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July 26 2010

A look at the Buffy Season 8 motion comics. In which we find more about voice casting, what exactly an "action" comic is and the extent of Joss' involvement in the project.

None by the sounds of it. And no, still no word about the writers and artists getting royalties.

"In the comic, Buffy is going through a transition in her life and we worked to get a voice actress that would both sound like Sarah Michelle Gellar, and sound appropriate to what she's experiencing."

That's an interesting description of the voice they chose. Um...
I'm starting to think I should wait for the dvd of this. Without Joss' involvement, I don't have the immediate urge to buy this every week. If they did each arc as an episode I think I'd be more willing to buy it.

I already own the comics(well, actually the TPBs, it is so much easier to read it in one volume than in individual comics once a month) so why do I need someone not Joss telling me how to interpret the comic?
I watched the first one and wasn't too impressed. It just doesn't feel like 'Buffy'. The dialog is right, but the voices, inflections, etc. just aren't.

The weird thing is that there are 80 reviews on iTunes and it has an average of 4.5 stars. I don't get why people like it...
Because its Buffy. New Buffy is better than No Buffy.
Well for me no Buffy is better then a Bad Buffy. I won't bothering with this myself.
I don't like the motion comics at all, but they're probably getting such good reviews because most people out there aren't as picky as us. Just saying.
"We worked very hard to get people who sounded correct to the parts. In the comic, Buffy is going through a transition in her life and we worked to get a voice actress that would both sound like Sarah Michelle Gellar, and sound appropriate to what she's experiencing."

... fail.
Anyone else who has a little mean bothersome voice inside their heads saying "They're not canon. They're a interpretation, a summarization of canon. People will believe they're canon. Baaaaaaaad."

But seriously, I hope people won't think "I should give season 8 a shoot. I'll just download the first episode. *downloading...watching* Hmm, I think I'll pass. Joss lost it."

Not really Joss fault if the motion comic get's a bad rep(here's hoping everyone but whedonesquers love it), but everyone who heard how closely Joss worked with the Season 8 comic, calling it canon, might assume that goes for the motion comic as well.

The canon-beast is not pleased.
I wouldn't be too quick to assume no Whedonesquer loves the motion comic. Indeed, I think it looks great. Though, personally, I find the voice difference hard to overcome, I know of a number of members who thoroughly enjoyed the first episode.

Technically it is canon, I think. It's not just based on the Season 8 comics... it is season 8 - exact dialog, artwork, etc. The only real difference is that the pictures move...
Err, why are there canon issues? The motion comics are just another medium for season 8 -- a sillier medium, I feel, than the comics, but still.

It's like saying the aired episodes are canon as opposed to the dvds, or bringing in questions about deleted scenes and that crap.
Well, the motion comics actually cut out a significant amount of dialogue so one could argue they’re not canon based on that reason. They cut all of Buffy’s dialogue about the Immortal, a lot of Xander and Renee’s flirting, and some other lines here and there. I don't really understand why they did that because the episodes are too short as it is (why not release the whole arc at once?) and I think they're ignorant to how important the script is to the story.

I don't really understand how they can think this voice sounds remotely similar to SMG or captures the essence of the character. The "greaty muppety odin I miss that sex" part made me cringe because it was just so awful and so un-Buffy. One of the things I loved most about S8 is that Whedon's dialogue is so spot on and I can hear the characters saying the words but it's just butchered in the delivery in this and doesn't come across as remotely clever or witty at all. The way the voices break and wait for the speech bubbles is also really silly as well because the conversations are supposed to flow naturally, not with these lengthy pauses in-between each sentence. That was really unnecessary and makes the conversations feel robotic in some parts.

I'm just not sure how I feel about these, especially when it's clear now Joss had zero involvement with them. You have to wonder if this even remotely resembles how he envisioned the scenes playing out in his head. For instance, would he have used the BtVS theme over the opening pages or a completely different score? That makes a huge difference when setting the tone of the story and nobody involved with the actual story participated in this so that makes me uncomfortable.

