy"?)
Yeah, Saje, I especially and duly noted that, too, about franchises and the career-threatening and the twitchy.

Saje gets this, although I'm the one that brought it up? Hrmph!

And yes. He mentioned radio again. It's got to be on those 12 clipboards somewhere.
Great interview

Nice bit about Angel:After the Fall, and about Wesley's death.
Saje got that, b!x, 'cause he mentioned it a bit like we were conveniently skipping over it, not 'cause he mentioned it first. So I wanted to make the point that it was noted, at least by me... ;>
I hereby (and gladly, even sheepishly) share the 'that' with theonetruebix. Would prefer to have it Monday/Wednesday/Friday plus every other weekend but i'm totally open to negotiation, and it works out pretty well because I won't need it on most American holidays.

(AFAIK over here we just call 'em "thingies to hold yer can/bottle" but isn't it a cross between 'cooler' and 'cosy' ? And they're not that common anyway, first time I saw one in the flesh, it came from a US embassy in Oman - cheers Mum ;). Not much call in the UK since it implies a) it's warm enough to heat beer and b) you're drinking it slowly enough for that to matter - both of which are just downright un-British ;)
Yeah, but no, but yeah.

I just realized that I was wrong, and whipped through reading too quickly and misread who said what and that the "that" was the b!x's and Saje can have all the "this" on alternate Tuesdays and I think I should just go home and get in bed and pull the covers over my head.

Or, I could just forget about it and move on. Like Joss ;>

To get Goners info out of Joss, apparently you have to buy him a $10,000 dinner.

Just a thought: How many dinners would it take to finance the entire movie?

I feel like the guy who invented junk bonds.
Bonds ... for junk ? Could the key to immense wealth really be that simple ?

(i'm actually much happier with this, that felt unearned and was filling me with Catholic guilt - which would involve converting to Catholicism among other things, bit inconvenient really)
To get Goners info out of Joss, apparently you have to buy him a $10,000 dinner.

I don't recall any of the dinner winners saying anything about Goners being much of a subject, although Suzanne supposedly knows what Cabin in the Woods is about. Did I miss something?

I'd be surprised if much of anything new re: Goners came up in the dinner. Joss has been pretty consistently firm for months now in not saying much more than "supernatural thriller".
Maybe, genuinehandcraftedb!x. It's too hot to check. And perhaps not technically feasible at this juncture.

I think 50 dinners with five fans paying $10,000 each would fund an episode of Buffy.

[ edited by Pointy on 2007-08-09 00:20 ]
Well, as much as I didn't cry tears over Joss and Wonder Woman parting ways, his thoughts on how he would have written the character were spectacular. So I'm sort of disappointed, but know that it would never have worked out right with a studio who never even asked what it was about.
Does anyone know anything about these Final Fantasy VIII clips Joss (perhaps jokingly) talks about? Or this interview with the X-Men question that he refers to?
I found it very interesting to read what he said about fan financed projects. This was a fab interview btw, the Onion does make a real effort when it comes to their interviews. Now if they could just do one with Tim Minear I would be a very happy bunny indeed.
Yeah, their one from 2001 is still one of the stand-out Joss interviews IMO.

With the fan finance thing in mind, I wonder if Joss has had a look at 'Sanctuary' which, though financed up front by investors, is a pay as you view web based TV show made almost entirely without sets ? So far it's shown some real promise creatively IMO and if it turns out to be a viable business model I could see Joss having a lot of success (and maybe more importantly, freedom) by adopting it.
The one, well, several times I didn't pick up The Onion from the box, it has a fabulous interview with Joss in it, too late for me, because the new issue is already in the box.

I have to say, though, that I was a little disappointed by one thing Joss said, that I think he's said before. He said that part of the reason he wouldn't do comics for a living is the puny paychecks. I have to think that there are people who are providing for their families, on a middle-class or working-class level, by doing just that. They eat, they go to school, maybe not with Joss's kids.
A wonderful interview- he is certainly being interviewed all over the place recently, which gives me a pleasant (albeit largely self-induced) sense of impending additional announcements.
dreamlogic-I do know what you mean about how that sounds, but I think it is not so much an unthinking, spoiled rich person remark as all that. Given the ability to get paid for many wonderful things you love to do, all other things being equal, most of us would consider the level of remuneration in choosing among them. Many other things Joss has said show that he does know he is lucky to have the life he has.

