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Latest Georges Jeanty Interview

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  • Latest Georges Jeanty Interview

    New Georges Jeanty interview.

    Exclusive: We Talk 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8' with Artist Georges Jeanty! - FEARNet

    Exclusive: We Talk 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8' with Artist Georges Jeanty!

    Whether it's the sense of wonder that surrounds their medium or the simple fact that so many of them grew up geek, comic book artists tend to be some of the nicest people in the world. But even within this unique collective there are few as nice as Georges Jeanty, the artist on Joss Whedon's best-selling, Eisner Award-winning Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8. The book, published by Dark Horse, has been running a little late these days (the next issue, already several weeks past due, will be out on 11/26, but will ship every three weeks thereafter for the following six issues, before returning to a regular schedule, which will see it arrive in stores the first week of every month), but it's one of the rare mainstream titles worth waiting for. For what began as a direct continuation of the late beloved series has emerged as one of the smartest, funniest books on the market today, thanks to a roster of talented comics and TV writers and Jeanty's remarkable draftsmanship and keen sense of storytelling. Soft-spoken, gracious and quick to flash a mile-wide smile, Jeanty was kind enough to take time out of his schedule in the midst of a busy recent work day to share his thoughts with us on the book and all things Buffy. Enjoy!

    Note: Be sure to check out Jeanty's official website for a killer deal ? with each copy purchased of his new Buffy: The Sketch Book # 2, Monsieur Georges will throw in a free head sketch of your fave Buffy character. Very cool indeed!

    So it's now well over a year since you started on the Buffy: Season 8 book for Dark Horse. Have your feelings changed at all since you first started on the project?

    Really, when it comes down to it, it is a comic book and that's my profession, that's what I do. I wouldn't think my feelings would change just because of the subject matter because the process is still the same. You know, while it is Buffy and not some costumed superhero, the approach is still the same. The laying out of the books, the drawing ? for all intents and purposes ? is still the same. So there's nothing really different per se. Obviously I love what I do. So there isn't a "Wow, working on this book alone has changed my whole outlook on life" or anything like that. It's a process that I love to do and if I didn't I wouldn't do it. It doesn't change in that way. It's just the subject matter you're doing right now.

    Yet your work gets better with each issue. And one of the cool things about it is that there's a tightness your pencils, a certain amount of control, but at the same time there are these little windows you leave open for something organic to come through. In a way it's reminiscent of 1980s Frank Miller.

    Yeah, well, I certainly look at a lot of Frank Miller for storytelling. And that period in particular was very influential on me, not so much as an artist but more as a storyteller ? which is just as important as being a good artist. Just because you're a good artist doesn't mean you're a good storyteller. I've think looking at those Frank Miller books definitely elevates your storytelling. I thank you. It is there ? consciously or unconsciously, I don't know. It's something that's part of evolving as an artist, you're constantly evolving. Anyone who says, "Yeah, my work right now, that's it. That's what I like. I don't ever want it to change"? I think that's pretty sad, because, not to sound cliché, but I think ultimately it is the journey and not the destination. So the journey of art is constant evolution and theoretically it will change.

    Do you find yourself influenced by European illustrators? Your art appears to be inspired by them as well.

    Oh yeah, all the time. You know, Milo Minara, Moebius obviously. All the heavy hitters over in Europe. One guy too, he's also a singer, I can't remember his name. French artist. I wanna say a French or Italian artist. He's really good. He actually does vampire comics as well and he's got the realism of the anatomy down so well. A lot of his stories don't revolve around superhero stuff, it's more everyday people things. And if there is something I try to inflect into Buffy, it is everyday people situations in extraordinary situations, or trying to deal with extraordinary situations. So if anything, I'm doing more of that.

    Buffy: Season 8 is uncommon for a media tie-in comic in that it takes visual cues from the actors playing the characters, but it remains flexible in its storytelling, and not single-mindedly beholden to those likenesses.

    No. Actually it's funny that you say that. I used to work for Wildstar, for a little while, and my editor there was Ben Abernathy ? a super, super nice guy. I was talking to him, e-mailing him the other day. We hadn't talked in a while, and he was like, "Oh hey, how've you been? Just wanted to tell you, loving the Buffy stuff. We're looking at that book as a template on how to do merchandise stuff right." I wrote him back. I was like, "Oh my God, that is probably the nicest compliment I've ever had." Because that's exactly what I'm trying to do. It is obviously a merchandise like the X-Files or Indiana Jones or anything else you might have, but you don't want it to seem like it's the obligatory merchandise. Like, "Yeah, they've got the movie and they've got the comic ? don't really need to read the comic?" I like to feel that a when you read the comic it's its own world, as well as looking [like] the TV show. It's just as valid. So I love that notion that this is something that, for lack of a better term, is getting done right in terms of what the Buffy franchise is about.

    Your work is confident enough that it doesn't have to be photorealistic to maintain its consistency.

    And that's funny because, when I first got the gig, Joss was very specific in saying, "I'm not really interested in making this book look like it's photorealistic." Obviously he loves comic books ? and he's like, "I want this to be a comic book, I don't want it to seem like this is just a comic-book version of the show. I want this to stand on its own." To that end, he's like, "I'm not as interested in you drawing them photorealistically, so that every panel someone could come up to you and go, ?I know where that's from,' or ?That looks like this?" He really hit it home when he said, "When you're drawing the characters I want Buffy to look like Buffy. She doesn't necessarily have to look like Sarah Michelle Gellar, she just has to look like Buffy." For some reason that clicked in my head, where it's like "Okay, I get it. I don't know what I just got ? but whatever you just said, I get it." [Laughs.] I've used that as a template for this series, and I think it's worked for me, certainly. I'm sure there's a lot more artists out there that could do more photorealistic stuff a whole lot better than I could, but I think I also come from an acting background, and I usually try to?when I think that it's a good marriage for stuff like that, I usually try to have my characters acting in some way. With this Buffy book, I think it's more of the characteristics of the characters as opposed to how photorealistic they are. Because I'm very subtle about things and I'm sure people who read it can pick it up, the really diehard readers, that "Oh yeah, Xander crosses his arms," or "Xander usually points to something." Or "Buffy ? her eyebrows go up at a certain time when something happens." Little subtleties that, watching the TV show many, many times, you pick up after a while. As an actor you look at and go, "That's her style." What I was trying to do was get Alyson Hannigan's style, not necessarily just the archetype of Willow.