I'll probably keep watching for a little while but unless it gets better I think I'll pass. I'm also conflicted because if it's true none of the writers or artists are getting paid for this then I'm not sure I want to support the project in any way.
I thought it was interesting and really did enjoy my first motion comic ever. However I couldn't deal with Buffy's voice. I was ok with all the others but Buffy was just plain fail. I will still continue to watch them because I did enjoy them.
I need those Jones Sodas!!!
@ jesse

vampmogs summed up the canon issue pretty well. The most important difference between the comics and the motion comic, are the cuts made in script. That alone makes this a summarization of canon. But the fact is that all off it, the voices, the movements, the adapted script, is a interpretation of Joss work, which makes it un-canony (also like vampmogs pointed out). I've been in discussions where several people discuss the "true" meaning of certain panel/event. So many different interpretations. Why should this guy's interpretation be any better than ours (which sometime get's proven right or wrong in Q&A's and interviews)?

I wonder if they even bothered to try to hear Joss' thoughts on this (other than waiting to hear complaints from him). It's as if I did a comic based on the tv-show and called it canon, even if I cut out scenes (although to be fair, no one has called the motion comic canon).
I was going to check this out, but now I'm not that motivated after hearing about the lack of involvement of Joss and hearing the voice of Buffy in the preview. I have a feeling that they are going to be lame. It would be better if Joss took the overall plot from the comics and made an animation (or a movie fast before the actors got old). Shouldn't be panel for panel, but it could take some lines from the comics. It would also need better casting. Then it would be good. Comics are such a boring medium in general, that I can't get into them. They need music and motion and comedic timing. That's why I was initially excited for these motion comics.
The question I have is this: Fox owns the characters, but aren't the comics' copyrights held by Dark Horse? I wouldn't have thought Fox could use the material in this way without DH's okay on it.
NOTE: It's now available in Canadian ITunes too!
^^ It's been available on iTunes Canada all along. I downloaded the trailer last Monday and the first episode last Tuesday.
I happen to find the "motion" in this motion comic to be better than any other motion comic I've ever seen. So far we've only heard Buffy, Dawn and Xander's replacement voices. Now, the Xander voice sounds dead on. Buffy's not so much, but it may well improve as the series progresses. Dawn's is okay but she didn't have much dialogue to really make an informed opinion.

I like the animation, the sound effects, the visual does really bring the comic to life. Only qualms are with the voice actors, but really, that was to be expected since they weren't using the original actors.

I think I'll pick up the DVD simply because I don't have an iPad and I don't really like watching things on my 1-inch iPod screen.
I wish I had known they were giving out those bottles! I would have scoured the streets for them, haha.
Well, the motion comics actually cut out a significant amount of dialogue so one could argue they’re not canon based on that reason.

It's sort of interesting I think (and I don't often say that about canon discussions anymore ;). Leaving aside the differing line readings/music/voices/etc. (which, if Joss didn't OK the final product - and it seems he didn't - are enough by themselves to render it non-canon), is a subset of a canonical version ever canonical itself ? How granular is canonicity ? Would republishing it in black and white render it non-canonical for instance ? Or even just recolouring the panels ? How about offsetting the panels so that turn page reveals now occur on facing pages ? It's kind of like "Theseus' Ship" (or my favourite example, mainly for UKers, "Trigger's Broom" ;) - at what point is it not the comic Joss wrote anymore, any change, one, several but only of a specific type ?

I guess there are some equivalents in the film/TV world (adding slow-motion to a scene for instance) but it seems like comics also bring their own specific questions to the Great Canon Debate™.
I didn't enjoy the first motion comic at all - I felt like it was a waste of my time as I could just go and read the comic myself. Also - until I get confirmation that the writer and artists are getting paid I will not be watching any more of them.
Saje, it's interesting that you bring up those questions about how canon is ficle, even whenn it's just about small changes. The TPBs comics for season 8 aren't always the same as the singles; lines are changed and coloring as well (I heard there was panel in the Reveal arc where the coloring showed that a girl was Willow, but in the TPB the colorist had colored the girl so differently that it didn't look like Willow anymore, thus changing the plot ina minor way). In cases like that, which is canon? The later version (assuming Joss wanted those changes to happen), or the first version?
Is the edited version of Once More With Feeling canon?