[ edited by toast on 2007-08-09 13:22 ]
So, besides being dead and fictional, we have another reason Anya will never appear here. Simon is a rabbit.

Being a world-class (two golds and a silver) pessimist, all this talk of proposed but not finalized projects gives me belly rumblings. The number of rewrites he's having to do on Goners is not a sign of studio support, whatever upbeat spin Joss puts on it. And notice, no mention of Ripper, which he hasn't even written a script for. And where is a fifteen minute short ballet going to be shown, YouTube?

I want to see all these projects and everything he has on his twelve clipboards, but talking them up before they're firm just invites the gods to crush you under their sandals. Plus, it leads to disappointment for those of us who get our hopes raised.

I'll be surprised and happy if all these projects actually come to fruition, that's the pessimists' perk, but I'm not so sure they will.

[ edited by shambleau on 2007-08-09 15:43 ]
I really don't understand how such a talented writer and director like Joss, who has won industry acclaim, who has millions of fans, can be overlooked by Hollywood so badly. It's like they keep saying, "Joss, we want the bland, tasteless and formula stuff, and you're just not bland or tasteless, and you've been off formula for about forty two years. Thanks but no thanks."

As for Joss' claim that he did a disservice by revealing his unaired "Tara moment," I think he's right. He sort of had to do something, though. Too many fans were still upset about her death. They wanted resolution. They wanted her back.

I would have liked to have seen that "wish resurrection" idea used in the Season 8. He can still have a Tara moment if he wants, he's just going to have to do something different.

By the way, I understand some of you don't like "Tara-talk." I'm not discussing her for your sake. If you don't get her then you don't, and you probably don't understand people who do. That's not a bad thing, it's just the way it is. This forum is for people who have all different kinds of ideas, so let's keep it civil. I won't diss your ideas if you don't diss mine.


[ edited by quantumac on 2007-08-09 15:53 ]
Comic book pay vs. screenwriter...I kind of think its obvious that screenwrters pay more. Joss isn't just a screenwriter though, he's also a director, producer, creator. He gets bucks simply because he has done these things and will do them again. Comic books, I think, are slightly more limiting. You can create, write, produce, but I don't think there is as much wiggle room, unless you get money from your comics being adapted to film.

Quick, someone call Brian K. Vaughn!
I think there's just less money in comics in general i.e. the industry is poorer due to tighter margins, lower volumes etc. which presumably means less for everyone involved in their creation.

I've read on screenwriter's blogs that $100,000 for a feature script is pretty much a starting amount (we've all seen the huge multi-million dollar sales from e.g. Shane Black) and in TV around $35-$40,000 for an episode (though obviously you may only sell one a year so that's not as great as it sounds).

No idea at all how comics pay but i'd be pretty surprised if it was anything close to those amounts.

(and I think toast hits the nail, if comics were all Joss could get i'm sure he'd take it with gratitude but having the choice and even maybe preferring TV/film owing to the collaborative element, he's gonna go with the one that he enjoys and that pays well as opposed to just the one he enjoys)
Yeah, it was just the "my kids have to eat and go to school" part that put me off.
Quantumac: I was there at Wizard World in Chicago when Joss told the story about how he had wanted Tara to return, and frankly I thought he was regretting it a bit as he was telling it. He was right in the middle of filming 'Serenity' at that time, in fact he hadn't slept in more than 24 hours (he had had a late night shoot, taken the red eye to Chicago, and arrived in time to do the autograph session right before his Q&A). At that time he was sick of vampires and wasn't planning on returning to Buffy any time soon, but I think he realized even then that telling the story was, in effect, burning his bridges.
Yeah, it was just the "my kids have to eat and go to school" part that put me off.