    Your style perfectly complements the show in the way that it lets just the right amount of humor penetrate the drama.

    Well that's what the show was about. It wasn't just horror or humor ? it was all of that. That was the hardest part, and I think as well for Joss ? to try and sell that show in the beginning, saying, "Well, what is it? It's horror. No ? it's comedy. It's drama. It's Beverly Hills 90210 or something." It must've been very hard to do that. And equally so coming over to the comics ? "Is it a horror book? Is it an action book? Is it a romance book?" Honestly, it's all of those things. Yes, I think to a degree it's been very difficult because there is that element. I find that with shows like Alias and Lost you get shows where there's so much going on ? that it isn't just this melodramatic tone, there is some levity to it and some action to it. Bringing it into the comics, you have to be conscious of it, you can't just have Buffy with that stern face the whole time because she's an action hero and she's gonna be kickin' butt at some point. You have to get the nuances of her being very embarrassed or being surprised or being very vulnerable about a situation and then on the next page, yeah, fighting some huge faceless monster. So those subtleties, which hopefully to the reader look subtle, aren't done in a subtle way because I'm very conscious of things that are going in there. There's usually nothing there that I haven't already thought about and said, "Yeah, that's just something I intended to do." The fact that you picked up on it was great, but that's something that was definitely there from the get-go.

    Do you know what in particular of your past work Joss looked at when he said, "Yeah, this is the guy that I want to do the Buffy: Season 8 comic"?

    No, and I remember ? I'm humbled every time I tell this ? that they actually came to me and wanted me for the gig. I was very unfamiliar with all of it, and the editor Scott Allie just came to me and said, "Joss is just a big fan of your work. He loved your stuff on Bishop. And they're interested in you on this project." I was just like, "Well thank you." But I'm not really sure of their motivations ? if it was just one thing they saw that made them say, "Yeah this is the guy," or anything. But, in all honesty, I probably never would've chosen me. Y'know it's funny, because for me it satisfied two passions that I had always wanted to do but had never done ? which was do some kind of a merchandise project and do something that was movie-related, something that had either a following or a TV show or something.

    So do you have a favorite storyline or one coming up that you really like?

    I really like the Japanese storyline ? the Buffy-in-Japan story ? because I'm a really big Godzilla fan and the writer Drew Goddard is just a huge Godzilla fan. It was an essence of "We're such a big fans of the subject matter that let's see how we can play it into this whole Buffy universe." And just the back and forth of, "Well there's gotta be a Mechadawn," or, for Andrew, how this is the best time of his life, because the stuff going on around him is stuff that any geek would geek over! It was all of those little nuances that just made it so much fun. I love the Faith stuff because I actually found that I liked drawing the character a whole lot, that to me as an artist also felt very gratifying. And I love the first arc because that was something where you're going "Well, I have no idea what I'm doing?"

    And, for the other geeks out there, do you have any favorite characters?

    Faith. I really like Faith. But y'know somebody once said that "You usually dance with the girl you came with" ? and my success, obviously, comes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So I'll always have a very big place in my heart for Buffy the character. Yeah, she's the girl you came to dance with ? so in that sense. But all of the characters really? I think that if I didn't like any of the specific characters that would reflect in the artwork. I just constantly am amazed at how much better I'm getting actually. It's been like a year and a half now and I'm really good at Buffy now, just because I've been drawing her so often. Whereas before I'd get people who come up to me and say, "Hey can you draw a head sketch of Buffy?" and I was like, "I don't know. I don't know. It might take me two hours to do, because I'm not that familiar." Now I'm like, "Oh yeah, give me fifteen minutes." I love the ease with which I can do these things now.

    There are so many great writers working on this book ? Drew Goddard, Brian K. Vaughn, Joss himself ? can you comment on the differences in the scripts they're giving you?

    I can only assume that their approach is the same way you would approach a TV show. That pretty much stays consistent. Most people are a little deeper, like Brian K. Vaughn ? because he does write comics ? he throws everything in there. I mean he throws in websites ? "We can probably find a reference for this here?" To the point where Joss actually commented on it one time ? "Here Georges, this is my script now. If Brian K. Vaughn was writing this he'd probably have some cool websites to give ya. I'm not doing that, so damn Brian K. Vaughn for setting that precedent." [Laughs.] So yeah, those things are little subtleties that make them different but you'd never see it in the scripts. It's just like, "We've got twenty-two pages of a story, these are the points we wanna hit, here's where it should start, here's where it should end ? everything else is up to you."

    Is there anything you'd love to draw or love to explore that could surface in future issues of the book?

    I'm a big fan of the TV show. As I'm sure with other fans, I just love to see characters coming back from the TV show. I'll always put it out there ? "Yeah, whomever you wanna bring back." I love Faith, and Giles will be coming back at some point ? so you'll see what they've been up to. I'm just enjoying the ride, because I love the idea of that as a fan outside of being an artist. I love the idea that I get to read this and see it coming out and really be on the frontlines of the creation of all of this. I'm just enjoying the ride.

    One last question ? what is your greatest fear?

    My greatest fear is that I will die unhappy.
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