I figure there's comic book canon, TV canon and movie canon. Mostly I care if it's a good story.
The TPBs are often used to fix continuity errors like when it appears that Willow is being rounded up along with Giles in Retreat. This doesn't seem so much like a change in details to tweak interpretation, but a deliberate choice by the same creators so that the story they're telling is the one they intended to tell. Willow was never supposed to be seen taken prisoner, so that was a continuity error the TPBs fixed.

It's not the same case with the motion comics. The motion comics aren't refocusing the story so that the intended message is more clear (they're also probably unaware of what the intended message is, but are just guessing like any other reader), but creating a whole new interpretation removed from the original creators' intentions.

It appears there is little to no collaboration going on between Dark Horse and FOX on the motion comics. And as it seems like Joss is being sent the work after the fact, it reminds me of Whedon's reaction to the rumor of the Kuzuis doing a Buffy movie a year ago--"I hope it's cool." The motion comics are not Joss' project and he has no creative control over them (though maybe he could if he wanted to), so he probably just hopes it's cool. I think it's a stretch to reach this interpretation:

We sent him a disc. I expect that if he wasn't happy with them we would have heard something.

Whedon not sending notes for a project he's not directly involved in doesn't imply to me that he's happy with the project. I imagine he's neutral on it. FOX is doing their thing because they can, so Joss will do his thing over at Dark Horse and focus on his seriously busy schedule with The Avengers. I also imagine if Whedon was happy about it, he'd probably have said something positive to them the way he did for Brian Lynch's work on Spike: Asylum and Spike: Shadow Puppets or even when Whedon commented on a fanwork that crossed over Wicked's musi with Firefly and Serenity footage. Too bad no one asked Joss about the motion comics at Comic Con.

Silence to me implies that Whedon's choosing to not be involved, not that he's happy about it. He could be happy about it. He could think it defeats the purpose of what a comic is all about--the expression of a story thorugh static images specifically designed to express life through stasis. Who knows?

I think the folks behind the motion comics are guessing at Whedon's reaction, which really only tells me how important Whedon's reaction is, not specifically what his reaction is to this project. In the absence of Whedon's express approval, it's in the best interests of the motion comics folks to imply he'd be happy/proud/get a twinkle in his eye over this Buffyverse work.


[ edited by Emmie on 2010-07-27 19:18 ]
Is the edited version of Once More With Feeling canon?

The edited version on FX was my first viewing of the musical. I liked it but I could tell there was obviously things missing so I quickly downloaded a bootleg copy off bit torrent. Well lets just say I haven't watched the episode on cable television since.
and more come out on about a weekly schedule
That's what I've been wanting to know.

I think it's okay. The worst part to me are the voices. I would've preferred more script too but I can live with it. I enjoyed watching it.
@redeem147 They edited Once More With Feeling? What parts?
They edited the dialogue? Wow....I really don't understand why they would do that. I can't get these anyway in the UK, but had been thinking about getting the DVD when it came out. But arbitrary altering of the original script seems like another reason not to (the first being lack of creator royalties).
Because the original went overtime, they edit OMWF for the subsequent showings. Can't tell you what parts - I can't bear to watch it.
Never seen the edited version AFAIK. Good old Auntie Beeb (though that said, even Sky originally aired it fully IIRC cos I remember the episode ran over an hour with adverts. Dunno about repeats though).

In cases like that, which is canon? The later version (assuming Joss wanted those changes to happen), or the first version?

In that instance I think it's the version that Joss OKs the "most" Skytteflickan88, if you get me (i.e. if he considers the later version a mistake then the earlier one is canon, if he considers it a clarification then it's the later one). It's not always that straightforward because there isn't always a single creator that's been involved with every script in a series.

Also - until I get confirmation that the writer and artists are getting paid I will not be watching any more of them.