Well, writing between the lines "my kids have to eat [caviar sprinkled with gold dust] and go to school [by space shuttle]" so, y'know, lotta bills to pay in Casa Del Whedon.
Saje I think your attitude is pretty unreasonable, I do know that Harvey Pekar who writes a lot of comics/graphic novels has never earned enough money as a writer to allow him to quit his day job as an office clerk. I think it is very likely that Joss would have to move his family out of their current home if his only income was from comic books.
I think that anyone who manages to subsist and support a family on comics alone certainly doesn't live in Los Angeles.
Err, embers, are you kidding and I don't get it ? Not to throw hot-potatoes around but it's dreamlogic that was concerned about Joss' comment. Maybe you missed my comment 4 posts previous to yours where I said "(and I think toast hits the nail, if comics were all Joss could get i'm sure he'd take it with gratitude but having the choice and even maybe preferring TV/film owing to the collaborative element, he's gonna go with the one that he enjoys and that pays well as opposed to just the one he enjoys)" ?

(the post you responded to was - I thought - clearly a joke as evidenced by a) it's incredible over-the-topness and b) the "writing between the lines" where if I was actually making an inference i'd've put "reading between the lines". Probably serves me right for not making it even more obvious by sticking a smiley at the end but I thought i'd get away with it this time. You know eating gold dust is pretty bad for you right ? Even if it is on Caviar. Not sure how practical it is to travel to school by space shuttle either ;)
Well, having a teacher already on said space shuttle would make it much easier. His kids might miss him at first, but they'll be able to see him on the dvd extras once they get to the ISS...
To get back to the happy happy: Goners! Good script notes! The studio gets it! :)
Just to correct a bit on Harvey Pekar, what I think he's actually said many times is that he probably could have made an okay living if he'd quit his day and taken more non-"American Splendor" writing gigs (magazine articles, etc.) However, he also says, that he would have got into trouble because he probably wouldn't have had good medical insurance. Once he got cancer, he say, it's likely that he and Joyce Brabner would have been in major trouble without the outstanding medical insurance and sick pay benefits he got from the state of Ohio.

[ edited by bobster on 2007-08-09 21:21 ]
I'm munching on a gold-dust sandwich right now, and I'm not even Joss - that I know of - but I do live in LA and it is expensive and our monthly expenses are high, and I can only have caviar a few times a week these days.

What the what now? If I could get TV money for doing a TV show that I loved and I had to let comics go for a bit because of it, I'd do it in a heartbeat. And I'd feel free to mention it. What I wouldn't do, and many of us would have a problem with, is do some crappy soul-munching TV show and not do the beloved comics because of the pay - which is not the case in point.

I've noticed that the more money I have, the more I have to give away. When I was poor, I couldn't even help myself.

(Server report: It's just like butter, only much less greasy.)
Soul-munching... I love it.

That's really all I can think about at this time.
Hey, for years I've been feeling like it would be selfish to make my son deal with a 1/3 pay cut if I quit my horrible corporate job and went back to teaching. I think it is reasonable for Joss to feel it was out of the question for him to deny his children their choice of schools so that he can write comic books. I mean that is what would happen. I do not have the choice of making the kind of money it takes to pay for Princeton, but if I did, and chose not to, I would feel incredibly guilty about it...especially if I could make that kind of money doing something I loved.
I'm going to give my point one last try, for any who might be lingering. Because I'm coming back due to my disappointment about the responses to my disappointment with Joss's comment.

I've tried my best to glean and retain the best aspects of the frankly vile culture I was raised in, as a relatively privileged white person in the south. One of the few I've been able to retain in good conscience is that version of courtesy. You don't mock a person's livelihood, or his or her ability to provide, if yours is greater. Never. It's just wrong.
I'm disappointed at your disappointmentHelp ! I'm trapped in a disappointment factory !with the disappointment about your comments dl ;).

FWIW, I don't think Joss was mocking anyone's living but that's just my take on it. You could read it as "I'd love to devote myself to comics but, for me, they don't pay well enough and I have other options which do, plus, I want to do a variety of things" IMO.

I get a "Time to get back on the horse" vibe from Joss' recent interviews (e.g. he talks about his Marvel Mid-life Crisis) but I don't think he's knocking comics or comics creators since he's said time and again how much he loves them (his - IMO - greatest creation is after all directly inspired by a comics character), I think he just feels like he's been "hiding" in a world where he's fairly widely respected and has a free rein to create rather than getting out into the "madding crowd" and kicking some film/TV ass.
Agree to disagree? I heard what I heard and you heard something different.
Oh absolutely, it's totally down to our own interpretations ;).
David Fury has said before that he wouldn't write Buffy comics because he has a wife and kids, almost the same quote.

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