It’s the end of the world in a way Buffy has never seen before—and considering how many Doomsdays she’s been through, that’s really saying something.
The latest BTVS comic series from Boom! Studios, Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer, sees our Slayer wage a one-woman fight against the forces of darkness. After a catastrophe blots out the sun, humans and vampires enter into an uneasy peace treaty. Now in her 50s, robbed of her friends and her life’s purpose as a Slayer, Buffy struggles to find her place in the world while surviving an endless guerilla war.
To celebrate the release of the debut issue of Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer, we sat down with author Casey Gilly and artist Joe Jaro to geek out about the BTVS franchise and discuss how they created a new world for our favorite Slayer to explore.
Buffy fans turned Buffy creators
Unsurprisingly, the best Buffy stories come from Buffy fans. Both Gilly and Jaro describe themselves as big Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans, which made them excited to get the opportunity to dive into a BTVS story of their own.
“I’ve been a fan of Buffy since it first aired on TV. So I’m pretty familiar with it,” said Jaro. “I was totally boosted when Elizabeth [Brei], our editor, came to me. I had a good amount of knowledge of it already; I even loved the movie with Kristy Swanson, and the spinoff Angel series as well.”
Agrees Gilly, “I was a teenager with Buffy. Now I am 41. So I’m the exact demographic that grew up with her. I watched the show from the very first episode all the way through. I’ve watched it many, many times all the way through. I love the movie. I like the comics. It was just such a huge part of the media I consumed.”
Gilly also identified what keeps Buffy fans coming back for more, nearly two decades after the show ended.
“There’s so many valuable characters and archetypes and moments in the show that when I think about them, I still feel that same emotional hit, which I think is when a piece of media is truly iconic for you,” said Gilly.
On Ageing Up The Slayer For A New Adventure
One of the defining features of The Last Vampire Slayer is the decision to set the comic in the future, featuring an older Buffy Summers. Gilly said ageing up our heroine was a key part of the story from the onset.
“Even if Elizabeth had come to me and said, do you want to write a Buffy mini? The first thing I would have asked her was, Can I age her up considerably?” said Gilly.
The writer said she wanted to use the opportunity to showcase an older woman as the lead specifically because media—especially comics—rarely does so.
“I think it’s interesting to see older women. I think it’s interesting to see powerful older women who are reaching an age where society starts to tell us that we’re invisible and the things that once made us powerful now no longer make us powerful,” said Gilly.
“It’s really fascinating to see the different ways that somebody who has been an ingenue, this pure and sort of untouchable heroine… what would that do to her as she lived with it? She’s outlived all other slayers. And as you get older in life, your worldview changes, your critiques change and turn inward. So what would that do to somebody like Buffy, who had really lived several lifetimes before she even started getting older?
I really wanted to write this for all of the women and feminine people I knew who had identified so much with this girl. To see her reach this age, reach this level of maybe being a little bit jaded and feeling out of place in a world that she really used to dominate.”
Jaro adds that it wasn’t difficult to capture this from a visual perspective.
“It wasn’t a hard reach to figure out what an older Buffy would look like. I wanted to keep her familiar, with her frame and her hairstyle,” said Jaro. “The wrinkles and the lines are definitely from all the crap she’s been through!”
Enter the Apocalypse
The Buffy-verse is no stranger to an end-of-the-world event, but Gilly didn’t find it difficult to find the right path for this story.
“I heard the words ‘older Buffy’ and ‘apocalyptic disaster’ and I just saw through straight to the end of the story,” said Gilly.
For Jaro, too, the creative direction felt clear and intentional from the start.
“I got the idea of Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer before I even read the script. When people think post-apocalyptic, the first thing they imagine is a kind of Mad Max world. Everything’s dirty and crumbling,” explained Jaro.
But The Last Vampire Slayer puts a bit of a twist on the post-apocalypse genre. While it’s an apocalyptic world for humans, the perpetual darkness has created a haven of sorts for vampires.
“The vampires still want to live life,” said Jaro. “They want to go to this restaurant. They still want to do all these things. They are in charge. So the look of the world is pretty much still the same, but the marketing of things is geared towards vampires.”
You can take a look into that world in The Last Vampire Slayer preview pages here.
Favorite episodes of Buffy & how they influence The Last Vampire Slayer
Finally, we discussed Gilly and Jaro’s favorite episodes of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series, and what about those episodes helps inform their work in the comics.
“My favorite episode of Buffy was ‘Hush,’” said Jaro. “It was a great episode with little-to-no dialogue, and it was funny.”
Jaro cites Buffy’s unique blend of the supernatural and humor as one of the series’ defining traits.
“Another great moment is from the movie, when Amilyn gets stabbed,” said Jaro, mimicking the goofy dying sounds of vampire Paul Reubens. “I think that’s the comedy hit of what Buffy is.”
“My favorite episode is ‘Tabula Rasa,’ which I know is not the most exciting episode, but there’s a lot that I’m pulling on from that episode for this series,” said Gilly. “And everybody knows ‘Once More, with Feeling’ is a great episode. I’ve been listening to Spike’s song over and over. It’s a little cringy, a little overacted, and it’s so good.”
You can read our review of issue #1 here.