Fractured Franchise: Dark Horse Reclaims Angel to Go With Buffy

Dark Horse has announced that they will be publishing Angel comics to go with their successful Buffy the Vampire Slayer license in late 2011.

Dark Horse’s Angel will bring the beloved characters from Whedon’s longest-running shows under one roof, allowing for new and exciting explorations of the Buffyverse featuring favorites from the casts of both series.

“I’ve always regretted letting Angel go in the first place,” Dark Horse senior managing editor Scott Allie said. “So we’re really excited about getting him back, as well as all his supporting cast. It’s necessary for how Joss wants to handle season nine, details of which will start spilling out in the months to come.

Dark Horse published Angel titles in the early 2000s before IDW took the license in 2005, putting out various series and spinoffs (such as several Spike titles). IDW will release one final six-issue Angel story arc, beginning in November with Angel #39. According to Dark Horse, “all parties are working together for as seamless a transition as possible.”

That’s a concern because this isn’t the first time coordination between the two companies has been an issue — early this year, there was some back-and-forth about how much information had been shared, with Dark Horse saying they were working with IDW after a plot point in the Buffy comic led to questions, only to have the then-writer of the Angel comic, Bill Willingham, deny he’d heard from them.

By intentionally allowing, encouraging in fact, the notion to exist among the comics reading public, that Whedon and Dark Horse are in any way steering, or influencing, the stories I help to produce in IDW’s ongoing Angel series, Allie and Whedon are committing what is tantamount to taking credit for the work of others, a repugnant practice in any business, although I understand it is all too common in some. As long as I am writing the Angel series for IDW, I will not be coordinating stories with any Dark Horse comic, period.

Joss Whedon worked directly with Dark Horse, which is why the Buffy comic is considered an “official” Season 8. Although IDW’s Angel also continues on from that show’s continuity, it’s not labeled as such.

The interesting part to me, industry watcher, is how this series transition news broke. On Wednesday, Dark Horse released the Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Riley one-shot, dedicated to further adventures of the non-fan-favorite nice-guy boyfriend. An editorial column promoting the various Joss Whedon-related comics they publish was included in the issue, and it mentioned the Angel return. Various online speculation followed until the official Dark Horse press release came out late Thursday (most likely allowing for time to get IDW’s ok).

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Riley

IDW’s statement, also released Thursday, includes such sentences as ” Under the direction of BUFFY and ANGEL creator Joss Whedon, all parties are working together for as seamless a transition as possible,” but also says “News of the upcoming change was recently revealed by Dark Horse Publishing, without coordination with IDW.”

IDW will also publish a Spike series, starting in October, featuring a Willow guest appearance, and an Illyria four-issue miniseries, beginning in November, before all the properties revert. IDW Chief Creative Officer Chris Ryall was quoted in their press release as saying:

“I know change is hard for fans — and us publishers, too,” Ryall continued, “but I want to remind everyone that we’re still going strong and have big plans for ANGEL well into 2011. Another point in our favor here is that the reversion nevertheless allows us to keep all of our ANGEL books in print long after we’ve stopped releasing new ANGEL comics. So the news might be surprising but the fact is, the stories you’ve loved aren’t going away any time soon. We’ve still got one last, big year to come, and we’ll fight the good fight until the end. Angel wouldn’t have it any other way.”

For more details, see this interview with him.


4 Responses to “Fractured Franchise: Dark Horse Reclaims Angel to Go With Buffy”

  1. James Schee Says:

    Bill Willingham’s quote was monumentally stupid and showed a complete lack of understanding of why the Buffy and related comics have been so successful the last few years. With most other properties (outside of maybe Star Wars & George Lucas I can’t think of any others) the creator is dead or non-important in how fans see new stories.

    Heck most original creators families get attacked by fans if they try to lay claim to the characters, see the Siegals and Shusters and the like.

    Yet with Buffy Joss Whedon is still as important, known and loved as much as the characters are. To come out and attack him, and even more damning to say you don’t and won’t consult him on the stories makes your stories the equalivant of fan fiction. Which fans can read for free online anytime they want.

    IDW tried to save face, by ushering Willingham off the book as fast as possible, yet the damage had been done. Which probably played a part in bringing about this move back to Dark Horse. Which is kind of a shame as the Angel and Spike stories by Brian Lynch (who knows Joss and credited him with plot assists on Angel After The Fall) are some of the best Buffyverse comics there have been. (even better than some of the Joss penned stuff)

  2. Johanna Says:

    I liked Lynch’s work, especially on Spike, best, too. I don’t think Willingham’s comments are responsible for the change, but I do think the situation illustrated how much simpler things would be with all the properties reunited.

  3. Dwight Williams Says:

    I’ll be interested to see the reaction from Saint fandom once Moonstone’s new comics series kicks off, given that context.

  4. Last Minute LinkBlogging: Chris Ryall on Spike, DC Cheer, Candorville Goodbye to Cathy, More » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] a followup to the news that the Angel comic is returning to Dark Horse, IDW Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall has posted a FAQ containing the most commonly asked [...]




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