Yeah, this is the key for me. I can take or leave it anyway to be honest so i'm not claiming to be making some huge sacrifice but if they're getting paid then i'll probably get it at some point, if not then I won't. Simple as.
@redeem147. Which version went to the DVD? The long original one? Sure hope so. I hate missing out.

@Saje, I agree, I want what Joss wants (sounds weird and stalker-y). Joss is boss. And so on.
Long one on the DVD. No worries.

Just beware if you're watching it in syndication.
Ya know what though? Every episode in syndication is missing a line of dialogue here and there. And the Angel DVDs are missing whole scenes!
What do you mean Angel DVDs are missing whole scenes???

The scene of Angel in caritas freaking out over Cordy at the beginning of the episode is missing from the DVD. It was on the original airing(and I have VCD copies of Season 2 to know this) but was shaved off of the DVD I imagine as a mistake to edit out the previously on sequence. There are a few other episodes where cutting out the previously on messes up the beginning of the episode too. I think A New World and Apocalypce Nowish's openings were ruined by the editing but OVER THE RAINBOW is the one that is glaringly altered. My one wish if there is ever a special edition or blu-ray of the Buffy/Angel series is for the previously-ons to be put back on the episodes so all these little glitches will be fixed.

edited to clarify which part is not on the dvd.

Cordy wakes up in the woods on Pylea.

Wesley looks around the club for Cordy, Angel is searching behind the stage curtains.
Wesley: "Cordy?"
Angel: "Cordy?"
Wesley: "Oh no. Oh my god, no. How could I've let this happen?"
Angel: "No. She's here somewhere. She's just hiding. Cordy! Cordy!"
Wesley: "Angel."
Angel: "What?"
Wesley: "She's gone. - Cordy's been sucked into the portal. She's in the host's dimension now."
Angel to Lorne: "Where's Cordelia?!"

Cordy gets up and brushes herself off.
Cordy: "Angel? - Wesley! - Mr. Green-Mojo-Guy's cousin? -(Screams) Help!!"
Slaps a hand over her mouth.
Cordy: "Right. Good one, Cor. Scream *very* loudly so the hellbeasts come to you."
Takes a deep breath then clicks her heels together three times. Nothing happens.
Cordy: "Worth a shot. - So. - Silver lining. - It's kind of a pretty place - when you look at it: woodsy woods, sunny and mild..."
Spots a creature on a rock looking at her and growling.
Cordy: "Giant hairy hellbeast staring at me. That's - that's incredibly frightning. Good hellbeast. You're a lazy hellbeast, aren't you? Yeas. You're gonna stay right there (Turns and begins to run) while I run for my life."
The beast jumps from its perch on the rock and chases after her.

The bold section is what was edited out of the DVD. I guess the editors thought it was from the end of Belonging.

[ edited by eddy on 2010-07-28 05:57 ]
@eddy: I just checked, and that scene is on my (R2) DVD. Maybe it's a rights issue? :)
Its because you still have the previously ons. R1 buffy and angel dvds do not have the 'previously on..' section of the episode.
U ooh K, U ooh K ! Cool, finally we beat the US in a category other than "Economy furthest round the U-bend". I see this historic victory as an essential first step to reclaiming the former colony.
I will admit I did buy the first episode on iTunes, and for the most part enjoyed it. Agree that the voices are WAYY off, especially Buffy's. It was cool to see it rendered in a different fashion, but I think I will wait for the DVD, and if the original artists aren't getting a cut then I will revert to the comics I have been faithfully buying for two years now!
Yes! Region 2 rules! My swedish version has that scene! And here I was complaining about the previously on clips, how they wasted my time. Little did I know. That scene was pretty important for the Cangel relationship, we see how upset Angel was over Cordy missing.

Is this version safe? The book packaging?

Now I'll have to check the original script for every episode, be sure I didn't miss anything.

It's just the beginnings that sometimes has missing bits and pieces, right?

[ edited by Skytteflickan88 on 2010-07-28 13:18 ]
Oh my God, thanks for telling me about the deleted I have something to freak out about all day long!

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