Emmie (angearia) wrote,

Response at CBR

The below is my response to Bill Williams' post on the Comic Book Resources forum where he comments on Twilightgate.  CBR apparently isn't much of a spot for back-and-forth debate like I'm used to.  I was trying not to be too blatantly rude below, but well I was still riding the Willingham wave of self-righteous indignation (sorry, not a fan) and felt that Williams' decision to jump in and what he had to say displayed... for lack of a better word, ignorance of the situation and of fandom and the Buffyverse (which he's working on watching!  Any day now!  Just wait 'til he discovers Angel went to hell for a hundred years!  It's gonna make Deep Down so much better for him, I tell ya!)


Allow me to preface this by saying that I'm talking about the situation as a whole and not just in direct response to your post, Bill.

New member here, though I frequent a lot of forums that discuss the comics. And this is a long and somewhat rambling post. Apologies if I diverge too wildly, but this whole business has stirred up quite an unsettling situation.

Originally Posted by Lone Star Press View Post
As the guy who writes the back-up in the ANGEL series, I thought I'd throw in a note. (That sound you hear is my editor flinching.)
I imagine he's doing more than flinching. Poor guy's blood pressure must be shot after the past week.

Originally Posted by Lone Star Press View Post
For the moment, I'm not interested in asking what to me is the key question... Why is Dark Horse using a character that is licensed to another publisher? By the logic of "It's a Joss Whedon creation and he can use it where he wants" then when Kurt Busiek was writing Trinity, then why couldn't he use the Thunderbolts in the same story. The answer should be obvious. Anyway avoiding that topic, I have a question for you about canon and fanfic.
I'm afraid I don't get the reference. The reason why being that BUFFY and ANGEL are comics licensed after a TV show. They get non-comics readers to go buy comics. They get women like me to go buy comics en masse. Fans who buy the comics care about the TV show first and foremost. My question to you would be what would happen to IDW's story if Joss Whedon decided to make an internet ANGEL movie a la Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog that contradicted your stories? Because he could easily do it and have fans eating it up with the added note of "This is what really happens." That's the point - Whedon can say "This is the real story" and fans will believe him. That's called creative authority. That has nothing to do with a license. As far as legality goes, IDW is renting out the characters from FOX, so they're licensed to write a comic. That's a short term agreement. Long term? Creator will always be Joss. Fans don't care about the companies. They care about the characters, then the actors in most cases of TV shows. What's extraordinary about BUFFY and ANGEL was that fans also now care about the writers - and they care most about the creator of this 'verse. The 'verse is synonymous with Whedon's name in fandom.

Originally Posted by Lone Star Press View Post
Is every Batman story not created by Bob Kane considered fanfic? People were hired by the company with the ownership stake in the character and those creators wrote and drew stories for pay. The stories were published. People enjoyed them. Is that fanfic? And do you consider Frank Miller's Dark Knight fanfic? What about the movies?
The Buffyverse (which includes Angel and AtS) is not Batman. It wasn't born as a comic. It was born as a movie. A bad movie written by Joss and mishandled by the Kuzuis. It didn't become something worth talking about until Joss Whedon made it into a TV show. The TV show is the source of canon. Buffyverse comics were written while the TV show was airing, but they had no affect on canon. The concept of canon comics in the Buffyverse didn't exist until Joss Whedon said so. Because he had said most of the Buffyverse comics were just stories that had no affect on the canon of the TV show. Why care about canon? Because as fans we like to know the boundaries of what is the official events and characterization that has shaped the story. We know how Angel lost his soul. We know that Buffy died in The Gift and was in heaven. We know Angel was sent to the bottom of the ocean for three months by his son and didn't get rescued until Deep Down. These are canon facts. They set up points that ground the story in commonality for all viewers, allowing for speculation to build on what is left ambiguous and debatable on the show.

Originally Posted by Lone Star Press View Post
The 'Smile Time' episode of the Angel television series was written by Joss Whedon and Ben Edlund. Is that half-canon compared to 'Conviction' which has Joss credited as the sole writer? 'Just Rewards' was written and directed by people other than Joss, it is canon? How much input does a showrunner have to have in a project to be considered canon?
I think you're missing the point of how canon in the Buffyverse is defined. And yes, the definition of canon and fanfiction vary depending upon the fandom you are looking at. No, Smile Time is not half-canon. It's also not half-pregnant. The TV shows are canon. The TV shows are all Exec Produced by Joss Whedon and are written by his chosen team. And on a special note, even for episodes that Joss Whedon isn't credited as a writer, he does in fact write scenes for. The episodes Beneath You, Fool For Love, Dirty Girls and (Just to name a few) all contain scenes written by Joss Whedon where he was not credited. Did you know that all the Wes/Illyria scenes were written by Joss Whedon? I'm guessing not. Why was Joss not credited? Because he didn't need a writer's credit. He was the Creator and the Exec Producer. Though he did get credit from his fellow writers - nearly every Buffyverse writer has gone "oh, Joss wrote that in my script!" Jane Espenson and Doug Petrie have even been quoted as saying how pleased they were to be complimented about a scene in an episode that wasn't written by Joss.

Alyson Hannigan loved the scene in the Initiative where Spike tries to bite her but can't and they go into this metaphor of male impotence and an inability to perform. Hannigan went up to Joss and said she loved that scene, assuming he'd written it even though it was Doug Petrie's script. This is just to show that writers and actors are witness to Joss being the creative force that creates cohesion in the Buffyverse.

Originally Posted by Lone Star Press View Post
As you can tell by my questions, it seems to me we are getting away from the central argument about entertaiment. For me, it boils down to the simple question about quality. Is the comic/ TV series any good? Do we like it?
Liking something comes on multiple levels depending on how involved you are. If you're just a casual fan, well then you wouldn't even be on this board. If you're a Buffy fan and an Angel fan, you often simply identify yourself as a Whedon fan. Liking a story and being involved in fandom are two different beasts. And here's the thing - the only audience that reads the Angel comic are the ones who watched the TV show, Angel the Series. And the ones who actually go out of their way to buy a comic for a TV show that's been off the air for nearly six years now? Those are the hardcore fans. And if you're hardcore fan who reads the comics, then you're 9 times out of 10 a Whedon fan too.

This is just introducing the facts about the BUFFY and ANGEL fandom. Joss Whedon is beloved and sourced as the reason for the greatness of both shows by his fellow writers, directors, actors and fans. So yes, fandom cares about Joss Whedon. And the same hardcore fandom that buys BUFFY and ANGEL comics cares about whether Joss Whedon is involved.

This isn't Batman. This is the Buffyverse aka the Whedonverse. Welcome to the party. I hear there are t-shirts. :)

Originally Posted by Lone Star Press View Post
The discussions about fanfic and canon seem to me to be a way to refuse to be entertained by a project. Isn't every project better when viewed with an open mind?
Interesting way of putting it. I imagine some people might use it that way. But really, discussion of canon is trying to make order of characterizaton. In the Buffyverse, for nearly 10 years canon meant the TV show. The concept of canon for Buffyverse comics is about making the comics a canon continuation of the TV show. This requires authority over both arenas - both the comics and the TV shows. That is only being brought by Joss Whedon. It's similar to the way fandom rejects the notion that a movie made by the Kuzuis wouldn't be canon just because they have the rights to produce a Buffy movie.

It might not be something that the new wave of writers are comfortable with, but so much of what is beloved in the Buffyverse is drawn back to Joss Whedon by the fans. There's a reason it's called the Whedonverse. Because he puts his creative stamp on everything he works on. Fans know this and they care about it. We know this because the best episodes of BUFFY and ANGEL say "written by Joss Whedon" - The Body, The Gift, Once More With Feeling, Not Fade Away - fans went back and checked who wrote it and oh hey, Joss Whedon. As for canon continuations of TV shows, right now IDW is just writing a comic. It being canon has nothing to do with whether it's good or not - canon status has to do with whether it counts in the continuity of the TV shows and also in relation to Season 8 and other canon comics. And whether it counts in the greater continuity relies on Joss Whedon - he's the only authoritative creative voice that fans are actually going to believe. Fans aren't going to believe what FOX says or IDW says or Dark Horse says. That's not how it works here. The company isn't in control of determining what's official.

Don't mean anything personal and I hope I didn't offend anyone. But fandom as a concept is fluid based upon what fandom you're standing in. In the Buffy and Angel 'verses, the degree to which fandom cares about Joss Whedon is immense. We want his involvement. That might change ten years from now (I kinda doubt it) but right now - Joss Whedon is the name fandom looks for when they see the titles "Buffy" and "Angel."
Tags: my numerous attempts to school bill will, season 8, twilightgate

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